Built in 1795 by Sir Benjamin Hammet, Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn has a rich and varied history. Parts of the building date back to 1450, the house has been known by various names over the last 500 years including, Plas, Ty Mawr Y Gwaith, Castell Malgwyn , Hammet House in honour of the knight who had the vision to create the magnificent building, grounds and estate. The house now holds the name of Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn, an amalgamation of its two former names.
Sir Benjamin Hammet was born a humble barber’s son in Taunton, Somerset, & rose to become the Sheriff of London. Sir Benjamin moved to our corner of West Wales in 1791 to purchase and manage the Penygored tin works which were situated just downstream from the house. Hammett street in the City of London & Hammet Street in Taunton both still bear Sir Benjamin’s name after he improved and redeveloped them along with the surrounding areas in the 18th century. He also enabled the restoration of much of Taunton castle in the 1780s.
In 1781 Sir Benjamin founded & co-owned the bank of Esdaile, Hammet & co. of 21 Lombard Street, London, & was made MP for his home town of Taunton in 1782. He was knighted by King George III in 1786. In 1790 Sir Benjamin was the instrumental force behind the abolishment of the penalty of death by burning with the enforcement of The Treason Act of 1790.
In 1797, by which time he was in resident in West Wales, he was elected the Lord Mayor of London, an honour which he refused as he wished to remain near to his estate and business at the tin works. The town crier was dispatched to bring Sir Benjamin back to London to fulfil his role, & upon his refusal he was fined £1,000.
In the time he was here Sir Benjamin made enormous changes to the land surrounding Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn. He built his magnificent mansion and created extensive pleasure grounds on the surrounding estate, constructed a new road and 2 bridges between the villages of Llechryd and Cilgerran. Both of these bridges still stand today, and both have commemorative plaques which bear Sir Benjamin’s name. ‘Castle Malgwyn’ Bridge is immediately to the right of the hotel gates and bears plaques on both sides, and the Hammet Bridge is en route to Cilgerran from the hotel and bears a plaque on the west wall.
Sir Benjamin died in 1800 leaving his wife Louisa and son John at the estate. John Hammet died at the age of 44 in 1811, the estate remained in the Hammet family until Louisa’s death in 1824, at which point it was purchased by Abel Anthony Gower.
The Gower family already owned the neighbouring Glandovan estate, Abel Lewis Gower who inherited Hammet House in 1837 developed the estate significantly, including building the courtyard stable block that still stands at the end of the drive today, currently a privately owned cottage complex.
The house passed through several generations of the Gower family, including being the home of Lily Gower, a highly skilled and famed croquet player who in 1899 became ‘Lady Champion of England’, a title which she retained for the next 3 years. She also regained this title nearly 30 years later in 1928.
Hammet @ Castell Malgwyn has many photographs of the Gower family including Lily Gower at leisure within the house and grounds dating back to 1898.
The last Gower to own the estate split up and sold the land in 1948.
Part of the original estate is now home to Llechryd cricket club, which is perhaps fitting as famous former England cricket captain David Gower is a descendant of James Gower, brother to Abel Anthony Gower who bought the estate from the Hammets way back in 1824.
The house was converted in to a hotel in 1960 and has been functioning as a country house hotel ever since.
7 acres of gardens are yours to explore at Hammet @ Castell Malgywn. We have some magnificent ancient trees, many of which have tree preservation orders. The front lawn steps down on to the croquet lawn that was created for Lily Gower in the late 1800s. The remains of the Victorian carriage drive to Cilgerran church head off in to the woods which are now privately owned. The side lawn leads away from the house to the South with a gentle upward slope.
From the side lawn, a track leads back towards the river Teifi, a slate chipped path takes you down to the river’s edge, from where you can walk alongside the river to the neighbouring village of Cilgerran, and climb up a steep set of steps to the spectacular ruins of Cilgerran Castle which is a National trust property open to visitors. This spectacular walk is very popular amongst our guests and takes approximately 50 minutes each way.
Along the way can be seen the remains of the slate mines, operated by the Gower family who owned Hammet @ Castell Malgywn from 1824 to 1948. The path does become very muddy when there has been rain, so please wear suitable footwear.
Squirrels can be spotted easily throughout the grounds, careful observers may also find otters on the river bank and leaping salmon in the water.