History of Llandudno Museum

DADENI (Rebirth) – Llandudno Museum Community Heritage Project (Rapallo House and Art Gallery)

Maria Theresa Chardon daughter of a wealthy man, Signor A.M. Rapallo moved to live in Llandudno in 1911.  Her son Francis Edouard Chardon was born in Calcutta in 1865 and was brought to England when he was 7 years of age.  He was the son of a wealthy indigo planter. At this time he began his general education at All Souls Grammar School and completed this later at seminaries in France and Germany. He spent several years living in Naples where he studied pastel drawing and watercolour painting under the guidance of the renowned Neapolitan artist Joseph Casciaro.  He also visited many countries and collected an eclectic mix of paintings and ephemera. When his mother died in 1921 Edouard bought a property in Fferm Bach Road, Craig y Don which he named Rapallo House after his mother. He never married and spent the rest of his life developing the house and garden, setting up an artist’s studio where he and his artistic friends could paint. He died at the property on December 22nd 1925.

In his will he bequeathed his house and all of its contents to the town of Llandudno.  The Trustees of the bequest (the executors?) with the assistance of the National Museum of Wales, converted Rapallo House into a public museum and art gallery (Rapallo Museum and Art Gallery).  The Museum, therefore, has always been affiliated to the National Museum of Wales.   It was officially opened by Lord Kenyon KCVO (4th Baron Kenyon), President of the National Museum of Wales, on 22nd June 1927.

By 1933 the Trustees were Richard V. Johnson, William Hughes JP and Arthur Hewitt.  Mr Johnson was a partner in the solicitors’ practice of Chamberlain, Johnson & Parke.  Mr Hewitt was a notable local architect and prominent member of Llandudno Urban District Council.  The secretary to the Trustees was Richard W Jones, a clerk with Chamberlain, Johnson & Parke.  The curator was Ida Marsden and the resident gardener was Albert E Jones. The Trustees were assisted by an advisory committee of Llandudno Urban District Council.

In 1963 the museum was registered as a charity with the Charity Commission on 17th May.

About this time there were three Trustees – Charles Payne JP. E Kenrick Evans FCA and Donald Ball who in 1984/5 decided that they could no longer afford to operate the museum so the Town Council agreed to assist and the Trust was re-established with Town Councillors J T Williams, P C Evans, T R Davies, M Noel Humphreys and R S Gradwell joining as Life Trustees along with Charles Payne and Donald Ball.

In 1985 the Trust decided that the Museum was situated in the wrong place for the people of Llandudno and bought Cottesmore an Edwardian terraced house in Gloddaeth Street on the edge of the old Llandudno Town in the conservation area and closer to the main shopping centre, Mostyn Street with the proceeds of the sale of Rapallo House and a separate coach house.  At the same time the adjoining property Bryn Elli became available and this was also acquired with the assistance of an interest free loan from the then Aberconwy Borough Council.  Grants were obtained to turn the use of these two houses into a museum.

On 12 April 1988, with the help of the Charity Commission, its name was changed to Chardon Trust and the Museum moved to its new home in 1992.  The Scheme with the Charity Commission was amended on 27 September 2011.

It became locally known as Llandudno Museum.  Francis’ collection was added to with items of the history of Llandudno, the Llandudno Field Club collection, finds from the archaeological dig at Caerhun, a collection from the Royal Artillery and lately the remains of ‘Blodwen’ a neolithic skeleton found on the Little Orme in the 1880s.  The Museum now holds approximately 9,000 wide ranging artefacts.

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