Dôl Llys Hall was originally built as a private country house between 1808 and 1813. It is now a Grade II* listed building, still with some original features, divided into seven very individual flats combining modern convenience with lots of character. We have three communal rooms on the ground floor comprising two large rooms for every day informal use, eg, games, music, meetings, social occasions, and a guest bedroom. We also share a biomass heating system, a laundry, parking area, workshop and a large warm, dry cellar.
The extensive grounds total over 14 acres of which about half is woodland; predominantly beech, with oak and silver birch as the main secondary species. Birch woodland allows plenty of light to reach the ground allowing a variety of mosses, grasses, flowers and shrubs like hazel and bramble to grow beneath its canopy. These in turn attract insects and birds and we are very lucky to regularly see great spotted woodpeckers and nuthatches on our Dôl Llys feeders. Other trees include ash, holly, yew and willow. Our aim is to allow natural regeneration of the woodland, using only fallen trees for fuel for the wood-burning stoves so as to sustain and possibly enhance the biodiversity and create a healthy habitat for as many plant and animal species as possible.
The grounds also include a large seasonal lake fed by a stream which in the winter hosts ducks (and intrepid wild water swimmers of the humankind!) and in the summer becomes part lake, part wet woodland favouring grey willow. Other areas include the field below the house which in spring becomes a carpet of daffodils and is also home to several beehives; a ‘lawn’ on which we hope to establish wildflower meadows and develop an orchard; hen enclosure; herb garden; perennial and shrub borders; vegetable growing area and wildlife pond. Many improvements to the planted areas are in progress, on the one hand to restore overgrown flower gardens and on the other to replant with bird and bee friendly perennials rather than the exotics favoured by the gardeners of the early 19th century. At the same time developing more sunny spots to sit in and enjoy the views of the local hills or the red kites overhead!
The vegetable garden includes a summer house/tool shed, four polytunnels, soft fruit bushes and numerous raised beds. This part of the grounds is used in many ways like a traditional allotment site. For those who want to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs, and flowers there is outside growing space and a portion of polytunnel space. Each person tends their own patch and works together with others on tasks such as building compost bays, path maintenance, polytunnel cleaning and clearing new areas. There is also space for communal projects, e.g., no-dig potatoes and squashes, or whatever members fancy having a go at. We garden without the use of chemicals tending towards an organic and permaculture approach. Some years we are lucky enough to get a good harvest of apples from the trees around the site and these are shared amongst everyone, as are the communal raspberries, black currants, gooseberries and rhubarb.