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Piercefield House

Neoclassical country house in Wales / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Piercefield House is a largely ruined neo-classical country house near St Arvans, Monmouthshire, Wales, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north of the centre of Chepstow. The central block of the house was designed in the very late 18th century, by, or to the designs of, Sir John Soane. It is flanked by two pavilions, of slightly later date, by Joseph Bonomi the Elder. The house sits within Piercefield Park, a Grade I listed historic landscape, that was created in the 18th century as a notable Picturesque estate.

Quick facts: Piercefield House, Type, Location, Coordinate...
Piercefield House
The ruined Piercefield House in 2021
LocationSt Arvans, Monmouthshire
Coordinates51.6579°N 2.6836°W / 51.6579; -2.6836
Built forGeorge Smith – (Central block) / Colonel Mark Wood – (Pavilions)
ArchitectSir John Soane (Pevsner) or George Vaughan Maddox (Cadw) – (Central block) / Joseph Bonomi the Elder – (Pavilions)
Architectural style(s)Neoclassical
Governing bodyPrivately owned
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameRuins of Piercefield House (Central Block)
Designated14 February 2001
Reference no.2013
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameRuins of Piercefield House, Left Hand or West Pavilion
Designated14 February 2001
Reference no.24754
Listed Building – Grade II*
Official nameRuins of Piercefield House, Right Hand or East Pavilion
Designated14 February 2001
Reference no.24755
Official namePiercefield and the Wyndcliff
Designated1 February 2022
Reference no.PGW(Gt)40(Mon)
ListingGrade I
Piercefield House is located in Monmouthshire
Piercefield House
Location of Piercefield House in Monmouthshire

The estate has links to colonialism and slavery. After long ownership by the Walter family, in 1740 it was bought by Valentine Morris, a slaver and planter from Antigua. His son, also Valentine, developed the park and grounds into one of the 18th century’s most famous Picturesque landscapes. His prodigality ruined him, and the estate was sold to a banker, George Smith, who began the present house. He was in turn bankrupted and Piercefield was bought by Sir Mark Wood, a nabob who had made his fortune in Bengal. In 1802, the estate was bought by Nathaniel Wells, son of William Wells, a slaver from Saint Kitts, and Juggy, later Joardine Wells, his enslaved house servant. Nathaniel and his mother both received their freedom and he inherited the bulk of his father’s wealth. Establishing himself at Piercefield, Nathaniel Wells became, in turn, a Justice of the Peace, a Lieutenant in the Chepstow Yeomanry, and Deputy lieutenant and High Sheriff of Monmouthshire, a notable series of firsts, or near firsts, for a black man in Georgian England.

The house is now a shell, along with its extensive stable block, but its status as a Grade II* listed building reflects its importance. It is currently owned by the Reuben brothers, London-based property developers. A campaign to save and restore the building was launched by SAVE Britain's Heritage in 2013. The house has been repeatedly marketed for sale since the early 2000s but no sale has been concluded. Despite emergency stabilising work in 2008/9, the condition of the house continues to deteriorate.

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