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Pale Hall

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llandderfel, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.9125 / 52°54'44"N

Longitude: -3.5144 / 3°30'51"W

OS Eastings: 298262

OS Northings: 336078

OS Grid: SH982360

Mapcode National: GBR 6H.NJT3

Mapcode Global: WH676.Z2N2

Plus Code: 9C4RWF6P+X7

Entry Name: Pale Hall

Listing Date: 31 January 2001

Last Amended: 19 June 2001

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 24595

Building Class: Domestic

Location: Located on the eastern side of the River Dee approximately 1.2km S of Llandderfel village; accessed via a drive leading from the road.

County: Gwynedd

Town: Bala

Community: Llandderfel

Community: Llandderfel

Traditional County: Merionethshire

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Mid-Victorian country house on the site of an earlier house, the seat of the Lloyds of Pale. The present building, in eclectic Jacobean style, was designed by Samuel Pountney Smith, architect of Shrewsbury, and built 1869-1871 for Henry Robertson, the eminent railway engineer and Liberal MP for Meirionyddshire under Gladstone. In 1889 Queen Victoria stayed here as Robertson's guest during her tour of North Wales. By the early C20 the house had acquired electric lighting, supplied by its own hydro-electric plant. In addition, a gasworks was established to serve the Pale estate and the village of Llandderfel. The house is currently undergoing a careful restoration programme, commemorated on date stones as 'S1992N'.


Large Victorian country house in Neo-Jacobean style. Of pale, finely-tooled sandstone ashlar blocks with smooth ashlar dressings; brick core and slate roofs. The house is of irregular plan, with a main, roughly rectangular block of 2 and 3 floors, and a lower 3-storey service section adjoining to the SE and partly enclosing a service court to the E, extended 1910-1915. The latter section incorporates a service accommodation wing in the manner of a chapel, with a Wrenaissance tower to the centre effectively forming an estate clock tower. Asymmetrical elevations with mullioned and transomed stone windows, mostly of cross-window type, though with some multi-light, single and 2-light windows; plain glazing throughout. The house sits on a moulded plinth, and has decorative string-courses to the first and second floors, the latter with strapwork relief decoration; pierced parapets with conjoined ovals, above a moulded cornice. Grouped chimney-stacks, mostly twos and threes, some with spiral decoration in the Tudor style, most octagonal; moulded bases and capping. Many of the original cast iron hoppers and downpipes survive, with relief crests to the former (though some modern replacements).

The entrance facade (N) has a main 3-storeyed block with a tower over the entrance to R; lower single-window block to the R beyond, with a lower canted wing advanced slightly to the L. The entrance has a single-storey Renaissance-style porte cochere advanced in front of a 4-storey tower containing the entrance on the ground floor. The porte cochere has a pedimented arch to the front with narrow flanking pierced sections having open oval oculi above; corner pilasters carry a strapwork frieze with carved head bosses; moulded cornice with pierced balustrade and geometric finials to the corners. Broad, depressed-arched sides and panelled oak roof with central glazed overlight. Above the central keystones on all 3 sides are portrait heads, including that of Robertson himself (on the R side). The latter has a relief-carved steam engine on the keystone below and, inscribed on the archivolt to either side, the motto: 'Ex Fumo Dare Lucem.' On the soffit of the keystone of the main, front arch, appears, in raised letters and figures: '1869 HR 1871. Ten-panel oak double doors via 4 stone steps.

The tower has a flat, balustraded roof with a raised cartouche in the centre with the monogram HR, together with the flanking figures 18 and 70. To the R of the tower is a lower 2-storey bay with 3-light transmullioned window to the ground floor and a canted oriel window to the first floor above. This has a parapet with decorative trefoil finials and is set off by a strapwork ogee gablet to the centre of the roof parapet behind. To the L of the tower, set back very slightly, is a 3-storey section of 3 bays, that to the L in the form of a narrow, advanced, rectangular stair tower. This has a semi-octagonal, medievalising ground-floor extrusion, and a squinched oriel in the corner above. Central lateral chimney, corbelled-out at first floor and slightly projecting; transmullioned windows to the ground and first floors flanking, with 2-light mullioned windows above. Beyond this section, to the L, is a lower 2-storey section with broad canted front having a projecting chimney. Cross-windows to the sides, those to the upper floor (billiard room), taller. Rising up behind the main facade to the L is a square water tower with faux-machicolated battlements and corner turrets. This has a C20 pyramidal felt roof, though originally had a surmounting ogee dome.

