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Latitude: 52.3396 / 52°20'22"N
Longitude: -3.9526 / 3°57'9"W
OS Eastings: 267070
OS Northings: 273076
OS Grid: SN670730
Mapcode National: GBR 8Y.TMH2
Mapcode Global: VH4FT.FGS9
Entry Name: Trawsgoed House
Listing Date: 6 September 1996
Last Amended: 31 March 2004
Source ID: 17258
Building Class: Domestic
Location: Situated in own grounds on E side of Afon Ystwyth, approached by drive from lodge some 150m N of Pont Trawsgoed.
Traditional County: Cardiganshire
Mansion of the Vaughan family, Earls of Lisburne, C17 to C19. On the site of a Roman fort, the estate is recorded from C14 to 1947 in the same family. From small beginnings the estate grew in the late C16 to early C17 under Morris ap Richard and his grandson Edward Vaughan, High Sheriff 1618-19, died 1635. His son, Sir John Vaughan, bought some 30,000 acres of former Strata Florida granges from the Earl of Essex in 1630, making the estate the largest in the county. MP in 1628, 1640-5 and 1661-7, he was knighted 1668 as Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. Sir John rebuilt the house, possibly damaged in the Civil War, in the 1660s, it had 8 hearths in 1670, and is known from a view of 1684. Sir John died in 1674, his son Edward, MP 1669-84, died 1684. His son John became 1st Viscount Lisburne in 1695. He married the daughter of the poet Earl of Rochester, was MP 1694-8 and died in 1721. His son John, 2nd Viscount, MP from 1727-34, died in 1741, having dissipated the estate, which passed to his brother Wilmot, 3rd Viscount, died 1766. His son Wilmot became 1st Earl of Lisburne 1776. He was MP 1755-61 and 1768-96, a lord of the Admiralty 1770-82, and died in 1800.
By c.1800 the house was known as Crosswood Park. The 1st Earl lived mostly at Mamhead in Devon, the 2nd Earl, Wilmot, was not sane and died 1820, and his brother John, 3rd Earl, MP 1802-18, had to live in France to avoid creditors. He sold the Mamhead estate and died 1831. The 4th Earl, Ernest, modernised the house c. 1840, was MP 1854-9 and died in 1873. By then the estate was of 42,666 acres. Ernest, the 5th Earl, died in 1888, Arthur, the 6th Earl, built the large wing on the house in 1891 and died in 1899, and Ernest, the 7th Earl (1892-1965) sold most of the estate in 1947. The mansion became an agricultural college, repurchased in 1996 by his grandson, and since then the 1891 wing has been converted to flats.
The mansion as illustrated in 1684 surrounded a courtyard (later infilled by the library c. 1840) with a Renaissance style main block of three bays with pedimented doorcase and ornate centre dormer, while the 2-bay wings coming forward were gabled with mullion windows. The wing on the right had a lateral stack, that on the left was more square with two gables to the court and two to the end. The NE entrance front, in a 1756 view, still looked C17 with irregular fenestration (cross-windows and hipped dormers), a gable each end, and a hipped block coming forward to the right, to which was attached an L-shaped stable. As described in a 1771 letter from J. Probert, it was unmodernised: a large, old, irregular stone building with two parlours and large hall served by kitchen, sculleries, larders, with housekeepers parlour and closet. There were six good bedrooms, two dressing rooms and closets, and attic garrets above. At one end were 2 small parlours with 2 rooms over, then ruinous (perhaps the hipped range), and adjoining the kitchen was an old brick brewhouse with a room over at a level with the kitchen. In front of the kitchen and brewhouse was a paved court and mention is made of stables with a large bay of brick building at the N end. Probert suggested both improvements or building a new house, of which the former course was decided on. A letter of 1777 refers to hoping to find 2 or 3 beds at Crosswood as so many rooms are finished, and the reply refers to rooms over the Gilt Parlour and over the Hall, and another to a Colonnade not yet slated. But Malkin in 1804 calls the house 'altogether neglected' and 'in decay', so it may be that the principal refronting dates from the early C19.
