Close Window December 2002

Former Saint Mary's Church

Good news:  Gwynedd Council is being supportive, both with a grant towards current costs and in help with preparing grant applications. Planning Permissionand Listed Building Consent have been secured. A well-established and very suitable prospective tenant has been identified. Many heartening letters of support have been received. Now we are preparing the multiple funding applications, interweaving the disparate funding strands into one large, elastic cloth to cover it all.And the first cost plan from the Quantity Surveyor begins to reveal how large the costs might be.

Exciting stuff first

The Coadestone Gate is truly a most exceptional piece. It was certainly in placeby 1811 as it was described by both Hyde Hall in his "description of Carnarvonshire1805-11'' and by Richard Fenton "Tours in Wales 1804 - 1813'' who described it as a "Gateway of Coed composition".  By 1826, Freeman (Sketches in Wales) reported that "the entrance into the consecrated ground is under an arch of composition made in London, and somewhat too fanciful in design, and perishable in material, for its present service."   Robert Isaac Jones' later account of it arriving in pieces from Italy is inaccurate.He must have put together reports of its arriving in kit form almost certainly in1810 or 1811 (from the Coade works close to the south side of Westminster Bridge), and the later visit to Italy by Madocks shortly before his sudden deathin 1828.

Speculation on the provenance of the Coadestone gate

In 1811/1812, the Prince of Wales, later Prince Regent and then George IV, held lavish events in his newly-completed Conservatory at Carlton House, his official London residence. The Prince was advised to engage the young architect Thomas Hopper for the conservatory.The Conservatory was to be in the gothic style, made of cast iron with translucent coloured glass. It cost an astonishing £22,685. Some of Thomas Hoppers' works there are known to have been in Coadestone. These were torcheres, freestanding octagonal structures to support candles or torches. At least one survives. Alison Kelly who wrote the definitive work on Coadstone attributes the torcheres to Hopper.

In a recent exhibition, Sotheby's describethe torcheres as bearing bats but my informant tells me they are in fact owls; and there are also dragons with wings, and two-headed camels.

The Tremadog Gateway is hard to interpret.  The sculpted figures are extremely fine but the style is confused, with a mixtureof the exotic - elephants' heads andperhaps monkeys' faces, or, are these grotesque humans?  Are the bats natural, or gothic horror? This strange mixture is similar to that in the torchere.  Madocks himself was part of the London set, involved in theatricals.  Did he order a Coadestone piece simply because it was the height of fashion? Or did he obtain it as a knock-down price, an over-run or a reject from the Carlton House Conservatory?

Back to today 's tasks: Finding our way round the hurdles:

1.  Last newsletter, reported need to identify source of cashflow funding.  Many months for Gwynedd Council to decide if and how much cashflow funding it can agree to. Trustees looked at timetable - decision to abort project March 2005 latest. Heritage Lottery Fund currently taking c. 10months to process an application.  Matchfunding might take another year to raise Full tenders needed before HLF will accept application. Trust had not ever secured planning permission and listed building consent -urgent need to commision work from consultants to secure these.

2. Applied to Gwynedd's Cwlwm Gwledig Fund (Rural Regeneration) in February 2002.   Awarded £7.450, enabled us to commission the remaining works for PP and LBC applications.  These were approved in August 2002.

3. Cost plan. The actual building contract may amount to £511,221 for the former church building. About half historic repair and half inserting the upper floor, stairs and lift, partitions and services. Add the costs to date (surveys, valuations, consultants fees, trust's costs in photocopying), the estimated costs up till completion, and an allowance for inflation with the passage of time;  and the overall costs without the Coadestone Gate amount to an estimated £650,000.

4. VAT At our second attempt, Customs& Excise have accepted our voluntary registration. This means we must charge rent to our tenants but should be able to recoup the VAT paid out inconnection with the project. Just as well because the next insurance on the church can only be paid if we have begun to recoup VAT paid out on architect's fees!

 5. Tenders for the investigative works onthe Coadestone Gate have been obtained, range from £6,000 to £16,000.  These cover scanning to find embedded metal fixings, test cleaning, preparing recommendations on repair.  Possible repairs range from simple repairin situ, (which is likely to be insufficient) to dismantling, repair and re-erection with non-corroding fixings, to re-erection with recreation of broken or missing parts (probably simply too expensive).

6. Tenant; Strong interest has been expressedby the regional branch of a national charity, Cartrefi Cymru. Their development plan shows need for larger offices in about 2 years.  The mix we are offering of offices on the ground floor with a large training room above, plus the gardens, and the location in Tremadog on public transport routes suits them. We will meet them shortly to see if by working together more formally we can reduce the time it will take to complete the works. 

(The proposals have been on view since the summer in the Chip Shop in Tremadog, courtesy of Raymond Jones, They will be displayed there till Christmas.  They will be on view at the AGM also.)

Madocks' Remains

Pere Lachaise Cemetery told us in March that we could NOT repatriate Madocks' remains as the tree that has grown through the grave is so large it is now protected!   We then asked if we may still fetch the headstone, while leaving a slate plaque in Paris.  The authorities have replied that any design for a plaque must be approved by them; and that we must have the consent of descendants of Madocks or his widow in order to recover the headstone.

Madocks' Descendants

Madocks' only child married a John Webb Roche, from Ireland. She had four children, according to Elisabeth Beazley, but by the time of her son's will, it seems only three survived.  Gina Kent unearthed the will of Madocks' grandson; and then found the present Roche, Lord Fermoy. lt seems that neither of Madocks' grandsons had any children. The estate therefore passed (male line dominating) to a distant cousin of Madocks' daughter's husband, in the Roche family.  Madocks granddaughter drew benefit of the estate during her lifetime, but under the terms of the will this was not transferred to any offspring.  We have not yet discovered if she had offspring - who would be genetic descendants of Madocks.  Her married name was Anna Maria Mary Charlotte Vivian.  She will probably have had connections with the Brecon area, and perhaps with Liverpool as her generation owned property there. Any information?

Tremadog Tannery & Site

Some works have been started by the present owner preparatory to repairing the house Fron Haul on the western gable of the tannery.  However, there are no moves yet to repair the former Loom Hall. As we feared might happen, and expressed to Gwynedd Council at the time of the sale, the new owner has also discovered that repair is uneconomic.  What a pity that Gwynedd Council declined to inform the liquidator of the full facts; and declined to support the trust's offer to purchase the property. We just hope that the tin roof is, still protecting it from too much deterioration.

The AGM will be held as a public meeting asusaul on February 24th in the Meingas usual morial Hall (Cambrian Pill Depot) in Tremadog, at 7.00 p.m.If you are in the area, please do attend.

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