Foxhall Newydd

The things people will do to impress others.  Foxhall Newydd was begun in 1592 by John Panton in an explicit effort to outshine his neighbours, especially Humphrey Lloyd at Old Foxhall.  John Panton was from an old Denbighshire family with considerable land and greater ambitions.  He was secretary and adviser on Welsh affairs to Thomas Egerton and Recorder of Denbigh, both positions giving him considerable influence.

By design, Foxhall Newydd was an attempt to shock with the new, as Hubbard claims, ‘a startlingly ambitious’ house.  Intended as a H-plan house, which it is believed would, had it been completed, been at least three times larger than the remaining building.

 

An excellent counterpoint to Foxhall Newydd, was the rather more successful Plas Teg in Flintshire, since both homes hankered after the fresh thinking of Robert Smythson, builder of Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, who was himself inspired by a fusion of styles, including the Renaissance and the work of Sebastinao Serlio. Unfortunately for Panton, the money ran out and he was declared bankrupt before the building could be completed in its entirety.  However, it would seem the finished section was fitted out and lived in, since there is some evidence of surviving plasterwork, and a planned formal garden, neither of which would have been completed had there been no intention to occupy the site.  The house is believed to have abandoned some time at the end of the 18th century and was a ruin by the end of the 19th.  There is evidence of a somewhat older, mid-16th century home attached to the property, which might well have been lived in while the new build was being raised.

 

What is left today is an intensely atmospheric, later 16th century house, testimony to the overreach of ambition.  A large Renaissance house, three storeys high, retaining its very high walls to almost full height, and retaining a basement and windows in the gables.  A home to crows and jackdaws, intensely irritated at the intrusion of visitors, Foxhall Newydd is a delight.

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