Architecture of Wales 15th-17th century

Architecture of Wales overview from 15th century to the 17th century, excluding castles and fortifications, ecclesiastical architecture and industrial architecture. It covers the history of domestic, commercial, and administrative architecture.

Renaissance houses
Renaissance architectural styles and influences start appearing in the eastern corners of Wales during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. In Glamorgan an early example of Renaissance alteration was made to the facade of the outer gatehouse of the now ruined Old Beaupre, near Cowbridge in 1580. This was followed by the more striking Porch in the inner courtyard of 1600 at Old Beaupre. A later and more developed example of Renaissance architecture is Ruperra Castle, built in 1628 for the Welsh soldier Sir Thomas Morgan and the design ideas may originate from his travels on the Continent. The castle is rectangular in layout with round towers at the corners. A feature of Ruperra is the rectangular three light windows with drip moulds, with the centre light higher than the side lights. These windows appear on other Welsh Renaissance houses. The Castle is rectangular with round corner towers and a Porch with a classical doorway. Unfortunately as the result of a fire in 1941 it now stands partly ruined. In the north-east of Wales a very important surviving Renaissance house was Plas Teg near Mold. Rectangular in form with rectangular corner towers it is the typical form of Renaissance house seen over much of Europe. A close parallel would be the first phase (unfinished) of Drumlanrig Castle in Scotland. Another important Renaissance house, demolished in 1973, was Brymbo Hall near Wrexham. The house was built for John Griffith in 1625 and a Baroque wing was added later in that century. The core of the house was in brick with a fine classical doorway. Fortunately a watercolour by John Ingleby in the National Museum of Wales records this building. A further example of the Renaissance classicism was the Banqueting Hall at Margam Abbey. This was recorded by Thomas Dineley in 1684, but only the stone facade now remains, erected in its present position in 1835. It is three bays wide with fluted Ionic columns carrying richly detailed entablatures.

Sir Richard Clough and Flemish influence on houses in north-east Wales
The Renaissance comes to north-east Wales rather earlier with the building of Bach-y-Graig, at Tremeirchion near Mold by Sir Richard Clough, an extremely wealthy merchant, who established the Royal Exchange in the City of London with his business partner Sir Thomas Gresham. Clough had lived in Antwerp, and upon his return to Denbighshire in 1567 he built Bach-y-graig and Plas Clough. Bach-y-Graig appears to have served as a lodge-cum-office, with large associated warehouse ranges set around a courtyard, the while the more traditional Plas Clough was clearly intended from the outset as his main house. The houses were built in the Antwerp style by Flemish craftsmen and were the first brick houses in Wales.

On the evidence of the similarities of these houses with the Renaissance buildings Antwerp and also the Royal Exchange in London, a strong case has been made out that their design should be attributed to the Flemish architect Henrick van Passe. The Crow stepping on the gable, at Plas Clough near Denbigh, is typical of Flemish architecture and was widely copied on the grander houses that were being built in north Wales at this time, such as Plas Mawr(1576–85) in Conwy and Faenol Fawr (1597), near St Asaph. Peter Smith maps the distribution of houses with stepped gables which are concentrated around Denbigh and Ruthin, Conwy, the Menai Straits and the southern part of Merionethshire. He lists a total of 48 examples. Another feature seen at Bach-y- Graig was the arrangement of multiple dormer windows on the roof. Another property with three tiers of dormer windows that belonged to Clough was the Myddelton Arms in the market place at Ruthin. Tiered dormer window were also copied on the roof of the older portion of the Manor House in Llanfyllin in Montgomeryshire.

Major houses in north Wales
The major houses built in the 16th and earlier 17th centuries are often difficult to classify on stylistic grounds. The Welsh families who built them often were less interested in the outside display of architectural features and more interested in the interior decoration, particularly elaborate plasterwork, painted walls and elaborately carved woodwork with armorials commemorating their family descent. Many of these houses such as Bodysgallen, which was started in 1620 and Mostyn Hall are an amalgamation of different styles of architecture over many years. The front is of 1631–2. In the case of Nercwys Hall near Mold it is known that the contractor who built the Hall was Raffe Booth of Chester and the plans for the house were drawn up by his carpenter Evan Jones. The contract for the building is 1637 and the datestone on the building is 1637.

