Mothers of Insole Court

It’s Mother’s Day and here at Insole Court we are celebrating the fantastic mother-and-daughter duos that we are lucky enough to have helping us at Insole Court one way or another.

Our mother-and-daughter partnerships come from near and far to help us in various ways. We have researchers, volunteer guides, yoga instructors, wedding volunteers and even our own bookings manager working with their loved ones!

We are thrilled that mothers and daughters enjoy their time with us enough that they want to share this time with their family!

Our mothers all have their own stories to share about what makes this place special and why they have chosen to share their experiences with their daughters, so we’d like to let them tell you in their own words.

Gaynor and her daughter Elly have been sharing their love of Insole Court for decades. Here are some beautiful words they have written together about their experiences here:

“As a mother, whose children had Insole Court almost on their door-step, it has a special place in my memory of their younger days...

Of toddlers, where they took their first steps and the soft lawns cushioned their tumbles,

Of pre-schoolers riding the lions, and kicking a ball around with boundless energy,

Of school friends gathering on the top lawn under the watchful eye of the park-keeper,

Of discovering the library, going to school though the grounds with one’s best mates, and walking the dog with Dad.

Then revisiting it all with grandchildren, being a 'Friend' of Insole Court, volunteering as a

researcher to keep its history alive so that a new generation can discover the Insoles, walking the dog in the grounds and enjoying the peaceful surroundings, knowing others are welcoming new-comers to this special place.


“So I was that toddler! Insole Court was where my friends and I played during the summer of

’76... British Bulldogs on top lawn, cricket on bottom lawn, waiting for autumn and hoping that the wind would blow at exactly the right time to dislodge the horse chestnuts with their conkers, and later to bring the snow. And the conker field was the perfect sledging site... still video evidence from a few winters ago will testify.

While the grounds catered for physical needs, it was the building that I loved the most. Saturday mornings would find me in the library. A huge desk dominated the drawing room – I could hardly see over the top of it to get my books stamped, and there I would stay, often wondering exactly what was at the top of that beautiful staircase, sometimes only moving to read my newly chosen books perched on top of a lion on the terrace. And then there were the weddings... I was the silent spectator watching from the shelter of the cedar

trees, marvelling at the beautiful dresses and thinking how wonderful to have a wedding reception in such a beautiful day... I promised myself... But by the time I’d found the husband, the building was a damp, unloved empty shell, so my dream location never materialised.

“The toddler grew up. I loved being a member of the Friends of Insole Court... ensuring that the building was always at the forefront of Cardiff Council’s mind...reminding them at every opportunity that many people loved the building and were prepared to fight for it. I was working by this time, so left the fight to John Isaacs, John King and many others, but one day I promised myself, I’d do a bit more.

“And so, here I am. This time the building is far from being an empty is vibrant, welcoming, beautifully restored... full of workshops, classes, choirs and community activity. Mum is one of the members of the Archive and Research Group, who delve into the family history of the Insoles and the people who worked here. I am a volunteer guide in the house, delighted to share the house and its history with the many people from Cardiff and further afield, who never knew Cardiff’s hidden gem even existed.

Finally I’m getting to do just a little bit more, and enjoying it enormously!”

Heledd, our Bookings Manager and resident wedding planner, loves working with her mother Mari, who volunteers with her at weddings.

Mari writes,

“Working as a volunteer is rewarding at any time. Helping to make one’s special day, perfect is particularly so. You cannot beat working as a wedding volunteer at Insole Court, whatever the circumstances, but sharing the responsibility with your daughter and witnessing the excitement of the bride and groom, knowing that she is the link pin on whom everyone is depending for their perfect day is especially gratifying.

The special mother/daughter bond makes an easy working relationship, dependent on trust and respect on both sides and the knowledge that both are working together striving towards perfection. By now, I can read Heledd’s mind and will anticipate the next job before being asked.

Thank you, daughter, for inviting me to volunteer with you on wedding days.”

Another of our volunteers, also named Gaynor, whose daughter chose Insole Court to be the special place to host her beautiful wedding, says this:

“As a family, we have enjoyed many aspects of Insole Court. My younger daughter got married in May last year and we had a wonderful wedding reception in the house. We also celebrated my granddaughter's first birthday with a picnic in the grounds last Summer. Visiting so frequently inspired me to become a volunteer gardener, which I love as it gets me out in the fresh air, in beautiful surroundings. It's important to us that we keep contributing to the upkeep of such a valuable community asset.”

Yoga teacher Molly has been holding her classes at Insole Court for three years. Her daughters Poppy and Leela have joined her to become volunteers in the house. Molly had this to say about sharing time with her daughters at Insole Court:

“Poppy (15) has been volunteering on Saturday mornings for about 18months and Leela (13) started just a few weeks ago. Poppy loves helping to set the main house up in preparation for events especially weddings and starting the tours. She also enjoys the camaraderie of the other volunteers. Both girls have gained confidence through dealing with the public, having a go at whatever is thrown at them!

I have been teaching Hatha Yoga at Insole Court for nearly 3years. I trained to teach after several back operations, hoping to encourage others to develop a practise not only after injury but throughout life to maintain physical and mental health.”

We would like to thank all the wonderful mothers at Insole Court, who have helped to shape us into the vibrant and diverse community we've become. If you have a story you'd like to share with us, we'd love to hear it. We wish you all a very happy Mother’s Day!

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