Penralley House, Rhayader

Penralley House, Rhayader

Records of the Penralley Estate go back to 1656. It was developed in the 18th century by the James family, which had amassed wealth in Royal Navy service.

It’s thought the current Penralley House was built in 1776. It is listed Grade II for its fine frontage from the Regency period (before Queen Victoria’s reign). The rear was extensively rebuilt in 1876.

James Jones left the estate to his nephew John James on his death in 1774. John was a Royal Navy Lieutenant. He and his wife Jane had eight children, one of whom became a trader in colonial India before dying at sea.

John bequeathed Penralley to another son, Horatio, who became a Royal Navy Commander. One of Horatio’s nephews was the crime writer Frank Howel Evans, whose detective character Jules Poiret is thought to have inspired Agatha Christie’s later character Hercule Poirot.

Horatio’s childless younger daughter Maria inherited Penralley when Horatio died in 1850. She had married Stephen William Williams, appointed Radnorshire’s county surveyor in 1864. He was involved in surveying for the Elan Valley dams in the 1880s and 1890s. He made detailed records of the old church at Nantgwyllt before it was submerged, enabling his replica version to be built near Garreg Ddu dam.

Stephen, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, was interested in archaeology and history. He designed new and renovated churches. As well as rebuilding Penralley House, he created a new house and office next door on ground previously occupied by Penralley Cottages. The new building was named Bryniago House. You can see his initials above the archway at the north end.

Stephen also started a company of army volunteers and rose to the rank of Colonel. He was Radnorshire’s High Sheriff.

Penralley House was refurbished from 2012 onwards by new owners Karen and Steve Harvey, who opened it as a guesthouse. Steve continued with the work after Karen’s untimely death in 2017.

Postcode: LD6 5BH    View Location Map

Website of Penralley House guesthouse