Friday 11 September 2015
A 150-year-old historic home turned spiritual sanctuary for Buddha’s teachings in Swansea will open its doors this month (September 2015) allowing people to meditate within the walls of the former mansion.
Situated in the Uplands, Springfield House is one of Wales’s iconic buildings and unusual sites preparing to welcome thousands of visitors as part of the Welsh Government’s annual Open Doors programme that offers people the chance to explore new aspects of Wales’s culture and history.
Originally built as a family household, the Grade II listed building is now home to the Dharmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre and will be welcoming visitors on Saturday, 12 September.
This opportunity for the public to explore Springfield House will reveal the building’s journey of cultural relevance through the decades. Its walls have long held a connection to the local community, from significance in local law and finance, through to charity missions in Swansea and most recently, Buddhism and spirituality.
The house was built as a luxurious residential property within the once green surroundings of the Ffynone Estate. Built within fields and woodland, it was completed in 1864 with nine bedrooms, a billiard room, a butler’s pantry and even access to a paddock.
During its time as a residential property (1864-1937), the impressive Victorian building was the comfortable home of various significant Swansea figures, including Marcus Moxham, a timber merchant, councillor and school board member; John Daniel Thomas, the High Bailiff for Glamorganshire and local solicitor turned Swansea Town Clerk, John Thomas.
In 1937, Springfield House became the property of the ‘Swansea and West Wales Mission to the Deaf and Dumb’. Later renamed the ‘Swansea Centre for Deaf People’, the house would have offered humble refuge, advice and recreational activities from 1937, and even housed a small chapel in one of the upstairs rooms.
In 2006, the historic house reinvented itself once again, as it became the home of the Dharmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre, founded by the modern-day meditation master Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
Adrian Bence, meditation teacher at the Dharmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre, said: “We feel that our renovation work on Springfield House has remained true to the building’s heritage and further to this, we have continued the building’s traditional use as a base for serving the local community.
“From within the walls of this beautiful Victorian building we have made the ancient wisdom of Buddha's teachings widely available throughout modern-day South Wales by providing a spiritual programme of meditation classes, courses and special events. Our aim is to help everyone increase their inner peace, compassion and wisdom, so that they can take these beneficial minds into their daily lives.
“The Centre also offers residential accommodation, a guest room for working visitors, and opportunities for groups and organisations to arrange educational visits.”
Ken Skates, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, added: “The Centre is a fine example of how historic buildings are being used in new and creative ways, helping to safeguard their heritage for generations to come.
“Open Doors is a fantastic programme which gives everyone the opportunity to explore the fascinating buildings on their doorsteps.
“From exhibitions to guided tours, there are hundreds of exciting events taking place across the country to help bring Wales’s history to life for visitors to explore and enjoy.”
The Dharmavajra Kadampa Buddhist Centre will open its doors on Saturday, 12 September from 12pm until 4pm, offering a taste of inner peace alongside real Welsh history. Those who attend will receive a full ‘behind the scenes’ heritage tour of the property and a free taster meditation class.
The Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw) is offering the first 20,000 people to register through its Eventbrite page free entry to its paid-admission sites over the final weekend in September (26-27), as well as hosting a packed programme of activities and events in celebration of Open Doors.
Some venues have limited numbers of spaces or require advance booking.