Funerary monument dedicated to Avarina and Elizabeth Stedman

The Plas and its landscape

The Stedman Family

: The family who came eventually to inhabit and own the former site of Strata Florida and its precinct in the 16th century, probably as early as 1565 if not before, were the Stedmans.

Gerald Morgan is currently working, as part of the Strata Florida Project, on their history and the documents relating to their landholdings and estate administration. The family held the land until the mid 18h century when it passed, through marriage, to the Powells of Nanteos.

The Surviving Buildings

The Stedman house or plas at Strata Florida is the present farmhouse of Mynachlog Fawr, a grade II* listed building, first depicted on a Buck engraving of 1741. The arrangement of other buildings, enclosures, gardens, avenue and other trappings of a gentry messuage can still be seen on an estate map of 1765 when it is in its last period of use as a plas. In 1778 it was leased out as the house of a tenant farm. From then onwards it develops as a farmhouse, in the hands of the Arch family from 1850 to the present day.

Detail showing the Abbey ruins and the Stedman Plas taken from a Nanteos (Powell) estate map of 1765

What is shown in 1765 is the house itself, an adjacent, detached outbuilding to the south, which was probably the main kitchen, since it still retains a massive stone-built fireplace and oven.

To the west are two yards and a square garden, at the other ends of which are two buildings, one (still extant) a large threshing barn of late 17th or early 18th century date and the other (pulled down c.1850 for the modern road) a large gatehouse and outbuilding. The present complex of farm buildings, while retaining the threshing barn is a typical Improvement courtyard complex of stone building.

The gentry landscape of the plas

This has been the subject of a recent study by Katie Fretwell (funded by KEF grant: HE-08-FSP-1001), although little can be added to the general layout as shown in 1765, apart from the depiction of the house, garden and part of the gatehouse on the Buck engraving of the Abbey ruins in 1741. The gatehouse is also shown on a watercolour by the Rev. John Parker, c. 1840-50 just before it was pulled down.

The estate landscape

There is also a very large body of documents from the estates which took over the lands of the Abbey after the Dissolution in 1539, including leases to farmers made by the monks themselves in the last decades of the monastery's existence. This body of post-medieval documents, which includes a large number of estate maps of the 18th century, is helping us to study the role of the great estates, including those of the Vaughans of Trawscoed, the Powells of Nanteos, and the Stedmans whose mansion was built out of the former Abbey refectory.





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