Miskin Manor

The 10th century holds the earliest record of a home on the site of the present Miskin Manor, with the origins of it's name thought to hark back to the words 'Maen Cun' or 'Lovely Plain'. 

However, it was several centuries before a manor house was built on the site know as Broviskin House. The Bassett family were incomers and the first in Llantrisant to introduce a fixed surname By the 18th century they were the most important family in the parish from whom the local justices of the peace were drawn.

Their residence, Broviskin in 1600 by Thomas Bassett of the Beaupre family. Thomas was the third son of Christopher Bassett of St Athan and grandson of William Bassett of Beaupre.

Thomas married the widow of Edward Turbellive of Sutton House in Llandow. With the death of his two elder brothers he inherited his father’s estate. He bought the small estate of the Broviskin hamlet comprising of two farms called Pen y Whirdir and Laneley which is where he built his substantial mansion.

His son, William Bassett, was twice Sheriff of Glamorgan after the Civil War. His grandson, William Bassett (“Doctor of Laws”) remained a Royalist and after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 came to prominence in Archbishop Sheldon’s High Anglicanism and was active in the persecution of Baptists and Roman Catholics.

Thanks to his legal practice Dr Bassett developed the manor and its estates still further. His only daughter, by his wife Margaret (the daughter of Robert Button of Dyffryn), was Mary Bassett. Mary married Sir Rowland Gwynne of Llanelwydd in Radnorshire who was knighted by Charles II in 1680 and held office under William and Mary but as a great Whig politician, lost his favour under Queen Anne and died in poverty in 1726.

In 1857 the estate was sold to Mr David Williams, also known as his bard's title, Alaw Goch. Miskin Manor was built in 1864 to the design of David Vaughan, but additions have been made throughout its history. Judge Gwilym Williams inherited Miskin Manor after his father's death. Wales, with its rich sense of history, made much of the fact that Gwilym's wife was a descendant of the original Nest herself.

In 1923 the manor house was partly consumed by fire which destroyed the south wing. In 1940 the manor house was taken over by the Red Cross and used as a convalescent home. Lady Williams was commandant of the Red Cross Hospital there and continued to occupy part of the building, giving the manor as her home address when writing to The Times in 1943.

The manor was passed from the Red Cross to the local health authority in 1948 for continued use as a hospital. This arrangement later caused Sir Rhys Rhys Williams some distress in old age and he lodged a formal protest at the actions of the Pontypridd and Rhondda Hospital Committee, claiming they had deprived him of the use of the house for six years and had paid only the sum £1 4s in rent during this period. Lady Williams continued to occupy the manor after her husband's death in 1955.

Under the ownership of Sir Rhys Williams, Miskin Manor saw a great deal of society life, and even had the honour of entertaining the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII) as well as then Prime Minister Lloyd George. The house was later inherited by their son Sir Brandon Rhys Williams who occupied part of the Manor before selling it and moving to nearby Groesfaen.

The second fire occurred in 1952, shortly after Miskin Manor was transformed from its war-time occupation as a hospital into post-war flats. In 1985, Miskin Manor was sold, converted and extended. The current owners, Leah and Colin Rosenberg purchased Miskin Manor in 1996.

Famous Resident: Elinor Glyn

Elinor Glyn, (17 October 1864 – 23 September 1943), was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in romantic fiction which was considered scandalous for its time.

She popularized the concept of the "It" girl and she had tremendous influence on early 20th-century popular culture and  the careers of notable Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swansea and Clara Bow. 

Although she wasn't a permanent resident of Miskin Manor, her daughter Juliet married its owner, the Liberal MP Sir Rhys Rhys-Williams. She may have been the reason that Charlie Chaplin and the Prince of Wales was said to have visited along with a whole host of society figures of the 1920s and 30s.

Born on 17 October 1864 in Jersey, the daughter of a Scottish civil engineer, she grew up in Ontario on the death of her father.

Elinor was schooled by her grandmother, Lucy Anne Saunders (an Anglo-Irish aristocrat)  in the ways of upper-class society which gave her an entrée into aristocratic circles on her return to Europe, it also led her to be considered an authority on style and breeding when she worked in Hollywood in the 1920s.

Glyn's elder sister grew up to be Lucy. Lady Duff-Gordon famous as the fashion designer "Lucile" and survivor of the HMS Titanic.  At the age of 28, Elinor married a wealthy but spendthrift barrister and the couple had two daughters, Margot and Juliet.

Elinor began writing in 1900, starting with a book based on letters to her mother. Her marriage was troubled, and Glyn began having affairs with various British aristocrats including Lord Alistair Inness Ker and George Curzon, 1st Marquess of Kedleston.

As her husband fell into debt from around 1908, Elinor wrote at least one novel a year to keep up her standard of living. Her husband died in November 1915, aged 58, after several years of illness. Her pioneered risqué romantic fiction aimed at a female readership, which was radical for its time. She coined the use of the term "It", for sexuality or sex appeal.

In 1919 she signed a contract with William Randolph Heart's International Magazine Company for stories and articles that included a clause for the motion picture rights. She was brought over to California from England to write screenplays by the Famous Players-Lasky Production Company. She wrote for Cosmopolitan and other Hearst press titles, giving advice on how to keep your man and also some health & beauty tips. The Elinor Glyn System of Writing (1922) gives insights into writing for Hollywood studios and magazine editors at this time.

Elinor was one of the most famous women screenwriters of Hollywood in the 1920s. She had 28 story or screenwriting credits, three producing credits, and two credits for directing. Her first script was called The Great Movement and starred Gloria Swanson who she remodelled into an elegant star along with Clara Bow.

Apart from being a scriptwriter for the silent movie industry, working for both MGM and Paramount Pictures in Hollywood in the mid-1920s, she had a brief career as one of the earliest female directors. She returned to England in 1929 part because of tax demands and established her own Production Company which failed. Elinor Glyn died after a short illness, aged 78, on 23 September 1943 at 39 Royal Avenue, Chelsea.