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St Hilary - Gazetteers

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

"HILARY (ST.), a parish in the hundred of COWBRIDGE, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 1 1/4 mile (S. E.) from Cowbridge, containing 168 inhabitants.

The village is pleasantly situated, a little southward from the line of the great western road through the county, on an eminence in the Vale of Glamorgan, above one of the sudden depressions of the surface which are of such frequent occurrence in this district, and commands a fine view of the southern parts of the county, the Somersetshire hills, and the Bristol channel, with its numerous shipping: the deep and thickly wooded dingles by which it is surrounded, and the diversified scenery of the immediate neighbonrhood, add greatly to the picturesque beauties of its situation. The substratum of the parish is limestone, in which lead-ore has been fonnd, and worked to a limited extent ; but the undertaking was not attended with sufficient advantage to lead to the establishment of any permanent works.

The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at s £5. 14. 4 1/2., endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £1000 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Archdeacon and Chapter of Llandaf. The church is a neat substantial structure of two aisles, with a square embattled tower at the west end, and an east window of very elegant design : the interior is very appropriately arranged.

A small school for the gratuitous instruction of poor children is supported by the family of Trahearne, who have a residence occupying an agreeable situation in the village.

In a fine meadow, about a mile from the village, originally called Beau Pres, and now Bewper, stood one of the palaces of the royal house of Sitsyllt, the progenitors of the family of the Cecils, Marquises of Salisbury and Exeter. On the site of the original manson, which was one of the most ancient in the principality, was erected another, of which there are some strikingly picturesque ruins, particularly deserving notice on account of some embellishments to the principal front of the building, which are considered to be among the earliest introductions of the Grecian style of architecture into this country, and were erected in 1600, at the expense of Richard Bassett, Esq. They consist of three stages of columns, of which the lowest is of the Doric, the middle of the Tuscan, and the upper of the Corinthian order ; the capitals, intaglios, and other sculptures, are executed in a masterly style, and immediately over the entrance are the family arms, finely sculptured in alto relievo, with a commemorative inscription in Roman capitals. These embellishments were added from a design by a stonemason named Twrch, whose family had for many generations been proprietors of the freestone quarries in the neighbourhood, and who, having left home on account of some domestic quarrel, visited Italy and other places on the continent, where he greatly improved himself in masonry and sculpture, and, on his return to his native place, displayed so much talent in this piece of art, which continues to attract the admiration of all travellers, that it procured for him the notice of several of the gentry of the county.

The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £91."

St. Hilary - Lewis 1833 [Last Updated : 9 Oct 2002 - Gareth Hicks]