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The Glamorgan Witches

As we are in the shadow of Halloween, it seems only right that we should look at some famous witch
stories from Glamorgan. Especially as we have some real belters. Arguably our most famous local Witch is the Mallt-y-Nos. She is described in some texts as a witch in others as a ghostly apparition but she is quite unique to the counties of South Wales. She filled the hearts of all who saw her with fear. Another witchlike creature in Glamorgan folklore is the Gwrach- Y-Rhibin. Her phenomenon has been described by many sources across the centuries. My favourite,
a book entitled British Goblins, published in 1880. It has this to say:

“A monstrous Welsh spirit in the shape of a hideously ugly woman whose appearance is typically
with unkempt hair and wizened, withered arms with leathery wings, long black teeth, and pale
corpse-like features. She approaches the window of a person about to die by night and calls their
name or travels invisibly beside them and utters her cry when they approach a stream or crossroads.
She is sometimes depicted as washing her hands there”.

An altogether more conventional witch story though, concerns a lady who used to live at a cottage
which once stood in Cliff Wood on the edge what is today, Porthkerry Park. Its ruins are still there to
be seen. There is a fabulous old legend inspired by her. It involved a lovesick aristocrat and his manipulative servant.

The young man was naive in the ways of love. He wrote poems and letters to the object of his
desires, but she just rebuffed him. Sensing an opportunity, his servant told him of the famous witch
who lived in the woods in Porthkerry. And how she could make the young man a love potion to win
his girl over for a Guinea. Worth about £1.05 now but a lot of money back then. He agreed and followed him into the woods.

They met the witch of Porthkerry, and she made the potion and gave it to the gentleman. As
gentlemen of this era would never carry money, it was always left to the servant to pay for things
from his master’s coffers. But seeing how old and frail the witch was, this unscrupulous man thought
he’d pocket the money for himself and refused to pay her.

Angered by the deception she cast a spell over the two of them uttering ‘May these men never leave
these woods. The two men only got as far as the edge of the woods before turning into two trees.
The master tall and elegant turned into a yew tree. The servant became a twisted and gnarled
hornbeam tree. Both trees are still there and the path they took from the cottage to the edge of the
woods has ever since been known as Lovers Lane.

Now, as much as this story is more than likely absolute bunkum – Here’s the thing. There really was
a lady who lived at this cottage who was widely believed to be a witch. Her name was Ann Jenkins.
Also known as Ann Ddu and she was a provider of potions and remedies. There is written account
that she was inspected for witch marks by the Cowbridge magistrates. There is no record of the
outcome. Were they able to prove that she was in league with the devil? Probably not. Official
records register Ann Jenkins as being buried in the yard at the church of St Nicholas in Barry. If she
had been proven to be in league with the devil she would never have been allowed to be buried in
the yard of a Christian church.

If you want to know more about these stories, they are the subject of my latest YouTube video. Also, they are discussed in more detail in my books about Glamorgan folklore available to buy on this link.

You can also ‘listen again’ to my radio show on Bro Radio where I also interviewed a modern day witch for her take on them.

Watch my latest video about the Witches of Glamorgan
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Stories from Dai Woodham’s locomotive scrap yard in Barry

You often hear people (of a certain age) reminiscing about lost institutions they used to know and love. Maybe it’s the chapel their nana used to go to that’s flats now. Or the local cinema that they used to queue up outside every Saturday that today is just a car park. However, it’s not very often that you find people waxing nostalgically about a scrap yard. But if you ask people who grew up in Barry in the 60s or 70s, very few will have nothing to say about Dai Woodham’s scrap yard. It used to occupy the old railway sidings next to the abandoned docks. It was a place that dominated the townscape. Even if you had no interest in it or what could be found there. It was difficult to ignore.

What made the place magical to so many and made it famous throughout the world was the mile after mile of decommissioned steam locomotives in various states of decay parked up there. As far as the eye could see. And even more magical if you were a curious little boy like I was the first time I visited Barry, you were allowed to climb up and play on them. What would the Health & Safety bods make of that today?

A good friend of mine suggested that I should make a programme about the yard and volunteered his expert knowledge. Great idea I thought, so I casually posted about the notion on social media, to see if I could flush out some personal recollections. I wasn’t really expecting much in the way of engagement.

