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An architect for Tredegar House

  • Howard Colvin

At first sight Tredegar House seems sui generis (Pl. 4). There is nothing else like it in Wales, nor does any obvious English parallel come to mind. The quadrangular plan with corner pavilions distinguishes it from the double-pile houses of the 1670s and 1680s, while the lavish external decoration is difficult to match in the relatively sober elevations characteristic of British domestic architecture of the same period. What we have, in fact, is a great country house of the 1670s designed with something of the love of architectural ornament that was typical of the ‘artisan mannerist’ houses of twenty years earlier. At Tredegar the ornamental vocabulary is not quite what is usually described as ‘artisan mannerist’, but we may nevertheless suspect the hand of an artisan rather than that of a gentleman architect such as Hooke, May or Pratt.

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1 See Apted, M. R., ‘The seventeenth-century buildings at Tredegar House’, in Ancient Monuments and their Interpretation : Essays presented to A. J. Taylor, ed. Apted, , Gilyard-Beer, & Saunders, (1977). Tredegar was built between 1664 (when Morgan succeeded to the estate) and 1672.

2 See Leess-Milne, J. in Country Life, 4 and 11 January 1968 and the National Trust guide book (with plan).

3 The building accounts of Calike do not reveal the identity of the designer, but attributions to Francis Smith may be discounted, as there is no reference to him in the accounts either as master builder or as surveyor.

4 A plan at Kedleston inscribed ‘Kedleston built by Smith’ records the plan of this short-lived house demolished from 1758 onwards to build the existing mansion. The plan is reproduced in Warwickshire History, 11 (2), 1972–73, p. 9.

5 Leach, P., ‘Ragley Hall reconsidered’, Archaeological Journal, 136, 1979, pp. 26568.

6 Historical MSS Commission, Portland, in, p. 374.

7 Loeber, Rolf, A Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Ireland 1600–1720, 1981, pp. 6061.

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Architectural History
  • ISSN: 0066-622X
  • EISSN: 2059-5670
  • URL: /core/journals/architectural-history
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