Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
The Hendre  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
An extensive country-house in its own grounds to the south of B4233, 5km west of Monmouth.  


Broad Class

Begun as a shooting-lodge for John Rolls in 1829-30, by an unknown architect, and subsequently altered and enlarged in 1833-4 by G.V.Maddox for J E W Rolls. T H Wyatt enlarged it further by additions to the E end in 1837-41, and a great hall at the W end in 1858. A neo-Tudor entrance court was created in 1870-72 by the addition of a NE wing and a N stable court, both by Wyatt; and in the mid 1880s a dining-room wing was added to the outer side of the NE wing, and a conservatory to the W end of the great hall, by Wyatt's clerk of works, Henry Pope (Wyatt having died in 1880). A large diagonal library wing was added to the NE corner of the dining-room wing by Sir Aston Webb in 1895-6. For some time used as a boarding school and now occupied as a golf club.  

A large and sprawling red-brick Victorian mansion, irregular in plan and with irregular elevations in a mixture of historical styles, resulting from several phases of enlargement by successive generations of the Rolls family between c.1830 and c.1900. A courtyard open to the W is formed by large domestic S and E ranges (the former incorporating the original shooting-lodge) and a secondary service courtyard (stables, coach-houses, etc.) on the N side; and projecting from the NE corner is a diagonal library wing. Built of red brick with Bath stone dressings, slate roofs and clusters of Tudoresque brick chimneys. The original building being engulfed by later additions to its N, E and W sides, only its S elevation is exposed. This is 2 and 2½ storeys and 3 unequal bays, the middle one projected, 2½-storeyed and gabled, and the third narrow and 2-storeyed with a gable breaking the eaves, and reduced in both dimensions above the ground floor. The former, which is enriched with brick pilasters, stone bands and gable copings with kneelers, has a shallow rectangular bay window of 4 tall round-headed lights at ground floor, a 1st-floor panel containing another window of 4 round-headed lights, and a round-headed 1-light window in the gable with a neo-Norman style architrave; the latter has a transomed 3-light window on each floor. The first bay has a cross-window at ground floor and a wooden 2-light oriel above, with Perp.-style tracery. The earliest additions (by Wyatt, c.1837-41) are a neo-Norman style 3-storey tower to the left (W) end and a longer 3-bay range at the right-hand (E) end. The former has pilasters terminating in ball finials and a machicolated parapet; a round-headed doorway at ground floor, coupled round-headed windows at 1st floor and 3 round-headed windows at 2nd floor: most of these features with elaborate neo-Norman enrichments. Its broader W return side has narrow turret-like outer bays clasping a large projected bay window at ground floor and set-back upper floors with a gable crouching between the turrets. All these features are encrusted with neo-Norman detailing; and the ground floor bay window has the initials of J.E.W.Rolls in raised brickwork. A neo-Norman arcaded parapet to this window is continued at right-angles across the top of a flat-roofed projection from the side of the great hall to the left (built 1858). The c.1840 addition to the right of the original house is of 3 unequal bays in a slightly less eccentrically eclectic style except for the third, which is treated as featured corner tower: from a large and strongly battered stone plinth, rising in a single attenuated stage to above eaves level, this has one unusually tall round-headed lancet window, a smaller one rising into a gablet, and a corbelled pyramidal roof carrying a narrower clock-house stage with a steep 2-stage ogival cap finished with a weathervane finial. The E return side, 3-storeyed from a lower ground-level (containing service rooms at basement level, and small parlours, a staircase and bedrooms on the upper floors) is relatively simple, having 3 round-headed windows on each of the first 2 levels, 6 small ones to the top floor (grouped 1:2:2:1), and a steeply-gabled dormer breaking the centre of the eaves. The last component of the restlessly elaborate S elevation is a conservatory added at the left (W) end in 1885, a structure - by comparison with the rest - of serene simplicity: a 6-bay aracade of large chamfered Tudor arches with a single buttress at the W corner and a plain stone parapet. Its W end wall has 4 pinnacled buttresses, very large transomed windows (bricked up in 1924) and a clerestory of small cusped lights. The buttresses and clerestory continue on the otherwise unwindowed N side (to the courtyard) where there is a Tudor-style doorway in the 5th bay. The E elevation of the E wing is dominated by Henry Pope's 1880s addition, which is tripartite: a very large projected gable with a 3-storey bay window (mullioned at basement level, mullioned and transomed on the 2 main floors); a lower and narrower 3-storey bay treated as a tower feature, with a pair of segmental arches at basement level, a square transomed 4-light window at 1st floor, an oblong transomed 4-light window at 2nd floor, and a pierced parapet with flaming-urn finials to the corners; and a much lower 2-storey service range treated as if it were a free-standing house in its own right, distinguished mainly by a broad projected bay which rises above eaves level and has a low arched 3-light window at basement level, a large transomed window above, and pinnacled kneelers to the gable coping. (Linked to its SE corner at an angle of 45° is Aston Webb's library wing: see below.) The courtyard elevations are less easy to read. Although mostly erected in J.A.Rolls's phase of addition in 1870-72, they are more expressive of a patron's unpredictable requirements than of an architect's coherent scheme. Only the style - Tudor - is consistent. Of the S range the main elements from right to left (W to E) are: the great hall; a 2-storey porch which - despite being sited at almost the extreme W end of the whole complex - was the main entrance; a 1-storey linking corridor; and a square 3-storey tower. The great hall, of 3 bays with buttresses