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Rewriting history at the Nanteos Mansion

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Nanteos Mansion

A prestigious conservation and conversion project has seen the transformation of the historic Grade I listed Nanteos Mansion and its Grade II* listed stables into a five-star hotel. 

Boasting unrivalled views of the Welsh countryside, Nanteos Mansion is set within 30 acres of woodland gardens and features a walled garden and a lake. The mansion is built around the walls of an earlier house, parts of which are believed to date back to the 10th century.

Nanteos Mansion itself dates back to 1739 and celebrates a long and illustrious history. Built in the Palladian style between 1739 and 1757, the Georgian development was designed to accommodate the needs of the gentry – particularly those with a penchant for hunting and entertaining.

Nanteos Mansion

According to folklore, Nanteos Mansion is haunted by a selection of ghosts: a grey lady, a phantom horse and carriage, the so-called Jewel Lady and Gruffydd Evans – a harpist who entertained the gentry for almost 70 years.

A family home for the Powells for 180 years, the building was extended by William Edward Powell (1788-1854) in the early 19th century. A butler’s and housekeeper’s quarters were added, along with a larger kitchen, a billiard room and a bakery. The completed house – which boasted an impressive total of 69 rooms – was completed in 1847, at a cost of £2880.

In March 2011, another exciting refurbishment project commenced at a decidedly more impressive sum of more than £3.5 million. Headed by Catalina Architecture’s (Aberystwyth) Conservation Architect Rory Wilson, the project has seen the complete renovation of the existing Nanteos development in order to create a luxury country house hotel.

Nanteos Mansion

The main house has been sympathetically refurbished, with works including full redecoration and a small amount of remodelling. Significant remedial treatment for dry rot works have been undertaken, whilst the  old un-insulated  lead flat roof has been retained and overlaid (with the approval of CADW) with a rigid blown glass insulation and liquid membrane roofing system.

The majority of the refurbishment and remodelling has been carried out within the rear ‘bakery wing’, which had become derelict. Works have included reroofing and extensive structural repairs, all of which have been carried out whilst retaining and restoring as much of the original fabric as possible. This included the restoration of the existing windows, along with the reinstatement of lath and plaster partitioning and ceilings.

Nanteos Mansion

Several improvements to the thermal envelope were made – including floors, walls and roofs – whilst provisions were made for Nanteos’ varied bat occupants. In addition, a new two-storey extension has been attached to the old bakery wing and now houses en-suite bathroom facilities for some of the new bedrooms.

Both buildings have undergone a discreet modernisation of mechanical & electrical services, including the installation of a fire suppression system, a complete renewal of electrical and fire alarm systems and the introduction of high-spec IT/Communications system. Furthermore, the project saw the complete refurbishment of all sanitary facilities and the installation of a new heating system that is connected to a 195kW biomass heating system located in the newly constructed ‘Plant Room’, which is located away from the house on the edge of the woodlands.

Nanteos Mansion

To complete the project, a cobbled stable block to the east of the main house has been renovated and now contains a private four-bedroom Mews house.  The main house forecourt has also been improved, with extended reinforced grass areas laid to meet the requirements of the Welsh Historic Gardens Trust.

Due to the building’s Grade I listed status the works had to meet the approval of both the local authority and Cadw – the Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment division. A two-year design process allowed Catalina Architecture to create a sensitive design, whilst many local specialists and contractors – including main contractor C Sneade Ltd, interior designer Camilla Norberg and local historian Janet Joel – have also had an integral role in the project.

Larry Jeffreys, Technical Director at Catalina Architecture, said:

“As a practice we have experience and great interest in historic buildings, and this has been a wonderful opportunity to restore a truly unique building.

Nanteos Mansion

“Working with listed buildings is always a challenge as there is a multitude of constraints that must be adhered to. This project was no exception and we had to work exceptionally hard to protect the historic fabric of the building whilst integrating modern facilities.

“In marrying the new with the old, we were able to formulate a sensitive design that respects both the historical significance of the building and the needs of modern guests. Amidst the sumptuous decors are state-of-the-art facilities that ensure that each of the guests will enjoy a 21st century experience in an authentic historic setting.”

Mark Rawlings-Lloyd, General Manager at Nanteos Mansion, added:

“It has been a privilege to work on this project, both with the architectural team and the contractors. We are all very excited to see the renovation and expansion of Nanteos Mansion, and I can honestly say that this has been one of the smoothest projects that I have had the opportunity to work on.”

Along with fourteen luxury bedrooms, the hotel also boasts a new gourmet restaurant – The Nightingale Restaurant. Celebrating a team of highly sought-after chefs who will create refined menus using locally-sourced produce, the restaurant will showcase the best cuisine in the region and will be open to non-residents seven days a week.

Further leisure facilities – including a possible health spa –are expected to be available in the next few years as the refurbishment programme continues.

Nanteos spokesperson, Rebecca Cohen, said:

“Nanteos is steeped in local history and folklore and is deeply ingrained in the minds of local people. In recent decades it was sadly neglected, but it is an exceptional building which richly deserves the commitment and new life that its owners have bestowed.

“What we’ve done is tried to create a five-star hotel, where every room is individual. We hope that Nanteos in its new guise will breathe new life into the area and secure its future as an outstanding historic Welsh landmark.”

Located between the triumphant sweep of Cardigan Bay and the rolling Cambrian Mountains, Nanteos Mansion is an ideal location for a short break, holiday or overnight stay.

With excellent road links just a stone’s throw away, guests can enjoy a range of exciting activities including: windsurfing, scuba diving, pony trekking, white water rafting and fishing for sea bass. For those who would like to explore the local culture, nearby historic attractions include narrow gauge railways, industrial museums and country estates.

For more information on Nanteos Mansion, visit www.nanteos.com

1 Comment
  1. stoneconservationsupplies

    July 18, 2012 at 9:23 am

    A very good example of sympathetic restoration to a derelict building that now has a purpose and positive future. A clever mix of traditional materials and modern solutions used on the building, which is both pragmatic and encouraging to see. Well done to all for what looks like a positive investment in the local area.

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