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On the opposite site of the road to the Vane School/Londonderry Cottage Hospital, is one of the entrances to St Peter’s Churchyard. This gate is flanked by yew trees which lead directly to the grouping of tombstones relating to the family which owned Y Plas. The most prominent amongst these represents a female figure sitting sideways on the plinth of a cross. It commemorates Mary Cornelia, Marchioness of Londonderry (13 November 1828 - 9 September 1908), together with her husband, George Henry, 5th Marquis of Londonderry, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Durham (26 April 1821- 5 November 1894). The Marchioness’ influence throughout the second half of the 19th century in Machynlleth was immense. In addition to the buildings she endowed to assist the poor, many other examples of her beneficence were reported in local newspapers.

For example, the Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard, 15 May 1891, refers to one of her annual entertainments drawing on the musical and acting talents of both the family and houseguests: ‘...the Marchioness of Londonderry has taken considerable trouble in getting up these entertainments and they have always proved very successful, and are looked forward to with great interest by the ladies and gentlemen of the neighbourhood and public generally... On Friday evening a grand concert was given. The Assembly Room had been previously decorated by Mr Lyall, head gardener at Plas Machynlleth, and presented a very pretty appearance. There was a good attendance. The first item on the programme was a piano duet (Le Paysan) by the Marchioness of Londonderry and the Lady Aline Beaumont. It was well rendered and earned an enthusiastic and hearty applause... The theatrical performances on Friday commenced at eight o'clock before a large audience, the reserved seats being all occupied. In the play, in one act, ‘In honor bound’ by Sydney Grundy, Mr Adolplous Vane-Tempest as Sir Geo. Carlyon, MP QC, maintained the character very ably and received hearty a applause for his acting... We heartily congratulate Lady Aline Beaumont on the manner she filled the character of Lady Carlyon. She was particularly good and was much appreciated by the audience as also was Miss Williamson who, in the part of Rose Dalrymple, was very distinct and clear... Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the Marchioness of Londonderry for her kindness in getting up these entertainments annually and thus affording such a treat to the inhabitants of the district who, we are sure, do not fail to appreciate her Ladyship's kindness. Both entertainments were highly successful the proceeds amounting to a large sum which will, we understand, as in previous years be devoted to some local object.’

Follow this link to read the full newspaper article:

Another instance was reported in the Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard on 17 November 1905. This time the inmates of the workhouse were the principal beneficiaries:

Adjacent to the monument to George Henry and Mary Cornelia is a smaller, standing female figure, commemorating Averina Mary Vane Tempest, their second daughter. She died on 26 June 1873. Averina's death delayed by a year the celebrations planned for the unveiling of the Clocktower. It was built by the townspeople in honour of her brother’s coming of age in the same year as Averina's death. The Machynlleth Borough Guide notes that there were ‘several handsome monuments and tombstones, those of the Londonderry family being exceptionally fine.’

In this historic view, you can see how the Londonderry family tombstones used to shine out amongst the others:

This view shows planted flowers and the low iron rail that used to surround the tombstone: 439

Unfortunately, the Londonderry family tombstones are not accessible by wheelchair or mobility vehicles, but we hope you have enjoyed reading a little more about this extraordinary lady.

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