Powys Digital History Project

Shelley in the Elan Valley 4
"A world of waters, a world of death"

The location of
the Elan Valley dams
and reservoirs
is shown on the
sketch map.  

A watery doom
With the ending of their hopes at Nantgwyllt they went to stay for a few days at Cwm Elan, then left the valleys never to return. It is clear that they were very happy together at the house which they had hoped to make their home, but sadly only for a very short time in the spring and early summer of 1812. Shelley was to abandon his young wife after only two years of marriage, and went to live with Mary Godwin. Harriet, desperately unhappy and alone, drowned herself in the Serpentine, a lake in London’s Hyde Park, in 1816.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, by the time of his death an acclaimed lyric poet, was drowned while sailing offshore in Tuscany on July 8th, 1822. His body was recovered and he was cremated on the beach. Many have noted the strange connections with water in Shelley’s life, as in Wm.M.Rossetti in "Vale of Nantgwilt", published in 1894:
"...and now a watery doom effaces the scenes of their short-lived love, Nantgwilt and Cwm Elan. A world of waters, a world of death".

The remains of
Nantgwyllt House
exposed by low water
levels in 1947
House remains,1947 In 1937 the water level in Caban Coch reservoir fell to 55 feet below its highest point, and the remains of the manor house of Nantgwyllt were exposed. Thousands of people came to see this rare sight, which was to be repeated in 1947 when another record drought caused the level to drop dramatically. In that year only half the normal rainfall occurred from June 1947, followed by 30 days of total drought until well into September.

Photograph by
kind permission of
Radnorshire Museum,
Llandrindod Wells

Although many believed that the house was intact when the site was submerged, only the garden walls and a pile of rubble revealed the location of the house of which Shelley had been so fond.

There are 4 pages on Shelley in the Elan Valley. Use the box links below to view the other pages.

Home page