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At Glyn Cywarch, Ancient Home of the Harlech Family, Grand Romance Meets Creature Comforts

Francis and I were married in 1986, and then along came our son, Jasset, and daughter, Tallulah. After that, we would spend a theoretical half-year in Wales—all of Christmas, all of Easter, then the whole summer. The sadness was that Francis’s father had died in 1985, and inheriting the house came with towering death duties, and the puzzle of making it all work. But I left that 
to him, and worried chiefly about making Glyn Cywarch a home.

We would fill the house up with friends; at one point I felt like I was running a hotel, for all the bed-making and trips down to the beach before breakfast and then up to the waterfalls for a picnic. We had Easter egg hunts that went on for hours, with really difficult clues that went up into the woods, or to the crenelated little folly, and there were secret places in the garden. It was wild 
and wonderful.

Brooks’s whippet Cuckoo steals a glimpse of the Long Room, with its Pleyel piano (“Very good for playing Chopin or Debussy,” Harlech notes) and handsome sconces, copied from a pair that Harlech has at home in Shropshire.

Once, I showed Franca Sozzani some pictures that a friend of mine, Tessa Traeger, had taken when we’d had a whole gang staying at the house. We’d all been dressing up and going into the woods and putting branches on our heads, and I think Franca saw the freedom and the sense of the eternal child in them—all of which was very Bruce Weber. So, he came and photographed our family, friends, horses, and dogs for Vogue Italia in 1997. It rained and rained, as it does in Wales, but nobody seemed to mind.

After Francis died, in 2016, and the house passed to Jasset, I remember saying to him that some places are so spiritually linked with an ancient family—to the point that the stone steps have been worn away by generations, and the land has been loved and treasured and known like the palm of somebody’s hand—they’re irreplaceable. He determined, therefore, that after paying the taxman (which he did with the profits from an enormous sale of furniture, art, and jewelry at Bonhams in 2017) he would keep the estate and restore a house that was in really bad condition. There had been fire damage, water damage, ivy growing inside—you name it. It was a Grade II*–listed building, teetering on the edge of ruin. One had to do the right thing.

Now, seven years on, what’s changed? The grand façade looks the same, just beautifully repaired. The inside is very different. We couldn’t take it back to being Jacobean—it already had its ’70s thumbprint, and Grade II*–listed buildings (identified as “particularly important buildings of more than special interest”) can’t be significantly altered without consent from local authorities—so we found work-arounds. If the flagstones in the Long Room had been ripped up and replaced by parquet laid onto concrete 50 years ago, our idea was to add under-floor heating and a beautiful polished cement overlay that would have the feel and the warmth of flagstones.

I’m proud of so many rooms. I love the Coronet Room, with its curving windows. I had a beautiful Fendi mattress in what we call the Elizabethan Room, so I asked a friend of mine to make a bed using the bits of Jacobean carving that we found around a fireplace in another building; we figured out that they had actually come from a four-poster bed. I love the Poet’s Room, where Ellis Wynne once wrote and, we believe, drew the dragons and flora on the walls. We converted the loft space—with its overflowing old suitcases and hampers beneath the exposed beams and rafters—into what will be a yoga room. I love the dining room because of the fireplace, but the Long Room has two of them.



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