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Our Regency architect

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 02, 2013

THERE might seem scant connection between Mumbles lighthouse, the former Assembly Rooms and the mansion of Stouthall in Gower. But these very different buildings were all designed by the same architect.

Mumbles Lighthouse stands on the further of the two rocks that give the area its name. Built in 1793, it was designed by William Jernegan, known as the Architect of Regency Swansea. Born in 1749, probably in London, Jernegan may have come to Swansea as assistant to John Johnson, designer of the demolished mansions of Clasemont near Morriston and Gnoll in Neath.

Jernegan went on to design several significant buildings himself at a time when Swansea had ambitions to become ''The Brighton of Wales'', before copperworks, rail and docks thwarted the aspirations.

The buildings he designed included Burrows Chapel for Selina, Countess of Huntington, built in 1789, which used to stand near the Museum on the site later occupied by the Exchange Buildings. He designed Burrows Lodge, the home of George Grant Francis, behind the Museum; Marino, the octagonally- shaped building that was later incorporated into Singleton Abbey; the Assembly Rooms, of which only the façade remains on Cambrian Place; the demolished Sketty Park for Sir John Morris to replace his mansion at Clasemont; St John's church in the High Street — now rebuilt and named St Matthew's; terraces at Cambrian Place, Prospect Place and Adelaide Street; and in Gower such prominent mansions as Stouthall and Kilvrough Manor.

William Jernegan was declared bankrupt in 1811, perhaps through financial difficulties concerning the Assembly Rooms, but he managed to recover. He died in 1836 aged 86, and was buried at St Mary's church, where his flat gravestone is on the northern side of the church, with the inscription just legible.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to place a blue plaque outside the Assembly Rooms detailing some of the buildings designed by this architect of Regency Swansea.

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