History in Structure

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Stradey Castle

A Grade II* Listed Building in Llanelli Rural, Carmarthenshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6923 / 51°41'32"N

Longitude: -4.1845 / 4°11'4"W

OS Eastings: 249109

OS Northings: 201537

OS Grid: SN491015

Mapcode National: GBR GS.BGB8

Mapcode Global: VH3MB.FQ6L

Entry Name: Stradey Castle

Listing Date: 2 September 1986

Last Amended: 16 October 1998

Grade: II*

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 11884

Building Class: Domestic

Location: Entered by private drive from the B4308. House on terraced site with main basement area including external stairs to north-west. Landscaped parkland with woods to north. Terrace retaining-wall to sout

County: Carmarthenshire

Town: Llanelli

Community: Llanelli Rural

Locality: Stradey

Traditional County: Carmarthenshire

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Llanelli

History

Designed for David Lewis by Edward Haycock of Shrewsbury in 1847, to replace an earlier house. Construction was probably completed by 1855. The house was considerably enlarged in 1874, for C W Mansel Lewis, probably to the designs of J C Buckler. In the course of this enlargement there were important alterations to Haycock's part, especially the formation of a new entrance and great staircase. Despite the great increase in the size of the house, the enlargement did not add materially to its useful accommodation, and some of the interior of the new part was never completed.

Exterior

A fine house of two main phases both in Tudor style, in coursed ashlar and roofed in slate. The earlier phase is a symmetrical design of 1847 presenting three gables to the main garden front and two gables to the E. To the W of this a large extension was made in 1874 including a massive W tower. A single storey unit with the entrance to the housekeeper's quarters on the entrance front is probably also secondary.

The earlier phase is of two main storeys plus attic and basement. Its entrance front is to the N, and consists of a three gable elevation, the central unit advanced and flanked by lower two-storey bays slightly less advanced. Single storey T-plan porch at front. Ashlar masonry with roll-moulded copings and string courses to the gable parapets and kneelers; weathered sill band; Tudor mullioned and transomed windows of two or three lights, with dripmoulds; window to left is blind. Porch parapet with crenellation at front and an ogee gable with panel and shield; moulded four-centred open arch, octagonal corner buttresses with ogee-capped finial terminations. The main garden front to the S is similarly detailed, but the outer advanced gabled bays have two-storey canted bay windows with crenellated parapets. The central bay incorporates a range of four windows to each main storey, the middle two and the attic window above being slightly advanced. Small grilled areas with hidden lights to basement. The secondary garden front to the E is of three single-window units, the outer units advanced and incorporating blind attic windows. One unit of a similar elevation is visible to the W. Steep slate roof returned to each gable. Decorative tall octagonal chimney stacks on square bases. One stack, to NE, has fallen. Others have been renewed in concrete.

The second phase is constructed in similar masonry of slightly greyer colour. The N elevation of the linking block incorporates a group of five octagonal stacks on a slightly advanced full height chimney. Two three-light windows to right with decorated linking panels. One panel contains a monogram panel of 1874. Quatrefoil decorated parapet above. At right is a staircase tower of four storeys. The garden front of the linking block has a two-storey bay window with crenellated parapet. Plain main parapet above on corbels. The great terminal tower is of four storeys, with diagonal corner buttresses, a crenellated parapet and a boldly corbelled octagonal corner lookout-turret with loopholes. The tower also has a large wrought-iron weather vane. On the E side is a dramatically corbelled staircase. On the S side is a two-storey canted oriel.

Interior

The 1846 plan is based on a longitudinal corridor. On the entrance side are the hall and library, both altered in 1874, and on the garden side a fine suite of rooms including the reception rooms of the original design. The latter are smaller and larger drawing rooms and the dining room. The drawing rooms have pedimented doorcases, designed to give, when viewed from the smaller drawing room, a trompe l'oeil effect of distance, the further doorway being of reduced height. They have marble chimneypieces (by Bourneau); richly designed gilded ceilings with acanthus centrepieces and rococo borders. The style of the dining room contrasts, suggesting redesign in 1874. This has a ribbed ceiling, classical doorcases, baronial dadoes and an extravagant Gothic overmantel with polygonal turrets.

The entrance and staircase of 1874 are the greatest feature of the house, and the space of the staircase continues up to a spectacular glazed lantern on a hammer-beam roof. The style is reminiscent of Wyattville at Windsor. The hall is reached from the entrance through a crested and diamond-glazed screen. The hall has a timber ceiling with ribs and pendants and a hooded stone chimneypiece. The staircase is carried up on the axis of the hall, to a long first-floor landing carried on an arcade over the original corridor, and two return flights continue to the second floor level. The joinery is in Jacobean style with lions in sitting position on the lowest newels and finials elsewhere. The lantern above has ramped panelled glazing. The joinery design is apparently by J C Buckler, and the work was made in sections by Rattee and Kent of Cambridge, to be brought to site piece by piece.

The corridor or occasional dining room in the link block to the tower is in Tudor style with linenfold wall panelling and a ribbed ceiling. The adjacent billiards room has a similar ceiling. The room in the top storey of the link is the artist's studio of C W Mansel Lewis, with a large rooflight. In the tower the ground storey room, believed to have been the schoolroom, has a Tudor ceiling and an Adam and Eve chimneypiece. The upper parts of the tower are unfinished, but there are water tanks and a roof structure of shallow vaults on girders.

Reasons for Listing

Listed as an important country house by Edward Haycock, a leading provincial architect of the early Victorian period; later extensions and re-modelling to create a fashionably asymmetrical late C19 picturesque massing with extravagantly detailed interior.

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