St Donats - Gazetteers
"DONATT'S (ST.), a parish in the hundred of OGMORE, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 6 1/2 miles (S. W.) from Cowbridge, containing 151 inhabitants.
This place is distinguished as the site of an ancient castle, formerly of great strength and magnificence, which was one of the twelve fortresses erected by the Norman knights who attended Fitz-Hamon in his conquest of this part of the principality. The lordship of St. Donatt's was given by Fitz-Hamon to Sir William le Esterling, or Stradling, in the possession of whose descendants it continued without interruption for more than seven hundred years, and on the decease of Sir Edward Stradling, Bart., who died at Montpellier, in 1738, it passed, with the castle, to Mr. Fontaine Tyrwhitt, and both are now the property of Thomas Tyrwhitt Drake, Esq., grandnephew of that gentleman.
The castle is situated on the sea-coast, and is an extensive pile of building, occupying a spacious quadrangle, over the gate leading into which are the arms of the Stradlings : part of it is now habitable, and in the later style of English architecture. The park lies to the west of it, and the gardens are on the south, between the walls of the castle and the sea, and are constructed on terraces descending to the shore of the Bristol channel, of which they command a fine view. Within the park is a quadrangular watch-tower of lofty elevation and picturesque appearance, which, according to local tradition, was erected for observing vessels in distress, not for the purpose of rendering assistance, but with a view to take immediate possession of the wreck, which became the property of the lord of the manor.
In the neighbourhood there is a cave of considerable extent and grandeur, accessible only at low water, which in the summer time is much visited by parties, who, after having been gratified with a view of the romantic beauties of the place, usually dine upon the rocks.
The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £3. 14.4 1/2., endowed with £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of Thomas Tyrwhitt Drake, Esq. The church is beautifully situated beneath the castle, in a romantic dell, abounding with valuable timber, and contains, in a small sepulchral chapel belonging to the owner of the castle, some handsome monuments of the Stradlings, and an elegant sarcophagus of white marble to the memory of the last of that name, who died abroad ; there are also several paintings of the fifteenth century, commemorating different members of that family. In the churchyard stands an elegant cross, of elaborate design and execution.
The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £ 90.3."1/2: Patron, Thomas Drake Tyrwhitt Drake, Esq. The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, was 198. The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was £124..10..0: the Rates being levied by the acre. It is 7 m. SW. b.S from Cowbridge. This Parish contains 840 acres of inclosed Land. It is situate upon the Bristol Channel; with a bold, rocky shore, which is often fatal to Mariners. A Charity School is very handsomely supported here, at the expense of Mr. DRAKE, the Lord of the Manor. The ancient Castle which is entire, and inhabited, is a magnificent Structure: it belonged to the Easterlings (vulgarly called Stradlings), Norman Knights, who came over with William the Conqueror; and in whose Family it remained nearly Seven hundred years: it now belongs to the DRAKE Family. There are some fine Monuments to the Stradlings in the Church, which is situate in a romantic Dell abounding with valuable Timber, beneath the Castle. The Watch Tower, on the opposite Hill, is a picturesque Object. There is a large Cavern, about half a mile East from the Castle, and which can only be entered at Low-water. According to the Diocesan Report, in 1809, the yearly value of this Benefice, arising from Tythes, Rent of Glebe, and Augmentation, was £99..15..3."
[Last Updated : 21 Jan 2005 - Gareth Hicks]