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Piercefield (ruins)

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NPRN20654
Map ReferenceST59NW
Grid ReferenceST5280095680
Unitary (Local) AuthorityMonmouthshire
Old CountyMonmouthshire
CommunitySt Arvans
Type Of SiteHOUSE
PeriodPost Medieval
Description
Piercefield, now a roofless shell, stands near the top of cliffs on the west bank of the river Wye, a mile or so north of Chepstow. The house faces south-east, overlooking the southern half of the park, with a view across the park to the east (Gloucestershire) side of the Wye valley.

There has been a house on this site from at least the early l4th century, and for several generations, until l727, it was held by the Walter family. In l736 Valentine Morris (the elder) bought the estate, then c. 300 acres, and it was his son Valentine who transformed and enlarged the estate between c. l752 and l772. Debt forced him to sell in l784, to George Smith. Smith commissioned John Soane to make plans for a new house, and had most of the old one pulled down. Soane's plans were not followed, but the house that was built (the central core of the present one) was similar to Soane's Shotesham Hall in Norfolk. Smith sold (bankrupt) in l794, before the roof was on, to Colonel Mark Wood, who pulled down the rest of the old house and extended and finished the new one, using the architect Joseph Bonomi, who designed the twin pavilions that flank the central block, the curving central Doric portico (now gone) and the lavish interiors. There were various owners until l923 when the house was abandoned and sold to Chepstow Racecourse. In the Second World War it was used by American troops stationed there as target practice.

What remains today is a roofless shell, standing to its full height. It is a three-storey building of brick with a stone facing. All windows have gone, but some of the classical detail remains (Ionic pilasters, cornice, 2 Doric columns and the bases of the rest of the portico) on the main (SE) front. The twin pavilions remain, much ruined and overgrown, with some of the bas-refiefs still in place. The whole site is neglected and overgrown with trees and shrubs.
(source: Long Text attached to Nprn266015)

ER/MM/2002/077

Associated with:
Park/gardens (Nprn266015).
RCAHMW AP965073/49-52