Reference: NLW BV2202F
The fifteen views mentioned in the title of this book, and which form its centrepiece, were produced by J. C. Stadler (fl.1780-1812) from original watercolour drawings by the artist John 'Warwick' Smith (1749-1831). This tour itself was undertaken by Sir James Edward Smith (1759-1828). Smith is well-known as a scientist and chairman of the Linnean Society.
The author starts his journey in London, travels from there to Bath and crosses the Bristol Channel by boat. He then travels through the more picturesque areas of south Wales, but his aim is to visit the famous Hafod Uchdryd estate.
Hafod Uchdryd, or more simply Hafod, was very popular with artists and travellers during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and there are many other famous images of the area from this period, such as the drawings in the Hafod Sketchbook by Thomas Jones Pencerrig (1742-1803).
Hafod, at the top of the Ystwyth Valley in north Ceredigion was the creation of Thomas Johnes (1748-1816), often called Johnes yr Hafod. The house and gardens were considered amongst the finest picturesque estates in Britain. Many famous artists and writers visited mid Wales with the sole aim of seeing Hafod. Johnes had a holistic vision of his rural paradise; he included sculpture, caves, bridges and wonderful vistas as part of the design. In the house, Johnes had also gathered an impressive collection of visual art.
Following the fire of 1807 and the death of his daughter, Mariamne, in 1811 Johnes abandoned any further plans to continue with the development of Hafod. The house was later remodelled by a new owner but eventually became derelict and was finally demolished in 1956. In 1932 a fire in Hafod Church caused irreperable damage to the marble memorial to Thomas Jones and his family which is housed there.
Most of Smith's text is taken up with a description of Hafod and the surrounding area. We are given a brief history of the estate and the families that ran it. The author then takes us along the paths through the woods around Hafod and Devil's Bridge, commenting on the countryside as he goes. Warwick Smith's glorious images enable readers to share in part the experience of visiting the beautiful, but then very remote, picturesque landscape of Hafod.