How wrong could I have been. It seems that everyone has a story about Dai Woodham’s locomotive scrap yard.

I heard how children used to climb up the front of the first locomotive in a line, down the chimney into the boiler then through the cab and out the back, onto the front of the next one and so on, to see if they could clear the whole line without touching the ground. I heard how amateur film makers used to light fires next to the cabs and fan the flames so billows of smoke would swirl past them, so it looked on the film like they were driving a steam engine. Even if the one they were in didn’t even have any wheels.

Lots of people had stories about how pragmatic Dai was when it came to pricing. One person told me that he found a small green engine on the yard. He fell in love with it. But it was boxed in on all sides by far bigger locomotives, some of which were missing wheels. He asked Dai ‘how much?’ Dai looked at the engine, looked at the others around it and with an air of ambivalence said ‘£60 – if you can get it out”.

I also heard from the relatives of the great man himself and a lady who worked at the yard for most of her life. They told me about all the preservation societies who would come to the yard in their droves. Their mission? To buy locomotives to restore. Even the BBC TV’s kids programme Blue Peter came to buy one. And of course, the back story of the most famous locomotive of all – the Hogwarts Express. How the old GWR Haul Class 460 engine made its way from Barry Sidings to the silver screen.

When you think about it, nostalgia has always been the currency of Dai Woodham’s. People harking back to the golden age of steam are what kept the business viable for over 30 years. And now the yard is gone the institution itself is the stuff of relived memories.

Incidentally, I did make the programme. It will be broadcasted on Bro Radio FM on Monday 25th September 2023 after the 7pm news. But if the date and transmitter range are a barrier to you enjoying it, it is also available to watch on my YouTube channel at #like and subscribe.

Moving a 100 ton locomotive is a delicate operation – which did not always go smoothly.

If you want to know more about Dai Woodham’s scrap yard there is a fantastic article from the Western Mail archives you might be interested in. Just follow this link.

If you want to know more about Graham Loveluck-Edwards, the producer of this video, follow this one.

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A history of Porthkerry Church

This was a talk given by historian and author Graham Loveluck-edwards on 10th June 2023 entitled; the cult, the Baron, the Captain and the drowned man. It is a history of the site of the church at Porthkerry. It was delivered in St Curigs Church Porthkerry as part of the Llandaff Diocese Churches Unlocked Festival 2023 and was attended by approximately 60 guests.

The talk spans the earliest signs of life on the site which are contemporary with an Iron Age hilfort on one side and the remains of a Celtic roundhouse on the other. It’s earliest history is also linked to an old legend about Ceri, a relative of the legendary tribal king Caradog who governed the area after the Roman occupation and maintained a naval fleet ion the old port (now long gone).

In this talk I also discuss:

  1. The twelfth Century reference to a. Priest in the location
  2. The three stages of building at the church dating back to the 13th century
  3. Lost features of the church building
  4. The discovery of a skeleton and chalice under he arch and who it might have been
  5. The restoration carried out by the Romillys and who Sir Samuel Romilly and the Baron Edward Romilly were
  6. The bell tower and the Lewis family
  7. The 16 foot cross with its intricate carvings now lost for ever
  8. The visits by John Wesley and the link with Fontygary
  9. The war diary of a Rhoose farmer whose family is remembered
  10. The tomb of the Portrey family
  11. The Marian cult
  12. The grave of the unnamed drowned man
  13. The grave of the German Naval Captain and inventor

If you know this old church, this is everything you ever wanted to know and more. For website for the parish can be found at I also wrote about the Marian Cult in my book Legends and Folklore of Bridgend and the Vale available here.

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Glamorgan turnpike, tolls & riots.

The British road network in the Seventeenth Century was a disgrace. When a gentleman of South Wales was asked in parliament on the state of the local roads he replied ‘we ride around in ditches’.

In Glamorgan, the principal arterial road running from east to west was the Via Julia Maritima; the Roman road, built in the Antonine period to link up the forts at Gloucester, Caerleon, Cardiff and Neath. To an extent it still is as its course is now loosely followed by the A48. In the Eighteenth Century it was clear to observe that there had not been much in the way of maintenance done since the Romans had left. It was in a terrible state.

