The origins of the name Treowen, or Owenstown,” meaning house or home of Owen”, are lost. It would seem to indicate that the site was the seat of a family, or chieftain, of the name of Owen. The first recorded owner is Sir Peter Huntley. He was a companion of Hamelyn, who after the Norman conquest of 1066, was comissioned with the conquest of Gwent and Sir Peter Huntley was granted the estate of Treowen for his part in the conquest. It remained in the Huntley family until the 15c when Sir Thomas Huntley died without male issue. His estates were split between his five daughters, Margaret Huntley inheriting the manors of Treowen and Llanarth. About 1465, Margaret had married David ap Jenkins ap Howel, Lord of Cefn-dwy-glwyd. They made their home at Treowen, which was to remain the main seat of the family for the next two centuries.
The great-grandson of David and Margaret, William ap John Thomas or William Jones was the first to take the surname of Jones. He “left issue by his four wives and by more than one paramour”. The most important for the history of Treowen being John Jones, his eldest son by his second wife, Constance Morgan, and Philip Jones, son of his third wife, Anne Hawley. In 1563, William Jones created a trust specifying the use of Treowen for his heirs. This document gives details of the parts of the house and gardens which are to be reserved for the use of his widow. By doing so, it provides information of the house and grounds as they were then, and indicates that there was already a considerable house on the site. The foundations of what is believed to be this house were discovered during works carried out in 1995 in the field directly in front of the present house. An archaeological survey found traces of walls and paving as well as household rubbish and fragments of pottery which indicated a time of abandonment in the early 17c.
John Jones inherited Treowen and considerable other estates from his father circa 1570 and lived at Treowen as the local squire. His half brother, Philip Jones, made a large fortune in London as a member of the Grocer’s Guild and as a Merchant Adventurer. He was MP for Monmouth Borough from 1588 to 1593 and did much for the local area. He built new Market-Houses in Monmouth and Abergavenny and left money to free Monnow Bridge from tolls. On Philip’s death, he left his fortune and property to “my cousin William Jones, son and heir apparent of my brother, John Jones of Treowen, esq.” (cousin at this time was used to describe any relative, William was in fact Philip’s nephew). This William Jones moved to Treowen between 1614 and 1616, after the death of his parents. He used his uncle’s fortune to build Treowen house as it stands today, the earlier dwelling presumably being dismantled at the same time.
William Jones died in 1640 and Treowen passed to his son Sir Philip Jones. Sir Philip was a prominent royalist in South Wales during the Civil War. He raised a regiment in Monmouthshire, and in 1642 was made Sheriff of the county and knighted by Charles 1. In 1646 Sir Philip Jones, his wife and son were inside Raglan castle when it was invested by the Parliamentarians. The seige was to last three months. Sir Philip was related through his wife, Elizabeth Morgan, to the Marquis of Worcester, owner of Raglan and one of the most important Royalists in South Wales. It was also through Elizabeth Morgan, whose family were actively catholic, that the Jones became a catholic family. After the fall of Raglan, both the Worcester and the Jones’ estates were confiscated by parliament. Sir Philip later paid the compounding fine of £1050.
Sir Philip died on March 9th, 1659, not surviving long enough to see the restoration of Charles 11. After his death, his widow remained at Treowen, with an unidentifiable couple, George and Lucy Morgan and a cousin, Jane Jones of Dingestow. It was during this period that Treowen gained a reputation as a catholic centre. In 1678, Mr Roger Seys deposed that “Thomas Powel, a reputed popish priest, liveth at the house of Lady Jones of Treowen”. He goes on to complain that the majority of the villagers at Dingestow attended catholic service at Treowen, using the churchyard of the protestant Dingestow church as a short cut to the house. During Lady Jones’ lifetime, her son William Jones and grandson, Philip Jones, lived at Llanarth court and by Lady Jones’ death, Llanarth Court had become the main seat of the Jones family and Treowen was let to a succession of tenant farmers.
From this point, Treowen was let to a series of tenant farmers , at times being split and subdivided for two families to inhabit at one time. In 1848, John Arthur Edward Jones, then owner of Llanarth Court and Treowen, received a Royal Warrant to change the family name from Jones to Herbert. His son, Ivor John Caradoc Herbert, inherited the Herbert estates on his father’s death in 1895. He served with the Grenadier Guards in Egypt and South Africa, reaching the rank of Major-General. In 1917, he was made a Baron,taking the title of Lord Treowen.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s, Lord Treowen had extensive restoration works carried out at Treowen, which were essential to the survival of the house and created much needed work for local people during the depression. Lord Treowen’s only son, Elydyr John Bernard Herbert, was killed fighting in Palestine in the first World War. On Lord Treowen’s death in 1933, the estate passed to his nephew, Sir John Arthur Herbert, who was Governor General of Bengal. He died in Calcutta in 1943 and Treowen was sold by his executors to the sitting tenant Mr Davies in 1945. In 1954, Treowen was bought by Harry Wheelock for his son, Richard Hugh Wheelock. The Wheelocks remained inTreowen until 1993, when the last of the family moved out. The present owners, Dick and John Wheelock, now run the house as a self catering holiday and wedding venue.
(From the guide book to Treowen, by Harriet Wheelock)