Sangers at Argoed

The Sangers at the Argoed: 1966 to 1979

We were farming in Herefordshire and bought the Argoed and 53 acres from Major and Mrs Probert in 1966.

We installed central heating in the house, which meant forty-two radiators; dug a stone lined sunken trench in front of the house to stop the damp and dry rot in the downstairs rooms; and then decorated the house from top to bottom with the skilled help of John Schaedl and his son David. The most marvellous curtains and wallpapers were used and many of them are still there.

Outside, further shrubs and trees were planted to supplement the very fine collection planted in previous years by Pat Probert. Most of the camellias and red oaks on the boundary were planted after 1966 and the Roble beeches in 1974, together with many azaleas.

A few days after arriving at Penallt I was looking at the mole tumps in the front meadow and realised the excellence of the soil. As a result, we planted 45 acres of blackcurrant bushes for Beecham’s at Coleford and other buyers. This planting meant removing many stone walls, enlarging the fields and a great deal of hard work. I remember on one particular day returning from Monmouth to see a gigantic pile of sand down below the house and the bulldozer out of sight below it. It had been burying an enormous root. I thought our fortunes were made, as sandpit owners, but luckily for Penallt the sand is a thin layer one foot thick and of course helps the excellent drainage. Many local people will still remember picking currants at the Argoed in the seventies, but in 1974 the first picking machine arrived and was operated by seven people instead of the two to three hundred pickers needed before!

In 1970 we converted the old coach House and separated it from the main house with a stone wall. The house was intended for our daughter Giselle who married Chris Underhill in August 1969. They were ‘roped’ on their way from the Old Church; this practice consists in the local children holding a string across the road as the newly-weds return from the church and the bridegroom is expected to distribute coins to the children. Luckily Chris had been forewarned and had a pocket full of sixpences.

We sold the Coach House to Godfrey and Janet Pudge in 1979 and they continued farming the currants and keeping the park and gardens in trim. They also got water back into the lake, which had been dry since 1949.

Many of the great trees, some planted before the time of Richard Potter, still remain at the Argoed and Coach House, and they should stand there for many years to come. Hopefully new owners will continue to replace and replant for future dwellers in Penallt.

[from: Penallt – A Village Miscellany]