The 4-bay W elevation is of 2 storeys with cross windows, with a 3-storey advanced, canted bay occupying bay 2. The S elevation has a 4-bay main section, with a broad 2-storey bow window to the L having 3 cross-windows to each floor and an ogee gablet behind its bowed parapet. To the R of this is a bay with 5-light transmullioned windows to the ground and first floors (diminishing correspondingly in size), and a 3-light window to the second floor; cross-windows to the R on the ground and first floors, with 2-light window to the second. R of this is a 3-storey canted bay with single light windows and a segmentally-arched, chamfered garden door to the L (W) return. Adjoining this elevation at right-angles to the S is a lower 3-bay service section, with the right-hand gabled bay advanced and in the manner of a rectangular chapel with large central bell tower. The left-hand bays have an advanced 3-bay round-arched, parapetted loggia which slightly overlaps the gabled bay; the L arch is blind, whilst the remaining 2 form a garden recess; 3-light windows to the upper-floors set back above. The gabled wing has a round-arched entrance with steps up and keystone; part-glazed modern door. 2-light windows above with a surmounting ogee gable. The clock tower is square with a stone pyramidal roof having a surmounting bell cupola, itself with tall pyramidal roof; clock-face to each side with moulded label and geometric finial. The E side has a service court enclosed by high stone walls on the N and E sides, with rusticated gatepiers and panelled gates giving access from the service drive. The courtyard has 2-storey block running eastwards (the faux-chapel range) with triple-arched lean-to loggia to the ground floor; 2- and 3-light windows to the first floor above. Single-storey store range at right-angles to the N; pitched slate roof, cross-windows. The rear of the main block has the square water tower projecting slightly to the centre with 3 bays to the L having 2 shallow gables; the left-hand bay has a 2-storey canted bay window; mullioned and transmullioned windows to this and the adjacent bays on ground and first floors; 2-light windows to the second floor. The billiard room range overlaps the tower slightly on the R.


The interior, characterised by richly eclectic detail, is planned about an internal, top-lit full-height stair, the principal rooms in two ranges to the W and the S, and the (extensive) service accommodation grouped to the E. Entrance hall with polychromed tiled pavement and barrel-vaulted ceiling with simple coffering. Grey figured marble fireplace with moulded round-arched opening having inset spandrels and carved heraldry to the key; moulded mantelpiece supported by consoles. Grate of polished brass and blackened steel, the brass with raised volute decoration. Blind arched niches flank the fireplace, with decorative latticed radiator grilles below. Six-panelled faux double door to the services at L; moulded architrave and 3-panel shallow overdoor with moulded cornice; oak joinery throughout.

The main (stair) hall is entered through a pair of 6-panel doors with frosted, decorative glass to the upper sections. Fine decorative brass door furniture in eclectic Gothic style. The doorway has a large segmental arched overlight with Renaissance-style frosted glass. This has finely-carved, foliated spandrels and a deep moulded cornice supported by Renaissance figurative consoles to the advanced outer sections; scrolled, foliated key to the centre. Above this is a fine strapwork pediment with garlands and obelisks flanking an oval cartouche to the centre. This has a carved motto in raised lettering below: 'Welcome the Coming/ Speed the Parting Guest'. Surmounting the cartouche is a moulded pediment and flanking the whole are carved heraldic beasts carrying cartouches on square plinths; strapwork and rosette decoration. These bear the figures 18 and 71 respectively. Fine parquetry floor of conjoined geometric shapes; panelled walls with large-field flush panels above a moulded dado rail with small-field moulded-panel dado. The panelling has a frieze of nail-head and egg-and-dart motifs, turning to roundels set in horizontal panels for the stairwell, which rises from the hall at the L end. Large Renaissance-style fireplace with female Term figures flanking a segmentally-arched opening and supporting the advanced ends of a richly-carved cornice; this has egg-and-dart and dentilated ornament, with a surmounting strapwork and foliate frieze. Moulded mantelpiece with central projecting key. Polished black marble surround with polychromed tiles to sides and rear. Central architectural grate in the form of a proscenium with depressed arch, pediment, Ionic columns and swags; of polished brass and blackened steel. Polychromed tiled hearth with black marble hearth kerb. The fireplace overmantel consists of a large mirror with Ionic frame and dentilated cornice, with central supporting corbel of winged cherub-head type. Surmounting pediment with fruit basket and owl figures with foliate carving.

