THE character of the Gwent country house that inspired the hymn All Things Bright And Beautiful was seriously damaged by a 'vandal' property developer.

Kim Davies stripped out all features great and small at the Grade Two* listed Llanwenarth House at Govilon after buying it in 2007, a court was told.

At one point he defied an injunction brought by Brecon Beacons National Park Authority to stop work that required listed building planning consent, and avoided its officers' attempts to interview him about what was going on.

He also refused them entry, on one occasion locking the gate despite the presence of police officers.

The park authority had been alerted by anonymous complaints. When Davies finally relented in August 2012, they found a house fundamentally changed in character externally and internally.

Built in the mid-16th Century, Llanwenarth House was listed in 1956, its status putting it among the top nine per cent of historically important buildings in Wales.

It is believed that Irish composer Cecil Alexander was inspired to pen the lyrics to All Things Bright and Beautiful during or following a visit in the 1840s.

But under Davies' orders, windows and external doors had been removed and replaced with inappropriate alternatives, and its largely Regency-era interior had been stripped out and replaced in mainly mock-Tudor style.

A herring-bone patterned parquet floor, wall and ceiling friezes, period skirting boards, dado rails and other features had been removed, a pointed Gothic arch rounded off, and ceiling spotlights installed.

Mock Tudor doors, frames and panelling proliferated upstairs and down, and a mosaic-tiled double jacuzzi had been fitted.

A metal staircase had been fitted in the coach house, and cobblestones in the courtyard were replaced.

Headstones from an old Rhymney graveyard owned by Davies - one commemorating three children - were used to decorate interior walls.

Davies, aged 60, who lives at the house, previously pleaded guilty to five offences under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

A previous hearing was told by Michael Davies, an architect specialising in building conservation, that in 25 years of working with historic buildings he had not seen a worse example of serious damage to the integrity of a listed property.

Judge Daniel Williams however, told Kim Davies "it would not take a specialist to look at what you have done to that house and to conclude that it was criminal."

He said the most serious of the charges referred to the stripping out of the interior, including a fundamental reworking of the entrance hall.

Judge Williams said that part of the house had been "butchered" and Davies had turned the interior "into something comparable to the hidden palace of an Iron Curtain dictator."

Defending Davies, George Carter-Stephenson QC argued that the quality of the work that had been done was not at issue, but rather that it changed the character and history.

Judge Williams said it was about the "vandalism of the features you removed, rather than what you replaced them with."

Judge Williams fined Davies £60,000 for the five offences, to be paid by September 15, and warned that if the fine was not paid by then, a 20-month prison sentence would follow.

Davies was also ordered to pay £240,000 towards prosecution costs.