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Latitude: 51.7246 / 51°43'28"N
Longitude: -3.683 / 3°40'58"W
OS Eastings: 283852
OS Northings: 204211
OS Grid: SN838042
Mapcode National: GBR H8.2DBT
Mapcode Global: VH5GB.3XTB
Entry Name: Rheola House
Listing Date: 15 May 1973
Last Amended: 30 January 2004
Source ID: 11771
Building Class: Domestic
Location: In parkland to the N of the B4242 between Resolven and Glynneath.
County: Neath Port Talbot
Community: Glynneath (Glyn-nedd)
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Country house of 1812-18 almost certainly by John Nash for his cousin John Edwards. John Edwards Senior was an engineer had bought the estate because of family connections to the region.There was a farmhouse which John Edwards Junior, parliamentary solicitor and land agent, decided to enlarge, retaining it is said the cottage-like character. The design has two main facades SE and SW, both with a full-height canted bay to one side to show well in diagonal views, and the chimneys were all with diagonally-set tall shafts in C16 mode. There are surviving drawings for cottages at Rheola by George Repton, who also drew the designs for alterations at Nanteos, Ceredigion, where John Edwards became steward in 1814, but it is not clear if Repton was acting for Nash or on his own.
The house was built in two stages, first L-plan with SW entrance front and SE garden front, enlarged to a U-plan, with the library, dining-room and billiard-room on the NE front added before 1826. The earliest view of 1814 shows the compact garden front without the conservatory at the SE end that appears in Thomas Horner's views of the estate of c1819-20. There were shutters to the upper left windows. The ground plan of 1814 shows the additions not yet made, but a projection possibly a porch on the entrance front. A large detached block is shown opposite the entrance front, now gone, and there is a walled garden on the slope to SW (in part surviving) with another enclosed garden below.
The concept of Rheola was strikingly rustic, with the house designed to fit into the landscape in a cottage rather than mansion mode, the winding drives of picturesque character and the laundry and stables sited at some distance to preserve the scale. The landscape includes a lake and there was a chapel overlooking the lake built in mid C19 for Nash Edwards Vaughan by John Norton (since demolished). Occupied by Lt Col J. Edwards Vaughan JP in 1926. The house declined in the mid C20 becoming the offices for the aluminium factory built in front and then being derelict. The chimneypieces were lost and much of the plasterwork damaged at this time, but the house has been under restoration in recent years, as has been the landscape with the clearance of cooling-towers from the front lawn and reinstatement of the overgrown hillside behind the house.
Country house, white-painted rubble stone (probably formerly roughcast) with squared stonework to the canted-bay features to the left side of the entrance front and right side of the garden front. Rubble stone in the additions to the NE front and outbuildings. Slate hipped roofs with deep bracketed flat eaves and two brick chimneys, many less than shown in the early views. Two storeys, U-plan with three facades: SW entrance front containing the hall with housekeeper's room and servants' hall to left; SE garden front containing interlinked suite of morning-room, ante-room and drawing -room; and NE range containing library and dining-room interlinked, with ante-room and billiard room beyond. In the centre of the house are the stair-hall, butlers pantry, pantry and kitchen, while to left of entrance front is a lofted hipped range of sculleries and outbuildings, the upper floor said to have been added in the 1920s, though more probably remodelled as there are altered windows. A rear courtyard entered through the scullery range has a game-larder at the N corner. Both SW and SE fronts have verandas originally separated by the conservatory at the SE corner, now linked, the SW veranda with stone columns the SE one with iron columns.
SW entrance front has canted 3-window section to left in whitewashed squared stone and long 4 bays to right in whitewashed render. Canted bay has red brick stack on left side, 12-pane sashes each floor in canted sides and 16-pane sashes to centre, while the main range has 16-pane square sashes with cambered heads to first floor, flat-headed sashes to ground floor, 16-pane left window, 12-pane right window (presumably C20 as conservatory was here). The two centre bays of the ground floor have narrow 12-pane sashes flanking the doorway. This has sidelights, reeded piers and tall 9-panel door. The veranda, re-roofed c 2000 has fishscale slates and a hipped centre projection in front of the door, carried on two cast-iron columns possibly stamped Baker of Newport. The veranda is carried on 8 fine sandstone Roman Doric columns with block rustication.
