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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TREDEGAR HOUSE: Home of one of Wales Most Illustrious Families






 TREDEGAR HOUSE

It was the mention of the famous pirate Capt. Henry Morgan that first sparked my interest when my cousin Nicola suggested we visit a country manor in Wales. Although Capt. Morgan, for whom the famous rum was named, was the son of one of the nine illustrious sons of the original owner of this 17th century Charles II era country house, it somehow made the visit more intriguing.

Tredegar House, near Newport Wales, was the home of the Morgan family for over 500 years and later the home of the Lords Tredegar, one of the most powerful and influential families in the area. The mansion is surrounded by a landscaped garden of 90 acres and is one of the most outstanding houses of the Restoration period in Britain.  The earliest part of the building dates back to the late 15th century but it’s been restored over the ages. It was originally built of stone and later rebuilt with red brick.


The name Tredegar came from Tredegar Fawr, the name of the mansion of the old Morgans who were descended from Cadifor the Great, the son of Collwyn who owned the land where the mansion stands. It was occupied by the Morgan family from about 1402. The earliest documented owner was Llewelyn ap Morgan. The Morgans were one of the most powerful and influential families in the area. In 1448 John Morgan was created a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and was rewarded for his support of King Henry VII. Around 1490 he commissioned the building of a new house at Tredegar, though a wing of the original stone manor house still exists. The newer palatial house was visited by Charles I and his retinue during the 1600’s.
We walked through the gardens and passed through the high ornate Edney Gates to get into the building. The gilded gates were built between 1714 and 1718 for John Morgan and are an example of early 18th century decorative wrought ironwork. Just past the gates is the Stable Block which housed the many horses owned by the family.
The Edney Gates



Once inside the palatial mansion, the docent showed us the way to proceed through the various rooms, all furnished in the style of the period with oil paintings on the walls. In one of the rooms there was a large oil painting of Godfrey Morgan who fought in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He is pictured with his famous steed, Sir Briggs. Morgan, age 22 and Captain in the 17th Lancers, and his horse survived the battle.  They lived at Tredgar house until the horse’s death at the age of 28. Sir Briggs was buried with full military honours in the Cedar Garden of Tredgar House. There were luxurious bedrooms with decorative furnishings, everything laid out as if the rooms were still occupied by the ladies and gentlemen of the family. In the dining room there was even food displayed on the tables to illustrate the sumptuous feasts that were served there.
Every room we visited had display of the history of this illustrious family, throughout the generations.

Godfrey Morgan and Sir Briggs



The Dining Room

The Morgans were a renown family. Besides the infamous Caribbean privateer, Henry (Sir Harri) Morgan who began as an admiral of the Royal Navy, there are many tales of ill-fated marriages, riotous parties, war heroism and even the dark arts. The docent hosts at the house related some of these tales to us as we walked through the various room.




We visited the servant's quarters and kitchens which were reminiscent of the popular TV series Downton Abbey. There some of the secrets of the servants were revealed including concealed drawers full of spices and a silver safe that was always protected by a guard.
 Buzzers for calling servants

Kitchen


Head Servant's quarters

Eventually the family's financial assets were depleted through their extravagant lifestyle and the eccentricities of the owners. The last Baron of Tredegar, John Morgan, died childless in 1962 at aged 54. His death was the end of the Morgans of Tredegar. In 1951 the house was stripped and the contest auctioned. It was turned over the National Trust and refurbished in 2012. 


28 comments:

Bronwyn Jones said...

Fabulous Ruth I will visit here on my next journey to Wales. Great write-up Bronwyn Jones :-)

wynn bexton said...

You know Nicola? Get her to take you. We had such a fun day.

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