Monday, February 13, 2006

A Tunnel at Tredegar?


There are always tall tales connected to historic places. One of my favourites involves the fireplace in the Gilt Room. It was said that the gaping mouths of the two gilded gargoyles flanking the fireplace used to have tongues. If the tongues of both were pulled at the same time, the fireplace would spin around to reveal a tunnel. There was a little debate as to where this tunnel led: I have heard it stated that it stretched to the banks of the River Usk for smuggling; an even wilder tale had it stretching all the way to the second Morgan home in South Wales, Ruperra Castle!

Sadly, this is all gilded balderdash. If you stand in the Cedar Garden you can actually see the back of the Gilt Room fireplace jutting out, and nobody has ever found any evidence of a tunnel. Ah well.

But what if there really was a tunnel at Tredegar House? What if the cellars contained more than barrels of beer and bottles of wine? The new 'Unexplored Tredegar' tours will dig into this theory further. We will present the evidence (such as it is), and the visitor can make up their own mind. Of course a survey (anybody got a handy geophysics machine lying around?) might put the matter beyond doubt.

1 comment:

Haydn Davis said...

I was particularly intrigued by the story of a , so far, mythical tunnel which may have connected the house to the River Ebbw. If
there ever was one, how about this as a reason for its existence .........?

Buildings said to be in the form of a small castle with a river bank jetty were discovered on the eastern bank of the river. They almost certainly stood on ground belonging to the Tredegar Estate.They may even have pre-dated the first permanent house. They were in ruins when first written about in the 16th Century and two different, travelling historians named them as
Castle Behan or Greenfield (Maesglas).Situated across the river, almost opposite and, only a short distance in a direct line away from the house, early
20th Century ordnance maps show them as having been absorbed into Maesglas Farm. Now, all that is left to show for them is a grassy mound.

What with the reputation of this stretch of coastline for medieval smuggling and the many tales of the involvement of the local gentry, is it not worth
considering that here was a place from which to "spirit" away contraband (possibly via a tunnel) to the earliest Tredegar House cellars?. Has any thought been given to a bit of archeological excavation at this spot on the
Tredegar House side of the River Ebbw?

All historic conjecture of course!