The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas

Lower Wye Valley

025 Pilstone

Image showing the agricultural nature of HLCA025 with traditional farmhouse surrounded by stone boundaries (centre of shot).

HLCA 025 Pilstone

Agricultural landscape: irregular evolved pattern of small - medium-sized irregular fields some 20th century amalgamation, plantation and orchards located around farms; traditional boundaries; dispersed settlement of isolated farmsteads and Pilstone House and garden; distinctive vernacular style: 16th century farmhouse (Pilstone Farm), and Victorian gentry house (Pilstone House); communication features; mixed woodland (& orchards). Back to map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Pilstone is an agricultural area with its associated settlement. It is a detached hamlet of Llandogo and lies on the lower slopes of the valley overlooking the River Wye. The boundaries are defined by the extent of the agricultural land both as it was defined by historic ownership and as it exists now. It falls within the parish of Llandogo, and by the time of the tithe map (1844) the majority of the area was owned by one Hannah Rooke, while the north part belonged to a William Clifford.

Pilston was a manor of the Lordship of Trellech, and although there is no evidence for occupation here before the post-medieval period, there are records of the ownership of the area from as early as the sixteenth century. At this time, the estate was in the hands of Madog ap Robert of Pilston, whose daughter and heir, Jane, married William ap John ap Perkin from North Wales, a descendent of Sisyllt, Prince of Meirionydd. The estate belonged to the Perkins family, and appears in several wills and deeds from 1571 onwards, until the last occupier, Edward Perkins, died without children in 1747. From this point on, none of the heirs lived in the house, and on a map of 1831 it is depicted as a ruin, having been robbed of building materials by locals.

The estate was sold in c1830 to Captain Rooke of the Bigsweir estate, who had the present Pilstone House built from material left over from the original building, although he himself lived at a house he had built on the opposite side of the river. The tithe map (1844) lists the area of Pilstone House as belonging to Hannah Rooke. The other important building in the area is the seventeenth/eighteenth century Pilstone Farmhouse, just to the south, the home farm associated with Pilstone.

The development of the agricultural land in the area can be traced through the tithe map and the early editions of OS maps. In the south of the area, the part that belonged to Hannah Rooke, let to Robert Purchas, the field system remains recognisable, with relatively little change right up to modern maps (OS 2006 1:10000 Landline data). The north of the area, however, which on the tithe map, was owned by William Clifford and occupied by Philip Williams, now forms a substantially different fieldscape; due to the amalgamation of the fields and removal field boundaries. The construction of the Wye Valley Railway between Monmouth and Chepstow altered the field pattern in the east of the area, isolating the riverbank from the agricultural area; the changes to the field pattern can be seen between the tithe map (1844) and the First Edition OS map (1881).

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Pilstone is characterised as an area of agricultural land of varied character, including a small post-medieval gentry estate. The north of the area, associated with Tump Farm on the tithe map, today forms a radically altered fieldscape from that depicted on the tithe and the First Edition OS maps, while, to the south, the fieldscape associated with Pilstone farm, the field system remains similar to that depicted on the tithe map of 1844. The fields form a pattern of small - medium irregular fields, with boundaries formed of distinctive hedgerow trees and earth banks with hedges, along with some post and wire fencing. Despite the construction of the railway, which has isolated a narrow strip of land to the east on the edge of the River Wye, the agricultural use of the land has remained fairly static since the mid-nineteenth century. The tithe map records the enclosures being utilised for arable, pasture and meadow, similar to the current regime. Orchards are also shown, both on the tithe map and on the First Edition OS maps, which suggests that this agricultural area may have supplied the local cider industry, evidence of which survives in adjoining areas.

Two buildings, Pilstone Manor and Farm, both set back from the road, provide the main settlement element of the area. The manor house of Pilston (NPRN 20658) has been rebuilt in a picturesque baronial style; a date stone of 1686, probably taken from the old structure has been re-set in fašade of the 19th century house. The original building had fallen into ruin by 1831 (Bradney 1913, 208) and the materials from the structure were reused to build the new house on the site when the Rooke family purchased the estate. The existing structure is constructed of coursed squared stone blocks with a pantile roof. A number of ancillary buildings and structures survive or are documented, including an icehouse (First Edition OS map).

Pilstone farmhouse (PRN 00674g, NPRN 20659, LB 2897 Grade II), which lies to the south, is renowned locally as the oldest farmhouse in this part of the Wye Valley. It is important both for its architectural character and for its local historic interest and associations. The structure, which has seen some alterations during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, dates to the late seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries, although possible earlier origins are suggested by fragmentary timber framing. Pilstone farmhouse is constructed of stone, with a roughcast frontage, and stone slate tiles at the front, with panties to the rear. It has decorative gables, a double chimneystack and a gabled porch in the centre of the three-bay front.

At the far north of the area is Tump Farm, the layout of which, as depicted on the tithe map of 1844, has been significantly extended during the twentieth century. It originally consisted of a farmhouse front-on to the access track, with a linear range opposite, and although the farmhouse still exists today, the farm buildings have been extended and subsumed into a far larger complex of large rectangular buildings, which are clustered along the access route.

Small areas of forestry, in the form of mainly of mixed deciduous ancient replanted woodland, provide a minor characteristic; ancient woodland forms the boundary to the west, whilst the agricultural land of the area probably represents early forest clearance. Traditional agricultural boundaries include hedgerows with distinctive hedgerow trees.

Communication in the area consists of tracks, paths, and minor lanes; the boundaries of the latter comprise walls, mortared in the south of the area, and dry-stone further along the road to the north.