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Latitude: 53.2035 / 53°12'12"N
Longitude: -4.0871 / 4°5'13"W
OS Eastings: 260695
OS Northings: 369416
OS Grid: SH606694
Mapcode National: GBR 5R.23NS
Mapcode Global: WH548.6Q0Z
Entry Name: Cochwillan
Listing Date: 22 February 1952
Last Amended: 9 March 2000
Source ID: 3653
Building Class: Domestic
Location: Situated in low-lying pasture fields at end of short track off the minor road between Bethesda and Tal-y-bont; there is a walled lawned garden area immediately to the front (north) of the house.
Traditional County: Caernarfonshire
Although there may have been a house here in the C13, the present building is no earlier than 1450 and was probably built by Gwilym ap Gruffydd, Sheriff of Caernarvonshire from 1485 ff., before 1480. Later the home of John Williams (1582-1650), Archbishop of York, and for most of its history linked to the Penrhyn Estate, in whose ownership it remains. After c1870 the house ceased to be inhabited and from then until the 1960s, when it was extensively restored (works completed in 1970), it was used as a barn. The C19 coat-of-arms of the first Baron Penrhyn over the north door comes from the Guild Hall in Caernarfon. The original main entrance to the house may have been on the south rather than on the north as at present.
Surviving rectangular block aligned roughly east-west of what was probably originally a courtyard house with projecting east and west wings and gatehouse to south; the present main entrance is on the north. Roughly coursed rubblestone on north, changes in masonry to left and right representing C19/C20 rebuilding, upper parts of massive stack rebuilt c1970; larger but still roughly coursed masonry blocks to centre on south, rougher areas to left and right again being C19/C20 rebuilding; gritstone ashlar dressings to original doors and windows throughout, the tracery of which was restored c1970; slate roof also renewed c1970.
North elevation has massive external stack offset to left with 3-light panel-traceried window to left lighting upper end of hall; inserted boarded door to its left and to far left corner a C20 leaded 2-light window directly below eaves with rooflight above. To right of stack is a square-headed 2-light trefoil-arched window with to its right a chamfered 4-centred doorway with C20 ribbed plank door, above which is an imported stone coat-of-arms (see History); to right again C20 leaded 2-light windows, one directly above the other; simple integral end stack.
South elevation has moulded 4-centred doorway to left corresponding to that on north for former screens passage (containing C20 glazed door) to left of which is a C20 leaded 2-light window and directly above a square-headed 2-light trefoil-arched window with dripstone; square-headed 3-light trefoil-arched window with moulded dripstone offset to right lighting upper end of hall with to its right C20 leaded 2-light windows, one directly above the other; buttresses to both corners and to east gable end C20, as are all openings in both gable ends and the single-storey lean-to attached to west gable end.
The main feature of Cochwillan is the great open hall in 3 bays with an additional half-bay at the upper (east) end. The magnificent roof structure has 2 moulded hammerbeam trusses supported by moulded wall-posts on carved stone corbels in the form of human heads, those on the south side restored; the painted shields on the ends of the hammerbeams are also modern restorations. Much of the decorative carving to the embattled wall-plate and the spandrels of the hammerbeams is, however, original as are the 2 tiers of moulded purlins, the short cusped windbraces and the cusped V-struts forming elongated quatrefoils between the collars and principal rafters. Close-studded timber-framed partitions at each end of the hall, that at the western (service) end with plank and muntin screen to base incorporating two 4-centred doorways, that to centre with moulded jambs and a sunken panel to the head on which are carved a saracen's head flanked by 2 lions rampant; the plainer doorway to the right leads to modern staircase up to solar. Partition at eastern (upper) end is more extensively restored (including the ceiled canopy) and having at an unknown date been moved westwards so that it cut across the window in the north wall is now back in its original position; incorporates plain 4-centred doorways at each end. North wall has wide, open fireplace with double-ogee moulded timber lintel and chamfered stone jambs. West of the western partition were the original buttery and pantry but the medieval arrangement has gone; solar above contains plain C16 stone fireplace. The eastern portion of the house has been considerably altered to provide domestic accommodation on 3 floors served by a timber spiral staircase of c1970.
Listed at Grade I as one of the finest late medieval small manor houses in North Wales.
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