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Walls, Steps, Terraces, Pavilion, Summerhouses and Cottage attached to wall of the Hanging Gardens

A Grade I Listed Building in St Donat's, Vale of Glamorgan

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Latitude: 51.4012 / 51°24'4"N

Longitude: -3.5331 / 3°31'59"W

OS Eastings: 293446

OS Northings: 168020

OS Grid: SS934680

Mapcode National: GBR HG.QVCF

Mapcode Global: VH5J4.Q11P

Plus Code: 9C3RCF28+FP

Entry Name: Walls, Steps, Terraces, Pavilion, Summerhouses and Cottage attached to wall of the Hanging Gardens

Listing Date: 22 February 1963

Last Amended: 19 January 2005

Grade: I

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 13326

Building Class: Domestic

Location: Stepping down in tiers from the main south front of St Donats Castle towards the sea.

County: Vale of Glamorgan

Town: Bridgend

Community: St. Donats (Sain Dunwyd)

Community: St. Donats

Locality: St Donats Castle

Built-Up Area: St Donat's

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Late C16 origin and the basic engineering and main terraces and retaining walls date from then, with later repairs and alterations, many of early C20, also with late C20 repairs in parts. The gardens were constructed by Sir Edward Stradling (died 1609) and were immediately famous for their elaboration. The detailed design and character of the gardens as of today is principally due to Morgan Stuart Williams, and then Randolph Hearst, in the period 1901-30; the former doing the Tudor Garden layout and the horizontal surfaces and the latter adding stone paving and the loggias. There have been repairs, but no alterations, since the late 1930s, except that the planting has been simplified.


Hanging gardens with walled terraces, stone stairways and their associated garden buildings, which descend the slope of the cwm from St. Donat's Castle to the Cavalry Barracks.

Top garden: enclosed by high walls on north-east and part of north-west sides, by terrace wall with low parapet on the south-east and by retaining wall with parapet on the south-west. Four-centred arch doorway with planked door in north-west wall. Four-centred north-east entrance arch, its garden face with stopped and chamfered jambs and two planked doors with cover strips and hinges; north-east wall with one further stopped and chamfered doorway. South-east terrace wall with four projections of early C20, the north-east one incorporating a doorway with steps down to second garden. Sixteen stone steps with stone balustrades also lead down to second garden in south-west corner. To the north-west of this garden, and accessible by a path round the Lady Anne Tower, is a small stone garden pavilion with pyramidal slate roof with finial; possibly of C18 origin (see Sam. and Nath. Buck print of 1740), this was renovated in the early C20. This building was not available for close inspection at resurvey. It is clearly shown in the Buck print, as is the west buttressing for the top terrace.

Second garden: terrace wall on the north-west; stone flagged path and stone parapet on south-west; high north-east wall, rising in centre over arched entrance with stone voussoirs; south-east terrace wall; eleven steps in south-west corner to the Tudor Garden.

Tudor Garden: This owes much of its present style to the ownership of Morgan Stuart Williams in the early C20. North-west terrace wall with north-east flight of steps leading up to second garden. Stone flagged path with stone parapet wall on south-west, the parapet wall on the south-west, the parapet breached by gateway with pair of late C19 or early C20 iron gates against stone stair balustrade) above a flight of steps leading south-west and out of the garden. North-east wall with four wide steps with dwarf stone balustrades to gateway with ashlar gate pairs with ball finials. The north-east wall terminates at its south end in an Italianate summer-house, built in the late 1920s or early 1930s (but see OS 25" scale map of 1919), in part upon the north-east retaining wall of the Rose Garden. The one storey summer-house has stone walls, a stone tile hipped roof, its front wall in the form of a loggia with three semi-circular arches on stumpy columns and the rear wall with a segmental headed doorway and a floor of quarry tiles laid herringbone fashion. Small glazed Gothic window in the south gable, and another in the east wall. This loggia is very much in the garden manner of Harold Peto.

In the centre part of the garden, bounded by yew hedges, four stone flagged paths lead to a lozenge shaped central space marked by an octagonal stone pier with an octagonal wooden bench ranged round it. It has been suggested that the pier is formed of the well-head that was removed from the Inner Court of the castle. Eight heraldic stone emblems or 'Queen's beasts', perched on octagonal stone columns, bound the central space and eight further beasts flank the four paths at the entrances to the garden with one further beast in each garden corner. These are based on the similar but C16 beasts on the entrance bridge parapets at Hampton Court Palace.

In the south-west corner of the Tudor Garden, twenty-one stone steps lead down through a half landing to the Rose Garden.

Rose Garden: lofty north-west terrace wall with stone buttresses. Eight stone columns linked by chains (some missing) in the centre of the Rose Garden and, at the south-west angle of the Garden, an early C20 summer-house (see OS 25" scale map of 1919) with polygonal stone tile hipped roof supported in front by two circular stone columns and at rear and sides by garden walls. It is thus a square meeting a hexagon, being half of each. It is open fronted, has a timber bench and two small arched windows. A north-west flight of twenty-stone steps lead down to the Blue Garden.

Blue Garden: high north-east and north-west retaining walls against the Rose Garden and upper path to Rose Garden. North-west 5-bay loggia with hipped stone tile roof on four octagonal columns and end walls (see OS 25" scale map of 1919); a probably C20 pergola incorporated into the south-west wall. A south-east 4-centred stopped and chamfered doorway at head of five stone steps to the Harp Garden.

Harp Garden: stone north-east wall with north-east stone 4-centred archway. North-west terrace wall bounded by flower beds and then by a stone path descending to the south-west in five flights, three flights of ten steps, one of six and a corner flight of five. A central diagonal path is bounded on the north-east by a stone terrace wall. At an angle between the north-east and south-east walls, there is a cottage of one storey and attic, renovated probably in the early C20 (see OS maps of 1899 and 1919), but possibly C16 in origin. Lias limestone rubble walls and lozenge shaped concrete roof tiles. The front wall has had its crow-stepped gable rebuilt without the steps in the late C20. The ground floor has a 4-centred arch doorway and a single light window in chamfered frame, two further single light first floor windows with diamond panes; one of these appears to be a recent introduction. On the south-east elevation, a flight of stone steps leads up to the first floor entry.

A high rubble wall forms the south boundary of the garden area, and on the west there is another, about 2m in height, with a triangular coping and three semi-circular bastions. This runs from the sundial lawn to the churchyard wall.

Reasons for Listing

Included and highly graded for its exceptional interest as a surviving C16 terraced garden composed of varied masonry structures and as a part of St. Donat's Castle.

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