"OYSTERMOUTH, a parish in the hundred of SWANSEA, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 5 miles (S. W.) from Swansea. containing 1164 inhabitants.
This place was anciently called by the Welsh Caer Tawy, and probably derived that name from the erection of a castle, the foundation of which is by some historians ascribed to Henry de Beaumont, who wrested from Caradoc ab Iestyn extensive territories in the province of Gower, for the security of which he built several castles ; and by others to Richard de Granville, one of the Norman knights who attended Robert Fitz-Hamon, and who materially contributed to his conquest of Glamorgan.
The parish is situated in the peninsula of Gower, and is bounded on the east by the bay of Swansea : it comprises a very extensive portion of arable and pasture land, which is enclosed and in good cultivation, and a large tract of common, which is unenclosed and open for pasture to the proprietors and tenants of land in the parish.
The village is much resorted to by visitors during the summer ; but, from its peculiar situation under a high limestone rock, which deprives it of the sun for several months in the winter, it is but a very dreary residence during that season. The surrounding scenery, though rather bold and striking, has little either of a picturesque or pleasing character ; but the high grounds command noble views over the bays of Swansea and Carmarthen, the peninsula of Gower, which separates them, and the Bristol channel.
Woodlands Castle, the seat of the late General Warde, is a handsome modern mansion, situated about a mile and a half to the north of Oystermouth Castle.
There are some quarries of limestone of an excellent quality, which from its being susceptible of a fine polish, is substituted for marble in the manufacture of mantel-pieces, monumental tablets, and other articles : a considerable number of the poorer inhabitants find employment in these quarries, which are worked upon an extensive scale, and in the mills which have been erected for sawing and polishing the blocks of stone, which are here manufactured into the various articles above noticed. In working the quarries it has been stated that human bones of a large size have been frequently discovered.
A tram-road, which has been constructed from this place to Swansea, along the sea-coast, affords facility of conveying the limestone from the quarries, and of bringing back coal and manure.
The oyster fishery is carried on during the season to a considerable extent, chiefly for the supply of the Bristol market ; and salmon are frequently procured from the weirs on the shores of Swansea bay. The Mumbles Point, an insulated rock at high water, forms the western extremity of Swansea bay ; and the trustees of the harbour have erected a lighthouse upon it, which has been productive of the greatest benefit to vessels navigating this coast, and is supported by a small toll payable by each vessel passing within a certain distance of it. The Mumbles Roads afford excellent shelter, with good anchorage, for ships navigating the channel, which frequently put in here during the prevalence of westerly gales, to the number, occasionally, of two hundred sail.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Carmarthen, and diocese of St. David's, endowed with £200 royal bounty, and £1000 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of Colonel Perrott, as impropriator of the tithes. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a neat and appropriate edifice, not remarkable for any architectural details of importance : it contains a monument to the memory of Thomas Bowdler, Esq., of Rhydings, in this county, editor of the Family Shakspeare, and of a purified edition of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists.
A neat school-room was built in the churchyard, by the late Rhys Davis, Esq., who appropriated eight guineas per annum, payable out of the tithes of the parish, towards the support of the school, which sum is annually paid by the present impropriator. Mrs. Benbow bequeathed two guineas per annum to the poor of the parish.
Upon the summit of a knoll, surrounded by broken cliffs, a little to the north-westward of the church, and commanding a fine marine prospect, are the remains of the ancient castle, consisting principally of the shell, which is nearly entire : the walls are finely mantled with ivy, and in such good preservation that the plan of several of the apartments may be distinctly traced ; the prevailing character of the architecture is the early English style, of which it affords a very good specimen, and the ruins retain an air of venerable and stately grandeur.
The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £ 135. 18."