Timeline of Ystradfellte

De Bohun and de Clare

A fierce dispute broke out between Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Lord of Brecon, and. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan, which led to fighting between the two powerful Barons on the borders of Glamorgan and Breconshire. Dc Glare had built a strong castle at Morlais near Merthyr on land which de Bohun claimed as his own. Raids were made on either side and this part of the country became lawless and swarmed with brigands (“The Welsh Wars of King Edward the First” by John E. Morris). The King’s Writ did not run in the Marcher Lordships. As the Marchers had fought for; and won their estates, they claimed the right to do as they pleased, within their own territories. In Glamorgan, they were known as “Arglwyddi Pren a Phwll” (Lords of the tree and the pool), as they had all the power to order men culprits be hanged and women culprits to be drowned (Rice Merrick and “Edward the 2nd on Glamorgan” John Griffiths). Both King and Marchers were aware, now that the power of the princes of North Wales had been broken, that the custom of private wars between the Marchers would have to be stopped. Edward was determined to enforce the doctrine that the dignity of the Grown was to be respected, and that the Lord. Marchers should be placed on a footing similar to that of the Crown tenants in England.

This private war between the Earls of Gloucester and Hereford was a unique opportunity for interfering and breaking the custom. Accordingly, the King sent a strongly worded proclamation to the two Earls to abstain from active hostilities on 25/1/1290, which Hereford obeyed. Gloucester’s men, however, under his bailiffs with the Earl’s banners, marched from Morlais castle and arrested and killed men from Vaynor, Penderyn and Ystradfellte parishes on three occasions during 1290. They carried, off 1070 head of cattle, 50 horse and bulls and countless sheep and pigs, of which the Earl received the usual one-third share. And soon brigands, who swarmed in the district, people who had been driven from their own homes when de Clare’s had extended their forests in Miskin or had escaped punishment or misdeeds by running away, also began to take part in the raids. In. addition to killing people and stealing animals, they committed sacrilege by taking away the chalice and ornaments from Penderyn Church, they set on fire together with Ty Ralph, Possibly the loot was taken by the brigands through ‘Bwlch y Lladron’ near Hirwaun.

Following these disorders, the King decided to act. Early in 1291, the Bishop of Ely, the Earl of Pembroke and two regular judges were commissioned to hear the case. The two Earls were to appear with the incriminated bailiffs at Ystradfellte on Monday, March 12th 1291. What a “Red Letter Day” this must have been for this quiet and secluded village!

Probably never before or since has such an assemblage of the most eminent notabilities in all their splendour, Barons in mail-armour on well-groomed horses been seen at Ystradfellte. The trial was to have taken place as Castell Coch, Ystradfellte; Hereford arrived punctually but Gloucester, who was married to the King’s daughter and was the most powerful baron in the country at that time, defied the king.

The Court adjourned, to Llanddew, near Brecon, but Gloucester was again absent. The trial proceeded and Gloucester and his bailiffs were found guilty, the damages being assessed at £100. Eventually at a great Council of Archbishops, Bishops, Earls and Barons, presided over by the King in person at Abergavenny at Michaelmas 1291, both Gloucester and Hereford, who were present, were sentenced to be imprisoned and their great lordships and estates to be confiscated. Gloucester was fined 1000 marcs, and £100 for damages, and Hereford 1,000 marcs. Gloucester only lived for three and a half years longer, a sadder and wiser man.

In 1294 there was a general rising throughout Wales against being sent overseas to fight in Gascony and against the extortions of sheriff’s and bailiffs. The men of Glamorgan were led by Morgan or Rhys ap Morgan against de Clare and possibly this was the occasion or the origin of the stirring tune:

“Rhyfelgyrch Cadben Morgan”
Rhwym wrth dy wregys gleddyf gwyn dy dad
Atynt fy machgen dros dy wlad”

The King cancelled his voyage to Gascony. He marched through Wales from North to South and was in Merthyr Tydfil on June 14th and 15th 1295, when he received the submission of the men of the Taff and Cynon Valleys, who had previously declared, that they had risen against Gloucester and not the King.

St Mary’s Church 15th century

The rood screen was introduced during the 15th century enlargement, this decorated screen of the timber construction divided the church in front of the chancel arch and while permitting the congregation to participate in the service. It kept the ever present village dogs from wandering into the chancel, surrounding the screen was a balustrade and a gallery which was about four feet wide. Prominently displayed on top of the screen was the rood, or crucifix, flanked by life-size painted figures of St Mary and St John and a row of large candlesticks, used to illuminate the figures on occasions of festive services.

Sir David Williams 1536-1613

The name is first linked with Gwernyfed in the person of Sir David Williams, judge, the youngest son of Gwilym ap John Vychan, of Blaen Newydd, Ystradfellte, who was the cousin of Sir John Price of Brecon. David Williams was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple in 1576.

His career, which is given in the D.N.B., was a highly successful one. He became attorney-general for five of the South Wales counties in the Great Sessions between 1581-1585, recorder of Brecon 1587-1604 and of Carmarthen, Member of Parliament for Brecon 1584-93 and 1597-1604; he was appointed a sergeant-at-law in 1593, knighted by James I, and raised to the King’s Bench.
He died 22January. 1612/13, and was buried in the Priory church at Brecon.

