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Latitude: 51.511 / 51°30'39"N
Longitude: -3.3967 / 3°23'48"W
OS Eastings: 303170
OS Northings: 180046
OS Grid: ST031800
Mapcode National: GBR HN.J0B1
Mapcode Global: VH6F3.28NZ
Entry Name: Talygarn
Listing Date: 30 January 1981
Last Amended: 15 August 2000
Source ID: 13511
Building Class: Health and Welfare
Location: In extensive grounds reached by a drive off the E side of the A4222 Cowbridge Road S of the M4 and Pontyclun village.
County: Rhondda Cynon Taff
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Built mainly in the period 1879-82 by G T Clark. Clark purchased Talygarn in 1865 and incorporated an existing house as the SE wing of a new house, which included a large library and great hall. Clark designed the house himself and employed John Jones of Dowlais as his clerk of works. Additions were subsequently made to the house, including a billiard room of 1894, while Clark's son Godfrey made further alterations and additions in the C20, including the extension of the SE wing to join a previously detached water tower. In 1922 the house was sold by G T Clark's grandson and became a convalescent home for injured miners, and eventually a rehabilitation centre within the National Health Service.
G T Clark (1809-98) was one of the foremost public figures in C19 S Wales. He began his career as an engineer and worked under Brunel on the Great Western Railway. In 1852 he became trustee of the will of Sir Josiah John Guest, proprietor of the Dowlais Ironworks, then one of the Britain's largest industrial concerns. Clark controlled the Dowlais Iron Company until 1897, during which time Bessemer steel was pioneered at Dowlais, new sources of ore were exploited and imported from Spain, and a new steelworks was built at East Moors in Cardiff. As an active antiquary Clark was a prominent member of the Royal Archaeological Institute and Cambrian Archaeological Association. His background in engineering stimulated an interest in defensive architecture and in 1884 he published Medieval Military Architecture. Although born in London, Clark devoted himself to studying the antiquities of his adopted county. In 1883 he published Land of Morgan but his best-known publications are his collections of Glamorgan pedigrees, published in 1886 as Limbus Patrum Morganiae et Glamorganiae, and of Glamorgan charters, the second and definitive edition of which was published in 1910 as Carta et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgancia.
A large country house designed in a free Gothic style, of snecked rock-faced stone with lighter stone dressings to the principal elevations, roughcast and painted white to the SE wing, mainly of two-and-a-half storeys. The roofs are slate and have ridge stacks of stone, with brick shafts to the service end. The entrance front faces N. The main entrance wing has 9 bays in the lower storey projecting forward, with stair hall, great hall and billiard room further R. The entrance wing has a shallow projecting porch with splayed sides, with a segmental-headed doorway flanked by cusped lights. The flanking bays have 3-light mullioned and transomed windows and relieving arches, but are of different dates. On the L side is a dining room dated 1928 on the rainwater heads; on the R side is the library dated 1880 on rainwater heads. Above is an openwork parapet either side of the blind panelled parapet over the porch, all of which defines a balcony above the lower storey. The upper storey has an advanced gabled bay above the entrance, housing one of the 2 main stairs, which has diagonal buttresses, a 4-light mullioned and transomed stair light with 2-light attic window. To the R, where the wall is roughcast and painted white, are a 2-light window flanked by 3-light windows, with 3 roof dormers. To the L of the staircase bay are three 3-light mullioned and transomed windows asymmetrically placed. To the R of the entrance range the second and principal stair hall is set back from the lower storey. It has 2 tiers of 4-light windows, the upper tier larger and with reticulated tracery under a flat head, while above is a pointed trefoil window. A gable projects on a roll-moulded cornice. The gabled great hall projects forward further R. It has stepped diagonal buttresses, a 3-light N window with curvilinear tracery modelled on Claybrooke church in Leicestershire. The L side has a single cusped lancet. On the R side is a lower polygonal oriel in dressed stone added by 1914. It is buttressed and has 2-light transomed windows.
