Monday, 27 February 2012

Oakeley Arms History - Part 3

Up in Arms

In previous Oakeley Blog posts, we've explored the history and secrets of one of the most well known families in the area - the Oakeley's of Tan-y-Bwlch. And of course, the history of the beautiful Oakeley Arms, is inextricably linked with this influential family......

Today, we'll look at the history of the Oakeley Arms itself, although sadly, not a great deal is known about it.

There are some parts of the Oakeley Arms Hotel that date as far back as the 1600’s and it was originally known as the Tan y Bwlch Inn.

The building as it stands today was built during the 1700’s when it was owned by a local drover and during this time it was used as a meeting place for local businessmen and as a make-shift court house and police station.

Sometime during the early 1840’s it was renamed the Oakeley Arms, in honour of the estate it served.

The Oakeley Arms Hotel was auctioned off from the estate in 1910 along with 1,000 acres of land, and its fortunes too rose and fell during the twentieth century. It was given a grade II listing in 1954 because of its historical importance but by the turn of the new century was in a sad state of decay.

The current owners Ann-Marie and Chris Vanstone acquired the crumbling building in 2003, and have dedicated their working lives to restoring and refurbishing the grand hotel to its former glory.

You can read more about the transformation of the Oakeley Arms on our blog post

The Oakeley Arms today

The Oakeley Arms is proud of its distinctive crest, which has stood loyally as a symbol of the hotel since the nineteenth century. It means “I’m cautious but I do not fear”
Oakeley Arms Hotel

You can read more about Plas Tan-y-Bwlch and the fortunes of the Oakeley family at or on our previous blog posts

Do you have any memories or history of the Oakeley Arms? We'd love to hear them!
Leave a comment in the box below! Thanks...

Monday, 20 February 2012

History of Wales

History is our story......

If you've ever wanted to delve a little deeper into the history of our fascinating nation, then you're in for a treat!

The BBC claims that its new series, The Story of Wales presented by Huw Edwards and broadcast later this month is one of its most ambitious yet.

The series promises to uncover some of the lesser known secrets of Welsh history, while exploring the important historical moments of the last 30,000 years.

And there will also be a series of events across the country to coincide with the series. For example, The People's Collection Wales - a website where anyone in Wales can share their own photographs and stories - will be looking for memories, pictures and materials for the site, so do pop over and have a look at the site if you'd like to share your story, or indeed read other fascinating tales.

It starts on Monday 27 February on BBC One Wales at 9pm. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Be My Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!
So, how many red envelopes dropped through the letter-box this morning? Any chocolates waiting patiently on the breakfast table? Did a huge bunch of flowers appear on the door-step?

Worry not if you can't answer a hearty "YES" to any of the above..... there's still time to surprise your loved one with the delicious Valentine's menu at the Oakeley Arms. Click here for a sneaky peek......

and in the meantime, you can impress and awe your valentine with some of these fascinating Valentine's Day facts....

  • It's thought that there was more than one St Valentine (14 of them in fact) - all of them were martyred saints in Ancient Rome; but not very much is known about the Saint whose feast is celebrated on the 14th February, other than that he was buried in Rome.
  • Valentine's Day was first linked to romantic love by the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century.
  • But it wasn't until the 19th century that the tradition of sending Valentine's cards really took off. In Victorian times, the cards were surprisingly racy!
  • It is an ancient tradition that a young girl should marry the first eligible man she sees on Valentine's Day... be careful who you bump into ladies!
  • Don't forget your pampered pooch or spoilt moggy - about 3% of pet owners will send their pet a card or present on Valentine's day. Woof
  • Encountering different birds on Valentine's Day can apparently predict your future... spot a goldfinch and you'll marry a millionaire; spot a robin and you'll marry a crime-fighter, and spot a dove and your marriage is sure to be a happy one. Dust off those binoculars girls!
  • To be awoken with a kiss on Valentine's Day is considered to be extremely fortuitous. Pucker up!
  • In a recent survey, the wild and rugged Welsh coastline was voted as one of the most romantic locations in the country, so why not surprise your loved one with a trip to the beach, and you'll have to snuggle close together to stay warm.
Whatever you get up to, we'd like to wish all our customer and friends a very happy Valentine's Day, from all of us at the Oakeley Arms!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Valentine's Menu

Dinner Date

There's less than a week to go now until Valentine's Day, so don't get caught out and end up with your dinner in the dog - treat your loved one to a fabulous meal at the Oakeley Arms.

Here's the menu to tickle your taste buds....