In 1600 he bought the Gwernyfed estate from John Gunter, the last of the old proprietors; and he also had other estates (and tithes) in Brecknock and other border counties.
The account of the descendants of Sir David Williams given by Theophilus Jones (op. cit., iii, 82-3), Burke ( Extinct Baronetcies , 568), and Jane Williams in her article on Glasbury ( Arch. Camb., 1870 , 308-9) is misleading — e.g. two generations have been mixed up, as is proved by R. W. Banks ( Arch. Camb., 1879 , 308-9, or Theophilus Jones , 3rd ed., iii, 91-2). Sir David was succeeded by his son Sir Henry Williams, who died. 1636. It was probably he (and not his son of the same name, as given in the list of Members of Parliament at the end of Hist. Brecknock) who was the member for the borough of Brecon1601-4; he was knighted in 1603 and became a member of the Council of the Marches in 1617; again, it was probably he who was member for the county of Brecknock from
1620 to 1628.

On the other hand, as the Member of Parliament for that county in 1628-9 is referred to as ‘ Henry Williams Esq.’, it seems likely that this was the son: Sir HENRY WILLIAMS (d. 1652), who was created a baronet in 1644 , and who welcomed Charles I to Gwernyfed when the latter visited Wales after the battle of Naseby (1645). As none of his male descendants merit attention here, it is unnecessary to trace the lineage further; Burke claims that the baronetcy continued until 1798, but Banks quotes contemporary evidence to show that it had lapsed before 1727, and this is far more credible, for two brothers died without male issue, leaving their sister, Elizabeth Williams, as sole heiress. With her marriage Gwernyfed passed to a new line of Williams’s.

St Marys 1649 and 1660

The gallery was sufficiently wide to allow boys of the parish to sit and sing during services, between 1649 and 1660, the period of the Commonwealth these ‘papish’ reminders’ were removed from churches throughout the land. The rood screen was destroyed all that remains today are the two doors beside the pulpit through which access was gained to the balcony.

St Mary’s 17th Century

The present 17th century font replaces the original which was lost at the time of the Interregnum

Henry Rogers 1667-1774

A clergyman was the son of Lewis Rogers, Ystradfellte, Breconshire. He was educated at the Collegiate School of Brecon, from which he went to Jesus College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1687. His first curacy was that of Penydarren, a parish adjoining Ystradfellte. From there he migrated into Carmarthenshire, where it is believed he held the curacy of Abergwyli. Thence he removed into the Vale of Aeron, being said to have been the first of the name that settled in that neighbourhood. It is not known that he was the author of any published work, but there exists evidence to show that he excelled in classical attainments, and left records in calligraphy highly to be admired.

Ystradfellte 03.06.1915
The Brecon Radnor Express Carmarthen and Swansea Valley Gazette

June 28, 1855.The plan is a chancel and nave without aisles, and a western tower. There is the usual deficiency of good architecture, and, together with rudeness, a large amount of neglect and dilapidation. The situation is most pleasing near the river Mellte, with its woody bank, in a scene of rural quietness, and the churchyard contains fine yew trees, and graves planted with flowers.

The tower which has escaped the white-washing which covers the body is characteristic, and not displeasing, of the severe Welsh style, with a battlement and small corbel table under it, but with neither buttresses nor string courses. The belfry-window on each side is a plain rectangle; the other openings-is merely slits. There is the usual swelling basement, as is seen almost throughout Wales. The chancel arch is a very rude, pointed one. On the south side of the chancel is a square-headed, two-light window of perpendicular character; and to the north, a single lancet of doubtful age. The east window may be decorated, but rude, of two lights, with a diamond adopt them. The other windows have been modernised, and as not unfrequently occurs in Wales, are secured by one-side shutters. The interior is gloomy, and pewed up to the East end. The roofs have been partially new slated. The font has an octagonal bowl. The south porch has been removed. On the north side are very few graves.

Thomas Watkin Williams 1816-1883

A surgeon, was born at Penllwyn Einon, Ystradfellte, Brecknockshire, and passed through the regular course of study for the medical profession at Guy’s hospital. In 1845, he removed to Birmingham, and entered into partnership with Mr W. Watts, then practising in Colrnore Row.

He was for many years one of the honorary surgeons to the Orthopaedic and Spinal Hospital, and a member of the committees of the Birmingham Library (Union Street), the Medical Institute, and the Hospital Saturday organisation. He also filled the presidential chair of the Medical Benevolent Society, and was instrumental in obtaining a higher amount of donations to its funds than any previous president. It is, however, in connection with the British Medical Association that his greatest and best work was done.

Of its local branch he acted as honorary treasurer for 25 years, and he was not allowed to resign, in 1879, without a substantial recognition. From 1863 to 1871, he acted as general secretary to that association, in which he always took the greatest pride, and to the interests of which he applied himself with such success that during his tenure of office the roll of members increased from 1,933 to 3,641.

St Mary’s Church 1882

In 1882 the church was considerably restored and pews were installed to give a seating capacity of 280, around 1900 the beautiful carved oak reredos and alter, together with eight stained glass windows were given to the church by Ann Jones of Hepste Fawr, in memory of her parents David and Elizabeth Walters. The carved pulpit was a gift of the same donor in memory of her late husband.