The entrance front looks early C19, but is only a refronting, (an 1888 photograph shows both the existing C17 clustered chimney to left but also another now gone on the ridge right of centre) and the big hipped projection to the right looks of 1891 but is a recasting of the range shown in the 1756 view. The SW courtyard was infilled with the new library before 1845. In 1844 there is mention of a new dining-room 'greatly admired for its grand and just proportions' and mention that the library had been moved from Mamhead. This front was given overall unity in stucco with ashlar parapet, but comprises the original wings now 2-bay flanks to the inserted centre of 2-3-2 close-spaced bays, the centre 3 bowed out.
A big service range was proposed in 1874 by Szlumper & Aldwinckle, but deferred and built to new plans by T. W. Aldwinckle in 1891 for £13,973. The style was a French C16 with steep roofs and cross-windows in stone. When the old kitchen wing was being demolished four beams were found with biblical inscriptions under plaster. foundation stone of 1891 gives names of David Lloyd builder and T.W. Aldwinckle architect.
The library was painted by Maple & Co of London c. 1900.
Since 1996 the 1891 wing has been converted into flats, while the main house is (2003) in deteriorating condition with eradication of dry rot having much damaged much woodwork. During works inside a piece of stone with remnant of 4 sunk disks or paterae was found in a window jamb, possibly reused medieval. Above the second floor of the left part of the front range and the SE side, heavy beams and joists were found that may be later C17.
Country house, scribed render with slate roofs and C19 red terracotta ridge tiles, two storeys. Square plan main block with NE entrance front and SW garden front, a range parallel along NW side projects slightly beyond NE entrance front and to the other side of this is attached the service range, also with NE facade.
NE entrance front of nine bays with raised pediment over centre three, roof hipped to left and big C17 four-shaft rendered external chimney on left end wall, right end has C19 yellow brick stack on ridge. Flat mutules to eaves continued across centre under plain stucco frieze below pediment with similar brackets and ornate coat of arms. Twelve-pane sash windows above with stone sills, long French windows below, and broad centre double half-glazed doors in moulded architrave with panelled pilasters and big cornice. Large centre portico in Bath stone with paired Ionic columns each side, frieze, cornice and flat top with plain rendered piers and diagonally-crossed iron rails between. Five stone steps in centre. Ground floor left windows are altered (they matched in 1888 photograph), two C20 windows with top light and third, in angle to projection is a door with overlight in late C19 surround.
SE end has the two large C17 external chimneys, the right one projecting as gable with slate roofs, the left one much broader, both with rendered clusters of 4 octagonal shafts. Bay between has early C19 mutules to eaves cornice, and first floor 12-pane sash.
SW garden front has 2-3-2 window inserted block between the remodelled 2-window ends of the former wings, scribed render with overall ashlar cornice and balustrades between piers. Balustrades have narrow round-ended openings of early Victorian type. C17 chimney on right end wall and tall 1891 yellow brick stack at left end, low roofs, hipped on wings. Wings have French windows to ground floor and 12-pane sashes above, at lower floor level than centre block, which has arched windows both floors, close-spaced, and centre three in shallow-curved bow. French windows both floors with plain fanlights, ashlar balconies to first floor with wrought iron rails. Blind boxes to all the windows on SW front.
Across NW side is a range with tall hipped roof and detail of 1891, the SW end flush with the garden front and NE end projecting to left of entrance front, a remodelling of a 2-storey hipped range shown in 1756 and in 1888 photographs. Steep hipped roof with two tall yellow chimneys each side (on ridges of main house and of 1891 additions) and metal urn finials. Plain 3-bay SW garden end has 12-pane sashes over two French windows (no window on left), moulded yellow brick eaves and two large hipped dormers with tall 1-2-1-light casements with top lights, and steep pediments over centre 2-light. NE front of 4 bays has sandstone ashlar dressings to match 1891 addition to right, in Northern Renaissance style. Ashlar eaves cornice, two large ashlar 3-light dormers with transoms, broader centre light, and flat cornices, four 2-light first floor ashlar cross-windows and two similar to ground floor outer bays each side of large projecting bay. This has four windows with top lights, divided by thin pilasters and with large paired pilasters at angles, deep frieze, cornice and top iron rails between piers, as on portico. Frieze with a smaller cornice is continued each side and around side walls as are the ashlar sill courses and plinth.
