Category Archives: Wales

Margam Abbey and Castle

We were lucky to have the time to stop off and explore the Margam Abbey and Castle on our way back from Wales. This had been the family home of a branch of the Mansel family and is now owned by Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and run as Margam Country Park.

Within Margam Country Park can be found Margam Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery; Margam Castle, a neo-Gothic country house that was once the seat of the Mansel Talbot family; and the 18th-century Orangery.

I really wanted to visit Margam Abbey but we were also able to walk up to Margam Castle too.

Margam Abbey

Margam Abbey

I bought a photography permit for £1 and took some photos of the beautiful Mansel tombs within the Mansel Chapel at Margam Abbey. The four tombs show members of the Mansel family who held the Margam Estate following the Dissolution. The alabaster tombs illustrate the family wealth.

As well as the alabaster tombs showing recumbent effigies (the males of the line appear in full armour, their wives wear appropriate costume from the period),  there are several wall memorials too.

Mansel tomb in Margam Abbey

The four alabaster tombs are for Sir Rice Mansel of Oxwich and Penrice (1487-1559), Sir Edward Mansel (1531-1585), Sir Thomas Mansel (1556-1631) and Sir Lewis Mansel (1638).

The wall memorials are dedicated to Sit Edward Mansel, Sir Thomas Mansel, Sir Rawleigh Bussey, Sir Rich Mansel and Katherine Bussey.

Mansel tombs in Margam Abbey

From here it was a short walk to Margam Castle which was built for Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1830-1890) in 1840, designed by Thomas Hopper in the Tudor Gothic style.

Margam Castle

You cannot see much of the house today although I was very happy to be allowed inside. We did get to see the magnificent central staircase.

staircase within Margam Castle

There are formal garden and a stable block which now houses a cafe and shop.

There was a wedding taking place on the day we visited so we were unable to visit the Orangery. This was designed by Anthony Keck to house a large collection of citrus trees and built between 1787 and 1790. It is the longest orangery in the British Isles.

We enjoyed our unexpected trip to Margam Abbey and Castle. It is well worth a visit, especially if you have a family connection.

Faculty records at the National Library

Yesterday I sent my research request off to Carmarthenshire Archives in regards the burial vault of Lady Mary Mansel at St Peter’s Church. I was amazed to receive a response back in a matter of hours.

“Unfortunately, we do not hold the records required. Any alteration to the fabric of a building owned by the Church of Wales, including the erection a memorial tablet, etc., requires official consent i.e. the granting of Faculties on behalf of the archbishop. Faculty records are held at the National Library in Aberystwyth. See:

….With that said, you are very welcome to visit the archives and carry out the research for yourself. Our staff will provide you with all of the assistance you require.

Relevant catalogues available online are:  This catalogue has not been catalogued to item level.

Please also see attached: You could also try contacting the Carmarthenshire Antiquarian Society to see if any work has been done in this area.

Iscoed House

I had not come across Historic Carmarthenshire Homes before and am so happy to have read the pages about Iscoed old and new. It confirms that little bit of information I came across the other day about Iscoed Home Farm being the original home of Sir William Mansel.

Now to contact the National Library in Aberystwyth regarding the granting of Faculties on behalf of the archbishop!

Lady Mansel memorial lozenge at St Peter’s

I was doing a little research into family connections with St Peter’s, Carmarthen. When we visited Carmarthen last year we walked past the church and I am annoyed with myself that we did not go in. Since then I have discovered that a few of the children of Sir William and Mary Mansel were baptised in the church:

Rebecca Elisabeth baptised 9th August 1769 at St Peter’s, Carmarthen

Richard Mansel baptised November 10th 1770, at St Peter’s, Carmarthen

William Mansel baptised April 4th 1776, at St Peter’s, Carmarthen

I also discovered that there was a memorial lozenge to Lady Mansel at St Peter’s Church, on the wall near the organ which states the following:

In the family vault in this chancel are deposited the remains of MARY Relict of Sir WILLIAM MANSEL of Iscoed and Daughter of JOHN PHILIPPS Esq. by ELIZABETH his 2nd Wife of Coedgain in this County. In the Christians full hope of a blessed immortality She departed this life in the 66th year of her age.

The memorial lozenge looks to be made of marble and was designed/made by Cooke.

