Rising and falling fortunes
Sadly, there are no surviving archives of the first Middleton Hall and so the beginnings of the estate and its development are shrouded in mystery. What we do know is that in 1609 Christopher Middleton, the then vicar of Llanarthne, owned around 570 acres. Where this land came from and where it was exactly situated is not known for sure. However, by the time Paxton’s descendants sold the estate it had grown to some 2650 acres.
One of the aims of the history group is to try and identify how the estate developed over time. How land was acquired and from whom and how with the rising and falling fortunes of the families the size of the estate varied.
We have been searching local archives as well as the National Library for documents that will help us to understand the changing fortunes of the estate. We have yet to find any estate maps to help us with our understanding, but do have one map from the 1824 sale catalogue that has helped us visualise the estate at that time.
We are now using the earlier documents we have found and the 1824 and Tithe Maps to try and construct maps of what the estate looked like in earlier times. We have begun by using the advertisements placed in local papers, in 1784, just before Paxton bought the estate. This advertisement gives us a first glimpse of the estate before the Regency Water Park was constructed and the identities of some farms and smallholdings lost through the construction of the park.
One such holding was a Water Corn Grist Mill identified as being near Middleton Hall and leased with a field called ‘Berthgaled’. Through comparison with the Tithe Map we have been able to identify ‘Berthgaled’ as being just below Pont Felin Gat. This suggests that there was a mill within the park in pre-Paxton times, a fact that has been debated for many years.
Back to its origins
We hope to continue to identify the location of the various holdings of the earlier estate, in the hopes that this will help us in our search for its origins. The information we have found has also led to our increased understanding of how the land was used and the tenants farming the land.
The map above shows the 1824 estate with the 1784 holdings, so far identified coloured in. This is very much a work in progress and we hope to have a more complete map available shortly.