Full Report for Listed Buildings

Summary Description of a Listed Buildings

Reference Number
Building Number
Date of Designation
Date of Amendment
Name of Property
Penpont including attached conservatory and rear service ranges  


Unitary Authority
Street Side
Situated down drive N of A40, on S bank of the Usk.  


Broad Class

Seat of a branch of the Williams family, also of Abercamlais. Later C17 gentry house, recased c.1828-35 in Bath stone, classical style, to designs by Henry Underwood of Bath. The house was originally Abercamlais Isaf, and passed to John Williams (1617-80), son of the Rev. Daniel Williams of Abercamlais. His son Daniel, (1642-1707), is said to have built the house in 1666. He was High Sheriff in 1673. His son Penry, died 1743, was High Sheriff 1732. He was followed by another Penry, died 1781, Philip, died 1794, and another Penry, died 1847. This Penry Williams, High Sheriff 1804, and Lord Lieutenant 1836-47, enlarged and then recased the house. His son, also Penry died in 1886, was High Sheriff 1848. His son, also Penry, died in 1893 and his nephew, Penry John Murray inherited, died in 1968. It passed to the present owners through his sister and her daughter. The house may incorporate the C16 house, Abercamlais Isaf, in the present NE rear wing, to which was added in 1666 a double-pile two-storey and attic house for Daniel Williams. This was raised a storey in 1802 by Charles Wallis of Swansea, a new library was proposed in 1805 by John Maund of Brecon. The remarkable conservatory was added in 1828, and the complete refacing in Bath stone with neo-classical colonnade followed c. 1828-35, all by Henry Underwood of Bath. The refacing included lengthening the two main front rooms.  

Country house, Bath stone ashlar with slate hipped roofs and deep overhanging eaves with paired brackets. Three storeys, roughly square plan main range with enclosed service court to W . Five bay EAST FRONT, divided 2-1-2 by thin pilasters, with two massive corniced roughcast chimneys behind the roof ridge. Square 6-pane upper windows with moulded architraves, 12-pane first floor windows with architraves and cornices. Ground floor has French windows in architraves, pilasters and raised plinth, and is extended by one bay to each end. The French windows are earlier C19 with marginal glazing and painted heraldry in the top lights. Centre door in architrave with sunk spandrels over a large fanlight with coloured glass. Big double panelled doors with sidelights, the frame with simple roundels at the intersections. A Greek Doric portico along the entire front of the mansion of seven bays divided by paired columns, 22 in all, with entablature, cornice and low blocking course. The colonnade breaks forward at centre and end features, the angle columns paired in depth here, to give clusters of three. Small raised panel in the blocking course over the outer bays, large ashlar corniced parapet to the centre projection, panelled between panelled piers. Loggia is paved in stone. The portico is open at the ends but returned as solid wall with the ends of the extended rooms, under the same entablature and flat roof. SOUTH SIDE is of six bays, not evenly spaced, but similar windows, except in the fourth bay where they are narrower, with thin W end stack. Thin angle pilasters. The ground floor extension to the right has the open end of the loggia to right and then is windowless for two bays with angle pilaster and windowless W return. The entablature continues over a recessed French window in the fourth bay before stepping forward around a shallow curved bay with four long windows. The first bay, to left, has another slightly projected window with similar entablature and two long windows. All these windows are floor-length, with cambered heads and marginal glazing, and do not align with the windows above. The recessed French window has painted heraldry in the top light. To left, attached to rear wall of service court is a very fine rectangular CONSERVATORY of 1828 with fishscale glazing to the curved roof and timber glazed walls. Five bay front with broader centre bay, cambered-headed top-lights and long windows with coloured glass margins. Pilasters between windows, entablature above. Centre has double glazed doors. Stone sills. Matching three-bay ends, one bay without glazing to E, two to W. Rear W has two hipped ends each with chimney and recessed centre with big tripartite 8-12-8-pane stair window. NORTH SIDE is of six bays, with angle pilasters, the bays not regularly spaced. No window in top floor third bay. Ground floor has two windows to right, the extension to the left has the open end of the loggia to left and then is windowless for two bays with angle pilaster to left and an added projecting section with two 12-pane sashes, aligned to left. Windowless W return. Basement window under sixth bay. The REAR SERVICE RANGE, which may include the C16 Abercamlais Fach, has a long two-storey roughcast and rendered N wall with a very tall stone and brick lateral stack, raised in roughcast. Irregular sash windows, some with rough dripstones, three bays to left of stack, three, closer-spaced to right. W end stack. The W side of the rear SERVICE COURT is enclosed by a low colourwashed outbuilding with cambered headed broad doorway and double doors. Tall opening to right and shuttered window to far right. Within service yard, W range has cambered opposed opening, smaller cambered arched openings each side and hipped eaves dormer. S side has servants hall, single storey with tall W stack and big triple C19 sash. Rear of main house has single-storey addition, the back door reused C17 with C18 6-panel door within. Main service range on N has three storey long S front with flat eaves and centre pedimental gable over a bell. Irregular fenestration, mostly small-pane sashes, and evidence of alteration, with some dripstones over ground floor openings. One window with thick glazing bars to extreme right may be early C18 reused.  