The Old Hall at Y Faenol (Y Vaynol), Port Dinorwic is an E shaped building consisting of low 16th-century blocks with a more ornate right wing, which was probably added in the 1660s by Sir Griffith Williams. This has a crow stepped gable.

A feature of many of the larger houses of the 16th century is that they are set round walled courtyards that were entered through an arched gatehouse. The most notable examples of these which are set in the countryside are Corsygedol in Merionethshire, Cefnamwlch near Tudweiliog and Rhiwaedog near Bala. The impressive example at Llwydiarth in Montgomeryshire is now only known from earlier drawings and the gatehouse at Madryn on the Llyn survives, but not the house.

Plas Mawr in Conway is one of the most impressive surviving courtyard houses of this period, which has recently been restored by CADW. An Elizabethan townhouse, dating from the 16th century. The property was built by Robert Wynn, a member of the local gentry, following his marriage to his first wife, Dorothy Griffith. Plas Mawr occupied a plot of land off Conwy’s High Street and was constructed in three phases between 1576 and 1585 at a total cost of around £800. There three phases of house construction – 1576–77, 1580 and 1585 – were probably overseen by several different senior craftsmen, possibly working to an original plan determined by a surveyor or mason working at the English royal court. Judging by the details of the roof design, a single master carpenter may have been used for all three parts of the build. Other buildings, such as stables formed part of the courtyard. The courtyard layout of these houses in north Wales may be compared with similar houses of the Elizabethan Period in England, particularly brick built houses in East Anglia, such as Erwarton Hall in Suffolk. It should noted that there many examples of houses with gatehouses and courtyards in south Wales, such as Great Porthamel near Talgarth in Breconshire

Plasterwork, painted interiors and woodwork
Great attention was paid to the interior decoration of the Great Houses. Extensive use was made of decorative plasterwork and the restoration of the plasterwork which has been painted to show the original colour at Plas Mawr in Conway gives some idea as to how this would have appeared. Where expensive wallhangings or tapestries could not be afforded, extensive painted imitations would be used. Wooded panelling and armourial carving still survive in some houses, often over fireplaces. A carved panelled room has been returned to Gwydir Castle and a carved over-mantle at Faenol Fawr records the building of the house in 1597 and the armourials of the Lloyd family. At Gregynog, a room has been re-assembled with the insignia of the ancestry of the Blaney family.

At Plas Mawr seven rooms still possess elements of their original plasterwork, which Peter Smith has described as “the most perfect and the most complete memorial to Elizabethan Wales”, and their original wooden carved panels that line the walls. The plasterwork includes extensive heraldry, badges and symbols: in the upper north range alone, 22 different heraldic emblems are moulded into the ceilings and walls. The gatehouse shows the royal arms, as do the great chamber and the parlour, probably because they were intended to host senior guests. The badges of numerous monarchs are included throughout the house, including those of Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV and Henry VII. The badges of other prominent nobles, such as Robert Dudley, are also featured in the house.

The plasterwork in the parlour displays the arms of Robert Wynn himself, and the brewhouse shows the combined arms of the Wynn and Griffith families, which are generally given equal prominence throughout the house. Robert Wynn’s arms are most prominent in the hall and the bedchambers, where the royal arms are smaller and less prominent. In the 16th century, Wynn’s heraldry would probably have been echoed in the furnishings of the house, including the fabrics, cups and silverware. The plasterwork also incorporates a number of classical themes, but these are not as well executed as the badges and other emblems: Turner describes them as “rather token additions”, and Smith considers this part of the decoration to be “naive”. At Maenan Hall near Llanrwst, there is splendid plaster work which is dated 1582 and at the Town Hall at Portmeirion Clough Williams-Ellis was able to preserve the mid-17th Century plaster ceiling from Emral Hall in Maelor Gymraeg.

