Thursday, August 29, 2013

St Weonard's, Herefordshire

Towers among trees

This charming house caught my eye as I glimpsed it across fields and through trees. Called Treago, it was originally built in the late-15th century and altered in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. The original building was a squarish stone structure with round towers at the corners and an internal courtyard (now roofed over). Treago was built as a fortified manor house and there would probably originally have been only small openings on the outside walls, with bigger windows looking into the internal courtyard. The windows visible now were added in the 18th century (the sash window), and in the 19th century.

With its corner towers and (originally) a moat, Treago looked strong, but maybe the fortifications of this manor house were built mainly for show. The site isn't ideal for defence (there's higher ground to one side, overlooking the building) and Anthony Emery, in his book Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales, thinks that this 'nullified any pretensions to serious defence'. Moreover he adds, 'The house was formerly embattled, but the porch had no more than a draw bolt, and the cross loops in the angle turrets are decorative.'

If the main aim of the architecture was to look impressive, the altered house manages to combine this quality with a certain quaintness that isn't entirely out of place in this secluded spot in the Herefordshire countryside. It has been the home of the Mynors family at least since the 16th century, probably since it was built in c 1470. It seems that they have looked after it well.


La Contessa said...

Truly a STUNNING home..........hard for this AMERICAN to believe it's that old!

Philip Wilkinson said...

La Contessa: Yes, it's a stunner. Even in England, where we sometimes get a bit blasé about old buildings, this is one to marvel at.

Joseph Biddulph (Publisher) said...

Re. the name "Treago" - this area is almost in Wales, and remained Welsh speaking till fairly late, but the "almost" is the important word as far as buildings are concerned. There is a special eccentric quality about churches &c in Herefordshire, perhaps because, in English terms, it's in a corner: but this pinky sandstone area probably gets less attention than it deserves. I was recently writing about Kilpeck, and was struck by how "Welsh-looking" is the church at St Devereux a few hundred yards away - big pieces of rubble, etc. Also the difficult-to-find church at Michaelchurch: with the photo of it on my wall I keep forgetting that it's not in Wales - just a stone oblong with a bell-turret. But none of the writers seem to put Herefordshire in its context: if the carvings at Kilpeck are really "Celtic", why is there nothing like it anywhere in neighbouring Wales? - probably because the Welsh examples are in the "other book" it's difficult to get a whole picture. And on top of this, doesn't this particular building look like a Scottish tower-castle?
Curiouser and curiouser!