The New Cefn Castell

This blog will chart the building of a new house on the site of the 400 year old farm house known as Cefn Castell located on a spectacular plot on the Welsh coastline near Criccieth.

We think this site deserves a building of real architectural merit and hope that it will help bring quality tourism and prosperity to the  region.

We’d really like to know what you think of our plans – particularly if you live locally so please feel free to leave your comments.

Aerial Shot Showing Cefn Castell on the Left Before the Fire (courtesy Pixaerial)








We are planning to build a house inspired by the Modernist movement of the 1920s and take inspiration from Clough Williams Ellis fantastic Cafe Morannedd on the beach at Criccieth. We understand that this won’t be to everyone’s taste but hope that people appreciate the quality of what we are hoping to achieve.


Clough Williams Ellis Cafe Morannedd at Criccieth

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51 Responses to The New Cefn Castell

  1. BILL LEIGHTON says:

    I don’t know if this will be of interest to you. In 1956 I was “pressganged” into starting a scout troop in Wolverhampton. The next two years we camped locally, but in 1959 and again in 1960 we held our summer camp at Cefn Castell. An elderly couple – Mr & Mrs Thomas I think- lived at the farm. They were very kind to us. I saw your notice at the ruined farmhouse whilst on holiday last week. Good luck with your plans!
    Bill Leighton

    • admin says:

      Thanks for taking the time to post. We know very little about the history of the farmhouse so this is helps to fill in some of the gaps.
      Regards Rob

      • J Peter Morgan says:

        I only just came upon this, by a coincidental rout of looking for a campsite to use this May around Criccieth. After achieving that I just thought I would look at the place where I camped with the Scouts in 1959 and 1960. I noticed the Grand Designs house and looked further into it as I had missed the program, only to discover the posting by Bill Leighton (my old Scout Master) I remember the farm well and the field behind that was used I think over several years by various Scout Groups. The Guides used to Camp up in the grounds of Bron Eifion Country House I remember. Lots of good memories of those times, I hopefully will see the place in May this year.

  2. Ted Gould says:


    Saw your notice whilst walking the dogs today, great spot for a house. Always felt it would be nice if the cottage could be rebuilt but your proposed structure will look grand. Trust you’re far enough back from the cliff edge; I’m sure you will have taken advice.



    • admin says:


      Thanks for the post.
      Yes the cliffs are a very big issue!
      We are building as far back in the plot as possible and the experts say that should give us 80-100 years. Should see me out!


  3. Bill Milbourne says:

    My great-grandmother, Anne Charles was born in the old house in 1851 soon after her parents took on the farm. She married a mining engineer and moved to Northumberland but her parent stayed on at the farm.
    My great great grandfather, William Charles, died there in 1892 and my great great grandmother Jane died there in 1906.
    My great grandmother’s sister, Elizabeth, married a John Thomas in about 1870 and they took over the farm from her parents and passed it on to their son William, my grandmother’s cousin. He seems to have still been there in the 60s when Bill Leighton visited.
    Anne never went back to Wales and seems to have lost touch with her family. We never knew any of them.

    The farm originally had 10 acres of land with it but I think it was all rented.

    I walked past the property for the first time last spring and was sad to see the state it was in so I was very pleased to see your sign on the gate when I went back today. Do you know what happened to turn it into a ruin. Was it a fire or just old age and neglect?

    • admin says:

      Hi Bill
      Many thanks for your very interesting post.
      We really would have liked to have saved the old house but it’s just too close to the edge.
      I understand that it burned down about three years ago.
      It’s great to have a record of its history however and we’ll be keeping some remnant of the old house togther with its history so thanks again.
      Kind regards

    • Llinos Griffith says:

      My mother was born in Cefn Castell, her grandfather was William Charles Thomas who farmed there with his family.

  4. Maureen Madden says:

    I regularly holiday on the Llyn peninsula and have done so for much of my life. A favourite walk for my aunt and I with our dogs is the coastal path past Cefn Castell. We have seen the gradual demise of the building and wondered about its ultimate fate.
    It was interesting to see signs of development last year and even more intriguing to read details of how to find out more from your sign on the gate which we saw last Friday.
    I have just read your blog and looked at the photos and plans. Very brave of you and very considerate to share the project in this way. I think everyone who regularly visits a favourite place feels that it’ belongs’ to them in some way and it can seem so hostile to pass places which issue threats of ‘Preifat’/Private – Keep out, etc. Obviously, you have to be concerned for security but the invitation you have extended to see and learn more in this way is most sympathetic and considerate of the feelings of those who know and love the place so much; as you yourselves have evidently come to do.
    I look forward to any signs of progress at my next visit in early July and in the future.
    Best wishes, Maureen Madden

    • admin says:

      What a great post – thank you!
      I agree entirely with your sentiments. What a pity to have to blot the landscape with ugly “keep out” signs. I had hoped to just leave the on-site caravan open so that people could shelter in it but the level of vandalism meant I had to take security measures and of course in our litigeous society all “dangerous” sites have to be identified in case someone falls off something.
      Nonetheless, I think your comments about feeling “ownership” of your favourite places touched a nerve and I hope that our little project will, in the long term, enhance this location that lots of people appear to enjoy.
      Thanks again for your thoughts

  5. Cath Shaw says:

    Hi Rob,
    unlike the others who have commented I know nothing at all about Cefn Castell ! ! But I have dreamt about it for years and always thought what a wonderful place to live. Every time I see it (I visit the area very regularly and walk past it with my dogs) I imagine what it must be like to wake up there on a morning. You are very lucky to be able to do so (well soon anyway) I will look forwards to seeing what you do over time.