Original double-pile plan of entrance hall with parlour to left and dining-room right, large square stair-hall to rear centre with additional rooms to rear left and right. The parlour and dining-room extended outward by one bay in 1828. The ENTRANCE HALL was refitted in elegant Regency gothic style probably in 1802. Five-bay quadripartite plaster vault on thin wall shafts. Opposed doors to main rooms in reeded surrounds with corner roundels. Roundels with Gothic leafs at vault intersections. Double baize doors with sidelights and large fanlight like that over front door at N end, to stair hall. DINING ROOM to right has fine ceiling in six plus two plaster panels with laurel leaf festoons in bordered panels. The ceiling may be later C17 with two added panels in the early C19 addition to match. The addition is marked by two fine Ionic columns with pilaster responds. Fireplace on W wall, earlier C19 grey and white marble with big leaf-scroll consoles, rosettes on blocks above, moulded lintel and arched iron grate. Door further right in W wall. Panelled earlier C19 shutters. Left DRAWING-ROOM has earlier C18 fielded panelling in large panels with panelled dado and fine doorcase to entrance door, bolection moulded surround with double lugs at the corners, coved cornice and very large scrolled pediment. Ceiling in 6 panels is C17 with grape and pomegranate plasterwork on beams, panels with moulded cornices and oval wreaths of laurel and flowers. Fine earlier C19 marble chimney piece by J. E. Thomas of Brecon, Ionic grey marble columns, pulvinated lintel with plaque of warrior, wife and child. C19 grate with glazed tiles in style of W. de Morgan. Six-panel door to left of fireplace. Fine Ionic screen to added piece, in yellow marble. Similar two-bay ceiling and panelling in earlier C19 addition. Earlier C19 pelmets to windows. Panelled shutters. STAIR HALL has thick moulded cornice and big open-well 3-sided later C17 staircase. Massive Jacobean style newels with caps and column balusters with caps and bases diagonal to line with handrail. Moulded string, thick moulded handrail. Ball finials on newels with iron rods up to pendants above, with wrought-iron scrolls and candle-sconces. Bolection-moulded plaster panels to stair undersides. Dado rail. Low square hall under stairs with pilastered depressed arches on 4 sides. LIBRARY to S has panelled ceiling in 4 panels with guilloche moulding to beams. S bay window has single-panel ceiling. Reused carved chimney piece. Six-panel doors to E and N. Five-bay bookshelves with pilasters between and cupboards below. Folding shutters to bay. N of hall a passage runs behind front room with winding service stairs. Six-panel door on right to short passage through thick wall to front room. LANDING ceiling has two bolection-moulded square panels each with large roundel. Dado rail. Four 6-panel doors in architraves. Staircase has shutters to stair lights. SERVICE RANGE has passage running W, kitchen to N with Tudor-arched fireplace, beams, dresser and recess.  

Reason for designation
Grade I for its outstanding interest as a major Welsh country house with strong external character and very good surviving interiors of the later C17 and earlier C19.  

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