St Brides Major - Gazetteers


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

"BRIDE'S (ST.) MAJOR, a parish in the hundred of OGMORE, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, comprising the townships of St. Bride and Ynysawdre, each of which separately maintains its own poor, and containing 922 inhabitants, of which number, 328 are in the township of St. Bride, 3 1/2 miles (S.) from Bridgend, on the road to Lantwit-Major.

This place holds a conspicuous rank in the ancient history of the principality, and is distinguished for having been one of the earliest known residences of its princes. It is situated on the river Ogmore, by which it is bounded on the west, and extends southward to the Bristol channel.

Dunraven Castle is an elegant and spacious structure, occupying an elevated situation in the parish, and commanding an extensive marine prospect, and several fine views of the rocky scenery along the coast. The present structure was erected by the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., near the site of a former edifice, anciently the residence of Caractacus, and called by the Britons Dyndryvan, of which the present name is a modification. The British hero and his father, Bran ab Llyr, are both said to have resided here; and the triple rampart that defended it, on the only side on which it was accessible, and of which the remains are still visible, is at least as ancient as the time of the Romans. After the disastrous defeat of Caractacus it continued to be the residence of the native reguli, till the time of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, on whose deposition by the Norman adventurer Fitz-Hamon, it was granted by that chieftain to William de Londres, together with the lordship and castle of Ogmore. The castle and manor of Dunraven were given by William de Londres to Arnold, his butler, as a reward for his valour in defending the castle of Ogmore from an attack of the Welsh, during the absence of that nobleman, for which he was also knighted, assuming from his office, according to the custom of that time, the name of Sir Arnold Butler, which he transmitted, together with the estate, to his descendants, who continued to enjoy the latter for many generations, till, the male line becoming extinct, it was conveyed by a daughter in marriage to the family of Vaughan. According to local tradition, which appears to have been confirmed by subsequent discoveries, the last of the Vaughans who possessed the manor was in the habit of inhumanly setting up decoy lights, to mislead vessels in the channel, in order to increase his revenue by the " Wrecks de mer," to which, as lord of the manor, he was entitled. Within sight of the house was a rock, dry only at low water, to which two of his sons having gone to divert themselves, and neglected to secure their boat, it was floated away, and they were left on the rock till the return of the tide, when they perished in sight of the family, who vainly attempted to afford assistance. During the confusion which this melancholy event created in the family, the third son, a child only just able to walk, fell into a large vessel of whey, and was drowned; and the proprietor, thus left childless, sold the estate to an ancestor of the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., whose only daughter and heiress conveyed it by marriage to Windham Henry Wyndham Quin, Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl, the present noble proprietor : the mansion is at present in the occupation of J. W. Bennet, Esq., who married the widow of the late Mr. Wyndham, and who occasionally resides in it. The castle and lordship of Ogmore passed, by marriage with the heiress of the family of de Londres, to the first Duke of Lancaster, and still forms part of the duchy, now vested in the crown. The former is thus described by Leland :-" Ogor Castelle stondith on the Est Ripe of Ogor, on a playn Ground a Mile above the mouth of Ogor, and ys meatly welle maintainid. It longgid ons to Lounder, now to the King." The ruins, together with an out-post, called Castel Allen, are situated within an angle formed by the junction of the Ewenny with the river Ogmore ; they are very considerable, and present a striking and interesting  feature in the landscape.

The living is a vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Wick annexed, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £9. 16. 5 1/2., and in the patronage of Richard Turberville Turberville, Esq. The church is an ancient structure, and contains several handsome monuments ; among which the most conspicuous are, a fine altar-tomb, bearing the effigies of a crusader and his lady, of the family of Butler, and an elegant mural monument, beautifully executed in white marble, by Gahagen, of Bath, to the memory of the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., of Dunraven Castle, who represented the county of Glamorgan in several parliaments, on which are the effigies of himself and his two sons, who died in their infancy, finely sculptured in alto relievo. There is a place of worship for Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.

A school, in which forty children of both sexes are instructed, is supported by annual subscriptions among the principal proprietors of land.

Near the western boundary of the parish, a little to the south-west of the village of Ewenny, there is a very copious spring, locally called "The Shew Well," but usually designated by tourists " Ogmore Spring : " it issues from three different apertures in the limestone rock, and the waters, uniting immediately on their emission, at first occupy a space about fifteen yards wide, but are soon contracted to a current seven yards wide and one foot deep, and, at the distance of between thirty and forty yards from their source, fall into the river Ewenny. It has been asserted that this is a part of that river, which enters a subterraneous channel a short distance above ; but the different properties of the waters of these confluent springs are sufficient evidence in disproof: the two eastern are exceedingly cold, and, in washing, will curdle soap like an acid ; the water of the other is of a milder temperature, and will serve for washing as well as rain water.

In the cliffs on this part of the coast are some spacious and remarkable excavations, formed by the action of the sea : one of these, of singular appearance, extends for a considerable length in a direction parallel with the coast, and resembles a series of columns rudely formed ; another, called the Wind Hole, has penetrated the rocks to a great depth, and is remarkable for some apertures in the ground, through which, in certain states of the tide, the wind rushes upwards with considerable force.

The poor are supported by an average annual expenditure amounting to £473. 18."

St Brides Major - Lewis 1833 [Last Updated : 18 Oct 2002 - Gareth Hicks]