St Johns House: Full Research (Louvain Rees)


This article contains my full research of St. Johns House, Newcastle Hill, Bridgend. It has been compiled over the last nine months and I will add to it as I find out more about the history of the property and the people associated with it!






St Johns House or as its more commonly known “St Johns Hospice” is a mainly 15th century building situated on Newcastle Hill, Bridgend. St John’s is thought to be one of the oldest buildings in the area with its history spanning over 600 years. The earliest date known to be associated with the building is c.1425. 


St Johns House is a Grade II listed building - "A particularly important building of exceptional interest and of outstanding importance."*

It is said to have connections with the 'Knights Hospitallers' these were a group of men that were attached to a hospital in Jerusalem, founded by “Blessed Gerard” during the early part of the 11th century. The patron of these 'Knights Hospitallers' was St John of Jerusalem. (Above St Johns House then & now)


We know that the house previously had an extension. The 17th century extension was demolished during 1936. (Shown above)







Sometime ago St Johns was used as two houses. (20 & 22 Newcastle Hill). We know that the Lewis family resided at number 22 Newcastle Hill from 1861 until 1919 when Abraham Lewis eventually sold the property to the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem for the fee of £500.  (scroll to the bottom of the post to view full census records)






(?) Edward and his daughter Olive

"The Boots and Shoe"



We know that some times during the early 1900's part of St Johns House was used as a Boot and Shoe.

The man pictured in the doorway holding a young girl is Edward Morgan (?) Barrington known as ‘Ted’. He was born in 1877 at Aberkenfig.

The 1911 census tells us that he was living at 36 Newcastle Hill, Bridgend with his wife Margaret, two daughters: Margaret known as ‘Olive’, Violet, and his son Reginald. They both went on to have another three daughters: Kathleen, Mary, Gladys and a son Stanely. It also shows that his occupation was listed as a ‘Shoemaker’.


The 1891 census tells us that Edward was living with his parents at  Ty y Garn, Bridgend. It also tells us that his father Charles Barrington (b.1852) was also a ‘Shoemaker’ and that Edward, at the age of 13 was also listed as a ‘Shoemaker‘.Edward later died in 1948 aged 68 yrs.
"An old brass bell of unusual design which, according to the National Museum of Wales authorities, is of late Celtic technique, has been discovered during excavations carried out by voluntary workers at the medieval building standing on Newcastle Hill Bridgend, known as the hospice of the Knights of Hospitallers of St. John" 

An extract taken from an article with photographs from the Western Mail March 13th 1936










The Bell

During 1936 an old bell was found at the house by St John’s Ambulance workers. The bell was found laying in an old pipe which is thought to have led to an old well nearby.

First thought to be a cow bell, the bell was examined by officers from the National Museum of Wales, they concluded that it was in fact a bell of Celtic origin.

The bell is created from one piece of metal - brass. Includes brass rivets and a tongue made of Iron.



Measurements 

Bell:
6 and ¼ inches in height
4 inches across the base/ narrowing to 3 inches near the handle.



Handle:
2 inches in length½ an inch in width¼ of an inch in  height



The Bell at St. Johns House, 2012!







The photograph above shows two of tablets that were originally on the outside of the building but were brought in so that they could be safe.




The tablet in 1895!
The first tablet shows the symbol for the Latin “Iesus Hominum Salvator” meaning “Jesus Saviour of Man”. This symbol can also be found on some of the graves at St Illtyd's Church (shown below) just a few minutes from the house.The tablet also shows a crouching lion and a series of fish. The crouching lion is significant as it show that it is worshiping Jesus. The fish is thought to be the symbol of Bridgend or has the meaning that food is available at the house.

















The second tablet shows the iconic symbols including the Maltese Cross of the Order of St John which could link the 'Knights Hospitallers' to the building.*
The tablet in 1895!



M.J Randall suggests in his book 'Bridgend: The Story of a Market Town' (page 23) that St Johns doesn't actually have any connection with the 'Knights Hospitallers'. 









Although the building is mainly 15th century the building has
altered many times throughout the centuries for example:



You can see on the outside of the building that the porch area has been extended. (shown in the photograph to the right)

















You can see by the slant in the roof pictured that there once was another room attached the building. Also by looking at this picture you can see that the slates on the roof have been replaced with thick stone tiles, they may look very old but in fact they were put up during the 1980’s. (Shown in the photograph to the left)

















The house embodies three stones staircases which are lit by many tiny windows that have each been carved from one solid stone. (Shown above)



One of the archways opening on to an upstairs room has been replaced but by some it has been deemed “wrong” as it doesn't mirror the other doorways in the house. The original doorways are small and narrow yet the replaced archway is allot wider.


