Former Gunter family mansion

button-theme-crimeLink to French translationbutton_lang_japaneseFormer Gunter family mansion, 37-40 Cross Street, Abergavenny

This building was once home to members of the influential Gunter family. Part of it dates from the 16th century. It was once the Parrott Inn. Today the ground floor is occupied by several shops. In 2015 archaeologists discovered a fragment of Roman road behind the building. The Romans had a fort nearby.

In the 17th century, Thomas Gunter kitted out the mansion’s attic as a Roman Catholic chapel. Two Jesuit priests, including Father David Lewis, performed mass there for local Catholics. Any Catholic at that time faced punishment, up to and including death, but Gunter refused to become a Protestant. Priest-hunter John Arnold told Parliament in 1678 that he had found a ‘mark of the Jesuits’ on the exterior of Gunter’s home.

Father David Lewis was based at the Gunter mansion when he administered to Catholics in Monmouthshire and Herefordshire. He was arrested while preparing for mass at Llantarnam in 1678. For the offence of being a Catholic and saying mass, he suffered an agonising death when he was hanged, drawn and quartered in 1679. He was buried – contrary to the law – in Usk churchyard. He was beatified in 1929, canonised in 1970 and is one of the 40 martyrs of Wales and England.

James Gunter became MP for Monmouthshire in 1554 but died in 1558. He had bought Abergavenny Priory. In February 1712 another James Gunter, who lived at the priory, became MP for the same constituency, but died just six months later.

A later James Gunter made his mark in confectionery. He was born in the Gunter mansion in 1745. In 1777 he joined Domenico Negri as partner at the Pot and Pine Apple, the confectioner’s shop which Negri, an Italian chef, had established in 1757 in Berkeley Square, London. By the end of the century Gunter was sole owner of the business, which became popular among Mayfair’s well-heeled residents. He supplied foods to the royal family, and bought a mansion in Earl’s Court. After his death in 1819, the business remained in the family for generations. Gunter’s Tea Shop moved to Curzon Street when Berkeley Square was remodelled in the 1930s. It closed in 1956.

In 2016 the Welsh Georgian Trust held a successful crowdfunding campaign and was subsequently awarded funding to buy and restore the Gunter mansion by the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Pilgrim Trust.

Postcode: NP7 9ER    View Location Map

Website of Plas Gunter Mansion restoration project

Website of Last Welsh Martyr blog

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