Gower Villages http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages Thu, 25 May 2017 05:58:33 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Bishopston http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/bishopston http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/bishopston

Bishopston is a large village with a population of around 2,000. A monastic settlement in the Dark Ages, the site grew to become a flourishing centre for market gardening in later centuries. The village takes its name from the fact that it was once owned by the Bishop of Llandaff. Like many places in the area, Bishopston also has a Welsh name - Llandeilo Ferwallt, which translates to the slightly longer 'The church of St. Teilo at the top of the wooded valley near the bubbling brook'.

Barland Quarry, located 1km north of Bishopston, is now disused, but large amounts of limestone have been quarried here in the past. The area is now used mainly by climbers and cavers.

On the nearby Barland Common, evidence of the old Barland Castle is still visible. This was the first medieval earthwork castle excavated in the whole of Glamorgan and is now visible as a broad ditch protecting a level platform some 25 metres across. During its excavation, several pieces of glazed pottery, fragments of a leather shoe and a bronze ornamental buckle were discovered. The site, unfortunately, lays on private land.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:13:52 +0000
Cheriton http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/cheriton http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/cheriton

Cheriton (formerly known as Cherry Town) is one of the smallest hamlets on the Gower Peninsula and takes its name from a time, now long ago, when cherry trees grew in abundance in the area. Its diminutive size, however, belies the village's rich history and varied natural habitat. It also possesses St. Cadoc's Church (around which most of the hamlet's history revolves), which is generally accepted as the most beautiful of Gower's many medieval churches.

A particular favourite walk from Cheriton, chosen from the many available here to the enthusiastic rambler, can be followed from the stone style located at the rear of the cottage opposite the church. From this old style, the footpath leads through the length of Cheriton Valley, following the Burry Pill stream (where otters used to frequent in their search for trout), and passes the remains of several ancient and sunken roads in what truly is a most beautiful and rewarding walk.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:16:34 +0000
Crofty http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/crofty http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/crofty

There are two alternative views as to where Crofty derives its name. Whilst some believe it takes its title simply from the fact that the village once possessed many crofts, others are of the opinion that it originates from an early reference to the locale - "y groft wrth y ty" (meaning "the small field near the house").

A settlement of at least a couple of families is believed to have existed here since the 14th century but Crofty only really grew as a true village in the latter half of the 19th century when the land here began to be mined for its numerous veins of coal. The original mining cottages built around this time still exist on the downward slope of hill from Zoar Chapel to the Morlais river and give the village its rural feel, despite the huge sprawl of modern housing estates that have sprung up around it. Mining, now part of Crofty's long history, the village is now chiefly known for being the chief site of the north Gower cockling industry.

At the rear of the new housing estates of Crofty, at the edge of Crofty Industrial Estate, is an interesting man-made feature known as Salthouse Point. Now a relic of its former self, Salthouse Point was an important part of the shipping history of North Gower. During World War II, when the army used the Burry Estuary as a practice range, gun towers and artillery buildings were constructed on the Point. These have only recently been demolished. Now, the stone construction is an important habitat for wildlife. The salthouse that gave this feature its name is believed to have once stood at the end of the point.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:20:07 +0000
Knelston http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/knelston http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/knelston

Nestled in the heart of Gower at the foot of Cefn Bryn is the much sought after property location of Knelston and neighbouring Reynoldston.  The hamlet Knelston is surrounded by farmland and just  5-10 minutes drive away from Gower beaches, Oxwich, Horton, Port Eynon; the secluded Mewslade and Fall Bay; and the grand Rhossili.

Not much is known of the early history of Knelston, but it was most likely occupied during the Bronze Age, evident from the three standing stones that remain here.  One of these is a large, impressive stone, known as Knelston Standing Stone - a roughly triangular standing stone 2.2m high by 2.2m and 0.6m thick.

