Ancient Monuments

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Plas-y-Betws relict garden

A Scheduled Monument in Garw Valley (Cwm Garw), Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)

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Latitude: 51.5682 / 51°34'5"N

Longitude: -3.5812 / 3°34'52"W

OS Eastings: 290502

OS Northings: 186669

OS Grid: SS905866

Mapcode National: GBR HD.DFWM

Mapcode Global: VH5H4.WV35

Entry Name: Plas-y-Betws relict garden

Scheduled Date: 8 December 2005

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 1125

Cadw Legacy ID: GM589

Schedule Class: Domestic

Category: House (domestic)

Period: Post Medieval/Modern

County: Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr)

Community: Garw Valley (Cwm Garw)

Traditional County: Glamorgan


Plas-y-betws is a ruined, substantial manor house dating principally to the sixteenth or early seventeenth century. Its relict gardens consist of three walled enclosures, the largest of which is terraced, and a further terraced area. They include two raised platforms, which may have been the bases for summerhouses, and a domed pigcote. The gardens are of national importance as being a rare example of the structure of a garden of the Tudor period. They contain interesting built features and there is archaeological potential within the enclosures, where further garden layout and structures may remain buried.

Plas-y-betws was built by the Thomas family, descended from Lleisan of Baglan. They acquired the property through marriage to the heiress of Morgan Griffith of Tir Iarll. Lewis Thomas was high sheriff in 1612 and 1624. His nephew Edward inherited the property, along with Llanmihangel Place in the Vale of Glamorgan. Edward Thomas in turn became high sheriff in 1633, when he was described as 'of Llanmihangel'. He was a leading royalist in the Civil Wars. By 1681 his son Robert had sold both Llanmihangel and Plas-y-betws to Humphrey Edwin, a London merchant. The properties subsequently devolved to the Dunraven estate when Edwin's grandson's sister married Thomas Wyndham.

The plan of the house and some of its features suggest that it was built in the sixteenth or early seventeenth century. There is also evidence that it may have been rebuilt in about 1700. A datestone of 1732, reused in a stable dating to 1883, may indicate the actual date of refurbishment. If this is the case it would have been done under Edwin ownership. The house appears to have been abandoned in the mid nineteenth century.

It is likely from this history that the gardens were laid out in the Tudor period, before the early seventeenth century, when Llanmihangel Place became the principal residence of the Thomas family. Thereafter the property had absentee owners and was probably rented out. It is likely to have declined in social importance and become merely a farmhouse. The layout and structure of the gardens remained intact but the outer parts were incorporated into fields and the inner part became derelict.

Both house and gardens are shown on an estate map dated 1783 (map no. XXV, 'The Lanmihangle estate in the Parish of Bettus', in a book of maps of the estates of Charles Edwin, by Edward Thomas, 1787). There are two versions of this map, one in a bound volume in the Glamorgan Record Office (GRO D/D Dun E/1) and one in the National Library of Wales (missing, no ref.). Both show the enclosure to the south of the house, the two platforms, with buildings on them, and the large walled enclosure to the west of the house. The version in the National Library of Wales is more informative: it labels this enclosure 'Green', indicating that it was part of the gardens. It also shows the terraced area to the south-east of the house, which it labels 'Garden'. Both maps show a straight path leading north-westwards from the entrance in the south wall, just west of the 'Garden' and, parallel with it, to its north, a 'stream for the use of ye house', which must have been culverted under the enclosure south of the house.

The monument is of national importance as a rare survival of the structure of a garden of the Tudor period. It has the potential to enhance our knowledge of the layout and structures of Tudor gardens associated with manor houses in Wales. Gardens of this period are known to have been formally laid out, usually in a series of walled compartments. The relict garden of Plas-y-betws exhibits this style, together with some interesting built features that are characteristic of the period. Additionally, an interesting, alcove-shaped pigcote, of utilitarian use, lies within the scheduled area.

The area scheduled comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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