Earlier brick-built houses of the late 16th and 17th centuries
Brick building in Wales only became fashionable very slowly and in some areas of Western and south western Wales only starts to appear in the 19th century. Brick makers tended to be itinerant until the mid-19th century, digging clay and firing bricks took place close to the building that was to be constructed. One of the more permanent brickyards was the Herbert’s (Earls of Chirbury) brickyard at Stalloe near Montgomery, which would have been the likely source for the impressive New Build at Montgomery Castle and for large quantities of bricks used in building of the service wings at Lymore near Montgomery 1664–67 and also for 17th-century brick-faced town houses in Montgomery and possibly Welshpool. The earliest use of brick in the 16th century was for the construction of massive chimney stacks of Stellar form with multiple flues within timber-framed houses. These stacks would have greatly reduced the risk of fire, and the study by Peter Smith of the distribution of these stacks show them to be clustered along the Welsh border from Montgomeryshire northwards. While brick making may have started by Flemish brick makers working for Sir Richard Clough, building in brick was also becoming established in Shropshire and in Cheshire. The earliest of the typical Elizabethan Houses using brick with stone dressing was Trevalyn Hall built for John Trevor in 1576 Brick with stone dressing was used for the construction of Brynkinalt at Chirk, near to the Welsh border with England. This is an E plan house of Elizabethan or Jacobean appearance that was built for Sir Edward Trevor in 1612

It has been noted that Brymbo Hall (1625) was largely brick, but the Cheshire influence of brick building is also apparent in Halghton Hall in Maelor Gymraeg of 1662 In Montgomeryshire the earliest brick house was the New Build at Montgomery Castle, which was built for Edward Herbert by Scampion between 1622 and 1625. Bodwrdda, near Aberdaron on the Llyn peninsular provides an example of an earlier house was that was re-fronted in brick in 1621. In Monmouthshire the establishment of brick building is shown by the massive brick service block (now Castle Farmhouse, Raglan) that was built for the older branch of the Herbert family for Raglan Castle, probably just before the English Civil War.

Earlier housing in towns
Timber framed houses of the 15th to 18th century are present in many of the Welsh towns in North, Central and SE Wales. The distribution of these houses has been mapped by Peter Smith who shows that in some areas in Wales such as Glamorgan and Anglesey, timber framed houses were being built in towns, but not in the countryside, where stone would have been the usual building material. Modern commercial development has tended to remove most of the timber framed houses from the high streets of Welsh towns, leaving the occasional examples, often public houses such as the ‘‘Buck’’ in Newtown and the thatched Horse and Jockey in Wrexham. Many more examples of timber framed houses exist behind brick facades of the 18th and 19th centuries. This is particularly the case in the small market town of Montgomery, where the Herbert family encouraged the inhabitants to rebuild the houses with brick frontages from the 1670s onward. In most instances timber framed houses in towns are smaller versions of the timber framed houses of the countryside, but adapted to fit onto the more restricted burgage plots. Earlier examples of timber framing may be jettied forward towards the street and particularly good examples exist in Beaumaris on Anglesey and Conway, formerly in Caernarfonshire.

The Royal House in Machynlleth is a rare example of a relatively unaltered mercer’s dwelling and store-house and has some claim to be one of the oldest shops in Wales. Dendrochronological or Tree ring dates indicate it was built between 1559 and 1561. It was said that Owain Glyndŵr imprisoned David Gam there, and it was also said that King Charles I stayed at the house when travelling to Chester – hence the origin of the name ‘Royal House’. It occupies one of the original Medieval burgage plots laid out around 1291. The long range has three parts with a house set between an upper shop and a lower store.