Knelston Standing Stone

Burry Menhir and Burry Lesser Stone both stand close to the west and east perimeters of a field previously known as Sheep Lays.  A map from 1784 shows the placement of two additional stones that once made an avenue alignment with Burry Lesser Stone. ["A vanished alignment of standing-stones" by Bernard Morris]

Just a field away from Knelston Standing Stone, beside Knelston Hall Farm, lay the ruins of a Medieval village church, hidden by ivy and trees. The original old Welsh name for the church and area was Llan y Tayre Mayre (Llan y Tair Mair/Church of the Three Marys), later dedicated to St. Maurice and St. Mary.  Built during the 12th century the church building had fallen into disuse by the 17th century, though the grounds continued to serve as a burial site until the 18th century.  Just the foundations and rubble of mortar and stone is left behind.

Llan y Tair Mair

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Providence Baptist Chapel and manse were built in 1858 and became the centre for Baptist missionary work in Glamorgan under the Rev JG Phillips and Rev David Evans. Today the buildings have been reclaimed as unique self-catering accommodation.

Knelston Old Chapel

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Mon, 20 Aug 2012 10:29:29 +0000
Llanddewi http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanddewi http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanddewi

Located 2 miles south west of Reynoldston, Llanddewi's place in history has been influenced by being the link or route between key north and south Gower villages.

The area has yielded prehistoric finds such as scrapers, flake tool and a Bronze Age polished stone axe.  An earthwork in a field south-west to Llanddewi Church is accepted as evidence of an Iron Age settlement.

Old Henllys 

By the Medieval period, Llanddewi was a well established settlement.  A number of earthworks have been recorded in the area around Llanddewi Church.  Another rectangular enclosure, 24m by 20m, defined by a bank and ditch, lay about one mile west of Llanddewi Church, near the ancient drovers route called Kingshall Lane which leads to Rhossili Down and the sea.  

Kingshall Lane

The remains of this deserted settlement called Old Henllys Moat once comprised a house and croft.  

A free chapel was recorded in surveys (1546 and 1548) by commissioners appointed by Henry VIII.

"founded by whom or for what intent is not known, but it hath been a free chapel for time out of mind"

- Crown Commissioner report, 1546

The chapel was subsequently dissolved by 1548 as part of The Reformation.  Unfortunately, no surviving remains of the chapel are known though it may have been located close to Old Henllys.  

Very close to Old Henllys Moat stands a Grade II listed building called Old Henllys Farmhouse.  The farmhouse was built in the 16th century as a storeyed hall house.  It was later converted into a domestic residence at some point and extended on the east side in the 18th century, with a 20th century kitchen extension to the rear.  

Old Henllys Farmhouse

The large gable end Flemish type chimney on the western end of the farmhouse is now completely obscured and undoubtedly damaged by the ivy which also extends onto the roof.  

Old Henllys Farmhouse

The farmhouse appears to be uninhabited since the death of Gladys Tucker who is buried at Llanddewi Church.  The Tucker family had lived here for more than a century.

Bishop's Palace

Opposite Llanddewi Church, at one time stood an episcopal palace, built by Henry de Gower between 1328-47, as the residence for the Bishops of St David's.  The build was finally abandoned due to rising costs and the lack of a decent water supply.  The palace was eventually demolished between 1362-89 by Bishop Houghton.  

Llanddewi Castle

Theories suggest that the palace site made way for Llanddewi Castle and that part of this building might have been incorporated into the substantial 16th century farmhouse that remains today.  

"A castle is said to have been anciently erected here, the reputed site of which is now occupied by a farm-house, in which some of the walls of the ancient building are reported to be incorporated: there are, however, no records either of the origin or history of the fortress."

- A Topographical Dictionary of Wales by Samuel Lewis 1833

There are no physical traces of the palace or castle today and not many original features exist of the Tudor house with its modern roof (1956).

Llanddewi Castle Farm

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Mon, 20 Aug 2012 23:57:22 +0000
Llangennith http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llangennith http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llangennith

The remote village of Llangennith, little served by local transport and now mainly the haunt of surfers, was once the liveliest and most notorious village on the Gower Peninsula. Weaving, music-making, prize-fighting and cock-fighting were all prevalent here and most people in the village were connected to smuggling in some form or another. Always first on the scene of any local shipwreck, especially on Rhossili Bay, the village seemed to be in perpetual feud with their neighbours over any booty that might have found itself wrecked along the shorelines here.

