Monday, 11 June 2018

Boverton Village & Castle

Boverton Village

Boverton Castle (Manor House)

Boverton Village, near Llantwit Major, has stood since the time of William the Conqueror (1028-1087).  The main point of interest these days is the ruins of Boverton Manor also known as Boverton Castle, that was built by Robert Fitzhamon, a 12th century Norman conqueror of Glamorganshire in South Wales.

boverton manor hous
Boverton Manor House
Boverton Village Square

During the reign or Richard 1st the manor house was owned by the Earl of Gloucester.  His daughter Hadwisa went on to marry Prince John and it is rumoured that this union lead to something quite sinister in the Manor that was witnessed hundreds of years later.

Boverton Manor (left and above)is rumoured to have a ghost called the "Black Lady" who terrified some workmen during the early 19th Century.  The ghost was dressed in black mourning clothes (hence the name Black Lady) and believed to be the restless spirit of Hadwisa, estranged wife of King John.  He had divorced her and banned her to exile in the Manor house.  However, still being in love with him, she lived a sad and pitiful existence there for the rest of her days, and it was her forlorn appearance made itself known to the workmen along with the sound of her mournful sobs.

It was later rebuilt in the 17th Century as a fortified manor house by Roger Seys who was the attorney general of Wales, but then fell into decay.

Boverton Manor is currently fenced off and can only be seen from the road outside, but it is well worth just standing there and soaking up some of its history. There have been no reported sightings of a ghost there in recent years, but that's not to say that the Black Lady won't appear again. 

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page also linked at top of page

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Ogmore Castle, Vale of Glamorgan.

Ogmore Castle is situated in St. Bride's Major, Vale of Glamorgan on the east bank of the River Ogmore and south of the River Ewenny.  The castle stands at what was once a strategic position to protect the towns of Bridgend and Coity situated further inland to the north and east. 

What was originally a timber fortification, Ogmore Castle was later
ogmore castle fire hearth
Old Fire Hearth, Ogmore Castle.
reinforced by stone and when looking up inside the Great Hall, the remains of the upper first floor can be seen with a large and ornate fireplace and arched windows.

The Castle is thought to date back to before the Norman Invasion but was given to William de Londres by Robert Fitzhamon who was the Norman conqueror of Glamorgan.

In 1116, whilst William was away, his butler Arnold successfully defended the Castle against a Welsh invasion, and was later knighted, Sir Arnold Butler and given Ogmore Castle along with the nearby Dunraven Manor as a reward for his bravery.

main gate, ogmore castle
Ogmore Castle Main Entrance
(from inside the grounds)
I find that old castles are amongst my favourite places to visit in Wales, having visited many of them in my youth both alone and on our school outings. Ogmore Castle, whilst not huge, certainly captures the imagination. The tranquil peace of the area where it is situated, plays on the imagination and I can often "hear" the battles that seem to echo
Ogmore Castle Main Entrance
Ogmore Castle, Main Entrance
around ancient walls and ruined battlements,  now silenced by the passing of the centuries.  Ogmore Castle has free admission and whilst not a large structure to explore it is a great place to visit for a picnic or to play games with the kids hopping across on the River Ogmore on the stepping stones adjacent to the Castle

The Ghost of Ogmore Castle
The legend goes that a local man once accosted the White Lady - the ghost of Lady Ogmore - demanding that she give him some gold that he knew she had hidden in the castle.  She led him upstairs into the one of the towers and beckoned him to raise a large stone slab from the floor.  There under the slab, was a container full of golden guineas. She told him that he could take half but leave the other half for her.  He accepted her offer and left with his windfall. Later on though, he was overcome by greed and couldn't see why he should not have the entire fortune. After all, what would a ghost do with such a worldly fortune anyway? So he returned to the castle get it.  As he was about to take the money, the ghost caught him in the act. He tried to talk his way out of it, saying that she was mistaken and that he was only checking on it.  But the White Lady knew that theft was in his heart and set about him, slashing deeply into his flesh with her talons.  He left Ogmore Castle bruised, bloodied and badly injured but made it home. There was a lot of questioning as to how he got these bruises and he must have confessed to the truth  just before he died of his wounds because his sickness and subsequent death was referred to as the White Lady's Revenge.

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Llantwit Major: Ghost Story

Llantwit Major, being one of the most ancient villages in Wales just has to have a ghost story or two.

River Ogmore & Castle Ruins
River Ogmore & Castle Ruins
A tailor in the town had a wife called Barbara who's dying mother-in-law entrusted to her the task of distributing her wealth equally with the rest of the family. However, Barbara's head was turned by the wealth and she decided to say nothing of the inheritance and keep it for herself.  But the ghost of her husband's mother returned to exact vengeance on the woman for her dishonesty. She did this at first by constantly pinching Barbara all over her body whilst she rested in bed each night, completely depriving her of sleep. This continued until Barbara felt very ill and was covered in bruises.  At this point the ghost reappeared and ordered her to either share the money equally with the family, or throw it downstream into the River Ogmore.