One of the more famous casualties of the state of this road (in folklore at least) was Richard Cromwell. The son of Oliver Cromwell; Lord Protector. Richard Cromwell was known to be very close to Colonel Philip Jones of Fonmon Castle in the Vale of Glamorgan and the story goes that after a very boozy lunch at Fonmon, he was heading home to London along the Roman Road. His coach struck a pothole with such a jolt that the impact threw him from his seat and out onto the road. Hence the nickname “Tumble-Down-Dick” and the stretch of road ever since known as ‘The Tumble’. A steep hill west of Culverhouse Cross near Cardiff.

With copies of the old Carmarthen to Cardiff Stage Coach timetables and a bit of simple arithmetic we can calculate that the average pace of traffic along this road was just 4 mph. Although to be fair, that sort of speed might seem aspirational if you have ever approached the Brynglas Tunnels on the modern day M4 .

So the solution came from an act of parliament. The first one being passed in 1663 to permit the formation of a ‘turnpike’ called ‘the Great North Road’ which ran between Wadesmill in Hertfordshire and Stilton in Huntingdonshire. Clearly the people of Wadesmill could not get cheese fast enough before 1663! Soon the model was replicated all over the country. Turnpike trusts were established which were non profit making organisations who co-ordinated the collection of tolls and the distribution of funds to engineers and contractors for the building, maintenance and repair of the roads. They did this on behalf of land owners, community councils and the church who owned the land the roads ran across.

The name ‘turnpike’ is derived from the name given to the gates which were erected across the roads at toll houses. People had to stop at these gates, pay for passage to the next one, and then ‘the pike would be turned and the gate opened’. These gates have now all gone, but many of the old toll houses still remain. Here is a selection from across the old county of Glamorgan.

Glamorgan Toll Houses

  • West Gate toll house Cowbridge
  • Penarth Road toll house Cardiff
  • Old town toll house Llantrisant
  • Llandaff toll house
  • Bridge keepers lodge Tongwynlais
  • Talbot Road toll house Llantrisant
  • Cimla Road toll house, Neath
  • Newcastle Hill toll house, Bridgend
  • The Castle Hotel Toll Hose, Derwen Road, Bridgend

There are many people who equate the scale and success of the industrial revolution in Britain to the improvements made to our road system through these schemes. It undoubtedly led to big improvements in productivity as people, materials and goods became able to move around the country quicker and easier. By the time the last act of parliament was passed in 1836, there had been 942 Acts for new turnpike trusts in England and Wales. By then, turnpikes covered around 22,000 miles of road, about a fifth of the entire road network.

Where were the Glamorgan Turnpikes?

The Via Julia Maritima became the template for The Glamorgan Turnpike in 1764 but work on rebuilding and re-routing continued for the best part of the next 100 years. For example the old 15th Century bridge in Bridgend was totally inadequate for 18th century traffic but it was not until 1821 that the trust laid the foundations of the ‘new’ bridge crossing the Ogmore at Bridgend. The improvements also involved the introduction of milestones many of which are still around like the example here which stands in Bridgend town centre. As you can see from the date stamp. These were introduced in 1836.

I’ve always loved this particular one. I love the regency style arches and flourishes. The information is also useful. It tells travelers that they are in Bridgend Town & District, that this section (at the bottom of Caroline Street) was part of the parish of Coity, also the distance to Pyle to the west and Cowbridge to the east, as well as London for those making the two day trip to the capital.

This of course was not the only turnpike. The roads were graded by importance. The old Roman Road was the principal road. The one used by post and stage coaches and the one used for longer distance travel. However there were other turnpike roads to carry local traffic north into the industrialised valleys. You will note from this map, that except for Dinas Powys (where the street name for the road concerned is still called Old Turnpike Road) there is nothing else in the Vale of Glamorgan south of the Roman Road.


The tolls charged would fluctuate dramatically and this was part of the reason why they became such a subject for hatred. Especially here in Wales.

In the industrialised areas, ordinary people were being squeezed from all sides. Low wages, high rents, taxes and church tythes took their own toll. In rural areas these same issues were confounded with a run of poor harvests in the early 19th Century which drove crippling rural poverty. Having to pay to travel by road was the last straw. Especially as costs would rack up if you were transporting livestock as the example here from the Cefnglas Gate north of Bridgend demonstrates.

