The Dandelion Trust

Dandelion Trust

Care, Creativity & Conservation

TEMPLE DRUID

This grade 2 listed John Nash house in the heart of west Wales is being sensitively restored by the Trust to become a creative haven providing an innovative nature therapy programme.

About Temple Druid

Temple Druid is set amid beautiful countryside, on the edge of the Pembrokeshire national park. About a mile from the nearest village, the estate encompasses 56 acres of grounds, including woods, a lake, meadowlands and freshwater springs. The house itself is one of the few remaining examples of John Nash's elegant design in Wales.

The Dandelion Trust are in the process of transforming this tranquil and inspiring environment into a centre for nature therapy. Temple Druid will also be available for small local groups to use for artistic and cultural pursuits.

The Restoration Project

A main bedroom with ensuite bathroom will be ready to welcome paying guests in the autumn; walkers, artists, writers and all who seek a peaceful and inspiring rural break will be encouraged to come and experience Temple Druid and help contribute to its future.

More renovation work remains to be done and funds are urgently needed to enable the project to continue apace. Click here to find out how you can support Temple Druid. Next to the house are two massive coach houses and a courtyard that could be converted in to studios, workshops or summer performance spaces.

The Coach houses require urgent works to halt the decay. The façade of one has already collapsed and the lower central wall is threatening to. Though unfortunate this has opened up new and exciting architectural opportunities. We plan to clad the front of the collapsed coach house in glass and thus create a space that offers impressive views out whilst allowing equally impressive views in to the heart of this historic building and all the activity within.

Another great asset of Temple Druid is the expanse of countryside and rich arable land. Once infrastructure is in place this will be used as a therapeutic space for small groups of chlidren and adults to come and experience the unique, beautiful and peaceful nature of the place, to reflect and heal.

A Short History of Temple Druid

Temple Druid was designed c1795 by John Nash, architect to King George IV, and it is one of the few remaining Nash houses in Wales. It was built on land known as Bwlch-y-Clawdd (Gap in the Hedge) but later took its name from a nearby prehistoric cromlech believed to be a druid's temple. The house was designed as a hunting lodge, complete with stables and coach houses and the estate also included a farmhouse and three cottages.

A Henry Bulkeley lived in the house from 1806 until his death in 1821 and the particulars of the house, described in a sale notice in the Cambrian Journal in 1821, offer some indication of the original extent of the house. An "excellent mansion house" on three floors, it contained six apartments for servants in the attic, eight bedrooms with three dressing rooms and a nursery on the first floor, and a "handsome drawing room", dining parlour, breakfast parlour, offices and "principal apartments fitted up with statuary marble chimney pieces" on the ground floor. The staircase is described as geometrical and made of stone, leading up to an elegant gallery.

During the 19th century the house was drastically altered, with the loss of a wing and the stone staircase and gallery. The front part of Nash's original square design remains intact. One of the remaining mysteries of Temple Druid is the rumoured existence of underground passages leading to a public house in Maenclochog.

During the second world war, the author Leo Walmsey lived in the house and wrote an account of his time at Temple Druid in his
memoir A Happy Ending. He also created the trout lake and 'opened' the cellar, as a plaque testifies to this day. Walmsey hosted evacuee children from the east end of London in Temple Druid during the war.

HOW TO HELP TEMPLE DRUID »

 

Temple Druid

HOLIDAY AT TEMPLE DRUID - May 2007

It was the first time that Temple Druid had hosted a group of children from Belarus.

As you can imagine it was a learning experience for everyone involved. The children stayed for a month, which was time enough for them to really enjoy the benefits of time away from the contaminated environment in which they live.  Despite it being 20 years since the disaster in Chernobyl, the children are still suffering from the effects of radiation. They were all tired and pale when they first arrived; many of them have very low energy levels and low immune systems, which mean that they become run down very easily. It really was a joy to see them perk up and get some colour in their cheeks after a few days resting up and enjoying the peaceful grounds here at Temple Druid.

It was fantastic for the children to all stay together in the same house, along with their very experienced teacher Svetlana and the resident team and their families.  Needless to say, they did much better at learning English than we did at learning Russian!

As you can imagine meal times were a lot of fun! We had plenty of fresh local organic produce, fresh meat, fruit and vegetables, all of which are expensive and difficult to obtain in Belarus. Many of the children tried foods that they had never eaten before such as avocados. Bananas were a big favourite! Much of the food was kindly donated by local people. 

It was really amazing to see the children grow in strength as the weeks went by. With their physical return to health came also a tangible raising of the spirits and self-esteem.

One of the most withdrawn of the group, Kostya, suffered from a hole in his throat, which becomes infected, and as a result he often became sick. The change we witnessed in him during the weeks he spent with us was really remarkable. He really grew in health and confidence. During the concert at the end of the stay Kostya was one of the most animated performers.

For us, experiencing for the first time, the healing that can take place in just a few short weeks was a profound and humbling experience. It showed us how important these respite holidays are and what a difference they can make to these young people.

Each morning Svetlana would give the children their lessons.  I’m afraid there is no escaping schoolwork, even so far from school!  A month afforded us plenty of time for some fantastic days out. Early on in the stay we had weather warm enough for a dip in the sea, for many of the children this was a first. This was an enjoyable and unforgettable experience. Most of our visits were local, to keep travel at a minimum and to get a feel for the local area. Castle Henllys, the local Iron Age fort, Pembroke Castle, a boat trip spotting seal’s, Theatre Mwldan and a wind swept walk up to Dragon Mountain were some of the favourites. Time simply relaxing at Temple Druid was important so as not to exhaust the children. The children loved doing simple things such as picking blackberries walking in the woods and jumping on the trampoline.  Catching our young pigs that were constantly escaping was voted one of the best experiences of all!!  During these days at home volunteers came to share skills with the children such as storytelling, mural making, Tai chi and horse riding.

The children were able to receive important healthcare during their stay visiting a dentist, optician and a homeopath. Each Friday night was “Music night” culminating in a wonderful and deeply moving performance on the last evening of their stay. It was, of course, not easy to say good-bye after sharing so much with them all. Temple Druid really thrived being full of so much life and laughter.

People who donated time, money and resources made all this possible. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the many people who helped to make it such a successful and magical holiday for all the children. It really would not have been possible without you all!

We are now engaged in planning this year’s group who will be arriving in June. That is very soon!!   It has been decided to make the annual visit during the summer so that the countryside of beautiful West Wales can be more fully enjoyed. So we have a lot of fundraising and organization ahead of us. We would warmly welcome any ideas, suggestions, or offers of help and of course donations are very welcome.  Please make any cheques out to The Dandelion Trust/Chernobyl Children and send to: The Dandelion Trust at the above address.   

All the best from the team at Temple Druid.

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Children from Belarus

Children from BelarusChildren from Belarus

 

The Dandelion Trust
41, The Limehouse Cut, 46 Morris Road, London E14 6NQ
Telephone: 020 7538 5633     Fax: 020 7537 7099     Email: mail@dandeliontrust.org
Registered charity number 328159

The Dandelion Trust