The things you find out in libraries…

November 1, 2011

Top tip for all you folk out there: use the local library service BEFORE the government cuts all of their funding!  I can thoroughly recommend the ladies in the ‘Local Studies’ section at Newport City Library for their willingness to run up and down stairs to collect material from their archives for me…

The first little dash of excitement came with this:

'North West View of Llanwern. Drawn by the Rev I Gardner.

Drawn by Rev Gardner and engraved by J. Hill the image was published in 1793.  There are two ladies inside the coach and a couple of chaps on the road who are either giving directions, or demanding their jewels…  My initial thought is that the illustration might have been made for some sort of 18th travel journal, but I will need to do more research in order to find out!   My next photo job will be to go back to the village and photograph the hill from the same angle – to highlight the change…  It’s crazy to think that what stands there now is a bungalow…

Aspect now.

What else did I find out today?  That in 1836, a new law came in which meant that each parish in the land had to map all of the fields within them and catalogue who owned what…   ‘Prior to 1836, tithes (payments made by parishioners for the support of their parish church and clergy) were payable in kind in the majority of parishes in England and Wales. The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 provided for monetary payments, called tithe rentcharges, to replace the payments in kind’ (quote lifted from The National Archives website.)

The tithe map and ‘Apportionment Book’ told me that in 1836, the owner of the whole of Llanwern (except for 2 fields) was Rev Sir Charles John Salusbury, Baronet…  He was responsible for the tithes on 17 fields, but for the other 56, his tenants had to pay up…  The map also showed me the shape of the estate!  Very interesting!  There were very few occupied dwellings – for much of the parish’s history, it only had three houses on the land…  In 1871, there were only 7 people registered as belonging to the parish.

1/3rd of tithe map: the section shows the imprint of the house.

Sneaky photo of Tithe entry for Llanwern


8 Responses to “The things you find out in libraries…”

  1. Fergal Says:

    I just stumbled on your blog by accident while googling Llanwern House? Have you read ‘This was my World’, written by Viscountess Rhonnda in 1937? She and her father – David Alfred Thomas – lived at Llanwern House in the early 20th century. I haven’t seen the rest of your blog so forgive me if you have already mentioned this book.

    • denisefotheringham Says:

      Hi Fergal,

      How interesting that you were googling Llanwern House! Please feel free to have a look at my other entries about the house – some of my own research is included…

      I would really like to know why you are looking at the house – there don’t seem to be many of us about!

      I have seen the book you mention, I enjoyed reading through it when I was in Aberystwyth.

      Best wishes to you,

      • Fergal Says:

        Hi Denise.

        I am originally from Kinsale – in Co. Cork, Ireland. For my Leaving Cert ten years ago (the Irish equivalent of A Levels) I did a research project on the sinking of the Lusitania – which was torpedoed off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. During this research I discovered Margaret Mackworth – better known as Lady Rhonnda and thought her to be quite an interesting character. Her book was often mentioned as a primary source so a few years ago I managed to obtain a copy. It included a photo of Llanwern House. I now live in Bristol – and having worked out that the former location of the house wasn’t too far from Bristol I went out to have a look last year- as I have a keen interest in Big Houses. I was aware that this one was gone but wanted to see if I could find the site. I found the graveyard where the Rhonndas are buried – with the rather large headstone – and assumed that the house was up on the hill behind – but couldn’t verify completely. I was particularly interested therefore to see your modern day photo of the site. I don’t remember seeing a photo so must have been looking in the wrong place! I enjoy obscure research in my spare time – and when I lived in Cork did a lot of research work on the ‘Big Houses’ in my local parish – most of which had been demolished. I’m glad to say that some of the research I did finished up in a book which was published in 2007. My girlfriend worked in Bristol Central Library and now works for Bristol City Archive so I’m with you 100% on your views on libraries! Keep up the good work, your blog was a pleasure to read! Fergal.

      • denisefotheringham Says:

        Hi Fergal,

        Thanks for the reply. I’d love to have a look at the book… Can you send me the details and I will see if I can order a copy through my local library.

        I seem to have got rather interested in the past and things that have disappeared… I am now tracing the route of a 18th/19th century gentleman traveller and am coming across all sorts of missing houses!

