© This Month - February


Dr Ann Benson’s talk on the architecture, gardens and residents of Troy House at the The Chapel on Market Street on February 22 starts at 7.30pm. Non-members may join on the night.

 

The following article can also be seen in the February edition of the Abergavenny Focus

Troy House



Hidden among trees down a farm track near Monmouth are the ruins of a historic mansion. Helen Morgan reports:

Troy House, which takes its name from the river Trothy running past its northern boundary, has parts dating back to the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries although ecclesiastical records suggest activity as long ago as the 11th century.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, it was owned by an illegitimate branch of the Herberts. Henry VII visited in August 1502 and its owner, Lady Blanche Herbert of Troy, later became part of the royal court with the role of caring for King Henry VIII’s children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth.

When Edward Somerset, 4th Earl of Worcester, bought the house in 1600, he already owned Raglan and Chepstow castles as well as residences in London. So why buy Troy? He might have been trying to protect Jesuits. The Somersets, like the Herberts, were known recusants who did not acknowledge the king as head of the church. Catholic literature or priests could have been shipped up the River Severn to Chepstow and brought to Raglan via Troy by river or road without detection. And at the top of a narrow staircase in the east section of the house is a narrow door which leads to an attic with no windows. On the left is a chasm which appears to run vertically behind some panelling. Was this a priest hole? It was still visible in the 20th century, when Troy House was a convent, and is similar to the priest hole at Oxburgh Hall, Norfolk. 

Parts of the house were built between 1681 and1684 as a wedding present for Sir Charles Somerset, Marquess of Worcester, by his father, Henry Somerset, 1st Duke of Beaufort. The site of the banqueting house, however, has proved difficult to identify. “Given the status of the 16th and 17th-century owner-occupiers of Troy, one would expect a banqueting house within strolling distance from the house,” says Dr Ann Benson. Banqueting houses were used for the dessert course and often positioned to overlook the gardens. Dr Benson believes that the ruins at the end of one of the garden walls were probably part of a banqueting complex that were used as service buildings after Sir Charles died in1698 and the family moved out. 

 


 

A Panorama of Monmouth with Troy House, c.1672 by Hendrik Danckerts

                                            by kind permission of the Nelson Museum & Local History Collection, Monmouth







Abergavenny Local History Society 
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