  6. Maureen Madden says:

    Hello Rob,
    We were back in Morfa Nefyn a couple of weeks ago and were a little anxious for you when we made our first visit to Criccieth and back along the path past Cefn Castell as there appeared to have been no change since our last foray 8 weeks earlier. We spent a couple of days speculating on possible planning/weather problems etc!!
    How delighted we were some days later at our next visit to encounter two young men, with some serious camera equipment, who told us that they were taking location shots for the TV programme and that they believed work on the site would shortly begin.
    I read with great interest therefore, your subsequent update on the Channel 4 project.
    The very best of luck and we shall look forward to our next viewing!

    • rob hodgson says:

      Hi Maureen

      Thanks for the post. Thinks are moving ahead – very slowly! We into the rather unpleaseant topic of budget and trying to work out how we can do all that we want to. Still optimistic about making a start this summer (if you can call this summer!)


  7. Marion says:

    Just seen your cottage for the first time – will follow your progress with interest. Can the channel 4 program be viewed again anywhere ?

    • admin says:


      Thanks for the post. The programme hasn’t be aired yet so you haven’t missed it! Won’t be on until the house is complete which at the current rate of progress will be a while.


  8. Mandy Ryan says:

    We walked past Cefn Castell a couple of times on our recent holiday, and thought it was a fantastic site for a house. We also loved the style of the cafe at Criccieth, so the combination of the two sounds great. I look forward to hearing more about the progress of your project and wish you all the best with it.

  9. Marilyn and Brian Connolly says:

    How exciting – have been watching with interest when out walking and hadn’t been
    past for a few weeks but were so pleased to see when passing last week that the new access road had appeared and some preliminary work commenced. Good luck and we look forward to more progress soon.

    Marilyn and Brian

  10. Dennis says:

    Mandy Ryan should see it now, The heavy gang have been at it for only two days and barely a stone is left standing. Even the back hedge has gone. Those lads don’t hang about. What will they do with the great pile of stones I wonder.

  11. Stephen says:

    Living very close to your site and as someone who regularly runs & walks past I look forward to following your exciting development. Very glad to hear that the planners have been kind.

    Lets get Criccieth on the map.

    All the best


  12. John Hughes says:

    Hello, my name is John Hughes and i farm at Ynysgain Fawr which runs up to the boundry of your land. We have been farming here since 1943.

    Its good to see that your project is moving along, and we look forward to see the finished article.

    • admin says:

      Hi John. Good to hear from you. Am I right in thinking you are related to
      Hugh Hughes? I seem to think you are brothers? Hugh has been a great help
      On the project. It would be nice to meet you and I hope you will
      call in if you see me on site. Regards Rob

    • admin says:

      Hi John
      Hope all is well.
      I thought you might to know that Cefn Castell is featured on Grand Designs House of the Year tonight at 9.00pm.
      I don’t think we make the shortlist but you can take part in the viewer’s vote here
      I hope you enjoy!

  13. Roy Gregory says:

    I have only recently herd about your project at Cefn Castell, I am so glad the site is not being left derelict. This is a reply to a question on the 13th May 2012. The previous owner kept it in excellent condition. I put a notice in the window of the Petrol Station just after the fire offering a reward of £2500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of person[s] responsible for the arson attack on 27th December 2007. Good luck with the new build
    Roy Gregory.

    • admin says:

      Hi Roy

      Thanks for getting in touch – yes the site was looking rather sad with the burned out house but I felt terrible when we made it look even worse! Feel like we are past the worst now and things should start improving.


  14. anthony mcdonald says:

    Great to see the progress. Must be very exciting.


  15. Leigh Munton says:

    I walked past Cefn Castell today, on an exploratory walk from Criccieth along the coastal path. I’ve never walked there before so know nothing of the history of the site but was delighted to read your little friendly notice on the fence explaining what was happening there. It was so refreshing for me to find this public spirited attitude that I wanted to write to convey that to you! Thank you and good luck with your project.

    • admin says:

      Hi Leigh

      Many thanks for your post. Glad you found the note helpful.
      There should also be a Welsh version but it keep disappearing.
      I’ll replace it later this week.

  16. David Williams says:

    Can you tell when your house will be on grand designs as I did o lot of the steelwork for it at evadx. Hope it went up well.

  17. Hi
    I walked past the house a couple of weeks back and it will fetaure in my blog. What’s the story of why the project has taken so long and how come this blog has dried up? Good luck with getting it finished.

