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Two descriptions of the parish

Lewis  &  Carlisle

 

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales by Samuel Lewis 1833

"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."


A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, London, 1811.

"OYSTERMOUTH, anciently CAER TAWY, in the Cwmwd of Gwyr, Cantref of Eginog (now called the Hundred of Swansea), County of GLAMORGAN, South Wales: a Perpetual Curacy, not in charge, of the certified value of 10: Patron, Rhys Davies, Esq., of Swansea, who is the Impropriator: Church dedicated to All Saints. The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, was 715. The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was 132 .13.10, at .5s. 6d. in the pound. It is 5 m. S W. b. S. from Swansea. Here is no Free School, but the Impropriator has for some time past kept a certain number of Boys at School at his own expense. This Parish contains about 3000 acres of inclosed Land, and 1000 acres uncultivated and uninclosed, being all Common Lands belonging to the Freeholders and Customary Holders. The Tythes and Advowson originally belonged to the Warden and Chaplain of the Hospital at Swansea by Endowment from the Bishop of St. David's, in the reign of Edward the First; but were dissolved in the reign of Edward the Sixth. From the encroachments of the Manorial Lords upon this line of Country much confusion and tyranny prevailed till the reign of Queen Elizabeth, when a Decree was made in Chancery in the cause of The Marquis of Worcester, one of the Lords of the Manor of Gwyr, Plaintiff, and Sir George Herbert and One Thousand Gentlemen and Freeholders and Customary Tenants, Defendants, in favour of the Defendants, establishing their Rights and thereby doing away all the vexatious and arbitrary claims. It is situate upon Swansea Bay, the Eastern extremity of the Parish being called, The Mumble Point. According to Mr. Morris, The Mumble Flats is a dry sheltered situation, with soft ground to lie on; Vessels drawing eighteen feet water, may run in here at high water spring tides. There is a Light-House, lately erected, on the Mumble Head, which has proved an invaluable benefit to the traders in the Bristol Channel. Here might be made an excellent situation for shipping, if the Sounds between the Mumble Head and the Shore were walled up, or if a Pier of one Hundred yards was run out under the East point of Mumble Hill; the expense of which would not exceed two thousand pounds, as there are plenty of materials at hand. To the East of the Mumble Church, on a knoll or little eminence, stands Oystermouth Castle, a considerable part of which now remains, and in better preservation than any of the Castles in Gower; commanding a fine view of the Bay of Swansea, and the surrounding Country. Here, according to tradition, was formerly holden the Chancery Court for the Seigniory of Gower it is now the property of His Grace The Duke of Beaufort, as Lord of the Seigniory; and, in the summer, is resorted to by parties of pleasure, from Swansea and the Neighbourhood, who dine upon a Green within the Walls. The Gate-way is nearly perfect, and also a staircase leading to a Terrace. There are several Dungeons within the Castle, and in one of them is a circular stone pillar, into which each visitor sticks a pin, according to an old custom. A quarter of a mile nearer Swansea, on a small Stream, is a Mill for sawing and polishing Marble, lately erected by Messrs Wallace and Gubbins; the Marble is brought from the Limestone Quarries at the Mumbles, and there manufactured into Tombstones and Chimney-pieces, &c. A Railway has been carried, within the last three years, from Swansea to the Mumbles along the Sea shore; by which Coals and Manure are brought down, and Limestone is taken back. A Car, upon Tram wheels, and carrying about 16 or 18 persons, goes and returns twice every day, during the Summer, down to the Mumbles; each Passenger paying a Shilling fare: it is convenient for Sea-faring people and others, and the Proprietor amply repays himself; who has permission from the Rail-road Company to run this Car, upon paying a small Sum annually. At the Quarries, near the Village of The Mumbles, several Lime Kilns, on an improved plan, have been erected by Messrs Yalden and Pemberton, which they ship off for the County of Devon; and as Coals are procured at an easy and cheap rate, and no duty being paid for the Lime carried across the Channel, they are enabled to sell their Lime to the Merchants in that County, cheaper than they can burn it themselves there, especially as the expense of carrying the Lime-stone and Coals, (for the latter of which they pay duty), is very great: this speculation is likely to prove both advantageous to the consumers of Lime, and to the undertakers of the concern. In digging the stone in these Quarries, several Human bones of large size were discovered: Tradition says, that a Chapel formerly stood near this spot, but no vestiges of it are now to be seen: it is, nevertheless, not improbable but that there might have been one, as the Sea has made great encroachments on this part of Swansea Bay, and a large Wood, called Crows Wood, between Swansea and the Mumbles, which is mentioned in some ancient Records now preserved in the Corporation chest at Swansea, has been destroyed by the Sea; evident vestiges whereof are now to be seen, such as large pieces and roots of Trees, and the sands being intermixed with a black Peat or muddy substance, which are in several places very loose and quick, and dangerous for a stranger to ride over. Several Wears, for catching Salmon, are erected on these sands within low water mark, and quantities of Fish caught in them, are taken to Swansea. The. Village of The Mumbles is, during the Summer, the resort of many persons from Swansea, for a few weeks; where there are some neat comfortable Cottages, and where good Lodge ings may be procured; but, in the Winter, this Village is most dreary, as the Sun scarcely shines upon it for three Months. The Vessels bound to Falmouth with Coals from Swansea, occasionally lie here, waiting for Wind and Convoy; and there are frequently one hundred and fifty sail of them at one time in the Mumble Road. An extensive Oyster Fishery is carried on here, from which circumstance it derives the Name of Oystermouth. According to the Diocesan Report, in 1809, the yearly value of this Benefice, arising from Augmentation, fixed Stipend, and Surplice Fees, was 35..14..0. "

[Last Updated : 29 Jan 2005 - Gareth Hicks]

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