The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas

Lower Wye Valley

038 Troy House

View of Troy House, a post-medieval country house built in the Classical style.

HLCA 038 Troy House

Post-medieval country house in Classical style, Troy House, within associated registered park and garden of 17th-18th century date; relict archaeology post-medieval settlement/fields; country house and associated outbuildings, eg school building additions, ice house; ornamental/leisure: parkland and garden; historic associations. Back to map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Troy House is a registered park (PGW (Gt) 16), which includes three separately listed structures: Troy House itself; the gateway and gates to the house; and the associated walled garden, which lies to the west. The area is defined by the settlement, in the form of Troy House and its associated parkland. Its boundaries are formed by the limits of the park on the Register of Parks and Gardens in Wales, and have been extended slightly to the west in order to include features considered to be closely enough associated with the mansion house and parkland as to justify altering the boundaries to include them. Historically, the area fell within the parish of Mitchel Troy, which was part of the manor of Trellech.

The history of Troy begins in the fourteenth century; it is mentioned as a manor in 1314, a knight's fee belonging to the de Clare family, Earls of Gloucester and Hertford. It was first the seat of the Catchmay family, and then fell to the Scudamores through marriage. The Lords of Troy Parva were associated with the Glyndwr rebellion; one Philip Scudamore, who was associated with Owain Glyndwr, was executed in Shrewsbury in 1411, while Sir John Scudamore, who was Lord of Troy Parva in 1425, married Glyndwr's daughter.

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Troy was associated with the powerful, influential and often notorious Herbert family (Griffiths 2008, 262-279; Robinson 2008, 309-336). The Herberts of Troy, and Raglan, outside and west of the Wye Valley area, are famous for their support of Welsh culture and language, providing an abundance of patronage to Welsh poets, such as Rhys Goch Eryri of Merioneth, Llywelyn ab y Moel of Powys, Hywel Swrdwal and Guto'r Glyn, among others (Evans 2008, 288-294).

Sir William Herbert, the illegitimate son of the first Earl of Pembroke, was responsible for rebuilding the original medieval manor during the late fifteenth century. Part of the fifthteenth century remodelled house may be preserved within the south side of the existing structure (Bradney 1913, 164).

Around the beginning of the seventeenth century, the estate was purchased by Edward, the fourth Earl of Worcester, whose heir, the fifth Earl, was created the Marquis of Worcester. Troy House became the home of the Marquis's younger brothers, Sir Thomas Somerset and subsequently, Sir Charles Somerset. Following the latter's death in 1665; Troy House became the residence of the Marquis of Worcester, who was created the Duke of Beaufort in 1682.

An Apophthegm of the earl of Worcester records that Sir Thomas Somerset 'delighted himself much in fine gardens and orchards' and sent fruit, including apricots, to his brother the Marquis, at Raglan Castle, during a visit there by Charles I in 1645 (Register of Parks and Gardens 1994, 155). Sir Charles Somerset, had a new house built here in the early seventeenth century, and appears also to have remodelled the gardens and grounds; a shield over the door to the walled garden carried his initials, along with those of his wife, Elizabeth, and formerly the date 1611, now worn (Register of Parks and Gardens 155). The house built by Charles Somerset's survives as two wings within the later seventeenth century (early 1680s) north-facing range built in the classical style by the first Duke of Beaufort (Newman 2000, 391).

Throughout much of its history Troy House was little visited by family and was occupied by their stewards in Monmouthshire. When the Beaufort estates were put up for sale in 1901, Troy House was not sold, being purchased only later by a Mr Edward Arnott (Bradney 1913 163-4). During the 1950s and 60s, when the house was a private school, run by the Good Shepherd Order of Nuns, the house was altered and extended, the additions including a chapel, dating to 1963/4 by the architect Kenneth W Smithies of Bristol (Newman 2000 392).

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Troy House is characterised as a park and garden based on a large country house, Troy House, now a grade II* listed building (LB 2060). Constructed, or at least remodelled in the 1660s, Troy House, is a large rectangular three-storey building of coursed stone with a slate roof and a plain pediment above the central section. A circular forecourt lies in front of the entrance on the main, north elevation, with steps leading up to the front door on the piano nobile. The house is now approached from the northwest, a drive leads from the gateway, also listed (LB 25791; grade II) round the west side of the house; the circular forecourt before the main entrance is now under grass.

The associated gardens includes an important early seventeenth century walled garden to the west of the house, the walls and doorway (date stone of 1611 recorded) of which survive, and are listed grade II* (LB 2886). The walls of this large rectangular garden are constructed of stone, while the centrally arranged doorway to the east is of dressed red sandstone and decorated with strapwork and an heraldic shield bearing the initials of members of the Somerset family. By 1706, this garden was in use as an orchard, and later served as a graveyard for the nuns who later occupied the house. As with much of the former parkland, this area is now under pasture, with neglected fruit trees within the orchard. Construction of additions for the school has partially removed the garden to the east of Troy House, which was used as an orchard and kitchen garden, as well as an area of flower gardens with lawns and gravel walks.

Although much of the former parkland, now agricultural, has been excluded from the area on the Register, the boundaries of this character area have been extended to include the eighteenth or early nineteenth century icehouse and possibly late seventeenth game larder to the east of Troy House. Both features are closely associated with the house, and have been re-united with the park for this reason.

The area has strong historic associations, for example the Scudamores, the Glyndwr rebellion, and with the Herbert and Somerset families, later the Dukes of Beaufort.

There are close associations with neighbouring Troy Farm, the Home Farm on the First Edition OS maps (1881), and the surrounding agricultural land (HLCA037), part of which forms the essential setting for the park, much of it former parkland. The land to the north was also closely associated with the house and included an avenue of trees laid out between the 1660s and 1706, which led from the main entrance of the house to the confluence of the Wye and Monnow rivers.