Once known as Bryncaerau Castle, Parc Howard has long been the jewel in Llanelli’s crown, with it’s majestic house, museum and ornate gardens.
It was originally the home of prominent local businessman, Mr R.T.Howell.
Mr. Howell war chair of the local Health Board and a keen harbour commissioner.
After his death, the property was passed to the Buckley family and architect James Buckley Wilson who spent a great deal of money on the building, rebuilding it between 1882 and 1884 to its present Italianate form. James Buckley Wilson was an architect held in high esteem, whose portfolio included the construction of the Metropolitan Bank and Castle Buildings in Llanelli. However, Buckley considered Bryncaerau Castle to be one of his major works and included in his application to be admitted a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
On the 4 th January 1912, the local press made an announcement that Sir Stafford and Lady Howard had purchased Bryncaerau Castle and its adjoining land for the benefit of the town and its people. The newly married couple had agreed to purchase the estate for the price of £7,750 and let it to the council for an annual rental of £5.00 on the proviso that a number of clauses were agreed to. These included the future maintenance of the grounds which was to be taken over by the Authority. Another condition included Sir Stafford’s request that the council complete all work to turn the grounds into parkland within eight months. This would not have been achieved were it not for a miners’ strike in the march of that year, which put many men out of ework, allowing the council to employ them to carry out the work. It was also requested by the coupe that the pubic should be admitted free of charge to the park at all reasonable times.
ON September 21 st 1912, the park was officially opened by Lady Howard on the first anniversary of her marriage to Sir Stafford. This was described by the local papers as one of the most important events in Llanelli’s history. “It was a day marked with unprecedented rejoicings by young and old… who gathered together to appreciate a grand and noble gift.” It was written.
The mansion had been intended to be used as a museum; however, in 1915 the mansion was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers, with 40 soldiers occupying the five wards. Today the museum houses many interesting items from Llanelli’s history, including paintings from Sir Stafford and Lady Howard’s collection and a range of Llanelli pottery, gifted to the mansion in 1933.
On the western side of the park, a Gorsedd Circle marks the area where druids celebrate the Gorsedd ceremony to mark the occasion of the National Eisteddfod which was held in Llanelli in 1962.
Ghostly Goings On
It has been reported on many occasions, particularly in the early days, of a “ghostly presence” in the mansion house.
The ghost is reported to have appeared in a small room above the front entrance. Many believe this myth originated from the notion that the mansion is sited on an old Celtic burial ground. Rumour also has it that the museum is haunted by the ghost of a kitchen maid’s lover who, whilst hiding from the governess of the house, became lost in the network of chimney flues. His ghost can sometimes be heard tapping the walls at the back of the house.
The park is open every day of the year ( except Christmas Day ) from 7.30am until half an hour before dusk.