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Latitude: 53.2028 / 53°12'9"N
Longitude: -4.1899 / 4°11'23"W
OS Eastings: 253829
OS Northings: 369536
OS Grid: SH538695
Mapcode National: GBR 5M.28P1
Mapcode Global: WH546.MR1K
Plus Code: 9C5Q6R36+43
Entry Name: Vaynol Old Hall
Listing Date: 22 February 1952
Last Amended: 22 September 1997
Source ID: 4166
Building Class: Domestic
Location: Set in the heart of Vaynol Park, E of Vaynol Hall. Attached outbuildings on the W end, some facing the stable yard.
Locality: Vaynol Park
Traditional County: Caernarfonshire
In the medieval period Vaynol was in the hands of the Bishops of Bangor. It was made over to the Cochwillan family of Bangor by Bishop Skevington in 1533, and eventually came into the hands of the Williams family; William Williams of Vaynol, and Cochwillan (through his wife Elen) was high sheriff for Caernarfonshire in 1598, and was created baronet in 1608. An inventory taken in the period 1660-90 records a total of 44 rooms. It was held by this family until the last member died without issue in 1696. By 1723 the property was in the hands of John Smith, MP, and in 1764 it was left to Thomas Assheton of Cheshire, who assumed the name Smith. Much work of expansion and improvement throughout the estate was carried out until the time the property was sold in 1967, finally passing out of the family's hands in 1984.
Vaynol Old Hall is an important sub-medieval house which appears to be constructed in at least three or four phases, beginning in the early-mid C16 as a 2-unit house with lateral chimney, consisting of the ground floor of hall, passage and small outer room. It reached the present E-shaped plan in the early-mid C17, with addition of a storeyed porch over the entrance, and a similar oriel bay at the E end: rear stair wing dated on close-studding, 1638. The E-plan was completed towards the end of the C17 with the addition of a larger N wing on the W side in the late C17. Outbuildings attached to the W end are later, mostly C19.
Built of local stone rubble, with large quoins and freestone dressings and slate roofs. Main E-W range is of 2 storeys, comprising a main hall with lateral fireplace, a cross passage, and beyond an inner room, a parlour or service room. Perhaps also contemporary, a 3-storey rear wing on the E, with service rooms below. Added on the N side is the storeyed porch over the entrance, with an open outer moulded Tudor arch, within a square frame, with shields in the spandrels. The windows are generally of 2-, 3- or 4-lights, stone mullioned with rounded heads to the lights, set back in chamfered ashlar surrounds. One 3-light window in the porch gable, and the gabled oriel wing, probably added, at the E end of the N elevation, has 3- over 4-light similar arched Tudor windows. At the W end, a balancing wing with crow stepped copings; a 4-light window to the ground floor and a stone mullioned cross window above. A stone stack is between the porch and the oriel. The E elevation, overlooking the sunken garden, is of 3 storeys, with a door to the undercroft in the large gable of the main block, with 5- over 4-light windows, and similar windows to the rear wing. The oriel windows, beyond the inperceptable join, are not recessed. Overlooking the stable yard, the building is of 4 storeys under 2 gables. Some cross windows and other windows altered. This elevation adjoins the Best Stables.
The inner arched doorway from the porch has a chamfered oak frame and boarded door, and flowers and foliage in the spandrels, and opens directly into the great Hall. This has bar-stopped chamfered ceiling beams forming eight compartments, with similar chamfered subsidiary joists. Fully panelled with C17 square moulded panelling now returned from Vaynol Hall, restored in 1995. Fire surround is lost. The cross passage leads to the rear wing, with a fine late C17 boxed stair; square oak newels rise to inverted urn finials and pendants, and close set turned waisted balusters. This has been remodelled. The stair well is timber framed, with both wattle and daub, and lath and daub infilling. The 3-bay great chamber, over the hall, has a stone fireplace with a joggled lintel, and oriel with 2-light windows. A timber framed partition with a central pointed-arched door opening, and lath and daub surviving at its upper level, divides off the inner room. The 12 or so surviving roof trusses throughout, including over the hall block have collars and raking struts to the principal rafters, and 2 tiers of purlins. The initials 'TE 1831' appear on plaster. In the cellars, the rear chamber formed the late C17 kitchen, with a huge fireplace, now partly blocked, on the S end wall. A stone chamfered doorway, of external type, leads from this room to the re-entrant angle below the later kitchen and stair, suggesting that the rear wing is of the first phase.
Listed grade I as an outstanding house of largely C16 date, lying at the heart of Vaynol Park and retaining an exceptionally well preserved main front, together with a good interior of special interest.
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