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Carswell Mediaeval House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Penally, Pembrokeshire

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Latitude: 51.676 / 51°40'33"N

Longitude: -4.7523 / 4°45'8"W

OS Eastings: 209799

OS Northings: 201058

OS Grid: SN097010

Mapcode National: GBR GD.8GFJ

Mapcode Global: VH2PR.L40H

Plus Code: 9C3QM6GX+C3

Entry Name: Carswell Mediaeval House

Listing Date: 14 May 1970

Last Amended: 26 April 1996

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 6005

Building Class: Domestic

Location: 50 m N of Carswell Farm House, in the farmyard. It is the western of the two ruined buildings.

County: Pembrokeshire

Community: Penally (Penalun)

Community: Penally

Locality: Carswell

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire

Tagged with: Building

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History: The mediaeval house at Carswell appears to be the earlier of the two ancient buildings in the farm group. The holding named Carswell can be traced back to the early C14: in 1326 it was held for one tenth of a knight's fee. In 1397 its tenant was William Wyte. The date of construction of the house is unclear, but may be about 1500. According to Laws (1888), Carswell was split into two properties from the late C16 and perhaps earlier. In his time Carswell was being farmed as one but the freehold was still held jointly by the Trustees of the Tenby Charities and the Church of St. Mary's, Tenby. Both portions of the freehold have since been puchased by the tenant. In 1982 the mediaeval house passed to the care of the State and it is now maintained by Cadw.

Barnwell's drawing (1867) suggest that the house was still then in possession of the skeleton of a roof, and Laws (1888) consequently refers to it as still roofed 'some 20 years ago'.

Description: A perhaps C15 house consisting of a vaulted undercroft with a very large hearth and a single upper room with a small hearth, the latter room evidently serving as a solar. The plan has been described as curious, in that there is a separate entry to each floor but no internal access between them. A lost extension of the building at the E side evidently contained stairs to the upper floor.

Coursed rubble limestone with gables to the E and W. The upper floor is a single room approx. 4.2 by 3.9 m, entered by a door at the NE corner two steps below floor level. A small hearth stands against the W wall, with a curved lintel on corbels and jambs. The stone hood above the fire slopes back into the wall and the flue branches into the main flue from the great hearth beneath. Projecting stones at the rear of the fireplace suggests hobs. The lintel and hood project about 0.3 m. Slit windows in the N, W and S walls, and a later window, wider and lower, in the S wall.

The undercroft has a deep semi-elliptical vault running E/W. There are side vaults intersecting it at N and S, but neither appear to be original. There is an original doorway at the E of the N wall, with its headway cut into the vault. The hearth in the undercroft is approx. 1.4 m wide by 1.2 m deep. It has a segmental arch, almost flat, with deep voussoirs. Part of a bread oven remains at the left, but it is not original. There is also a stone bench beside the hearth, probably not original.

Ancient Monument no. Pe 373

Listed Grade II* as a remarkably complete example of a small mediaeval yeoman's house.

References: R L Barnwell in Arch. Cambr. III xiii (1867), p.201, with illustrations;
E Laws, Little England Beyond Wales (1888), pp.189-91;
P Smith, Houses of the Welsh Countryside (1988), fig 8b;
R. Turner, Lamphey Bishop's Palace, Llawhaden Castle etc. (Cadw 1991), pp44-48;
RCAHM Inventory (1925), p.291.

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