In this Section
Support our Charities
Sponsors & Associates
The Great House at Sker || Sker House
Sker House is situated approximately 3 miles North of Porthcawl on the Bristol Channel coast and about 2 miles South of Margam and Port Talbot.
See opposite for location map.
The Great House at Sker began its origins as a monastic grange over 900 years ago, farmed by members of the Cistercian order who chose to praise God through the work of their hands rather than by prayer.
Despite the close proximity of Margam Abbey, Sker was originally a grange of Neath Abbey and besides a barn and other farm buildings, the grange would have included accommodation for the brethren and also, given the distance from the Abbey, a chapel for daily monastic services.
The oldest masonary at Sker house belongs to this medieval period, but is so masked by later improvements it is difficult to discern the original form of the building. Part of the large barn known as Ty yr Ychen (The oxen's house) near to Sker house is also said to be medieval.
The Great House
Sker house is a large gaunt, rectangular building of local limestone constructed on a North/South axis. So far as the Commission's Inspector was able to ascertain, its shape and form appears to have been determined by the medieval grange that preceeded it.
Few traces of that earlier building now remain, unless further portions have been revealed by the recent restoration work. In the last quarter of the 16th century, during the time of Jenkin Turberville, this early house was massively altered.
The original building had only one storey, but was raised to include a first and second floor with quite spacious attics above.
The east front of the building, which greets the visitor, was adorned with the two symmetrically placed turrets which gave access to all floors.
There seems to have been no main entrance as such (the door in the centre of this face today is comparitively modern), but originally there was a door at the base of each turret facing each other across the building's frontage.
A more random arrangment of turrets and towers adorn the west front of the house, the largest of which, placed roughly in the centre, belongs to the 17th century and houses a stairway giving access to all floors.
The Great Hall
The glory of the house is the great hall, and it almost seems though the entire building was designed around it. It occupies the entire width of the first floor of the building between the two turrets on the east side, and extends up through the second floor to the roof.
In the centre of the west wall is a great stone fireplace and this spacious room is lighted by three large windows of four lights. Two of these are set in the east wall, whilst the third is on the west side, south of the fireplace. Its location has suggested that perhaps there was a dais at this end where the family in residence would have sat during baronial style banquets.
Probably it was here that fugitive priests stood saying mass for congregations of fugitive followers. The wall at the north side of the hall was a carved wooden screen that separated it from a passage crossing the width of the house and a small anteroom.
The Ground Floor
Access between the two was by a centrally placed doorway. At the hall's southern end a doorway gave access to a parlour which was possibly part of the family's private appartments. It is believed that the ground floor of the house was occupied by service areas such as kitchens, whilst the house's living accommodation occupied the north and south wings on either side of the hall.
Neglected and Abused
Once the Turberville's left, this great house became the property of absentee landlords and the home of their tenants. As such it tended to be neglected and abused by both, settling into the long slow decline that culminated in the collapse of the south wing, and whch has only at last been arrested by the restoration work executed in the last few years.
Sker House was put up for sale in 2003 after much needed renovation work was completed - the Great House is now privately owned and is again taking on all its former glory.
copyright © 2003-2010 www.kenfig.org.uk / www.cynffig.org.uk - All rights reserved
The Kenfig.org website is operated as a not for profit making organisation known as Kenfig.org Local Community Group.
This website project is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and Bridgend County Borough Council - it is owned and operated by Kenfig.org Local Community Group.
The Kenfig.org website has been granted Heritage Status and is being archived for posterity through both the National Library of Wales & the UK Web Archiving Consortium.