Rees Llewellyn and his wife Elizabeth Llewellyn

Rees Llewellyn and his wife Elizabeth Llewellyn

Rees Llewellyn 1851-1915

If you lived in South Wales in the first half of the last century, you would have surely known who the Llewellyn’s were. The influence of the dynasty began in 1872 when Rees Llewellyn, became Surveyor and Under-manager at Bwllfa Colliery in Cwmdare. Later he became chairman of Bwllfa and Merthyr Dare Steam Collieries and entered into public and professional life in South Wales.

Rees and his wife Elizabeth, from Ystradfellte, had five boys and one girl who survived to adulthood.
William Morgan Llewellyn (1887-1943) was their third son. He attended Christ’s College, Brecon and went on to become an agent at Bwllfa and later became general manager on his father’s retirement. He lived initially at Nantmelin Farm, Cwmdare but later made his home at Ty Newydd. W.M. held numerous public offices and was well liked in the district. He was a benefactor to the village staging fetes and concerts, each year he gave a present to each of the village children at Christmas.

Roger’s Family (Jan. 13, 1875) 17.05.1878 Cambrian news

Since the query regarding the family of Rogers in Wales, appeared, it has been ascertained that the Rev. Henry Rogers, rector of Trefilan and vicar of Llanfihangel Ystrad, 1698-1744 (the date of his preferment as inserted in the query being a misprint), was the son of Lewis Rogers, of Ystradfellte, in Breconshire. He was born in 1667, and educated at the Collegiate School of Brecon, from which he went to Jesus College, Oxford, where he matriculated on the 2nd of j July in Trinity Term, 1683. He took the degree of B.A. on the 11th of April, 1687, but does not appear to have I proceeded further. His first curacy was that of Penydarren, a parish adjoining Ystradfellte. From there he migrated into Carmarthenshire, where it is believed he held the curacy of Abergwyli. Thence he removed into the Vale of Aeron, being said to have been the first of the name that settled in that neighbourhood, where the representatives of the family still occupy an honourable position. It is not known that he was the author of any published work, but there exists evidence to show that he excelled in classical attainments, and left records in calligraphy highly to be admired. Information touching the above-named Lewis Rogers, where in Ystradfellte he resided, and the stock from which he sprang, is further desired.

Interesting antiquarian proceedings at Ystradfellte 27.06.1882
Restoring the memorial stone over the remains of a son of Caesar
By Morien

It appears, from information which has reached me that the correspondence which appeared recently in these columns in reference to Cromlechs has been the means of awakening renewed interest in the ancient monumental remains scattered throughout South Wales. The secretary of the Archaeological Society called the attention of Mr. Crawshay Bailey to a deeply-interesting fallen monument on one of his Breconshire farms named Plas-y-Gors, near Ystradfellte.

Mr. Crawshay Bailey decided at once to have it restored, and he sent instructions to Mr. Hollier, his agent who resides at Penarth, to that effect. In compliance with Mr. Bailey’s wish, Mr. Hollier, accompanied by Mr. William Thomas, M.E., Brynawel Aberdare, and a Government official, proceeded with it party of workmen to Plas-y-Gors a few days ago, and succeeded in restoring the fallen monument. The stone measures 11ft, by 2ft, by 1ft. 3in. It contains a Latin inscription, which is said to be to the following effect:

Maen Madoc Stone

Maen Madoc Stone

The stone is placed on the side of the old Roman road, Sarn Helen, sometimes called “Sarn Lleon;” and, being situated on an eminence, can be seen from a considerable distance, The country people call the stone “Maen Madoc,” or “the Stone of Madoc.”

Mr. Robinson, architect. Church Street, Cardiff, has taken a full copy of the interesting inscription, and probably, as soon as he has satisfactorily deciphered it, lie will give it to the public. If the inscription is found, after close scrutiny, to be to the memory of “the son of Caesar,” it will open up a very interesting field of inquiry. Which of the Caesars’ sons was buried here?

We know that the Romans had a busy time of it among the ancient Silurian’s In Britannia Secunda, and that the renowned archers of Gwent gave the legionaries many an uncomfortable quarter of an hour. It would be interesting to find that our ancestors, in their struggle for liberty and independence, “potted” here a scion of the Caesars. One is tempted to point out that Sejanus, the favourite of Tiberius exiled in A.D. 29 Agrippina, the widow of Germanicus, and her sons – Nero and Drusus. The other son, Caius, afterwards called Caligula, made his escape. It is recorded that Agrippina, Nero, and Drusus died of starvation; but in what part of the Empire I have been unable to learn.

Death of the Vicar of Ystradfellte 30.10.1885

Our readers will regret to learn that the Rev David Davies, vicar of Ystradfellte, died on Sunday at Hamilton House, Carmarthen, the residence of his son-in-law, the Rev J. Wyndham Lewis, of Water Street Chapel. The rev gentlemen, who was in his 83rd year, was for a long time curate of St. Mary’s, Aberdare, and two years ago, in consequence of his advanced age, he went to live with his daughter, Mrs Lewis, at Carmarthen, having a license for non-residence from the bishop of his diocese. He was known throughout the principality, and had been in the ministry of the Established Church for 60 years. The funeral will take place at Aberdare Cemetery on Friday next, and will be a public one.

