The Gwent Local History Council was set up in 1954 to encourage public interest in local history, to bring together societies and persons interested in the study of local history, to arrange lectures and publish the results of historical research. Their twice yearly magazine "Gwent Local History" has made a valuable contribution to the store of historical knowledge. Here Caerleon Net, with the full agreement of the Gwent Local History Council, is making available many of the articles from this magazine relating to Caerleon.
Please note: copyright exists on all texts.
Enquiries relating copyright should be addressed to the Gwent Local History Council.
Gwent Local History No. 37, Spring 1974
St. Julian's House, Newport
by M. J. Waterhouse, B.A. and H. B. Waterhouse, B.A.
This is part of an article titled: "Local History and the Conservation Movement - Some Neglected Monmouthshire Sites". The other sites discussed were: The Alms Houses, Usk; Llangybi Castle; Sudbrook Church; Pencoed Castle and Newport Market.
'In Old Saint Julian's the visitors have an antiquarian treasure, a literary association, which they should cherish. In these hustling, utilitarian days, there is a danger of the association of such places being forgotten. How many who pass it daily are cognizant of the fact that it was once the home of Lord Herbert of Cherbury?'
'It is surely one of the functions of a cultured and enlightened corporation to instruct the community and to perpetuate knowledge of these interesting associations of the long ago. Let the Newport City Fathers see to it. An inscription placed upon the gate-post or wall of Saint Julian's, along the Caerleon road, would cost but little, and would adequately serve the turn'.
Hando writes (South Wales Argus, 28th January 1955) that in 1955 the house was tenanted but in a state of disrepair. He writes:
'The mansion has disappeared and St. Julian's is but a sad relic of the days when the Herberts had their house on the river bank, their vast estate including a deer park (St. Julian's Wood) and their own track leading towards Newport, where stood their picturesque town house now misnamed the Murenger's House'. (ibid, 4.2.55).
The 1910 article describes the building as a farm house as did Willett writing ninety years earlier in 1821:
'St. Julian's, now a farm house, but formerly the residence of the celebrated Edward, Lord Herbert of Cherbury'. (146.).
Willett describes Lord Herbert:
'In one point of view we find him, like the knight of La Mancha, fighting with windmills, redressing the wrongs of distressed damsels at other times we discern the same man devoted to a life of retirement, and with equal spirit, cultivating philosophy, history, and poetry'. (147). This is not the place to expand on the history of St. Julian's as this has been done in a recent paper by Kennerley (1973 See 'Presenting Monmouthshire' No. 35).
Both the South Wales Daily News and Hando stress the need for recognition and renovation, the former including a photograph which shows a still charming house. The structure today is in a deplorable state, apparently being used as a car park and dump. Enough remains, however, to give some idea of the original. The ground plan is cruciform, one arm of the cross forming the original Tudor porch. This has an arched doorway with a carved lintel, in danger of collapse above this is a coat of arms carved in stone. The first floor is lit by three two-tiered arched windows with a dripstone above. In the gable there is another small arched window. The porch has a facade of dressed sandstone, the side walls being made up of mixed stone.
To the west of the porch lies the longest wing, a two-storied structure with two windows on each floor. Under the older dripstones the windows are faced with Victorian brick; the walls are of Old Red Sandstone. To the east of the porch is a short wing with one window on each of two floors, again with dropstones above. Attached to the end of this wing is a lean-to structure built of a mixture of Old Red Sandstone and carved sandstone, robbed from the original house.
The rear wing, battered at base, stretches towards the River Usk. The building is roofed in slate, much of which remains. Under the building are vaulted cellars with two entrances at the rear. The interior of the house has been gutted, floor boarding has disappeared and in places there is a drop into the cellars. The ceilings are collapsing and no doors, window frames or glass remain.
St. Julian's is on a Supplementary List of Buildings
of Architectural or Historic interest; which means it is not thought
of sufficient historic or architectural interest to be included in the
Statutory List. It might be suggested that Kennerley's recent paper
and the above notes belie this. In our opinion the building as it stands
is highly dangerous, especially as it is in an area where children play
and is in need of renovation.
There are several views of St Julians on the Newport Past Website.