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St Andrews Major - Gazetteers

Extract from A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833) by Samuel Lewis

"ANDREW'S (ST.), a parish in the hundred of DINAS-POWIS, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 6 miles (S. W.) from Cardiff, containing 474 inhabitants.

The soil of the greater part of this parish is a strong, brown, dry earth, well adapted for grain of all kinds, potatoes, &c. ; the rest is either a heavy grey clay, suitable for beans, &c., or wet and marshy, producing only coarse hay, or rough pasturage for young cattle : the substratum of the whole is limestone, in the procuring of which, and lias, several of the inhabitants are employed: a considerable quantity of magnesia is also obtained in the parish. The ground is rather elevated and hilly towards the inland, or northern, side of the parish, and flat and level towards the Bristol channel, or southern side, and subject to partial inundation from the overflowing of a small stream, called Dinas-Powis brook, which runs through the south-eastern part of the parish towards the south, and empties itself into the Bristol channel, between the parishes of Cadoxton and Sully, which lie between St. Andrew's and the channel.

The village is called Dinas-Powis from an ancient fortress that existed here, which also gave name to the hundred.

The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £ 14. 13. 1 1/2., and in the patronage of the Marquis of Bute. The church has no claim to architectural description : at the east end of the north aisle, parallel with the chancel, is a private chapel, anciently the property and burial-place of a respectable family, named Rowel, long since extinct, resident at Bouville, and owners of a great part of the parish, which is now kept in repair by Henry Lee, Esq., the present proprietor of part of the Bouville estate. In the floor of this chapel there is a stone bearing the following inscription:-" Here lyeth the body of John Gibbon James, buried the 14 of August, 1601. And Margaret Mathew, his wife, buried the 8 of January, 1631. He aged ninety-nine, she aged one hundred and twenty-four."

A spacious and commodions rectory-house has recently been completed by the Rev. Windsor Richards, the present incumbent. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. Divers benefactions of small amount have been made for the use of the poor, consisting of bequests of £ 2 by William David, and £ 10 by Thomas Stephens, in 1699; of £ 5 by Edward Rowels, in 1709 ; of £ 5 by William Morgan, in 1718 ; and of £ 5 by Thomas Thomas, in 1729: these sums were vested in trust with the overseers, but there is no record of their appropriation to charitable purposes, except, probably, in the purchase of a house, which is now enjoyed rent-free by the poor.

On part of the site of the ancient mansion of Bouville, situated at the north-western extremity of the parish, a farm-house has been erected by R. F. Jenner, Esq., one of whose ancestors purchased it, together with a portion of the estate; and there are some slight vestiges of the ancient building adjoining it.

The fortress of Dinas-Powis was situated on the north-eastern side of the parish : it is stated to have been built by Iestyn ab Gwrgan, who succeeded to the kingdom of Glamorgan, in 1043, and became possessed of the district called Trev Esyllt by marriage with Denis, the daughter of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, Prince of Powys, after whom he is said to have called the castle Denis-Powys ; but this etymology is probably incorrect, as the village is invariably called Dinas-Powis, meaning the city of Powys ; and the castle, Dinas-Powis castle, in all likelihood in honour of his father-in-law, the Prince of Powys. It does not appear from the remains to have been built as a place of permanent residence, but as an asylum for the inhabitants and their cattle during the feuds of ancient times. The ruins merely consist of four walls, between thirty and forty feet high, and six feet thick, rudely built of unhewn stone, with battlements about five feet high, and a platform three feet wide within, enclosing an oblong square area, seventy yards by thirty-five in dimensions, to which there are two entrances, one, apparently the principal, at the east end, now, from the falling in of the wall, presenting only a wide breach, and the other on the north side, about nine feet high, and six feet wide, arched over with rough unhewn stones. In the two walls at the end, and that on the north side, there are ranges of square holes, nine inches in diameter, plastered with mortar, distant from each other five or six feet horizontally, and about three feet perpendicularly, which were probably intended for the admission of air : within the area a mound of earth and stones, of very easy ascent, rises to the top of the wall on the south side ; and near the northern extremity there are the foundations of some walls, rather difficult to be traced, which appear to have formed two small square separate apartments. On the outside of the great walls, at the north-western corner, there is a smaller heap of ruins, probably those of an arx, or tower, appendant to the castle, with which it appears to have communicated by means of a narrow door ; and, within the memory of persons now living, there was a subterraneous passage, commencing in the side of the rocky hill, forming the site of the castle, and proceeding in a direction towards this tower, but which has been filled up. These ruins are the property of Mr. Lee, who has caused some parts of the walls to be repaired, to prevent their further decay.

The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £207. 13."

St Andrews Major - Lewis 1833 [Last Updated : 18 Oct 2002 - Gareth Hicks]