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Golden Grove Mansion

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llanfihangel Aberbythych, Carmarthenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8596 / 51°51'34"N

Longitude: -4.0386 / 4°2'18"W

OS Eastings: 259710

OS Northings: 219860

OS Grid: SN597198

Mapcode National: GBR DT.T2WK

Mapcode Global: VH4J2.YJ97

Entry Name: Golden Grove Mansion

Listing Date: 8 July 1966

Last Amended: 27 August 1999

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 10926

Building Class: Domestic

Location: In park landscape to the south of, and overlooking, the Towy valley, 4 km south-west of Llandeilo. Two gate-lodges to the B4300 at north. A third, which is at the present principal park entrance, is i

County: Carmarthenshire

Town: Carmarthen

Community: Llanfihangel Aberbythych

Locality: Golden Grove Park

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Golden Grove

History

The estate of Golden Grove was bought by John Campbell, Baron Cawdor, in 1804. The old mansion, which had been the seat of the Vaughan family, stood near the site of the present-day Garden Cottage; only its garden wall (separately listed) now survives. Baron Cawdor's son John Frederick Campbell (1790-1860, created first Earl Cawdor in 1827) inherited in 1821 and commissioned the present mansion designed by Sir Jeffry Wyatville.
The main part was commenced by 1826. The date 1828 with the coronetted Cawdor arms, lion and stag supporters and the motto 'Be Mindfull' appear on a stone on the south elevation of the service wing, then being commenced. However, much of the important joinery including the main staircase was not completed until 1831. The stable block (separately listed) was built in 1834. The house as designed contained advanced technical features such as masonry reinforcement, heating innovations and even flush toilets. An intended east wing to match the service wing and complete the symmetry of the house was never built.
The house remained in Cawdor occupation until the 1930s, when the family returned to their ancestral home at Nairn. In the Second World War it was occupied by the US Air Force. In 1952 it was leased to Carmarthen County Council and it is now occupied as the Gelli Aur campus of the Carmarthenshire College of Technology and Art. The park, sold to the County Council in 1976, is managed separately as a Country Park.

Exterior

An important house in Tudor style with Scottish Baronial features, built in Llangendeirne 'black marble' limestone. Planned with the residence to the right and a long, slightly angled, service wing planned around a courtyard to the left. Steeply pitched slate roofs in graded courses behind parapets. Prominent tower near the south-west corner; otherwise the house is nearly symmetrical, with a double-gabled elevation both to south and to north. Two storeys and attic, of great height, standing on a high plinth with basement windows. Service wing to south-west with low-pitched slate roofs behind parapets.
The main block is the family house. Entrance elevation to the south, three windows, tall and deeply projecting porte cochère centrally. Ashlar masonry in thin, slightly irregularly sized courses (masonry believed to be by Daniel Mainwaring of Carmarthen). Tudor windows with mullions and transoms, curiously adapted to incorporate thin-section sashes; lower windows and entrance doors have copper glazing bars; label mouldings with everted ends. The attic windows at centre of each gable are small pointed lancets. Crow-stepped gables with moulded copings to the steps; prominent base moulding to the parapet. The porte cochère has similarly coped crenellations and a base moulding to its parapet, three tall four-centred porch arches, two smaller similar pedestrian arches at the sides of the entrance stairs, and octagonal corner turrets. Very fine gothic entrance doors and screen consisting of double doors with side lights and a fanlight over a transom, all designed to appear as a six-light heavily moulded screen when shut. Boxed folding shutters at rear. (Joinery by Armstrong and Siddon of London.) White limestone steps to entrance.Ornamental lead rainwater heads and pipes.
At the junction with the service wing stands the tower, in reinforced masonry. This rises to about 10m above the eaves of the house, and is crowned by a tall weather vane. The gables are plain-sided (without crow-steps) and have small finials; that to the east incorporates a chimney. Lancet attic windows above large lozenges, two of the latter incorporating clock faces. Two-light mullion and transom windows to south and to west overlooking the service wing.
The north and side elevations are in architectural detailing similar to that of the south elevation. The north elevation is that to the garden, serving the dining and drawing rooms: also three windows in width, but the central unit is a canted bay, continued above general roof level to give a bay window to the attic. On these three sides the lower windows have plate glass and no glazing bars. The east side elevation is of four windows: at left a two-light mullion and transom window over a four-light bay window with flanking lights; pair of two-light windows centrally; at right a two-storey bay window of five lights with flanking lights, plus an attic gable. The west side is similar but with some simplification: three two-light windows above, a four light and two two-light windows below. On the two sides there are attic gables concealed behind the parapets.
Near the join to the service wing both at south and north the masonry changes from ashlar to axe-dressed, then further out to quasi-rubble, in small courses, with ashlar dressings. The transition from house to service wing is created by a symmetrical four-window block, overlapping the tower, in a plane parallel to the main front elevation, but very slightly forward. This has paired central windows with oriels above, flanked by narrow lights. Parapet stepped at centre. These oriels have plate glass, as in the main part of the house, but the other windows have the small panes characteristic of the service wing.
The service wing proper starts with a large step forward and a change to a plane at 30º to that of the house. In this first block of the service wing nearest to the house (with the servants' hall and Steward's room centrally) there are sash windows in mullioned groups of two or four (2, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2), the ground storey windows incorporating transoms also; the sashes, as in the house itself, adapted to run behind the transoms. The two centre bays are very slightly advanced. (Similar fenestration to the internal courtyard, and in the north elevation centred on the Housekeeper's Room.) Prominent ten-stack chimney. At south the two-storey part of the service wing then changes back through 30º and terminates with a two-bay unit, the left bay being a four-centred luggage-entrance arch with a terminal gable above. This is followed by the symmetrical kitchen department: central unit of two storeys, slightly advanced, with three-light mullioned window above, five light mullion and transom window below, and coped gable. This is flanked by 1½-storey ranges with two-light through-eaves dormers above three-light mullion and transom windows. Deeply projecting eaves on corbels and concealed gutters.
At the north side the two-storey part is followed by the single-storey dairy department with a prominent canted bay window, and then the laundry department, also single-storey but with a high roof.