Life in such a remote area as Llangennith produced an independent, perhaps arrogant people who considered themselves apart, not only from the rest of the peninsula, but from the rest of Britain as well. During World War I, when the government decided to introduce the daylight saving measure of putting clocks forward an hour during summer months, the villagers here had to hold a public meeting to vote whether they should follow suit. The outcome was that they should, but only on a one month trial.

Up until fairly recent history, Llangennith used to hold the 'Mapsant' - a three day celebration commencing each July 5th, St. Cennydd's Day. Lighting a huge bonfire, people from all over Gower would gather to dance around its flames, singing and dancing and drinking 'white pot' - a local drink of flour, milk, currants and other ingredients boiled together in commemoration of the milk that nurtured St. Cennydd from his 'titty bell'.

Near the village, some 600 metres from the church, stands the ruined medieval village of Coety Green. Now abandoned and overgrown, the remains of at least six houses can be seen scattered around the green.

Coety Green

The Gower Nightingale, Phil Tanner, the famed singer who spent many an hour outside the King's Head public house practicing his art, is buried in the churchyard as well as St. Cennydd himself, whose remains are believed to lay somewhere beneath the church foundations.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Fri, 17 Aug 2012 20:21:09 +0000
Llanmadoc http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanmadoc http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanmadoc

A small and quiet village, Llanmadoc once supported both a bustling weaving and farming community. Still resoundingly picturesque, Llanmadoc of yesteryear must really have been a stunningly beautiful place in which to wander and take in the scenery.

Perhaps a little of how the village once appeared can still be appreciated by visiting St. Fagan's Museum of Welsh Rural Life, near Cardiff, as they removed both a wool factory and a farmstead of the time from here to painstakingly reconstruct it brick by brick for posterity on their grounds.

Llanmadoc Hill

Climbing the ridge of Llanmadoc Hill - which affords excellent views over the neighbouring hamlets of both Llanmadoc and Cheriton, as well as holding a gorgeous panoramic sweep towards all four corners of the Gower Peninsula - the strange earthwork construction known at the Bulwark can easily be identified.

The Bulwark

 

This was an Iron Age hillfort enclosure and is the second largest construction of its kind in the Gower Peninsula (the largest being that of Cilifor Top, in Llanrhidian). Originally designed to hold cattle and other livestock, the site was later adapted and fortified to protect the entire community at times of war.

Two further such earthwork constructions can be visited at the height of another of Llanmadoc's numerous hills, that of Harding's Down.

Llanmadoc Hill itself also hold at least 14 Bronze Age cairns. Although many now lay broken and/or overgrown, the Great Cairn still makes for quite an impressive sight.

Lagadantra Farm and the Verry-Volk

Following the road past Llanmadoc Church, the road soon comes to a dead end. Near here lays Lagadantra Farm, where it is believed that the last siting of Gower's very own fairy people - the Verry-Volk - took place.

The tale recounts how a little old woman visited the farm, requesting the loan of a sieve so that she might go sifting for gold. The farmer's wife told the old woman that she did not possess such an item, upon which she was reminded of the one that was being used in the kitchen to strain hops.

The strangeness of the old woman's appearance, allied to her uncanny knowledge of the existence and use of a kitchen sieve that surely could never have been naturally known to her, forewarned the farmer's wife that she could well be speaking to a Verry-Volk. With this in mind, the sieve was immediately cleaned and handed to the old woman.

Several days later, the old woman appeared again at the farmhouse, this time to return the sieve to its rightful owner. Thanking the farmer's wife for her kindness, she then revealed herself to be truly one of the fantastical Verry-Volk and stated that, to reward her good nature, the largest cask in the farmhouse would thereafter never be without beer. One condition was laid down to this spell, however. The Verry-Volk were a very secretive people, so the instant that the farmer's wife confided in any other person concerning the matter, the spell would be broken. Of course, the farmer's wife could not hold the secret for any great length of time and the cask was soon empty.

