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    LLANEDEYRN AND PENTWYN

 

Population: 17,570

 

St Edeyrn, who gave the parish of Llanedeyrn its name, is a rather obscure figure like so many of the Celtic saints. He travelled widely and there are churches dedicated to him in Brittany and North Wales. According to local tradition, Edeyrn was a fifth century British prince who followed the Roman road from Caerleon to Cardiff. Finally, he arrived at the River Rhymney, where he built a wooden church.

            The Normans rebuilt the church and, despite the restoration carried out in 1888, indications of their work remain in the windows and stonework of the nave. Originally the tithes of Llanedeyrn were paid to Tewkesbury Abbey but their annals record that in 1236 they transferred their rights to Llandaff Cathedral. The same document also mentions the chapel of Llanforda which fell into disuse by the 16th century. It was converted into a cottage known as Ty’r Capel, the Chapel House, which stood in Coed-y-Gores near Chapel Wood as recently as 1950.

The vicarage at Llanedeyrn was the Glebe, a charming little cottage opposite the church. It was thatched until the 1970s and its interior, with sturdy beams and an original wall of straw and wattle, dates back to the 15th century. For centuries, the parishes of Llanedeyrn and St Mellons had close ties and in 1558 David Lewis was Vicar of Llanedeyrn, though his residence was at St Mellons.

The Anglican vicar, John Williams, was ejected from his living by Commonwealth commissioners in 1650 and no doubt the Puritan incumbent who replaced him suffered a similar fate, when the monarchy was restored. At this time of religious persecution, the Quakers were particularly harshly treated but the sect had firm support in Llanedeyrn. There were 40 of them who met every Sabbath day in 1669 under the leadership of Thomas Quarrell and John Powell. Not until the Toleration Act of 1689 did religious persecution come to an end. As late as 1734 the vicar of Llanedeyrn showed that old animosities were not dead, when he grudgingly recorded the burial of William Rogers, “a notorious dissenter”.

Jacobites in the district were prepared to support the cause of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745. David Jones, a labourer from Llanedeyrn, was presented at Cardiff Assizes, charged that he uttered the treasonable words, “God save King James … with intent to seduce the liege subjects of the King”. David Morgan of Coed-y-Gores fared even worse after the Battle of Culloden, as he was one of the Prince’s counsellors and, after being tried for treason, was beheaded on Kennington Common.

Until the 20th century, Llanedeyrn was a typical rural community. Its farmers were tenants of the Kemys-Tynte family of Cefn Mably and farms such as St Julian’s, Pentwyn, Tyn-y-Berllan, Malthouse and Llanedeyrn itself were the basis of the district’s economy. The 1851 census shows that half the people living in Llanedeyrn were farm workers, though the village also boasted a blacksmith, a cobbler and a thatcher. The social centre of the hamlet was the Unicorn Inn which in 1896 was described in these terms: “A comfortable old thatched house, with an inn-kitchen of the picturesque sort, open chimney, oak settles, and fitches of bacon under the beams; and a native Welsh-speaking landlady”. The Unicorn has lost its thatched roof and some of its rustic charm, but it is still an attractive country pub.

In 1874 Charles Kemys-Tynte granted a quarter of an acre of land at Penygroes to provide, “a school for the education of children and adults… The premises may, if it is thought desirable, be used for penny reading and other such purposes which will help in the instruction of the parishioners”. Five years later, the school was opened to accommodate 60 children, though it was frequently closed in bad weather as children from the outlying farms had to tramp miles to get there. However, visitors to the school were glowing in their praise and a Diocesan Report of 1903 records that: “The children in this little school have been very fully and carefully taught and passed as usual in all respects a highly satisfactory and creditable examination”. The school was a reflection of a small but closely knit community. The premises were used for social events such as whist drives and dances and in 1919 there was a great celebration when the Llanedeyrn soldiers came home. Not surprisingly, there was great sadness among local people when the school closed in 1964.

Llanedeyrn, in common with other communities, lost many of its young men in World War One. A tablet in the church remembers Rowland Thomas of Tyn-y-Berllan Farm, who was killed in the battle for Jerusalem in 1917. In all, 10 young men from Llanedeyrn made the ultimate sacrifice and five more names were added to the Roll of Honour in World War Two.

In the 20th century the whole character of Llanedeyrn was to change. The Kemys-Tynte Estate was broken up in 1921 and tenants were given the option to buy their farms. Part of Llanedeyrn came under Cardiff’s jurisdiction as early as 1889, but most of it remained outside the city’s limits until it was formally absorbed after the boundary changes of 1967.

It was then that Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn were transformed as the need for new housing led to rapid urbanisation. In 1961 the population of Llanedeyrn was only1,377 but a huge housing development was to sprawl across an area, where there were once just a number of scattered farms. Several new schools were built and Llanedeyrn High School has already in its short existence produced pupils of distinction, among them Colin Jackson, a great athlete respected and admired throughout the world. His sister, Suzanne, has also gained a reputation in the world of television and has appeared in several productions.

In its early days, people complained about the lack of facilities on the new estate but in 1974 the Maelfa Shopping Centre opened, and subsequently a health centre, a nursing home for the elderly, a library and a leisure centre have been established in the area. The construction of Eastern Avenue with its links to the M4 has led to an expansion of commercial activity, especially near its junction at Pentwyn, where the Posthouse, Campanile and Moat House hotels are convenient for business people. These hotels, light industry and the BUPA Hospital have brought much needed employment to the district. Only placenames such as Pentwyn, Chapelwood, Coed-y-Gores, Pennsylvania and Springwood now remind us of Llanedeyrn’s rural past.

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Further reading:

 

 Morgan D. Llanedeyrn: The Story of Our Parish (Dennis Morgan 1973)