I (Gwyn) was having a huge office clearout in April 2016. As I emptied a fat file into the WPB, an Indenture of Sale fluttered out. It was the record of the purchase of Murmur-y-Don by my hên nain Jane Williams in 1923. As we knew, she bought it from a Mr. T. Wilks. We discovered his name was Thomas; we discovered he lived in Ewshot House, Ewshot, Hampshire, 250 miles away from Harlech.
So I rang my niece Emily.
Because five years ago, unaware of any connection, she bought Ewshot House, Ewshot, Hampshire.
I remain, literally, gobsmacked.
And there’s more: Emily immediately launched an investigation into Mr Wilks, and discovered he was a leather manufacturer. He had two sons, Spencer and Maurice, who played here in the garden and on Harlech beach. They grew up and went into the motor industry. Spencer became Managing Director, then Chairman, of Rover Cars, and a few years later so did Maurice.
In 1946, on Maurice’s farm on Anglesey, the brothers invented the Land Rover.
Things we’ve learned as a result:
- The house was named Murmur-y-Don before hên nain Jane bought it.
- It wasn’t the Standard Motor Company, it was the Rover company.
- Mr Moore wasn’t the Chairman of the motor manufacturer, it was the sons of Mr Wilks.
- Murmur-y-Don was a formative experience in the lives of two young boys who went on to create one of the most iconic marques in motoring history.
This is one of the most remarkable coincidences I have ever come across. Certainly the most extraordinary coincidence involving me.
Cleaning out my office this morning, I found a copy of an indenture of sale dated 1923.
It related to Murmur-y-Don, which was bought by my hên nain (great-grandmother) Jane Williams in 1923, from a Thomas Wilks of Ewshot House, Ewshot, near Farnham, 250 miles away.
Ewshot House, Ewshot, near Farnham was bought a few years ago by my niece Emily and her husband Alex Vaughan. We spent last Christmas there!
I am gobsmacked.
Homeowners are constantly bombarded with ads for ‘wifi cameras’, clever little CCTV-type devices which you can plant around your home and which will broadcast live footage to wherever you choose, so you can relax in comfort 250 miles away while watching burglars trash your house.
There are other, sunnier aspects of the devices. You can watch the weather, and in the case of Murmur-y-Don we could check that the sea’s still there when we’re away.
They’re now so small and cheap that you could fit one unobtrusively in every room.
And here comes the big problem, the elephant in each corner.
If we were to do this, what’s to stop us spying on our guests, or — even more unsavoury — playing at Peeping Tom?
Obviously we’re not going to be doing that. But now I’ve put the thought in your head, what if we were to announce in large letters on Murmur-y-Don’s Airbnb site that we have made a deliberate decision NOT to install wifi cameras in the house, so guests will have complete privacy?
Wouldn’t every other rentable villa, apartment, flat, house, palace, cottage, castle &c have to follow suit and make the same declaration?
Otherwise the assumption would have to be that those owners who don’t make the declaration HAVE installed cameras and they ARE looking at you.
Should I put the cat among the pigeons?