Piercefield House is a large ruined neo-Palladian mansion on the fringes of Chepstow. I have made two visits to Piercefield during the last eighteen months. It is situated directly on a public footpath, so it is easy to access the parkland for walking and see the house. The house as we see it today was designed by John Soane. During the course of the life of the house the cost of building and its upkeep has bankrupted three of its previous owners. As with many of our great houses the two World Wars saw the start of the decline of this fine house to the ruinous state that we see today. During the Second World War the house was actually used for target practice. The house and grounds were incorporated into Chepstow racecourse, which lies on the western boundary of the parkland, in the 1920’s. Bruised and battered the house has been abandoned ever since.
Subsequently bought as part of a racecourse company business by super wealthy businessmen, the house is now the asset of an off-shore company and is separated from its parkland. Little has been done to strengthen the structure other than the windows and doors being shored up with wooden supports a number of years ago, now themselves in need of replacing.
Preservation groups are determined to see this important Grade II* listed building saved, possibly by means of a compulsory purchase order. Save Britain’s Heritage is working tirelessly to drum up support for this project. But as ever, when working with a large important building whose owners don’t seem prepared to consider any “realistic” offers, the road to restoration will be a long one.