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Gatehouse and attached courtyard wall at Van House

A Grade II Listed Building in Van, Caerphilly

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Latitude: 51.5744 / 51°34'27"N

Longitude: -3.2044 / 3°12'15"W

OS Eastings: 316632

OS Northings: 186853

OS Grid: ST166868

Mapcode National: GBR HX.D0P1

Mapcode Global: VH6DT.DPTG

Entry Name: Gatehouse and attached courtyard wall at Van House

Listing Date: 14 February 1952

Last Amended: 9 December 1998

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 21063

Building Class: Domestic

Location: On the W side of Van House.

County: Caerphilly

Community: Van (Y Fan)

Community: Van

Traditional County: Glamorgan

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Van House was built early C16 and was substantially rebuilt after 1583 by Thomas Lewis, when the gatehouse and courtyard were added. The initials of Thomas Lewis are carved on the gatehouse fireplace, dating it before his death in 1594. In 1616 Sir Edward Lewis transferred his seat to St Fagans Castle, before which there were two phases of additions, beginning with a detached wing N of the gatehouse and at an angle to the courtyard because of the fall of the ground, which was linked to the gatehouse by a further range, both of which were built to provide additional accommodation for an expanding household. After 1628 the main line of the family was no longer settled in Glamorgan and Van House became relatively insignificant. The gatehouse was subsequently converted for accommodation. Van House may have been largely dismantled after 1736 when the Lewis estates were inherited by the Earl of Plymouth, subsequent to which the gatehouse and attached ranges fell into ruin.


Ruined 2-storey gatehouse of rubble sandstone with lighter limestone dressings and in-and-out quoins. A shallow projecting, battered plinth is topped by a string course. The main entrance on the downhill side to W has a Tudor-headed arch but its dressed stone frame is mostly missing, only the lower part of the jambs surviving. Above the arch is a string course, disrupted by an inserted window upper R (now blocked), but continuing round the remaining elevations. In the S gable end is a small window lower L with dressed surround and blocked window upper R under a relieving arch. In the gable is a rebate left by a former string course. Abutting the plinth is a C16 courtyard wall of rubble stone, forming 2 sides of the square and attached to the main house with a break between. Also attached are low walls of a ruined bakehouse of uncertain date (covered in vegetation at the time of inspection). The courtyard elevation of the gatehouse has an elliptical arch, the dressed stone frame of which is now missing, and is flanked by blocked windows beneath relieving arches, again with dressings missing. In the upper storey is a 2-light mullioned window with sunk chamfer, set inside the jambs of an earlier window.

The roof trusses form gablets to the main elevations but are lately renewed. Attached to the N gable end of the gatehouse are early C17 additional wings, restored and now a separate dwelling. Projecting S from this is the remaining part of the courtyard wall, approximately 2.5m high with a segmental headed doorway and abutting the main house.


In the N gable end is an ornate first-floor, Tudor-headed fireplace with moulded surround. In the spandrels are shields bearing the initials of Thomas Lewis. Beneath it is blockwork infilling of another former fireplace. To the L of the fireplaces are blocked former doorways to the ranges on the N side.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as an integral component of Van House, one of the most important Tudor mansions in Glamorgan.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Van House
    On a ridge overlooking Caerphilly to W and reached by minor road on N side of minor road from Caerphilly to Rudry.
  • II Dovecote at Van House
    Approximately 80m N of Van House and standing in open ground overlooking Caerphilly to W.
  • II Brick stack at Wernddu
    Located in the premises of J Pesci Engineering Works in Wernddu, S of the Caerphilly to Cardiff railway line. Visible over a wide area.
  • II Twyn County Junior School
    Located in the angle of East View and Southern Street. Surrounded by the playground, with the infants school of 1906 immediately to the W.
  • II Van Road United Reformed Church
    On corner with Goodrich Street.
  • II War Memorial
    In a prominent position opposite Caerphilly Castle, at the junction of Castle Street and Market Street.
  • II Caerphilly Workmen's Hall and Institute
    Facing the NE corner of Caerphilly Castle, fronting Castle Street with Bedwas Road to the rear.
  • II The Court House
    Set back from Cardiff Road on a sharp bend. Town centre position overlooking S lake to Caerphilly Castle at rear.

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