Monday, 3 February 2014
Newcastle Hill is situated in the parish of Newcastle Lower and until 1851 was not part of the parish of Coity. The village of Newcastle (including the hill) is thought to be one of the oldest parts of Bridgend, with the castle dating back to the 12th century (1106) - at that time the hill would have been the old route out of the town until the old stone bridge was built during 1425.
During the 19th century the road in Bridgend were not in very good condition, as a result of this tollhouses/gates were set up to cover the cost of road maintenance. One of these tollhouses was situated at the bottom of Newcastle Hill (bottom right hand side).
The living conditions at the Newcastle Hill and the Village were "stagnant and dirty". The local authority that "The condition of the Unitarian Burial Ground is much complained about by the neighbours." - The Public Health Report of 1849 talks about how the inhabitants of Newcastle Hill relayed on water from the River Ogmore and some even paid local women to fetch it - 1/2d a six gallon pail. With no underground drains most street drains were left open.
As the road was the main route for travellers for many hundreds of years, many of the travellers would need a place to rest and freshen up. A few of these places were situated on the hill.
St. John's House (or Hospice as it's more commonly known) is a medieval building that is situated half way up the hill. Said to be in existence from the year 1425, the house has also been known as Church House. It is thought that during the 15th century the house was used as a stopping/resting place for travellers during their journeys.
In more modern times travellers would have used public houses including: The Lamb and Flag which earliest record of trade is 1790 - along with The Horse and Groom, and The Talbot also trading at that time. The earliest recorded record of trade of The Angel Inn is 1790, it was said to have stables and an on site groom.
Places of Worship
The Unitarian Chapel situated at the bottom of Newcastle Hill was founded in 1702 by Rice Price of Tynton (father of Dr. Richard Price) - the land and adjoining cottages were donated by Michael Williams, who was the Sheriff of Glamorgan 1719. The Chapel as it stand now was rebuilt in 1795. Other people that are/have been associated with the building include he Coffin and Morgan families - all relations to the Price family of Tynton. (read more)
The first Ruhamah Baptist Chapel was situated on the corner of West Road, it was built in 1808. It became too small for the congregation and a new chapel was built in 1890. All that remains of the first chapel is the grave yard.
St Illtyd's Church is a Grade II listed church situated on top of Newcastle Hill. The church overlooks the town of Bridgend and is dramatically lit up during evenings. It is a Victorian decorated, Gothic rebuilding of an early 14th century church. The churchyard is entered through a lychgate donated in 1910 by Samuel Llewellyn of Coed Parc. Steeped in history, the building is well maintained and the surrounding graveyard is a well-kept chapter of history. (read more)
People of the Area
Captain Charles Napier was the first Chief Constable of the Glamorgan Constabulary - he lived at the Vicarage for sometime and is buried in St. Illtyd's Church Grave Yard.
Mr. William Riley was a local antiquarian who died in 1914, he lived at Newcastle House. He was an archaeologist who during his time, found and excavated the Beaker burials at Merthyr Mawr. He was also know to have carried out a few excavations in Penyfai, 1898. - There he found a cross bearing a carving of St. Leonard, this is thought to have been taken from St. Illtyd's Church.
Caroline Williams, a suffragette before her time, was born on Newcastle Hill in 1823. Caroline spend her life working for the cause of women education, and funded many scholarships for women students of Cardiff University. She wrote a book about the history of her family, her relatives being: The Coffin Family, The Prices of Tynton and William Morgan, the man who first discovered the X-Ray.
(Sources: BLHS - Dr. Randall)
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
On the 28th of August, 1907 - Bridgend Free Library, Wyndham Street was officially opened by Mr. John Randall, County Councillor. The building which was built at the cost of £2000 replaced the Reading Room at Bridgend Town Hall. A large amount of townspeople were present at this historical event.
On the day Mr. Randall was welcomed into the new building by Mr. Michael Davies (Chair of the Library Committee) and Mr. P. J. Thomas, the architect who designed the building. - He was presented with a leather bound copy of Mr Bradley's book on the Marches and Borderlands of Wales as a souvenir.
Later a gathering was held at the lecture room, here Mr. Davies delivered an address expressing his confidence in the Free Libraries Act along with its history. He talked about Mr. Carnegie's contribution had attached the condition that a site of free rates should be obtained, this was fulfilled by the Earl of Dunraven who had generously provided three fourths of the cost of the pre-sent freehold - with the other third being paid for by the subscriptions of the wealthier public. Mr. Randall made a speech, which focused on the advantages of the library to the young people of Bridgend, also expressing his thoughts on how it would help the social life of the community.