Lagadantra Farm seems to have been very popular amongst the Verry-Volk for this was not the only incident that connected them to the household. A short while previous to the aforementioned occurrence, a servant girl at the farm discovered a shining new penny in her pail every morning before she went to milk the dairy cows. This continued for quite some time until, thinking that it might be some test devised by her employers to test her honesty, she mentioned the fact to them. Again, like the farmer's wife after her, once mention had been made of the magic, it was to be beheld no more and not one single penny more was ever discovered by the servant girl.

Another locale here, of which the Verry-Volk seemed very fond, can be explored by following the lane which drives down from the church to the western end of the Burry Estuary. This is a quiet area of marsh, cliffs and estuarine track known as Cwm Ivy and fringes Llanmadoc's entire sea-level access from the north .

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:27:03 +0000
Llanmorlais http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanmorlais http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanmorlais

Llanmorlais is a village settlement, spreading inland from the Burry Estuary, and usually associated with Crofty. It is now home to the dwindling cockling industry that is more familiarly linked with Penclawdd.

Formerly known as Glasmorleys and Glanmorlais, the village started life as a small row of cottages along the Morlais stream. With the opening of numerous coal pits, however, it was not long before the village grew into quite a sizeable population.

Llanmorlais was the terminus of the North Gower Railway that ran from here to Gowerton. Remains of the railway bed can still be traced in the area but it is now largely overgrown.

The area had a petrol station/village shop until the close of the 20th century. This was located at the Post Office letter box which marks the start of the footpath to Crofty Park (children's playground located on the estuary). The village has a small Baptist chapel - Tirzah, located towards the centre of the locale.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sat, 16 Mar 2013 21:41:48 +0000
Llanrhidian http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanrhidian http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/llanrhidian

Llanrhidian was most likely an ideal base for a settlement during prehistoric times, with good quality water available from two springs, and a variety of landtypes closeby, such as the estuary and marshland, woodland and pasture.  Looming large, Cil Ifor Top, overlooks the entire north Gower region.

Early Medieval

An interpretation of the Book of Llandaff, suggests that Llanrhidian was the site for a monastic cell by the early Medieval period.  This religious site was possibly dependant on the main monastic estate in Rhossili.  A carved architectural stone (possibly the remains of a lintel or tombstone lid), dating from the 9th century, was excavated from the near the west tower doorway in 1865 and moved to the church porch in 1910.  The stone is known as the Leper Stone.

The Leper Stone

Llanrhidian Standing Stones

One of the more distinctive features of Llanrhidian are its two standing stones - both positioned on the village green outside Llanrhidian Church. The upper of these stones can easily be identified as the remains of a Celtic Cross and a closer inspection will reveal traces of iron rods embedded both at the bottom and at the top of the stone. It is believed that this stone was once used as a village pillory.

Llanrhidian Stone

The lower standing stone is of limestone and its history in Llanrhidian is clearly recorded in the parish register as being raised to its present position on 8th April 1884. The 10-20 volunteers who undertook this arduous task were each rewarded with a pint of beer in the Welcome to Town public house across from the green.

Llanrhidian Lower Stone

The Welcome to Town Inn

The Welcome to Town was also the meeting place for the Gower United Association for the Prosecution of Felons' annual dinner. This group of land owners and farmers were responsible for the rewards offered for the apprehension of local criminals. It disbanded in 1892 after a very quiet last 34 years of service - its last active case being that of sheep stealing in 1856.

The public house, now a restaurant, is reputed to be haunted by the figure of a coachman, some of whom believe had dealings with this society. He has been sighted on numerous occasions occupying a table near the front window of this quiet establishment.

Llanrhidian Legends

As well as the odd appearance of the ghostly coachman, the hamlet of Llanrhidian has other strange stories attached to it.

Gnomes' Gold

The first concerns a priest who is said to have awakened one morning from a gripping dream concerning a mysterious cave hidden in the woods near St. Rhidian's Church. His vivid dream foretold the cave contained a bountiful supply of money, so the priest decided to take his manservant and investigate the area.