        The site of the actual house in Llanwern is now a collection of farm buildings on top of a small hill. All of my photographs were made in the parkland belonging to the house, and not on the site itself. I had a few problems finding out who owned the property and also thought I would save that part until a later date. I enjoyed being in the parkland very much and knew that both Margaret and her father loved the land very much, so it felt right.

        How fabulous having a ‘mole’ right inside the archives… I might have to be be in touch about my current project as GW Manby lived in Clifton and started his journey in Bristol. I would love to find any diaries/materials belonging to him! There are a couple of engravings in the National Maritime museum in London and his book is held in the Bristol Central Library, but that is as far as I have got with my research so far.

        Are you still writing? Researching?

        Best wishes to you,


      • Fergal Says:

        Hi Denise,

        Many thanks for your response. I do a small bit of writing and researching at the moment – just as a hobby. I’m an accountant by profession. I’m currently doing a short piece about a plaque which hangs in our local church back in Cork. It commemorates a ‘Mrs Bolton’ who died in 1879 – and doesn’t mention her first name or family or anything. I’ve been trying to find out who she was – and it transpires she was a local landowner – and the plaque was put up by her tenants – hence the ‘Mrs’ Bolton rather than a full name – that was how they knew her. Managed to find a silhouette of her husband – in the collection of a library of Boston, USA. Strange where things end up. He was a Protestant and she a Catholic – so a ‘mixed marriage’ – very controversial for 19th century Cork! There’s a local newspaper which publishes bits of my stuff – I don’t think too many people read them but at least it means they are catalogued in Cork City Library. Thanks for your enquiry regarding the book. I know a copy finished up in the NLI in Dublin (though I don’t know how). Not sure if they do exchanges with UK Libraries but the link to it’s catalogue entry is here: Had a quick look at GW Manby on wikipedia – looks an interesting character! Best Regards, Fergal.

  2. Jim Says:

    Hi, kind of crazy how people have been researching this house… I live very close to the house which you speak of. What got me interested was the very picture you have of this hangs on my mothers wall (its a print, but an old one). I have been inside the property which is there now and can tell you that some of the barns from the farm which are there were built from the remains of the original foundations. The foundations of which manor house I’m not certain as there has been two manor houses built on that site… Personally i would guess they are from the earlier house as the walls were very thick and very ‘castel like’. Along with Rhondda family the Vann family lived at the property wether before or after I can’t remember now… I could simply check the dates on the tomb stones at Llanwern church as the church is very close to the house… Perhaps you know all that I have told you but maybe not.

  3. Dave Humphrey Says:

    Its amazing the amount of information that you can find on the internet nowadays. The bungalow at Llanwern Park I remember well because I actually lived there with my Mother and Father from 1972-75. From memory they leased this from a Mr.Davies who owned and farmed the land there. From what we were told the big house was reputed to have as many rooms as the days in the year, although maybe this information was exaggerated a little; also it was supposed to have been ‘requisitioned’ during the war years and used as some sort of base for American(?)troops. After the war it fell into decay and sadly was demolished. There certainly used to be several stone farm buildings there which were still well-used in the 70’s and I can remember across on the fields there was evidence of demolition rubble there and we actually found the entrance and stone stairs down to an old very damp underground cellar still full of broken wine bottles. The bungalow itself was nothing special by modern day standards although it had a tremendous panoramic outlook over Llanwern and my father being a keen gardener cultivated the adjoining garden growing all sorts of vegetables – this I can remember even more vividly – I got married in 1974 at Llanwern parish church and on the morning of my wedding I can recall being awoken unbelievably early by the noise of cattle outside my bedroom window – they had broken through the fence and trampled all over the cultivated garden so I had to start the day by chasing them out and repairing the broken fence.
    I think its sad that so many historic houses have been lost over the years. Llanwern house is just one of these.

    • denisemariemyers Says:

      Hi Dave,

      How lovely to hear from someone who has some memories of the site, even if the house had disappeared…

      You are right, the idea that the house had as many rooms as days in the year is an exaggeration: compared to many houses of its type, it wasn’t that huge!

      At one point, I tried to track down some of the fixtures and fittings from the house, but sadly had no luck. Seemingly, all of the panelling from one of the rooms, plus an amazing fireplace is now in an old folks’ home in Sussex…

      All best wishes to you, and thanks again for getting in touch.


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