Funeral of the Rev D. Davies, Vicar of Ystradfellte Weekly Mail 07.11.1885

The funeral of the late Rev. D. Davies, who died on Sunday, the 25th ult., at Hamilton House, Carmarthen, the residence of his son-in-law, the Rev. J. Wyndham Lewis, pastor of Water-street Chapel, took place at Aberdare on Friday last. His mortal remains were conveyed by the morning express, which reached Aberdare at one o’clock.

At the Great Western Railway Station the principal residents of the town and neighbourhood joined the cortege, and went from thence to St. Mary’s Church, where the deceased had been ministering for many years. During the hour of the funeral the minute bell of the old parish church, close by St. Mary’s, was tolled. The service in St. Mary’s was conducted by the Rev. R. B. Jenkins, vicar of Aberdare, after which a Welsh hymn, “Dedwydd yw y rhai trwy ffydd,” &c., was sung by the choir, conducted by Mr. Protheroe, who presided at the organ. At the grave the Rev. Daniel Lewis, vicar of Aberavon, read the burial service, and gave out. “Bydd myrdd o rrfeddodau,” &c. Then the Rev. D. Saunders, D.D, pastor of Trinity Chapel, Swansea, stepped for- ward, and gave a short, appropriate address, and offered up prayer. The following clergy and ministers joined the procession to church and from there to the cemetery: Revs. R. B. Jenkins, vicar of Aberdare; Daniel Lewis, vicaro f Aberavon E. Thomas, vicar of Skewen; J. H. Lloyd, W. Williams, W. Rhydderch, W: James, M.L. Jones, W: E. Lush, A. R. Price, and W. E. Evans. Aber- dare. Ministers: Rev. D. Saunders, D.D., Swansea W. James and D. M. Jones, Aberdare R. Morgan, Llwydcoed; M. Morgan, Morriston; W. J: Williams, Hirwain; and D. Jones, Cwmbach.

St Mary’s Church

St Mary’s Church

Death of Rev. Wyndam Lewis, Carmarthen, Western Mail 18.02.1895
Survives his wife by one day

The Rev. J. Wyndham Lewis, for many years pastor of Water Street Calvinistic Chapel, Carmarthen, died at his residence, Hamilton House, Carmarthen, on Saturday evening. For some few weeks he had been prostrated by a painful internal disease, and during the past week it was generally known that the end was imminent. Little was it expected, however, that he would pass away under the peculiarly distressing circumstances which have marked his death. There are, indeed, few parallel cases invested with so much sadness and melancholy. His wife, who during the illness of her husband had attended him with a zeal and attention begotten of the highest wifely devotion, was herself, a few days back, stricken with a mortal disease and succumbed on Friday. In the death of the Rev. J. Wyndham Lewis Welsh Nonconformity, particularly the Calvinistic Methodist branch of it, has last, if not one of its ablest adherents, certainly one of its foremost men, In fact, Wales has lost its Nonconformist bishop, a title by which Mr. Lewis had long been known, at least locally. How he came to be vested with that dignified office – though it existed only in the abstract – is not very clear. Undoubtedly, he had some ecclesiastical tendencies, and these were more fully developed in his twin brother the present Vicar of Caerphilly.

He never was, however, a very extreme man, though he kept fairly well in touch with the more advanced spirit, is abroad in Welsh Nonconformity at the present day. He was a constant contributor to the vernacular press, and sometimes contributor to English periodicals, and as a preacher he was known from one end of Wales to the other. Of late years he was a prominent figure at all meetings of the Methodist Connexion. A native of Loughor, he was born in the year 1838, and was thus 57 years of age at the time of his death. His mother, we are told, was a staunch and zealous churchwoman, and was the oldest communicant in the parish of Loughor, having been a member of St Michael’s for upwards of 70 years. His mother used to clean the parish Church, for very many years. A story which Mr. Lewis was sometimes fond of repeating tells that on Saturdays he and his twin brother Daniel used to go with their mother to the church, and while their parent was busily engaged in cleaning the edifice the boys would show a precocious love of preaching the one would don a surplice to read the lessons, the other would put on the black gown worn by the clergy in the days, and would preach to his mother and brother and the empty pews. Their mother would rebuke her sons for so unholy an exhibition, and would tell them they must not think of entering a pulpit unless they had the permission of the vicar, the Rev. (afterwards Canon) Powell Jones. Both sons however, gave up their lives to the propagation of the Gospel, though they took different ways to attain common purpose. In the year 1866 both were ordained, the Rev. Daniel Lewis according to ecclesiastical rites at Chester, the deceased according to Nonconformist rites at Maesteg. He now gave up the grammar school which he had conducted at St. Mary’s. Aberdare, and undertook a pastorate at Penarth, and married his late wife (who so shortly pre-deceased him). Miss Davies, daughter of the Rev. D. Davies, at St. Mary’s, Aberdare, and subsequently vicar of Ystradfellte.

