In Llanystumdwy

Gillian Darley

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It was David Lloyd George’s wish to be buried near Llanystumdwy, the village where he grew up, on the River Dwyfor in Gwynedd. The site and the setting for his grave were chosen in 1946, the year after he died, by his neighbour and friend, the architect Clough Williams-Ellis. As often in his work, Williams-Ellis called on another neighbour, the sculptor and letterer Jonas Jones, for some of the details, including the ironwork monograms.

The location is discreet, on a confined ledge between a small lane and the steep approach to the river, hurling itself towards the expanse of Tremadog Bay. Lloyd George is buried beneath a comfortable, water-worn rock, essentially a stony cushion, on which he often sat. Williams-Ellis placed it in the centre of an oval, laid on a bed of pebbles. Visitors can glimpse it through the scrolled ironwork of the gate or over the graded rubble-stone walls as they follow steps down towards the river, a path that links the grave, and the man, to the wooded banks and the roiling water below.

The quirky arch might suggest something quite grand behind, but instead there is only utter calm, the quietest melding of details and materials. The pebbles were taken from nearby Criccieth beach; local rubble was used for the walling and the great central boulder. At the right time of year – around the anniversary of Lloyd George’s death on 26 March – daffodils cordon off the circle above, while below, closer to the water, is a scattering of white wood anemones, denoting ground long left undisturbed.