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View of Margam House, Glamorgan, looking North

[image: View of Margam House, Glamorgan, looking North]

View of Margam House, Glamorgan, looking North

British School. Oil on canvas. c.1700

The South side of Margam House was the entrance or show front of the 16th and 17th century mansion.

At the bottom of the painting, travellers make their way past its gates. An avenue of trees runs up to a second gateway with a formal water garden beyond.

When Sir Rice Mansel converted the monks' living quarters into a house in the 1550s he kept the mediaeval gatehouse. Most of the gabled range to the right and the central tower probably date from about 1600. However the Mansel family continued to adapt and improve the house, and the wing on the left had been modernised and extended about thirty years before.

People are playing bowls in front of the banqueting house on the upper right. Deer graze in the park, which also contains walled orchards and farm buildings. The artist has adapted the outline of the three hills in the background to frame the house in the landscape.

Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund, 2012. NMW A 29925

 

Explore the painting

 Click on the links below to explore the details of the painting

Wooded Hills

The house is set in front of three wooded hills, from left to right: Craig y Capel, Craig Cwm Maelwg, and Mynydd y Castell. The artist has manipulated their exact location and profile to form an aesthetic backdrop to the house.

Unknown structure

A tall building is depicted on the summit of Mynydd y Castell. There is uncertainty over what it depicts, and the structure no longer exists today.

Main house

The western side of the building with its classical portico and unified design, contrasts with the east, a jumble of medieval pointed archways and cusped windows. It was probably a later development of the house.  Its principal living rooms occupied the Eastern half, with the service rooms to the West.

Banqueting House

A group of people play bowls on the green outside the Banqueting House. The House was removed in 1835 to make way for Margam Castle. Its stonework was used for road repairs on the estate, but its classical facade was re-erected behind the Orangery in the park gardens where it still stands today.

Workmen's cottages

Such workmen’s cottages would have housed the many estate workers required for a house this grand. Perhaps the deer keeper or huntsman lived here.

Fishponds

Four rectangular fishponds - built before 1684 - occupy a central place in the formal gardens. Such ponds would have been stocked with fish, a source of food for the household, but also served a decorative function, and a form of entertainment.  

Village life

This villager riding a horse has turned to look at us face on, while others go about their daily business. One carries a load on their back; while next to them, someone carries a gun or sword – could this have been for hunting deer?

A48

The old parish road runs in front of the park walls, winding its way up towards Margam village. This is the modern-day A48. Here we see a woman carrying a load on her head, prehaps returning from market, as her child follows behind.

Fallow deer herd

The painter delights in detail: here a herd of fallow deer are shown. The Cistercian monks, who established their abbey here in 1147, are known to have hunted wild deer. In 1558, Sir Rice Mansel was given a licence to fence the park to keep the deer in. Fallow deer have been a feature of the park ever since.

Fishponds

Three parallel fishponds are shown here on the slope of the Banquetting House. Traces of these can still be seen in today, in a patch of land east of the Car Park.

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