Type of entity
Authorized form of name
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Dates of existence
The ancestors of the Mansel family originated in Normandy and appear to have arrived in Britain with William the Conqueror. The Gower branch of the family lived in comparative obscurity during the Middle Ages, but through judicious marriages with local families they acquired the manors of Penrice, Oxwich and Port Eynon in 1410, which formed the basis of the family's Gower estates. Later purchases included the manors of Landimore (including Rhossili), Weobley and Reynoldston, and later still, portions of the Popkins and Lucas estates in Gower. During the 15th and 16th centuries the Mansels lived mostly at Oxwich Castle, but at the Dissolution of the Monasteries Sir Rice Mansel first leased and later bought the lands and buildings of the Abbey of Margam.
Margam Abbey had been founded in 1147, endowed by Robert earl of Gloucester with a large tract of land between the Afan and Kenfig rivers. During successive centuries, the abbey grew in importance, and its possessions increased, to such an extent that at the time of the Dissolution its holdings amounted to some 50,000 acres. Rice Mansel, now the owner of lands stretching from one end of Glamorgan almost to the other, set about converting the old monastic buildings into a mansion, which became the principal home of his descendants for the next 200 years. The Mansel family line came to an end in 1750 with Bussy, the fourth Baron Mansel, and the estates, but not the title, passed to the family of his sister Mary who had married John Ivory Talbot of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire. In the 1770s Thomas Mansel Talbot built a new house at Penrice, as an alternative residence to the rambling old house at Margam. The house at Margam was in its turn pulled down in the early 19th century and a new mansion was built there between 1827 and 1830 near the ruins of the old abbey.
According to the 1873 return of owners of land, Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, of Margam owned an estimated 34,033 acres in Wales (all in Glamorgan), with an estimated rental of £44,175.