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Architect gardener proved the salvation of bishops' palace

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 24, 2013

  • Mathern Palace is positioned at the end of the village lane and approached through a stone-pillared gate

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Mathern Palace, which has come to the market with Knight Frank and has an asking price of £2,750,000, was formally the chief residence of the Bishops of Llandaff from 1406 to 1706 – but by the late 19th century had fallen into a state of decay.

Its salvation came at the hands of H Avray Tipping, the architectural historian and garden designer, who bought Mathern in 1894 and instigated a restoration programme and laid out the romantic gardens. (See Edwardian Country Life by Helena Gerrish).

Mathern is an historic village in Monmouthshire, south east Wales, about three miles south west of the town of Chepstow, close to the Severn estuary and the Bristol Channel.

The village is designated as a Conservation Area.

Chepstow has all the expected shops, services and amenities of an important town, whilst Bristol, Usk and Monmouth are within easy driving distance.

The M48/M4 at Chepstow provides fast access to Bristol, the commercial centres of South Wales and London. Chepstow has rail services although the main rail connections are at Severn Junction (six miles) or Bristol Parkway (14 miles).

There are international airports at both Bristol and Cardiff. South East Monmouthshire is renowned for its recreational opportunities. The medieval town of Chepstow includes an historic castle and important racecourse; major golf courses include St Pierre and Celtic Manor; leisure centres are in Chepstow, Bristol and Newport; the River Wye flows through Chepstow; and there are an abundance of walks and rides through the surrounding countryside and the nearby Forest of Dean.

Mathern Palace is positioned at the end of the village lane and approached through a stone-pillared gate to a Tarmac drive that arrives to a large turning area at the front of the house.

The house is entered through a large stone porch into the main hall. The hall features flag stone tile floor, French doors that lead straight out onto the garden. The door to the right leads to three ground-floor bedrooms and the billiard room. The corridors are half panelled. Also leading from the main hall is a door that leads into the sitting room which has a large stone fireplace and views over the garden.

The sitting room leads through into the inner hall which also has a door to outside and is currently used as the main reception hall. Leading from the inner hall is the dining room, a long room with tremendous ceiling height and leaded mullion windows.

A door leads out into the garden and at one end is a marble fireplace. Leading through from the dining room is the drawing room which features a wooden, carved fireplace and large leaded windows.

From there, double doors lead in to the library with built-in bookshelves. Adjacent to the library is a drinks room and door leading back to the inner hall.

The kitchens at Mathern Palace are currently commercial in their layout with cooking and preparation areas. A corridor from the kitchen leads down to a scullery and office. A door into the courtyard leads off from this passageway.

There are two cellars at Mathern Palace both reached externally. The bedroom accommodation is split into two wings, to one end there are four bedroom suites that run off the main passageway that runs the length of the house.

Two of the bedroom suites have sitting rooms and all rooms are of a good size. A small door at one end of the passageway opens to a stone spiral staircase that rises from the main reception hall to a further guest bedroom suite and bedroom with bathroom opposite.

The remaining bedroom accommodation is over the south-west wing of the house and consists of two further bedroom suites. At the end of the corridor stairs leads down into the gazebo/ summer room which has a full panoramic leaded window with views over the gardens and neighbouring farmland to the west.

The gardens at Mathern Palace lie predominantly to the south and west and are mainly laid to lawn. The gardens have been beautifully maintained and have a wealth of mature and specimen trees throughout. There are many features within the gardens, most notably the topiary yew hedging to the east. Beyond the yew hedging hides a sunken rose garden.

The garden is laid out over a number of levels, all of which are surrounded by flower beds and borders. Part of the original house extended into the current gardens and the remains of which have been preserved.

To the north of the house is an area of orchard that leads down to a pond. Beyond the gardens is a paddock which is fenced for livestock and forms the boundary of the property. A small stone building to the north of the house houses the boilers. The courtyard at the back of the house has a number of store rooms and leads through to a gravelled parking area with three garages.

What appears to have been the Old Coach House is now used for garden machinery and storage. Beyond the courtyard are some old stone pig sties and a stable block with three loose boxes.

Adjacent to the parking area is the kitchen garden and green house. Lying to the front of the house are two stone cottages under tiled roofs, one of which is currently being converted but will require finishing.

The cottage adjacent has four bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, sitting room and dining area. The cottage has a garden that lies to the front and is enclosed within a stone wall.

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