The Wren’s Nest stands on the northern side of Lansdowne Road on a corner plot at its junction with Alexandra Road.
In the mid 1920s Sydney Colwyn Foulkes was asked by Mrs Annie Guy to design a house in Lansdowne Road. A wealthy widow, she had moved to Colwyn Bay from Wednesbury, near Wolverhampton. Her husband had died nine years earlier, aged 57, leaving her with three children, Ethel Rose, Marjorie May and George Harold. He had been a successful tube manufacturer and was the first person to export bicycle frames to America. However during the First World War the factory was turned over to producing munitions and had the misfortune of being the first to receive a direct hit from a German zeppelin.
The house designed for Mrs Guy in the Neo-Georgian style, was named The Wren’s Nest after the Wren’s Nest beauty spot, a limestone hill to the north west of Dudley.
Above the front door is a recessed balcony with delicate balustrading. There is a lovely reeded frieze below the eaves. The house has a large entrance hall with a good sized staircase. Mr Colwyn Foulkes considered the house to be probably his best work and he kept a picture of it on his office wall. He subsequently used a similar design in his own house, Moryn on Bryn y Mor Road, Rhos on Sea, although due to its larger size its proportions didn’t match the quality of The Wren’s Nest. On a rather larger scale, the same Neo-Georgian style was also used for Green Lawns on Old Highway, in Upper Colwyn Bay.
Built by Sydney Sandford, who was often used by Mr Colwyn Foulkes, and with a garden laid out by a Mr Tull from Llandudno Junction, the house was completed and occupied by Mrs Guy and her daughters in 1926. Both the house and garden remain much as they were originally, with the house having been made a Grade II Listed Building, a recognition of its architectural quality and historic significance.
When the Midlands factory eventually closed in 1932 Mrs Guy was able to add a garage to the house and employed a chauffeur and maid.
Mrs Guy died in 1943, Ethel in 1981, aged 94, and Marjorie in 1988. In 1983 Mrs Guy’s grand-daughter and her son, Roger Taylor moved into The Wren’s Nest and Marjorie, his aunt, moved to Old Colwyn to live with the gardener. The house has subsequently been sold and its family connection has now been broken.
Acknowledgement: The above is taken from the Colwyn Bay Civic Society Magazine, February 2013.
The house is a grade II Neo Georgian Listed Building It is a two storey detached building with a red tiled roof. As with several of Sidney Colwyn Foulkes’ works the bricks have been laid in Flemish bond.
In plan the principal part of the house runs parallel to Lansdowne Road with what is described in the Listing details as a service wing to the rear. The main part is wider than the service wing. The roof of the main part of the house is hipped, the service wing behind is covered by two hipped roofs side by side, ie a hipped ”M” shaped roof. Of particular note is the reeded wood eaves cornice just below the gutters. There are chimneys at both the west and east ends.
The wide front elevation facing Lansdowne Road is particularly pleasing and of fine proportions. The front entrance is centrally positioned. To both the west and east sides the window pattern is the same. On each side, the first floor windows are paired sash windows separated by a central mullion each window, six panes over six panes with brick heads and cills and separated by brickwork. A decorative band of brickwork runs around the house.
Just below the first floor windows a decorative band of brickwork runs around the house. This is three courses high with three bricks laid horizontally then three bricks laid vertically and so on.
The main entrance consists of a pair of panelled doors with a leaded fanlight. Of particular note is the delightful recessed loggia above the front entrance. The Listing details refer to the “ lattice-work” “pilasters” and “valence”. As the front entrance faces south this lovely and unusual feature provides a very pleasant place to enjoy sunny days and evenings. Originally open, this has recently been glazed. Perhaps Sidney Colwyn Foulkes had this feature in mind when he designed Heaton Place in Rhos on Sea where first floor open loggias are very much a feature of the dwellings there. The low ironwork along the front of the loggia consists of interlaced circle motif with horizontal rails.
The western elevation facing Alexandra Road is very pleasing. The glazing for the service wing which is set back from the side elevation of the principal part of the house, consists of four pane over four pane sash windows on both the ground and the first floors. The large canted bay on the on the ground floor of the main house has a flat roof behind a parapet. The decorative band of brickwork referred to above runs along the top bay just below the top of the parapet. Each of the three sides of the bay are also six panes over six panes sash windows.
The first floor windows above the bay facing west consists of tri-pair sash glazing. This consists of the central six pane over six pane windows and separated by mullions, the two outside windows, each two panes over two panes.
On the eastern side of the main part note the tripartite ground floor window, six panes over six panes in the middle with the two panes over two panes to the side.
The garden is enclosed by a red-brown brick boundary wall also in Flemish bond, with a two coursed brick plinth. The coping consists of bricks laid on edge above a course of red tiles. The wall alongside Alexander Road steps down in stages to accommodate the gentle fall in ground level towards Conway Road.
The boundary wall is curved to follow the junction of Lansdowne Road and Alexandra Road and then continues eastwards along the Lansdowne Road frontage to terminate in two wide gate piers at the entrance to the drive. The drive is surfaced in irregularly shaped stone slabs and leads to the garage which is set well back from the road.
The reeded eaves cornice seen on the house appears below the gutter of the garage. The garage doors, presumably folding doors, are mainly of vertical boarding, each glazed at the top with six panes.
The concluding comments of the Listing details state that the house is:-“a good surviving example of the individually commissioned domestic work of the local architect Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, which, uses an inventive Neo-Georgian style to produce a small house notable for its careful planning”.
Colwyn Bay Civic Society
Read more about Sidney Colwyn Foulkes and his work here.