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Latitude: 51.4435 / 51°26'36"N
Longitude: -3.3031 / 3°18'11"W
OS Eastings: 309533
OS Northings: 172415
OS Grid: ST095724
Mapcode National: GBR HR.NCVX
Mapcode Global: VH6FB.PZN9
Entry Name: Dyffryn House
Listing Date: 15 September 1992
Last Amended: 31 July 1995
Source ID: 13469
Building Class: Domestic
Location: Set within the large public grounds of Dyffryn Gardens; 2km to south of St Nicholas.
County: Vale of Glamorgan
Community: St. Nicholas and Bonvilston (Sain Nicolas a Thresimwn)
Community: St. Nicholas and Bonvilston
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Built 1891-3 for John Cory, the well known local industrialist and philanthropist; the architects are said to be Habershon and Fawckner of Newport. There had been an Elizabethan house on the site, successively owned by the Button and Pryce Families. Dyffryn is principally renowned for its gardens, which were laid out for Reginald Cory (John's son) by Thomas Mawson, the internationally known and prolific garden designer; work began in 1904-5. After Cory's death Dyffryn was sold in 1937 and purchased by Sir Cennydd Traherne who leased the property to the County Council. Some internal alterations were carried out in conversion to a conference centre.
Eclectic design derived from the French Renaissance and English Baroque styles, the former is particularly seen in the Mansard roof and some of the window treatment and the latter in the Great Hall block to the main facade. 2 storeys and attic; rendered elevations with freestone dressings. Hipped mansard slate roof with balustraded parapet over the main cornice; stone chimney stacks with bracketed cornices. The main front to N is dominated by the tall, square Hall block that projects to left of centre; this has balustraded parapet with urns and a pedimented front over a giant, 5-light, round-arched window enriched with keyblocked ornament. The symmetrical part of the design is that there are 3 storey 'towers' to centre and ends. Ground floor is advanced to right of the hall block with similar parapet and urns. Includes two, 5-light, bay windows, with similar glazing to that of the hall; between these is a similar 3-light window beside the present, round-arched, main entrance with spandrel ornament. In front of the hall block is a projecting lobby/porch and a porte-cochere onto the Carriage Court; this has paired Doric columns and a rusticated entrance surround. Glazing is mostly of horned sash type; the attic windows to the pedimented dormers are round-headed in a French manner; some heavily keystoned casement windows to ground floor left with voluted architraves. To right stone wall screens modernised part and the rear of the stable courtyard. 5-window left hand (E) side including shallow splayed bay. Symmetrical 13-bay garden front to S including projecting end 'towers' and broader projecting central bay, which is pedimented in a similar manner to that of the hall block; includes tripartite to 2nd floor and bay window below. The 'towers' have niches containing statues to ground floor. Midway between central and end bays are 2-storey splayed bays; these are linked to the central classical veranda which has paired Doric columns and balustraded parapet with ball finials. Modern extension to W and beyond that is the converted former stable courtyard with pyramidal clock-tower to S range, originally the coach-house; semi-circular windows to loft.
Lavish interiors the main rooms of which are designed in a wide variety of styles in a manner often favoured by wealthy C19 owners. Some of the chimneypieces are said to have been brought from other houses. The single most important room is the Great Hall which echoes those of major C16 country houses (eg Hampton Court and Burghley) with its full height, mock hammerbeam roof and large end window. The walls are enriched with two tiers of pilasters carrying friezes, a dentilled cornice to top and corbelled round arches with gilded keystones below over a panelled dado. 5-bay implied double-hammerbeam roof which is herringbone-boarded. Grand timber chimneypiece with massive cornice carried by full height terms; stone fireplace surround and overmantel with Ionic columns flanking coat of arms. Enormous window to N end with coloured glass depicting Queen Elizabeth I; round-arched doorway below with double doors and marble columns. Splayed dais recess to W wall with coffered ceiling. At S end the minstrels gallery is carried on curved brackets and spans an open passage leading from the staircase hall giving access to the Great Hall and neighbouring rooms, the doorways to which are surmounted by large plaster relief 'tondi'. To the E of the Great Hall is the Billiard Room which has a dado, with integral bench seating, below a deep band of carved panelling in an exceptionally florid Renaissance manner; similar frieze and chimneypiece and a deeply panelled ceiling with ceiling bosses. The Orchid room to S has painted ceiling, Ionic columns and gilded surrounds to wall panelling. Immediately next door is the Rose Room which is in a broadly C18 French style (see especially the delicately painted ceiling with corner roundels and the gilded festoons to the beaded surrounds of the wall panelling). The fine marble chimneypiece however is more ca.1600 in style with tapered figural pilasters, Smythson-like bosses and strapwork surrounding an equestrian figure with a French inscription: "Dieu Benit La Zouche de Courson". To the W is the Tulip Room (now Dining room) with ribbed ceiling including Gothic foliate bosses; bowed W end backs onto the Bar while the N wall backs onto the wainscotted Staircase Hall which at its E end has wall-arcading in a similar manner to that of the Great Hall. Broad stairs with long flights; shaped tread ends and panelled newels with finials. 1st floor landing has paired marble columns and beyond that the stairs continue in a similar manner to 2nd floor. The Oak room opens off the Staircase Hall. This was formerly the dining room and has a panelled ceiling, wainscotting and mullioned and transomed windows all in a Tudor/Elizabethan manner; similar style inglenook-like fireplace with oval smoke window. The two remaining public rooms to W are the Bar and Lounge for the conference centre. The former has lightly ribbed ceiling but luxuriantly foliage encrusted marble chimneypiece in an C18 manner and reuses a remarkable French style 7-double branch chandelier; modern panelling. The lounge has unusual plaster ceiling with broad ribs and thistle, rose and daffodil ornament to square, diamond and lozenge shaped panels. Fine French chateau style marble chimneypiece with putti flanking round-arched fireplace containing Fleur-de-lis fireback.
Graded II* for its exceptional interiors and also for the importance of its setting at the heart of Dyffryn Gardens.
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