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Pen-y-Darren, Merthyr Tydfil

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Penydarren House was the first of Merthyr Tydfil's ironmasters? mansions, constructed by the Homfray brothers in 1786, two years after the establishment of the Penydarren Ironworks (NPRN 34113) in 1784, on the site of a Roman fort (NPRN 301352). It was a two-storey structure with a central entrance porch and two `pepper-pots? on each end, one concealing the service wing. The roof appears to have been behind a high parapet. The house sat within extensive grounds, which later became a public park and sporting grounds (see NPRN 415115).

Lloyd (1989) notes that in the early nineteenth century Penydarren was considered one of the chief `splendours of Merthyr Tydfil?. However, in 18XX, the Merthyr Tydfil Historian, Charles Wilkins (pp. 167-68) describes Penydarren as past its prime: `Up the avenue dashed the buff and red liveries in the golden days of its history, and in rooms now deserted once rang the sound of song and revelry?. The house was largely the residence of Samuel Homfray (d. 1822), until his departure for Tredegar when it became the home of William Forman. Wilkins notes that `after Mr. Forman had retied, Penydarren house was left to solitude and decay, and the occasional visits of the Alderman? (ibid.). The house was demolished in 1966.

(Sources: Charles Wilkins, The History of Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tydfil: Harry Wood Southey, 1867); Thomas Lloyd, The Lost Houses of Wales: A Survey of Country Houses in Wales Demolished since c. 1900 (London: SAVE Britain's Heritage, 1989), p. 91; Dictionary of Welsh Biography, s.v. Homfray family, of Penydarren)

A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 19.12.2019