    • admin says:

      Hi Charles thanks for the post.
      Yes it does seem to be taking a long time! Our builders are fantastic and are doing a great job but maybe not the quickest. It’s a small but quite complex building to put up and the access has made the whole thing quite difficult. Being on the edge of a cliff in an SSSI also means we need to be very careful.
      Sorry that the blog dried up – partly because the tv people like the programme to reveal the house for the first time. Partly because I have been rather distracted.
      All the best.

  18. Ros says:

    Hi Rob and Kay

    I’m keeping my eye on Grand Designs for your project! Hope everything is progressing well, although I know from personal experience how draining financially and emotionally these things can be – all the very best.
    Ros (Matt’s mum)

    • admin says:

      Hi Ros
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      You are right … we are totally fed up with the whole thing at the moment but no doubt that will pass.
      It seems to be taking forever and deadlines slip by one after another.
      The entire tv thing is an additional pressure and hasn’t exactly helped although it’s certainly enabled us to do some good deals with suppliers along the way.
      Probably on the telly late September – we are dreading it.
      Enough negativity! Hope all is well with Matt – joe is doing his world trip and we hope will settle in manchester when he gets back.
      All the best
      Rob and Kay

  19. Jeff Smith says:

    Hi Guys,I’ve been watching your project at Cefn Castle with great interest for some time now (we have a house in Criccieth).It’s really taking shape and will be a fabulous place to be…. and I just love the stone wall around the property !
    I’m an Engineer with some appreciation of slope stability matters,and I just happened to be on the beach this week and I see that a large quantity of earth (subsoil) has been tipped over the slope down to the beach. This has effectively buried all the vegetation that once covered this slope (and would have had a role to play in keeping the slope drained and stable).I wondered if this is a cosmetic covering over a soil nailing slope stabilisation operation ? I hope this is the case.But if not,I’d be inclined to get your slope stability/erosion Consultants (Groundsolve ?) to check it out.
    If it’s all under control,please forgive me for being a busybody.
    Best of luck with the project.
    Regards,Jeff Smith.

    • admin says:

      Hi Jeff
      Thanks for the post.
      Don’t worry about being a busybody!
      The soil doesn’t cover up anything I’m afraid – the rock nailing comes in at six figures which isn’t in the budget right now.
      Although the clay will cover some vegetation, mostly it’s over bare clay and I’ve tried to replace some of the ground lost to the tidal surge in January.
      I now intend to carry out some planting (local grasses / gorse etc) to stabilise the slope but it’s a bit of an experiment and heavy rain could wash the whole lot away.
      We’ll see.
      Glad you liked the wall!

  20. Sue Kelly says:

    We have had regular visits past Cefn Castell over the last seven years or so, and have been intrigued then impressed by the project. It’s a very brave thing to do, put such a modern style of building on the site of an old Welsh cottage. Having seen the structure grow, I am hugely impressed by the design and layout of the building, with the wonderful light rooms and amazing views – great design. Very much looking forward to seeing the finished building, and garden! And congratulations on your tenacity. I’m sure it has been an enormous challenge!

    • admin says:

      Hi Sue
      Your comments were very well timed and much appreciated as we “dig deep” to try to get everything finished before the end of the month.
      Despite the odd “looks like a car showroom” and “complete monstrosity” comments have been extremely favorable, particularly given the sensitivity of the site. We are really thrilled with the way it’s looking and are in debt to our fantastic architect John Boardman from Stephenson Architects.
      It certainly has been a challenge but one which we hope will finally reap rewards when we can just sit down and admire the view.
      Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  21. Marilyn and Brian Connolly says:

    Hi Rob

    Have been past Cefn Castell a few times in the last few weeks, most recently this morning and are delighted to see that the end is almost nigh! The whole house looks fabulous and the outside stone wall is a delight to see. What clever men those stonesmasons are! We are especially pleased to see you are almost done as we will be leaving the area in late September and don’t know when we will be back. We were only saying on the way there today that we hoped we would see the finished house before we leave and lo and behold you are almost there. We managed to get some good shots from where they were finishing the wall, thanks to the kind guy who let me stand on his plank to take them! We were also pleased to see the cameraman working and hoped to see you and Kevin on site but no luck. Any idea when the programme will be screened? We can’t wait to see it. We have loads of question that need answers!
    We have a few weeks before we leave so will certainly be walking around again. The stonemasons said you were hoping to finish next week so all the very best to you both.
    Regards Marilyn and Brian

  22. David Williams says:

    Hi I worked on the steel at evadx when will the house be on grand design please

  23. Cath Shaw says:

    Hi there, just to say I very much enjoyed the TV programme – I haven’t been to Criccieth for 18 months due to ill-health so was not sure how you were progressing. Your children came across as a great credit to you both. Well done for struggling to make your dreams come true – it will never happen for most of us

  24. Peter Carr says:

    Just thought I should let you know your burglar alarm was sounding off Friday 28th pm when I walked past and my wife says it was still sounding off today, Sunday, when she walked past. We had some strong breeze over the last few days, not unusual here, so maybe that blew in a bit of glass or something. I really cannot see much point in having burglar alarms in such a remote spot, just disturbs the wild life as the rest of us take little notice.
    Peter Carr

  25. admin says:

    Hi Mandy

    Thanks for the post. I hope we can build something that lives up to your expectations!


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