Behind the oriel is a single-storey 2-bay link to the billiard room added in 1894. The link has a 4-light window on the L side (behind modern escape stairs) and a Tudor-headed doorway with fielded panel door on the R. Above the doorway is a tablet with a wreath and the date in relief. The single-storey asymmetrical 4-bay billiard room also projects forward, and has a flat roof with 2 lanterns behind a plain parapet. It is buttressed, with diagonal buttresses to the angles, and has 3-light mullioned and transomed windows, except the centre-R bay which is wider, projects forward and has a 6-light window and single-light side windows. Cast iron vent covers set into the wall are dated 1894. The R (W) side of the billiard room is plainer, having a half-lit door under a segmental head to the L side. Behind the billiard room is a single-storey service building then the much altered SW wing, which has extensive additional wings built from the mid C20 when the building was a miners' rehabilitation centre.
Mid C20 extensions are also behind (S of) the billiard room. Facing E, the 6-bay SW wing, added by Godfrey Clark before 1914, survives with 2-light windows but has an added upper storey and an added narrower polygonal projection at the S end, dated 1927 on a rainwater head. Originally a conservatory stood behind the billiard room, entered from the E through the main corridor. This entrance can be seen externally in the form of a full-height bay window under a hipped roof that rises above the 1-storey mid C20 hall replacing the conservatory. To the R of the bay window is the W wall of the former drawing room, which has 2 round-headed doorways, both with replaced doors and originally opening to a terrace, while the upper storey has two 2-light casements under segmental heads.
The S garden front has the drawing room at the W end. It has a full-height canted bay to the centre with mullioned and transomed windows, 2-light first-floor casement to the R, and then a further bay set back with 2-light windows. To the R of the drawing room the walls are roughcast and painted white. There are 3 unequal bays, comprising full-height canted bay to the L, the lower window having cusped lights, and a 3-light mullioned and transomed first-floor window below a hipped roof. To its R are 2 cross windows in the lower storey and a cross window and a 3-light window in the upper storey. There are two 3-light roof dormers and a third roof dormer in the angle with a return wall of the lower SE wing. The SE wing is the remodelled earlier house on the site. Its W elevation has a 3-light window to the L and 2-light to the R, while the upper storey has 3-light to the L and 2-light windows centre and R. There are 3 gabled roof dormers. A clock tower projects on the R side.
The S garden elevation of the SE wing is 2 storeys with attic, and is defined by a clock tower set back to the W end, water tower projecting to the E end, and a long range with a projecting tower offset to the L side, although this was not the original design, since until the early C20 the water tower was free-standing. The clock tower is 4 stages, of which the upper 2 stages project on a corbel table. The S face has a 2-light window in the lower stage and two 2-light windows above. In the 3rd stage are 2-light windows in the S and N faces, while the upper stage has single windows flanked by narrow slits in the S and N faces. The W face has a round clock face flanked by narrow slits. An octagonal stack is concealed behind an embattled parapet. A stair turret is on the SE side with a single small stair light, to the R of which is a full-height canted bay window with a gabled dormer behind an openwork parapet. Next R is a projecting 3-stage tower with a crow-stepped gable reminiscent of Scots baronial style. The doorway is on the W side with boarded door and hood mould. The S and W faces have plain windows in the middle stage. The upper stage projects slightly, has cusped windows in the E and W faces, while the S face has a tablet dated 1881 in the gable. Further R are 2 windows with casements flanking 2 small 2-light mullioned windows, 4 windows incorporating casements in the upper storey and 5 gabled and scrolled dormers. At the R end is a single-bay 3-storey link added by 1914 to link the original SE wing to the water tower. In the lower storey is a passage under an elliptical brick arch. The upper storeys have small casement windows under hoods.
The water tower at the SE end is Italianate in influence, is of 4 banded stages. The lower stage has a boarded S door with plain windows above in the middle stages. Below the upper stage are tablets with the dates 1880 on the S side, 1881 on the E side and placed above a volute capital on the N side. The castellated upper stage has a blind arcade of rock-faced stone projecting on a corbel table, of 3x7 bays. The E side has a single-storey lean-to. The W side is the through passage, with a doorway at the S end and two 2-light windows. It leads to the E side of the main block where there is a single-storey early C20 service wing. It has a Tudor-headed doorway set back at the L end, and two 3-light windows and a further Tudor-headed doorway. Further R are a plainer doorway and 2-light window under an open trefoil parapet and with a diagonal buttress to the NE angle. The return wall has a 4-light window with cusped lights that abuts the E elevation of the entrance wing. This has a 3-light window in its projecting lower storey and a 3-light and 2-light window to upper and attic storeys.
