The area around the house is steeped in history, a 10 minute walk will take you to the picturesque green cwm with its Neolithic seven valley tomb and cathole cave where in 2011 the oldest known cave art in North Western Europe was discovered. A site known as church hill lying above the cwm was also recently excavated yielding a large quantity of roman artifacts.
The name Parc-Le-Breos however originates from the ancient hunting park of the Breos family on which the house is built. The original park of the de Breos lords encompassed a large part of the South Gower landscape, some 2000 acres in all. The park dates from around 1220 and its boundary’s can easily be picked out on an OS map today. If you take a walk from the house to 3 cliffs bay you will cross the boundary as you leave Parc woods for Cefn Bryn. In all the boundary runs for over 6.7 miles.
Although the oldest maps and references indicate a dwelling at the site, the existing house is thought to date from the early eighteen hundreds reaching its heyday under the ownership of the Vivian family in the late eighteen hundreds. The Vivian family or at least John Vivian arrived here in Gower from Cornwall in around 1800 and became a managing partner in a copper smelting works In Penclawdd and Loughor. By around 1809 john, and his son john Henry had set up the company Vivian and sons and opened their own works in the Hafod where the business grew. By 1840 the Hafod works were the largest in the world, the Vivian’s became enormously wealthy. Although the white rock copper works had existed in Swansea since 1737 due to the Vivian’s success in the industry they are widely accredited with the industrialisation of the lower Swansea valley employing over 3000 people there in 1886. The Vivian’s were great innovators of the industrial age they developed new efficient furnaces for the smelting of zinc at Margam. At their peak the Vivian’s owned various metallurgical production and processing companies, phosphate works, brick works mines and collieries as far afield as Norway and Chile and had secured a 27% share of the copper market. From the late 1800 their company slowly declined eventually being bought out in 1927 by a company which in now imperial chemical industries (ICI)
Little is known to date of the origins of the older part of the house but it is likely that Graham Vivian made many of the extensions and alterations that resulted in the house which stands today this was complete by the time of the first ordinance survey map surveyed in 1897. Some fascinating accounts survive describing the house and farm in their hey day the accounts describe the rooms of the house in detail right down to the photographic dark room (every house should have one) moving outside the terraces and gardens with rosery’s and parterres for flowers and the old kitchen gardens with cucumber and melon houses. The accounts also describe the home farm which even had a tram way for moving dung and water turbine for driving the machinery.
In the time of the vivians the parc was essentially a sporting estate renowned as one of the best all round shoots in the country. In particular it was renowned for wood cock with as many as 52 having been shot in one day.
Below are the oldest photos we have of the house, the view of the outside was taken in 1912 and is already looking a little unloved by this time. the photos of the inside are believed to have been taken by Aubrey Vivian, who succeeded his father ( Henry Hussey Vivian, the first Lord Swansea ) as owner of Parc in 1894. letters indicate that he actually lived in the house from May/June 1890 untill his sudden and unexpected death on 1st March 1898.
Unfortunately during the late 1930s the house began to fall into a state of disrepair the last occupants being the RAF during world war two (you can still find graffiti left by the airman in some of the bedrooms) finally the house in a much unloved state was sold in the early fifties to settle death duties.
The house was bought by Tom and Gladys Edwards in October 1953 who used the land for market gardening, there are some nice photos tom digging potatoes and cutting flowers for the market stall they had in Swansea market. At this point parts of the house were used for rearing chickens and turkeys, breeding finches and even a pig sty.
By the early 60s their son John and wife Olive began the pony trekking business, their wedding gift from Tom and Gladys was Robbie the first horse to work at parc le Breos. The gallery below shows the early days of the pony trekking center, if you look closely i’d say there is a distinct country and Weston theme! Over the years the house has slowly been renovated and old parts rebuilt in a tasteful manor old features have been restored and even older ones uncovered. A few years ago an old postcard of the house turned up on ebay, it dated from 1912, for the first time we could see what the house looked like in its heyday. As a result last year we were able to remake the original Victorian weatherboards and bring the house a little closer how it used to look.