Llancaiach Fawr is situated in South East Wales in the small valley of the Nant Caeach, a stream from which it takes its name. The house is mainly of the early 16th century, with early 17th-Century modifications. In some features, such as the placing of the main entrance and storeyed porch at one end of the building, it resembles Y Fan in Caerphilly.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor was built on the site of an earlier medieval dwelling in the heart of the historic Rhymney Valley in South Wales and it predates the Acts of Union between Wales and England and was mentioned in John Leland’s Itinerary of 1537.
The Manor House was constructed for the Prichard (ap Richard) family when ‘gentle birth’ was no guarantee of security and was built to be defended. The walls are 1.2 metres thick and access between floors was by stairs inside the walls. The entire house could be divided in two if attacked and only those in the secure east wing had access to the latrine (toilet) tower. Sturdy floors and small ground floor windows bear further testimony to the turbulence of 16th Century Glamorgan.
As time went on the Prichard family began a series of improvements to their home to demonstrate their growing affluence and prosperity. In 1628 the Grand Staircase was added and two rooms were beautifully panelled and several of the intramural staircases were sealed off. At the same time a formal garden was laid out.
The existence of passages and stairways walled up over the years leads to the interesting situation where there are more windows visible from outside Llancaiach Fawr Manor than can be seen from the inside.
Current architectural state of the house
Since the house ceased to be a family home, it has been completely renovated. It now reflects its general appearance in the mid-seventeenth century although there is clear evidence both of earlier features and of some later adaptations.
A detailed appraisal of the architectural features and merits of the house has been made both by the Historic Monuments Division of the Welsh Office and by the Welsh School of Architecture which has been responsible for overseeing its renovation.
The work of restoration of Llancaiach Fawr has been carried out to high technical standards, and using many contemporary techniques such as rough lime-based plaster for walls and ceilings. There has been much painstaking restoration work.
The house is now restored to its 1645 appearance during the British Civil War, and has become one of the leading 'living history' sites in the UK.