He became pastor of two chapels at Gower, and in 1870 took up the pastorate of Water Street Chapel, Carmarthen, which position he held to the time of his death. He took an active part in the educational as well as the political affairs of the town. For six successive years he was chairman of the Carmarthen School Board, and was a governor of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, now the Carmarthen Intermediate School. Latterly he held no public offices. His untimely death, however, is regretted by all, irrespective of creed or party, and every-sympathy is felt for and extended to, the family of the deceased pair in their sudden and terrible bereavement. The funeral: The remains of both Mr. and Mrs. Lewis will be interred at Carmarthen Cemetery on Wednesday. The funeral will be public.

31.10.1898 (The Western Mail)

A Better way of settling the “Caer Moesau,” controversy would be to dig deep, not into history, but into the ruins. This time last year Mr. Cantrell, of the Geological Survey, dug into the Plas-y-Gors Cairn, Ystradfellte, and the Cardiff Museum is richer by 50 implements of flint, including a dagger-knife, arrow-head, knives scrapers, and strike-a-light twenty-one shards of pottery; fragments of calcined bones; and fragments of wood charcoal

Plas-y-Gors find “Dagger-knife”

Plas-y-Gors find “Dagger-knife”

16.05.1896 South Wales Daily News

One of the most interesting articles to archaeologists and antiquaries in the current number of “Archaeologia Cambrensis” by Professor Rhys, being epigraphic notes on a number of inscribed stones, including the Caldey Island, at Caswilia, Cam Hedryn, and Carey, in Pembrokeshire at Castell Dwyran, Carmarthenshire; at Henfynyw, Llandewi-aberarth, Llanarth, and Llanllyr, in Cardiganshire, and that at Devynock, in Breconshire. Last year for the first time Principal Rhys had opportunity of inspecting the Penymynydd stone, Ystradfellte, which was originally in the county, but which is now in the grounds Edwards, Fedw Hir, near Aberdare. This stone was described by Professor Westwood his “Lapidarium Walliae,” p.p. 70, 71, plates 39,5, but was subsequently completely lost sight of until it was re-discovered in 1893 by Mr T. Thomas, of Cardiff, in its present position, Mrs Edwards informed him that her late husband brought it from land of theirs near Ystradfellte. This stone contains a number ogham marks which, however, Professor Rhys unable to read to his satisfaction, and he urges Mr Thomas or some other member Archaeological Society it’s publish an exact representation of the stone.

Death of the Vicar of Ystradfellte 23.06.1900 Weekly Mail

It is with regret that we announce the death, at Torquay, of the Rev. David Jones, Vicar of Ystradfellte, Aberdare, who had been a great sufferer for many years. He died on Saturday, in the presence of his devoted wife and three daughters. Two sons are abroad (Australia), and one daughter is in Lisbon. Mr. David Jones came to the parish in October, 1885, and during his encumbrance endeared himself to all by his good works. During his time there he restored the tower of the beautiful parish church at a cost of over £300, and also did much to improve the interior.

Owing to the very delicate state of his health he has been a non-resident from the parish for some years, the climate of the beautiful country parish being too cold for him. The deceased had sent in his resignation to the bishop for the end of June, but death came before this fell due. He was a native of North Wales, but had lived the greater part of his life in South Wales.

Penymynydd stone, Cyfarthfa Castle

Penymynydd stone, Cyfarthfa Castle

Funeral of the Vicar of Ystradfellte 1900

The funeral of the Rev David Jones, for 15 years Vicar of Ystradfellte, who died on Saturday last at Torquay, took place yesterday at the Parish Church of Ystradfellte. The remains, conveyed to Aberdare on Thursday, were left overnight at St. Mary’s Church. On the coffin a large number of wreaths and crosses had been deposited by members of the family, relatives, and friends.

At noon yesterday a short service was held in the church, the Rev. H. B. James, the Rev. W. R. Thomas, M.A. (Abersychan), and the Rev. W. Owens (curate-in-charge of Ystradfellte) officiating. A service was also held at Ystradfellte, in which the Rev. W. Owen (curate), the Rev. B. Thomas (Vicar of St. David’s Welsh Church, Paddington), the Rev. Evan Bevan (St. Fagan’s), the Rev. Morgan Powell (Vicar of Aberaman), and the Rev. W. R. Thomas, M.A. (Vicar of Abersychan), took part.

The bearers were Messrs Elden, Davies, Goytre, Pritchard, Llywelyn, W. Mendl, Parker, Rev. Jenkins, and Mr Jenkins. Among those noticed in the funeral procession were the Revs. Enoch Davies, B.A., Aberdare; Llywelyn Jenkins (Rector of Ystradfellte); M. H. Jones, Aberdare; H. R. Roberta, B.A., at Fagan’s; LI. M. Thomas, Aberpergwm Dr. Evan Jones, J.P., Aberdare Messrs P. T. Rhys, solicitor, Aberdare; Thomas Morgan chairman and James Matthews vice-chairman, respectively of the Ystradfellte School Board, and John Havard. The mourners were Mrs Jones, widow; Mr and Mrs Mendl, son-in-law and daughter Mrs Parker, Torquay, daughter; Mrs Jones, daughter; Rev. O. F Jenkins, Mr T. Gill Jenkins, Mr C. E. Cornwall, brothers-in-law; Miss Goldsworthy and Miss Evajis, nieces. The two sons of the deceased gentleman are abroad, and one of his daughters was ill and unable to attend the funeral.