Mr. H.J. Randall (hon. sec. of the library) proposed a vote of thanks to the donors: Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the Earl of Dunraven and to the subscribers. He also added that through his connection to Mr. W. Brace MP he had secured a number of historical books which would be valuable to students in the district.
Mr. J. Ballinger, the Chief Librarian of the City of Cardiff, is said to have made an interesting speech about the uses of the Free Library, he pointed out how it would be a valuable aid to education in the area.
The building was designed by Mr. P. J. Thomas with the contractors being Messrs. Price and Morgan.
|Bridgend Free Library, 1908.|
Sources: Cardiff Times - 1907
Saturday, 25 January 2014
This story first appeared written in Welsh with the title ‘Y Ferch o’r Scer’ and, as is usual with Welsh stories, its origins are obscure. The earliest reference to a love-lorn maid appears in 1806 in a translation by the historian William Davies of Neath of the words of a Welsh air composed by a Harper. There is doubt as to who this Harper was but it seems likely that he was Thomas Evans of the parish of Newton-Nottage. Further information about the story was then obtained by Thomas Morgan of Maesteg from an old woman of Maudlam who said she knew the Maid and it is her version that has generally been accepted. There are doubts about the authenticity of the story, however, and Mr. Leslie Evans in his book Sker House valiantly wrestles with the problem. His researches uncovered two descendants of the so-called Maid who hotly averred that the heroine had been happily married, It is a pity to spoil a good story, however, and this is the original account of Y Ferch o’r Sker.
Isaac Williams of Sker had tow daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Elizabeth (the Maid) was tall, beautiful and loved dancing. She used to wait impatiently for the Gwyl Mabsant to come round, the annual festival to commemorate the local saint (Saint Mary Magdalene, hence the name Maudlam). The celebrations took place in the Town Hall of Kenfig (today the Prince of Wales Inn) when the harpist would appear and play throughout the night. Everyone attended, even the old women who now preferred knitting, but the youngsters thought it despicable if they failed to dance continually until the dawn.
One fateful year the harpist was Thomas Evans of Newton-Nottage, who was always in great demand. The sight of the tall attractive girl must have quickened his pulse and his music, for he fell in love immediately; and to his joy he saw that Elizabeth was not averse to his approaches. They made the most of the evening together and by dawn they were lovers.
But Isaac Williams, when he heard if the associations, was furious, after all he was a gentleman farmer and Thomas Evans was a mere carpenter, however good his music. Undeterred the harpist hired a carriage and pair, and stealthily approached Sker House at night, hoping for an elopement. Unfortunately the dogs heard him and quickly the old house was alight as candles and lamps were lit. Poor Thomas though it best to retreat. The father locked the Maid in her room and she was not allowed to leave the house for a long period of time. But she still pined for her lover so Isaac Williams forced her to marry Mr. Kirkhouse of Neath.
As with most forced marriages Elizabeth never forgot the man she had favoured and so there was constant friction between her and her husband. She sought out the harper whenever he was in the region and once Mr. Kirkhouse caught them together. The story has an unhappy ending, for within nine years of the marriage the Maid was dead; dying, presumably of a broken heart. She was buried at Llansamlet on January 6th 1776. The tombstone that marked her grave has disappeared and lies buried in an unknown part of the churchyard. Thomas Evans, however was made of sterner stuff, for although he, too pined for his lover for the rest of his life, he eventually married in his fiftieth year and had several children. His end came much later in 1819, when, playing at a ball in Nottage Court, he collapsed and died a few weeks afterwards. He is buried at Newton churchyard.
How much of this story is true and how much is fiction we do not know.
The story of Y Ferch o’r Sker has a remarkable resemblance to that other tear-jerking legend, The Maid of Cefn Ydfa. In this story another lowly born bard, Wil Hopcyn, was prevented from marrying Ann Thomas, the daughter of a well-to-to farmer at Llangynwyd. Poor Ann like Elizabeth Williams, was forced to marry another man and died of a broken heart in her lover’s arms. Wil Hopcyn, not being as robust as Thomas Evans, also pined away, meeting his death later when he fell off a ladder whilst carrying out his trade as a thatcher. It would be fair to end in saying that such stories, whether there was an element of truth in them or not, were repeated, in various forms, throughout the Principality. They were the stock plot of the nineteenth century.
