Historic Landscape Characterisation

Dysynni Valley – Area 7 Peniarth gardens and house PRN 28656


The entrance to Peniarth



Historical background

A dwelling on the northern banks of the Afon Dysynni, long the residence of the Owen family, which has its origins in a Medieval township. The lay subsidy roll of 1292-3 indicates that it was already densely populated, as the focus of a free secular dynastic lordship. There were sixty-two freeholding families in Peniarth at that stage, who had sufficient resources to be taxed. Six of the sixty-two tenants had movable assets in excess of the worth of 10/-, the equivalent of two horses or three cows. By 1418 there was a house on the site referred to as the ‘plas', in the ownership of the Llwyd/Lloyd family, by whom it seems to have been set out as a park in the sixteenth century, when Syr Owain ap Gwylim praises Dafydd Llwyd's ‘Parks and a mountain above the boundaries/Fish, corn, meat are below the breast of the hill/The commote is broad with a fitting limit/Every furrow being meadow and woodland'.

In the mid-sixteenth century the property passed by marriage to the Owen family and it seems to have been Richard Owen who completed the enlargement of the house and possibly also a further laying out of the grounds by 1700. The older part of the house is of seventeenth century date, stone-built, of massive blocks, with later additions, including a later seventeenth century range which made the house a square plan. If the grounds are later, they probably originate with Richard's son, Lewis. In any event, a late seventeenth or early eighteenth century date seems likely.

There have been alterations carried out to the house and the grounds ever since. The estate office block has a date-stone of 1727, and is thought originally to have been erected as a folly; a brick façade on the north- east front has a portico of 1858.

The driveway to the house was from the south until the Second World War, until the bridge over the Dysynni was destroyed. The former service entrance is now used.

Peniarth remains a private dwelling.


Key historic landscape characteristics

Grade II* landscape park, grade II* listed dwelling

The house itself and the park remain in private hands. The house is invisible from the road or from any other place of public access, being hidden by a grove of trees.

The pleasure grounds surround the house and run down to the river, and afford views of Cadair Idris. They are mainly woodland, with many mature trees, ornamented with walks, summer houses and a boat house. A detailed description of the gardens is provided in the Register of Parks and Gardens, but in summary the late seventeenth/early eighteenth grounds seem to have occupied a triangular area mostly to the north of the house, whereas it is possible that the earlier garden is where the kitchen garden is situated now. Traces of military buildings erected during the 1939-1945 war can also be seen in the grounds, in some places partly covered by forestry, together with concrete hardstanding and associated tracks.

The most prominent public feature is the fine ornamental gateway at the northern end of the park on the Llanegryn to Pont y Garth road, erected when this driveway was promoted to principal entrance to the park in 1945. The square-plan pillars are of pale coloured ashlar gritstone, with panelled fronts surmounted by a ball and ring-and-ball finial. The boundary walls with their cock-and-hen copings, form a conspicuous feature along the Llanegryn to Pont y Garth road.

It is noted here that the home farm associated with Peniarth is situated in area 09 at SH 6105 0604.



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