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Glyn Garth and the Schwabe Family

Glyn Garth and the Schwabe Family - Overview

The Glyn Garth mansion is only one among many that were demolished across Wales following the Second World War. Originally a cottage situated on the Anglesey side of the Menai Strait, Glyn Garth was replaced by a substantial castellated mansion in the late 1830s to early 1840s after it was purchased by Salis Schwabe, a German immigrant and factory owner in Manchester, and his wife Julia, a noted school founder and philanthropist.

The Schwabes were Jewish converts to Unitarianism and were well connected among noted writers, social reformers, composers, politicians and educationalists of their day. Although mostly resident in Manchester, where Salis operated his cotton printing company, the Schwabes frequently retreated to their Welsh home, Glyn Garth, where they entertained their internationally renowned guests such as the writer Elizabeth Gaskell, prison reformer Thomas Wright or William Amherst, the former Governor-General of India.

In addition to forging strong connections with British reformers and artists, the Schwabes also remained in touch with their former country of origin. They kept their doors open to visitors, especially to political refugees from the German countries. The socialist and educationalist Malwida von Meysenbug was invited to Glyn Garth to share her ideas about the kindergarten movement and for a time during his exile from Germany, Richard Wagner received financial support from Julia. The exiled German revolutionary Karl Blind and his family also stayed at Glyn Garth one autumn. Together with one of the Schwabe sons, the later MP George Salis-Schwabe, Blind scandalised the likewise visiting German scholar Max Müller by swimming in the cold waters of the Menai Strait.

After the death of Julia, the Glyn Garth mansion was bought by the see of Bangor and served as the new palace for the Bishop of Bangor until its demolition in the1960s. Today, Glyn Garth Court, a block of flats, stands in the place of the Schwabes’ former home in Wales.

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