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court in print pt 1

Court in print; part one

Since the late nineteenth century, Court has attracted the attention of historians and antiquarians. The earliest printed source for Court is in that interesting little book ‘St Illtyds Church, Pembrey: its history and architecture’, by Edward Roberts and H.A.Pertwee, published in 1898. There is a fine pen and ink drawing of Court, drawn by H.A.Pertwee, which is probably a fairly accurate drawing as it shows the Court as a working farm, with the embattled wall of the barn in front. The west range of the building is utilised as another barn, with 2 large openings cut into the wall to allow cart or wagon access. There is a short description of the Court too; ‘from an antiquarian point of view, the Court is, with the exception of the church itself,  the most interesting object which attracts attention’. A short history of the gentry families who occupied Court in the past is then given.

In 1917, the Royal Commission published ‘An inventory of the ancient monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, vol.V, county of Carmarthen’. This large, illustrated volume is organised alphabetically by parish. Some 14 buildings and sites are described for the parish of Pembrey, including the Court. A short architectural description is given, which attempts to unravel the building development of the house and barn. The embattled front wall of the barn is described as a fragment of an approach to the main house, part of a small court. The earliest date given for the fabric is the early 16th century, and the text states that the house was built as a whole around that time. There is no suggestion about an earlier building on the site, or that the house developed organically over a period of time. Internal features, such as the Tudor fireplaces and the panelled room upstairs, are also mentioned. There is a striking pen and ink drawing of the Court, signed by the artist, but the signature is unfortunately indecipherable.

Peter Smith of the Royal Commission re-visited Court in the 1970s, (by which time it had become a ruin), as he carried out research for his magisterial book ‘Houses of the Welsh countryside’. Smith was particularly interested in the Court’s architecture; he cites the building’s sunk- chamfered or mullioned windows. These are important features as only 3 buildings in Carmarthenshire have sunk-chamfered windows, including the Court. Peter Smith, architectural historian, Secretary of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales 1973–1991, died on the 12 March 2013 in a nursing home in Devon.

Thomas Lloyd’s book, ‘The lost houses of Wales’, (1987), chronicles the sad loss of so many country houses in Wales. There are photographs of the classic view of the Court from the road and also of the upstairs panelled room. Francis Jones’ book, published around the same time, gives quite a detailed description of the family history of the Court. He also wrote a longer article on the building’s history for the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society’s journal in 1984.

Since the millennium, there have been a plethora of books featuring the Court, and I will write about these in a future article for the newsletter.

Dominic Conway

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Court in Print



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