History in Structure

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The Mansion House

A Grade II Listed Building in Plasnewydd, Cardiff

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4862 / 51°29'10"N

Longitude: -3.1706 / 3°10'14"W

OS Eastings: 318818

OS Northings: 177014

OS Grid: ST188770

Mapcode National: GBR KLK.15

Mapcode Global: VH6F7.0X61

Entry Name: The Mansion House

Location: In its own grounds at the S end of Richmond Road, at its junction with Richmond Crescent.

County: Cardiff

Town: Cardiff

Community: Plasnewydd

Locality: Tredegarville

Traditional County: Glamorgan

Listing Date: 24 May 2002

Last Amended: 24 May 2002

Grade: II

Source: Cadw

Building Class: Civil

Source ID: 26661

History

Begun in 1891 by Habershon & Fawckner, architects of London, Newport and Cardiff, for James Howell (1835-1909), founder of one of Cardiff's principal department stores. Originally known as The Grove it was designed with paired entrance in case circumstances should have required it being divided into 2 properties. The house remained uninhabited after Howell's death until it was sold to Cardiff City Council in 1913 for the official residence of the Lord Mayor.

Exterior

A free classical style house of 3 bays and 2 storeys with attics and basement. Walls are rock-faced Pennant sandstone with lighter Bath stone dressings, hipped slate roof on bracketed eaves, and rock-faced stone stacks with freestone quoins. The front and side walls have sill bands, and a cornice over the lower-storey windows. Windows are 2-pane sashes. The symmetrical front has a central double entrance bay. Its 2 doorways are framed by panelled pilasters with foliage capitals, have round-headed overlights with keystones, and relief carving of beasts in the spandrels. Each has double panelled doors. Above the pilasters are fluted consoles supporting an upper-storey balcony with stone balustrade and open quatrefoil ironwork. A pair of windows in segmental stone architraves open to the balcony. The outer bays have 2-storey and basement, 2-light canted bay windows, with keystones to flat heads and cornice to a flat roof. The attic has 3 full dormers with round-headed lights, and pediments. The central dormer is 2-light with scrolled wings, the outer bays 3-light. The pediments project on relief moulded corbels and have relief carvings of urns, dragons and other beasts. Each pediment has an apex ball finial.

The R side wall has an external flue, then a 2-storey 2-light bay window, the details similar to the front. The 3-light dormer with pediment is also similar to the front. To the R of the bay window is a further bay with a pair of windows in architraves. Beyond this is a projecting 2-storey wing housing the original billiard room, which is lower than the main range and has a moulded cornice to projecting eaves of its hipped roof. Facing the front it has 2 windows in architraves, and a 3-window side wall with similar detail, both elevations having sill bands and cornice similar to the front of the main range. In the simpler rear elevation are 2 lower-storey windows flanking an added external flue.

The rear of the main range has 2 tall 3-light stair windows, below which is a single-storey projection. It has a 2-storey 2-window bay to its L with added escape stairs from a boarded attic door, then a 2-storey projection further L with panelled door. On the R side of the stairs is a gabled service wing.

The L side wall of the house is similar to the R, with external stack then canted bay window with basement, and pedimented dormer. Further L are 3 windows and a doorway with elliptical arch to a plain overlight, and double panelled doors. The basement immediately to its R also has a panelled door. The service wing is continuous with the elevation, but is lower and has plainer moulded eaves. It has 2 external stacks between 3 sash windows in architraves. The windows have a sill band and cornice in the lower storey. The gable end is blank. The opposite side wall, facing the rear of the main range, is 2-window with sashes and central boarded door under a cambered head.

Interior

The entrance has a small vestibule with half-glazed double doors incorporating etched glass and leading to a central stair hall. The imperial stair has square newels with fluted shafts and moulded square balusters. The lower flight is wide enough to allow a dividing wall to be built and the stairs to serve 2 separate dwellings. The hall has a classical ceiling cornice incorporating an egg-and-dart frieze. It also has hall mirrors with plant holders in an architrave with broken segmental pediment. The drawing room on the R of the hall has 2 classical fireplaces with mirrors to overmantels. A small library behind the drawing room is now plain. The original dining room on the L side of the hall has 2 similar classical fireplaces without overmantels. Behind it was a 'business room'. The billiard room in the wing on the R side of the house has C20 fireplaces.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as a well-detailed late C19 suburban house and for its social-historical interest as the Lord Mayor's residence and its association with James Howell, a leading Cardiff businessman.

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