NEWTON NOTTAGE, St John the Baptist (SS 8387 7717)

(a)     Chancel roof      

Felling date: Summer 1503

(b)     Tower    

Felling date: Spring 1536

(a) Braces 1457(1), 1459, 1477(12), 1480(5), 1502(29½C). (b) Joist 1535(36¼C); Half-beam 1510(17). Site Master 1362-1535 NWTNNTTG (t= 8.1 WALES97; 7.9 PENGWERN; 7 LANCIN)

‘A church of exceptional interest which appears to be entirely of c.1500’, according to John Newman’s The Buildings of Wales: Glamorgan (1995), 473. The chancel, nave, and unvaulted west tower with saddle-back roof, all have late Perpendicular detail. The arch-braced roof with collar purlin in the nave was considered too fast grown for sampling. The wagon roof of the chancel was successfully sampled and yielded a precise felling date of 1503. The wagon roof is of open type with moulded principals and plain intermediary ribs. Such roofs are found on both sides of the Bristol Channel, and in Wales are largely restricted to the churches of the southern counties (Smith, Houses of the Welsh Countryside, 1988 edn, map 56). The tower is not obviously later than the church, and the 1536 date, from the joists of the bell-ringing floor, presumably dates the installation of the bells on the eve of the Reformation. The dating was commissioned by RCAHMW. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2004, VA 35, list 157)

OXWICH, Oxwich Castle (SS 497 862), South range                                              

(a)     West end roof trusses 5 - 8        

Felling dates: Spring 1554, Winter 1555/6, and Spring 1557

(b)     East end roof trusses 2 – 3

Felling dates: Summer 1629, ?Winter 1629/30, and Summer 1631

(a) Purlins (1/3) 1533(27¼C); Principal rafters  1556(25¼C), 1555(25C), 1550(16), 1524(H/S); Collar (0/1); Plate (0/1). (b) Principal rafters (4/6) 1628(18½C), 1630(25½C), 1621(14), 1609(H/S); Collars (1/3) Purlin 1629(31C?). Site Master 1459-1630 OXWICH (t = 9.0 MASTERAL; 8.5 MEREHALL; 8.0 WALES97), 1432-1524 oxw6 (t = 6.1 PENGWREN; 6.0 TREFECHN; 5.4 STANHOPE)

Oxwich Castle on the Gower Peninsula was constructed by Sir Rice Mansel and his son Edward during the late Tudor  period on the site of an earlier fortification.  This complex building comprises two ranges, the earlier south range thought to have been built by Sir Rice, and the now-ruined massive east range by his son, Sir Edward, although this interpretation has been open to question.  The roof trusses over the south range are of two phases, with the earlier producing felling dates ranging from 1554 to 1557. This suggests that the south range, its original roof, and the contemporary east gateway were constructed by Sir Rice, during or soon after 1557, the year he received a grant from Queen Mary permitting him to keep a personal retinue of 50 gentleman and yeoman, and also when his son Sir Edward and Sir George Herbert were involved in an ‘affray’ at the castle. The eastern-most four trusses are later replacements, with the middle two producing dates of 1629 to 1631, relating to repairs and remodelling needed before the property was leased out in 1632 (Williams 1998).  All the south range roof trusses have single high collars, with thin principal rafters carrying two sets of purlins and a diagonally-set ridge.  Although there are no tiebeams or arch-braces, the massive stone walls provide the necessary lateral restraint. Full description in RCAHMW, Glamorgan: The Greater Houses (London, 1981), pp. 63-76.  Dating commissioned by Rick Turner for CADW. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2006, VA 37, list 181)

PYLE & KENFIG, Sker House (SS 7953 7984)

a)       Hall roof

Felling dates: Winter 1623/4

Collar 1595; Rafters (7/9) 1623(22C, 28C),  1621(27), 1595(h/s). Site Master 1483-1623 SKERHS1 (t=8.3 DORE2; 6.7 CHAWTON1; 6.5 WALES97); Possible stock-piled rafters 1553, 1549, 1547. Site Master 1435-1553 SKERHS2 (t=6.5 WALES97; 5.7 PLASMAWR; 5.7 MASTERAL)

b)      Repair phase to roof over Hall passage end

Felling dates: Winter 1839/40

Purlins (5/6) 1839(62C), 1829(28), 1824(48), 1804(h/s), 1792. Site Master 1645-1839 SKERHS3 (t=7.0 BAREFOOT; 6.4 ENGLAND; 6.3 MASTERAL)

Sker House was a grange belonging to Neath Abbey which retains much medieval fabric.  It was transformed after the Reformation into a large gentry house and has dressed-stone detail of late-sixteenth-century type (sunk chamfers; four-centred door-heads).  The impressive first-floor hall with lateral fireplace is of uncertain date.  It is notable for an ornate plaster frieze and ceiling that conceals a remarkable roof of closely-spaced collar-rafter trusses thought to incorporate sixteenth-century work.  Tree-ring dating, however, conclusively showed that the roof was seventeenth century in date and designed to support the plaster ceiling.  The analysis did support visual evidence for some stock-piling, although the timber appeared to be largely derived from the same source, not re-using earlier material.  Sampling of a repair phase in the hall, usefully extended the local tree-ring chronology to the early nineteenth century.  Plans and description:  RCAHMW, Glamorgan Inventory: The Greater Houses (1981) pp 101-114.  Dating jointly commissioned by The Buildings at Risk Trust and RCAHMW. (Miles and Worthington 2000, VA 31, list 112)

ST HILARY, Old Beaupré Farmhouse (ST 0090 7202)     

Felling date: Winter 1593/4

Transverse beams (1/4) 1593(32C); Principal rafters 1562(H/S), 1553(H/S). Site Master 1423-1593 OLDBPRE (t = 6.1 neu1; 5.9 OLDIMTN; 5.9 PENSFORD)

Old Beaupré Castle was owned by the Basset family from the early-fourteenth century to 1709, by which time all of the major buildings on the site had been built. The development of the buildings was examined in detail by RCAHMW, Glamorgan: The Greater Houses (Cardiff, 1981), 46-76, esp. 61-2. The fortified manor house, has three courtyards. The east range in the Inner Court (Block C in RCAHMW’s account) has been a farmhouse since the eighteenth century. The walls are of coursed stone rubble with ashlar quoins. RCAHMW identified the range as having medieval origins, probably functioning as the principal service range for the Bassets’ house. The northern room of the farmhouse is dominated by the former kitchen, with two huge fireplaces. Running through this kitchen, on its west side, is an enclosed gallery with an inserted floor above. One of the gallery beams has an inscription reading ‘I Bvtler 1664’. A central truss with trenched purlins has a chamfered collar secured by notch-lap joints. The beams of all ground-floor ceilings have broad chamfers with torus and hollow stops. One of these beams has produced the felling date of winter 1593/4, and the dates from the ceiling truss suggest that it is contemporary with the gallery. This indicates that Block C was remodelled by Richard Basset as part of his redevelopment of Old Beaupré during the period 1586-1600. Dating commissioned by Cadw as part of a wider study of the history and development of Old Beaupré and Oxwich Castles to be published in the near future. (Miles, Worthington, and Bridge 2007, VA 38, list 193)