SE side has three bays to left, whitewashed rubble stone and canted bay to right in whitewashed squared stone. The left has 3 square six-pane sashes over ground floor large triple sash to left with timber lintel and two single sashes with brick sides and concrete lintels, none aligned with windows above, all 12-pane, and within a renewed tent-roofed veranda with thin fluted cast-iron Corinthian columns. The canted bay is interesting in plan, the diagonal sides being rebated slightly back to create more defined corners. Similar six-pane sashes over 12-pane sashes. Unpainted plinth in tooled grey stone to whole facade. The NE return has chimneybreast with red brick stack and two diagonal shafts. Added C20 garages to ground floor right and large C20 window above.
The added NE front to right has a big canted bay to left, similarly treated at angles but of 1-2-1 windows, arched to ground floor which is of coursed stone to sill level then red brick to window level. Long arched windows of 8 panes. Similarly first floor has bands of coursed stone each side of red brick at level of windows which are 6-pane sashes with cambered brick heads, presumably this was all roughcast. The next section to right is hipped-roofed 4-window range, arched below, 6-pane above, but is fronted in squared stone (possibly renewed). Window bays are spaced 3-1 reflecting division between dining-room and ante-room. Single-storey rubble stone billiard-room projects slightly to right, hipped roof and NE French window with stone voussoirs. NW end has broad gabled projection in red brick with tall thin brick chimney flanked by lozenge-glazed single lights.
The long service range to the left of SW front is a 2-storey rubble stone seven-bay range with hipped roof. The first floor has windows with brick surrounds, the left one a 16-pane sash, perhaps earlier than the five four-pane sashes that follow as bricks look older, there are two blocked windows to left of third and fifth bays, seventh bay has a broad 6-pane sash. Ground floor has a brick-framed 12-pane sash to right (to saddle-room), older bricks to surround, then a large window with brick cambered-head and louvred shutters (to pantries), then the through-arch to the service yard with stone voussoirs to cambered head, then a cambered-headed 16-pane sash with brick head and cambered-headed broad triple window in brick frame. Stone sills. The archway leads into the cobbled rear court. Rear of service range has projecting section to left of arch with paired hipped gables and a similar hipped gable to right, with lean-to beyond. Flat-roofed kitchen on SE side of yard. NW end wall has cambered-headed ground floor triple window and 4-pane sash under eaves. On bank at rear N corner of service yard is red brick small octagonal game-larder with renewed louvred 2-light windows on 3 sides and door on fourth, slate octagonal roof with glazed lantern and leaded top.
Interior under repair after long neglect and damage, plasterwork largely restored but not exactly to original, some original doors, fireplaces nearly all removed. Entrance hall has lozenge panel to ceiling with acanthus rose and scroll cornice. Two elliptical arched openings on back wall, one plain, other, to inner hall, with delicate metal tracery to fanlight. Right wall has affixed collection of carved wood fragments part of a collection left in the house presumably made in late C19, C17 to C18 some Dutch. inner hall is small square space with door into corner morning room and elliptical arch to stair hall. Morning room has C19 4-panel door, dado rail, ceiling border with rosettes in circles, fireplace lost. Shutters to triple window, with bordered panels. Double doors into ante-room which has double-doors into corner drawing room and ceiling border with rosettes in scrolls.
Stair hall is square with renewed plasterwork to ceiling. Deep cove around and circular glazed lantern in square border of vine and rose trail. Stair is open-well with two scrolled iron balusters and one square stick baluster to each step, the scrolls to reversed S shape. Thin rail scrolled at end, scrolled tread ends. Panelled dado renewed. Rosette border under landing. Arched opening to passage running NW on each floor.
Corner drawing room is elongated octagon in form, missing fireplace, ceiling border of rosettes in scrolls. Panelled shutters and reveals to double doors. Double doors to library on NE front, a very big room with broad bay window. Deep cove to ceiling with leaf-moulded cornice and roundels in cove at corners and centres of each side, with roses. Library opens into dining-room with similar cornice, arched windows with shutters and panelled reveals, the panels with borders with quadrant rebates at corners. Tall door to ante-room (Col. Vaughan's study) which had a door back to kitchen, now blocked. End billiard room now swimming-pool with deep coved ceiling and new plasterwork. Roof light renewed in late C20. Kitchen has blocked fireplaces on NE wall and built-in dresser. Triple sash into rear court. In service range SE end is saddle-room and stair to upper servants rooms. Servants hall with big bay has flush-panelled 6-panel door, no cornices and original fireplace in grey marble with reeded pilasters and roundels at angles. Fine reeded iron grate. In centre of house butler's pantry shows a very broad red brick arch under the plaster which may be a relic of the old farmhouse.
Included at a higher grade as an important early C19 country house in the picturesque tradition, probably designed by John Nash.
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