Another early trading house was Aberconwy House in Castle Street Conwy, now in the care of the National Trust. It is the one survivor of a group of merchant cum warehouses of the English merchants who traded in Conwy. It is a three-storey building, the first two storeys of which have stone rubble walls and the upper is a jettied out timber-framed construction. It has been tree ring dated to about 1420 . In Tenby there is the Tudor Merchants House on Quay Hill, also in the care of the National Trust. This dates from the late 15th century and is possibly the most complete Medieval merchant’s house in Wales. Stone built with three storeys and the roof consists of five bays of crucks. At the third floor level a lateral chimney stack and a mullioned window are corbelled out and there is a large cylindrical chimney stack to the north. There is some painted decoration inside. The house appears to have been part of a larger merchant’s complex.

inside. The house appears to have been part of a larger merchant’s complex.

Market malls and town halls
Market halls and town halls are a prominent feature in most Welsh Towns. Early market halls were placed in the market area with an open area below for the market traders and an upper area that was used as a court room and council chamber. In the major County towns these buildings would also have been the meeting place of the Court of Great Sessions which as well as holding the Assizes supervised the county administration, and these halls were often known as the Shire Hall.

Many were timber framed, but the only surviving example of this type is at Llanidloes in Montgomeryshire. The Court House in Ruthin, now the National Westminster Bank, probably served a similar purpose and Dendrochronological dating has recently shown that this building is earlier and the timbers used for its construction were felled in 1421 The Llanidloes Market Hall is known to have been constructed from trees felled between 1611 and 1622

A slightly earlier town built of stone is the Shire Hall at Denbigh of 1572, with an open colonnaded Market Hall on the ground-floor and a council and court room on the first-floor. In the 1780s with a new roof, rusticated entrance and new fenestration, including Venetian windows were added. The colonnades have been enclosed

In the Georgian period much more impressive town halls started to be built and the Shire Hall at Monmouth is a particularly good example. It is in a classical style of Bath stone by Fisher of Bristol with giant Ionic pilasters In Montgomery, the earlier timber framed town hall was replaced by a red brick Town Hall by William Baker of Audlem in 1748–51, for Henry Arthur Herbert, 1st Earl of Powis. The original design of the Town Hall shows the ground floor market space was open with five bay arcades. The upper floor housed the Council Chamber and Court of Great Sessions and Quarter Sessions. In 1828 Thomas Penson, at the expense of Lord Clive, raised the roof level over the first floor and introduced sash-windows, rebuilding the pedimented gable, but without the coat of Arms. An extension was added at the rear with rounded quadrant corners and was tied in by extending the string courses around the building, adding a matching pediment to that at the front. The arcade arches were infilled with glazing and bricks in 1887, and the attractive clock tower was added in 1921.

An important building, although altered, in Palladian style is Sir Robert Taylor’s Guildhall at Carmarthen, built between 1767 and 1777. This has a trio of giant first floor windows which are over-arched over large Palladian windows with Ionic columns and with blind panels above. Taylor used similar windows to light the Court Room of the Bank of England In the 19th century the design of Market Halls changed, they were now single storied and larger areas were made available for trading. A particularly notable example now houses the Nelson Museum and local history centre in Monmouth. This was built in Bath stone in the Greek Doric style by the architect George Vaughan Maddox of Monmouth in 1837-9

The best known early bridge in Wales is over the river Conwy at Llanrwst which is often attributed to Inigo Jones. The bridge has three arches and a steep camber. The bridge was constructed in 1634 four Lancashire masons, Barnard Wood, James Stott, Thomas Crompton and John Mellor. They may well have working to designs drawn up by Jones based on a design by Palladio. Sir Richard Wynn of nearby Gwydir, as Treasurer to the Queen, is likely to have known Jones and commissioned work from his master mason Nicholas Stone. An earlier bridge, with nine arches is at Holt over the River Dee, dated to 1254,’ which is still in use. This bridge is commemorated by a famous painting by Richard Wilson, now in the National Gallery, which also shows the gatehouse chapel which stood at the east end. Another early bridge which still has a standing gatehouse is Monnow Bridge at Monmouth which was constructed as part of the town defences during the period 1297–1315

Newbridge, Pontypridd
In south Wales a notable bridge architect and engineer was William Edwards, (1719–1789), who in 1746 was contracted to build a new bridge over the River Taff at Pontypridd. The first bridge was washed away and the second bridge collapsed, but his third bridge was a single arch bridge of 140 feet, then the largest of the type in the world, which he completed in 1756, which is still standing, now known as the Old Bridge. In order to reduce the weight of the bridge he pierced large cylindrical holes through the haunches of the bridge, which solved a constructional problem and gives it its elegant appearance. He used the same technique on other bridges, such as Cenarth Bridge at Cenarth and he was able to construct arches of much larger radius with less gradient over the arch.

