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Brecon Beacons Hotels the Conservatory at Craig y Nos Castle


The Conservatory restoration was completed in November 2008. The Conservatory is now the most popular function room in the Castle. The restoration work took about two years.

With a panoramic view overlooking the Craig-y-Nos Country Park, the room is popular with both wedding and conference clients and can seat up to 130.

The room is m
ainly used for Wedding Breakfasts, but we discourage its use as a disco room at night (except for smaller weddings having an early finish) due to its proximity to the bedrooms. For larger weddings we encourage the use the main function room for the night ‘do’.





The Conservatory soon after initial restoration, before trench heating and floor completed - hence the temporary carpet around the edges of the floo
Installation of a new fibreglass roof to the Conservatory at Craig y Nos Castle in Brecon Beacons

We had previously restored the old Aviary to house the hot tub.

The problem with restoring the Aviary and making it into a smart spa and sports room, was that we had an eyesore next to it – the Conservatory with its falling down roof and rotten windows.

This was a leaky derelict building fit for nothing, with water streaming into it for decades.  Most of the roof was rotten and the original felt covering had long disintegrated, exposing the internal wood planks to the elements.

As for the 130 year old windows, these as you can see in the pictures on this page were in a sorry state. The top third of the old windows was original while the lower two thirds were large modern panes installed in the Hospital era, probably in the 1950’s/ 1960’s, when the Conservatory was used as a TB ward for children.

There are picture of the Conservatory both as a hospital ward and in Adelina Patti's day here (note the childrens' metal beds).

Craig y Nos Castle Conservatory in 2006 - before restoration
Our original thoughts were to fence it off so it could not be seen from the spa. However the water pouring in through the leaky roof was introducing water into our new toilets for the spa area and flooding the neighbouring Breakfast Room (resulting in damp lime-stained walls and peeling wallpaper).
Conservatory showing new windows and new stone wall with coping stones
Conservatory at Brecon Beacons Hotel Craig y Nos newly restored before terracing completed

There used to be a howling draught coming in through the breakfast room door from the Conservatory, which was all exposed to the elements. Ghost hunters would sit inside the breakfast room by the then locked dividing door, declaring it a 'cold spot' for spirit, and a very 'active' part of the room.

With the wind howling around the empty conservatory in winter, it did indeed seem very spooky in the Breakfast room late at night.

So we bit the bullet and had the entire roof repaired, stripping off the old roofing felt, replacing all the rotten timbers, and re-covering the roof with fibreglass.

Conservatory windows removed and showing original raised terrace
Conservatory with old windows removed Brecon Beacons Hotels
The roofer quoted about £8,000 which was considerably less than the next best quote of £20,000. He said it would last for 20 years, 'guaranteed'. It leaked the first winter. Being a sole trader, he was unable to honour his guarantee when the roof continued to leak. Instead he would come in, carefully choosing a dry day, and claim the leaks were 'condensation'.  

Finally I got him here on one particularly rainy day, and as we stood together among the growing puddles, watching the drips splashing down, he still maintained it was 'condensation'. He never did come and try to fix it, being in denial that it leaked and claiming his roof work had never experienced problems before. The roof continued to leak every winter in more and more places. Wedding couples were unimpressed and we probably lost a few weddings on account of the grey, brown and black stained canopy.
Conservatory Craig y Nos Castle sealant onto fibreglass roof leaks
New windows and doors being installed at Craig y Nos Castle's Conservatory, terrace yet to be built outside

Every spring we would have to take down the whole canopy and have it washed to get rid of the brown stains caused by the water leaks. Each time the canopy came back, it would take a day to get it back up again. It was getting progressively smaller as it shrunk with each wash, while with each winter it would get stained again.

This was a fault by the roofer whom we later found from other firms’ prices, had ‘under-quoted’ by about 70% to get the work. This demonstrates how a trader who under-quotes may then be unable to do a decent job, yet both he and the customer remain unaware of this until the job fails!

Conservatory wall reinstated - see all numbered stones so they were all put back in right order
Conservatory terrace being dug down to original level and low stone wall (covered) being repointed
After another quote of £20,000 to remove the faulty fibreglass and put on a new rubber membrane guaranteed to last 20 years (again), we found some special sealant substance we could paint over the fibreglass roof ourselves. We had discovered this substance when doing some sub-contract work on a commercial Remploy building locally, to fix leaks they had coming in from some skylights. It took two coats to close up all the tiny little holes that were in the original too-thin fibreglass coating but this worked for a year at a time. At £1,200 per treatment, we were re-coating it annually - a lot cheaper than £20k.