To his surprise, the priest soon discovered the cave actually existed. The dream had told the priest that the awesome iron door that blocked the entrance to the cave would only open to the sound of a harp. Forewarned with this knowledge, he now played a tune on the small harp he had brought along with him from his home.

As promised by his dream, the iron door responded to the sweet music and swung slowly open. Inside the cave, each guarded by a sleeping gnome, were two large piles of gold. Lulled by the sound of the priest's harp, the gnomes continued to sleep as the priest's manservant crept into the cave to steal some of the gold for his master. However, the gold was heavy and, despondant by the paltry amount of gold his manservant could carry, the priest laid down his harp to help in the theft of the gnomes treasure. Unfortunately, as the harp ceased its tune, the iron door swung firmly shut behind the priest and both men were trapped within the cave to face the wrath of the two stirring gnomes. The location of the cave has remained a mystery ever since.

Butter Well

Llanrhidian's other legend is that of St. Illtyd's Well, later known, for reasons that will become apparent, as Butter Well. It is an ancient well and is located in a private garden near Llanrhidian Church. Looking no more than ordinary to today's inspection, it is recorded in the Annals of Margam that, in 1185, the well became a rich source of milk and butterfat instead of its more usual supply of Welsh spring water. This was said to have flowed copiously from the well for at least three hours. Since that time, however, the well has failed to repeat the phenomena.

Scanderoon Galley

In an earlier century, at the foot of Llanrhidian, in one of the many gulleys and channels that scour the marshland here, the sea vessel Scanderoon Galley became grounded. The vessel carried twelve chests gold and, although much of this was salvaged at the time, one could not be found as it had quickly sunk into the silty mud. Many years later a local man suddenly became very rich, and rumour persisted that he had secretly found the lost chest.

Llanrhidians Mills

Up until the beginning of the 20th century Llanrhidian was famous for its large weaving industry. The remains of one of its larger woollen factories, Stavel Hagar (Staffel Hægr), can be seen at the end of the lane that stretches down to the marsh lands of the Burry Estuary. The looms here were dismantled in 1904.

Of further interest in Llanrhidian is the now disused mill house which can be found by following the lane down past The Dolphin public house. Although no longer in operation, Nether Mill's millpond still possesses much charm and its (broken) millstone can still be viewed outside the building's eastern entrance.

Nether Mill

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Thu, 23 Aug 2012 16:17:19 +0000
Mumbles http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/mumbles http://www.explore-gower.co.uk/explore/gower-landmarks/villages/mumbles

Mumbles is a busy seaside resort that skirts the corner of coastline that divides Swansea Bay from Gower. A tourist's haven, the area features:

  • the magnificent Norman remains of Oystermouth Castle
  • a Victorian pier, brimming with modern café and amusement amenities
  • three small and sheltered beaches - Mumbles Beach, Bracelet Bay and Limeslade
  • extensive shopping facilities, ranging from high-class boutiques to craft galleries and gift shops
  • sports and leisure activities, including fishing, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing, cycling, golf, bowls and tennis
  • evening entertainment, from restaurants to ice-cream parlours and wine bars to many, many pubs, historically known as the 'Mumbles Mile'.  This is actually a two-mile stretch on Mumbles Road that in its hey-day boasted more than 20 pubs. Now there are only 9 pubs left.
  • a full-range of exciting annual events, carnivals and sporting competitions
  • commanding views eastwards over the coastal stretches of Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot and Porthcawl and, during particularly clear conditions, southwards to the coast of Devon.

The name Mumbles is derived from the French "Mamelles", meaning breasts, and refers to the appearance of the twin islets off Mumbles Head, the outer of which hosts the peninsula's only surviving working lighthouse.

The road, which hugged the sea all the way from Swansea, now veers sharply from the coast at Limeslade, but for those who wish to explore the finer delights this coastline has to offer the walker, a well maintained footpath continues from this point westward all the way to the spectacular land's end of Worm's Head.

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stella.elphick@gmail.com (Stella Elphick) Villages Sun, 17 Feb 2013 23:44:40 +0000