Archaeology Cambrian Association at Ystradfellte 17.08.1900 Evening Express
Paper by Colonel Morgan

The members of the Cambrian Archaeological Association reassembled on Thursday morning at the Merthyr Market Square, among those present being Mr J. H. James (chairman of the local committee), the Mayor of Carmarthen, Mr and Mrs Edward Owen, Mr and Mr B W. Edwards, Dr. and Mrs W. Jones, Mr and Mrs F. T. James. Miss Maggie Davies (the celebrated vocalist), Mr Charles Russell James, Mr C. Martin, Miss B. Martin, and Miss S. Martin (Dowlais), Colonel W. L. Morgan, Ven. Archdeacon Thomas, Mr J. Jones (Glannant), Rev. Daniel Lewis (rector of Merthyr), Miss Margery Jones (Galon Uchaf). Rev. Hartwell Jones, Mr Philip New, Dr. and Mrs Leigh (Treharris), Mr Frank Leigh, Mrs Allen, Mr Hubert Allen, Mr and Mrs Barnard, Rev. C. Chidlow, Rev. Canon Trevor Owen, Mr W. Morgan, J.P., Mr D. W. Morgan, Mr Mansel Franklen, Miss Mary Davies, Mr Gomer Jones, and Mr Glascodine.

The brakes moved off at 9 o’clock, and at 10 the party leached their first stopping-place at be crossroads. The party walked over a mountain sheep pasture to Bedd-y-Gwyddyl, to view the cross in raised turf one foot high by two wide. Popularly the name is taken to indicate the Irishman’s Grave” (Grave of Gael). Continuing their journey the party made for Fedw Hir, near Llwydcoed, the well-favoured residence of Mrs Richard Edwards, by whose daughters, the Misses Edwards, the visitors were met on the lawn. The object of the visit was the ancient cross-incised stone (now standing in a flower garden), and to this Mr J. H. James directed attention.

Another stage in the drive brought the archaeologists to Ystradfellte, where Colonel Morgan discoursed on the history of the castle. The builder of it and the time and purpose for which it was built were all, said the colonel, equally unknown. The parish of Ystradfellte was formerly part of the Great Forest of Brecknock, and it would be natural to suppose that the history of the forest would give some clue to that of the castle. Here again they were disappointed, for little was known of it, although the history of the Great Forest was probably better known than that of any other lordship in Breconshire. That it was conquered by the Romans was evident, but many differences of opinion existed as to the time when this took place. After quoting Theophilus Jones, the gallant colonel went on to say that with Pencelly in the hands of the English it would have been impossible for the Great Forest to preserve its independence, and consequently it must have been conquered at an early date. There was every reason to suppose that this was about 1093.

Although the forest was conquered at that early date it by no means followed that the castle was erected at that time. The early Normans in Breconshire were no advocates of the forward policy. They confined their castles to the protection of the rich and fertile valleys, and left the mountains severely alone. He concluded that there was a small Norman settlement established there at an early date, and that the district was exposed of the incursions of the men of Miscin and Avene. The castle was used for the detention of offenders against the forest laws until the time of Edward III. The keep, or Forest Castle, was situated on the extreme end of the spur of the hill separating the rivers Llia and Trengarth. This spur was so steep as to be almost inaccessible on three sides, and the fourth, or northern one, was defended by an oblong building. Colonel Morgan described other features of the castle, and also the outer entrenchment. In his opinion the latter was one of the Cavaliers’ entrenchments so common in the 14th century. It was left entirely to conjecture at what time the rampart was added. Possibly it was erected by De Bohun at the time of the rebellion under Morgan ap Meredith in 1295. A fierce straggle was carried on for some time along the whole boundary from Abergavenny to Hirwain, and Morgan eventually had to surrender, but the final blow to the rising was the arrival of the King and his army, which after suppressing the rebellion in North Wales marched to West Wales. The King was at Cardigan on the 2nd and 3rd June, at Dryslwyn on the 6th, at Merthyr from the 12th to the 15th, and at Brecon on the 16th, whence he returned to North Wales. Where he resided during his stay at Merthyr was not recorded. It was possible he passed some time at Ystradfellte on his journey to Brecon. After another rising in Glamorganshire it was probable the castle was again occupied and used as a base of operations before finally becoming a hopeless mass of ruins.

The Ven. Archdeacon Thomas said he was sure they could not have listened to a more interesting or instructive paper, and be tendered to Colonel Morgan a hearty vote of thanks.

The drive was resumed in a north-westerly direction, to enable the visitors to see the Maen Madoc stone. The origin of the designation, “Maen Madoc,” was not considered to be apparent, but it was pointed out that there was a Castell Madoc about four miles north, near the Senny river, and a Nant Madoc about two miles farther north.

After luncheon at Ystradfellte the visitors drove over the mountains to the Vale of Neath. A call was made at Aberpergwm House, where the visitors were entertained by Mr and Mrs M. S. Williams. The party subsequently drove to Glynneath Station and travelled home by train.

The annual meeting of the association was held on Thursday night at the Public Offices, Merthyr, the Ven. Archdeacon Thomas presiding, the proceedings were private.

