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RHIW GOCH, BRONABER, TRAWSFYNYDD

Manylion y Safle

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 28708

Cyfeirnod Map SH73SW

Cyfeirnod Grid SH7199531750

Awdurdod Lleol Gwynedd 

Hen Sir Meirionnydd

Cymuned Trawsfynydd

Math o Safle TAFARN, TY, TY TAFARN, YSTAFELL FWYTA Y SWYDDOGION

Dosbarth Cyffredinol DOMESTIG

Cyfnod 17eg Ganrif, Ôl-Ganoloesol

Disgrifiad o´r Safle Rhiw Goch is an early seventeenth-century mansion, dated 1610 in the spandrel of the main doorway. The house is likely an extensive expansion and renovation of an earlier structure, as Rhiw Goch was, according to tradition, the birthplace of the Catholic martyr St John Roberts (1576–1610), the first prior of the Benedictine college at Douai, a grandson of Ellis ap William ap Gruffydd of Rhiwgoch and cousin of Robert Lloyd of Rhiwgoch, who was MP for Merionethshire, 1586–7. The main structure was likely largely built by the said Robert Lloyd as his initials appear in several places inside and outside of the building. Robert Wynn’s granddaughter Catherine married another Merionethshire MP, Henry Wynn, and through their son, Sir John Wynne, Rhiw Goch became part of the Wynnstay estate. It remained a part of that estate through the nineteenth century, when it became at the centre of an extensive farmstead tenanted by ‘farmers of the more substantial kind’ (W. E. J., 1857: 25).

In the early twentieth century, the property passed into the possession of the War department and became a mess house and quarters for artillery officers both before and throughout the duration of the First World War. This was part of wider occupancy of the area by the military who established artillery ranges and camps for soldiers and prisoners of war during both world wars. Although many early internal features had been maintained throughout its existence as a mansion and farmhouse, the interior was greatly renovated while the building was occupied by the military. Indeed, changes were made to such an extent that after a visit by inspectors on 3 September 1913, the Royal Commission described the interior in its Merionethshire Inventory as ‘ruthlessly altered’. After being sold by the army in the middle of the twentieth century the property was extended by the addition of a wing to the south east and became a hotel, inn and public house.

Architecturally, the oldest section of the site consists of two two-storey ranges, arranged on an ‘L’ shaped plan, surrounding the south and west sides of a courtyard, the north side of which is enclosed by a contemporary gatehouse. The two ranges are linked to the gatehouse by a wall lined internally with bee bole shelves (NPRN 24517). The north-south oriented wing of the ‘L’, which is the oldest portion, was extended southward after the building was sold by the military. The building is surrounded by several outbuildings. The site is largely built of mortared local stone, with larger stones used as quoins and lintels, has tall square stone chimneys, and is roofed with a modern slate roof. At the junction of the two main wings is a small angled upper window. The entrance is at the western end of the east-west oriented range, through a four-centred arch. Above the entrance is a shield above which is a helm topped with a crow and under which are two roses. In the spandrels of the entrance are the initials ‘M R LL’ to the left (for Margaret or Mary and Robert Lloyd), and the date ‘1610’ to the right. There are further inscriptions on the gatehouse. On the outer wall above the flat-headed arch gateway is an inscription reading ‘SEQURERE IVSTISIAM ET INVENIAS VITAM’ and the coat of arms of the Lloyds, attributed to Llywarch ap Bran from whom the family was supposedly descended, consisting of a chevron surrounded by three crows. Over the arch on the inside wall is a stone with a roughly carved shield supported on the left by a lion and on the right by a dragon.

Internally, the site was described in the nineteenth century as having a large kitchen ‘where some twenty persons might dine at ease’ and a small parlour ‘of the Dutch period, such as would accommodate four at the most’, all of the walls in the lower range being constructed of ‘the rude boulder stones of the moor-side, and they are put together with a skill and picturesque effect that would break the heart of a modern builder’. Moreover, there was rumour of a trapdoor in the floor of the principle bedroom, installed so that the lady of the house could better communicate with her servant in the kitchen. Despite little original furniture remaining, the building did contain a ‘tall vast chest, of curious design, put together with wooden pegs and wedges only, no iron being used’ in the hall (H. L. J, 1857: 25). In the early twentieth century, despite lamenting the site’s ‘mutilation’ the Royal Commission recorded several interesting features in 1913, including a plasterwork design above an upstairs fireplace, representing three shields above which was a helm with the Prince of Wales’s feathers as a plume flanked by the letters ‘H. P.’ (for Homicus Princeps) and a rose and thistle, with the initials ‘R M LL’ in the lower corner. This plasterwork was still in place in 1966 as it is described in the Grade II Listing of the site. The Royal Commission also recorded an old iron bracket or rack in the large downstairs fireplace for roasting which turned on a vertical column. Moreover, the 1966 Listing notes that the building retained plank and muntin panelling which ran from the entrance hallway ‘up the dog-led staircase and along the first-floor landing’.

At approximately 00:30 on the morning of 14 October 2018, a fire broke out at Rhiw Goch. Despite fire crews combating the blaze for more than twelve hours, the fire decimated the structure, completely gutting the interior and roofs, leaving only external stone walls.

(Sources: Notes in NMR Site File, Merionethshire/Domestic/SH73SW; Cadw Listed Buildings Database; ‘Historic Landscape Characterisation – Trawsfynydd Historical Themes’, Gwynedd Archaeological Trust; Dictionary of Welsh Biography, s.v. Roberts, John (1576–1610); H. J. L. ‘Rhiw Goch, Merioneth’, Archaeologia Cambrensis, III: iii, 23–25; RCAHMW, Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire: Merionethshire (London: His Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1921), pp. 179–80; Richard Haslam, Julian Orbach and Adam Voelcker, Buildings of Wales: Gwynedd (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 714; Mari Jones, ‘Historic 12th Century Gwynedd Inn destroyed in overnight fire’, Daily Post, 14.10.2018; ‘Probe after historic Rhiw Goch pub destroyed by fire’ BBC.co.uk, 14.10.2018)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 15.10.2018

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