Historical Sketches of Seats, &c.
Late the seat of VALENTINE MORRIS, Esq.
From The Times 13 August 1789 (http://archive.timesonline.co.uk/tol/archive/)
"PERSEFIELD is situated upon the banks of the river Wye, which divides Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire. The general tendency of the river is from north to south; but about Persefield it describes, by its winding course, the letter S, somewhat compressed, so as to reduce it in length, and increase it in width. The grounds of Persefield are lifted high above the bed of the river, shelving from the brink of a lofty and steep precipice towards the south-west.
The lower limb of the letter is filled with Perse-wood, forming an impenetrable thicket of coppice wood, which dips, to the south-east, to the water's edge, and, seen from the top of the opposite rock, has a beautiful effect.
The upper limb receives the farms of Llancot, rich and highly cultivated, broken into enclosures, and scattered with groupes and single trees; two well-looking farm-houses in the centre, and a near white chapel; the whole composing a paradisaical spot. The lowliness of the situation gives it an air of humility, and the natural barriers which surround it, add that of gracefulness and security. These picturesque farms do not form a low flat bottom, subject to be overflowed by the river, but take the form of a gorget, rising fullest in the middle, and falling on every side gently to the brink of the Wye, except on the east side, where the top of the gorget leans in an easy manner against a range of perpendicular rocks, as if to shew its disk with advantage to the walks of Persefield. This rock stretches across what may be called the Isthmus, leaving only a narrow pass down into the fields of Llancot, and joins the principal range of rocks at the lower bend of the river.
To the north, at the head of the letter, stands an immense pile of rocks, called Windcliff, the top of which is elevated as much above the grounds of Persefield as those are above the fields of Llancot. These several rocks, with the wooded precipice on the side of Persefield, form a circular enclosure, about a mile in diameter, including Perse-wood, Llancot, the Wye, and a small meadow lying at the foot of the Windcliff.
The grounds are divided into the upper and lower lawn, by the approach to the house, which stands near the brink of the precipice, but facing down the lower lawn, a beautiful stretch of ground, falling precipitately every way, into a valley. which shelves down in the middle; and is scattered with clumps and single trees, in an excellent style of disposition.
The view from the house is soft, rich, and beautifully picturesque: the lawn and woods of Persefield, and the opposite banks of the river: The Wye, near its mouth, winding through verdant meadows: The Severn, which is here very broad, backed by the wooded and highly cultivated hills of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, and Somersetshire - Not one rock enters into the composition: the whole view consists of an elegant arrangement of lawn, wood, and water.
The upper ground is a less beautiful ground, and the view from it, though it commands the cultivated hills and rich vallies of Monmouthshire, is bounded by the Severn and backed by the Mendip hills, is much inferior to that from the house.
To give variety to the views from Persefield, to disclose the native grandeur which surrounds it, and to set off its more striking features to advantage, walks have been cut through the woods, and on the face of the precipice, which border the grounds to the south and east.
The first point of view is marked by an alcove, from which are seen the bridge, and the town of Chepstow, with its castle, situated in a remarkable manner, on the very brink of a perpendicular rock, washed by the Wye, and beyond these the Severn shews a small portion of its more magnificent waters: Proceeding a little farther, a view is caught which forms what may be called a complete landscape. The castle, with the serpentine part of the Wye below Chepstow, intermixed, in a peculiar manner, with the broad current of the Severn, from the fore-ground, which is backed by distant hills: the rocks crowned with wood, lying between the alcove and the Castle to the right: and Castle hill farm, elevated upon the opposite banks of the river to the left, form the two side screens."