History in Structure

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Island House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Laugharne Township, Carmarthenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.7696 / 51°46'10"N

Longitude: -4.4634 / 4°27'48"W

OS Eastings: 230123

OS Northings: 210749

OS Grid: SN301107

Mapcode National: GBR D7.ZRK5

Mapcode Global: VH3LS.LS79

Entry Name: Island House

Listing Date: 25 September 1986

Last Amended: 4 July 2007

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 9671

Building Class: Domestic

Location: In the lower part of the town, below and west of the castle, on the SE side of the street, close to the River Coran.

County: Carmarthenshire

Community: Laugharne Township

Locality: Laugharne

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

Find accommodation in
Laugharne

History

A substantial house with C16-C17 origins, and a complex sequence of addition and remodelling especially in the early C19. Essentially, the house comprises two parallel ranges aligned with the street, and a large rear wing. A short wing or storeyed porch at the right-hand (SW) end of the front range is probably contemporary with it, but subsidiary wings linked to the rear wing appear to be C19 additions associated with the provision of additional service accommodation. Of these various elements, the main range fronting the street comprises a C16-C17 range with contemporary storeyed porch block to right, and a further bay added probably soon after the original construction, as a continuation of the main building line to the left (NE). The large rear wing (an original kitchen) behind this additional bay also represents an early building - possibly even pre-dating the front range. The parallel rear range has detail consistent with an early C19 date. Remodelling of the earlier main range from this time included refenestration (based on earlier openings) and the insertion of a grand staircase (occupying the position of an earlier gable-end chimney), probably re-using elements of an original C17 stair. Service wings associated with rear kitchen wing are probably mid C19.

The house is shown in an 1830 view of the castle (by Ince, reproduced in Lloyd's History of Carmarthenshire), and a sketch of 1856 is reproduced in Mary Curtis' volume on the antiquities of Laugharne. Both probably record the house in approximately its present form, following the addition of the parallel rear range, but without the service wings on the NE side of the house. The latter also clearly shows a further range advanced from the rear wing. Mary Curtis refers to evidence for further building at the back, but suggested also that the house once extended beyond the storeyed porch in a longer front range, destroyed in the siege of the castle during the Civil War. She is the only source also for the tradition that Roman remains including baths were discovered here in 1818. She notes a date over the yard door at the front of the house of 1658, and the discovery of the foundations of a round tower in the gardens: this might be the basis of the gazebo in the garden wall.

Exterior

The main range alongside the street is built in two distinct phases separated by a clear straight-joint in-line with the position of the axial chimney. Probably contemporary storeyed porch to right. Rubble construction with traces of lime-wash, and some dressed stone detail. Slate roof. Gable end and axial chimneys. Porch has door on inner face with dressed stone shallow four-centred arched head. Small windows at first floor, and narrow slit windows beneath eaves and in gable apex. Original section of main range has 3 lower windows and two at first floor, all with arched voussoir heads, though openings modified during C19 remodelling. Windows are wood mullions and transoms with leaded lights (one altered again later). Two narrow slits set high up at first floor, at either end of the range. Second phase of this range to left (NE) has single window with voussoir arched head to ground floor, and windows with flat lintels to first floor, one long-blocked. 3 small gabled dormers in roof, all probably associated with C19 remodelling. Early C19 additions against SW gable, and round-arched brick to Y-traceried stair window with paired sashes. Pyramidal conservatory in angle recorded in 1986 list description, but not seen in 2007 inspection.

Parallel rear range has doorway to garden to left of centre, with round-arched window to its left, and small-paned casement to right. First floor has fine small-paned oriel bow window to right and shallower curved oriel to left (neither aligned with lower windows). Large rear wing has massive lateral stack; windows probably all associated with C19 remodelling work.

Adjoining the main range to the left (NE) and linking it with the garage (listed separately) is early C19 Picturesque Gothic gateway with crenellated parapet over arched doorway, and low flanking tower, also with crenellated parapet and narrow gothic windows.

Interior

Entrance from porch to main range via doorway with finely glazed detail in upper panel. Original range now comprises a single room, with staircase against gable end: this is a broad dogleg staircase rising from triple-arched screen. Probably later C19, Jacobean style, but almost certainly incorporating elements of an earlier staircase: detail to newels, rails and string seems consistent with C17 date, though turned balusters and newel caps are C19. Paired sashes to stair window, with delicate carved detail to architrave, and coloured glazing in upper panes. Main fireplace also in a Jacobean manner, with heavy bolection moulding and enrichment. Staircase leads to suite of formal reception rooms in first floor of rear range: paired rooms separated by a moulded archway: outer room has coved boarded ceiling, and shallow oriel window with curved shutters; inner room has plaster ceiling, also coved above acanthus cornice. Heavy marble fireplace with low-relief foliate ornamentation in two distinct motifs in the spandrels of its broad arch; monogramme on keystone shield. Finely glazed oriel window with curved shutters.

Main rear wing has massive lateral fireplace with stone voussoir arch, partially filled in to form vaulted alcove with small gothic arched window to garden. Stone corbel in this wall may be evidence for earlier ceiling position; a further corbel supports what is probably a plastered beam against gable wall.

Roof structure partially visible in main range and storeyed porch: the porch has two trusses with curved and stop-chamfered collars; main timbers are also chamfered; Exposed sections of trusses in main range suggest similar detail.

Reasons for Listing

Listed II* as the substantial remains of an important sub-medieval building on an early settlement site close to the castle. High-quality detail, particularly internally, is associated with successive remodelling from the early C19.

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