A number of fine bridges were built in Montgomeryshire in the 18th century, which include Llandrinio bridge of 1769–75, probably by the noted Shrewsbury bridge builder John Gwynn. An ashlar bridge of three arches of pink sandstone, with rusticated voussoirs. Another impressive bridge is the single arched bridge at Dolanog over the Vyrnwy, which was portrayed by the artist Edward Pugh in 1813 but probably dates from the mid-17th century.

The construction of the Holyhead Road and other work by Thomas Telford resulted in a number major bridges. At Betws-y-Coed Telford constructed the early iron Waterloo Bridge across the Llugwy. This bridge with a span of over 30 metres, was cast at William Hazledine’s foundry. This bridge has the inscription This arch was contrasted in the same year as the battle of Waterloo was fought, but it was completed in 1816.

Another iron bridge to be completed in 1816 was John Rennie’s elegant bridge over the river Wye at Chepstow which was also produced at Hazeldine’s foundry. In 1819 Thomas Penson became County Surveyor for Montgomeryshire and he built many new bridges in the county including a notable series of iron bridges over the river Severn, including those at Garthmyl at Berriew, Brynderwen at Abermule and Llandinam. The inscription of the Brynderwyn, Penson copies Telford with an inscription over the arch This is the second iron bridge constructed in the county of Montgomery, was erected in the year 1852. Thomas Penson , County Surveyor : Brymbo Company Ironfounders

Labourer and peasant cottages
Tŷ unnos (plural Tai unnos) (one night house), is a traditional Welsh belief that if a person could build a house on common land in one night, that the land then belonged to them as a freehold.

Great houses of the later Stuart period
In the Restoration period following the Civil War a number of major larger houses were built, particularly in southern Wales. The first and most impressive of these was rebuilding of Tredegar House at Newport by William Morgan in the mid-1660s. This was probably the work of two carpenter architects, Roger and William Hurlbutt from Warwick. A brick house that is richly decorated with stone dressings and the principal doorway with foliage clad twisted columns that support a pediment. Tredegar House was to be followed by Great Castle House at Monmouth in 1673 for Henry Somerset, who became the 1st Duke of Beaufort in 1682 and was also Lord President of the Marches. Another house of this period was Penpont in Breconshire built around 1666. A double-pile house It has been much altered. It was encased in Bath stone in 1828–35, when a ground floor colonnade was added to the front of the house.

Following the construction of Castle House in Monmouth, the Duke of Beaufort had a country house, Troy House at Michels Troy built in 1681–84, but incorporating an earlier 17th-century house. This is a plain but massive Restoration Palladian period house, thirteen bays in length with a projecting central five bays surmounted by a pediment.

In 1683 work was begun on the construction of Erddig, on the outskirts of Wrexham. Erddig was a similar house to Troy House. The architect was a Thomas Webb, who is described as a ‘freemason”. This house is in the style of the leading Restoration architects Hugh May and Roger Pratt. The house was later extended with wings to either side c. 1721–23.

An older house which was extensively remodelled at this time was Bodrhyddan in Flintshire for the Conway family. Dates on the rainwater heads on the doorway indicate this was in progress between 1696 and 1700.

At Trawsgoed (Crosswood) in Ceredigion the earlier house was partially rebuilt after damage during the Civil War and the house survives today in much altered form. The appearance of the house in 1684 is provided by a drawing by Thomas Dineley. There was a three bay central house with dormers and a classical doorway with earlier side wings forming an inner courtyard, and outer gated garden courtyard. The brick houses of the Late Stuart period with projecting wings continued to be built until well into the Georgian period as shown by Trevor Hall near Wrexham, which was built in 1742.

