Oxwich, Swansea, SA3 1LY, Wales
Remains of a sumptuous, mock-fortified manor built by the Mansel family during the sixteenth century. OS map 159: SS 497862 The Mansel family had been small landowners in west Gower since the fourteenth century. They had a castle or a fortified manor house at Oxwich, of which almost nothing survives. It was Sir Rice Mansel (1487-1559) who transformed the family fortunes. He seized the opportunities to gain power and status given to the Welsh gentry with the accession of the Tudor king Henry VII (1485 – 1509), and the Act of Union between England and Wales in 1536. Rice’s guardian was Sir Mathew Cradock, a Swansea merchant ship owner and naval commander. From this beginning, Rice became famous as a soldier in Flanders and later in Ireland. He was knighted in 1526 and from 1536 was given a number of official positions in Wales and the Marches. He married three times, which extended his estates, and through his third wife Cecily, a lady-in-waiting to Princess (later Queen) Mary, made close links at court. He prospered by acquiring much of the estates of Margam Abbey, following the dissolution of the monasteries. By the time Mary came to the throne in 1553, Rice was the most important man in south Wales.