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18 June 2014
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Legacies - South East Wales

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South East Wales
Allt-y-Bela, Llangwym, Monmouth - under restoration
Allt-y-Bela - "Keeping up with the Edwards'"

What Makes it Special

1953 - Allt-y-Bela with the tower complete
© Courtesy of Monmouthshire County Council
The original medieval house had one storey and an attic, and was a typical Cruck-frame longhouse, housing the family and animals all under one roof. As well as being noisy, dirty and smelly, there would have been little or no privacy for family members. Instead of adapting the old building, Edwards embraced the new ideas of his time and built a suite of private rooms, one on each floor, contained in a tower added to the south of the original long hall.

Agricultural prosperity was the catalyst to Renaissance building, particularly arable farming, as wheat prices rose consistently in the 16th Century. Roger Edwards knew that his building would reflect some of the power and wealth he had accumulated as a farmer and landowner in the area. Even though the Renaissance was an age of display, it was exceptional to build a tower purely for this purpose and not for fortification or defence. More puzzling still, Edwards' tower was quite hidden by the Usk valley, not far from the old Usk to Chepstow road, and would have only been visible at close quarters.

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