Bride's (St.) Major - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
BRIDE'S (ST.) MAJOR, a parish, in the union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Ogmore, county of Glamorgan, South Wales; containing 914 inhabitants, of whom 335 are in the township of St. Bride's, 3 miles (S.) from Bridgend, on the road to Lantwit-Major. This place holds a conspicuous rank in the ancient history of the principality, being distinguished as one of the earliest known residences of its princes. Dunraven Castle is an elegant and spacious structure, occupying an elevated situation in the parish, and commanding an extensive marine prospect, with several fine views of the rocky scenery along the coast. It was erected by the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., near the site of a former edifice, anciently the residence of Caractacus, and called by the Britons Dyndryvan, of which the present name is a modification. The British hero and his father, Brân ab Llŷr, are both said to have resided here; and the triple rampart that defended the "palace" on the only side on which it was accessible, and of which the remains are still visible, is at least as ancient as the time of the Romans. After the disastrous defeat of Caractacus it continued to be the residence of the native reguli, till the time of Iestyn ab Gwrgan, on whose deposition by the Norman adventurer Fitz-Hamon, it was granted by that chieftain to William de Londres, together with the lordship and castle of Ogmore. The castle and manor of Dunraven were given by William de Londres to Arnold, his butler, as a reward for his valour in defending Ogmore Castle from an attack of the Welsh, during the absence of that nobleman; for which he was also knighted, assuming from his office, according to the custom of that time, the name of Sir Arnold Butler. This surname of Butler he transmitted, together with the estate, to his descendants, who continued to enjoy the property for many generations, till, the male line becoming extinct, it was conveyed by a daughter in marriage to the family of Vaughan. According to local tradition, which appears to have been confirmed by subsequent discoveries, the last of the Vaughans who possessed the manor was in the habit of setting up decoy lights, to mislead vessels in the Channel, in order to increase his revenue by the "wrecks de mer," to which, as lord of the manor, he was entitled under certain restrictions. Within sight of the house was a rock, dry only at low water, to which two of his sons having gone to divert themselves, and neglected to secure their boat, it was floated away, and they were left on the rock till the return of the tide, when they perished in sight of the family, who vainly attempted to afford assistance. During the confusion which this melancholy event created in the family, the third son, a child only just able to walk, fell into a large vessel of whey, and was drowned; and the proprietor, thus left childless, sold the estate to an ancestor of the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., whose only daughter and heiress conveyed it by marriage to the present Windham Henry Wyndham-Quin, Earl of Dunraven and Mountearl, with whom it has since continued. The mansion is in the occupation of Viscount Adare, the earl's eldest son.
The castle and lordship of Ogmore passed, by marriage with the heiress of the family of De Londres, to the first Duke of Lancaster, and still forms part of the duchy, now vested in the crown. The former is thus described by Leland:—"Ogor Castelle stondith on the Est Ripe of Ogor, on a playn ground a mile above the mouth of Ogor, and ys meatly welle maintainid. It longgid ons to Lounder, now to the King." The ruins are situated on the southern bank of the Ewenny. The remains of "Old Castle upon Allam" are two miles from Ogmore, upon the banks of the Allam, a tributary of the Ewenny river, and present a striking and interesting feature in the landscape.
The PARISH is situated on the road leading from Bridgend to St. Donatt's and Lantwit-Major. It is bounded on the north by the parish of MerthyrMawr, from which it is separated by the river Ewenny; on the south by the parish of Wick and the Bristol Channel, by which latter it is also bounded on the west; and on the east by the parish of Colwinstone. The parish comprises, with Wick, 4927 acres, of which 800 are common or waste land. The surface, which is bare of wood with the exception of a few oak-trees, is in general undulated, and the soil in some parts clayey, in others a stiff loam, resting chiefly on lias limestone: a small quantity of oats is grown, but wheat and barley are principally cultivated. The river Ogmore runs along the western portion of the parish. The most considerable landholders are, the Earl of Dunraven, and R. Turberville Turberville, Esq., of Ewenny Abbey, the former of whom is lord of the manor. The parish contains the villages of Ogmore, Heolmynydd, Southerndown, Tair Croes, and Lamphey: Southerndown is resorted to for sea-bathing.
