An extract of Mary Curtis’s text published in the book “The Antiquities of Laugharne” second edition published in 1880.
A sketch of Island House from the rear of the garden by Mary Curtis (1856)
“Island House, a most ancient and interesting one, is near the castle ; its walls in some parts as thick as those of the castle. The projecting part of it is properly the middle of the house ; the other half, extending on the other side of it, was destroyed by accident by the cannon-balls fired on the castle by Cromwell’s soldiers. At that time a partisan of his was living in the house; and a small part of the half now extending out from the other side of the projecting part, was destroyed; one of the balls was preserved in the house up to 1823. It extended farther out at the back ; for on the outside wall, on the castle side, are two protuberances showing there had been a room ; besides, foundations proving a building went farther out. In the garden the foundation of a rounded tower was discovered underground in 1818; also Roman baths and leaden pipes ; an Etruscan urn was found in the Roman remains. About 150 years ago a small cottage was at the bottom of the garden not far from the wall by the Strand ; there were steps from it to the sea ; the wall at bottom of the garden did not go so far out as now. At the front of the house an old door opening into a yard bears the date 1658. There were two bridges belonging to Island House till 1800, when, through the neglect of a guardian to the then minor — the heir to the property — their possession was lost. One bridge was on the Strand, and taken away a few years ago ; the other remains close to the house. Formerly there was no thoroughfare before the house ; the public road went by that row of houses opposite the turning to Stoneway, and probably passed hence round the back of the mill which is on the Grist. This house appears in the sketch of the castle, dated 1740, and to the right of it.”
Update – 10 November 2020
Emergency Repair Works – 14 October 2020
Island House, which is a Grade 11* listed building, was purchased in March 2020. Work started immediately on emergency repairs, appointing an architect, structural engineers, historians and archaeologists. Discussions with Carmarthenshire Planning Dept were held. Our intention is to restore the house and make it a hotel, bar and restaurant. Completion is planned to take about three years.
Emergency Repair Works
Island House Restoration Ltd is undertaking emergency repair works to the Grade II* listed building on Wogan Street.
We are endeavouring to protect the building before the onslaught of winter sets in and the house suffers further damage and decay.
The spine wall of the building was dangerous and collapsing as a result of years of water ingress due to the collapse of much of the roof. The directors and owners of Island House Restoration Ltd. Philip Bond, and his brother, Stephen Kirkwood decided to demolish part of the spine wall and to replace the rotten oak floor beams and lintels.
The replacement floor beams and lintels are constructed of native air-dried oak which was sourced from a specialist supplier in Cirencester and transported to Laugharne.
Because there was no access to the grounds a crane was used to lift the enormous sections of oak over the boundary wall needed for the reconstruction of the failed spine wall.
Island House Restoration Ltd would like to thank the Town Council for allowing us to use the foreshore to carry out this task.
The next phase of the project will be to rebuild the twelve chimney stacks and start roof replacement. If needed we will install temporary roofing so that work can continue inside in the dry.
Designs for the hotel, restoration of the house and planning applications are being prepared by our consultants.
For five months there has been a team of archaeologists, financed by ourselves, from Dyfed Archaeological Trust (DAT) excavating within the grounds of Island House peeling back layer upon layer of soil in two sizeable trenches to see what history lays beneath the ancient site. Many fragments of medieval poetry have been found as well as the foundations for buildings older than Island House. At this moment it is inconclusive what these foundations were for. Our experts are searching museums archives and libraries to find what was built on the site before Island House.
We have found by testing oak beam samples using dendrochronology [tree ring dating] that the west end of the house dates back to 1437.
We are searching for old photographs, drawings and paintings that show the house, so if anyone has anything please tell us on by phone – 01994 231377, email – firstname.lastname@example.org or by post – Island House Restoration Ltd, Hen Capel Mair, Sawmills Lane, St Clears, Carmarthenshire SA33 4EN
The images on this page show some before and after pictures to demonstrate how far we have come along by clearing out debris and making the building safe.
Progress up to 31st May 2020
Since purchasing Island House in March 2020 the following has been done .
The roofs and floors have been supported.
Debris from the collapse of roofing and floors has been removed.
The garden and house have been surveyed and record photographs taken.
A tree survey and report was made , approved by Carmarthen County Council , and the garden cleared of overgrowth and trees damaging the Grade 11 listed boundary wall .
Historians and archivists have been appointed to research the history of the house , its past owners and the damage made to the house in 1644 during the Civil War.
Architects and other consultants and advisors have been appointed .
Planning and Targets
Started archeology 1st of June 2020.
Reconstruct all roofing before the end of 2020.
Complete the restoration of the house and open it as a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar before Summer 2023.
Consultants and Advisors
Architects -Davies Sutton , Cardiff
Structural Engineers – Mann Williams, Cardiff
Business Advisors – Landsker- Whitland , Carmarthenshire
Building Historian – Rob Scourfield – Kilgetty , Pembrokeshire
Historian and Archivist – David Llewellyn – Templeton, Pembrokeshire
Archeologists- Dyfed Archeological Trust, Llandeilo , Carmarthenshire
Dendrochronologists – Tree Ring Services, Mitcheldean , Gloustershire
Arboriculture Consultants – David Rice Forestry
Architectural Geologist – Dr Tim Palmer , Aberystwyth University
Ecologists – Wild Wood Ecology , Caerphilly,Carmarthenshire