Four six-panel faux double doors lead off to the main reception rooms with panelled reveals, moulded architraves and segmental pediments with carved friezes. The main stair occupies the L end of the hall. This is of well type with an upper gallery, leaving two-thirds of the hall full-height and open to the roof. Jacobean style, with square newels having carved garlands, voluted caps and surmounting pierced, geometric finials; flat, shaped balusters. L-shaped galleried landing to the first floor, with similar balustrading. Four large segmentally-arched openings (3 to the side and 1 to the end wall) light an inner circulation corridor. These have moulded pilasters and archivolts with keys and consoles. Two further doors lead off from the stair landing. The ceiling is coved and has a modillion cornice with incorporated cartouches at the springing of strapwork ribs. Three-part top light with strapwork stained glass in 6 panels.

Leading off from the ground-floor hall is the Dining Room. This has a compartmented ceiling with moulded plasterwork panels and roundels, and a central acanthus rose. Geometric parquetry dado panelling with moulded rail. Victorian-Renaissance fireplace, heavily-carved, with garlands and lion mask corbels to outer pilasters and scrolled frieze. Segmentally-arched surround of red/brown figured marble, with decorative central grate, flanking tiles and kerbing as before. Opposite the fireplace is the buffet in a large architectural niche. This has a mirror to its rear wall, with fine gilded, foliated and moulded frame, surmounted by a carved, gilded head of Bacchus. The renaissance-style buffet has a central segmentally-arched niche with highly-carved flanking doors having high-relief game trophies, dividing pilasters, Green Man masks, swags and strapwork decoration. The rear of the buffet has 3 panels with high-relief swags flanking a central seafood group; swagged consoles divide these and support a moulded shelf. Two entrances, as before, lead off to the services (L) and Drawing Room (R). The latter has a deeply-enriched plasterwork frieze and cornice, both gilded and polychromed; strapwork and egg-and-dart frieze, with acanthus and palmette cornice, with scroll-work soffit. Large ceiling rose in similar vein. Opposite the entrance is a large bow window with similar decoration; simple gilded and moulded architrave, panelled shutter doors and reveals. The main entrance has an architectural architrave with Ionic pilasters and pediment. Elaborate white marble chimneypiece with shouldered arch having foliated brackets; male Term figures support Renaissance corbels on either side of the arch, which themselves carry a moulded mantelpiece. Relief-carved scroll-work frieze with central fruit basket carving to the advanced key. Grate as before with renaissance flanking panels. Surmounting the fireplace is a large contemporary gilded pierglass, with scrolled supports, fluted pilasters and moulded cornice; surmounting cartouche with fruit baskets and scallop shell; flanking cornucopiae. Similar full-height pier-glass opposite the fireplace in similar style. Matching, contemporary gilded and carved pelmets to the windows.

The Boudoir, leading off opposite the staircase is a small room with canted end bay and oval domed ceiling. This has a carved frieze with scrolled relief plasterwork, gilded and polychromed, with oval plaques depicting winged putti. The main ceiling has 8 inset roundels with painted bucolic figures depicting the Four Seasons and the Four Elements. Raised and gilded lattice-work background; central oval dome with ball and fern motifs to an outer rose and a large acanthus central rose. White marble fireplace with shouldered arch and panelled pilasters; tiles and grate as before. Gilded and polychromed pelmets with bird and ribbon groups in Rococo manner. First-floor billiard room of rectangular form with canted end. Coved wooden boarded ceiling with arched-braced quarter-round ribs carried on simple wall corbels. Two rectangular overlights each with 6-pane stained glass in strapwork. Fireplace to both ends of the room, with simple round-arched chimneypieces of figured black figured marble. Steel grates with repoussee side panels and polychromed tiles; hearth kerbs and mantelpieces. Three-quarter height vertically-boarded end walls in pitch pine.

Reasons for Listing

Listed Grade II* as a well-composed and lavishly-detailed neo-Jacobean Victorian country house with bold massing for dramatic and expressive effect, and retaining virtually intact original interior detail, the exuberance of which testifies to the wealth and taste of the patron, the emminent C19 engineer Henry Robertson.

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