« PreviousContinue »
years ago, but which was in reality a house not unlike some of those mentioned in this notice. This building was of moderate dimensions, and consisted simply of a vaulted basement, with apartments above, and could never have been anything but a superior kind of house of the time. The street is, or was, called Nun Street after the mother of St. David, and, being probably the oldest building in the street, thus obtained the name of Nunnery.
There are no marked details of the house in Nangle whereby its date can be accurately decided, but it does not appear to be anterior to the fifteenth century, and may be a century later.
One of the most perfect, if not the most perfect, examples of the domestic architecture of the district is the house of Eastington or Iseston, at no great distance from Nangle, and situated close to the shore of the bay of that name. In some early deeds it is spelt Estyngeston; but its earlier form was Jestynton or Jestynstown, being so called after its founder, Jestyn, a grandson of Howell Dda. The original name was probably Tre-Jestyn, or, as the Anglo-Norman would call it, Jestyngton. There are numerous instances, in Pembrokeshire, of the same change from the Welsh to the English form.
This building is not only one of the most perfect, but it is one which presents least difficulty as to its real date, which is that of the reign of Edward II, as fixed by Mr. J. H. Parker. The property came into the Perrot family by the marriage of Stephen, the first of the Pembrokeshire line, with one of the two coheiresses of Meirchion (ap Rhys), the great-grandson of Jestyn. The present structure, therefore, could not have been erected by this Stephen Perrot; nor is it certain that it occupies the site of the original house. The Perrots, however, resided here for many generations, although Fenton thinks that, after the acquisition of Haroldston by marriage, their principal residence was transferred to the more agreeable neighbourhood of Haverfordwest, near which Haroldston is situated. But however this
may be, it continued in the possession of the Perrots until the attainder of Sir John, the Lord Deputy. His grandson, Hugh, a younger son of Sir John Phillips of Picton, was of this place, as appears from the Dale Castle Genealogies (p. 129), and from his tombstone, partly illegible, in Rhoscrowther church. During the close of the seventeenth, and nearly the whole of the eighteenth, century, it was the chief residence of the Meares family, from whom the estate was purchased, circa 1840, by Mr. Common Sergeant Mirehouse, the son of the purchaser of Nangle.
The building consists of the usual vaulted basements and the apartments above, consisting of two, namely, the great hall, reached by an external flight of steps ; and a smaller one adjoining it, for more private use. The hall was lit by a small Early English two-light window at each end; others probably also once existed in the other parts of the building, but have since been replaced by square ones of a later date. A small newelstaircase leads to the little tower on the roof, whence a wide prospect towards the haven can be had. This might also serve as an additional defence to the angle between the two parts of the building, shewn in the accompanying illustration. (Cut No. 7.) The present flight of stone steps is not the original one. The vaulted basements are not provided with means of warming, as is so frequently the case. They are, however, more lofty and spacious than usual in the district, and may have been intended for occupation, not merely as a repository for stores. The present lights in them are not original. The modern house of the Meares, recently removed, abutted on the western wall of the main building, and a farmhouse stands at present on the other side ; so that, as might be expected under the circumstances, no remains of external offices or defensive walls can be made out. There is, however, no doubt that in the present building we have substantially a complete residence of the early part of the fourteenth century, and that it is not a remnant of a more extensive structure, as Fenton states.
In the parish of St. Issel, about four miles from Tenby, is a building which, like that last noticed, approaches the castle rather than a domestic edifice. It takes its name of Bonvil Court from one De Bonville,' its AngloNorman possessor; the date, however, of whose arrival in these parts is uncertain. If he was among the first settlers, the present building could not have been erected by him, as it must be assigned to the Edwardian time. As, however, there is another place of the same name, although in a slightly different form, near Cowbridge in Glamorganshire, called Bonvilston, or Boulston, the Pembrokeshire De Bonville may be an offshoot of the Glamorganshire family, and have come into the possession of Bonville Court at a later date. Now, according to Fenton, Nicholas De Bonville was returned as possessing lands in Coedtraeth, within which Bonville Court stands, in the time of Edward II. He may, perhaps, therefore, have been the builder. Allusion has been already made to the contrast of ancient and modern Pembrokeshire as regards its woods. Coedtraeth is an example, where the only evidence of its former woods and forests is to be found in the first syllable of that
Cut No. 8 represents the front of the house, which, like that of the square tower at Nangle, is provided with internal communication by a newel stair placed in an angle of the higher tower. The entrance on the right hand leads to the interior of the larger basement, and to the stairs which conduct to the upper chambers and the exterior of the roof. At the opposite end of the building is another entrance, which merely opens into a very narrow vaulted room, or rather a wide passage, which was evidently intended for stores only. Over it and the adjoining basement is the large upper chamber, which is vaulted in the same manner as the basements.
1 As many of the Anglo-Norman settlers in South Wales came from the opposite shores, it is, as suggested by Mr. G. T. Clark, probable that the De Bonvilles of Glamorganshire are connected with the families of that name in Devon and Somersetshire.
3RD SER., VOL. XIV,
As you enter there is a large fireplace on the right hand, and beyond it a window; which, however, is a later insertion, like that beneath, which lights the basement. (See cut No. 9.) The original windows were doubtlessly better adapted for defensive purposes than the present one.
In the middle of the building is an opening, the sill of which is level with the floor of the upper chamber. The use of this opening appears to have been the same as the one at Nangle, namely the hoisting up bulky articles, such as could not be easily conveyed up the stairs. There are no traces of any supporting corbels which might have supported a small projecting gallery such as might have commanded the entrances below on each side. At some period an additional building has been reared against the front, but has long since been destroyed. The fragment of a wall still remaining may have been connected with this addition, and which may have been made when the windows in the principal chamber were inserted, and the mansion in general been adapted for more modern requisitions.
Originally there were parapets all round the building; and, as the rooms below the roof are stone-vaulted, there was good footing for defensive purposes. There appears also to have been a square court which enclosed
the building, one side of which seems to correspond with the present low garden wall in front. The whole building is far inferior in size and importance to those of Eastington and Nangle, but is nevertheless a valuable example of domestic buildings at a period when the country was still unsettled, and the security of such property depended more on the strength of the building and occupants than parchment deeds. Of its history little is known, except that a Welsh family of good descent came into possession at an early period. The first, who assumed the surname of Jones, married an Elliot of Amroth, a place not far distant. His son William married a daughter of Walter Philpin, of Tenby, a neighbour on the other side, and whose mother was Jane, sole heir of Thomas Perrot, of Scotsborough ; and, as in the time of L. Dwnn, the owner of Bonville quartered Perrot, this coat may have been thus assumed.