The Legends of Porthcawl and the Glamorgan Coast
Author: Alun Morgan
Illustration: Margaret Wooding
Wednesday, 8 January 2014
|Elizabeth Martin's Handwriting|
Her name was Elizabeth Martin and she resided at Vervil (Coity Lower) - which is less that two miles from the town centre. We can assume that Elizabeth would have done most, if not all of her shopping at Bridgend. The old house at Vervil was a fairly substantial yeoman's residence, but was demolished when it was acquired by the Nicholl family due to disrepair.
Her account book is a quire of quarto paper which does not seem to have been abstracted from a larger book. We do not know if she was a careful person by nature but we can see that her books of accounts is written neatly and with meticulous accuracy.
There is a separate account for each week, this extends over the period of 53 weeks. (March 1763/1764)
The totally expenditure for this period was £88. 5s. 4 and a half.
The weekly average was £1. 10s. 6d.
The highest week was £3. 0s. 4 and a half d.
The lowest was 14/4 and a half d.
Most of Elizabeth spelling is original and phonetic: Flour as Flower, Celery as Sallary, Lemons as Lemmans, Beef Steaks as Stakes and Salmon as Sammon.
Clothes, Fuel and Furniture were treated as special items (not included in the household books).
Below are various extracts of the account book transcribed by Dr. Henry Randall.
(Sources: Dr. Randall & Glyn Davies)
Tuesday, 7 January 2014
A few facts that I have recently discovered about our town!
Bridgend's first police station in 1835/36 was a house in Nolton Street with one or two cells.
Patients at Angelton Asylum wore boots with locks on to prevent them from losing their footwear.
Newbridge Fields were built with a large grant from the National Fitness Council. - The arrival of the Gorsedd Stones was delayed until 1948 due to the outbreak of World War Two.
The current boards garage was originally a coach house of a large house. The house was known as Price the Tanyards House. The tannery itself was on the site which is now the Rhiw Multi Story Car Park.
Bridgend Railway opened on the 22nd of October, 1830.
The Court House was designed by John Pritchard - The construction of the building began in 1874 but was not completed until 1878.
Derwen Road was originally called Oak and Ash Lane but was renamed Derwen Road in 1919.
A large area of Caroline Street was rebuilt in 1973 after the demolition of the market.
There was a books shop in Bridgend Railway Station as early as 1870.
The Davies Building were built on the corner of Caroline Street in 1892 - they were built by confectioner George E Davies. He owned a sweet shop adjoining the side, this was known as Davies' Rock Shop.
The Toll Gates on Derwen Road were removed in 1887 by The Glamorgan Highways Board.
Market Street was originally a track called Heol y Cawl, which led from Dunraven Place across to the Workhouse.
The Wyndham Arms was formally for premises: A House - A Pub - A Shop - and The Wyndham Arms.
At one time part of the building was used as a court house and jail.
The first library in Public Library in Bridgend was situated in the Town Hall (1901).
Dunraven Place was originally called The Square. - It is thought to be the site of Bridgend's first open air market.
After the Black Death hit Glamorgan in 1349, much of the land remained unoccupied; therefore, landlords were only able to collect small sums of rent.
St. John's Cottage (Bridge Cottage) was built in 1480 - demolished in 1966.
The Old Stone Bridge is made of Quarella Stone.
Parc Gwyllt & Angelton : In 1898 there were 1,504 patients between the two asylums, 60 of whom were from London and 478 from Cardiff. The hospitals were still so oversubscribed that there were reports of beds being placed in lavatories.
The usual working hours were 6am one day until 8pm the next day.
Monday, 16 December 2013
Before 1815 elections for the one member of Parliament then possessed by the county under the legislation of Henry VIII were held at Cowbridge. In the latter part of the eighteenth century the County representation was very much a family affair and it might ave almost been called a Dunraven seat. Charles Edwin held the position from 1747 until his death in 1756. Then there was an interval when the seat was held by a Vernon of Brition Ferry, but it reverted in 1780 to Dunraven in the person of Charles Wyndham. He retired in 1789 and after some controversy his son, Thomas Wyndham, was returned unopposed. But the free and independent electors of the county were not disposed to allow even an unopposed member to be returned too cheaply, and Mrs Margaret Thomas of Bridgend presented a bill for over £100 of which Lord Dunraven supplied some details.
