While visiting Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion or Carmarthenshire, it’s well worth checking out some historic houses in West Wales to absorb some of the area’s history. Each house has a unique history and different aspects to spark your imagination and show you a view of the past, offering a fascinating day out for the whole family.
Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire
Picton Castle and its magnificent gardens are an ideal day out for all the family. The large attractive building is an unusual combination of castle and fortified manor house. Its RHS Partner gardens are a must-see, and the house has many attractions as well as now housing Pembroke’s Museum of the Home.
The Castle was owned by the Wogans since the 13th century and their descendants the Phillipps, once one of the most powerful families in Pembrokeshire. Seasonal events include a Children’s Easter Egg Hunt, Tapas Nights, viewing the Picton Renoir painting, and a Victorian Christmas Tour.
Amenities include Picton Galleries and its exhibitions, shop selling locally-produced items and plants for sale in the courtyard. A restaurant and deli are open throughout the year selling lunch and afternoon teas, with evening events detailed on their website.
Llanerchaeron is a Georgian Villa which was designed to make the most of the beautiful landscape and its panoramas. Built in the Palladian style by John Nash in the 1790s, it remains amongst the least altered of his early works. The beautiful setting also includes the working farm and gardens open to the Llanerchaeron, a Georgian Villa public.
The small farmhouse and formal gardens were bought in 1634 by Llewellyn Parry, a descendant of Welsh princes. 20th-century renovations included new fireplaces, and internal electricity powered by a waterwheel on the estate!
Some of the most interesting features include a dairy, brewery and salting house, laundry and cheese press room. A further feature is the Edwardian kitchen range, where homemade Welsh cakes are baked for you to try!
Newton House, Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo
Visit Newton House and go back in time to before WWI! Run by the National Trust, this striking house with its four corner towers is set in a beautiful wide valley surrounded by ancient trees and 18th-century parkland. Expect ghostly encounters in the cellars, or the spirit of the strangled Lady Elinor Cavendish on the staircase!
The medieval Deer Park, Wales’ only parkland National Nature Reserve, is skirted on one side by the River Tywi valley. Originally built in 1660, it has later 1850s Gothic additions which form the majority of the current house. The estate was landscaped by George and Cecil Rice (Rhys), aided by Capability Brown, and very little has changed since. There are guided rooftop tours, exhibitions on the first floor and events throughout the year, listed on the website. A National Trust shop and Art Gallery are also on site, with plants for sale, a Second Hand Bookshop and a Farm Shop selling the extremely local venison!
Tudor Merchant’s House, Tenby
The Tudor Merchant’s House is in the heart of Tenby. Visit this late 15th-century historic house for a trip back in time to Tenby in the Tudor period. This is a small treasure in the middle of a beautiful seaside town and harks back to the days when Tenby was an important centre for trade.
The site is a middle-class town house, furnished in a c1500 style. It was originally built for a merchant who would have traded in various goods including cloth, coal and spices. Interesting features include a garderobe within a tower on one wall of the building, and a herb garden to the rear of the house. This is a great interactive experience, with guides on hand to show you how the family once lived and ate, and children’s costumes to try on. Whilst there are no facilities attached to the house, there are a variety of places to find refreshments around Tenby, as well as a host of other attractions.
Scolton Manor Museum and Country Park,
Scolton is a Victorian manor house set in 60 acres of parkland currently being managed to encourage wildlife, as shown in the Visitor Centre. There are many reasons to visit the property, whether you are interested in history, wildlife or beekeeping.
Features to look out for in the house include the great cantilevered staircase, a portrait of Lucy Walter, mistress to King Charles II and mother to his son James, Duke of Monmouth, and a painting of the “Battle of Fishguard”, the last invasion of Britain, by the French at Carreg Wastad. There is also the Walled Garden, currently under restoration, and the Pembrokeshire Beekeeping Centre with live demonstrations.
Open from Spring to Autumn, facilities include a Tea Room with homemade refreshments, and a Gift Shop selling the local honey.
Stradey Castle, Llanelli, Carmarthensh
Stradey Castle is a Grade II listed historic house which has been opened by the Mansel Lewis family for all to enjoy and as a way of preserving the castle and its contents. Apart from drawing in visitors, it is also a popular location for filming and photoshoots, including the 2011 Doctor Who Christmas Special!
The present house dates to the mid-Victorian period and includes a tower and a secret passage around the basements. The original Stradey House was built in the 17th century, but has since been demolished. It is set in 100 acres of farmland and woodland, and the Woodland Gardens are also available to explore.
Cresselly is a grand house, an epitome of the country house, set a short distance from the Cresswell River Estuary to the east of Pembroke. Visit this site for a peaceful, relaxing and historic day out.
The new house overlooks the Cresswell River and onwards towards Milford Haven. It has many period features, including original solid oak furniture, and a glass chandelier. Open 10am-1pm, 3-16 May and 1-14 August. Visitors are welcome for guided tours, please see website for details. No dogs or children under 12 permitted.