These were the seeds of dissent which blew up in the form of the Rebecca Riots in 1839, although most of that action took place in rural Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Powys.

The Rebecca Riots

It all started with the tollgate at Efailwen between Whitland and St Clears on the Pembrokeshire/Carmarthenshire border. An attack was led by a man with a blackened face, wearing a wig and women’s clothes, astride a white horse and waving a sword. The stirring figure of ‘Rebecca’. There was a great deal of irony intended in the protestor’s getup: women traveling alone were exempt from paying a toll. The name Rebecca, meanwhile an allusion to the most beautiful woman in the Old Testament (her name becoming the Hebrew word for ‘alluring’) had its own barbed significance when applied to a big burly bloke in a dress. If such figurative subtleties registered with the turnpike trustees, we will never know. But they couldn’t have missed the protestors destroying the toll gate and attacking the toll collector.

Shortly after this first attack, a new tollgate was placed near the Mermaid Tavern in St Clears, on November 18th 1842. This new imposition upon the locals became the site of a four-month battle between the rioters and the authorities. The mob’s modus operandi remained consistent throughout: they would descend without warning, led by the figure of Rebecca, before just as quickly disappearing into the night. There are claims that their numbers reached as many as 100 men, armed with scythes and billhooks.

Police and troops were called in to help protect the gates, but Rebecca and her daughters were consistently one step ahead of the law. Here in Glamorgan, we had a Police force, which they didn’t have in Carmarthenshire at the time. It was Glamorgan police who were sent west to deal with the uprising. But pretty soon, the unrest started to head east towards them. On 6th September 1843 a crowd of over 100 descended onto Pontarddulais near Swansea. Chief Constable Charles Napier of the Glamorgan Constabulary however had been tipped off to expect trouble and lay in wait with his own men and a battalion of infantrymen. Shots were fired, 7 people were arrested and they were tried at the Cardiff Assizes.

Two ring leaders were identified, both Glamorgan men. Their names were John Jones and David Davies both inhabitants of Pontyberem. They were sentenced to seven years transportation. At their trial it was established beyond a reasonable doubt that the two had been present at the riot at Hendy Toll Gate where the toll collector, Sarah Davies an elderly lady of 75 years was killed.

The more I find out about these two men the more incredulous I am that they were friends as they were very different people with very different backgrounds.

The nature of John Jones meant his involvement in an act of riot and insurrection would not have come as much of a surprise to anyone. He was originally from Merthyr Tydfil where he was known to be “a heavy drinker”. He had laboured for many years in the copper works at Pontyberem, then he became a soldier. After leaving the army, for a brief period he made a living as a prize fighter.

David Davies also lived in Pontyberem and was a coal miner but he like Jones was not born locally. He was born in Llancarfan in the Vale of Glamorgan where he had been a farm labourer. Unlike Jones, he was not a drunkard nor a fighter. In fact he was quite an artistic person who wrote poetry. He was also a lay preacher in the Weslyan chapel. So what on earth these two men had sufficiently in common to form a friendship is beyond me? It just goes to show what a uniting influence 19th century insurrection was in Wales. Because, let’s face it, we had the Merthyr Rising, The Rebecca Riots and the Chartists Revolt all in the space of a decade.

Funnily enough if you want to hear more about that, I am broadcasting a radio show about Welsh 19th Century insurrection on Monday 19th June 2023 at 7pm on Bro Radio. But if you can’t wait till then (or if you’re reading this after 19th and you missed it) it is available now on my YouTube channel at And why not subscribe while you’re there?

The protests came to an end in 1844, partly because a Commission of Inquiry was set up to reform the Turnpike Trusts, but mainly because the introduction of railways meant that the turnpikes had lost their monopoly on the movement of people and goods around the country.

If you want to read more on what it was like traveling around Wales by road in the 18th century, I dedicated quite a lot to the subject in my book Historic Pubs of Wales (which is available from all good book shops in paperback and as a Kindle download)

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Owain Glyndwr and the siege of Coity Castle

It is May 1404. Pretty much the whole of Wales is now involved in the Owain Glyndwr revolt as he fights his war of independence. Cardiff is in flames, and just north of Bridgend in Glamorgan, Coity Castle, the home of Sir Lawrence Berkerolles is under siege. A siege which lasts for nearly 2 years – the longest of the entire conflict.

