Sunday, 11 November 2012

Graffiti at Old Beaupre

Historical graffiti can be a fascinating thing. These were ordinary people making a bid for immortality by setting their name in stone. These examples come from the late Medieval/Tudor building of Old Beaupre which is hidden deep in the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Old Beaupre was the one time residence of the Bassetts, a large landowning gentry family. Sadly the house, like many of its kind was allowed to fall into decay or perhaps deliberately stripped of its building materials like Llanbethly Palace and Boverton House: it now stands as a romantic and isolated ruin. Upon visiting Old Beaupre one is struck by the magnificent Renaissance sandstone carved porch complete with Greek Ionic and Doric fluted capitals; heraldic devices are carved in relief along with Classical motifs. Inside the entrance way to the porch there exist an interesting array of historical graffiti.

(These examples took some skill to carve, the oldest being D.T., (1660) and others such as E.B., J.H.,
                                          John Jem, D.W., (1789) and the date 1791 are prominent)
The carvings date from the mid seventeenth century and span into the twentieth and are no doubt the product of local and perhaps more distant visitors. Some names include John Jem, D.W., 1789, D.L.M,. 1840, and D.T., 1660. The relatively early date of 1660 would suggest that the house was neglected even at this period, unless Mr. Bassett gave his consent to D.T., defacing his property. These are in many ways just as interesting as the porch itself as, and although we know one Richard Twrch designed the porch, these amateurish carvings reveal the identities of those who's names (or initials) we would have never have known. Sadly, given the porous nature of sandstone the classical motifs and heraldic devices, along with the graffiti are wearing away.

 (Some later examples include J.E., (1911), D.L.M (1840) and also undated examples from W.J., and

Old Beaupre is well worth a visit if you don't mind dodging the cows which invariably seem to be in the fields one has to pass through to get to the ruin.

                                                  (The porch at Old Beaupre castle)

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