Adelina Patti and Craig-y-Nos Castle

Thirty three miles from The Owls Bed and Breakfast is Craig-y-Nos Castle. We drove past it recently on our way to a trade fair in Llanelli on the A4057. I had heard of the castle but wasn’t expecting to come across it so was very excited to discover it and that it was reasonably close by for a future visit.

Craig-y-Nos Castle was the home of the celebrated soprano Adelina Patti who reigned supreme in the latter half of the nineteenth century as an operatic diva. She died there in 1919 aged 76 having sung her way to wealth at the great houses and concert venues of Europe and America. She was a legend in her own lifetime and supremely gifted, having achieved fame as a child for her singing, with a career that lasted into the twentieth century.

Born in Spain in 1843 to Italian parents, she grew up in the America, but she made Wales her home in 1878. She built a theatre in the castle and helped fund the local railway station.

Before we came to Mid Wales to run the B&B I had worked for 35 years in London for a record company called Electric and Musical Industries or EMI as it became known. Historically EMI used to be The Gramophone and Typewriter Company and it was this company that recorded so many of the artists, who by making records turned what was a novelty idea based on acoustic clockwork machinery into the huge electronic and digital industry it is today. I worked at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios as a mastering engineer and became familiar with much of the history of recording through my work. Patti was one of those early recording artists, along with Dame Nellie Melba, Enrico Caruso and many others who by embracing the Gramophone enabled it to become a serious instrument and brought music to the homes of millions.

Patti made records late in her life, and these were made at Craig-y-Nos Castle in 1905. The fortune she had made from concert appearances enabled her to live in style and seclusion in the Brecon Beacons. I am rather pleased that this is on our doorstep and is yet another attraction we can suggest our guests here at The Owls can visit.

Patti label cropped

Patti's 1905 recording of 'Home Sweet Home', 78rpm shellac disc from my collection.