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TRAWSGOED MANSION, CROSSWOOD

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 35307

Map Reference SN67SE

Grid Reference SN6707473064

Unitary (Local) Authority Ceredigion

Old County Cardiganshire

Community Trawsgoed

Type of Site COUNTRY HOUSE

Broad Class DOMESTIC

Period Post Medieval

Site Description 1. Trawscoed is a substantial country house, considered by some to be the principal country house of the county of Ceredigion. It retains a number of important architectural features from the seventeenth , eighteenth and nineteenth-century, of particular note is the fine library dating from circa 1840. The Trawscoed Estate is recorded as being in the ownership of the Vaughan family, Earls of Lisburne , from the fourteenth-century , in 1947 the house was sold to the Ministry of Works but was re-acquired by the Vaughan family in 1996 and the Victorian wing converted into apartments [which have subsequently been sold].
S.L. Evans RCAHMW 2009

2. Trawsgoed was the seat of the Vaughan family, at which place the family continuously resided for six centuries. The first member of the family to settle at Trawsgoes was Adda ap Llewelyn Fychan, who did so upon his marriage to Dido, heiress to Ieuan Goch of Trawsgoed in c.1200. The focal point of the later large estate at Trawsgoed was formed in 1547 upon the marriage of Morris Vaughan and Elliw the daughter of Howell ap Jenkin. Parts of the house may have been originally constructed in this period, as in the early 1890s beams bearing biblical inscriptions were found under the plaster in the kitchen and presumed to have come from nearby Strata Florida (NPRN 95764) during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The house suffered damage during the Civil Wars. Sir John Vaughan (1603–1674), a noted judge and politician, then in residence, gave some support to the King, but remained aloof for much of the conflict, although it was rumoured that he assisted the Roundheads to capture Aberystwyth Castle in 1646. In any event, the house was extensively rebuilt by Sir John in the 1660s and in 1670 it was recorded as having eight hearths. An image the mansion in 1684 shows a central range with some classical influence, and two gabled side elevations enclosing a courtyard on three sides. Parts of the original seventeenth-century structure remain, incorporated with later additions and resurfacing.

Sir John Vaughan’s grandson, also John, became the first Viscount Lisburne in 1695. However, his son, also John, incurred substantial debts and the fortunes of the estate suffered under his tenure. He was succeeded by his younger brother, whose son, Wilmot became the Earl of Lisburn in 1776. The Earl was a great collector of books, and his son constructed the notable library at Trawsgoed, although the ornate decorations of marbled Corinthian columns and richly painted ceilings are likely Victorian in date. In 1795, John Vaughan, the Third Earl of Lisburn, extensively remodelled the eastern wing in Regency style incorporating seventeenth-century portions of the building, now resurfaced, including a new entrance through a portico with columns and balusters topped with a large coat of arms.

By c.1800 the house was known by its English name, Crosswood. Improvements to the house continued through the nineteenth century. In the 1870s, the addition of a billiard room with an additional floor above was planned, but by 1891 more extensive renovation was needed and the massive west wing dates from this year, designed by T. W. Aldwinckle and built at an expense of £13,973. From this time, the house assumed its modern form, with a Georgian wing which contains the library and dining and drawing rooms; the central wing with a mid-Victorian dining room and the main staircase which incorporates a seventeenth-century staircase brought from London; and the Victorian wing which was later divided into five houses.

In 1947, the house was sold by Ernest Edmund Malet Vaughan, Seventh Early of Lisburne, and became the Welsh headquarters of the National Agricultural Assistance Service, who conducted necessary renovations to fit their needs. During this renovation, when several fireplaces were removed revealing an early seventeenth-century metal fireback with a coat of arms, which was donated to the National Museum of Wales. In 1996, the Vaughan family re-purchased the mansion, having retained the right of first refusal, and in the same year the Victorian wing was converted into five houses. It has since passed to other, private owners. In the latter part of the twentieth century, despite partial renovations and conservation efforts from multiple owners, the structure suffered substantially from dry rot and deteriorated markedly.

(Sources: Cadw Listed Buildings database, Ref No. 17258; Welsh Biography Online, s.v. Vaughan family, of Trawsgoed; Ibid. s.v. Vaughan, John (1603–1674); NMRW, Cadw Registered File, 8M/0517; NMRW, Site File, Cardiganshire / Domestic / SN67SE; NMRW, Emergency Recording Collection, Design & Access Statement 2008; Caroline Charles Jones (ed.), The Francis Jones Historic Cardiganshire Homes and their Families (Dinas: Brawdy Books, 2000), pp. 255–256; Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield, The Buildings of Wales, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), pp. 488–491)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 29.01.2019

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