Felicia Dorothea Browne at Gwrych Castle

“Felicia Dorothea Browne was born in Duke Street, Liverpool, on the 25th of September, 1793. She was the second daughter and the fourth child of a family of three sons and three daughters.

“Her father, who was a native of Ireland, was a merchant of good position. Her mother, whose maiden name was Wagner, was the daughter of the Venetian consul in Liverpool.

“The original name was Veniero, but as the result of German alliances it
had assumed this German form. Three members of the family had risen to the dignity of Doge. The first six years of Felicia’s life were spent in
Liverpool. Then commercial losses compelled her father to break up his
establishment in that city and remove to Wales. The next nine years of
her life were spent at Gwyrch, near Abergele, in North Wales.

“The house was a spacious old mansion, close to the seashore, and shut in on the land side by lofty hills. Surely a fit place for the early residence of a poetess of Nature.

“Besides this advantage of situation, she had the privilege of access to the treasures of a large library. The records of her early days show her to have been a child of extreme beauty, with a brilliant complexion and long, curling, golden hair.

“But her personal beauty was not the only thing that arrested attention. Her talents and sweetness of disposition retained the notice which her attractiveness had obtained. The old gardener used to say that “Miss Felicia could ‘tice him to do whatever she pleased.” And he was not the only one who fell under her gentle constraint. She was a general favourite.”

– from an old book called Excellent Women, author: Various

Pleasure grounds of Bee Hotel in 1860s

Following my post of an 1860s advert for the Bee Hotel with its pleasure grounds, in the same publication, I found this engraving actually showing them:

1860s engraving of Bee Hotel, Abergele

After seeing the original post, Huw added a comment, saying the
“Pleasure grounds are probably Bee Fields, where the library, clinic and car park are now located.”

Well, looking at this engraving, Huw’s exactly right.

Bee Hotel advertisement in Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook

“Pleasure grounds in front” – I wonder what they were? Here’s 1860s ad for the Bee Hotel, Abergele, from Bradshaw’s Tourist Handbook:
Bee Hotel Abergele advertisement in Bradshaw's Tourist Handbook of 1860s
I came across it when trying to find a copy of the book Michael Portillo referred to in his Great Railway Journeys programme on TV. The actual book used is scarce but this is the blog post that helped me find a downloadable online version of the full book. Thanks to University of Michigan, I’ve been able to print a copy of the book for my father who enjoys travelling this island’s railways.

Welsh rhyme about Abergele


Ar garlam, ar garlam,
I ffair Abergele;
Ar ffrwst, ar ffrwst,
I ffair Lanrwst.

– Owen M. Edwards, Yr Hwiangerddi

This is an old out-of-copyright Welsh nursery rhyme.
At a gallop, at a gallop,
To Abergele fair
In a hurry, in a hurry
To Llanrwst fair.

It’s from a collection of Welsh nursery rhymes gathered together by Owen M. Edwards, who also founded the Urdd Welsh youth movement.