Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Ruins of Piercefield House, Left Hand or West Pavilion  


Unitary Authority
St. Arvans  
Piercefield Park  
Street Side
Immediately to the west of the main block of Piercefield House.  


Broad Class

The house was put up for sale unfinished (it had no roof) in 1793 when Smith was bankrupted following the failure of the Monmouthshire Bank (the sale particulars survive and record an estate of 2130 acres), and it was purchased in 1794 by Colonel Mark Wood who pulled down the rest of the old house and extended and finished the new one, using the architect Joseph Bonomi, who designed the twin pavilions which flank the central block and which are now listed separately (qv), as well as adding the curving Doric portico (now gone) to the central block and the lavish interiors. Colonel Wood owned it until 1802 when it was bought by Nathaniel Wells, who died in 1852. It was he who built the lodges on the perimeter wall in 1833. Wells had not lived in the house for some years before his death and the tenant Thomas Thompson did not leave until 1856 when the estate was sold to John Russell of Wyelands who then sold to Henry Hastings Clay in 1861. It passed on his death in 1874 to his son Henry Clay who died in 1921 and his grandson Charles Lee Clay who had moved to the new Wyndcliffe Court in 1922. The estate was then sold to the Chepstow Racecourse Company in 1925 and racing began in 1926. The dismantling of the house, with the removal of fittings, seems to have begun at this time, but the park was requisitioned in the war and the house, which may have already been roofless and in ruins, was further damaged by American troops who camped in the park and are reputed to have used it for target practice. It is said to have been burnt, but there is little sign of this on the surviving walls. The rest of the estate was sold off, but the racecourse company continues to own all the land within the park wall including the ruins of Piercefield House, while the wooded cliffs and the walks are managed by Forest Enterprise.  

The pavilion is built of Bath limestone ashlar with internal brick walling, roof not present. Only the front (south) elevation is properly visible. The pavilion is in temple form with a tetrastyle front of Roman Doric half columns supporting a full entablature and pediment. The only opening is a large square headed one in the centre with a moulded architrave and keyed head, but this has been damaged. The outer bays have apsed niches for statues. There are carved relief panels of Portland stone set into the head of each of these bays above a plat band. It was joined on the right hand wall to the main block of Piercefield House, but this has been demolished. From the scarring on the wall this appears to have been no more than a corridor with a gabled roof leading to a small door. Photographs show this as a 5-bay arcade with a pitched roof. They also show that the pediment carried three statues and the roof a central lantern.  

This must have been a top lit single room pavilion. The interior was not seen at resurvey. In 1819 the Drawing Room, Dining Room, and the Saloon containing the main staircase were in the central block while the attached pavilions were the Library and Music Room.  

Reason for designation
Included at a high grade as part of the still impressive ruins of an important neo-classical country house by Joseph Bonomi which remains the key component of a nationally important historic landscape.  

Cadw : Full Report for Listed Buildings [ Records 1 of 1 ]