Readers I have an admission, I love a Busman’s Holiday! Do you? For my American friends a Busman's Holiday is a vacation spent doing things similar to one's normal work. The phrase was first recorded in 1893 in the UK. The idea is that a busman to go off on a vacation, would take an excursion by bus, thereby engaging in a similar activity to his ordinary work.
So when I should be probably be prostrate under a palm tree, I often take up residence in a country house hotel in order to take at peak at…..more portraits! If you share my passion, why not take a peak at Country House Hotels (part of the National Trust) as they are pioneers in the conservation of empty and oversized houses, which have been converted into hotels, which retain all the best facets of a grand country house. Bodysgallen Hall and Spa in North Wales is a case in point.
Secluded in over 200 acres of parkland 2 miles to the south of Llandudno with spectacular views of Snowdonia and Conwy Castle, Grade 1 listed Bodysgallen Hall serves up the very best in country house hospitality, as well as large slices of quality art! The C17th house has been skilfully and sympathetically restored by Historic House Hotels Limited since 1980 and given to the National Trust in 2008.
Bodysgallen is believed to have started life as a watchtower for Conwy Castle, probably in the C13th, to warn of surprise attack. It was not until late in the Elizabethan era, when it was owned by Richard Mostyn, the High Sheriff of Caernarvonshire, that it became a house. Through marriage this passed to the Wynn family and beady eyes will spot a tablet on the south-west gable bearing the initials of Robert and his wife Katherine Wynn "1620 R:W:K".
Today guests find a warm welcome by entering the oldest part of the house, the main hall. Above this is the Drawing Room which features a magnificent fireplace. Here you will find the C17th coats of arms of the Mostyns, Wynns and Vaughans, you can also see these in the stained glass windows in the Dining Room and main stairwell.
Like many grand homes, Bodysgallen Hall has gradually evolved over the centuries from modest hamlet to a large and comfortable country house, surrounded by one of the finest Arts and Crafts gardens in Wales. I spent hours in the beautiful gardens, which include a rare 17th century parterre of box hedges filled with sweet-scented herbs, and a walled rose garden along with several follies!
Guess what? It’s the art at Bodysgallen Hall that really excites me. Highly decorative paintings, quality oil portraits, drawings, and mezzotints abound, just the type of art that I love, ALL day and EVERY day. I even noticed a particular portrait, which I feel may be quite a discovery. So dear friends, watch this space… I told you it was a busman’s holiday!
By Nick Cox.
To visit Bodysgallen Hall, The Royal Welsh Way, Bodysgallen Ln, Llandudno LL30 1RS Telephone: 01492 584 466.