(1656) BODFEL

A three storeyed house with 10ft, dating probably from the early 17th century but much modified. It was originally planned as a gatehouse, 1 but by the middle of the 18th century at latest it had been converted to a dwelling-house, the gate-passage being blocked by an added stair. Although no trace remains of any building would have given access, it seems reasonable to infer that one formerly existed. 2 The Bodvel family 3 is first mentioned in public records in the 16th century, but the existing house appears to date from about the middle of the first half of the 17th. Its builder was probably Sir John Bodvel, High Sheriff of Anglesey in 1610 and of Caernarvonshire in 1617 and 1622. His death in 1631 at the early age of 48 may explain the absence of any house comparable in character to the gateway. Stylistically, the building could equally well have been the work of his son, Col. John, a member of the opposition in the Short and Long Parliaments who supported the King during the Civil War; but his troubled life seems to have provided little opportunity for major building work in Wales. On his death the property was inherited, after a dispute over his will, by his grandson, Charles Bodvel Robartes, later 2nd Earl of Radnor; during his minority ‘Bodvel House’ was licensed for Independent worship, and was for a time the residence of the Dissenting divine James Owen. After the death of Bodvel Robartes in 1723 the ownership of the house is uncertain, but during the 18th century it seems to have belonged to the Salusburys of Bachegraig (Flints. Inv., No. 243) since in 1741 it was the birthplace of Hester Lynch later Mrs. Thrale and Mrs. Piozzi. The house was originally planned in the shape of a cross symmetrical about both axes with a passage running from front to back. In the 18th century the passage was blocked by the addition of a stair wing. In the early 19th century Bodfel was extensively modernised; a N.W. wing was added, the house redecorated inside, and the exterior rendered, except for the S.E. wall which is of coursed rubble. The main front (Plate 50) facing S.W. has a central gabled projection extending the full height of the building. The entrance is through a round-headed arch, with an engaged Doric column on each side supporting the moulded architrave. The glazed screen and door are modern. The symmetrically arranged sash windows to each floor date from the 18th or 19th centuries, but probably occupy the positions of original mullioned windows. In places, the 19th-century rendering has fallen from the columns and architrave revealing the original stone. The S.E. end is plain apart from a small ground-floor window which may not be original. The N.E front was similar to the S.W. before the addition of a two-storeyed stair wing lit by a segmental-headed window in the end wall. Above the wing is an original window of two rectangular lights with mullions of ovolo mould. The remainder are sash windows as previously described. The N. W. end wall is largely obscured by a later wing, but has an original two-light mullion window. The roof slates are modern. The ground-floor interior consists of a central passage leading to the stair, with a small room on either side. The passage has an archway at each end; all details are concealed by modern decoration. The stair (Plate 55), originally mid-18th-century, seems to have been reconstructed. The original features are the turned moulded balusters, three to a tread, and moulded handrail ramped to panelled newels. The walls of the stairway have wainscotting with raised, fielded panels, also probably mid-18th-century. The treads and moulded risers with the moulding returned on the spandrels are similar to those at Trygarn (No. 1532). The room to N.W. of the hall is panelled throughout with 18th-century panelling, with raised fields and moulded cornice; the large panel over the fireplace probably once had a picture. The other room is completely modernised. The first floor is divided into a number of small rooms. The partitions consist of 18th-century panelling, apparently of two periods. Most of the panelling has raised fields with boleetion mouldings and moulded cornices and dados. The doors match the panelling. The archway to the landing is also panelled. The stair from the first to the second floor is in the N. corner of the main block and though partly reconstructed is probably in its original position. It has newels extending from floor to ceiling and moulded slat balusters standing on a closed string and supporting a grip-type handrail. The stair is lit from the N.E. wall by the original two-light window already noted from the exterior. The second floor contains a quantity of panelling largely without bolection mouldings, and some of the 17th century with small flat fields and scratch-moulded posts. On the two 18th-century panelled walls of the N.W. room are curious murals of an apparently tropical scene with trees and lush vegetation, among which are a negro and some animals resembling rabbits (Plate 57). The painting is in oils and much darkened. The colours are brown and green with some red flowers. Nothing is known of the artist. There are early beams to this floor, encased in plaster, which has fallen in places revealing a chamfer with a convex curved stop. The attic follows the symmetrical plan of the house. The internal quoins are exposed and are of brick. The roof seems to have been reconstructed at a fairly early date. The trusses are of the collar-beam type, the collars being pegged 011 to the principals. There are no proper recesses for the purlins which are held by cleats.
1 Hyde Hall, p. 278.
2 Leland, p. 84. About 1550 it was the residence of John Wyn ap Hugh. Cal. Caerns. Q. Sess., J, pp . 123, 179, 248.
3 Diet. Welsh Biog. under Bodvel, p11. for other refs.
Condition: good.
27 viii 57
40 NE

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