Searching for Regency England

I promised one last blog on Margam. I wanted to show pictures of the original house, primarily because it should have been there in the Regency, the house we saw in the earlier blog having been built in the 1830's. The estate belonged to the Mansel family, a landowner and knight raised to a Baronetcy in the early seventeenth century and the peerage in 1711 by Queen Ann.

The title became extinct and the estate went to the Talbot family. The house was demolished around the end of the eighteenth century 1792-93. These bird's-eye view paintings give a wonderful overview of the house.

The house had its origin in the converted domestic buildings of the medieval abbey. The picture above is the north view, or the back of the house, and while the house stretches out to the east, at the centre west can be see the ruins of the monastic chapter house, and the absence of fine windows at the western end suggest this was the service and stores end of the back of the house. Coal was kept in the chapter house during this period.
The front of the house is very different, but clearly shows its expansion over the years. To the right, or the east is the medieval gatehouse, behind which is a walled in courtyard, the the far west Corinthian columns or pilasters rise up in grand style above a door way.

A summer banqueting house was set off to the far right from the main building and overlooked the deer park. While we can regret its loss, it is not hard to see why the owners might have wanted to replace the rambling old seventeenth and eighteenth century buildings with something more up to date. On the other hand, to set a novel in such a house is very appealing.

I hope you enjoyed these two pictures. I have one more house in Wales I want to show you in my search for Regency England next time.

Until then, Happy Rambles

Searching for Regency England

We were talking about Margam, which is located near Neath (Castell-nedd) and Port Talbot. I fell in love with these trees in the park.

One of my biggest disappointments was the fact that we could not enter the house which burned out in 1977.

The park contains the largest herd of fallow deer to be found in south Wales and thought to be descendants of a small herd brought here in the fifteenth century. So there would have been deer here during the Regency.

Another building we would have seen during our era was the remains of the abbey, founded in 1147 by the Earl of Gloucester and given to the Cistercian monks from Clarvaux Abbey in France.

It became the largest and wealthiest abbey in Wales and once held a copy of the Domesday Book, now owned by the British Library.

Pictured here is the remnant of the twelve sided Chapter House.

And from a bit further away, with the end of the Orangery off to the side.

Imagine having that in your back yard.

While not strictly our period, I am going to put up some pictures of the house that was on the property, prior to the current castle. Its loss is to be mourned, but if I can get the pictures to download, I think you will agree it is worth recording it, if for nothing else, a setting for a story and a look at an earlier time on which our Georgian period is based.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Searching for Regency England

Did you miss me? Or did you take a peak at the other blog? It seems there is a new catch phrase for writers who guest blog and no one turns up, you are No Friends Nigela. I don't know if anyone has seen that cooking show? I like her, but lots of folks don't apparently. Anyway, I wasn't lonely lucy either. So now back to our regular programming.

I got a bit sidetracked over the past few months and there were one or two more places I wanted to bring to you from my last research trip.

Both of them are in Wales. The first one I wanted to chat about is Margam. Margam Park is built on the site of an abbey (closed in 1536).

The house pictured here was designed in 1827 and completed over the next several year. So it is Georgian, but not Regency. It is definitely romantic, with its mock battlements, clusters of tudor twisted chimneys, turrets and pinnacles. A great central pile of the house rises to a majestic octagonal tower. The architect was Thomas Hopper. The view of it here is the back of the house, which overlooks the park. It really is a ruin inside. So sad. But it is also gorgeous and fascinating and could just as easily have been built during the Regency, so I present it here.

These steps, to the west, lead to the orangery, which was finished in 1793, at the same time as the original house was being torn down.

It was built to contain a great collection of orange, lemon and other citrus trees. There were a great many legends about the origin of the trees, which indicate that while they were destined to be delivered to the crown the ship foundered and were claimed by the Mansells. Sounds like there might be a story in there somewhere.

By the mid 18th century there were over one hundred trees in greenhouses all over the park, and while they can stay outside in the summer, they must be taken in for the winter because of low temperatures. This orangery is gorgeous. It is long and narrow with 27 tall south facing windows to admit winter light and the plain black wall has fireplaces from which hot air passes through flues. It is beautifully augmented by fountains along its length, deeply-worked stone, friezes and sculptured urns

We have talked about orangeries before and this one has to be added as one of the most gorgeous ones of our era.

There is lots more to say about Margam, so I will continue next time.

Until next time, Happy Ramble.