Kilvrough Manor stands behind a high curving stone wall on the south side of the A4118 from Fairwood Common to Parkmill, though before the First World War the estate included substantial land on both sides of the road.The original mansion was built in 1585 for Rowland Dawkin, whose grandson was one of Oliver Cromwell’s deputy Major-Generals who ruled the country after the Civil War. After the monarchy was restored in 1660 and Puritan minister John Myles ejected from Ilston church, Dawkin permitted members of Wales’s first Baptist Church to meet on land at Trinity Well in the Ilston Valley, until increasingly repressive legislation caused some of them to emigrate to the New World, founding the settlement of Swanzey, Massachusetts.
The name of a later Rowland Dawkin, who became Sheriff of Glamorgan, is inscribed on a 1737 bell in St Mary’s Church, Pennard.
In the late eighteenth century Kilvrough was remodelled to a design of William Jernegan, before being purchased in 1820 by Major Thomas Penrice of Great Yarmouth, who later served as High Sheriff of Glamorgan. The grounds contain a folly in the form of a medieval-type tower, possibly inspired by the Gnoll’s
In June 1831 at the time of the Merthyr Rising, the Marquess of Bute, who was Lord Lieutenant of Glamorgan, sent Major Penrice there to tackle civil unrest. To his great embarrassment, Penrice and his Yeomanry troops were disarmed near Merthyr by a large mob of rioters and, following an official inquiry, the local Yeomanry unit was reorganised by the Government. Major Penrice built the Gower Inn in Parkmill, and had embarked on restoring
As he had never married, the estate passed to his 26-year-old nephew, also named Thomas Penrice – later a striking figure with a long white beard. He married in 1852, and acquired more land in Gower, making Kilvrough second in size in the peninsula to the Talbots’ estate, with 5,411 acres in 1883. He built the steepled
After his death in 1896, Kilvrough was left to his elder daughter Louisa, who had married Admiral Algernon Lyons, becoming Lady Lyons when her husband was knighted. Thomas Penrice’s second daughter, Jane, had married William Benson of Fairy Hill, although she died aged 33, predeceasing her father. But heavy death duties were incurred after the death in 1908 of Admiral Lyons, and when their eldest son died of pneumonia in 1918 - two months after Lady Lyons had handed the estate over to him. This, coupled with the loss of their considerable German investments through the First World War, led to the dispersal of the estate, with Kilvrough itself sold two years later. Pennard Golf Club purchased the burrows (with
After staying briefly at Vennaway, Lady Lyons moved to