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The Mansion House, Roath

Description: The Mansion House

Grade: II
Date Listed: 24 May 2002
Cadw Building ID: 26661

OS Grid Coordinates: 318818, 177014
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4858, -3.1693

Location: The Walk, PlasnewyddCardiff CF24 3UN

Locality: Roath
County: Cardiff
Country: Wales
Postcode: CF24 3UN

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Listing Text

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

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.

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.

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.

Reason 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.

Dart, G., Riden, P. & Romaya, S.M., The Mansion House & its Environs, 1990;
Newman, John, The Buildings of Wales: Glamorgan, 1995, pp 308-9.

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.

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

Source: Cadw

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.