The village of Llangynwyd has important, well-documented historic associations, a literary centre of Glamorgan during the Middle Ages up until the 17th century, in particular, associated with the chief bards of Tir Iarll. Rhys Brydydd, Gwilym Tew, Rhys Goch ap Rhiccert (fl mid-14th century), Rhisiart ap Rhys Brydydd and Dafydd Benwyn, among many others were bardic poets associated with the area.
Corner House The building dates back to 1722, the lower half being the old Tithe Barn, where the Tithes, after being paid to the Vicars Llangynwyd,stored. Between 1740 and 1773 schools were set up in Llangynwyd at the precent Corner House. There is no record of being a licensed house before the mid 1840's. In the P.O Directory of 1871 a Daniel R-- was beer retailer at the Corner House. His poor wife Fanny hanged herself there in September 1873. Closure for the Corner House was sought by the police in February 1922, when solicitors argued favourably that it should remain open. In February 1966 a full liquor licence was granted, provided proposed alterations were carried out. The Corner House is entirely different from when the place in the mid 1950's when Mrs Williams was landlady.
Glamorgan Ghosts by "Viv Small" Haunted Pubs Of Glamorgan The Corner House Pub in Llangynwyd was once the home of Will Hopkyn, the poet of the romance of Cefn Ydfa. In those days the building consisted of three cottages which were later converted into a public house. The poet nwver married after the loss of his love....Ann Thomas, when he died, he was buried across the road in the nearby graveyard of Llangynwyd Church. When the new landlord of the Corner House took over the tenancy he began to notice some strange occurances... the front door which he securely locked each each evening would sometimes be unloked in the morning. Bar staff would mention voices in the bar, although the L-shaped room was empty. A member of staff saw a figure of a man at the foot of the stairs in a white shirt who she took to be the landlord, but the landlord was not present. Girls complained of a feeling of unease when clearing glasses in the bar for some strange reason. A previous tenant had mentioned that his young dranddaughter had seen a man in the bar when she had gone down stairs early one sunday morning. The description of the man, matched that of a Cromwellian trooper, although the family were not aware that the houses of Llangynwyd had not been searched by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. A storehouseat the rear would on occasion become very cold. Wine stored in the room was cold, even on a warm day. A waitress who had gone to the room to collect a case, leaned over to lift the case when she noticed a figure standing beside her. The outline was hazy in the glare of a single light bulb, a form without a face... the waitress hastily left the store-room, would not return, not even in the company of others. The staff accepting the situation, simply say... "Will is about" whenever something odd happens which they cannot explain. The Llangynwyd Village Trail
The Settings Llangynwyd is a typical example of the pre-industrial hilltop hamlets of the Bleanau, the uplands of the South Wales Coalfield. These hamlets grew up around churches which were built on religious enclosures established by Celtic saints in the sixth century. The main routes through the Coalfield ran along the hilltops and ridges, avoiding the more difficult routes along the wooden valleys. The prominent sites along these trackways chosen by the Celtic Saints for their settlements, became the centres of parishes where the only other settlement was scattered farms. Llangynwyd was chosen by St Cynwyd, and the name now means the church of Cynwyd. The whole area had been occupied even earlier, as is indicated by the prehistoric sites to the west of Mynydd Margam. Looking west from Llangynwyd village, the outlines of a large iron age encampment can be seen on the hillside . Its four concentric earthworks were used for protection during times of danger. Such structures were typical of south west Britain in the period around 200BC, and were occupied by a cattle owning aristocracy. On one of the highest points of Mynydd Margam, the Bodvac Stone, inscribed in Latin, commemorated a Romano-British chieftain of the sixth century.
The Village On entering the village from Maesteg side, turn right down the slope. The building on the left on the corner of the Churchyard, was built as a National School in 1850. At the bottom of the slope on the right is the Corner House Inn on the site of the medieval barn used to collect tithes until they were abolished in the nineteenth century. The cross at the road junction was first erected in 1927 to mark the bicentenary of the death of Ann Thomas, the maid of Cefn Ydfa. She is the central figure of a tragic love story made famous throughout Wales by the song Bugeilio′r Gwenyth Gwyn′ (the ripening of the white wheat), written by the Bard Wil Hopcyn who was her lover. Around the base of the cross are the names of illustrious poets, artists and writers of the area. Richard Price FRS of Tynton Farm (1723-1991) was a moral philosopher and expert on insurance and finance. He laid the foundations of the system of Life Insurance and old age pensions. A friend of Benjamin Franklin and supporter of American Independence, in 1781 he was made LLD of Yale University at the same time as George Washington. The lateset name added to the cross added to the cross is Brinli (Richards), Archruid of Wales and a local historian who died in 1981. Down the steeper hill from the cross is the Vicarage. The house is late 17TH Century with a major 19th century additions. In 1771 it was described as built and covered with stones, contains two rooms below and two above, not wainscoted, ceiling or floored′ . It might have been this that caused several of the incumbents to prefer to live on neighbouring farms such as Brynllywarch and Gelli Siriol. Opposite the main gate to the churchyard is the thatched Old House Inn. This dates from around 1630 but the site was occupied much earlier by an ale house serving pilgrims and drovers travelling the hilltop trackways. Its long room was used by nonconformists for services before they had t6heir own chapel. Records show that from 1799 the Inn was also used for meetings of Friendly Societies formed by local farm labourers and servants.