Then in 2016 the sealant specification was slightly changed by the manufacturer and 'reacted' with the original sealant, causing bubbling. During a wet 2016 all the old leaks resumed with a vengeance, and by Autumn 2016 the white canopy looked very stained.

So in January 2017, once the wedding season was over, up went the scaffolding, along came an excellent roofing contractor, who put on the rubber firestone roof that we had been quoted £20k for before, for about half the price, and with a 20 year guarantee.
Entrance arch to Conservatory rebuilt in stone - old breeze blocks replaced with stone
Conservatory stonework exposed and restored around the entrance from atrium yard

Had we been quoted a more reasonable price originally, we would have implemented this longer term solution back in 2007. Now we are so pleased with the firestone product that we are using it on all the flat roofs of the castle - we have just recovered the Music room roof with it.

Eventually it will be used for the main roof of the castle to cover the existing fibreglass that is leaking. If money was unlimited we would replace the main roof in lead, at a cost of around £200k, as it would have been originally, but the firestone rubber product can go on for a fraction of this cost.

We were pleased to find the Conservatory, despite its appearance, was structurally sound. The building is supported by heavy wrought iron pillars and has not subsided or deteriorated structurally.

We have replaced all the window frames and glass panes.

We also had to dig down the outside balcony to get all the external terrace levels back to the original level that would have existed in Patti's day. The Hospital Authorities had raised the terrace up to the level of the internal floor in the Conservatory so patients could be wheeled straight out of the room on their trolleys (the Conservatory was the Children's ward) and on to the outside terraces.

In the hospital era, when the castle was a TB hospital, patients would be wheeled out on to the back terraces in all weathers, snow, rain or shine. In bad weather they had rubber blankets thrown over them to keep them dry. Sometimes - it is claimed - they were left out overnight,
in overnight temperatures as low as minus 7 - and were blue with cold the next morning. It is said the dead ones were wheeled off to the mortuary and the live ones wheeled back in.

Digging down the terrace, we found the original lost low stone wall that was visible 100 years ago
The New Conservatory Patio is laid
Craig y Nos Castle Conservatory in 2006 - before restoration

When we dug down the outside terrace, and the internal floor ready for underfloor heating, we discovered there had originally been a low stone wall on which the Conservatory had sat. This had been buried and all the stone foundations long since loosened as the pointing had washed away. The stones were carefully numbered in situ, the wall then dismantled, the debris cleared away and the stones cleaned, then each stone was individually placed back in its original position on newly strengthened foundations according to their individual numbers. Thus the stone wall was repointed and fully repaired.

So as we sit on the terrace and look at the low stone wall we can reflect how much work went into putting it back the way it was.  
Patti’s Conservatory, abandoned since the 1970’s, has now been brought into service as a function room for weddings and events. The Conservatory is very popular as a day room and wedding breakfast / banqueting room, while brides use the main Patti Bar and function room for their evening parties.

Early in the restoration - before all floor tiles and trench heating completed
Craig y Nos Castle Conservatory in 2006 - before restoration





The main Conservatory needs a few finishing touches but is now fully functioning
for wedding breakfasts. Ideally a food preparation area needs adding though for now we prepare the meals in the main kitchens and move the food through on Bain Marie servery equipment which is set up in the back room behind the Conservatory. Waitresses then serve from this area.

The veranda outside, while useable, is not properly finished, needs levelling and needs new stone laid to provide for al fresco dining in the summer. Much of the back of the castle has not been upgraded and the terracing needs to be completed all the way around. The problem has been that the stones we tried originally get broken under the weight of the chairlift and other machinery, so we have been holding off until we find both the budget and a stronger product.

Craig y Nos Castle Conservatory in 2006 - before restoration
New windows installed in Conservatory and white canopy being erected to cover ceiling timbers

Should the castle expand as I had originally thought, going to 200 weddings a year, we would need two function rooms in use simultaneously. I had envisaged one wedding in the conservatory and one in the function room. However the demand for weddings at Craig y Nos has always been for exclusive use of the castle.

Most brides like the idea of having the castle exclusively to themselves and would not wish to share their day with another wedding.

Brecon Beacons Hotel Craig y Nos Castle Conservatory staircase being built
Floor tiles being laid with temporary carpet round the edges prior to trench heating system being installed
This may need reviewing, as weddings have also been getting smaller, a trend which would suggest that on selected days we may have to have two weddings on the same day. We have not done this yet, not least because catering for two separate weddings on the same day means we would not be able to give a bride sole attention and I am not sure how one kitchen would handle two separate wedding breakfast menus.

So now we give brides the option of using both rooms, the conservatory by day and the function room by evening, which is definitely a sales point as they and their guests are not confined to one room for the whole wedding day.

Dog Friendly B&B in the Brecon Beacons - South Wales
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