- Dinners for 108 gentlemen at the Town Hall at 2s. 6d.
- Dinners for 51 gentlemens servants at 1s. 6d.
- Dinners for six chairmen, 2 doorkeepers, 10 persons who carried flags at Bridgend, St. Brides, Newcastle, Laleston, etc., also for 18 bell-ringers and gunners, all at 1s. 6d.
- Three bottles of Brandy drunk by gentlemen passing and repassing through the house at 3s. 6d.
- Two bottles of cider drunk by gentlemen in the dusk of night at 1s. 6d.
Other items state: 49 gallons of ale, hay and corn for seventy gentlemen's horses.
Breakfast was also provided for those who might happen to stay rather late and of this convenience we find ten gentlemen availed themselves in the parlour and twelve coachmen elsewhere.
Contemporaneously with the celebrations at Bridgend, Mr Wyndham entertained over a hundred of his friends to a ball at Cowbridge, which appears to have been arranged for him by Mr. Christopher Bradley at 9s. per head - extra being charged on account of port wine and sherry for the gentlemen and cards and negus for the ladies.
Thomas Wyndham held the seat unopposed until he died in 1814. Shortly afterwards, in April 1815 a county meeting was held at the Pyle Inn - here it was decided to introduce a bill into Parliament to make Bridgend the place for holding the county elections. The Act was evidently passed as all subsequent elections were held at Bridgend until the passing of the Reform Act in 1867.
The elections were held in a field near the the Leicester Inn called the Election Field. (now where The Star Inn is situated)
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
|The Davies Building, Caroline Street..|
Recently I have been trawling thorough the Victorian Newspaper of our area - below are some interesting extracts that I have come across whilst research Bridgend Petty Sessions, which is basically a Victorian "Who is in Court?".
Sarah Williams and Elizabeth Williams were brought up in custody of the police charged with stealing a shirt. The former was sentenced to seven days' imprisonment, and the latter was dismissed.
William Webb, vagrant, was charged with destroying his trousers in the Work House. He said he thought it more decent to tear them off inside than to let them blow off outside. Sentenced to ten days' hard labour
Mary Conolly, Julia Sullivan, and Catherine Sullivan were charged with assaulting Ellen Welsh. The complainant stated that she met the first defendant on Saturday week, and she (defendant) made use of insulting expressions, and wanted to fight her, but she refused, and was then struck. One of the defendants also attempted to stone her, but Conolly interfered, and wished to have a fair fight." A number of persons gathered round, and tried to make them fight. All three defendants assaulted her. They were fined Is. 6d. and costs each.
A labourer, named Cotten, was brought from Ireland to answer a charge of non-maintenance. When he was produced it was found that the wrong man had been apprehended. He was discharged and the prosecutors ordered to give him £1 to defray the cost the return journey.
David Thomas, a tramp, was charged with entering the house of Mr Charles E. Sawyer, at Bridgend, and stealing ham to the value of 80s. The prisoner was committed for trial.
George Evans Taylor, Bridgend, was sent to gaol for seven days for being drunk and disorderly in Nolton Street, on the previous Tuesday evening.
Henry James, of Blaengarw huts, Pontycymer., labourer, was charged with stealing a flannel shirt, the property of Henry Harris, of Pontycymer, and was committed for trial at the sessions.
John Keys. of no settled abode, was charged on remand with indecently exposing his person.—Police-constable Rees said defendant had been about the town begging for about a fortnight, but he did not see him exposing his person to the little girl.—Prisoner was sent to gaol for seven days.
James Dupplaw, lessee of Maesteg Market-place, was charged on remand with attempting to commit suicide at Maesteg Police-station. The circumstances of the case have already fully appeared in the South Wales Star.—John Richard Hill, son of Sergeant Hill, said that on the morning of May 25, about 8.30, he saw defendant hanging and appearing to be dead. He at once cut him down.
The Chairman commended witness for his conduct. Dr. T. W. Clayton said he saw defendant a few minutes after Dr. Thomas in the cell. Defendant was very restless and irritable. He was trembling all over. and could not stand. Witness believed defendant was suffering from the effects of delirium tremens. Defendant had had several such attacks before, but had never previously attempted self-destruction. Defendant was allowed to go on Dr. Clayton promising to get Mrs. Dupplaw to look after him.