The Mari Lwyd On the Inn sign are words Yr Hen Dy′ (The Old House) with the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) shown beneath. Around New Year a group with a man in a white sheet with a horses skull on his head, goes from house to house in the village singing impromptu verses in Welsh to those inside. They have to reply in kind. If they fail the Mari Lwyd has to be invited in and served with ale and food. Llangynwyd is one of the last places in Wales where the tradition survives. Follow the road beyond the Old House between the stone wall. Turn left at the top. On the right beyond the plaque marking the birthplace of Wil Hopcyn, is Bethesda Chapel (Capel Yr Annibynwyr, The Independants Chapel) built in 1798, it was the first nonconformist chapel in the parish and remains little changed. It was the mother chapel to eleven other chapels in the Llynfi Valley and sent missionaries to Africa in the nineteenth century. Continue on to arrive back at the Old School House where the Trail began, enter the churchyard up the steps and through the gate. On the right is the grave of Vernon Hartshorn, the first miner to be a member of the British Cabinet. The Miners Agent in Maesteg, he was elected to Parliament as a member for Ogmore Constituency in 1918. He was Postmaster General in the first Labour Government and Lord Privy Seal in the second, but died in Office. Just beyond is the grave of the Samuel Jones(1629-1697). Refusing to conform to the terms of the Act of Uniformity in 1662, he left the living and established the first academy for nonconformist minister in Wales at the nearby Brynllywarch Farm. Other gravestones include those of people who died in the local ironworks and coal mines, and people who emigrated to Pennsylvania and Montana in the 19th century. In the ne graveyard to the south, to the right of the path is the grave of a family who emigrated to help establish the iron industry at Donetsk in the Ukrine.
Llangynwyd Church The site as been used for worship since the 6th Century with the earliest written reference to it in the 12th Century. In the wall of the porch is bedded a 10th Century stone socket of a Celtic Cross. Near it is a cable moulded carved stone from the earliest Norman Church on the site. The tower is 15th Century as is the font. The building was extensively restored in the perpendicular Style in 1893. In the Chancel, marked by a brass plate, is the grave of Ann Thomas, the Maid of Cefn Ydfa, who was married to Anthony Maddocks of Cwmrisca Farm. The grave of Wil Hopcyn the bard, is marked beneath the Yew Tree to the right of the path down from the Church porch.
Castell Coch In the medieval period the parish of Llangynwyd was incorporated into the Norman Lordship of Tir Iarll (The Earls Land). The Norman Castell Coch (Red Castle) can be visited by following the road west out of the village for about half a mile to Castell Farm on the left. No right way exists through the farm yard so you need to seek permission to visit. The castle was protected on three sides by two small valleys, with an extensive bailey wall on the fourth side. It was built in the early 12th Century on what was probably a 1st Century BC Celtic farmstead site. The castle was destroyed in a Welsh uprising in 1257, rebuilt and finally destroyed again in 1294. Today only the ruins of the gateway and curtain walls remain.
Wil Hopcyn During the 18th century the area was associated with Wil Hopcyn (d 1741), author of one of the most famous of Welsh Love Songs, 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn'; the locality being the setting for the famous, tragic romance of the 'Maid of Cefn-Ydfa'. A memorial to Wil Hopcyn was erected between the Old House and Corner House Inn in 1927.
