Jeff’s History Blog – My visit to Old Beaupre Castle

Today I visited a lovely place called Old Beaupre Castle, in the Vale of Glamorgan. Substantial remains of a castle largely built in 14th to 16th centuries. Once owned by the Mansels and later on the Bassets.

Richard Basset supported King Charles 1st during the English Civil War. After the kings defeat he was forced to pay a hefty fine, which created such a financial strain that he abandoned Beaupre castle in favour of a modest home elsewhere.

Court yard at Old Beaupre
Me sitting on the steps leading into the cellar
old beaupre
My favourite view
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The front door

One of the key points to this castle is the porch way in the court yard. DSCN3982

Jeff’s History Blog – My trip to Llancarfan and Penmark

On this trip I decided to check out Llancarfan first. This is a quiet little village set in the middle of rolling green hills of the country side – first stop is the village church, St Cadoc. This church dated back to 1190. This church has a battlement tower, with a gold stag lighting conductor, painted on the south wall is a 17th century Apostles’ creed. The nine-sided font with leaves underneath is 14th century and there is a stoop beside the south doorway. Nice church well worth a visit.

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St Cadocs Church

My next trip took me 2 miles west of Llancarfen, to the village of Penmark approaching a church of St Marys. I was really impressed with this church also again set in a small village I could see Roose airport in the distance.  I don’t recommend cycling to this place – too many hills. This church dated to 12th century although the south doorway suggests the nave is 14th century and some of this church was rebuilt in 1860. The mouuments included those of Cathrine Lewis 1682 and Thomas Lewis 1689. In the field next to this church, is the ruins of medieval Penmark castle, composed of inner and outer ward, the site combines traces of 12th century ring work the stone building was added in the following century, est by Robert Fitzhamon as a primary caput for the region. Penmark Castle was constructed by the Umfravilles, lords of Penmark at about the time of Fitzhamons death in 11th century.

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St Marys Church

The Unfravilles owned Penmark Castle for over 2 centuries and then passed it to the St John’s family, when Elizabeth Umfraville married Alexander St John.

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Penmark Castle

The St Johns continue to hold the stronghold until 1656, when they sold the castle to Colonel Phillip Jones a leading Parlimentarian. Some claimed that Owain Glyndwr assaulted the castle in 1402.

Opening up the Pathway to the Past!

To try to encourage people to come and discover Caerau Hillfort for themselves, a group of keen local residents have helped to clear the overgrown vegetation on the right-of-way into the southern entrance of the hillfort from Cwrt-yr-Ala Road, as part of the Pathway to the Past HLF All Our Stories initiative coordinated by CAER Heritage and ACE.

Richie and Paul get stuck in
Dave cutting back the brambles

Big thank-you must go to Richie Roberts, Cardiff Council Parks Ranger Services, under whose expert guidance we battled the wind and occasional down-pours to cut back the overgrown brambles and hawthorn.

John and Carol lend a hand

Richie had already undertaken checks for nesting birds back in March and April, so we knew we wouldn’t be disturbing any wildlife while we cleared the footpath.  Wearing gloves and wielding secateurs we opened up the route to walkers, despite the odd scratch and thorn in the shoe!

If you can, make sure you come and walk up the path and see our handiwork! We’re hoping to make cutting back the vegetation a regular monthly event (keep your eye open on our events page for opportunities to help out) and even replace the old styles and gates with new kissing gates.

Even the local PC gets involved!
After – pathway opened up for walkers

Some of the overhanging trees need cutting back too, but we need to undertake bat surveys with Cardiff Council Parks Services before we can do that.  If you’re interested in getting involved in dawn and dusk bat checks in June then contact the CAER Heritage team here…

Before – the pathway overgrown with brambles


Jeff’s History Blog – My trip to St Andrews Major

First visit to St Andrews Major church – I’m very impressed with the place, nice surroundings in a small peaceful village.

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St Andrews Major Church

The high west tower with a corbelled parapet and a south door way, the porch and wide north aisle all date from remodelling of 1480-1520. The nave and chancel are maybe 13th century and the font is Norman. The chancel arch and east window date from a restoration of 1875-9

Then visited another church not far from St Andrews. In the village of Wenvoe not too bad of a church, but not really that impressive. St Marys church was much restored in 1876. There was a tower until a new one was built at the west end in 1699.

St Marys Church, Wenvoe

Inside there are fine monuments to the owners of Wenvoe castle William Thomas,1636, Sir John Thomas,1704, and his wife, and Peter Birt,1791.

Jeff’s History Blog – My trip to Llantrithyd village

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St Illyds church LLantrithyd

Done a 7 mile trip to this village on bike and on approach I found a stunning place a church, St Illyds, and 16th century manor house in a quiet countryside setting.

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LLantrithyd Place

Brief history – the manor house Llantrithyd Place was built by John Bassett in the early part of the 16th century. The ruins of the house are in the feild adjacent to the church yard but are not in a safe condition.

