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'Moo' honour for squire

Created on 17/10/2011 @ 11:29
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First there was a beer brewed and named as a tribute to Arthur Blayney, the 18th century bachelor squire of Gregynog. Now he has inspired Mid Wales artist Julia Harris to create one of her popular ‘Moo’ paintings in his honour.
The idea of basing one of her humorous cow’s head paintings on the popular squire, who died in 1795, came when she visited Gregynog Hall and was given a guided tour by director Karen Armstrong.
The painting will be hung in the Courtyard café at Gregynog Hall alongside other work by Julia Harris and there are plans to replicate it in a series of ‘Blayney Moo’ gift cards to be sold in the shop there.
“What better way to remember this well respected gentleman squire of Gregynog than in a range of locally brewed beer and a range of gift cards inspired by a local artist,” said Miss Armstrong.
“Squire Blayney is a character well loved by the staff here, as stories are told that, when he ran the estate for over 40 years, not even a dog left the Gregynog Estate hungry. That is the level of hospitality that the current staff are striving to achieve!”
The beer, Blayney’s Brew, was developed by brewer Pam Honeyman, owner of Monty’s Brewery at Hendomen, Montgomery, and is sold in the bar, courtyard café and shop at Gregynog Hall, the University of Wales’ historic and picturesque conference and event venue and study centre.
Described as an unpretentious man, Arthur Blayney was famous for his hospitality and generosity and was also known as an agricultural improver.
“During his time at Gregynog, the house was not grand but comfortable and visitors of every estate were welcome at his table, which groaned with local produce rather than expensive luxuries, except for his port, in which he took a characteristically 18th century pleasure,” said Miss Armstrong.
“He treated his tenants as friends and did all he could to help them improve their lands. Indeed he made no rent increases for 40 years and left each of his servants five guineas in his will. One of his most charming memorials is the note he left giving instructions for his funeral, which he desired to be as plain, quiet and early in the morning as possible.”
The fine heraldic carvings in Gregynog Hall’s Blayney Room date to 1636 when they were commissioned by David Lloyd Blayney’s grandson, John. The carvings depict in relief the coats of arms of the Welsh princes and chieftains from whom the Blayneys claimed descent, reaching back to those early times where legend and history intermingle.

It was once believed that the carvings were executed by itinerant Flemish woodcarvers, but as there had been an important Newtown School of woodcarvers based in the area in the late Middle Ages it is not impossible that their skills passed to descendants who might have had a hand in the work. 

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