By David Painting
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Extra resources for Amy Dillwyn
Their father, Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn, MP, left them in no doubt that they belonged to a family of considerable distinction and antiquity both in social and, just as important, in intellectual terms. Much was expected of them because they had a long and (generally) honourable tradition of public service behind them which made Hendrefoilan the outward and visible sign of rank based not on snobbery but on social responsibility. This is not to say that Amy’s formative years were solemn or dull. With her parents frequently away in London on parliamentary business and with her elder sister Minnie virtually in charge of the household, Amy quickly learnt to accept the rough-and-tumble of domestic life and play her part in bringing up young Essie.
The new year began with bitter east winds and hard frosts warmed only by the news on 10 January that the Princess of Wales had given birth to her first son, Prince Albert Victor. The previous day a slight thaw had set in and Llewellyn took the train to Torquay for a brief winter break before getting on with the onerous work of settling his father’s affairs. In his absence Amy amused herself by devoting her time to her newly discovered sport of ice skating with her cousins on the lake at Penllergaer – a sport which she found enthralling even without Llewellyn to escort her as he had for the previous fortnight of perfect skating weather.
Llewellyn was now not only very wealthy, he was also very busy and had correspondingly less time to spend with her. Making the best of it Amy and her parents wrote to tell everyone the sad news, looking forward to happier times in the New Year of 1864 when the marriage details could again be put in hand. Philosophically (and almost prophetically) Amy said farewell to the year that had ended in disappointment and dismay. ‘Goodbye to 1863 with all its cares and sorrows and pleasures and goodbye also to the most miserable Christmas time I ever spent.
Amy Dillwyn by David Painting