To the east of the Black Mountain is the valley of the River Tawe or Swansea Valley. The valley
was heavily industrialised as far north as Ystradgynlais, but the upper reaches remained
agricultural apart from the quarrying of limestone. It was in this part of the valley that Captain Rice
Davies Powell, the son of a local family returned in 1840 to build a neo-gothic country house.
The property was sold in the mid 1870s to another local, Morgan Morgan, but it was the next
owner who was its most celebrated and lavished money on this property.
In 1878 Craig y Nos Castle was purchased by Adelina Patti, then one of the most famous
sopranos in the world. She was captivated by the romantic setting of the castle and set about
Adelina Patti was born in Madrid in 1843 to Italian parents who were both operatic singers.
Adelina performed for the crowned heads of Europe and a tour of America earned her
£100,000. After an unhappy marriage she divorced in 1885 and married Ernest Nicholini a
French tenor a year later. Adelina set about extending the castle, buiding a private theatre
seating 150 people, north and south wings, a winter garden and clock tower. The extensions
can be seen in red sandstone.
Adelina’s professional career ended in 1900, though she still filled the Royal Albert Hall in 1914
for a charity concert. In 1918 she presented her Winter Garden to Swansea where it became
the Patti Pavilion. One of the two fountains that graced the Winter Garden is now seen outside
the main entrance.
The River Tawe in the grounds of Craig y Nos where Ernest Nicholini enjoyed trout fishing
After her death in 1919, the Castle was sold to the Welsh National Memorial Trust in 1921 and
became a hospital until 1986 when it passed into private hands. It has recently been restored
and is open as a hotel and function centre, with the theatre used for weddings. The parkland is
now a countryside park operated by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, offering
woodland walks and picnic areas.
Adelina Patti’s initials adorn a bridge over the river
A history of Craig y Nos Castle is given by Len Ley at http://history.powys.org.uk/history/ystrad/craig1.html
Details of the Hotel are at www.craigynoscastle.comTop of Page
Site and Photographs © Geoffrey Davies 2008-10 Contact firstname.lastname@example.org