From the corner summerhouse set in the wall,

the towering lime trees between the canals –

at the eastern end of the formal garden –

are still leafless, like jet lace work, like nets

disentangling, against the light blue skies

and the white, driven, cumulus clouds of March.


This was a medium-sized business. They made

their money the usual gentry way from rents

plus coal, were typically self-sufficient,

using and selling their managed timber,

were unusually innovative in

hydraulic projects, exploiting Afon Ddu,

the stream that flows through the estate, named black

for the coal dust gathering in its bed.

The pit they owned was a couple of miles

away, its slagheap, now greening, still

clearly visible from the west front.

Factories took the small tenant farmers, wars

the gardeners and nationalisation

literally undermined the house. The last squire –

Oxbridge, of course, then priest manqué, thespian,

war service, holiday tour courier

before inheriting –  bequeathed house, gardens,

park, his redundant patrimony,

to the National Trust’s service industry

of conservation, crafts and carrot cake.


In October when the apples and the pears,

in all their traditional varieties,

have been harvested and the grounds are full

of diverse families and music plays,

there is a sense of something shared – not a

common culture but a moment of ease

and tranquillity, an event of order

and fruition before the sweet dusk enfolds.




  1. #1 by Toni Roberts - March 24th, 2013 at 23:03

    I LOVE your poetry. Extremely brilliant writer, articulate and metaphorically beautiful. You definitely have an admirer. I can’t wait to see more! Toni Anderson Roberts/Author of a children’s faith based poetry book titled ‘A Kite Named Jack and Other Rhymes’ featured on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and ITunes. I would love to have a signed copy (and willing to pay) of some of your poetry. My grandfather was from Wales, my mother and grandmother from England. Your poetry inspires me to write even better as I have just started on my second book. Please do stay in touch! I am a new author and just had a huge spread in the newspaper and my writing doesn’t come even close to this as far as I am concerned.

  2. #2 by Mary Clark - March 26th, 2013 at 01:48

    Alliterative, well paced. And concise:

    Factories took the small tenant farmers, wars
    the gardeners and nationalisation
    literally undermined the house.

    This is poetry with style and meaning.

  3. #3 by John Huddart - March 28th, 2013 at 00:53

    This is another favourite – Erddig, a lovely house – not grand, comfortable, earning its way – and how it manages a transition from its early life as a centre for the local economy to a place of leisure and quiet regeneration.

    And the Larkinesque [like ‘Show Saturday’, that jibe at the Trust!] love of life’s continuities and destinations, which are this, but not quite that, but are still palpable……you say it much better in that exquisite celebration of autumnal visiting – and the “sweet dusk enfolds.” Lovely ending!

    Right on form.

  4. #4 by Doreen Levin - October 6th, 2014 at 20:08

    What a beautiful poem! It gives such an interesting poetic account of all the changes in the life of a stately home in Wales. My father was in the RAF during World War 11, and stationed in Llandudno (sorry if I have misspelt it), and your poem reminds me of all the changes made through nationalisation all over the British Isles. I just couldn’t resist responding immediately. Best wishes.

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