Culture is all-pervasive at Nanteos Mansion with associations with leading European figures such as the composer Wagner and the poet Browning. It’s an easy concept to grasp, they are famous cultural figures and they both stayed at the Mansion while touring the country. But what is a little bit more challenging is the constant flow of time that has washed over Nanteos bringing with it unique notions of what culture might be. For me the above examples are a pretty decent start, but forester Bob Shaw wants to go back even further by reintroducing a long lost architecture to an ancient Welsh landscape. What am I writing about? Labyrinths – a construct embedded deep within Welsh history and a geographical icon that used to dot the land. So this is why soon you’ll see a newly-built labyrinth in the elegant grounds of Nanteos Mansion.
The inspiration came from a conversation between Nigel Jones, Chef Patron at the Mansion, and Bob Shaw, a local craftsman who specialises in using traditional elements to fashion items from tools to household furniture. He was especially keen to utilise local stone in the labyrinth thereby reconnecting a centuries-old tradition to the immediate landscape.
To ground the project further in the local geography and history, a replica of the Nanteos cup will be carved by the world renowned local sculptor Ed Harrison, and will sit in the center of the labyrinth. It’s a fascinating twist on the idea of history being layered upon it. This is especially so as some claim that the Nanteos cup, which is believed by many to have been brought over to mid Wales by monks fleeing the Reformation, was carved from the cross of Jesus Christ and has special healing powers. As can be seen in the most recent photo of the cup missing pieces are where believers partaking from the cup nibbled small pieces from the wood!
Everyone at the mansion hopes that the attraction will build on an already impressive roster of traditional entertainment that includes foraging walks, afternoon high-tea and special evenings inspired by historical menus. General Manager Sarah Jane Thomas said “Bob Shaw’s craft has been a huge inspiration for children and families in Ceredigion for decades and visitors to Nanteos will now be able to also enjoy his unique vision.”
The labyrinth will open to the public early next year.