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Penmark - Gazetteers

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

"PENMARK (PEN-MARK), a parish in the hundred of DINAS-POWIS, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 6 miles (S. E.) from Cowbridge, containing 536 inhabitants.

The name of this place, signifying literally " Mark's Head, " is supposed to have been originally derived from the preservation of a human scull in the churchyard, which, according to some monkish legend, was said to be that of St. Mark, to whom the church is dedicated, and which was consequently regarded for many years with religious veneration.

This place was distinguished at an early period by the erection of two castles, called respectively Penmark and Fonmon, both belonging to the followers of Fitz-Hamon, and originally built for the protection of a portion of the territories which, upon the conquest of this part of the principality, that nobleman divided among the knights who attended him in his expedition. Penmark castle, which was the property of Sir Gilbert Humphreville, continued a place of strength till the reign of Heury IV., when it was destroyed by Owain Glyndwr, in one of his incursions into the borders, and is now in ruins. Fonmon castle originally belonged to Sir John St. John de Bletso, and continued in the family of that nobleman till the reign of Charles I., when, during the interregnum, it was given by the parliamentarian party to Colonel John Jones, an active and zealous supporter of their interests, whose descendant, Robert Jones, Esq., is the present proprietor. The ancient building has undergone various repairs and alterations, and now forms a venerable castellated mansion, the residence of Mr. Jones.

The village occupies the summit of an eminence overlooking a romantic dell ; and the entire parish, which is situated in the south-eastern part of the county, on the coast of the Bristol channel, comprises a considerable tract of land, which has been enclosed from an early period, and is in a good state of cultivation. The surrounding scenery is pleasingly diversified and highly picturesque ; and the views over the adjacent country, which is extremely fertile and richly cultivated, are extensive, and embrace many interesting objects, among which the castellated mansion of Fonmon castle is most conspicuous.

A fair is held annually in this parish on the 15th of April.

The living is a vicarage, annexed to that of Lantwit-Major, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £8. 13. 4., and endowed with £200 royal bounty. The church, dedicated to St. Mark, is a substantial and well-built edifice, but not distinguished by any architectural details of importance. The chapels of East Aberthaw and Rhos, anciently dependent on the mother church, have long since fallen into decay. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic Methodists.

Several charitable donations and bequests, consisting of two houses, two acres of land, and about £ 60 in money, have been made for the benefit of the poor, the produce of which is periodically distributed among them.

The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £318. 1."

Penmark - Lewis 1833 [Last Updated : 16 Oct 2002 - Gareth Hicks]