With its intricate patterns of beautifully coloured mussels, scallops and oysters, the shell house at Cilwendeg has an irresistible charm.

Deep in woodland in West Wales stands a sparkling little building that looks like something out of a fairytale. While Hansel and Gretel found a gingerbread house, in this clearing on the Cilwendeg estate near Boncath is something lovelier and more charming still — a 19th-century folly whose interior is decorated almost entirely with shells.

A wooden portico, shaded by climbers, supports a stepped pediment of coarsely cut white quartz, glinting in the sunshine, while arched doors and stained-glass windows

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