Llantwit Major (in Welsh Llanilltud Fawr) is named as the site of the main church of Illtud, one of the founding Saints of the monastic settlements of the 5th century AD in Wales.
Illtud came to this sheltered valley of Hodnant in the last decades of the 5th century. On the Ogney Brook, a mile inland from the sea, close to the site of the present church he founded his monastery.
At its height this was a major centre for education and evangelism in the revived western church, its influence reaching through Cornwall and Devon to Brittany and beyond, led by the students and successors of Illtud, Samson of Dol, Gildas the Wise and Paul Aurelian. Of the nearly thirty churches dedicated to Illtud almost half are in Brittany.
One thousand five hundred years later the church and the town which grew up round it remain. All traces of Illtud’s monastery are gone. The present church dates from the period 950 to 1400 AD. Other monastic remains come from the same period, while the earliest secular buildings date from the 15th century.
Before Illtud there were of course the Romans as evidenced by the villa at Caer Mead excavated in 1888. After him and his successors came the Normans.
For almost one thousand years Llantwit was a rural backwater controlled by a small number of wealthy families. They have left behind the principal houses of the town, the Ham, Boverton Place, Old Place (all ruined) and some smaller but inhabited survivals, Great House, Plymouth House, the Court House, and two public houses, the Old White Hart and the Old Swan. These latter flank the main town square, facing the 15th century Town Hall where the Society meets.
Only in the 20th century with the arrival of the RAF at St Athan did the town transform itself from a rural community of a thousand or so into a modern dormitory town some 15 times larger.
In the societies archives and in its publications the people and stories of this long history, from “the Legions to the Luftwaffe“, are to be found.