Private. This 17th century manor house has been restored and furnished as it as in 1645 when occupied by Colonel Edward Pritchard. A guided tour is conducted by actors playing the parts of some of Pritchard’s servants and explaining the history and contents. They talk in period language and the presentations are often very amusing. In the courtyard area there is a pleasant restored garden.
Tree ring dating suggests a date for the house of between 1548-1565. It was built to be defensible with walls 4 feet thick, and access between floors was by stairs within the walls. In 1628 the Grand Staircase was added and two rooms panelled. Some passages and stairs have been walled up, so there are more windows visible outside than inside. King Charles I visited the manor late in the Civil War, for discussions with Colonel Pritchard, but the Colonel later declared for Parliament.
The garden is a reconstruction of what might have been there originally.
Don’t miss the excellent exhibition contained in several rooms next to the modern reception area.
Newton House at Dinefwr, and Dinefwr Castle. National Trust.
The Gothic-style mansion is a recent NT acquisition with some elegant ground floor rooms having fine ceilings, and a grand staircase. The first floor rooms are set up as exhibition rooms displaying a collection of objects found during restoration of the house. One exhibition features ‘125 objects from Dinefwr’ including things found under the floorboards.
Externally the house has an odd look with four square corner towers, a nineteenth century addition.
The house is set in an extensive park, including a deer park, woods and with the ruined Dinefwr Castle on a hilltop. White cattle, famous for having a long association with the area, can be seen in the park. Various walks are available. The old castle can be reached by a 20-minute walk uphill through woods, and is worth the effort as substantial walls and towers remain. The castle is thought to have been built by Rhys ap Gruffydd, king of Deheubarth. The castle changed ownership a number of times but fell into disrepair after Newton House was built around 1600.
The National Botanical Garden of Wales has (they claim) the largest single span greenhouse in the world. The site is set in a large park where you can go for walks of up to 1 or 2 hours. The less adventurous can walk or (if you have an excuse) take the buggy ride from the entrance up to the Great Glasshouse, and make your way back via the Double Walled Garden, Tropical House and whatever catches your eye on the way. The site owners say that to see everything requires an all-day visit.
The Great Glasshouse contains endangered plants from a number of regions with a Mediterranean climate, including South Africa, Australia, California and Chile as well as the Mediterranean basin. There are a number of specialist gardens and exhibitions scattered around the site.
Worth a visit if you are interested in plants, particularly exotic ones. When I visited at the end of June, there were not many flowers to be seen. Some familiar vegetables were growing in part of the Double Walled Garden.
Some re-purposed older buildings remain on the site, but not the mansion, which burnt down in 1931.
This is not really a castle, but a mansion with a castellated Gothic appearance. Now a privately owned hotel and wedding venue, it was formerly the home of the famous opera singer Adelina Patti, who bought the house and greatly extended it, being responsible for its present appearance.
The Gothic core of the mansion was built in 1841-3 for Mr Rice Davies Powell. Adelina Patti acquired the property in 1878 and had various extensions built. The most notable feature is a small theatre which Patti had built. The theatre was completed in 1891 and is still almost entirely original, with a tilt-able floor and the original flats behind the stage curtain. The attractive conservatory has been reconstructed using the original cast-iron columns, and various rooms on the ground floor have been refurbished, some of them very grand. Some bedrooms are available and a few can be seen on the tour, but the upper floors (included in the tour) were derelict at time of visit and remain a work-in-progress.
After Patti’s death, the property was purchased by the Welsh National Memorial Association and used as a hospital for many decades. When this ceased, the property passed into private hands and is currently a hotel and wedding venue.
Some relics of the hospital period remain upstairs. In the cellars a clutter of objects, cables and pipes of various periods are visible in rooms formerly used as the mansion’s service area.
One could say this is an unusual visit but worth a look if you are in the area.
The castle, situated on a hilltop, dominates the surrounding countryside. It is accessible via Castell Farm, which actually owns the freehold of the castle. The farm has various rare breeds and a tearoom. Reaching the castle is via a stiff 20-minute walk. It is now ruined, but various levels can be explored, including a passage to a cave which was incorporated in the defences. If you want to explore the cave you will need a torch as the lower part is totally dark. Spectacular views are available form the castle.
