WW2 and beyond
The Farm was used heavily during both World Wars as a base of food production. During the First World War, the site hosted three prisoners of war, two Austrians named Andrew and Karl and one Pole named Paul. We know that Paul became particularly attached to the Farm and remained here until 1922 when he was forced to return home.
The Farm continued to produce cider following the War and remained mostly self-sufficient. Today, the site of the cider mill is contested although it may have been sited in the end of the Roofless Barn. During WWI, Rupert Pilliner attempted to produce electricity to supply the House through a water wheel positioned on the end of the Barn. Sadly his efforts were ended when he was killed during the War.
The Manor also played a large part during WWII. The land was largely farmed by the Women’s Land Army, otherwise known as the ‘Land Girls’. They worked incredibly long hours and carried out heavy, manual work to provide food for the population while their husbands, sons and brothers were away fighting. Jobs included milking cows, lambing, ploughing, gathering crops, digging ditches and even catching rats.
Yet with rationing in full force, Farms enjoyed greater access to food - both grown and reared. There are stories that the Farm owners at Llanyrafon Manor would hide pig carcasses in one of the cupboards so that the food went undeclared to the government and remained at the Manor for the worker’s consumption.
During the 1950s the Manor was recognised as a grade II* listed building and was compulsorily purchased by the Cwmbran Development Corporation despite being occupied by the Willis family until the mid-1970s. In 1978 however, the building was declared unsafe and it was boarded up, facing an uncertain future and the centre of various discussions. In 1981, the lease of the Manor was acquired by the Torfaen Museum Trust and the Manor became a small museum for a while but it was not until 2008, when the lease passed to Torfaen County Borough Council, that the site finally saw its first glimpse of hope.
At this point, the Llanyrafon Manor Community Group (LMCG) established themselves with the aim to create a sustainable future for the Manor. This group gathered for regular meetings with Councillors, funders and anyone who could offer advice in the hope of preserving and restoring this historic asset for future generations. They eventually acquired funds from the Rural Development Plan, Heritage Lottery Fund, CADW and the Cwmbran Operational Group and set in motion the refurbishment of Llanyrafon Manor.