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Plas Canol

A Grade II* Listed Building in Barmouth (Bermo), Gwynedd

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.7501 / 52°45'0"N

Longitude: -4.0773 / 4°4'38"W

OS Eastings: 259889

OS Northings: 318970

OS Grid: SH598189

Mapcode National: GBR 5S.ZS1G

Mapcode Global: WH56L.B4PH

Entry Name: Plas Canol

Listing Date: 31 January 1995

Last Amended: 2 October 2003

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 15503

Building Class: Domestic

Location: Situated on a hill to the E of the main road, and reached via a long farm track; about 1km N of Llanaber.

County: Gwynedd

Town: Barmouth

Community: Barmouth (Bermo)

Community: Barmouth

Locality: Llanaber

Traditional County: Merionethshire

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Barmouth

History

The broad development of the house seems clear, and can be traced from mid-late sixteenth century origins as a storeyed, two unit, end-chimney house of characteristic Snowdonia type. Downhill sited, it comprised a hall at the upper end, and was entered via a cross passage. The lower end, (in this house type conventionally divided as two service rooms, or a service room and a parlour), was replaced in the early-mid eighteenth century by a storeyed parlour block, with a staircase inserted into the cross-passage. This parlour block in turn was modified in the nineteenth century, notably by raising the eaves on the front pitch, to increase the size of the attic. Some internal detail is also nineteenth century, probably in at least two phases of improvement. The last was described in 1886, when Plas Canol 'formerly a forlorn and weather-beaten object, metamorphosed into a cosy and attractive residence by the judicious planting of a green bonnet of trees .. [and] the addition of front bay-windows'

More detailed aspects of this development are at present less clearly understood: above the passage partition a fine arch-braced cusped collar truss survives: this is indicative of an upper chamber open to the roof, but the broad, chamfered joists in the ceiling below suggest that this had been concealed at an early date, though perhaps contemporary with the parlour wing and staircase. There may also have been changes in the hall area, since its cross beam has mortices for a second partition, and whilst the eastern half of the room and the cross passage share a richly moulded framed ceiling, the western half of the hall has a simpler treatment.

There are several pedigrees referring to the occupants of Plas Canol, one of which includes the suggestion that the house was built by Robert ap Morgan, who was chaplain to Henry VIII, member of the Council of the Marches, and also rector of Llanaber in 1561.

Exterior

The house comprises an original range running across the slope and oriented E-W, and an eighteenth century range at right-angles, facing west. The original range is of rubble construction with lower boulder courses and slightly projecting stone wall-plate. Random slate roof (grouted on the south-facing slope) with coped east gable and moulded kneelers; chimney at this gable end, slightly corbelled out at first floor, and with eroded moulded capping and drip-stones. Two storeyed, its main elevation faces north and has doorway in nineteenth century lean-to porch against angle with later range to right. 2 sash windows to left of doorway, lighting hall, each of 12-panes, with additional upper lights in left-hand window. 3 upper windows (12, 4 and 16-pane sashes). A straight-joint between the two left-hand windows may relate to earlier fenestration, or even the reconstruction of this external wall at some time. Rear elevation partially obscured by a later (probably C19) lean-to, above which a small-paned horizontal sliding sash window lights the stairs to the west, with a transomed small-paned window to its right, and a 12-pane sash in a gabled dormer beyond.

The eighteenth century parlour block is also rubble-built with slate roof. Tall chimneys at each gable end, with moulded caps. 2 storeyed with attic, 3-window range, symmetrically arranged about a central doorway. Glazed door in late nineteenth century timber gabled porch, flanked by 12-pane sash windows with margin-lights. Outer windows at first floor are late C19 oriels with paired 4-pane sashes, central window a 12-pane sash. Attic storey (the result of a C19 alteration to the roof pitch) has low 6-pane sash windows. Small conservatory attached at north side.

Interior

The doorway leads into the original cross-passage, with two-bay hall (latterly the kitchen) to its left. Post-and-panel passage partition is complete, and includes a disused doorway with ogee head, and plank-door with reed moulding. Present doorway also has arched head, but is a later insertion. Hall has large fire-place at upper gable, with massive timber bressumer, and ceiling beam against the chimney. Cupboard with fielded panelled door to left of fireplace. Heavily framed ceiling with broad stop-chamfered joists, divided laterally by stop-chamfered cross beam, puzzlingly morticed as if for another partition. On the passage side of this cross-beam, the ceiling also has longitudinal beams, centrally and against the walls, all enriched by continuous roll-moulding, and with counter-changing joists. This decorative scheme is repeated in the cross-passage. Fragments of a further partition on the lower side of the cross-passage visible behind the staircase, which is of dog-leg form, with square newels, moulded rail, and turned balusters. It rises through two storeys to the attic. Lintel of probable former rear doorway visible in wall behind staircase.

Parlour wing has two-room plan, and appears at some time (and perhaps originally) to have had a central hall (a tiled nineteenth century floor survives). The larger room has little surviving detail, but the smaller parlour retains substantial elements of its original eighteenth century decorative scheme: the fireplace wall is fully panelled, with lying panels below a dado, large panels above (all raised; fielded and jointed), with modilion cornice. Integral cupboard to right of the (later) fine Adam style fire-place. Probably contemporary round-arched niche cupboard in east wall, with reeded framing to architrave, to one side of a recessed, canted alcove, at the back of which, the earlier post-and-panel partition can still be seen. Panelling in alcove is not consistent, suggesting some alteration at this end of the room. West and north walls have horizontal boarded panelling of later nineteenth century character.

At first floor, the original layout of the early range has been altered, but in the central bay, a ceiling of early type, with chamfered joists survives, as does part of a post and panel partition separating this bay from the eastern-most room. (The partition has been interrupted to the north in this room, and a 3-bay C18 press inserted). Archway with moulded plaster-work divides the early range from the later parlour block. One bedroom in this range retains another fine Adam-style fireplace.

In the attic storey, most of the early roof structure of the hall-range is visible: one fine arch-braced collar truss, moulded and ornately cusped, aligned over the partition between hall and passage, and wind-bracing in the central bay. The truss beyond (over the centre of the hall) is of simpler type, and the first-floor partition appears to be pegged into it. End bay not visible. In the parlour wing, the original roof is also visible: 3 bays with heavy collar-trusses (modified to front slope in nineteenth century), and post and panel partitions.

Reasons for Listing

Listed at grade II* as a fine example of a sub-medieval regional house, one of a series of minor gentry houses in Ardudwy, with a clear and interesting development sequence. The upper end of the C16 house survives intact with carpentry of an exceptionally high order. Its ambitious C18 parlour block retains substantial original character notwithstanding some C19 modification, and an especially notable feature is the surviving panelled parlour.

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