Plas Brondanw, Llanfrothen
Description: Plas Brondanw
Date Listed: 30 November 1966
Cadw Building ID: 4808
OS Grid Coordinates: 261642, 342285
Latitude/Longitude: 52.9598, -4.0601
Location: Llanfrothen, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd LL48 6SW
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On a commanding, sloping site overlooking the Traeth Mawr 0.5km NE of Garreg village; backing onto a lane running NE from Garreg to Croesor and parallel with the A 4085. Set within its own gardens of nation importance.
C17 gentry house with probable earlier origins, altered partly-raised and extended late C18. Long in the possession of the Williams family; William Williams of Plas Brondanw (d.1778) was 'the first to introduce sea banks to this part of Wales'. The house was inherited in 1908 by the renowned architect and conservationist (Sir) Clough Williams-Ellis, (creator of Portmeirion) and henceforth became his home. Together with his wife Amabel (Strachey) he laid out the important gardens and, over a number of decades erected or remodelled numerous buildings, follies and features around the Brondanw estate and the village of Garreg. The house was gutted by fire in 1951 and was subsequently restored, and in part redesigned, by its owner, the restoration being complete by December 1953.
Entrance hall with wide, segmentally-arched fireplace to end wall. This has simple panelled reveals and a plain slate mantelpiece to a C20 inner fireplace. Beamed ceiling (re-used or re-set) with run-out stop-chamfered joists; parquet floor. Raised and fielded panelled reveals to window. Stepped-up recess to end with inset circular marble floor. 2 service rooms beyond the stack. An arched 6-panel door leads to the stair hall; slate floor. Half-turn staircase with slate steps and oak turned balusters with brass ball finials and metal handrail. Flagged kitchen off stair hall with further door back to entrance hall. Within, a fine C18 classical wooden cornice (brought in) acts as a canopy for a range; supporting scrolled brackets, egg-and-dart moulding and dentilations. Counter-changed black/white marble floor to rear WC behind stair. An arched opening off the stair hall leads to a further hall with sitting room off to L; this with lugged classical architrave and 6-panel door (all brought in by CWE). The hall has a wooden boarded floor and wooden acanthus frieze. A flight of slate steps leads down from this to the basement, with re-used C17 turned balustrade and oak handrail; plain newel with brass ball finial as before. Stepped-up, balustraded landing with similar (though different) re-used balusters and plain-capped newels. A small, parquet-floored room leads off this in the tower projection; 6-panel oak door. Simple plaster cornice to sitting room, carried onto main axial beam. Raised, fielded panelling sections to main wall spaces and window reveals. Classical wooden fireplace with shouldered frieze dentilated cornice and supporting consoles. Above, decorative foliate carving to raised and fielded overmantel with scrolled volute sides. Fine modillion frieze in partly-gilded wood to gable window; flanking fluted pilasters.
On the first floor is a wrought-iron Regency balustrade at the stairhead with conjoined oval decoration and bronze foliate plaques; urn finials. On the ceiling a cast-iron sun-ray light mount. Fluted oak pilasters (late C17 or early C18) adorn the walls at the stairhead and flank a counter-changed black and white marble pavement leading from the stair to the drawing room. This has a lugged classical doorcase with masks and swags above; 8-panel raised and fielded C18 door (all brought in). 6-panel egg-and-dart moulded door leads off to plain bedrooms and bathroom. Further bathroom off stairhead with raised and fielded 2-panel late C17 door. Simple classical fireplace (pine) to front bedroom, with moulded and dentilated cornice; modern oak floors throughout.
Large L-plan storeyed house; of roughly-dressed local rubble with small-slate roofs and coped gable parapets. The house consists of a 3-storey main block with further basement storey on the garden side, giving this a 4-storey aspect. Adjoining at right-angles to the SE is a subsidiary 2-storey wing. The main section has a wide end-chimney to the L (NE) and a wide gabled lateral chimney to the rear. 5-bay principal (garden) front with central projecting tower, its upper stage with moulded cill course returned onto sides; this with feathered roof and stone acorn finial, the eaves gently feathered. 3 semi-circular steps lead from the garden to a central open arch to its ground floor; the sides, also open and arched give onto a paved terrace walk to either side; applied eagle cartouches to keystones (re-constituted stone), with CWE monogram for Clough Williams-Ellis. 12-pane near-flush sash windows to ground and first floors, that to the first-floor tower window within a shallow arched recess; squatter 12-pane windows to basement floor with central entrance within tower, 6-pane sashes to upper floor. Primary entrance to SE (rear) at R with fine and unusually-long slatestone quoins and similar voussoirs to slightly-arched head; returned slate label, the returns conceived as shaped brackets, small-pane glazed C20 door. To the R of this a tall 8-pane window and to the far L (beyond the lateral chimney) a 6-pane window. Further 6- and 12-pane windows to the third floor with an inset C17 cast-iron fireback to the breast and a slate plaque (possibly ex situ) inscribed with the date 1696 and the initials W.W.M. Evidence for the raising of this block (probably in the later C18) can be seen between the first and second floors. The SW gable apex is flat-topped and has a surmounting metal eagle sculpture. Below, a semi-circular window with, below that a 6-pane sash. Simple Venetian window to first floor with an inset slate plaque above. This is inscribed: ' W. 1660'. 12-pane sash as before to the ground-floor; all openings are C20 alterations.
The lower wing has an entrance as before to the L on the main, SW side; small-pane glazed door. Flanking this are 16-pane and 12-pane sash windows to the L and R respectively, with further 12-pane sashes to far R and to first floor. Central, 2-stage stack, originally an end chimney before extension of the wing to the SE. A flagged service court to the NE separates the house from Plas Brondanw Cottages; irregular fenestration to this side, with 6-and 12-pane windows. French window entrance to centre with single-storey canted bay to L; arched small-pane window. Adjacent to this a long flight of stone steps leads from the courtyard up to the road level where there is an arch stepped-up within a rubble parapet wall; part-latticed gate. Crossing over this via an arched, parapetted bridge, is an upper access from the road to an attic flat in the main block. The bridge and path have partly-cobbled and partly slated floors and lead to a balustraded roof walk giving access to an arched loggia with shallow, hipped roof. This has a inner entrance with window to the L.
Reason for Listing
Included at Grade II* as a C17/C18 regional gentry residence, distinctively remodelled this century as the home of the celebrated architect and conservationist Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
Group value with other listed items at Plas Brondanw.
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Architect Errant, 1991 edn, passim;
E Whittle, The Historic Gardens of Wales, 1992, pp78-9.
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.Notes:
On a commanding, sloping site overlooking the Traeth Mawr 0.5km NE of Garreg village; backing onto a lane running NE from Garreg to Croesor and parallel with the A 4085. Set within its own gardens of
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.