Georgian architecture
Architecture of the Georgian period in Wales may be considered to start with houses such as the recently restored Llanelly House. This was built in 1714 by Sir Thomas Stepney in Llanelli. At the time Llanelli was only a village and this should be considered a Country House rather than a town house The House has its original lead downspouts which are dated 1714, but there is no evidence as to whom the architect was. It is of seven bays with sash windows and a parapet with big gadrooned urns. Similar large block-like houses continued to be built during the reigns of George I and George II. Nanteos near Aberystwyth has a foundation stone of 1739 and completion date on the rainwater head of 1757.

Taliaris in Carmarthenshire is another house of this form with a facade of Bath stone. It was probably built shortly after the marriage of Richard Gywnne to Ann Rudd in 1722-3. Taliaris is by an unknown, but on stylistic grounds it has been suggested that it is the work of a Bristol or Somerset mason or architect A further example of this type of house was the early 18th-century Glanbran, Cynhordy, Carmarthenshire which is described as Palladian with Mannerist touches. There was an ornamented Venetian window and a top window with paired pilasters. It was finally demolished in 1987.

Houses with the typical Palladian arrangement of a central block attached wings or flanking pavilions were built at Dyffryn Aled in Llansannan in Denbighshire and Trawscoed at Guilsfield in Montgomeryshire. Dyffryn Alyn was built to designs by Joseph Turner in 1777, and the pavilions were added in a matching design by James Wolfe. Thomas Pennant records that the house replaced an old house of the Wynne family and Dianna Wynne built a new house in a most elegant and magnificent manner, on the side of the hill opposite the antient mansion and cased it in Bath stone. The very day after the workmen had finished their work, almost the whole casing fell down: which occasioned a vast expense in the repair. The house was demolished around 1920, but Pennant provided an excellent picture of this grand house in his extra-illustrated volumes of the tour, now in the National Library of Wales

A development of the Palladian style was Pengwern Place (or Hall) near Rhuddlan of 1778. This was a Mostyn family house and today is much altered from its original appearance, which is shown in its original form in an engraving in Neale’s Seats of 1818. The main block is of two and a half storeys and five bays with octagonal wings in brick with stone dressings. The central pediment over three bays on a giant order of Ionic pilasters. On either side at first floor level are two Venetian Windows. An impressive composition which is already starting to show the influence of Robert Adam

An important architect who established himself at Swansea in this period was William Jernegan, (c. 1751 – 1836). He probably came to Wales as an assistant to John Johnson, in the 1770s. He was to design a number of Regency terraces in Swansea which have now largely disappeared, the Assembly Rooms of 1810 and produced plans for the Swansea Copper works. In the area around Swansea he was responsible for the Marino, which was incorporated into Singleton Abbey, the re-modelled Kilvrough in c. 1785, Stouthall, Reynollston, 1787-9, and Sketty Hall and Sketty Park House. He was responsible for the Mumbles Lighthouse in 1793. He is also thought to have been involved in the design and layout of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

John Nash in Wales
By far the most important architect to work in Wales in the 18th century was John Nash. Nash had trained in London under Sir Robert Taylor. Nash left London in 1784 to live in Carmarthen, where his mother had retired to, her family being from the area. He set up with Samuel Simon Saxon, another London architect, to work as building contractors and suppliers of building materials. Nash’s London buildings had been standard Georgian terrace houses, but it was in Wales that he matured as an architect. His first major work was Carmarthen Prison (1789–92). The prison was planned by the penal reformer John Howard and Nash developed this into the finished building. He went on to design the prisons at Cardigan (1791–96) and Hereford (1792–96). In 1789 St David’s Cathedral was suffering from structural problems, the west front was leaning forward by one foot, Nash was called in to survey the structure and develop a plan to save the building. His solution completed in 1791, was to demolish the upper part of the facade and rebuild it with two large but inelegant flying buttresses. In 1790 Nash met Uvedale Price, of Downtown Castle, whose theories of the Picturesque would influence Nash’s town planning. Price commissioned Nash to design Castle House Aberystwyth (1795). Its plan took the form of a right-angled triangle, with an octagonal tower at each corner, sited on the very edge of the sea.

