Cilybebyll - Gazetteers


Extract from A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833) by Samuel Lewis

"KILYBEBILL (CIL BEBYLL), a parish, comprising the Upper and Lower divisions, in the hundred of NEATH, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 4 1/2, miles (N.) from Neath, and containing 398 inhabitants, of which number, 122 are in the Upper, and 276 in the Lower, division.

This parish, the name of which signifies "the retreat of the tents," is situated in a pleasant glen, opening at its southern extremity into the Vale of Neath, and is separated from the parish of Llanguicke by the river Tawy, over which is a handsome stone bridge of one arch, called Pont ar Dawe, constructed by the self-taught architect of Pont y Prydd : the span of the arch is about eighty feet, and the whole structure, though inferior in its dimensions to Pont y Prydd, is superior to it in the beauty of its architecture.

Kilybebill Place, the ancient seat of the family of Herbert, now the property of H. Leach, Esq., has been so completely modernized and greatly improved by its present proprietor, as scarcely to retain any vestige of its ancient character : the grounds are well disposed, and the house commands a good view of the sea and of the abrupt knolls and eminences near Briton Ferry. One of the ladies of the family of Herbert was maid of honour to Catherine of Braganza, consort of Charles II., and was afterwards appointed mistress of the robes to that queen, who presented her with one of the only two portraits of her majesty, painted by Sir Peter Lely, which is still preserved in the house.

The parish is comprised in the vast mineral basin of South Wales, and great quantities of coal are shipped from the port of Swansea to different parts of the kingdom, by means of the Swansea canal, to which are railways from the various works in this district. This coal is raised by level, and, by an ingenious contrivance of Mr. Branton of London, the machinery possesses a material advantage over that in common use : this is effected by a small wheel circumscribing the drum, round which the cord is coiled in a contrary direction to the smaller ; and, by attaching the full trams to one end of the lower cord, and those at the pit's mouth to the end of the upper cord, the former are drawn over a level of four hundred yards, while the others descend an inclined plane double that length, the diameters of the wheels being respectively in proportion.

The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £4. 6. 8., endowed with £200 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The church, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, is a small plain building, with a massive square embattled tower. There are places of worship for Baptists and Methodists. The late Mrs. Herbert bequeathed £ 5 per annum, which is regularly paid by Mr. Leach to the poor of this and the adjoining parish of Llanguicke.

On the hill called March Hywel are several tumuli, on opening one of which a platform of stone was found, exhibiting strong appearances of the action of fire ; and on one side of it was an urn of unbaked clay, containing ashes, remnants of bones, and charcoal, as fresh apparently as when first deposited. Celts, and a weapon of yellow metal, supposed to be a Roman sword, have also been found here.

The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £ 100. 10."

[Last Updated : 8 Oct 2002 Gareth Hicks]