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Latitude: 51.8552 / 51°51'18"N
Longitude: -4.094 / 4°5'38"W
OS Eastings: 255880
OS Northings: 219469
OS Grid: SN558194
Mapcode National: GBR DR.T751
Mapcode Global: VH4J2.0M0P
Entry Name: Rhydarwen (also known as Rhyd-owen).
Listing Date: 13 December 1971
Last Amended: 19 May 1999
Source ID: 9417
Building Class: Domestic
Location: At north of the B4300, 2½km east of the village of Llanarthney. Small farmyard at west. Stone wall facing the farmyard and to the roadside.
Community: Llanarthney (Llanarthne)
Traditional County: Carmarthenshire
An important mediaeval house at an ancient crossing of the Towy. The use of the crossing by Owain Glyndwr has been said to give rise to the name. Three phases are distinguished in Rhydarwen: the earliest is the north-east part of the house, interpreted as either a three-bay mediaeval first-floor hall, or perhaps a solar relating to a lost hall. This appears to be of the early C14. It is heated and has a large two-storey projecting bay with original windows at its north-east corner. Secondly a rear (south) extension containing, at its west side, a four-centred external doorway, perhaps C15. Thirdly the main west part of the house, a four-bay first-floor hall, also with a two-storey projecting bay. This is firmly associated with Sir Rhys ap Thomas (the chief Welsh supporter of Henry VII) and dateable to c1500. The house contained mediaeval wall paintings, which have been removed for conservation, and contains important woodcarvings of its third phase.
Following the descendants of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, Rhydarwen was occupied by minor gentry and yeoman families. There was Harry ap Sion in the C16, and his grandson Griffith Vaughan in 1595. Richard Price, gentleman, was here in 1703, and a descendant of his in 1806. In the Tithe Survey Rhydarwen appears as owned and occupied by the Rev T B Gwyn as with a farm of 22 hectares.
Post-mediaeval and modern alterations and extensions include re-flooring, an exterior re-dressing of the building, including refenestration, in what has been termed 'rustic Georgian' style, and finally a recently built inconspicuous low east addition to the house. Some earlier alterations adversely affecting its mediaeval or Tudor character have been removed in recent years.
A large house of irregular form, in randomly coursed or uncoursed local sandstone with selected larger stones as quoins. The roof outline adds to its character: slate, at two levels, the eastern part corresponding to the first phase, including a long catslide to the south corresponding to the second (but with large modern dormer window); the taller western part corresponding to the third. The western part has modern dormer windows to the north. At the centre of the east gable is a very large phase-one chimney with four offsets. It has a bread-oven extension at the south side. At the centre of the south wall of the taller part of the house is a second very large phase-three chimney, flush with the wall but with one rear offset facing the roof. The principal front of the house is to the north, and is a six-opening range under a stepped roof, with projections at each end. At left is a gabled two-storey window projection to the phase one part, with a small square timber window with mullion to first floor, and a tall stone mullion and transom window with trefoil heads beneath. The elevation between the projecting parts is irregular, part consisting of three and part of two storeys, with modern square windows wit renewed oak lintels. Numerous putlog holes. At the right is another two-storey window projection to the phase three part, but rather less prominent, with modern windows, under a continuation of the main roof. The sides of this projection have original slit apertures. At the centre of the elevation is a large boarded door with a four-centred limestone arch.
The west gable elevation contains a door at right, and two window openings; also many putlog holes. One window in the attic and another at first-floor level perhaps originally a gardrobe doorway. The rear elevation contains a two-light mullion window to the upper storey at left and two small rectangular windows to the stairs position at right of the taller part.
Recent additions in a small walled yard at east.
The north-east part of the house, interpreted as phase one, the oldest part, has a roof truss incorporating a small boss, said to be unique in south-west Wales. Remant of wall paintings survive in this section. The undercroft or lowest storey has a large fireplace with bread oven at left. There are said to be slit windows to the south. Full-width opening to the window projection, with vaulted roof.
The south addition to the house, interpreted as the second phase, has a C15 four-centred doorway at its west side, now facing the C18 staircase.
The phase-three west part contains a cross-passage and restored Jacobean taircase, divided from the main room. The roof trusses are said to be similar to those at Derwydd, another house associated with Sir Rhys ap Thomas. There are also two fine carved timber doorheads (illustrated by the Royal Commission). The style is similar to carvings at Derwydd. One head displays the arms of Sir Rhys within the Order of the Garter. The other contains what may be portrait male and female heads in profile.
An extremely rare survival of mediaeval domestic architecture; a house of three main phases or periods, with fine woodcarving and an important historical association with Sir Rhys ap Thomas.
Other nearby listed buildings