~ Cefn Ila Maternity Hospital ~
The following recent history of Cefn Ila has been carefully researched but any errors, omissions or additions would be gratefully received!
Cefn Ila has had a long and colourful history, about 1846 to 1857 it belonged to Edward John Trelawney (1792-1881) who was a close friend of Shelly and Byron. Much has been written about Trelawney so there is no need for me to write about him here, needless to say he was an extraordinary character. Trelawney sold Cefn Ila to one Michael Parker Smith who in turn sold it to Edward Lister (1813-1885) who was from the Everton area of Liverpool. It was Edward Lister had Cefn Ila rebuilt on the site of the earlier Cefn Ila house in the mid-1860's, he also made many improvements to the estate, this work was carried out by architect Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905). Edward Lister died in 1885 in a riding accident whilst out hunting near Llanvair Discoed and he was succeeded by his son, Edward Longworth Lister (1856-1896) who was a major in the Monmouthshire militia and latterly served as the chief steward to the estates of the Duke of Beaufort. Edward Longworth Lister died at Cefn Ila after a short illness in July 1896 aged only 40. Following the death of her husband Elizabeth Margaret Lister (1860-) resolved to selling Cefn Ila and the estate was put up for auction in May 1897 comprising of a 'Modern family mansion, three compact farms, woodlands and plantations'. The Estate was split up and sold to various purchasers, however, the reserve price of the Mansion wasn't met so it was withdrawn from sale and Mrs. Lister decided instead to let the property instead.
In March 1898 Cefn Ila was leased to Henry William Hartmann (1866-1910), a well-known Cardiff merchant, the lease was to run for seven years, terminable at five years but during this time Mr. Hartmann and Mrs. Lister entered into a bitter dispute over the condition of the house and grounds and the lease was in fact terminated at the earlier instance. Acrimonious accusations were thrown back and forth by both parties and eventually the case went to arbitration with Mrs.Lister being awarded 'substantial damages'. By 1911 Cefn Ila was owned by Compte Gerard Gustavus Ducarel, the 4th Marquis de la Pasture (1888-1916) whose family had left France during the French revolution (1789-1799), and came to live in England. The Marquis died at Cefn Ila in January 1916 and was succeeded by his son, Comte Gerard Hugh de la Pasture, 5th Marquis de la Pasture (1886-1962). The Marquis put the estate up for sale in September 1918 and thus began the end of the Cefn Ila mansion for use as a private house. The mansion was probably bought by Walter Stafford Gustard (1869-1940) who's own estate, The Mayfield, bordered Cefn Ila on part of it's northern side. In any event it was W.S .Gustard who gave the mansion to Pontypool and District Hospital in 1925 for use as a convalescent home to be named in memory of his first wife, Kate Ayres Gustard (1867-1924).
'The Kate Ayres Gustard Convalescent Home' opened on 3rd October 1925 in glorious autumnal sunshine. It had cost around £2,500 (approximately £140,000 in today's money) to convert the house for it's future purpose and as such provided a convalescent home for 24 women and children. Such was the importance of the occasion that, even though no invites were sent out, some 200 to 300 people turned up to witness the opening, however, the donor of the house, Mr. Gustard could not attend having suffered a serious breakdown in his health when his wife died some 1½ years before. By 1939, due to the 2nd world war, Cefn Ila was used as a sick bay for children evacuated to the area from London and other cities. In 1947 Cefn Ila was brought into service by Pontypool and District Hospital as a maternity home with accommodation for 18 patients, in 1948 it was taken over by the National Health Service, continuing as a Maternity Unit. Cefn Ila Maternity Hospital closed (as a temporary measure) on 3rd September 1973 and its patients transferred to the County Hospital in Griffithstown, near Pontypool.
During the early hours of Friday 14th September 1973, less than two weeks after it had closed, fire broke out at Cefn Ila. The time of outbreak and the remote location of the house ensured that the fire had a good hold before the arrival of the fire brigade, there was also restricted access for the fire engines a lack of water for firefighting which made things worse. The fire consumed everything except the shell of the house. Today, all that remains of this once grand house is a pile of moss-covered bricks and stone. The coach house and stable block (also designed by Alfred Waterhouse) remained in relatively good condition until 2010 when they were demolished and replaced with a bat roost, the walled garden is still there to be seen.
A new chapter in Cefn Ila's long history started in 2007 when most of what was left of the estate was sold by auction to the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw).
If you need any more information about Cefn Ila or you would like to know where it was....or, on the other hand, if you have any photos of Cefn Ila, information or memories just get in touch, click here
Click the photos to enlarge.
June 1960 - In the photo (left to right) Violet Jeffries with daughters Molly, Joan and Marlene - Photo by Alan Henderson.
June 1960 - In the photo (left to right) Joan Miers and Molly Schuneman - Photo by Alan Henderson.
Scans of the complete 1925 book commemorating the opening of the 'The Kate Ayres Gustard Convalescent Home' (Cefn Ila) including some exciting interior photos!!!!
Fascinating report about the opening of Cefn Ila from the Friday, October 9th, 1925 edition of the Free Press of Monmouthshire.
The Cefn Ila Estate sale catalogue from 1897
The Cefn Ila Estate sale catalogue from 1918
'Monmouthshire sketchbook No. 227' by the distinguished local historian and artist Fred Hando
from the 24.5.57 issue of the South Wales Argus.
The terraced lawn steps photos
The coach house and stable block, April '09 photos
The demolition of the coach house and stable block photos
Cefn Ila 'Now and then' photos
The lawn rollers at Cefn Ila
Some history of the early years of Cefn Ila here from Bradney's A History of Monmouthshire.
Me, March 1958 at Cefn Ila!
Great aerial photos of Cefn Ila taken in 1947 - the year Cefn Ila became a maternity hospital. The photo on the right clearly shows the walled garden neatly laid out with rows of fruit and veg! Click the photos.