DiCamillo Companion
Wales

Plas Newydd

  • House & Family History: For much of the 19th century Beaudesert in Staffordshire was the primary seat of the Paget family, earls of Uxbridge and marquesses of Anglesey. The family fortune was based on lead and coal mines in Staffordshire and North Wales and from a storied cooper mine on the Isle of Anglesey. The 6th Marquess (succeeded to the title in 1905) was often mentioned as the third richest man in England. In 1913 he set about enlarging Beaudesert, but after the Great War was forced, in 1924, to put it up for sale, economic conditions no longer allowing the support of such a house. The family decamped and moved to Plas Newydd, their Welsh seat, which was built in both the classical and Gothic styles and which features lovely 1930s interiors by Sybil Colefax and murals by Rex Whistler.

    Collections: Plas Newydd contains Rex Whistler's largest painting, an enormous mural (in reality, a painting executed on one huge canvas -- 58 feet long by 12 feet high, the largest single canvas in Britain -- made for Whistler on a special French loom). The painting, a stunning Georgian landscape fantasy dotted with classical architecture, covers an entire wall in the Dining Room and was done between 1936 and 1937 for the 6th Marquess of Anglesey, whose family Whistler was exceptionally close to. Plas Newydd also houses an exhibition of Whistler's work, the only permanent exhibition to this unique talent. In May of 2006 the National Trust purchased from the Whistler family an important collection of paintings and drawings by Rex Whistler to be housed at Plas Newydd. The collection spans to 50 items and includes the original illustrations for "The Last of Uptake," costume designs for "The Tempest," proof editions of Whistler's illustrations for "Gulliver's Travels," his paint box, brushes, and palette, plus posters, designs for book jackets, and a wall training chart, designed by Whistler for the men of his tank regiment during World War II. There is also a military museum with relics of the 1st Marquess of Anglesey and the Battle of Waterloo, where Lord Anglesey fought bravely (and lost a leg) serving under the Duke of Wellington.

    Comments: Plas Newydd is often called "the most beautiful house in Britain."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: The Estate contains a fine spring garden and an Australasian arboretum.

    Chapel & Church: The Gothick style Chapel, built 1805-09 to the designs of Joseph Potter, was demolished in the 20th century. In the late 19th century the Chapel was converted into a theater (called The Gaiety) modeled on the Dresden Opera House by the 5th Marquess (the Dancing Marquess). The Dancing Marquess put on plays in the theater, importing the best talent from London and paying the actors exorbitant salaries.

  • Architect: Joseph Potter

    Date: 1796 and later
    Designed: Worked as executant architect for James Wyatt

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    Architect: John Cooper

    Date: 1783-85
    Designed: Alterations to House for 1st Earl of Uxbridge

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    Architect: Joseph Potter

    Date: 1805-09
    Designed: Gothic Chapel (demolished)

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    Architect: Joseph Potter

    Date: 1823-26
    Designed: Work for 1st Marquess of Anglesey

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    Architect: James Wyatt

    Date: 1796 and later
    Designed: Alterations for 1st Earl of Uxbridge (Joseph Potter was his executant architect)

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  • J.P. Neal: Vol. V, 1822.

    Country Life: XCIX, 342 [Rex Whistler Room], 1946. CXVIII, 1198 plan, 1252, 1955. CLIX, 1686, 1976. CLX, 18, 1977. CLXII, 286 [Rex Whistler], 1977.

  • Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - SOFTBACK
    Author: Colvin, Howard
    Year Published: 1995
    Reference: pgs. 269, 775, 1118
    Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
    ISBN: 0300072074
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Country House in the 1980s, The
    Author: Young, John
    Year Published: 1981
    Reference: pgs. 91-92
    Publisher: London: George Allen & Unwin
    ISBN: 0047200227
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: National Trust Handbook 2000, The
    Author: NA
    Year Published: 2000
    Publisher: London: The National Trust
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Softback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • "The Aristocracy" (1997 - BBC TV documentary mini series). "Holiday" (2006 - BBC TV travel documentary, episode segment "North Wales," by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen).
  • Seat of: Charles Alexander Vaughan Paget, 8th Marquess of Anglesey.

    Past Seat of: Henry Bayley-Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge, 18th century.

    Current Ownership Type: The National Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 01248-714-795

    Fax: 01248-713-673

    Email: plasnewydd@nationaltrust.org.uk

    Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No