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Cwrt-yr-Ala (also known as Cwrtyrala)


The site features a house built to designs by Sir Percy Thomas in 1939, and a formal garden of the same date with terraces and a canal.

A ‘natural' garden with sloping lawns was created by the Rous family. Close to the house was a parterre. There was also a round pond with a central fountain. To the north of the formal garden was a mature yew hedge. To the west was a walled kitchen garden, with a woodland area beyond that.

The Merrett family introduced substantial changes to the garden. New features included stone walls and steps, with balustrades and paved terraces on the west and south of the house. The parterre was replaced with a sunken garden with a central canal, but the mature yew hedging was retained.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts


01443 336000


J. Gardner


The manor of Michaelston-le-Pit was bought by Robert Rous from the Fonmon estate in 1788. The site had a farmhouse called Cwrtyrala, which was probably where the manor house of the de Raleigh family had been. Rous began to build a villa on the site in the 1790s. Robert Rous died in 1806, leaving the estate to his nephew, Thomas Bates Rous. Thomas built a much larger house on the site in 1819-20. The last member of the Rous family to live in the property died in 1907.

Between 1908 and 1934, the house was occupied by the Cardiff brewer, William Henry Brain. The house was then sold to Sir Herbert Merrett, who demolished the building and replaced it with a house of neo-Georgian style. This was designed by Percy Thomas in 1939-40.

It seems that the original garden layout only had two ponds, the others being added before the Ordnance Survey first edition maps were produced in the 1870s. The parks and gardens were mainly established by the 1840s. A tithe map of this date shows their outlines.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • CADW Register of Landscapes Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in Wales

  • Reference: PGW(Gm)42(GLA)
  • Grade: II


  • Mansion House (featured building)
  • Description: The house is a neo-Georgian mansion.
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  • Pond
  • Description: There is a string of eight long narrow ponds, which give the impression of a continuous sheet of water. The ponds were formed by damming the Wrinstone brook.
  • Drive
  • Description: There are two drives.
  • Planting
  • Description: Formal gardens.
  • Garden Terrace
  • Kitchen Garden
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  • Fountain
  • Description: Lead fountain.
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  • Outdoor Swimming Pool
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  • Icehouse
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Key Information





Principal Building

Domestic / Residential


Part: standing remains



Civil Parish