History of Tredegar House
Welsh, wealthy and wild, the Morgan family called Tredegar House home for centuries. Claiming descent from the Welsh princes, the Morgans were influential in Newport and the surrounding counties in South East Wales. Learn how they played a big part in the social, political and economic scene in the area and discover traces of the Morgans that can still be found in the local area to this day.
History of the Morgan family at Tredegar House
The medieval age
Described as a ‘faire place of stone’, records of Tredegar House date back to the medieval age. However, the iconic red brick house that we know today was built in the 1670s by Sir William Morgan and his wife, Blanche.
The couple combined their wealth to boast their high fashion and affluence, turning the stone manor house into an extravagant country mansion.
By the late 1700s, the estate spanned more than 40,000 acres into the surrounding hills. Sir Charles Gould Morgan, who was head of the family at this time, had a mind for business and soon realised the enormous value of the land on his estate.
Being rich in minerals, the land was an ideal place for coal mines and iron works. Sir Charles saw this as an opportunity to capitalise the estate, and decided to lease the land to mine owners, as well as establishing the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal.
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 to increase the political rights of 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.
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 Vue Park and the Royal Gwent Hospital. He also reduced rent for his tenants, and even let one widow live rent-free after the death of her husband.
Scandalous stories and the end of an era at Tredegar
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.
A Catholic girls school at Tredegar House
The house was sold by Evan’s distant relatives in the 1950s, when it became a Catholic girls school. In the 1970s, Newport Council bought the house and transformed it into a museum that reflected the unique story of the mansion house.
In 2012, the council leased the house to the National Trust who now care for its historic buildings, unusual gardens and vast parkland.
Tredegar House is featured in the beautifully illustrated book, '60 Remarkable Buildings of the National Trust', written by one of our expert curators. Buy the book to learn more about five remarkable buildings in Wales, as well as other fascinating structures across England and Northern Ireland.
Learn more about this special mansion and the proud Welsh family who owned it for more than 500 years. Read on for more information about exploring this historic house.
Explore the variety of historic gardens when you visit Tredegar House. Read more about these unique green spaces, and how you can enjoy them today.
Discover the top things to see and do when you visit the parkland at Tredegar House and read our guide for a safe and enjoyable visit.
Visit the Brewhouse Café where you can stop for hot drinks and food. Set within a historic building, every purchase helps us to look after Tredegar House for future generations.