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Hafodunos Hall

A Grade I Listed Building in Llangernyw, Conwy

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.1883 / 53°11'17"N

Longitude: -3.6963 / 3°41'46"W

OS Eastings: 286753

OS Northings: 367035

OS Grid: SH867670

Mapcode National: GBR 68.32LC

Mapcode Global: WH65S.6433

Plus Code: 9C5R58Q3+8F

Entry Name: Hafodunos Hall

Listing Date: 2 April 1970

Last Amended: 17 March 1999

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 262

Building Class: Domestic

Location: About 1km WSW of Llangernyw.

County: Conwy

Town: Abergele

Community: Llangernyw

Community: Llangernyw

Traditional County: Denbighshire

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History

Built between 1861-66 to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott, (1811-78) architect, for H R Sandbach, of Liverpool, replacing C17 house, whose staircase was re-used in present house.

Scott was amongst the most important Gothic Revival architects and a proponent of the Gothic style in domestic architecture, although he built comparatively few houses. Hafodunos is second only to Kelham Hall, Nottinghamshire in his domestic output, and the only example of his domestic work in Wales. House said to have cost £30,000. Stone carving by Farmer and Brindley. Elaborate conservatories added 1883 by Messenger and Co under direction of J Oldrid Scott, son of original architect.

The Sandbach family were amongst the most important patrons of the great Welsh sculptor John Gibson (born near Conwy 1790, died Rome 1866). Gibson's career began at Liverpool where he was encouraged by Wm Roscoe whose granddaughter was Mrs H R Sandbach. The family were personal friends of Gibson, and sculptures were commissioned directly from the artist who had studied with Canova and Thorwaldsen, and had an international career based at Rome. Although 5 Gibson marble reliefs from the house, and a free-standing Nymph by R J Wyatt, are now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, an important group of plaster reliefs by Gibson and Thorwaldsen remain in staircase hall and in sculpture room on ground floor.

Exterior

Large country house in Venetian-inspired Gothic style, soft-red brick with diaper-work, extensive pale stone dressings with foliated capitals to windows, slate roofs; tall shaped brick chimneys form picturesque sky-line. Generally 2 storeys plus attics with timber dormers with arch-braced gables and moulded fronts.

Main block of house faces garden (SE) with well-composed grouping of tower and octagonal billiard room to R (east); lower service quarters and courtyard to L, conservatories in front of service quarters.

Entrance front tower (to R) has steep slate spire (lantern removed) steep gables with clock faces, polygonal buttresses, polygonal stair turret to rear, paired open arches to top stage, 2 small windows below, 2 larger windows below these; entrance doorway has 3 orders of polished granite and stone shafts with floral capitals, tympanum with monogram of Sandbach family and date '1864'; double-leaf panelled doors. To L of tower, gabled block with arched attic window, splayed stone oriel on pillar which divides two 2-light windows with plate tracery; to L of these, broad Gothic window of 3 lights with oculi above. At L end, forming angle with S front, octagonal billiard room modelled after medieval kitchens, lantern, square buttresses with floral capitals and crockets, paired arches to each side, diapering, inscription below parapet. Garden front has cross-gable to each end, each with 2-light Gothic attic window; L gable has splayed stone oriel window, and on ground floor, group of three 2-light windows with plate tracery. L return of block has large chimney with diapering, and 3 dormers. Right gable has 2-storey splayed stone bay with Gothic parapet. Between main gables, 3 windows, central ground floor window has cusped arches; doorway to each side. At L end, lower range with large gable with 2-light Gothic window and 3 stone gabled dormers; L return has (to courtyard) window consisting of polychromic Gothic arch enclosing oculus, over 4-light mullion-and-transom window. To L of garden front, impressive conservatory range; main section has barrel-vaulted roof (modern covering) and gables to L flank; to L, set back, 4 gables with cusped Gothic lights with stained glass. Modern classroom block to L. North (rear) elevation of main block has, to R of tower, 7-window front with central advanced 3-storey gabled block with attic Gothic window, Gothic stair window with three 2-light windows with plate tracery, 2 small windows below; to each side 3 dormers, windows to L have stone shafts and capitals, mullion-and-transom windows to R. At R end, 3-storey square tower with pyramidal slate roof. Continues to R as service quarters, single-storey plus attics with catslide dormers, generally cast-iron casement glazing with diamond patterns. Similar treatment to courtyard elevations.

Interior

The interior is largely unaltered with moulded and pierced cornices, some ribbed and moulded ceilings; doorcases and panelled doors etc. in the style of Pugin. Lobby under tower has tiled floor. Entrance hall has Gothic stone fireplace with polychrome columns, polychrome tile floor; to corridor, arcade of 3 Gothic arches with paired polished granite shafts, foliated capitals and enriched cusped arches; to L stained glass window with heraldic shields. Principal rooms to garden front. Drawing room has ribbed and moulded ceiling, 2 Gothic stone fireplaces with polychrome marble shafts and cosmati work, wooden panelling and arcading to windows. Sliding panelled door to Gothic lobby to octagonal billiard room which has panelled and coved ceiling with foliated stone corbels to wooden ribs; and early-Gothic style recesses. Dining room with ribbed and moulded ceiling, panelled dado, stone Gothic fireplace with polychrome columns, triple Gothic arched window with foliated capitals representing grapes, figs, etc. To rear of dining room, secondary staircase hall has C17 wooden staircase from previous house; flat pierced balusters, strapwork newels, carved string. Adjacent to this (and rear entrance) is the business room. Principal staircase hall has arcade of 3 Gothic arches with polished granite shafts, foliated capitals and enriched arches; polychrome tile floor; staircase with iron balustrading, landing with Gothic arches to first floor corridor. To each side of stair hall, neo-classical reliefs, on L, oval relief (Eros and Aphrodite?) above segmentally-headed relief (Eros and Psyche?), on R, oval relief (Eros and Anteros?). To R of stair hall, sculpture room has wooden chimneypiece, in alcove to L, rectangular relief of Hector reproaching Paris (after Thorwaldsen), to R, square relief with male and female figures (Hero and Leander?), at right angles, 2 rectangular reliefs of Charioteer (Helios?) and Horses (of the Sun?), based on Parthenon frieze.

On first floor, bedrooms and dressing rooms arranged as suites; simpler treatments but rope-moulded cornices and original doors survive. Bedroom in E gable has Gothic fireplace, woodwork arches to windows, lobby with wooden stair to office? above. Similar bedroom in W gable lacks fireplace but has similar window treatment. Top floor has long corridor with servants' bedrooms etc. Interior of conservatories has cast-iron columns, stained glass to cusped windows, much of original roof structure covered by suspended ceiling. Service quarters on 2 floors retain many original details.

Reasons for Listing

Graded I as large-scale well-preserved example of domestic architecture in Wales by this important and influential architect, arguably his most important building in Wales, and for surviving sculptural reliefs especially those by John Gibson, a Welsh sculptor of international importance.

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