The clock is ticking for Gunter Mansion
Gunter Mansion is one of the most important buildings at risk in Wales. It is central to the events leading to the executions of Priests David Lewis and Philip Evans in 1679. They were the last Catholic martyrs in Wales and were both subsequently made Saints. The services held openly in its Chapel played a key role in the events leading to the anti-Catholic crackdown of 1678/9. Remarkably this precious Chapel still survives but it is at risk of being lost. Help us save Gunter Mansion and its hidden catholic chapel, a key part of Welsh Catholic history.
This August is the 400th anniversary of the birth of David Lewis. What better way to mark this event than by raising the money to save this key monument!
Gunter Mansion before Edwardian alterations to the street front
About Gunter Mansion
Gunter Mansion is now at risk but in the 17th Century it was the home of the key Catholic Gunter (a corruption of the Norman French Gaunt d'Or) family. Here open Catholic services were held by David Lewis and Philip Evans in an attic Chapel in defiance of a government ban. Their activities were reported to Parliament, which raised to fever pitch the anti-Catholic paranoia which had already been hightened by the Titus Oates plot. As a direct result King Charles II instigated a clamp down - the priests from the Chapel at Gunter, David Lewis and Philip Evans, were both arrested and executed in 1679. They were the last Catholic martyrs of Wales and both have subsequently been made Saints by the Catholic Church.
A key link to this history was re-discovered in 1907 when builders broke through in to the hidden Chapel, which had lain untouched since the fateful events of 1679. They found key family papers, an amazing mural of the Virgin and Child and remarkable graffiti from the period. This is the only known recusant chapel still existing in Wales and it is now at risk.
A drawing by Ken Adams of the Chapel
The building is currently owned by a commercial property company and it is in a very poor state. Water penetration is damaging the key historic features, including the Chapel and a very important 17th Century ceiling is at risk of collapse.
Luckily the Welsh Georgian Trust has managed to negotiate an option agreement to purchase the building for £150,000. But time is running out to save the building as this option expires at the end of the year. We have applied to funding bodies for help to acquire the freehold but they require match funding for us to succeed.
Once acquired we intend to develop a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to fully restore the building and operate it with a mixture of commercial tenants and public access. The building would become a catalyst for regeneration in this part of town and draw in many visitors including from overseas.
The project has the support of the town and county councils and the local civic society.
But we urgently need your help to raise the difference in order to acquire the building.
Your support could make the difference to enable us to save this hugely important building!
The 17th Century Ceiling at Gunter
The Welsh Georgian Trust is a charitable Building Preservation Trust formed in 2011. We are a company limited by guarantee (7705089), a registered charity (1144813) and a member of the UK Association of Building Preservation Trusts.
Our objects are to preserve for the benefit of the people of Wales and the Welsh Marches and of the Nation, the historical, architectural and constructional heritage that may exist in and around Wales and the Welsh Marches in Georgian and Pre-Georgian buildings (including any structure or erection, and any part of a building as so defined) of particular beauty or historical, architectural or constructional interest.
We have an office in Monmouth but cover all of Wales and the Marches, having trustees in North and South Wales and in the Welsh Marches. We are close to completing our first major project, Plas Kynaston near Wrexham. Gunter Mansion will be our second project.
For more information visit our website www.welshgeorgiantrust.org.uk