The LIVING is a vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Wick annexed, rated in the king's books at £9. 16. 5½.: present net income, £176, with a glebehouse; patron, R. Turberville Turberville, Esq.; impropriator, C. R. M. Talbot, Esq. The church, an ancient structure, supposed to have been built about the year 1300, is 150 feet long, and 25 broad, and contains 200 sittings. Among the monuments, several of which are handsome, the most conspicuous are, a fine altar-tomb, bearing the effigies of a crusader and his lady, of the family of Butler, and an elegant mural monument, beautifully executed in white marble, by Gahagen, of Bath, to the memory of the late Thomas Wyndham, Esq., of Dunraven Castle, who represented the county of Glamorgan in several parliaments: on it are the effigies of himself and his two sons, who died in their infancy, finely sculptured in alto-relievo. About 1830, a stone sarcophagus was found on the south side of the church, in excavating a drain, about six feet below the surface; and in the summer of 1837, when the curate wished to remove the above and other relics of antiquity discovered in the churchyard, he accidentally found another monument of considerable interest, within three feet of the sarcophagus; the stone is of great hardness, and bears the effigy of a cross-legged knight, in chain-armour, with a skullcap, on which are represented two cups or goblets with a fleur-de-lis in the centre. His shield is charged with three cups, and on the margin of the slab is the following inscription:—JOHAN:LE:BOTILER: GIT:ICI:DEU:DE:SA:ALME:EIT:MERCI:AMEN. This relic is referred to the latter part of the thirteenth century. There are two places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, one of them in a part of St. Bride's village called Penylan, and the other at Ogmore, about a mile from St. Bride's. A day and Sunday school, in connexion with the National Society, was established in the year 1844, and gives instruction to about ninety children of both sexes; the subscriptions amount to above £60 a year, and the school is held in the upper and lower rooms of the old church-house, which was appropriated to the purpose: the expense of the necessary alterations, and of erecting a house for the master and mistress, was defrayed by the Countess of Dunraven and the curate, aided by a grant of £60 from the Lords of the Treasury. Two Sunday schools are conducted by the Calvinistic Methodists, in the meetinghouses above mentioned. A rent-charge of £5, a grant by Lady Mansel, but at what period is unknown, charged on lands in the parish of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, is annually divided, by the owners of Dunraven Castle, between two aged women; and the produce of another small benefaction by Benjamin Davies is annually distributed in bread among the poor. Two other charities, which produced about £3 per annum, have been lost.
Near the western boundary of the parish, a little south-west of the village of Ewenny, is a very copious spring, locally called "The Shew Well," but usually designated by tourists "Ogmore Spring." It issues from three different apertures in the limestone rock, and the waters uniting immediately on their emission, at first occupy a space about fifteen yards wide, but are soon contracted to a current seven yards wide and one foot deep, and, at the distance of between thirty and forty yards from their source, fall into the river Ewenny. It has been asserted that this is a part of that river which enters a subterraneous channel a short distance above; but the different properties of the waters of these confluent springs are sufficient evidence in disproof: the two eastern are exceedingly cold, and, in washing, will curdle soap like an acid; the water of the other is of a milder temperature, and will serve for washing as well as rain-water. In the cliffs on this part of the coast are some spacious excavations, formed by the action of the sea. One of these, of singular appearance, extends for a considerable distance in a direction parallel with the coast, and resembles a series of columns rudely formed. Another, called the Wind Hole, has penetrated the rocks to a great depth, and is remarkable for some apertures in the ground, through which, in certain states of the tide, the wind rushes upwards with considerable force.