Newton House

Joanna Davies, Tour Guide Joanna Davies Tour Guide
Fallow deer graze the valley in front of Newton House

Built in 1660, you can still find traces of the original Newton House on a visit to the Dinefwr estate. Most of what you see of the grand building today dates back to the 1850s, when it was given a fashionable Gothic facelift, with stone cladding and four impressive turrets.

Newton House sits at the heart of the Dinefwr estate. The majestic house dominates the landscape, whether from the main driveway or from the deer park behind, Newton House certainly stands out.

 

First built in 1660, the house was home to the Rhys (or Rice) family for over three hundred years. The family were descendants of the Lord Rhys, the powerful Prince of the Welsh Kingdom of Deheubarth, who ruled from the now ruined Dinefwr Castle. Over the years the house had undergone various redesigns, the most notable in the 1850s when a Gothic façade, fashionable at the time, was added. It is this façade that you see on the house today. Luckily some of the original 17th century features survive, including the magnificent grand staircase.

 

What’s in a name?

Newton House takes its name from the ‘New Towne’ that was built for English settlers in the medieval period. By the time Newton House was built the new town had long since disappeared, but as the house stood on the site of the new town, the family took inspiration from this in naming their house.

 

We’ve been expecting you, Mr Brown

The landscape around Newton House was originally formal gardens, but this all changed in the mid-1700s. George and his wife Cecil were inspired by a certain Lancelot Capability Brown to transform their formal gardens into a more naturalistic looking landscape. The man himself visited in 1775 to give his stamp of approval on their designs. He did make some suggestions, although not all were taken on board. If you look out the windows today, what you will see is George and Cecil’s vision.

 

" I wish my journey may prove of use to the place, which if it should, it will be very flattering to me. Nature has been truly bountiful and art has done no harm."
- Lancelot 'Capability Brown'

 

Financial difficulty

After three hundred years of living in Newton House, the Rhys family were forced to sell in the mid-20th century. Facing two lots of death duties Richard, 9th Baron Dynevor, tried desperately to raise funds by turning the house into an arts centre in the 1960s. This valiant attempt failed and by 1975 the house and grounds had all been sold.

 

For the next fifteen years the house had a varied life, playing host to a school, recording company and various families, but gradually it fell into disrepair. The National Trust saved the house from the brink in 1990 and have slowly brought it back to life, which we will continue to do as we look to what the future holds for this unusual historic house.

 

Most haunted?

If you visit Newton House you may bump into something, or someone, unexpected. Newton House is one of the most haunted National Trust houses, appearing on TV’s Most Haunted twice! We can’t promise you’ll have any ghostly encounters, but you never know where Lady El might be lurking. See you soon?!