Barbara, not wanting to reveal the theft to the family by sharing the wealth at this late date, decided to throw the money into the river, thinking that this would allow her to keep the respect of the family.  However, it seems that she had more trickery in mind and  did not throw it downstream as she had agreed, but upstream. I don't know why she threw it upstream, but it suggests to me that the was trying to trick the ghost and would set about retrieving it later.  But the ghost was obviously not stupid and this didn't work for the hapless Barbara and threw her into a deep whirlpool in the river.  She was found later by some villagers battered and bruised, but with no memory of what had happened.

The ghost returned again and haunted the home that she shared with her innocent husband and children with ghostly bumps and crashes for the rest of their days. The story goes  that even her children were punished. Locals were said to be "ghost ridden"

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Llantwit Major Beach

As you move towards the older village of Llantwit Major down Boverton Road, just before you get to the Town Hall another narrow, single-track road on the left is signposted, "Beach". You can walk or drive down this narrow road for around a mile or so through a valley of fields that is used for camping, and eventually you will come to a car park car park with a café and other facilities.  Straight ahead then lies the beach on the Bristol Channel and on a clear day, the coastline of Somerset is visible.

Llantwit Major beach is not one of those beaches with long stretches of sand. There is some sand there, but it mostly consists pebbles and rock pools that most children love to play in.  To each side are high cliffs that are the habitat of many nesting birds and wild plant life.    

This coastline is part of the Glamorganshire Heritage Coast that begins in Aberthaw in the East and stretches to Porthcawl in the West. Llantwit Beach with its high cliffs and large foreshore, is one of the best beaches in Wales for fossil hunters and due to frequent rock-falls, there is always ample opportunity to excavate new fossils.  Jurassic fossils such as giant gastropods, bivalves and brachiopods are to be found.  But for those interested in more detail regarding fossils in Wales check out this article on Wales on Line   
Please note: Great care need to be taken when searching for fossils that one does not venture near to the base of the cliff face as the cliffs are quite dangerous, and there have been many rock-falls in the area. 

Llantwit Major Beach also attracts surfers as there are some good breakers here over the reefs, but it is more suitable for the experienced surfer and not a good place for the novice surfer or swimmers due to riptides and currents that can occur.

For the rambler, there is also access to the cliff top paths up a steep but stepped path and then a long walk along the Glamorgan Heritage coastline in Easterly and Westerly directions from Llantwit Major with some spectacular views over the bay and surrounding coastlines. 
It is strongly recommended that visitors stay to the paths provided as the cliffs in the area tend to be prone to rockfalls on to the coast hundreds of feet below

Survey Craft off Llantwit Beach

Sandy Part of Llantwit Beach

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page ..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan

Llantwit Major in the Vale of Glamorgan is a fascinating, and one of the most historically-rich places to visit in South Wales.

With a population of around 14,500, Llantwit Major is a small rural town, but to those who live in the area, it is often referred to as "the village" as its shopping centre consists of just one main street (Boverton Road) but does in fact reveal a surprise for the visitor...

By road, there are several routes from the west, north and east into Llantwit Major. In this article, I will describe the route from the east - that is, you would travel west from Cardiff past Cardiff (Wales) Airport.. and then following the road, through St. Athan and eventually into Llantwit Major via the village of Boverton, and a mile or so along Boverton road and find yourself adjacent to the town shopping centre laid out on the right hand side of the road. You could be forgiven at this point, for thinking that Llantwit Major is a modern town, but if you were to travel a few hundred yards more, the road would narrow and twist and you would enter "old Llantwit" with a much more medieval feel as the buildings you can see there scan back up to 1500 years.

What's in a Name?

In Welsh Llantwit Major becomes Llanilltud. 'Llan" can be translated as "church" and "Illtud" refers to St. Illtud , the name of an early Celtic Monk who arrived from Brittany and established a monastic school for his followers around the 5th Century. The school went on to become famous and gave Llantwit Major the reputation of famous religious centre in the Celtic Church.The church building remains to this day,and is thought to be one of the oldest parish churches in Wales. A must visit, because inside the church with its crooked walls, is to be found ancient stone carvings dating back to its beginnings.

Llantwit Major Town Hall

Llantwit Major Town Hall originates from the 13th Century,but was ransacked by Owen Glyndwrduring his rebellion in the 1400s against the rule of Henry IV of England. But Owen Glyndwr's rebellion was later overthrown by the superior resources of the English. In the 15 century the Town Hall was rebuilt.

In the turret of the Llantwit Town Hall hangs a bell bearing a Latin inscription "Sancte Iltute, ora pro nobis" that translates as "St. Illtud, pray for us"

Throughout its history, the Town Hall has held all sort of events up to modern times when there is a Victorian Fair held in the grounds during the summer months.

