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Description: Wonastow Court
Date Listed: 5 January 1952
Cadw Building ID: 2064
OS Grid Coordinates: 348562, 210849
Latitude/Longitude: 51.7935, -2.7459
Set in its own grounds on the S side of the road from Monmouth to Dingestow, about 2.5km SW of Monmouth. Standing in delightfully intimate proximity about 50m to the S is the Church of St Wonnow (q.v.): virtually a family chapel.
Wonastow was one of the manors belonging to Sir William Herbert of Troy, illegitimate son of William, first Earl of Pembroke, in the early C16. In 1552 his eldest son Sir Charles directed it to be sold to pay his debts, when it was bought by his brother Sir Thomas, who lived here until his death in 1588. Descending to Sir Thomas's son Henry, in the early C17 it then passed by marriage to George Milborne of Milborne Port in Somerset (who is commemorated by an important wall monument in the neighbouring Church of St Wonnow, q.v.). In 1644 it was defended against a Royalist attack by John Milborne, and it remained in the Milborne family until 1775, when it was inherited by a daughter married to Thomas Swinnerton of Butterton, Staffs., who rebuilt the house ic.1803. One of Swinnerton's daughters and co-heirs married Sir William Pilkington, Bart., and the owner c.1900 was Sir Thomas Edward Milborne-Swinnerton-Pilkington. When first listed in 1952 the house was reported as "derelict". The main range is now occupied again, and a rear wing has been sold and recently renovated.
The main range has an early C19 open-well staircase with open string, stick balusters and ramped handrail, but no other original features of note. The room at 1st floor of the NE wing has some remains of early C19 decoration. The floors of the SW wing, which appeared to date from the C19, collapsed during the long period of dereliction.
A C16 manor house, much reduced and partly rebuilt as a Georgian country house c.1803 but retaining fragments of the original fabric. It has an irregular U-shaped plan, of which the Georgian house is the main range, a rectangular double-pile plan on a SW/NE axis facing SE, with portions of the earlier building forming tall set-back gabled wings linked to it at their inner corners. The main range is stuccoed but the wings are mostly of random sandstone rubble with quoins.
The SE facade of the main range is 3-storeyed, symmetrical, 2:1:2 bays, the centre breaking forwards slightly, and is finished with a cornice and a low parapet concealing a 2-span hipped roof. In the centre of the ground floor is a porch with 2 Tuscan columns carrying a pedimented entablature, protecting a doorway with a moulded architrave and part-glazed door. Both main floors have 12-paned hornless sash windows and the 2nd floor has square 6-pane sashes; all with raised sills and plain reveals, and those at ground floor with internal shutters. There is a tall chimney-stack at the left end and another near the right-hand end. The SW return wall has one window on each floor close to the rear corner; the NE return likewise has openings close to the rear corner: a round-headed doorway at ground floor protected by a flat-roofed Tuscan porch (dilapidated at the time of this survey), from the top of which an added superstructure providing a link into the adjoinging wing has been removed (the openings covered by corrugated sheet at the time of this survey), and a square 6-pane sash window at 2nd floor.
The gable of the wing at this end has a blocked C16 Tudor-arched doorway (under the porch previously mentioned) with a moulded surround and an elaborately-carved Renaissance-style entablature with strapwork, a band of stylised flowers and a dentilled cornice; a 6-pane sash to the right of this; and at 1st floor a large elliptical-headed blank arch containing a very tall sash window. Its NE return wall shows evidence of several phases of alteration, including blocked windows at 2nd-floor level, the present openings being an inserted oblong window at ground floor and 2 tall round-headed windows at 1st floor, that on the left a sash with radiating glazing bars and the other altered and damaged; and there is a chimney at the rear gable. The wing on the SW side has an interesting SW facade which suggests that it might have been a rebuild of an original C16 gatehouse: a large depressed archway offset slightly left at ground floor, with a moulded surround, a similarly-arched window above this, a large carved plaque at 2nd-floor level and a 4-light mullioned window above that; and, flanking these openings, 1-light windows to the left and 2-light windows to the right, all with arched lights and hoodmoulds. The NW gable is asymmetrical, the eaves lower at the rear than at the front, and it has a chimney at the apex.
At the rear the main range has 2 vertically-aligned round-headed sash windows in the centre, with radiating glazing bars, flanked by 12-pane sashes to the 2 main floors and 6-pane sashes to the 2nd floor, and there is also a slightly smaller window on each floor close to the SW wing. At the NE end this rear wall blocks most of a chamfered Tudor-arched doorway into the NE wing.
Attached to the rear gable of the NE wing is a low 2-storeyed former service wing, recently renovated and converted as a separate dwelling. Of painted rubble with a blue slate roof and a single red brick ridge chimney, this has a continuous slated pentice protecting the ground floor openings, all of which are segmental-headed: a small 2-light window at the left end (with arched lights and hollow spandrels) 2 doorways to the right of this (the left one converted as a window), a similar doorway at the right-hand end, and a modern 3-light casement to the left of that. At 1st floor the left half has a single 3-light casement and the other half has a 4-light casement. The rear has modern square-headed doors and windows.
Reason for Listing
Included as a locally important gentry residence with a long and interesting history; with some remains of its C16 origins but largely a classical house of c.1803.
Bradney, Sir Joseph, A History of Monmouthshire, Vol.1, Part 1 The Hundred of Skenfrith (1907) pp 36-9.
Pevsner, Nikolaus, and Newman, John, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire (2000) p.603.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.Notes:
Set in its own grounds on the S side of the road from Monmouth to Dingestow, about 2.5km SW of Monmouth. Standing in delightfully intimate proximity about 50m to the S is the Church of St Wonnow (q.v.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.