Tracing a House in the Monmouthshire tithes to modern day

Tracing a House in the Monmouthshire tithes to modern day

Nick Thorne discovers a house in the Welsh tithes that changed its footprint over the years

Nick Thorne, Writer at TheGenealogist

Nick Thorne

Writer at TheGenealogist

Welsh Tithe maps for the counties of Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Monmouthshire have now been linked up to TheGenealogist’s Map Explorer™. This addition makes researching for mid 19th century ancestors, whether they are land owners or occupiers, even more interesting in these five historic counties of Wales. As Tithe records included people from all social levels, we can use these records to see how an ancestor’s locality had appeared in this era. Map Explorer™ then allows us to use the layers of historic and modern georeferenced maps to explore the location of the plots over the years all the way up to modern times.

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As an example of this, we are going to look at a house in Monmouth called, The Hendre. Situated in Rockfield, in the civil parish of Llangattock-Vibon-Avel and some 4 miles north-west of the town of Monmouth, it was built in the eighteenth century as a shooting box before being vastly expanded by the family that owned it in three stages during the nineteenth century. The name, Hendre, is from the Welsh: Yr Hendre, meaning a farmer’s winter residence; literally an old home. This particular residence turned into a Gothic style house, being developed into the only full-scale Victorian country house in the county of Monmouthshire, Wales.

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Results from a search for a person in the Tithe Records collection on TheGenealogist
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Tithe apportionment book for J E W Rolls with the plot of the house and pasture highlighted

Using the Tithe map on TheGenealogist shows us a footprint of The Hendre which, when we look at later maps that are georeferenced to the exact coordinates, shows us a different outline. This is because, constructed in Victorian times, the house was developed over time by three major architects, George Vaughan Maddox, Thomas Henry Wyatt and Sir Aston Webb for the Rolls family.

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Tithe map from 1838 shows the smaller footprint of the house at the beginning of its development
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1893-1900 Map reveals larger footprint as the house went through its development stages
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Modern Bing Satellite maps of the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club

The resulting mansion started out as a shooting lodge for John Rolls (1776–1837), and the original manor house that he had built was then expanded throughout the next century. The first of three expansions by the Rolls family began when the architect, George Vaughan Maddox, rebuilt parts of the south wing in 1830. When John Rolls died in 1837 and his estate passed to his son, John Etherington Welch Rolls, the mansion’s development was taken onto its next stage, using Thomas Henry Wyatt as the architect. Wyatt’s contribution was to extend the house during the period 1837–41. He created the great hall in the house and improved the park to include the addition of the gate lodges on the Monmouth Road. Wyatt also continued the enlargement of the south wing, both to the east and to the west, between 1837 and 1858. As the Tithe Survey for this area was dated 11th August 1838, this means that it provides us with a snapshot of the house and parkland just as this second architect was being commissioned to develop the building.

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John Etherington Welch Rolls (1807-1870) in the 'Oak Parlour' at the Hendre - Monmouth Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With the death of J. E. W. Rolls the succession of the next in line came in 1870 when J. A. Rolls became the owner of the estate. This member of the family was the son of John Etherington Welch Rolls, whom the tithe records we have seen had been listed as land owner and occupier. It was John Allan Rolls who was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Llangattock and so this explains why his third son, Charles, was known as the Hon Charles Rolls.

The future King and the famous motorist

The Hon Charles Rolls, of course, was the early aviator and motoring enthusiast who became a partner in Rolls Royce and who sadly lost his life in an aeroplane accident.

The Hendre would have been the childhood country home of Charles and when visited by The Duke of York (destined to become King George V), the prince was photographed outside The Hendre as a passenger in a car being driven by the future Rolls Royce partner.

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The Hon. C.S. Rolls' (in a Panhard & Levassor) autocar with HRH The Duke of York, Lord Llangattock [Rolls' father] and Sir Charles Cust as occupants., photograph taken by John Howard Preston at The Hendre. – The National Archives UK, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1872, Charles’ father, the 1st Baron, began the next development of the house with the removal of the old stables and the building of the present Coach House and loose boxes. At the same time, the core of the house had added to it the Billiard Room, Smoking Room and Dining Room. Lord Llangattock, employed first Henry Pope, who completed the dining room wing and then Sir Aston Webb, to add the Cedar Library.

Directly after the Second World War, the house became a private boys’ boarding school, however not for very long. Ardmore School, as it was known, catered to British and foreign students with a Dr Jones as headmaster. The authorities closed it down at the end of the 1949 Summer term with bankruptcy proceedings having been taken against the two principals. One of these gentlemen was Dr Jones, the headmaster, who promptly absconded to Switzerland and so compelling the Official Receiver to have to obtain a warrant for Dr Jones’ arrest.

Today the Grade II* listed house is now the clubhouse of the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club. The gardens and landscape park, mainly laid out by Henry Ernest Milner in the later 19th century, are also designated Grade II* on the Cadw/ICOMOS Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales. The ability to use the georeferenced maps from Victorian tithe to modern satellite map allows us to view the expansion of this house’s profile on the ground.

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The Hendre - Image: KJP1, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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