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page ..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Old Beaupré Castle

Old Beaupré Castle is situated in the Vale of Glamorgan, in the Valley of the River Thaw near the village of St. Hilary, near Cowbridge.

Old Courtyard
Getting to Old Beaupré involves a bit of walking across some fields, but in my opinion it is well worth it. There is a small area to park at the edge of a style that leads across some fields to the building. 

old beaupre castle, welsh black cattle
 On our last visit we encountered some young Welsh Black cattle who whilst quite harmless, were very playful and were bounding around us, that unnerved my wife a little.  Fortunately, I grew up around farms and dealt with cattle and just gave a sharp clap of my hands that sent the cattle cavorting in the opposite direction leaping in the air playfully.

If you like old buildings that have a history, then the ruins of this
old beaupre castle,
little publicized old mansion house will be sure to impress with it grand Tudor-styled stonework.  To me, its a peaceful setting next to the River Thaw and a "must-visit" for tourists interesting in seeking places in Wales that are off the beaten track. Another favourite of my places to visit in Wales.

Well, a picture paints a thousand words, and I took several on my visit, so the pictures below that give a better idea of what there is to see should you choose to visit Old Beaupré  Castle on your visit to Wales.

Main Gate

Coat of Arms
River Thaw, Old Beaupre Castle

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments.  

Places in Wales: Dyffryn House and Gardens.

Dyffryn House and Garden is currently a work in progress carried out by the National Trust...

The Dyffryn Estate dates back to 640 A.D. when it was then known as the Manor of Worleton. The manor, which included St Lythans and St Nicholas, was granted to Oudoceus Bishop of Llandaff in Cardiff.

In the 18th century the Dyffryn Estate was sold to Thomas Pryce, who created the first building to be known as Dyffryn House in 1749. There was no extensive work carried out on the gardens, but Pryce did construct the walled garden, and a few other features and did some ornamental planting.

It was in 1891 that a wealthy industrialist named John Cory bought Dyffryn Estate who commissioned Thomas Mawson, a well-known landscape architect who created the wonderful garden that is still enjoyed by many visitors today. Mawson was the first president of the of the Institute of Landscape Architecture (London).
 Work began around 1894 and wasn't completed until 15 years later. John Cory's died in 1910, and his third son, Reginald, had inherited the estate. A fitting choice for Dyffryn it seems as Reginald Cory was keen horticulturist and plant collector and leading member Royal Horticultural Society During the early 20th Century Reginald sponsored several expeditions hunting out plants all over the world. Many which can be seen on display at Dyffryn.

Reginald died in 1934 and his sister Florence took over the house until her death in 1937 when it was owned by Sir Cennydd Traherne who two years later leased the property to Glamorgan County Council on a 999-year lease. 1972 saw the dissolution of Glamorgan County Council. In 1995 Sir Cennydd Traherne died, and responsibility for the estate went to his nephew Councillor Rhodri Traherne who sold the freehold of Dyffryn House and Gardens to the Vale of Glamorgan.
Come forward to 2000...  Cadw, a Welsh Government historic buildings and heritage environment protection service, awarded Dyffryn a Grade I status in its register of historic landscapes, parks and gardens in Wales.
In January 2013, the National Trust took a 50-year lease over the care of Dyffryn House and Gardens from the Vale of Glamorgan Council and is currently bringing the house back to it's original grandeur which at the time of writing is currently being carried on. For more information on visiting times and enter visit their website here -

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales - see archive list in right hand column or Vale of Glamorgan Page for list of further posts in the area..  Please feel free leave comments. 

Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Post Links to Places to Visit in Vale of Glamorgan

places in wales, vale of glamorgan

The Vale of Glamorgan is at the southern-most tip of South Wales and had a host of places to visit in Wales such as villages, hamlets, historical buildings and sites. The Vale runs from Penarth (nr Cardiff) in the East to Ogmore-By-Sea in the west.  At the northern boundary runs the M4 motorway that marks the border with the county of Rhondda Cynon Taff - to the west is County of Bridgend and to the east the County of Cardiff.  Running right through the centre of the Vale of Glamorgan is the A48 trunk road, that at one time was the main trunk road connecting South Wales to London -  a trip that I frequently made in my youth which back then was considered a busy, but "good" road, due to the centre lane for over-taking. But the road could be used by traffic travelling in both directions!  Needless to say, there were many bad head-on collisions but nowadays the overtaking central lane is gone and the A48 is relatively quiet, unless there is some mishap that blocks the motorway and then it becomes grid-locked!  But back to the Vale of Glamorgan.

Further Posts/Articles relating to Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, see archive list in right hand column or for convenience, use links at top of this post.  Please feel free leave comments.