Lady Mary Mansel died in 1811 and was buried at St Peter’s Carmarthen in the family vault on the 3rd January 1813.

I have contacted St Peter’s to see if they have any record of the family vault but they do not think they have any records relating to burials in the vault, they also mentioned that burials ceased in the church yard in 1856. So I have contacted the Carmarthen Records Office first to see if they hold any records of burial vaults at St Peter’s.

Welsh Murders Volume 1: 1770-1918

I found an intriguing mention of my Mansel relation in a book called Welsh Murders Volume 1: 1770-1918. Written by Peter Fuller and Brian Knapp, published 1986.

There is a chapter called Glanareth – The Glanareth Conspiracy which took place between 1769/1770.  A murder took place in Glanareth, Bethlehem , Carmarthenshire.

The story mentions Sir William Mansel my 4x great grandfather. I want to find a copy of the book, or this story, so I can see more. I know that it mentions Sir William as a gentleman/member of the ‘Blue Coat Hunt’.

For extracts from a contemporary pamphlet account of the trial see this blog post:

Iscoed Home Farm

A few days ago I was wondering where my branch of the Mansel family had lived before they had Iscoed House built for them. I was able to find a tiny nugget of information in an online leaflet for a walk around Ferryside, where we stayed last year.

According to the trail:

“The walk passes three places with the name Iscoed. A farm track leads to Iscoed Uchaf, a working farm, and Iscoed Home Farm, a historic house inhabited by medieval Welsh uchelwyr or gentry families. Sir William Mansel began to build a new mansion, also called Iscoed in 1772. This is the striking brick-built ruin to be seen from lower down the walk. In 1804 both mansions were sold to General Sir Thomas Picton, who died a hero’s death at the battle of Waterloo in 1815.”

So it seems that the family lived at Iscoed Home Farm prior to their new house being finished. I have not yet been able to find out anything about Iscoed Home Farm, except for this photo :

Ffarm Iscoed Home Farm
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Alan Richards –

Link to leafet:

Iscoed House, Ferryside

Iscoed House was built for my 4xGreat Grandfather, Sir William Mansel, 9th Baronet.

Iscoed House, Ferryside

Sir William married Mary Phillips on the 26th August 1765 at the local church, St Ishmael.

According to Wikipedia, the house was “Constructed for Sir William Mansel in 1772, it was purchased by the Napoleonic general Sir Thomas Picton as an incomplete shell in 1812. The house remained the property of the Picton family until the end of the First World War. Used subsequently as council housing, it has been empty since the 1950s, and is now a derelict shell. The house is Grade II listed.”

If the house was built in 1772 I wonder where Sir William and Lady Mary lived from the time of their marriage in 1765? If the house was not finished when they sold it in 1812, then did they live in part of the house and what parts remained unfinished?

They had at least 7 children so would have needed a large property and I’m not aware of any other large houses in Iscoed at this time.

Also according to Wikipedia, “Pevsner considers Iscoed “one of the most important Georgian mansions of the county.” Of three storeys and five bays, the main house is cuboid, with wings extending to each side.

..According to a page on the National Library of Wales, “Iscoed was inherited by his grandfather Richard Mansel, son of Sir Francis Mansel, 1st Bart., through his marriage to Catherine Morgan, daughter of Rees Morgan of Iscoed. The family continued to live at Iscoed until Sir John Bell William Mansel (1806-1883), 11th Bart., sold the mansion of Iscoed, Iscoed (Old), and two other farms to General Sir Thomas Picton for £30,000.” Since Sir Thomas Picton died in 1815 there must be an error with the dates. [source]

It seems that there had been a connection with Iscoed for some time, Sir Richard Mansel 5th Baronet; Sir Richard Mansel 6th Baronet; Sir William Mansel 7th Baronet; Sir Richard Mansel 8th Baronet and Sir William Mansel 9th Baronet all had lived at Iscoed so there must have been a previous house, perhaps on the same site. Sir Richard Mansel 8th Baronet and Sir William Mansel 9th Baronet also kept a house at Woodstone in Cork, Ireland which it seems Sir William Mansel 10th Baronet left for after he sold Iscoed.

I have been unable to find out anything about Woodstone in County Cork, Ireland so this is something I will keep researching.

Other places to explore relating to the Mansel family:

Penrice Castle Estate

Oxwich Castle

St Ishmael, Ferryside