St Illyds church – the church probably dates from the later part of the 12th century, some 400 years before the building of Llantrithyd Place.

It was the marriage of Mary Mansel to Thomas Aubrey that led to six generations of the Aubreys living at Llantrithyd Place.

The family came to spend more time at their inherited estate at Boarstall, Bucks until the house fell empty about 1750/60 and subsequently deteriorated into ruin the roof collapsing in 1832.

Jeff’s History Blog

I’m fascinated with history, especially medieval castles, and love going to visit all the historical sites around Cardiff and the Vale, and sometimes even further afield! Why don’t you follow my travels through this new blog.  Here’s some places I’ve been to recently. Click on the links to find out more…

Ever been to Caerwent, near Newport? Amazing Roman remains – here’s a Roman house with hypocaust

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Visited Cottrell Park motte (a medieval mound for a castle) – one of at least three in area of St Nicholas

cottrell parka

Now for something much older – St Lythans Neolithic burial chamber


Finally, now what I really love – a medieval castle! This is a small one in Cowbridge – St Quintens – but still very impressive

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That’s it for now – keep checking back for more as I plan more trips!

Pathway to the Past – Mural comes alive!

New street-art mural marks entrance to Iron Age hillfort

Caerau_Mural_cropYoung people from North Ely Youth Centre, Petherbridge Road, Ely, Cardiff have created a visually striking new mural to signpost a new heritage trail that will soon be developed around the Caerau Iron Age hillfort as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories grant.

The creation of the heritage trail is led by Cardiff University’s CAER Heritage Project team in partnership with community organisation Action in Caerau and Ely and St Fagans National History Museum.

IMAG0157a  The mural was designed and developed by the young people from Ely during a series of intensive street-art workshops devised by CAER Heritage Project (CHP) lead artist Paul Evans, in close collaboration with St Fagan’s Iron Age expert and artist Ian Daniel, and CHP directors Dr Oliver Davis and Dr David Wyatt.

To set the context, the young people visited the Iron Age reconstructed hillfort at Castell Henllys in West Wales. Here they engaged in two dynamic workshops devised by Paul. The first, a digital photography activity, was based on the micro-montages of street artist Slinkachu and the other was a variation on the eco-graffiti activities that the artist has used to great effect during previous stages of the project. In this case the young people left their outlines on the side of the fort – a biodegradeable impression of their visit.

Back at the youth centre, the young people engaged in two days of drawing workshops which were used to genIMAG0171aerate letters and figures that Paul and Ian developed into finished designs for council approval. The young people were then given a choice of five designs based on their ideas and motifs – with Ian’s design getting the vote. The mural design features two Iron Age Round houses, ‘Ely beans’ and graceful ‘celto-graffiti’ lettering spelling out the word Caerau, which means hill-forts in Welsh.

The A4 sized mural design was then transferred at full size – over 15 metres in length – onto the underpass and painstakingly rendered in masonry paint. The young people from the youth centre lending a hand with the final stages of the painting and adding their own graffiti ‘tags’.

Passers-by have already made a number of very positive comments about the mural and it is apparent that the artwork functions brilliantly as a vivid, direct, contemporary connection IMAG0178to the site’s ancient heritage.

When you visit, look out for the Banksy style rats devised by Oliver Davis – they’re ‘sick’

Pathway to the Past

On 6th March 2013 we visited Castell Henllys in West Wales with young people from Ely and Caerau. To complement our visit – and inspired by the micro-montage work of street artist Slinkachu – CAER Heritage Project lead artist Paul Evans devised a dynamic photography workshop using Airfix figures and digital cameras. We were very impressed by the results – great compositions and some really inventive little set ups … more soon!

Slinkachu micro-montage
Slinkachu micro-montage
The Iron Age – Slinkachu-style

Find Out More About The CAER Heritage Project – New Online Publication

To celebrate the launch of the CAER Heritage Project exhibition at the Senedd and Cardiff Story Museum, find out more about what we’ve been up to over the last year with this free downloadable publication






















Postcards from the Iron Age: Part II

More Postcards from the Iron Age:

More postcards from the Iron Age …

Dear Mother,
I’ve missed you, the weather sucks.
I want food but most of all I love you.
P.S. The Iron Age rocks, you have missed out on a lot!

To Mum,
I have just signed up for the army and I have killed my first roman.
Hope everything is alright.
All the best,
From Jim

Dear Mum,
The Iron Age is horrible, the food portions are very small and it rains all the time.
I miss you
From Chantelle

Dear Iron Age people,
I would like to tell you how 21st Century people live. Nowadays we have cars, big houses, lots of games like football, rugby and many more.
We only have one queen and we all work together.

Dear people of the Iron Age!
I like your swords, they must have been useful. Who invented the axe?
Hope the weather is nice.
Enjoy the past.
Person of 2012

You’ve missed out.
Ipods are my life.
Apple is not only a fruit but a brand.
Iron is replaced by steel.
Enjoy it while it lasts.
Have fun.