But what do we know of this battle? Why was Coity so important it warranted a two year siege? Who was fighting on behalf of the King of England at Coity and who was fighting for Glyndwr? What was the role of Ogmore Castle and Ewenny Priory and why were those places left in ruins? And the local families at the heart of the action; the Flemings, Berkerolles and Turbervilles, as well as Prince Hal (the future Henry V), Parliament and Owain Glyndwr himself.

In this video I discuss these events with Claire Miles (the history blogger – Hisdoryan). We talk about the origins and causes of Glyndwr’s revolt, his vision for Wales and England, the Triparteid Indenture with Mortimer and Percy, the role played by Henry IV and of course the sieges and battles of Glamorgan. We also look at the tell tale scars in the local landcsape and local buildings that show the evidence of the siege.

And we look at Glyndwr himself. Who he was, his modern legacy, how his revolt got off the ground, how it succeeded for so many years and then ultimately failed. And what was it about him that made him such a charismatic figure, a man William Shakespear described as extraordinary. In his play Henry IV (Part one) Shakespear’s characterisation of Glyndwr says this about himself:

“At my birth the front of heaven was full of fiery shapes…

These signs have marked me extraordinary.

And all the courses of my life do show

I am not in the role of common men”

For further reading, there is a chapter on the Battle of Stalling down in my book; Legends and folklore of Bridgend and the Vale

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The legend of the white lady of West Orchard

This is a really tragic, old legend from St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan. The back story of an oft reported aparation of a white lady ghost in a field near West Orchard Castle. With a lot of historical context.

We hear about the second crusades, the De Clare family, the Berkerolles family, the Umphraville family, and of course the local castles at the heart of the drama.

The general gist of the story is Jasper Berkerolles of West Orchard Castle marries very well, but always harbours doubts that he is punching above his weight. And when he has to go to war he becomes consumed with jealously that she is having infidelities with his neighbour. When he returns home he is so tormented he condemns her to a gruesome death.

I wrote about this story in my second book on local legends: More legends and folklore from Barry, Bridgend and the Vale.

Telling the story at the place where it is set adds quite an element of drama. Enjoy. And please subscribe to my channel to enjoy more in the future.

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Talks on Glamorgan history and folklore

If you, like me, love a bit of Glamorgan history, folklore and legend, you may be interested in joining me at any number of talks I am giving in the coming months. As I am a guest speaker at most of these I have given details of the organisers so where tickets are required you know how to get them. Hopefully something for everyone here.

May Walks In The Vale Of Glamorgan 2023

with Chris Jones & Guests

7th , 13th, 20th and 27th May

After the incredible success of the 10 Days in May walking festival in 2022, Chris Jones is back with another walking festival through some of the Vale of Glamorgan’s most beautiful and historic locations. The theme is very much the same as last year with guided walks, talks about points of historical interest along the way (provided by yours truly) and some surprise appearances as character actors bring to life the stories associated with the area. It is tremendous fun.

These are the walks in this years event.

Sunday 7th May – The Iolo Morganwg Heritage Walk – Starting and finishing in Cowbridge. Meet for breakfast at The Maple and Bean (opposite Waitrose) at 10am.

Saturday 13th May – Llantwit Major and the Heritage Coast – Starting and finishing in Llantwit Major – Meet for breakfast 9.30am at the Piccolo Blu Cafe.

Saturday 20th May – St Athan and Gileston Walk – Start and finish at Gileston Manor where we will meet for breakfast at 9.30am.

Saturday 27th May – Dunraven Coastal Path Walk – Meet for breakfast at 9.30am at The Three Golden Cups in Southerndown.

If you would like to register for any of these walks then please click on the link go to the Visit The Vale website for information.