Interior

The plan (described here in terms of the original room names) is arranged as rooms around a central, lantern-topped main staircase. The entrance hall at the main entrance has an interior flight of five steps additional to the exterior ones; half-height wainscot panelling with tall panels and a mid-rail. This leads to the central staircase enclosure: the staircase rising around three sides of the room (by Armstrong and Siddon), designed for practical use with its approach from the drawing-room end rather than for visual effect as a grand staircase facing the entrance. Large mahogany handrail with ebony inserts, on broad turned and carved balusters, deep cut string with brackets. Bottom newel similar to the balusters but larger, standing on two curtail steps. Wainscot dado. The lantern is a clerestory on beams bracketted in from all four wall faces: plain lantern ceiling.
The principal ground storey rooms include the drawing room (at north-west): ceiling in panels with large designs at intersections; broad convolvulus trail ceiling cove; wall panels wainscot-framed between windows; wainscot low dado. Two doors in a panelled lining lead to dining room (at north-east): panelled ceiling in Tudor style; vine trail cove. Mirror in round-headed sideboard recess. Lord Cawdor's room (north-east): diaper gothic ceiling with crocketted ribs; spiral feature in cove. Coloured marble gothic fireplace with brass arch insert and brass registers for additional convection; integral brass fender; low wainscot dado. Lady Cawdor's room (south): plain ceiling with cove; dado; figured marble fireplace.
An additional service staircase alongside the main staircase provides complete domestic staff circulation without intrusion upon the family: neat Regency design with a thin swept handrail on thin metal balusters. Cut strings. This also gives access to the fireproof-vaulted cellars and to the attics.
The nursery suite was over the north part of the service wing.

Reasons for Listing

Listed at grade II* as an exceptionally complete early C19 mansion, and a notable example of the work of Sir Jeffry Wyatville. The house is remarkable for the quality and consistencey of its Tudor Baronial detailing externally and internally, and for the clarity of its planning which gives clear expression to the elaboration of the domestic economy, with highly specialised service accommodation and a clearly delineated hierarchy of function.

Other nearby listed buildings

  • II Golden Grove Terrace
    Retaining walls and parapets to the north and east of the mansion and service wing of Golden Grove.
  • II Golden Grove Garden Seat and Stairs
    Garden features on the entrance axis of the mansion, on the rising ground to the south.
  • II* Golden Grove Stable Block
    To the west of the service wing at Golden Grove, to which it is linked by yards and a covered way. R
  • II Golden Grove Inner East Gate
    At the east entrance to the domestic grounds within Golden Grove park, near the south-west corner of
  • II Golden Grove Inner West Gate
    At the west entrance to the domestic grounds within Golden Grove park, near the south-west corner of
  • II Eagle Lodge
    Within the park of Golden Grove, about 400m south of the North Lodge, to the north side of the drive
  • II Garden Wall of the Former Mansion
    Near the site of the old Golden Grove mansion, about 300m south of the North Lodge, extending from n
  • II Pont-y-wern
    In park landscape about 500m to the east of Golden Grove, carrying the private drive from the East

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