One of Nash’s most important developments was a series of medium-sized country houses that he designed in Wales; these developed the villa designs of his teacher Sir Robert Taylor. Most of these villas consist of a roughly square plan with a small entrance hall with a staircase offset in the middle to one side, around which are placed the main rooms, there is then a less prominent servants’ quarters in a wing attached to one side of the villa. The buildings are usually only two floors in height, the elevations of the main block are usually symmetrical. One of the finest of these villas is Llanerchaeron, and at least a dozen villas were designed throughout south Wales.

Others, in Pembrokeshire, include Ffynone, built for the Colby family at Boncath near Manordeifi, and Foley House, built for the lawyer Richard Foley (brother of Admiral Sir Thomas Foley) at Goat Street in Haverfordwest. Villas of this type were widely imitated in Wales, particularly by Joseph Bromfield of Shrewsbury. As Nash developed his architectural practice it became necessary to employ draughtsmen, the first in the early 1790s was Augustus Charles Pugin, then a bit later in 1795 John Adey Repton son of Humphrey Repton. It was presumably through Nash that Repton gained commissions in Wales, such as Stanage Park in Radnorshire.

In 1796 Nash spent most of his time working in London; this was a prelude to his return to the capital in 1797. At this time Nash designed the delicate Strawberry Hill Gothic revival gateway to Clytha Park near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, and also his alterations in Gothic Revival style in 1794 to Hafod Uchtryd for Thomas Johnes at Devil’s Bridge, Cardiganshire Also in c. 1794–95 he advised on the paving, lighting and water supply in Abergavenny and designed an elegant market building. Other work included Whitson Court near Newport. After his return to London, was to continue to design houses in Wales which were to include Harpton Court in Radnorshire, which, apart from the service wing was demolished in 1956. In 1807 he drew up plans for the re-building of Hawarden Castle with Gothic battlements and towers, but the plan appears to have been modified by another architect when it was carried out. About 1808 he designed Monachty near Aberaeron. and later drew up plans for work at Nanteos.

Prisons and workhouses
In the latter part of the 18th century, as the result of Prison reform new prisons came to be built in most of the Welsh County towns. The reforms were the result of the work of John Howard, who in 1777 published The State of the Prisons He proposed that each prisoner should be in a separate cell with separate sections for women felons, men felons, young offenders and debtors. This was followed by the Penitentiary Act which was passed in 1779. This act was in implemented in each Welsh county by the Court of Great Sessions and which led to the building of many new prisons across Wales. These included the gaols built in Carmarthen and Cardigan by John Nash and the gaols at Caernarfon (1793), Ruthin (1785) and Flint(1775) by Joseph Turner. Most of these prisons were closed in the 1870s, but the Ruthin gaol, now used as the Denbighshire County Record Office is remarkably well preserved. The Anglesey Gaol at Beaumaris came later in 1828-9 by the architects Hansom and Welch. This incorporates many of the innovations of the Milbank Penitentiary in London of 1812–21 with wings, a massive curtilage wall and a central glass cupola for the oversight of the prison complex.

This plan was developed for the Montgomeryshire County gaol at Montgomery by the County Surveyor Thomas Penson, c. 1830–32. Brick faced with stone. The tall octagonal governor’s house with the chapel above, was at the centre of four radiating three- and two-storey wings. One of the yards was fitted with a tread-mill. The gatehouse was built into the wall to face a new approach in 1866 by J.W. Poundley. Powerful ashlar triumphal arch, with four giant semi-rusticated pilasters. The Gaol was closed in 1878 and all that now remains, apart from the gatehouse, is the Governor’s House and the high wall of one cell block. Penson was also to use this design for the workhouses at Llanfyllin and Caersws in Montgomeryshire.

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