A Place in Local History
Sketty Hall has stood for nearly three centuries and, in that time, it has undertaken many changes under the direction of its various owners.
The oldest part of the house is where the two ground floor bays project. The walls were built in the 1720’s by Raleigh Dawkin, son of the squire of Kilvrough in Gower. The bay windows were added in 1780 and a few years later Swansea Architect, William Jernegan, built the western part of the frontage with its fine bow windows on behalf of Ralph Sheldon.
Charles Baring, a member of a family of London merchant bankers, made many changes during the 1820’s. He added an extra floor to Raleigh Dawkin’s house and a parapet which ran the whole length of the south front. This can be seen from Singleton Park at the rear of Sketty Hall.
After Baring came Lewis Weston Dillwyn, owner of the Cambrian Pottery in Swansea. In the early 1830’s, with Edward Haycock as his architect, he built the present entrance hall on the north side of the house and the large room on the west of it.
The next major building work came in 1881 when Frank Ash Yeo, Chairman of Swansea Harbour Trust, added the dining room to the east of Dillwyn’s entrance hall. In 1898, Richard Glynn Vivian, an art lover who gave the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery to Swansea, took Sketty Hall as his home for the remainder of his years. It was he who added the balconies and masks of Italian marble, laid out the ornamental gardens and built the fine gazebo tower above the roof, which provides panoramic views of Swansea and the surrounding areas.
During the Second World War the house served as an ARP area headquarters and afterwards it was used by the British Iron and Steel Research Association as a major research centre for the steel industry.
In 1993 Sketty Hall was thoroughly renovated and restored to its former glory as one of Swansea’s finest buildings.