The main 1891 addition to right is similar in style with slightly lower ridge but same eaves line, 6 plus 2 bays, the last two advanced with steep hipped roof and finial. Three tall yellow brick chimneys, four 2-light ashlar dormers with pediments, and one, on hipped roof, with flat cornice to balance the two on other hipped roof. Main floors have ashlar cross-windows as elsewhere with eaves cornice, cornice and string courses continued from left projection but without ashlar in frieze. Ground floor first bay has door with overlight in ashlar doorcase with frieze and pediment. NW return has hipped roof with two ashlar dormers, one 2-light, one 3-light with varied pediments, ashlar eaves and string courses, first floor 2 windows set to right and ground floor 2 cross windows and a large doorway. Double doors with cambered head and 3-light overlight with leaded glass and cornice.
Parallel plainer rear range to 1891 addition has mostly 2-storey rendered elevation to service court, with projecting hipped SW wing to left. Lower roof pitch, plain 4-pane sash windows set high over basement. Wing has SW end single-storey room with hipped roof and big glazed lantern, lower hipped section beyond with steps up to SW door. NW side has eaves continued from return of front range but roof to lower pitch.
Interior not accessible at time of survey. The 1891 addition has been converted to houses and is in good condition, the main house and SE hipped range interiors in poor condition following dry rot.
The entrance hall axial to entry has plain panelled plaster ceiling and large late C19 purple marble fireplace at right end. A spine corridor behind gives access to main rooms, the SW library and the two rooms on SE side, now joined. The two SE rooms were joined in C19 with two timber Corinthian columns in sides of opening with responds. The SW half has good early C18 ceiling with central sunken roundel set in square with radiating flat oak-leaf patterned ribs from centre of each side. C19 marble fireplace with thin paired pilasters. The NE half has simpler ceiling with rococo style ornament to the frieze and cornice, and border with corner motifs, and door has rococo style overdoor in plaster with putti. The Maples estimate of c1900 suggests that this room was redone then.
The finest surviving room is the library which is expensively furnished and brightly painted and gilded in an Empire style possibly part of the Maples work. The room is in three sections, the centre with bow divided from sides by fluted marbled Corinthian columns. Domical ceiling in centre is gilded and festooned, with brass chandelier, circular plaster border surrounded by painted anthemion and arabesque decoration with heraldic panels in the corners. Coved cornice painted with fleurs-de-lys and putti. Ceiling pattern reflected in the carpet. Strongly Empire style marble fireplace at right end with sub-Adam style detail to tall corniced jambs rising higher than shelf. Coat of arms to centre, ornate brass fireplace surround and mirrored overmantel with arched carved panels each side and acroteria. The fruitwood bookcases also have acroteria, the mahogany freestanding bookcases at either end are later. Both doorways have pedimented doorcases and huge veneered 9-panel doors with ormolu and porcelain fittings. Painted marbled dado and end pilaster strips. Round headed French windows with projecting architraves and keystones, and further painted panels in the bow. Room to left of library is mostly stripped of detail. To side of library is surviving late C17 dog-leg staircase with bolection-moulded closed string, barley-twist balusters and openworks pendant and finials. The ceilings of the library and SW room have been strengthened resulting in the floors of the rooms above being raised, distorting the proportions of SW room with bolection-moulded chimneypiece. Roof of main range is contemporary with late C17 staircase, and employs refined carpentry techniques in which the common rafters are tenoned into the purlins.The remodelled NW crosswing has ground floor front large room with panelled plaster ceiling with dentil and egg-and-dart ornament, Ionic pilasters, fireplace damaged by dry rot. 1891 stair made from a stair brought from London. Long flight up to a broad landing with pineapple newel pendants and finials. The landing has a curious mix of Gothic arched openings and classical detailing. One first floor room reuses a sub-medieval fireplace with carved spandrels flanked by possibly early C20 pilasters with trumpets, mermaids etc. On the ground floor a barrel-vaulted strong-room retains its Chubb doors and gate and the inscription VI Earl 1888 Lisburne.
Included at II* as the principal country house of the county, with elements of architectural quality from the C17 to c. 1900: especially notable the fine library of c. 1840 with c. 1900 added decoration.
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