If that all looks a bit too energetic, then here are some other talks you might be interested in where the audience is altogether more static:

17th May – Social Sisters Barry (The Lounge, Tadcross) 8pm

10th June (2.00pm) – “The Cult, the Captain and the Baron” – the fascinating history of St Curig’s Church, Porthkerry

📍St Curigs Church, Porthkerry CF62 3BZ

🕰 2pm Saturday 10th June

💰 Free

13th June – WI Penarth

15th June – Cowbridge U3A

1st July – Ogmore Walk and Talk

I will provide information closer to the time for The Ogmore Walk and Talk and the St Curigs Porthkerry talks.

For the other talks above I am a guest of an organisation so you will need to contact them direct for more information. Contact details are available for all on Google.

If are interested in having me come along to one of your events to speak on any of my specialist areas, please click here for more information on what I can offer.

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War diary of a Glamorgan farmer (WW1)

Edgar Walter Savours was born in 1897 and was brought up on Fontygary Farm which today is the Fontygary Inn on the western edge of the village of Rhoose. Throughout his life he kept diaries and journals and he published them in his memoirs. His gift for writing takes you right to the heart of the action and spares no detail.

What follows is an extract from his memoirs, recalling his memories of active service during the First World War when he arrived in Flanders in 1918. This is the first of two such extracts which I shall be blogging over coming weeks.

I shall never forget my first experience of enemy shell fire. I was a 2nd Lieutenant in command of an infantry platoon of 20 NCOs and men. With my battalion the 24th Denbigh Yeomanry Royal Fusiliers I had come from Egypt in May 1918.

We joined the 31st Division on the front, east of Harzbruck in Flanders. We were in reserve trenches. Each evening at dusk we marched up the forest sides or tracks, platoon by platoon, to the front line trenches then situated immediately in front of Nieppe Forest.

For two nights we worked almost undisturbed erecting barb wire defences, repairing trenches and placing war stores in position. The German Verey lights lit up the sky but did not alarm us. There was occasional machine gun and rifle fire, showing that the sentries on both sides were alert.

We worked quietly and returned to our reserve positions, when our task was done, for breakfast and sleep.

On the third evening we had almost reached the front line when all hell was let loose. The enemy guns opened up a terrific bombardment on our positions. Shells exploded around like thunder claps, trees fell with crackling thuds, dirt and soil whizzed about us. The smell of explosive material reached our nostrills. The din was unbearable and seemed to go on and on for ages. I thought none of us would escape alive. However, when at last the barrage did end, to my surprise we all stood up shaken and terrified, but uninjured. The men had needed no orders to fall flat on their faces on the ground when the bombardment commenced. A few casualties were reported in adjoining platoons.

After a rest and after making a count of heads I ordered the men to proceed to their working stations but we did not easily forget the experience – perhaps because it was our first under shell fire. We were to have more.

Some days later I was ordered to attend a conference of officers who were to take part in an attack at dawn. We were told that our division was to attack the enemies’ position in front of Nieppe Forest and capture the devastated village of Vieux Berquin across the valley. The divisions on our flanks were to support.

The raw Yeomanry brigade officers were impressed by the calm and matter of fact way the other seasoned officers discussed the proposals. They had taken part in Many battles before, some wore several wound stripes

Cyril Falls in his edition of Military Operations in France and Belgium states that by 1918 the British Army had become a magnificent fighting machine unequalled in war before.

Our battalion was given the task of acting as carrying party and of mopping up behind the second wave of attack, done by the East Yorkshire Regiment. I later handled written orders detailing objective lists of stores to be carried e.g. machine gun parts, ammunition, picks and shovels. We were to make two trips across “no mans land” with material. I was allocate two platoons on the day the barrage from our guns opened up. Zero hour arrived. Cautiously we advanced walking, wounded men met us returning – one shot through the mouth, others bleeding. mAchine guns rattled, one smelt cordite. We encountered the enemy hiding in slits in the ground under corrugated iron shelters. They were Saxons. How near they were to our lines: presumably listening posts.

The East Yorkshires were well ahead by now and these enemy troops were glad to surrender coming out of their holes like rabbits. Forward we went, eastwards with our loads. Things were getting a bit confused. There was a Prussian sprawled dead across his machine gun. He had caused some damage but theSaxons were more willing to put up their hands and walk west out of battle.

Had we gone too far forward? In a dip of ground with about ten men of our party I spotted an enemy occupied trench, I took a few pot shots with my revolver. Some of the men fired their rifles. the enemy heads disappeared, as if ready to surrender. Our job was carrying and we moved right to some Yorkshire lads who soon had the enemy group in the bag.

