One of the major challenges of owning a large house – aside from paying the mortgage – is maintaining its cleanliness. And Cornelia Bayley probably knows this better than most people, as she failed to clean her massive country estate even once in some 29 years. But then, in 2015, two people finally offered her some assistance.
Back in 1986 Bayley purchased her Jacobean mansion in Flintshire, Wales, for around £70,000 – or a little over $254,000 in today’s money. Known as Plas Teg, the house is believed to have been built in 1610. Since then, the estate has naturally been passed down through a number of different owners.
In fact, Plas Teg was initially built for politician and associate of King James I Sir John Trevor I, who lived there with his family at the beginning of the 17th century. During this time, the Trevor family hosted a variety of events for their guests. Then, in the 18th century, the mansion came into the possession of Lord and Lady Dacre, with their own descendants taking charge in the 19th century.
In the 20th century, though, Plas Teg was used to shelter allied soldiers during the Second World War. Then, after an auctioneer bought the property, it became a furniture shop in 1945. And some 41 years later, antiques collector Bayley splashed her cash in order to own the historic building.
And after purchasing the mansion, Bayley spent thousands more in maintaining Plas Teg’s 17th-century character. Eventually, however, her resources dwindled considerably. So, following her retirement, Bayley was forced to live exclusively off her pension.
As a consequence of her financial situation, Bayley was also required to find other ways of making money for Plas Teg. So while the mansion had hosted glamorous events in past centuries, it now merely accommodated paranormal gatherings. Such occasions, however, were not enough to maintain the estate. And given how messy the place had become, the retired owner of the house was short of other options.
Fortunately, then, a British TV show decided to step in and assist Bayley in 2015. Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners is focused on OCD sufferers who travel around the country cleaning dirty houses. And in this case, the cameras captured the duo of Dann and Hayley heading to Plas Teg’s doorstep unaware of the great challenges that awaited them.
Before they start work, though, Bayley offers some insight into her troubles. “200 years ago, there’d be 20 or 30 people looking after the house,” she says in the episode. “Now there’s just me and the cat!” The owner then provides an explanation behind her passion for Plas Teg.
“This house means so much to me because I’m a collector,” Bayley continues. “I almost think furniture and things are as important as people, you see. [But] the financial pressures are terrible. It’s got to make more money.” From there, she lists a number of issues inside the house, including the broken oven and boiler.
The latter problem in particular leads Bayley to make a frank admission. “The last time I had a bath was about two or three years ago,” she says. “[I] can’t afford the hot water. But in the 18th century, people didn’t have baths all the time, so I’m just living in another age. That’s all!”
After that, the retired antiques dealer turns her attention to other parts of the house. “I don’t hoover because I don’t like hoovering,” she states. “You know, I think this floor has been hoovered perhaps two or three times in 29 years.”
The episode then reveals that, in an effort to raise funds for Plas Teg, Bayley has agreed to host a public tour of the mansion. Due to the state of its interior, though, she is in serious need of assistance. “When I bought the house, I didn’t realize how much it was going to be a problem,” she claims on the show. “It’s just me, so I obviously need extra help.”
And, with that in mind, OCD sufferers Dann and Hayley then arrive at Plas Teg, immediately noting the size of the property. After being greeted at the door by Bayley, the pair walk into the mansion with the task ahead of them clear to see. However, before they take a look around all the rooms, the owner lays down some conditions.
“I want things done how they were done in another age,” Bayley tells the pair. “You can’t use any spray polishes [or] any of these modern things on my furniture. You know, I don’t like the modern smells, and I hate things that make rooms smell nice. I think they’re ghastly.”
Dann and Hayley are left somewhat perplexed by the request. Yet after seeing the state of the kitchen and realizing Bayley’s struggles, the latter offers an assessment. “To get this house in order, I think we need a miracle,” she says. “I can’t express enough how big and how messy this house is!”
Upon learning that neither the bedding nor the mattresses in the bedrooms had been washed in roughly 100 years, Dann and Hayley forgo the invitation to stay in the house. Instead, they choose to sleep in a nearby hotel. But despite this decision, the pair press ahead in their mission to clean Plas Teg.
But due to the sheer size of the mansion, the cleaners concentrate on fixing up just three of the rooms: the great hall, the kitchen and the bathroom. And with her vacuum cleaner in hand, Hayley starts to clean the large rug in the hall, immediately noticing the difference. From there, she and Dann split away to focus on the other two rooms.
However, because of the limitations placed upon them by Bayley, Hayley struggles in her efforts to properly clean the homeowner’s bathroom. And the problems didn’t end here. In fact, Hayley and Dann eventually clash with Bayley while working in her kitchen and being scolded for moving things around.
Nevertheless, Dann and Hayley eventually complete their mammoth tasks, with Bayley returning to Plas Teg alongside her friend Mark. And while Bayley somewhat plays down the improvement, her friend says later that she is secretly delighted. And not long after that, the public tour takes place, with some visitors suggesting that the mansion would be the perfect place to host a wedding.
Following the tour, Dann and Hayley say their goodbyes to Bayley, who then hails the work that the cleaners had completed. “They have done a good job,” she says. “They’ve made it much cleaner.” And from there, she looks ahead to the mansion’s future. “I think weddings could be part of Plas Teg’s future,” she says. “I’ll keep fighting the battle for this house. Because I love it.”