and tall transomed windows, though large in itself, is visually dominated by the disproportionately large porch. This has angle buttresses, a carved Tudor-style doorway flanked by 1-light windows, a band carved with the Rolls family motto "Celeritas et Veritas" to the front and "Open House Open Heart" on the right-hand side, a canted oriel above the doorway, and a stepped gable containing a panelled shield. Two bays of single-storey corridor, with buttresses and 2-light windows, link the left side of the porch with the tower in the corner. This has the appearance of a stair-tower but is not, since its ground floor is the 3rd bay of the corridor; above this, each of its 2 exposed sides has a 2-light window at 1st floor and a 3-light window at 2nd floor, and it is topped by a pierced parapet with ball finials to the corners. The courtyard side of the E wing begins with a relatively narrow 2½-storey element wedged against the NE corner of the tower, and continues with a longer 1½-storey service range (to the N end of which the stable courtyard on the N side of the courtyard is linked). The former (built to house a large billiard room at ground floor) of one structural but 3 architectural bays in a symmetrical composition, has a very large rectangular bay window at ground floor with a transomed 5-light window and a pierced parapet; a central attic gable with kneelers and finials breaking through a pierced parapet; and tall transomed windows. The service range, of 2 wide structural bays separated by a chimney stack, has a projected ground floor dominated by a transomed window matching that of the former billiard room; 3 gabled half-dormers with 2-light mullioned windows; a multi-flue lateral chimney stack interrupting the roof, and a large pryamid-roofed lantern (or ventilator) on the ridge of each half. By contrast with the foregoing, the N side of the courtyard is both functionally and architecturally coherent, being the entrance range of the stable court. Offset to the right in an otherwise 1-storey range (three 2-light windows to the left, 1 to the right) is a 1½-storey, 3-bay, symmetrical gatehouse which has a large Tudor-arched coach-passage in the centre, a sundial above this, a shallow 3-light window either side, a pair of gabled ½-dormers breaking through a pierced parapet with a carved shield in a central upstand, clustered gable chimneys and a large central lantern with diamond lattice glazing and a swept pyramidal cap with lucarnes and a weathervane finial. The W elevation of the W range, a symmetrical 5-window composition with gabled outer bays defined by buttresses and a gabled ½-dormer in the centre, all these gables with ball finials, has 2-light windows in all parts except those at ground floor of the outer bays which are 3-light. The N elevation of the N range, which has simple segmental-headed 1-light windows with brick surrounds (grouped 3:3:1) has a Tudor-arched coach doorway opposed to that in the S range, with a full height gable over it containing a window like the others, and at the W end is a larger gable containing a segmental-headed loading door. On the E side of the stable court, built in the angle with the end of the service wing, is a large square 2½-storey block under a 2-span roof at right-angles. The library wing added by Aston Webb in 1896, attached diagonally to the NE corner of the E wing of the main house, consists first of a narrow corridor link but principally of a massively-proportioned single-storey, single-cell library block; both raised over an undercroft. In the front elevation (to the garden) 3 bays of wide segmental undercroft arches (1 to the corridor, 2 to the library) separated by buttresses, form a visual link between the two elements, but above that level they differ greatly, the library being twice the height of the corridor. The corridor has a parapet, beneath which are small 2-light mullioned windows and a central 3-light oriel. The library is of 3 bays, the first 2 having tall 3-stage transomed windows, and the 3rd filled by a projected bay which has a battered brick plinth at basement level and an enormous multi-light mullion-and-transom window (deliberately reminiscent of the oriel or compass windows of medieval great halls). A string-course decorated with carved panels crosses the heads of all 3 windows, and above that is a coped brick parapet raised into shallow gablets over the windows. Behind the one over the bay window is a tall louvred ventilator with a domed cap. The gable end of the library, framed by sturdy full-height buttresses, has a central chimney enriched with carving on 2 levels, flanked by undercroft arches like the others, and transomed 3-light windows to the library itself. At the rear a wide projection houses a central slightly extruded chimney stack flanked by inglenook windows on 3 levels.  

The S range includes: an entrance vestibule with a screen of 2 fluted Tuscan columns; a "great hall" with hammerbeam roof; a large C17-style open-well staircase; and various rooms with ex situ C16 and C17 architraves, over-mantels and panelling of high quality, including 2 bedrooms fully wainscotted. E range includes: former billiard room with Tudor-style ribbed ceiling; dining room with similar ceiling including fine painted panels with lettered scrolls (e.g. "Joy and rest tend each guest"), and an elaborate renaissance-style wooden buffet with flanking doorways; private parlour or office with wainscotting incorporating painted embossed leather panelling over a panelled wooden dado; a larger parlour with strap-work and pendant ceiling. Panelled library with coffered wooden ceiling, inglenook fireplace with stained-glass side-windows depicting the house c.1838 and the library wing c.1900; very large bay window with armorial stained glass. (For detailed descriptions, see Pevsner & Newman, The Buildings of Wales: Gwent/Monmouthshire, pp252-4.)  

Reason for designation
Included as a striking Victorian country-house, the eclecticism of its architectural style reflecting its complex building history. The house retains richly decorated interiors, and is also of special interest as the centre of the Hendre estate, and for its associations with the Rolls family.  

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