Historic Church Bells 21.08.1903
(To the Editor of “The Cambrian”)

Dear Sir My attention has just been called to a paragraph, inaccurate in detail, which appeared in your issue of the 24th July, about my bell which was hung in a Monmouthshire Church, but not in that of my father at Penmaen, Blackwood. On the presentation of a fine peal of bells, I purchased the one formerly used. It has a mellow tenor tone, weighs seven (not two) cwt. and was cast at Bristol in 1815. by Westcott and Sans. It hangs on a natural tripod of oak, beneath an apple tree in mv orchard, and is never used for the purpose of calling servants to meals, that duty being performed by a smaller bell (about one or one-and-a-half cwt.), cast at Bristol in 1786.

I have bequeathed the big bell to the Parish Church of Ystradfellte, Breconshire, and after my day, it will resume its sacred duties. Before it is removed to Ystradfellte, the following inscription is to be placed on it (paraphrased from Wolsey’s bell at Sherborne)

“By Edmund’s gift I measure Time for all. To mirth, to grief, to Church I serve to call.”

Yours faithfully, EDMUND JONES, Forest Legions, Pontneddfechan.

Chairing of a Hirwaun Bard 23.01.1904

At the Tabernacle Chapel, Hirwain, on Thursday evening, Mr. Rees Morgan Rees, of Harris Street, Hirwain, was chaired as the successful bard in a recent large eisteddfod held at Penygroes, North Wales, he being unable to be present at the eisteddfod.

The chairing ceremony was performed by Mr. E. I. John (“Ieuan Dyfed”), of Merthyr Tydfil. There was a large concourse of the bardic fraternity present from Merthyr, Aberdare, Mountain Ash, Glynneath, Penderyn, Cwmdare, Rhondda Valley, and Ystradfellte. Amongst others, bardic addresses were delivered by the Revs. T. Edmunds and E. Wern Williams (Hirwain), “Ieuan Dyfed. “Gwernyfa,” “Pelydros,” “Ceiriosydd,” and” Alaw Tydfil” (Merthyr); “Ieuan Elfed,” “Penfelyn,” “Ap Myddfau,” “Myfyr Brychan,” Leyshon Lewis, and “Didymus” (Hirwain), “Ab Hevin,” “Gwyddonwy, “Tom Cynon,” and “Glancynon” (Aberdare). Ben Vaughan, and “Ap Huw (Cwmdare), “Y Dryw” (Rhondda), T. Morgan (Ystradfellte); “Dewi Cynon” (Penderyn), and “Gwilym. Alaw” (Rhigos). The Rev. T. Edmunds (Hirwain) presided. The bardic name conferred on Mr. Rees M. Bees was “Myfyr Cynon,” by which name he will henceforth be known in bardic circles.

New vicarage for Ystradfellte 17.04.1905 Evening Express

The plans for a new vicarage at Ystradfellte were approved by the governors of Queen Anne’s Bounty at their last meeting, and the work La to proceed at once. Mr. Glendenning Moxham, Swansea, is the architect

Ystradfellte Church, an Interesting Ceremony 21.10.1905 Aberdare Leader

The Harvest Thanksgiving Services were held at Ystradfellte Church on Wednesday, and also made the occasion for unveiling a new oak reredos. The work is designed in the fifteenth century style of architecture, and forms a frame to the small east window, and consists of two prominent canopied and traceried wings with statues of St. Peter and St, Paul. Beneath the window they are connected with panelling, surmounted by a carved cornice and cresting, leaving in the centre a panel fitted in with a carved figure representing the Lord’s Supper. The gift to the church was made by Mrs A. Jones, Hepste, Archer Road, Penarth, widow of the late Mr Jones, formerly engineer and surveyor to the Rhondda District Council.

The whole of the work was executed by Mr W. Clark of Llandaff. Mrs Jones has also given a stained glass window, which is fixed on the south side of the church. The subjects are St Elizabeth and St David, the work being designed and executed by Mr R. Newbury, London. This is not the first instance of Mrs Jones’ generosity towards religious causes, for some time ago she presented a stained glass window to the church at Llwynypia in memory of her late husband, besides a large number of gifts to other denominations. The service opened with the hymn, “Let Saints on earth,” which was followed by the evening prayer to the 3rd collect, with special lesson and psalms. The rector of Radyr dedicated the memorials, and preached a very appropriate English sermon and the Rev J. M. Raymond followed in Welsh. The ceremony was to have been performed by the Rev Canon W. Lewis., Ystradyfodwg, who, unhappily, was unable to, be present through illness. The same preachers officiated at the thanksgiving services to a large and attentive congregation. The Rev William Jones (vicar of the parish) and the Rev Ll. Jenkins (rector of Penderyn) took part in the service.

The church was tastefully decorated for the occasion by Mrs William Jones; Miss Elizabeth Davies, Goitre Miss M. Charles; Mrs Evans, Heol Fawr and Mrs Pritchard, Heol Rhydings. Amongst others present besides Mrs A. Jones were: Mr Edwin Jones, architect, Porth; Mrs Edwards, Hengoed; Mrs Walters, Hirwain; Miss Jones, Maindy, Ynyshir Mr and Mrs W. P. Nicholas and Miss Nicholas Rev and Mrs Phillips, Radyr Mr and Misses Williams, Merthyr; Mrs C. Davies, Llandilo; Miss Dyson, Llandilo; Mrs W. Clark, Llandaff; Mrs E. Evans, Cefnpennar Mrs and Miss Thomas, Brynawel; Mrs Edwards, Fedw Hir. Miss Stallard: &c. &c. It may be stated that Mrs Jones treated the inhabitants of the village to a sumptuous tea.

