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and pomposity of newly acquired wealth', but does not make it quite clear whether it was
j Mr. Birt or his house that owned this air. He sums up the whole effect of house and grounds
thus: it 'exhibits a charming effort of bad taste and burgeoisity'.
The well-informed topographer, Benjamin Heath Malkin, was not given to either sweeping
or snobbish judgments, but in his great book on South Wales he has a mildly phrased but
essentially devastating description of the Castle. He is worth quoting at some length:
Wenvoe is the seat of Robert Jenner, esq. and was built in the castle form by his maternal
grandfather, Mr. Birt. It is a very large, handsome, and commodious house. But I do
not, on the whole, accede to the good taste of building modern castles in a country
abounding with such magnificent specimens of that architecture. The towers at Wenvoe
seem rather to aim at the convenience of a bow-window,than at any of those purposes for
which such structures were intended. Indeed, the criterion of true taste in all the arts is
ornamental utility; but the ornament without the utility savours of that false and affected
I refinement, for which the French are disgracefully proverbial29.
Wenvoe Castle continued to be the seat of the Jenner family into the present century. There
was a serious fire in the main block in 1910 and the whole building was subsequently de-
molished and replaced by a much more modest structure which incorporates the pavilion
which originally terminated the east wing. The house, grounds and stables were taken over
by the Wenvoe Golf Club in the 1930s.
1 The most substantial contribution is Roy Denning, 'The Thomas Family of Wenvoe, 1560-1800', in
Stewart Williams (ed.), The Garden of Wales (Cowbridge, 1961), pp. 106-115.
2 The pedigree in G. T. Clark, Limbus Patrum (London, 1886), pp. 444-6 and 558-9, is much in need of
t amendment. The many generations of Harpways of Herefordshire probably have nothing to do with the
Thomases of Wenvoe, and their seat at 'Tresiment' must surely be confused with Tresimwn, the Welsh
name of Bonvilston. I am much in the debt of Mr. J. Barry Davies for additions and corrections to the
pedigree, as well as for notes of several other documents relating to Wenvoe.
3 I am grateful to Mrs. Patricia Moore for the opinion that the Edmund Thomas who is known to have been
clerk in 1612 was probably E. T. of Wenvoe. His elder brother, William Thomas (d. 1598), was also
clerk of the peace, and another brother had married one of the daughters of Rice Merrick of Cottrell,
also clerk of the peace.
4 Quoted in Margaret Robbins, The Agricultural, Domestic, Social and Cultural Interests of the Gentry in
1 South-east Glamorgan, 1540-1640, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Wales (Cardiff) 1974, vol. I,
pp. 224-7.
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