The interior of the house is sumptuously fitted out, and in contrast to the Gothic exterior is mainly in early Renaissance style, and employing craftsmen from numerous Italian workshops working mainly to Clark's drawings.
The porch opens to a segmental doorway flanked by cusped lights and leads into a long entrance hall. This has a heavy wooden chimney piece with pairs of Ionic columns. A round arch flanked by blind recesses with shell hoods opens to an ornate open-well stair. This has twisted balusters and newels, and is enriched with carved heraldic lions. On the L side is a large dining room with an ornate marble chimney-piece, which has columns with bulbous feet and a mantel piece projecting on brackets. The walls are wood panelled and there is a frieze of shields below the cornice. The windows have stained glass medallions to the upper lights.
From the entrance stairway is a corridor to the R, with rooms to the R and L. The corridor is enriched with panelled dado incorporating Renaissance carved panels in relief by G Biraghi of Venice. The ceilings are enriched by C19 copies of C16 Venetian paintings. On the N side of the corridor is the former library, now subdivided, the 2 doorways to which have classical architraves. The library's 2 pink and white marble chimneypieces are by Terrazzi of Verona. One room to the S side of the corridor has plaster panels to the walls and an oval ceiling panel. The corridor continues to a second, principal stair hall. It is an open-well stair with twisted balusters and newels, inlaid risers and hand rail enriched with heraldic lions. The large stair light has grisaille glass. Above the stair is a panelled polygonal ceiling. The stair hall has oval ceiling panels with Italian style painted scenes similar to the corridor.
The former drawing room is on the S side of the stair hall and is entered through 2 doors. It was one of the earliest rooms to be fitted out, c1873, with woodwork by Biraghi. The room has painted ceiling panels of 1888 by P Santi, in a plaster frame cast from William Kent's house in Berkeley Square, London, with further painting in the large bay window added in 1889. A panelled dado has relief panels, while the walls have arched recesses for books. The moulded cornice incorporates a bracketed frieze. The insides of the doors have cresting and panels enriched with bronze satyrs and satyresses by Cortellazzo of Vicenza, and architraves with foliage in relief. A marble chimneypiece has Ionic columns. The large wooden overmantel has arched panels and is richly decorated with relief-moulded pilasters with gilt inlay.
The great hall is on the W side of the principal stair hall. It is full height with a 5-bay arched-brace roof standing on moulded corbels, between which are arches with trefoiled spandrels. Behind the principals is diagonal boarding. The roof was worked in the Dowlais Works. The walls have raised fielded panels. A monumental classical fireplace is by Howard of Berners Street and is based on Clark's drawing of a tomb at Assisi. It has paired Corinthian columns, and an arcade of intersecting arches with twisted columns to the overmantel, while the fireplace is infilled with Delftware tiles. To the L of the chimney piece is a memorial window dedicated to John Jones, clerk of works. The main N window has heraldic glass by Powell's, of 1903. The oriel at the NW corner is rib-vaulted and has simple stained glass panels commemorating members of the Clark family.
From the principal stair hall the corridor continues to the W with painted panel ceiling, where there is another wooden chimney piece with ornate overmantel carried on herms. It terminates in a 5-light glazed screen that originally opened to a conservatory but now opens to a mid C20 hall. The former billiard has full-height intarsio panels to the walls and inside of the door, signed by Biraghi and dated 1895. Marble fireplaces are at each end of the room. The ceiling has relief moulded panels surrounding the 2 lantern lights. The SE wing has a stage built in 1927 with classical proscenium and panelling.
Listed grade II* as the extensive mansion of one of the leading industrialists and historians of late C19 S Wales. Talygarn is also exceptional for the opulence of its internal fixtures and fittings.
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