Eisteddfodic Honours 03.07.1905 Evening Express

This Year’s New Bards: The list of bardic honours to be conferred at this year’s festival at Mountain Ash is unusually small. This may be indirectly attributable to the influence of the Revival for, per contra, the list of musical degrees is an unusually long one. The following is the list, the bardic title by which the honoured one will be hereafter known being given in brackets: A Degree of Bard: Morgan Evans G.T.S.C. (“Pencerdd Mellte”), Ystradfellte.

Scarlet Fevers at Ystradfellte Aberdare Leader 17.02.1906

A meeting of Neath Rural District Council was held on Wednesday, Colonel Gardner presiding. The medical officer of health (Dr. Whittington) reported that owing to the prevalence of scarlet fever the schools at Ystradfellte had been closed for a month. The death rate for the month was equal to 21.8 per 1,000 per annum.

Singing Festival at Ystradfellte Aberdare Leader 18.05.1907

On Monday last the annual singing festival of the two Nonconformist Churches and the Established Church of Ystradfellte took place at Hermon Congregational Chapel. Mr. J. Harris, Glynmercher, was chairman of the committee; Miss M. J. Lloyd (headmistress of the Council School) treasurer, and Mr Morgan Evans secretary. Mr. J. T. Davies, L.T.S.C., Hirwain, the conductor, favourably impressed all those present.

Mr William. Williams (collector), Penderyn, presided in the after- noon, and after Mr. Matthew (hen, Cefncoed, had conducted the introductory parts, the conductor took the meeting in-hand. The choristers having rendered “Hernlein,” “Merton,” “We’re marching to Zion,” “Caernarfon,” and “Penarth,” the Rev. W. B. Richards complimented the singers e\11 their excellent work. The choir then gave the chant, Psalm cxix., and the singing of “Nazareth” was repeated again and again. The anthem, “() “Fryniau Caersalem ceir gweled” (W. George, L.T.S.C.) brought the meeting to a close. The second meeting was under the presidency of Mr. D. Price, Cefnucheldre.

The following tunes were sung: “Burford.” “Dyddiau’r Nefoedd,” “Penallte.” “Bron y Garn,” “Ynysowen,” “Huddersfield;” and “Machynlleth,” and the anthem; “Teyrnasa lesu Mawr” (D. J. Morgan). An excellent address, was delivered by Mr Matthew Owen, while Miss Esther Jones (Llinos Rhydian) gave an artistic rendering of the solos, entitled, “Dal fi’n agos,” and “Fe aeth yr Amen.” The accompanist throughout was Mrs. J. Harris, Glynmercher.

Ystradfellte Aberdare Leader 26.06.1909

Mr Morgan Evans (Pencerdd Mellte) obtained the degree of Bard at the Gorsedd of the London National Eisteddfod. Mr. Evans was previously a musical graduate of the National Eisteddfod Gorsedd and a F. T. S. C.

Ystradfellte memorial to native who became Judge 16.10.1913
Brecon Times, Neath Gazette and General Advertiser

The Sir David Williams’ Memorial Hall, Ystradfellte, was opened on Thursday by Mrs Napier Higgins, of Winchendon Priory, Bucks., a descendant of Sir David, who was born at Ystradfellte, and was a judge of the King’s Bench, 1604-1612. The hall has been built on a site adjoining the churchyard and has been designed in a simple Gothic style, to be in keeping with the old parish church. It provides seating accommodation for 200 persons, with ante-rooms adjoining. The contractor for the works was Mr Tyssul Davies, Aberdare, and the architect, who presented Mrs Napier Higgins with a gold key, was Mr Glendinning Moxham, F.R.I.B.A., Swansea.

The church hall was built in 1913 at a cost of £738 it was designed to seat two hundred people and was the gift of Mrs Napier Higgins in memory of her ancestor Sir David Williams a native of the parish. Sir David had been a judge of the King’s Bench between 1603 -1612. Following the collapse of the original roof timbers the church hall is about to be extensively restored using a voluntary scheme backed by the Manpower Services Commission these repairs will cost around £10,000, this compares with some £70,000 if labour costs were included at commercial rates.

St Mary’s 1960

Was a significant year in St Mary’s church calendar, permission was given to film an evening service and St Mary’s had been chosen as an example of a typical Welsh Church. It is believed the resulting film was shown in many countries of the commonwealth.

That year also saw the connection of electricity into the church and the question arose as to what form of lighting should be installed, in order to ensure that their design should be appropriate to the nature of the building. The architect to the cathedrals of Durham, Lichfield, Llandaff and York Minster, Mr George Pace was consulted. The design which he approved was a variation of the fittings which had been installed in Llandaff Cathedral. The lights were especially constructed out of oak for the church by a craftsman from Erwood near Builth Wells. This was very much in accord with the custom and practice throughout the centuries, where an architect and groups of travelling masons and craftsmen have left their marks on several cathedrals. Their work can be clearly identified by distinguishing features of the design.