Mansion House, Newport
The Mansion House, Newport
|Owned by:||Newport Council|
The Mansion House in Newport, Monmouthshire was the official residence of the Mayors of Newport until 2009. In addition to being the Mayor's official residence, it also offered hospitality and accommodation to official visitors to the city from overseas.
In 2010 plans were approved to convert the Mansion House for use as a Register office  and it duly opened in July 2011 after a major refurbishment.
The present grounds of the Mansion House were bought in four lots by John Liscombe, a leather merchant and sadler of Commercial Street, Newport, between 1886 and 1889. He built the house in the early 1890s and used it as his personal residence until his death in November 1914. John Liscombe was Mayor of Newport in 1905 and his portrait can be seen at the bottom of the stairs in the hall. The portrait was given to the Mansion House by the original firm of leather merchants and sadlers, which still operates in Newport.
After a period of ownership by Sir Abraham Garrod Thomas of Clytha Park, the House was bought by Newport Corporation in March 1939 for £3,250 for use as Judge’s Lodgings. Until 1940 the Monmouthshire Assizes were held at Monmouth, some 25 miles from Newport along a slow, winding road. The Quarter Sessions were held at the Sessions House, Usk some eleven miles from Newport. As most of the business for Assizes and Quarter Sessions were provided by the somewhat unruly inhabitants of Newport, there was much complaint about the inconvenience to witnesses and the legal profession of the courts' being located at Monmouth and Usk. This led to the opening of new courts in Newport.
In 1936 Newport Corporation decided to build a new Civic Centre. At the time Newport had its own borough police force and was also responsible for providing Magistrates' Courts, and so it was decided to add two Crown Courts to the Clytha Park Road wing of the new building in order to enable the Assizes and Quarter Sessions to be held in Newport. The Lord Chancellor consented to holding assizes here on condition that Newport provide Judges Lodgings, and this was the reason for the purchase of the Mansion House. Arrangements were made at the time of the purchase of the Mansion House for it to be used by the Mayor during the times in which it was not required by the Judges.
After the Courts Act 1971 abolished assizes and quarter sessions, local authorities were no longer required to provide judges' lodgings and so Newport Council withdrew the availability of the Mansion House for lodging judges as from January 1975. From 1975 to 2009, the house was used exclusively by the Council as the official residence of the Mayor. It was refurbished in 2011 and re-opened as the City's Register office in July 2009.