Plas Mawr is almost unchanged since the C16th and is possibly the best preserved Elizabethan Town House in Britain. Its owner, Robert Wynn, a wealthy merchant wanted a house to impress and befitting of his status and standing. He also liked entertaining, lavishly.
The house was built between 1576 – 1585 and was the latest style with tall lime rendered walls with crow step gables, tower and impressive plasterwork. The house is an H shape with an internal, upper courtyard which gave access to most of the rooms in the house as well as the cellars. There was even space for a small garden leading off the courtyard.
The gatehouse was the last bit of the house to be built. Not only did it offer a degree of privacy, it also provided a suitable grand entrance into a courtyard. Few houses had the space for a luxury like this. It would have provided accommodation for Robert Wynne’s steward.
This show of grandeur must have worked as robert was elected MP for Caernarvonshire and later sheriff of the county.
He married Dorothy Griffiths and their initials and coats of arms can be seen throughout the house. Dorothy died childless and Robert married again, another Dorothy. Although in his seventies, he fathered seven children by her. His tomb is in the chancel of the Church of St Mary and All Saints.
On his death Wynne laid out complex instructions for dividing his estate. The resulting law-case took years to resolve, effectively preventing the redevelopment of the house and preserving it in its original condition. During the 18th & 19th centuries it was rented out as cheap lodgings and little work was done to modernise the house.
The house is now in the ownership of CADW who have carried out a major restoration as to what it may have been like in 1665 and have repainted the plasterwork. The house is furnished based on an inventory from that time. Many of the furnishings are original to the house. Wall hangings are replicas.
It is a fascinating house and the plasterwork is amazing. Over mantles have coats of arms and walls and ceilings are decorated with Tudor roses, lions, dragons, ostriches, wild boar, bears, heads, fleur de lys. As well as the family rooms there are the kitchens and brewhouse. One of the attic rooms is furnished as it might have been when let out in the 19thC. As this review was getting very long, I have split it into two and have written a more detailed review of the inside of the house here.
There is no parking by the house. There is some disabled parking in York Place. There are steps into the house making it unsuitable for wheelchair users. There are toilets. There are slight reductions for seniors. CADW has a policy of admitting disabled visitors and carers free to their properties. Assistance dogs are allowed in the house.