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Valentine Morris
Persefield 1789
Piercefield Auction
Henry Clay Will
First Meet

Piercefield House and Chepstow Racecourse

panoramic view of Chepstow racecourse
 
Chepstow  has a National Hunt Racecourse in the grounds of ruined Piercefield House, which is out of sight on the left.
Piercefield House and its parkland, Chepstow Photograph of the ruined Piercefield House, Chepstow
Piercefield House looks idyllic.. ...but, in fact, it's a roofless ruin.
Close-up photograph of the Danger SignClose-up photograph of the damaged masonryClose-up photograph of the damaged masonryClose-up photograph of the damaged masonry
UPDATE: (15 November 2005)Piercefield House is now up for sale by Jackson-Stops & Staff  with a guide price of 2,000,000. This includes about 129 acres of parkland. The scrub has been cleared from the ruins and these 3 photographs show what it looks like today.
Photograph of Piercefield House prepared for salePhotograph of Piercefield House prepared for salePhotograph of Piercefield House prepared for saleThese three photographs give some idea of the amount of decay. However, it may not be too late. There has been recent discussion about turning Piercefield House into a hotel.
These three photographs show scaffolding being erected during September and October 2008.
There is a web site dedicated to information about Piercefield House

The Piercefield Walks

Remnants of the famed Piercefield Walks can still be seen today even 150 years after they were closed to the public. However, they are neglected as can be seen in the following example photographs.  In 2008, there is some prospect that the viewpoints may be restored.
Photograph of the purpose-built viewing platform This is a purpose-built viewing platform which no longer has a view Photograph of the Alcove The overgrown view from The Alcove. Chepstow Castle and Town can be viewed by standing on the railings.
Photograph of the dilapidated, vandalised bench at The Alcove The dilapidated, vandalised bench at The Alcove. The area is also litter strewn. Photograph of The Grotto? Not sure what this is. A "grotto" or a lime kiln? But see this statement
Photograph of of the Giant's Cave The Giant's Cave Photograph inside The Giant's Cave Inside the Giant's Cave. The Wye Valley Walk is through the right hand opening towards Tintern
A comprehensive report by Cambria Archaeology can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format (PDF).  It is entitled "The Piercefield Walks and Associated Picturesque Landscape Features: An Archaeological Survey". It runs to 57 pages and includes colour maps and photographs and is invaluable for anyone wishing to locate the features of the Piercefield landscape.
During spring and summer of 2009, repair and conservation work will be carried out on some of the viewpoints on the Piercefield Walks : Lover's Leap, Giants Cave, the Double View, the Grotto, the Platform, and the Alcove.
Involved are the Overlooking the Wye Landscape Partnership Scheme and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Monmouthshire County Council has diverted the Wye Valley Walk for six months for the protection of the public.
Whether or not this work will include the Wyndcliffe viewing platform is uncertain. This has been closed as being unsafe since the end of 2008.
Read a 1789 article in The Times about Piercefield.
What Wikipedia has to say about Piercefield House. For convenience, the owners mentioned are listed here:
1727 : Thomas Rous
1740 : Valentine Morris (senior)
1743 : Valentine Morris (junior)
1785 : George Smith
1794 : Mark Wood
1802 : Nathaniel Wells
c1850-1856 : John Russell
1861 : Henry Clay (senior)
1874 : Henry Clay (junior)
1926 : Chepstow Racecourse Company

 Read the The Times 1789 obituary of Valentine Morris who inherited the property from his father in 1743, together with property in Antigua, and lost the lot by the time he died. This Wikipedia article on Valentine Morris sheds some light on aspects of his character skated over in the obituary. Note that the obituary gives Valentine Morris the credit for the improvements to Monmouthshire's roads.
An advertisement appeared in The Times 1 June 1805 stating that Piercefield was available to let, furnished.
Read the astonishingly verbose 1833 advertisement in The Times when Piercefield was put up for auction, apparently during the ownership of Nathaniel Wells (1779-1852) who had bought Piercefield, in 1802 from Mark Wood, having been left around 120,000 in his father's Will. It is presumed the auction was unsuccessful.
Read a report in The Times 20 February 1874 about the Will of Henry Clay (senior)
The Times reported that the first meeting at Chepstow Racecourse took place 6 August 1926

Locate Piercefield House on Google Earth
 

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