St John’s is home to a selection of fireplaces both big and small. (Shown above)

One of the larger fire places has burn marks upon it. It is thought to have come from the days when the houses occupants used ‘Tallows’ to light their rooms.  

‘Tallows’ were an early form of candle and were used before more convenient wax was 
available. The ones used at St John’s may have been made by collecting reeds whilst fetching water, then filling them with or dipping them in animal fat. They would then be hung up over the fireplace or mantel piece, and then would have been lit.  (Shown in the photographs above and below)


Upstairs Room

Upstairs Room

The 'Kitchen' Area















Definition Found Here


(additional information regarding the house)








Notes taken from a description of St. Johns House (rcahmw)

The Medieval House, Newcastle Hill, Bridgend

·         Built around 1550
·         Thought to have given food/shelter to travelers during the Middle Ages.
·         Known as: St. Johns Hospice/The Church/The College
·         Restoration to take place during the Summer of 1990
·         Hearth Passage House
·         Most original features in tact
·         Mid-Sixteenth century
·         Two and a half storeys
·         A Town House of unusual quality
·         Two unit
·         Chimney-backing-on-the-entry- plan
·         Passage separating the hall from twin service rooms
·         Passage entered from a storeyed porch (later enlarged)
·         Single room above hall (half open to the roof)
·         Great Chamber (service end) – has a loft above




Glamorgan Gazette: June 1938
Titled: Bridgend’s Oldest Building

(notes by Louvain Rees)

·         “a stone of great historical and archaeological interest had been removed from the hospice on Newcastle Hill”.
·         The building “ceased” to be of public interest.
·         Should be a “relic for the town”
·         “He would like to see it preserved for the town and a museum set up there” .
·         Known as Monkley House.
·         “Excellent museum for Bridgend”.
·         Key Names: H.P Williams/Mr. Summers.



Notes taken from the Loveluck Papers: Papers copyright of  Glamorgan Archives
Following notes copyright of   Louvain Rees 

6th March 1930

To: H.J Randall Esq
From: Sir Herbert Lewis
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Talks of addressing the committee.
·         Mentions the Priory for Wales.
·         “cannot be allowed to remain vacant any longer”.

12th March 1930

To: H.J Randall
Header: The Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, Priory for Wales
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Describes that Randall has requested information about the “Hospice”.
·         Refers to the “Annuals of South Glamorgan” and “Cardiff Naturalists Society”.
·         Refers to a book written by Mr. J.Roger Rees “who was a great authority on the property of the Order in Wales”.

13th March 1930

To: Edward Loveluck
From: H.J Randall
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Mentions Sir Herbert Lewis.
·         Mentions repetitions of tradition – describes arches as early English.

7th June 1934

To: H.J Randall Esq
From: Sgd. A.R.Powys (secretary)
Header: The Society For The Protection of Ancient Buildings
Titled: Hospice of St. John Bridgend

·         “It is indeed sad that the house should be in such a neglected state”.
·         The “proper thing to do” is to carry put works on the houses.
·         Mentions Priory For Wales.

9th August 1935

To: Edward Loveluck
From: Leonard?
Header: Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire

·         Describes wooden beams/ceilings/fireplaces.
·         “disrepair”.

7th March 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: Leonard?
Header: Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire

·         Asking for more details on the “Old House at Newcastle”.
·         “dwelling house”.
·         Talks of ecclesiastical connections?.
·         Describes a cellar.
·         Elevated moulded beam.

March 9th 1936

To: Mr Munro
Titled: Newcastle Hill, Bridgend

·         Talks about the clearing up of the house.
·         Describes that the Georgian shop front and room behind it have been taking down.
·         An old brass bell was discovered near the circular foundation of apsidal appearance on the eastside of the South room.
·         The bell is described as 5 ½ inches high and was submitted to the National Museum first by drawing and then the bell itself was submitted.
·         The museum authorities were satisfied that the bell shows technique similar to a large Celtic Bell from Breconshire or Pre-Norman date.
·         The find is described as “disturbing”.


13th July 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: W.Grimes
Header: AMGUEDDFA GENEDLAETHOL CYMRU

·         “most ____ specimen”
·         The letter states that the museum would like to have the bell on loan while the “Hospice” is being restored.
·         Grimes asks who it is best to consult with about the matter.



16th March 1936

To: Miss Head

·         Bridgend Division of St. Johns Ambulance asking for the use of the grounds and pool of St. Donats during the summer.

