View of Margam House, Glamorgan, looking South

View of Margam House looking South, Glamorgan

British School. Oil on canvas. c.1700

Margam House was made from of the buildings of Margam Abbey in the 16th and 17th centuries. The North side of the house was the rear and its design reflects its function. The many-windowed family rooms are on the left, and the kitchens, stables and service quarters on the right. The ruined chapter house is in the centre with the parish church, another surviving part of the mediaeval monastery, nearby. The house dwarfs the little thatched buildings of Margam village in the lower right corner.

The house is set in a deer park and surrounded by orchards, and formal gardens. The tower-like building on the left is a banqueting house, built in about 1670. Beyond, a great avenue leads the eye through the adjoining fields to the hamlet of Nottage and the Kenfig sand dunes, lit by a patch of sunlight, with the Bristol Channel beyond.

Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Art Fund, 2012. NMW A 29924

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Coastal settlements

The view looks out towards Kenfig sand dunes, lit by a patch of sunlight. Kenfig was once a thriving medieval town, but by the 17th century had been completely buried under sand. Other settlements visible on the coast and the hamlets of Nottage and Newton,  Kenfig Castle and Sker House

Windmill

The windmill records the areas rich agicultural heritage

Rural landscape

A great avenue leads the eye through the fields to the coast and across the Bristol Channel to Somerset and Devon. This tranquil agricultural landscape has since been transformed by modern industrial developments – Eglwys Nunydd reservoir, the Port Talbot steelworks and the M4 motorway have completely altered the view.

Fallow Deer

The naive figures of these deer are suprisingly detailed

Banqueting House

A Summer Banqueting House forms a prominent feature on top of a terraced orchard. Can we presume this is a recent addition to the estate given the relative brightness the painter has lent to the stonework and facia here? An expanding estate (and indeed the commissioning of the paintings themselves) suggests prosperous times.

Village people

Here we witness people carrying out their daily business whilst a horse horse bows its head to feed with its rider still mounted

Knot garden

The formal geometric pattern on the ground here indicates a knot garden. Knot gardens became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. They were usually created from herbs and low-growing plants, such as thyme, hyssop, and lavender. Here, the perspective has gone slightly awry.

Backyard

This side of the building probably contained the family's residential rooms. In the paved back yard, the painter has depicted a gathering of people in conversation. Could they be the owners of the house, the Mansel family?

Margam Abbey

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Mansel family continued to use the nave of the original Abbey as their parish church. Margam Abbey is one of the few architectural features in the painting that still exists today in its original location. It houses the Mansel family tombs.

Chapter House

The Chapter House was originally built for the Cistercian monks, who met here to conduct their daily business. After the Dissolution it was incorporated into Margam house and put to domestic use: by the 18th century it was used to store coal, while its vestibule was used for brewing beer.

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