Llancarvan (Llan-Carfan) - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
LLANCARVAN (LLAN-CARFAN), a parish, in the union of Cardiff, hundred of DinasPowys, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 6 miles (S. E.) from Cowbridge; comprising the Eastern and Western divisions, and containing 699, but, with the extra-parochial place of Llanoethin, 728 inhabitants. In this parish was established the first choir of saints before the institution of monasteries by St. Germanus, who came to England to suppress the doctrines of Pelagius, and who placed certain religious here for the instruction of the people in the Christian religion. The first Principal was St. Dubrig, or Dubricius, who was afterwards raised to the see of Llandaf, of which he was the first bishop. He was succeeded at Llancarvan by St. Cadoc, or Cattwg, in honour of whom several churches were subsequently erected in the principality. To this Cadoc, one Hungy, a British chief, gave lands for the benefit of the institution, which rose on the ruins of the old British choirs, and flourished under the ancient Latinized name of Carbani Vallis. The abbot, who was considered to be one of the chief ecclesiastics in the diocese, assisted at a council held at Llandaf in 560, which passed sentence of excommunication upon Meurig, King of Morganwg, or Glamorgan.
The parish is intersected by the Carfan brook, and the road leading from Cardiff to Cowbridge. It is bounded on the north by St. Nicholas', by Bonvilston, and Pendoylan, on the north-east by St. Lythan's, and Wenvoe, on the north-west by St. Hilary, and Llantrithyd, on the south-west by St. Athan's, and on the south by Penmark. It comprises by measurement 4500 acres, the whole of which, with the exception of 200 acres of wood, is arable and pasture; the soil is generally clayey, and the agricultural produce chiefly wheat, oats, barley, peas, and beans. The surface is diversified by several dingles, and the scenery in many situations, and from elevated points, is very fine; the prevailing timber is oak, ash, and elm. There is an abundance of limestone, which is quarried in considerable quantities, and burned for manure. The village is situated in a retired dell in the centre of the parish, but it presents no particular features of interest, with the exception of the naturally carved or hollow stones of its rivulet, from which it is supposed the name Carbani Vallis was first given to this place. The extra-parochial district called Llanoethin, where was once an ancient chapel, comprises the farms of Cae'r-Maen, Llanbithou, and Velin Vâch; and those of Carn Llwyd, Llanbythery, Llancadle, and Trêguf, which are each subject to a modus. A fair is held on the Wednesday before Easter.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £8. 13. 9., and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester: the tithes have been commuted for £325. 10. 2. payable to the Dean and Chapter, and £245 to the vicar, who has also a glebe of twelve acres, valued at £33. 15. per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Cattwg, an ancient and spacious structure, now in a dilapidated condition, is said to have been rebuilt in the twelfth century by Walter de Mapes, chaplain to Henry I. The altarpiece, which is elaborately embellished, and a portion of the old wooden screen still remaining, convey some idea of its former grandeur. At present it consists of two aisles: in the north chancel is a remarkably fine window, measuring eleven feet by twelve, the mullions and tracery of which were destroyed during the civil commotions of the seventeenth century, by a fanatic named Bush. There are places of worship for Baptists, Wesleyans, Calvinistic Methodists, and Independents; a Church school; and three Sunday schools, one of them in connexion with the Church, and the others belonging respectively to the Calvinistic Methodists and the Wesleyans. Mary Loughor in 1731, bequeathed £50, which has been increased by the accumulation of interest to £80, the interest whereof is annually divided among the poor on Good Friday. In the parish are some remains of an ancient intrenchment, called the Castle Ditches; also a mineral spring, called Llancarvan Well, the water of which is said to be efficacious in the cure of scorbutic and cutaneous diseases; and another to which is attributed the cure of St. Anthony's fire.
Caradoc of Llancarvan, the historian of Wales from the abdication of Cadwaladr to his own times, and contemporary with Geoffrey of Monmouth, was a native of this parish. He wrote his work in Latin, and it was afterwards translated into English by Humphrey Llwyd, who accounts for the different periods to which the history is extended in different copies (in some closing so late as within two years of the death of the last Llewelyn), by attributing to the monks of the religious houses in which they were deposited, an annual addition to the original, by way of continuation. The English version, brought down to the reign of Elizabeth, was published in 1585, by Dr. David Powel, and is considered as the standard history of Cambria. Walter de Mapes, a writer of some celebrity in the twelfth century, son of Blondel de Mapes who accompanied Fitz-Hamon into Glamorganshire, and obtained for his services the lands of Gweinydd ab Seisyllt, lord of Llancarvan, was born in this parish, where he built a church and mansion, and the village of Walterston. He married the only daughter of Gweinydd, and, with unusual liberality, restored to their original native proprietors part of the estates which he inherited from his father.