You can call or e-mail us to book a table. We're serving the menu all week (13th-19th Feb)
Cost is £22.50 per person; call or e-mail us to book

01766 590 346 or

Happy romancing!! xx

Monday, 6 February 2012

Oakeley Arms History - Part 2

Slate Fortunes

In a recent Oakeley Arms blog post, we delved into the history of one of the area's most influential families - the Oakeleys of Tan y Bwlch. The Oakeley family's fortunes were built on the lucrative slate trade in the early nineteenth century.

In today's blog post, we explore the end of the Oakeley story, and the sad demise of their good fortune........

They became one of the wealthiest families in Wales in the early 1800's, thanks to William Griffith Oakeley's canny foresight - he rented his land in Rhywbryfdir to a slate dealer from Liverpool, who opened a quarry. The Oakeley quarries eventually became the largest subterranean quarry in the world.

However, the Oakeley family’s fortunes were soon on a downward spiral. William Griffith died in 1835 without heirs, and his wife Louisa Jane managed the estate for over 40 years. She improved much of the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, where the quarries were situated. In 1848, she built a hospital in the town for all the miners at the Oakeley quarries.

But gradually her interest ebbed away and in 1879 the estate passed to the eldest son of her late husband's cousin. William Edward Oakeley continued to expand the mines and built much of the village of Maentwrog to house his workers. It is thought he was a benevolent employer, often providing day trips and small luxuries for his workers. However, a series of bad decisions and tragic accidents at the quarries led to their demise.

File:Votty & Bowydd inclines.jpg
Slate Quarry
Picture by: Dan Crow

William Edward was soon deeply in debt and the land that had once provided vast fortunes and a lavish lifestyle for the Oakeleys was now the cause of their near bankruptcy.

When William Edward died in 1912, the estate was split between his son Edward de Clifford and his daughter Mary. Apparently Edward had no interest in running the estate and reputedly spent the last of the Oakeley fortune on gambling.

Edward sold his part of the estate to his niece, Mary's daughter Margaret, who sadly soon died and so Mary's other daughter Hilda took over. She died a spinster, and her part of the estate was left again to her mother Mary, who now owned it in it's entirety. Mary lived at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch until her death in 1961, but much of the once vast estate had already been sold over the years to raise money.

In 1969, the house and grounds at Plas Tan y Bwlch were bought by a local council, and by the 1970’s was run by the Snowdonia National Park Authority. Today, the grand house is home to a study and eco-centre. It underwent a vast and exciting renovation project in 2005 so that the grand house could be opened up to the public.

You can find more information about Plas Tan-y-Bwlch at

Did you know?? Plas Tan-y-Bwlch is thought to have been the first house in North Wales to be lit by electricity, produced from a hydro-electric source at the lake (Llyn Mair) above the house.

Llyn Mair

Do you know anything of the Oakeley family history, or indeed anything of the Oakeley Arms history? We'd love to hear your memories! Leave a comment in the boxes below.....

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Six Nations Rugby

One in Six!

It's that time of year again......

Here at the Oakeley, we LOVE the Six Nations Rugby Championship - any excuse to cheer on the Wales team!

This year we'll be wishing them lots of luck, as they battle it out against the other teams to bring home the prestigious title; and perhaps settle a few scores against World Cup rivals, France....

The first game kicks off on the 4th February, and the first Wales game (against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium) is on the 5th Feb at 15:00.

Here's some facts about the Six Nations Championship, that you might not know!....

  •  The Five Nations Championship (the Six Nations' predecessor before Italy joined) was the first international rugby union tournament in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • The 'Grand Slam' is awarded to a team that wins all its games. Wales won the Grand Slam in 1908 and 1909, and a further 8 times after that. England is the current record holder - with 12 grand slams in total.
  • Wales has a total of 20 'Triple Crowns' - when a home nation team beats any of the other three home nations (Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland).
  • The Calcutta Cup is the game that takes place during the Six Nations between England and Scotland. It is so called because the cup is made of melted down Indian rupees.
  • The Six Nations trophy is estimated to be worth over £50,000. It was originally made from silver but the inside got so corroded from being filled with all that champagne, that it is now lined with a gold coating to protect it.
  • Twickenham Stadium is the venue with the largest capacity - at 82,000. The Aviva Stadium in Dublin is the smallest, with just 51,700.
  • The first Women's Six Nations Championship was held in 2002. It runs to the same schedule as the men's contest.
  • Eifion Lewis-Roberts is the heaviest ever Wales player - weighing in at a whopping 132kg, that's almost 21 stone!
  • And Derwyn Jones is the tallest - at almost 6'10"
  • England are the current title holders - come on Wales! You can do it in 2012!

File:Wales Rugby World Cup 2007 09 09 Wales flag.jpg

And best of all - at the Oakeley Arms, there'll be a free bowl of home-made chilli or curry for everyone at the bar during any of Wales' Six Nations games.

See you soon!