The Maid of Cefn Ydfa Anne Thomas (the Maid) was a young heiress who lived with her parents at Cefn Ydfa lodge in the early 18th Century. Anne fell in love with a poor thatcher, Wil Hopkin (In Welsh , his name is spelt Wil Hopcyn as there is no letter k in the Welsh alphabet). The story goes that her mother found out and promptly banned Ann from using writing paper and ink. Ann was persistent and continued to send messages using her blood to write with. Time went by and William moved away to Bristol docks. Eventually Anne married a gentleman by the name of Anthony Maddocks. The marriage ended tragically as, broken-hearted, Anne died two years later. Anthony Maddocks married again a few months later, to another young heiress. Wil Hopkin never married and died 14 years later, in 1741, at the age of 40. He and Anne are both buried at Llangynwyd church. Anne is buried in the family grave in the chancel, while Wil lies in the churchyard under the shade of a yew tree. The original gravestones have been replaced and taken to the bell tower of the church. Wil was well-known as a poet and to show his love for Anne he wrote the love song ' Bugeilio'r Gwenith. Llangynwyd Church The church of Saint Cynwyd is in the parish church of Llangynwyd. The Welsh word Llan usually translates as 'church', but in placenames it refers to the parish. Many places in Wales take their names from the Saints in this way. The church was founded in the 6th Century by Saint Cynwyd, a local saint. It is the only church in Wales that bears his name. Little remains of the original structure (made of rude stone, wattle, timber and mud) apart from a stone socket for a wooden cross which the founder set up in the church. This was found built into one of the walls during repairs in 1850. It is now fixed into the wall of the porch. The church has been rebuilt and restored a number of times, being first rebuilt in Norman times and then again restored in the 13th Century. There was another rebuild in the 15th Century and the square tower dates from that time, as do four oak pews inside the church. In the 17th Century the church was given a new roof and three windows were placed in the south wall. The last complete restoration was in 1893 at a cost of 3000 paid for by Miss Olive Talbot of Margam Castle. There was further restoration of the tower in 1931 and the beautiful east window depicting the ascension of Christ was put in at that time.
Samuel Jones One notable vicar was Samuel Jones, incumbent of the parish from 1647 to 1662. When episcopal rule was restored and the act of uniformity was passed in 1662 he gave up his incumbancy and retired to his farm of Brynllewarch. Here he established the first college in Wales for the education of young men for the Non-conformist ministry. His tombstone can be seen near the south wall of the church.
The Bells There are six bells, dating originally from 1730, but two of them were recast in 1786. On October 14th, 1980, a plaque was dedicated by the assistant Bishop of Llandaff to mark the 250th anniversary of the hanging of the bells.
TAITH TREFTADAETH HERITAGE WALK -MYNYDD MARGAM Mynydd Margam has remains of human habitation from the Bronze Age, 5000 BC to the Middle Ages. (The Pyramids date from 2649 to 1640 BC.) Several of the "forts have been re-used at later dates Iron Age (1000 BC), Romans (100 to 500 AD), Celts from then on. The latest evidence shows that the forts are linked, often by "Hollow-ways , and probably much older and larger than previously thought. There were probably battles between Celts and Saxons in the 6th century. Heol Moch, the trackway along the ridge of Mynydd Margam, is probably 7000 years old.
Y BWLWARCAU This is best seen from the road from Cwmfelin to Llangynwyd village. A large monument enclosing 17.8 acres, the inner ring is just 0.7 acre. Its origins are not known, but it appears to have been in continual use from the Iron Age. The boundaries have been altered, lastly in the Middle Ages. Like other "forts this was probably used for defensive purposes as well as to contain animals.
CAER BLEAN Y CWM This is at an important crossroads Heol Moch and the ancient track from Llangynwyd to Margam and Kenfig town. Although the inner enclosure is small 0.2 acre its defences are extensive. Prominent ditches (hollow- ways) form a link to Caer Ton Phillip. It is also linked to Y Bwlwarcau. We now walk along Heol Moch.
BODVOC STONE The original is in the Stones Museum Margam. The replica stands on a burial mound 12.8m in diameter. There is a stony bank 3m wide and 0.3m high. This is not easy to see today. There is an inscription on the stone "BODVOC HICIACT/FILUS CATATGIRNI/ENTERNALI/VEDOMAV (of Bodvocus he lies here, the son of Catotigirnus and great-grandson of Eternalis Vedomavus) We do not know who they were, but it is thought that the stone dates from 550 AD.
TWMPATH DIWLITH Also a burial mound in 1921, Mortimer Wheeler found remains of burnt bones inside. It is 22.9m in diameter and 1.5m high. We do not know its age. Brinli says that it was once classed as one of the wonders of Glamorgan, because people thought the dew never fell on it! The pond at this point is the source of Afon Cynffig.
CAER CWM PHILLIP WEST This is a small oval site about 0.25 acre probably pre-Roman
CAER TON MAWR This is a ring fort 70m in diameter pre-Roman. In 2003 it was discovered to be much larger with considerable fortifications stretching north and east.
CAER CWM PHILLIP This "fort is unlike the other ones because the inner enclosure is roughly rectangular and therefore looks Roman. The outer enclosure has been described as Iron Age, but may be much older. Modern fields now divide this large enclosure.
We would be very grateful if anyone with old photos of Llangynwyd or knows of any local history, whether fact, myth or legend, could contact us so the information may be added to this site.