The castle dates from the 13th Century, probably built for John Giffard, a Marcher Lord. It was garrisoned for the last time by Lancastrian forces during the Wars of the Roses, and after its capture in 1462, 500 men laboured for four months to dismantle it using picks and crowbars.
Tredegar House was built from 1664-74, largely replacing an earlier Tudor house of grey stone. It was built by William Morgan, one of the powerful Morgan family who owned the house until the 1940s. The principal state rooms on the ground floor are the New Hall, Dining Room and Gilt Room. On the first floor are various suites including the Best Chamber, the King’s Room ( not actually used by a king) and the Master’s Bedchamber. Descending again, one can visit the basement area, with the bells passge, butler’s room, Great Kitchen, Pastry Room, Housekeeper’s Room, Still Room and the Servant’s Hall. The latter is in the old part of the house. In the centre os a courtyard (currently out of bounds to visitors because of objects falling from above.)
A fine set of gates face the entrance front of the house, and nearby is a stable block and orangery (currently under restoration.)
The Brecon Mountain Railway follows the trackbed of the former Merthyr and Brecon railway, which closed in 1964, and runs from Pant to Tarpaantau. The railway is narrow (2 foot) gauge, unlike the original, and is hauled by two Baldwin steam engines manufactured in Philadelphia and formerly used in South Africa and Brazil respectively.
The track runs alongside the Taf Fechan reservoir, with large changes of elevation visible alongside the train. The total run is about 5 miles each way, passing some impressive scenery.
My trip was enlivened by some sheep wandering about on the track.
At Pant, visitors will find the usual facilities, and can look into the engineering workshop containing machine tools and any work in progress.
The train carriages have hard seats but are enclosed.
Doddington Hall was built between 1593 and 1600 for Thomas Tailor, who was a lawyer. This Elisabethan prodigy house has a wide frontage but is only one room deep in the centre. Internally it was largely updated in the 1760’s, and underwent some restoration in the mid 20th century.
The interior is said to be impressive but the house was not open at the time of my visit.
The grounds include floral and kitchen gardens which are pleasant but not exceptional. Behind the house a vista extends to a pyramidal obelisk. To the right of the house front is a small church, rebuilt in the 1760’s.
On the other side of the house are various outbuildings including a farm shop, and a barn containing a collection of farm wagons.
Lincoln Cathedral is one of the great cathedrals of England. Unusually, it has three towers. Construction started in 1071. Subsequently the cathedral had an eventful history, with a great fire ravaging it around 1124, partial destruction by an earthquake in 1184, a lengthy rebuilding, the collapse of the central tower in 1236, and further alteration over the centuries. The West Front survives from the Norman period.
Inside and outside, one is impressed by the scale of the cathedral. Well worth a visit. Don’t miss the Chapter House.
An admission charge may apply, except on Sundays.
The Romans were the first to build a fort on this hilltop site. The Normans also built a castle on the site, initially as a wooden fort on a mound. The mound of the Lucy Tower was the original Norman motte, and it is now thought that the Norman bailey, or outer yard, was bigger than the current walled enclosure, following the line of the Roman settlement walls and enclosing the whole hilltop.
The massive earth ramparts and curtain wall are thought to have been built in the late 11th century. A stone keep, the Lucy Tower, was built on the original motte, and a second motte was constructed and topped by another stone tower, now known as the Observatory Tower.
The castle featured in several medieval battles and sieges, culminating in a siege in 1644 during the Civil War. After 1660, the castle ceased to be a military fortress, and instead was used as a gaol.
A prison built of brick was erected within the walls in the Georgian era, and partly replaced by a Victorian prison block behind.
The courthouse building within the walls dates from 1826, replacing an earlier building.
Visitors may be confused by the pricing structure: entry withing the curtain wall is free, the basic fee entitles you to go on the “Wall Walk”, and the premium fee in addition admits you to the Magna Carta exhibition, prison chapel and Victorian prison. If you are expecting a massive stone keep inside the walls, there isn’t one. There are also hourly free guided tours of the grounds.
There is plenty to see if you opt for the full ticket, and viewing the exhibits in the prison block can take some time. Lincoln Cathedral (admission fees may apply) is next to the castle.