Had novelist Richard Hughes not lived here Dylan may have bypassed Laugharne.
The 19-year old Dylan sought Hughes out in 1934, describing him as a novelist who wrote, 'cosmopolitan stories.'
Dylan had already been published and spent some months in London, which he didn't enjoy.
Indeed whilst Dylan lived outside of Wales for many years of his adult life, he experienced a strange Welsh
homesickness called 'hiraeth', which means 'The sense of loss for an ancient land.'
Unemployed in Swansea and spending time in amateur theatre down in Mumbles, and a host of pubs, Dylan also pays visits to 'damp suffocating' Carmarthenshire family farms; Hughes and Laugharne must have seemed positively exotic.
Richard Hughes (1900-1976) wrote A High Wind In Jamaica aged 29, and his fame and wealth enabled him to hire Clough Williams-Ellis (of Portmeirion fame) to alter the house. Originally in the Welsh long house-style it has a chimney at the rear dating back to the Civil War and a Chippendale staircase (see below). The grand frontage of the house was added in Georgian times and the downstairs area converts to a ballroom when the wooden partitions are open.
Hughes lived here from 1934-1946 and immersed himself in Laugharne life, despite his wife Frances' ambivalence towards the locals. Hughes was an honorary petty constable of Laugharne - one of the ancient posts of the corporation. The symbol of office was an old chair leg with a piece of string tied to it. Hughes eventually left Laugharne 1947 as his wife didn't want their children being brought up in a place where local children were in the habit of showing their bottoms.
Apart from In Hazard (see 'Gazebo') Hughes (pictured above) wrote the children's stories, Don't Blame Me! here.
In July 1936 painter Augustus John (1878-1961) visited with his 22-year-old mistress Caitlin Macnamara, who he'd already introduced to Dylan.
On the 15th July, the artist Fred Janes drove Dylan down from Swansea. The party decided to go drinking in Carmarthen with John driving.
However, Dylan and Caitlin hopped in the back of the car and canoodled all the way there.
John became jealous and he and Dylan ended up brawling outside The Drovers pub on Lammas St.
In 1949 Dylan begged his benefactor Margaret Taylor to lease the, '...best house in the best place,' but legal issues, and a reluctance from the owner Miss Starke (whose family had lived at Castle House for centuries) to rent to another literary type meant Dylan took the Boathouse instead.
In 1949, on reluctantly leaving Laugharne and Castle House, Hughes wrote, 'The mistake was to imagine it was right, or even possible, to live out one's life in a fairy-tale, which is what Laugharne is.'
The house was also once lived in by a Mr Power, who was the UK consul to Sweden.
Laugharne Castle is also part of the property, but has been leased to CADW since 1973.
copyright © 2021 Laugharne Lines
all rights reserved