THE Manor House Hotel is the earliest part to one of Gwent's greatest successes and this is its untold story.

THE building since 1999 has been part of the five-starred Celtic Manor Resort estate - widely famed for many a thing; including the hosting of celebrity guests Elton John, Tom Jones, Anthony Hopkins and Cliff Richard.

But what people are less familiar with is that the historic Manor House - which has been transformed in multiple ways over the years - has had its doors open to guests for more than a century and that members of the founding family were murdered.

The historic building was built 158 years ago in 1860 by a mighty coal baron, Thomas Powell.

Mr Powell, who was behind the mighty conglomerate Powell-Duffryn Company, started his first coal mine near Newport and soon became one of the largest coal owners in south Wales.

It is claimed that during the 1840s the Lord of Tredegar, Sir Charles Morgan, was awarded damages against Mr Powell for trespassing and working coal without permission from under his land.

Despite this, Mr Powell’s mines grew in strength and were generating considerable wealth. And soon it was estimated that the mines were exporting hundreds of thousands of tonnes in coal.

The coal baron then turned his attention to building The Manor House - originally known as Coldra House - which was then handed to his eldest son Thomas Powell Jnr and his bride, Julia Jenkins, as a wedding gift.

The building was re-named Coldra Hall - meaning the peak of the hill.

However Mr Powell Jnr’s tenure was short-lived because in 1869, he, his wife and their six-year-old son were murdered while on a safari to shoot elephants in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia). Horror struck again a few years later when the two remaining sons - Henry and Walter - were also killed in a hunting accident and on in a hot air balloon accident respectively.

News of Mr Powell Jnr’s death caused widespread horror and resulted in the House of Commons questioning how Britons could be placed in such danger.

Following their deaths, the manor was leased to many families, including the Firbank family from 1900 to 1915. The manor was later sold in 1915 to entrepreneur Sir John Wyndham Beynon, who added on a further wing to the building and installed two windows depicting The Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle.

In 1930 Sir John decided to generously donate the house to the local authority.

And a decade later, on New Year’s day, the house was converted into The Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital - named in honour of Sir John’s mother.

Julie Morris, who lives in St Julians, was one of 60,000 babies to have been born at The Lydia Beynon Maternity Hospital.

“I was born at the hospital which is why I take an interest in it,” said Mrs Morris, who is a teacher.

“Thousands of people across Gwent were born there. I find it fascinating seeing how use of the building has changed over the years.

“The Manor House is a big part of our local history.”

Cwmbran-born Susan Reece was another person who was born at the former hospital.

She said: “It has changed a lot throughout the years.

“At the beginning it was a house then a hospital and now it is part of the hotel.

“You often read of historical sites which have collapsed but this is still standing. It is amazing.”

Perhaps the most famous person to have been born there is billionaire and owner of the Celtic Manor, Terry Matthews.

With the hospital closing in the late 1970s, Mr Matthews bought the site in 1980 for an estimated £290,000.

Two years later it was fully re-furbished, with 17 bedrooms, and re-opened as a hotel under the name The Celtic Manor Hotel.

An 18-hole golf course and another building would later be added to the site in the late 1990s. And the building would later be re-named The Manor House Hotel.

With a new owner, the building had now taken on a global and new lease of life as part of The Celtic Manor Resort.

And even bigger news is still yet to come.