Upper House Farm, Crickhowell

PWMP logoUpper House Farm, Crickhowell

This large group of listed buildings was once part of Upper House Farm, established in the 17th century by the wealthy Rumsey family. In 1916 German prisoners of war rested here (see below).

The white building facing you as you enter the courtyard was a granary. To its left is Rumsey Place, an ancient mansion rebuilt in the 16th century. Behind the former granary is a gazebo (tower with hipped roof), built in the 18th century for servants from the Bear Hotel to watch the road for approaching carriages.

Facing the courtyard are the former farmhouse with a pigsty (probably built in the 17th century) and, on the south side, two large barns. Buildings to the west include the Malt House and Little Malt House. The Malt House was created, possibly in the 17th century, from part of Rumsey Place.

In 1878, long before drink-driving laws, John Saunders of Upper House Farm was fined for being “drunk on horseback” on the Brecon Road!

Hundreds prisoners of war came to the area in 1916 to fell timber for the government. Some of the Germans were allowed half an hour’s rest in the courtyard here, while walking from Abergavenny railway station to their camp. Many local residents, including children, took the opportunity to see Germans in the flesh. The Brecon County Times remarked that the Germans’ good physical condition showed they’d been well-treated by the British since their capture.

In summer 1918, 34 cadets and officers from Hereford Cathedral School camped at Upper House Farm and helped local farmers with harvesting. The war had depleted Britain’s agricultural workforce. After the war, the government urged councils to buy farms and let them to smallholders, to encourage ex-soldiers and others into farming. Breconshire County Council bought Upper House Farm for £3,200 from Lord Glanusk in 1919 and gave ex-soldiers preference when considering tenancy applications.

The farm was still in agricultural use in 1985, when the tenants (since 1947) were Nancy and Bill Williams. Some of the farmland was used in the 1990s to create Britain’s first “televillage”, a 39-home community with fast internet access for people who wanted to work from home (then known as “teleworking”). The venture collapsed in 2000 but the homes remain.

Today the farm buildings clustered around the Crickhowell Courtyard are home to a café and various small businesses.

With thanks to Crickhowell District Archive Centre

Postcode: NP8 1BZ    View Location Map

To continue the Crickhowell in WW1 tour, walk down Standard St and turn left at the main road. Follow the road to the Clarence Hall
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