Two of Henry VIII’s wives passed through the hotel when it was a private manor house;
Jane Seymour first went to court in the service of Queen Catherine, but then was moved to wait on Anne Boleyn as she rose in the King’s favour and eventually became his second wife.
As part of her Dowry, she brought with her an inn in Llangybi; the White Hart, which is still the local village pub today.
Within 24 hours of Anne Boleyn’s execution, Jane Seymour and Henry VIII were formally betrothed. On the 30th of May, they were married. Unlike Henry’s previous two Queens, Jane never had a coronation. Perhaps the King was waiting to Jane to ‘prove’ herself by giving him a son.
It wasn’t until early 1537 that Jane became pregnant. During her pregnancy, Jane’s every whim was indulged by the King, convinced that Jane, whom he felt to be his first ‘true wife’, carried his long hoped for son. In October, a prince was born at Hampton Court Palace and was christened on 15th of October. The baby was named Edward. Mary, daughter of Catherine of Aragon, was godmother and Elizabeth, daughter of Anne Boleyn, also played a role in the ceremony; Jane attended her son’s christening, although she was weak. She died on October 24th, just two weeks after her son was born.
Henry had already been preparing his own tomb at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, which was where Jane was buried. In the end, she would be the only of Henry’s six wives to be buried with him.
Katherine Parr was the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas Parr and his wife Maud Green. Maud was a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon and named her daughter, born in 1512, after her. So, Henry VIII’s last wife was named after his first.
Katherine’s first marriage was to Edward Borough in 1529. Edward died a few years later, probably in early 1533.
Katherine’s 2nd marriage was to John Neville, in 1534.Katherine’s ailing husband died in March 1543, leaving her a widow for the 2nd time, at the age of 31. It was around this time that Katherine was noticed by not only the King, but also Thomas Seymour, brother of the late Queen Jane Seymour. Katherine expressed her desire to marry Thomas Seymour, but the King’s request for her hand was one that she felt was her duty to accept. They were married on July 12th at Hampton Court Palace in a small ceremony attended by about 20 people.
Henry VIII died in 1547 and Katherine had expected to play some role in the regency for the new 9 year old king, Edward VI, but this was not to be. Only a few months after Henry’s death, Katherine married Thomas Seymour; the quickness and secret nature of the union caused a scandal. Katherine was still able to take guardianship of Princess Elizabeth and Seymour purchased the wardship of the king’s cousin, Lady Jane Grey. It was during this time that the rumours of a relationship between Elizabeth and Seymour arose and Elizabeth was sent to another household in the spring of 1548.
Katherine became pregnant and she moved to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire to await the birth of her child. On August 30th she gave birth to a daughter named Mary. Katherine soon fell ill with puerperal fever, which was to claim her life in the morning hours of September 5th. Katherine was buried, with Lady Jane Grey as the chief mourner, in the chapel at Sudeley Castle, where the tomb can still be visited today.
The house passed into the Bond family around 1775.
George Bond was born in Newland, Gloucestershire and appears to have moved to the area when he married. He died when Eleanor was only two years old.
Whilst he was born in Gloucestershire, his mother was born in what is now Sebastopol, which is little more than six miles from the hotel, near Pontypool. She was Anne Morgan, daughter of John Morgan, who in turn was a scion of the same family who went onto find fame in Jamaica, and gave the world the well known and infamous Captain Morgan, privateer and namesake of Morgan’s Rum.
It is part of the history of the hotel that Captain Morgan’s family had very close ties with the house, which appear to be true, by the marriage and family ties. The panelling in the Oak room are said to have been a part of the Morgan family legacy at Cwrt Bleddyn, and comes from a Portuguese Frigate
In 1807 Eleanor married a man called Illtyd Nicholl, from Llantwit Major, some 40 miles to the west of here. They had five children, and seem to have relocated to Llantwit Major sometime between 1807 and 1814; however the family retained ownership of Cwrt Bleddyn. The Nicholl family were quite an influential one in the neighbourhood and the sons followed the professions of the law, the Church and medicine. Illthyd himself is noted as holding the office of High Sheriff of Monmouth in 1830 and the listings states he had residence in Llantwit Major, property in Tredunnock as well as Cwrt Bleddyn in Usk. Direct descendants of Illtyd and Eleanor remained both at Cwrt Bleddyn until the Watts family took over and in Llantwit Major in a property called The Ham until 1941
Records show that Cwrt Bleddyn was passed down through the family and kept as a residence, with Illtyd and Eleanor’s grandson living here towards the end of Victoria’s reign.
The house then passed into the ownership E H Watts, a shipping magnate from Northumberland, who had added coal mines to the company to supply his own ships with fuel; hence their establishing a home in South Wales, close to the coal mines in the valleys and the sea at Newport. Wattstown is named after the family and they played a large part in the growth of Risca from a hamlet to an industrial town and the growth of the docks at Barry. By 1916, it was his son, Fenwick Shadford Watts living here. He was president of the Chamber of Shipping in 1905, knighted in 1919, and Chairman of the Ship-owners Parliamentary Committee. The family were, at the end of the 19th century, very wealthy, but the fortune seems to have been lost between the wars, in the depression of the 30’s. It then had various owners before becoming a hotel in the late 1960’s.