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Latitude: 53.0909 / 53°5'27"N
Longitude: -3.7932 / 3°47'35"W
OS Eastings: 280007
OS Northings: 356353
OS Grid: SH800563
Mapcode National: GBR 64.991P
Mapcode Global: WH663.PKXT
Entry Name: Plas Muriau
Listing Date: 11 August 1997
Last Amended: 11 August 1997
Source ID: 18790
Building Class: Domestic
Location: Situated high above the Conwy Valley and reached from a lane east off the A470. Set in its own landscaped grounds and entered between gate-piers with ball finials and a timber gate.
Community: Bro Garmon
Community: Bro Garmon
Locality: A 470
Traditional County: Denbighshire
Plas Muriau was built soon after 1845 by George Popkin who initially lived at nearby Castell Pwt. He left the area in 1860 and the house was bought by William Drury-Lowe whose family seat was in Derbyshire; he chose this area because of his interest in art and knew about the colony of artists that had gathered at Betws-y-Coed since the late C18. Indeed Drury-Lowe took painting lessons from James Whittaker who lived at Ffrith Castle and in 1863 he visited Florence. It was here that he met Pietro Romoli whom he invited to Britain the following year to paint decorative schemes at both Locko Park, Derbyshire and Plas Muriau. This work is carefully recorded in Drury Lowe's diaries which survive. Externally the house is little changed from that which Popkin built after 1845 but the extensive grounds were largely laid out by Drury-Lowe in 1860's.
Tudor-Gothic style mid-Victorian 2-storey, 3-bay small country house. Built of local slate stone with slate roof and large stone chimney stacks, some set diagonally in stellar form and with crenellated caps. The design is distinctive for its steep gables, narrower to the centre over the gabled porch. Each has cusped bargeboards and that to the porch retains its finial in situ; the other finials are stored on site. The front has 3-light windows, mullion and transom to ground floor, and with stilted dripmoulds; single-light window to narrow central gable. Unusually all the windows retain blind boxes with scalloped valences, brackets and iron operating mechanisms. The porch has massive rusticated quoins and a central segmentally arched entrance with half-glazed doors with sidelights. The right hand gable end has massive chimney breast with stepped arched recess and four clustered stacks; similar chimney to the left hand end but with only three stacks. The right hand end has a single-storey projection known as the Garden Room but probably designed as a lobby giving access to and from the garden terrace with pond. The gable end has a finial and a large bracketed slate lintel to the doorway which has slate slabbed architrave and the west side towards the front of the house has a small verandah. The rear has three gables with plain bargeboards, curious paired sashes that are hornless (which is surprising for the date) and have unusually thick frames; one modern window. Stepped down at left hand (north) end is a single-storey range with similar detailing and hexagonal stellar chimneystack. Beyond is a walled service yard including former stable, cowhouse, dairy, etc., and a flight of slate steps leading up to the planned gardens and probable implement stores. From here slate edged paths lead along a 'panorama' walk originally as far as a circular summer house (now ruinous).
Internally, the house retains much of its mid C19 character with six-panel doors to the ground floor, four-panel upstairs, and is centrally planned with a top lit staircase. The principal interest of the interior is in its surviving painted decoration by Pietro Romoli in the main drawing room to the south. From what has so far been uncovered (July 1997) it is evident that the ceiling depicts putti in a circular border, probably in an overall oval frame, and then with foliage and floral detail to the corners. This sort of ceiling painting is more typical of large country houses and is based upon C17 North Italian works but it is very unusual to find it in a house of this size and type. Until the whole ceiling is uncovered it will not be known how complete its survival is, although it is likely to be in good condition. There was also a room upstairs with a painted ceiling by Drury-Lowe himself, but this does not survive.
Listed for its special interest as a well-preserved Victorian house set in contemporary grounds and now discovered to retain substantial evidence for a remarkable painted ceiling.
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