Plas Newydd
Plas Newydd now
Plas Newydd as it looks now.


Plas Newydd with Yorke wing
Plas Newydd before General Yorke's wing was demolished.


Plas Newydd Yorke Wing
General Yorke's wing and the pretty end wall of the surviving wing


Plas Newydd - decorative porches
The surviving wing with its decorative porches


Plas Newydd - rear with outbuildings
The rear, with outbuildings. Relatively simple in the General's day.


Plas Newydd - roof removed
Roof removed to show interior.


Plas Newydd - model in situ
The model in situ in the parlour.

Rhyl Pier having been deemed a great success, my next model commission was Plas Newydd, a strange little house in Llangollen. It started as a simple farmhouse, but in the late 18th century it was owned by a pair of eccentric spinsters - minor members of the Irish nobility. They acquired an eclectic collection of carvings of various ages, and bolted them onto every available surface, inside and out. Visitors such as the Duke of Wellington, William Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott, and Josiah Wedgwood brought them more.

In the 19th century, the house came into the posession of General John Yorke, who was equally eccentric. He kept most of the ladies' decoration, but added mock Tudor half-timbering, and built another wing, bigger than the original house. Later, yet another wing was added, and there was a bewildering maze of buildings tacked on at the back.

Most of the complex, incuding the two added wings, eventually succumbed to dry rot and neglect, and it was demolished in the 1960s, leaving only the original wing. Luckily, most of the carvings and decoration survived intact.

We decided that I should build a model of the house in General Yorke's day. The surviving wing could be exhaustively measured, of course, but the General's wing was somewhat conjectural. There were no architectural plans, other than a vague (and, I believe, inaccurate) ground plan on an Ordnance Survey map. I was working mainly from a few old photographs, drawing up sight-lines, and cross-referencing proportions and perspective against the surviving wing. The result is a pretty good representation of what the house looked like in the late 19th century.

One further complication was that the surviving wing had to open, to show the interior. This caused a fair amount of brain-racking, because of the bizarre internal structure and different floor levels. Eventually, though, I found a line along which the wing could be split to show the main rooms on the upper floor. It meant splitting the decorative windows, and construction was - er - challenging. But it worked.

Click the images to enlarge.