Plymouth House

It used to be claimed that Plymouth House was one of the surviving halls of residence from Illtud’s monastery. Its history does not go that far back but there is evidence that it may incorporate the remnants of a halled house of the fifteenth century. It was often referred to as the Great House and belonged to a branch of the Stradling family who purchased it along with the estate known as Abbot’s or West Llantwit at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. When their line died out the property reverted to the maternal line. They were created Earls of Plymouth and it was only in the nineteenth century that the present name came into use.

Hillhead

This row of houses was built in the early years of the nineteenth century as housing for the poor of the parish. When the workhouse in Bridgend was opened they became surplus to requirements and were sold as private residences. Originally each unit was divided into two with separate upper and lower accommodation.

The Old Police Station

When the Glamorgan Constabulary was established in 1841, a constable was allocated to Llantwit Major, reporting to the sergeant in  Cowbridge. The police station was built a few years later and originally comprised a single storey with a living room and kitchen in the front with cells at the rear. In 1876 a second floor with four bedrooms was added with zinc foul air flues in the walls of the back bedrooms from the cells. The building remained in use until 1928 when the new station was built in Wesley Street, closer to the centre of the town.

The Gatehouse and Columbarium (dovecot)

These are the only surviving buildings from the Grange belonging to Tewkesbury Abbey. The abbey had been given the land, shortly before he died, by Robert Fitzhamon, Earl of Gloucester and first Norman Lord of Glamorgan. The grange was run by lay brethren and the revenues remitted to Tewkesbury. The Gatehouse, which dates from the fourteenth century, was the main entrance into the farm complex and may have served as the Bailiff’s dwelling or guest house. The archway, though blocked up, is clearly visible and the height of the gable walls suggest that the building was once thatched.

The dovecot dates from the same period. Doves and pigeons were not only a source of food during winter time, their feathers were also used in pillows etc, and their droppings were spread on the land as manure. The circular form of the building enabled the maximum number of nesting places to be constructed in the walls and internal wooden platforms were usually included to give easy access to collect eggs.

The Town Hall

This building is similar in many ways to those of the ancient boroughs of Cowbridge and Cardiff. Its construction is usually attributed to Gilbert de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan, who died in 1295, but manorial records suggest that it was built in the fifteenth century as the administrative centre of the manor. This was where the court leet met to organise duties and collect rents. Weekly markets and the fairs were also controlled from here and it is possible that the ground floor was used as an area of stalls.

During the reign of Henry VIII it was referred to as a guildhall but that was unlikely as the only industry in the area which would have merited a guild was glove making. The building was renovated in the late sixteenth century and then rented out for various purposes. Its lower floor was used variously as a school, a slaughterhouse and a lock-up for the local constable, whilst the upper floor was used as a church house and for vestry meetings etc.

In the 1830’s the church leased the upper rooms to the Oddfellows who carried out repairs and kept it in good order. Such was their control that on occasions the Church sought permission from the Oddfellows to use the hall. When it was taken over by the newly created parish council, it became the centre for entertainment in the town. Plays, meetings, concerts and dances were regularly held and it was even used as a cinema.

The Town Hall is listed at 15th century, but is best described as “medieval”, it could have been between the 13th and 14th centuries.

VACHELL

This family was a wealthy Cardiff family where they owned significant property in the town centre. They took part in many community projects such as the library, the museum, and the Council. Their association with Llantwit Major came through Frederick Vachell who married Ellen Wilkins of West House. The last Vachell son to live in Llantwit was Ernest Frederick de Winton Tanfield Vachell ,also of West House, who died at sea in 1903. [See Vol.7]

WILKINS

An early reference to the Llantwit branch of the family is in 1671 when Edward Wilkins lived at Little Frampton. The family accrued land and property including Great Frampton, Lower House Farm, West Farm and West House. Great Frampton left the family in 1862 when the heiress, Emma, died and the land went to her husband, Col. Gould. The rest of the Wilkins land went to EllenWilkins who married a Vachell and who later became Mrs. Murley of Bath. The land stayed with her the family until 1919.  [See Vol.7]

TREVELYAN

Marie Trevelyan was the pen name of Emma Thomas. She became a well known writer by collecting and recording the folklore and the narrated historical accounts of Llantwit Major. In 1910 she published her book “Llantwit Major. Its history and antiquities.”
She lived in Wine Street with her father, Illtud Thomas, a sculptor. She lived for a time in London and she married a doctor names Paslieu. They had one daughter who spent much time in hospital at Penyfai. The candlesticks in St. Illtud’s Church are dedicated to her memory. [See Vol.1]

SEYS

This family name was brought to Boverton around 1560 by Roger Seys of Cowbridge who married Elizabeth Voss. She inherited Boverton land on which they built a large mansion, Boverton Place. Roger was a lawyer becoming Attorney General for the Principality of Wales under Elizabeth I. He died in 1600 and there is a wall plaque to his memory in St. Illtud’s Church. His descendants were also lawyers, the most notable of whom was Evan Seys, 1604-1685 who was MP for Glamorgan and later for Gloucester. He survived the political situations under Charles I, Oliver Cromwell, Richard Cromwell and Charles II.
Among his direct descendents is Ada Augusta Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, and collaborator with Babbage on developing the ideas behind  computers.
The Seys properties at Boverton were transferred in 1774 to Robert Jones of Fonmon who had married the heiress to Boverton, Jane Seys .She died without producing an heir  and so the property reverted to him.    [See Vol.2]

REDWOOD

Pictured: Theophilus Redwood (9 April 1806 – 5 March 1892) was a Welsh pharmacist who was one of the founding members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. He was born in Boverton.

This was a Quaker family. In 1806 the land they owned in Boverton was given by Thomas Redwood for building a chapel known as Bethesda’r Fro. His son Charles wrote books on local folklore and entertained the writer Thomas Carlyle at Orchard House, Boverton ,where he lived until 1855.His daughter, Margaret, married Charles Vachell, Mayor of Cardiff. The Vachell family had taken his other son, Theophilus, as an apprentice chemist and he became Professor of Chemistry at the School of the Pharmaceutical Society, London, in 1842, and first President of the Society of Public Analysts. He inherited Orchard House and died there in 1892. His son ,Thomas, was knighted for his work on explosives. [See Vol. 3]