Meet the Morgan family of Tredegar House

Tredegar House postcard

Welsh, wealthy and wild, the Morgan family called Tredegar House home for centuries.

Claiming descent from the Welsh princes, they were influential in Newport and the surrounding counties, playing a big part in social, political and economic issues in the area throughout their time.

Building the red brick mansion house

Records show that there has been a house on this site since the medieval age, but the red brick mansion that you see today was built in the 1670s. Sir William Morgan and his wife, Blanche, were the visionaries behind it. By combining their wealth, they oversaw the renovations to ensure the house boasted their affluence and style.

From parties to politics, the walls of Tredegar House would see it all... 

Industrial age

By the late 1700s, the Morgan family had passed through several generations. Sir Charles Gould Morgan, who had inherited the house and 40,000 acres of land, realised the worth of his estate as it was rich in minerals.

Charles began to invest in industrial projects that can still be seen in South Wales today, including leasing his land for coal mines and iron works, and establishing the Brecon and Monmouthshire canal.  

Flyer written by John Frost in the Riches and Rebellion exhibition
John Frost flyer image
Flyer written by John Frost in the Riches and Rebellion exhibition

Chartist uprising

Owning such a vast estate came with its difficulties too, and in the 1830s, the Morgan family became the focus of the Chartist movement, a protest for increased political rights for the working classes.

The new owner of Tredegar House, Sir Charles Morgan, was the MP for Brecon and Monmouthshire at the time. In 1830, John Frost, one of the leaders of the Chartist movement, wrote a pamphlet entitled A Christmas Box for Sir Charles Morgan, which accused Charles of mistreating his tenants, and called for universal suffrage and a secret ballot.

You can find out more about Charles’ role in the Chartist rebellion at our Riches and Rebellion exhibition.

The local favourite

The Morgans continued to have significant political influence throughout the years that followed, with many of Charles’ descendants following in his footsteps as Members of Parliament. His grandson, Godfrey, a conservative MP, inherited the House in 1875.

Godfrey is widely remembered for his kind heart. Not only did he give away parts of his land, including what is now Belle View Park and the Royal Gwent Hospital. He also widely reduced rent for his tenants and even let one widow live rent-free after the death of her husband.

Evan Morgan at Tredegar House garden party
Evan Morgan party
Evan Morgan at Tredegar House garden party

Extravagance, opulence and the end of an era

The end of the Morgan family at Tredegar House came with Evan, Godfrey’s great-nephew. Wild at heart, he was known for his extravagant parties and attempts at practising black magic. Evan died in 1949, leaving behind the most scandalous stories of the Morgan era and a financial burden that meant Tredegar House was soon sold by his relatives.