Park House, Cardiff

Park House (Welsh: Tŷ Parc; formerly McConnochie House), 20 Park Place, Cardiff, Wales, is a nineteenth century town house. It was built for John McConnochie, Chief Engineer to the Bute Docks, by the Gothic revivalist architect William Burges. It is a Grade I listed building. The architectural historian John Newman writes that the architectural style of the house "revolutionized Cardiff's domestic architecture," and Cadw considers the building "perhaps the most important 19th century house in Wales."

Park House
Park House (16939542687).jpg
TypeHouse
LocationCardiff, Wales
Coordinates51°29′04″N 3°10′27″W / 51.4844°N 3.1743°W / 51.4844; -3.1743Coordinates: 51°29′04″N 3°10′27″W / 51.4844°N 3.1743°W / 51.4844; -3.1743
Built1871-4
ArchitectWilliam Burges
Architectural style(s)Victorian
Governing bodyPrivately owned
Listed Building – Grade I
Official namePark House
Designated25 January 1966
Reference no.13772
Park House, Cardiff is located in Wales
Park House, Cardiff
Location of Park House in Wales

HistoryEdit

Commissioned by McConnochie in 1871,[1] the house was completed externally by 1874,[2] although decoration of the interior continued, somewhat slowly, until McConnochie's Cardiff mayoral year of 1880.[3] The surveyor was J. Holden.[4] The house was much admired at the time of its construction, being referenced by Viollet-le-Duc[5] and its plans displayed at the Royal Academy.[3] Today, the house is of particular interest for three reasons; as the precursor of Burges' own house in Kensington, as evidence of one of the few architectural errors Burges made in his career[3] and as a template for an architectural style which had a significant influence on late Victorian and early Edwardian Cardiff. "By its powerful early French Gothic style, its steep roofs and boldly textured walls (the house) revolutionized Cardiff's domestic architecture."[6]

The house is now a restaurant. To publicise its opening to the public in 2012, the owner wrapped the building with a giant red ribbon. As this had been done without listed building consent, Cardiff council demanded its removal.[7]

Architecture and descriptionEdit

 
Side view of Park House

The style of the house is Burges's signature Early French Gothic,[6] with triangle and rectangle to the fore, although it is without the conical tower felt appropriate for Burges's own home and for Castell Coch. The external frontage comprises four gables, the windows of the last gable concealing the major error of the interior, the fact that the entrance confronts the visitor with the underside of a colossal staircase.[6] It is hard to understand how Burges could have made such a mistake.[5] It was not repeated at The Tower House, which is an almost, reversed, replica, with added conical tower.[5] The house is of two storeys, with an attic and a basement.[8] The style of the house was widely imitated, in Cardiff and beyond, and this can be evidenced by walking tours of any of Cardiff's inner suburbs, where echoes of Burges's influence can be seen. Cadw described Park House as "perhaps the most important 19th century house in Wales".[8]

Burges used various building stones for Park House, Pennant Sandstone for the walls, Bath stones around the windows, entrance porch and plinths, while the pillars are pink Peterhead granite from Aberdeenshire.[9] Henry-Russell Hitchcock, the American architecture critic, considered Park House "one of the best medium-sized stone dwellings of the High Victorian Gothic".[a][10] It is a Grade I listed building.[8]

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Writing in the 1960s, in the Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries volume of the Pelican History of Art series, Hitchcock described Park House as "superior in almost every way to Burges's own home at 9 Melbury Road in London", a judgement unlikely to be endorsed in the early 21st century.[10]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dakers 1999, p. 174.
  2. ^ Hilling 2016, p. 41.
  3. ^ a b c Crook 1981, p. 57.
  4. ^ "The Builder". 1905. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  5. ^ a b c Crook 2013, pp. 305–6.
  6. ^ a b c Newman 2001, pp. 218–9.
  7. ^ "Giant ribbon stunt at Park House restaurant 'illegal'". BBC News Online. 7 June 2012.
  8. ^ a b c Cadw. "Park House (Grade I) (13772)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Park House, Cardiff (19603)". Coflein. RCAHMW. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  10. ^ a b Hitchcock 1968, p. 188.

SourcesEdit

External linksEdit

  Media related to Park House, Cardiff at Wikimedia Commons