The firing seemed to have quietened down. We returned to collect and deliver more stores.

Later I was standing at the edge of the forest before returning to reserve when a wounded German on a stretcher carried by an enemy party passed down the forest side followed by Captain Thomas, my company CO, who incidentally was my cousin from Cardiff. We chatted and a few seconds later followed down the side some 50 yards behind the stretcher party. Suddenly we saw a german shell hit the Germans. All were killed. I turned to Captain Thomas and remarked “I think I have saved your life sir, by delaying you.” He gratefully agreed.

Part two of these extracts from his memoirs will follow soon.

This exert is taken from the book “Fontygary, Rhoose and other family farms” by Edgar Savours – Edited and re-published by Elaine Savours (April 2011). If you would like to know more about the contribution made by other local men to the two World Wars, they are discussed in this video about the lost regiments of the county And of course Glamorgan’s most famous day of the Second World War; the great escape for Island Farm is discussed in this video.

Herbert J Savours (right) with his father David Walter Savours (left) and his sister Margret Sarah Savours (centre) outside Buckingham Palace after receiving the Military Cross.
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Who was Iolo Morganwg really?

Iolo Morganwg

We know his real name was Edward Williams and that he was undoubtedly one of the most charismatic, influential, and controversial sons of Glamorgan. But what about beyond that?

In this video, author and broadcaster Graham Loveluck-Edwards interviews Gareth Thomas, author of Iolo Morganwg’s biography entitled: “I Iolo”. We talk about the man, the controversy, and his extraordinary legacy.

We look at his early life in a small cottage near Llancarfan and his family background. How his father was a skilled stonemason – a trade he handed onto him. And how his mother was of noble birth but through circumstances she could not control, was forced to marry below her expected social standing and how that family cocktail of social influences played a part in Iolo’s world view.

His most famous legacy is the Gorsedd of the Bards and the modern Eisteddfod, but what is that all about? How did it come about? And how true is it that this is some ancient ceremony?

To some people he is regarded a fraudster and forger. To other’s he is the father of Welsh national identity and a cultural trail blazer.

But who was the real Iolo Morganwg? What were his influences? What was his output? What was it that means we are still debating who and what he was nearly 200 years after his death?

In this video we answer these and many other questions about one of Glamorgan’s most famous sons. This programme is part of the ‘History on your doorstep’ series which is all about the history of Glamorgan. Made and broadcast by Bro Radio FM in April 2023. Written and presented by Graham Loveluck-Edwards.

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The Wreckers of Dunraven

One of my all time favourite Welsh legends this.

Dunraven Castle used to stand on the Glamorgan coast of the Bristol Channel. Not far from Bridgend on the Heritage Coast by Southerndown beach. It has a fascinating history dating back to the Iron Age but nothing is more spectacular about this place than this legend. It is the story of the wreckers of Dunraven. The Lord of the Manor; Walter Vaughan saw his life fall apart when two of his children and his wife died prematurely. He turned to drink and gambling and squandered his fortune away. Then, when at his lowest ebb he turned for help to a henchman, a local pirate, smuggler and wrecker called Matt of the Iron-Hand who had a score to settle with his new partner in crime.

Together, they terrorised sea farers in the Bristol Channel in the sixteenth century.

They would tie lanterns to the sheep grazing on the cliff tops to mimic the lights of Newton, to lure ships onto the jagged teeth of Tuskar Rock. It kept the scavenging, coastal-living folk of the Vale of Glamorgan in a plentiful supply of plunder, washed up on their beaches from the wreckage of numerous merchant ships.

In this video I tell the best-known version of the legend. It deals with grief, greed, avarice and the final tragic outcome when all these things are allowed to come together.

I also answer the obvious question; is this a true story? What sources do we have for it? And where does Iolo Morgannwg fit into all this?

This was all filmed on location at Dunraven Castle on a cold but clear day.

If you want to read more about this story, I wrote about it in my book ‘Legends and Folklore of Bridgend and the Vale’. Also now available for Kindle Download.

In this video I tell the story of Walter Vaughan, the Wrecker of Dunraven and examine the likely truth of this story.