·         Talks about St. Johns Ambulance assistance in the public.
·         “a call for public resources”.
·         “In this town, on Newcastle Hill, is an old 15th century building known as the Hospice of St. John, on the exterior walls of which are the emblems of the Order in carved stone panels of contemporary design ”.
·         The property is now in the possession of the Order and Division of Bridgend.
·         The restoration labour will be voluntary.
·         The cost is a “heavy strain”.
·         Asks Miss Head for sympathy and encouragement on the restoration of the property.
·         “Preserving a building of unique local and historical interest”.
·          

Bridgend Hospice Committee

·         Meeting to take place at Cae Court (residence of Dr. Baird Milne) at 3 o’clock on Monday.
Agenda
·         To consider the question of the site for the proposed Ambulance Hall and any matters arising.




30th October 1936
(Friday)

Wyndham Hotel, Bridgend, GLAM

The Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem
Priory For Wales

Bridgend Hospice Committee

Agenda

·         To Appoint local Secretary.
·         To receive report from The Hon. John H. Bruce (Commissioner for Wales) on the financial position of the Hospice.
·         To receive a report from Mr. T. Edgar Smith (Honorary Architect for the Priory) on the work already done and the work suggested to be carried out on the Hospice.
·         To discuss ways and means of carrying on the work at the Hospice.


13th November 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: T. Edgar Smith
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Discusses restoration costs.
·         Funds (lack of).
·         Talks about ripping out the modern windows/ other joinery.
·         Stripping of the roof.
·         Restoration of the exterior.

9th December 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: T. Edgar Smith
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Restoration costs.
·         Appealing for funds.
·         Restoration - varying from £300 - £500 - £1000.
·         “it is very easy to spend a thousand pounds of this property”.
·         Looking for funding to re-roof the building.


9th December 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: T. Edgar Smith
Titled: Bridgend Ambulance Hall

·         Enclosed are sketches of various Ambulance Halls.
·         Talks about letting the Hall for functions.
·         Committee Room/Wash Up Room/Emergency Exit .
·         Asking for other requirements.

12th December 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
Header: The Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem
Priory For Wales

·         Talks about the flaws of the Ambulance Hall plans.
·         Asking for a grant to go towards the Ambulance Hall (Bridgend Division would have already had one but asking Loveluck to apply for one?).
·         Mentions the re-roofing of the “Hospice”.

18th December 1936

To: Mr Ingram
Titled: Proposed Ambulance Hall

·         Enclosed are alternative plans for the Ambulance Hall drawn up by  T. Edgar Smith.
·         Costs:  A: £460-0-0 or B: £525-0-0
·         Circular letter (dated 5/12/36) shows a grant of 50% available
·         Limited £450.
·         It is to be built on a site with a minimum lease of 50 years.
·         The plans are to be sent to Dr. Anderson (?)

21st December 1936

To: Edward Loveluck
From: H. J Randall
Titled: Bridgend Hospice

·         Re-roofing confusion (Hall or Hospice).
·         Suggests letting the “Hospice” slide for the time being.
·         Roderick Williams – Rotary Club.


11th March 1939

To: Mr Smith
Titled: Hospice, Bridgend

·         Nothing is being done to the “Old building”.
·         The main concern at the moment is pushing ahead the Ambulance Hall.
·         Agrees with the suggestion of getting in touch with Mr. Robert Hitchell.

12th October 1939

To: Mr Smith
Titled: Hospice

·         The position of affairs is not known at the moment.
·         Mr. Robert Nicholl has asked for the whole premises to be boarded up.
·         The plan is “to do what is necessary to prevent people entering the building through the windows”.
·         The work of the house has been abandoned.

Addresses of Correspondence (1930’s)

H.J Randall Esq
Messers Randall and Co
Bridgend
Glam
__

Randall & Co Solicitors
H.J Randall LLB
Also at Aberkenfig and Pontycymmer
__

H.J Randall Esq
Erw Graig
Bridgend
__

Edward Loveluck
Architect
Bridgend
__

Edward Loveluck Esq
12 Dunraven Place
Bridgend, GLAM
__

Priory House
4 Cathedral Road
Cardiff
__

Royal Commission on Ancient Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire
Sanctuary Buildings
20, Great Smith Street
Westmisnster, SW1
Telephone: Victoria 8740
__

Department of Archaeology
National Museum of Wales
Cardiff
Telephone: 5873
__

T.Edgar Smith L.R.I.B.A
Fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators
Architect and Surveyor
4, Park Place
Cardiff
Telephone: 4087 House: 7526
__

The Society For the Protection of Ancient Buildings
20, Buckingham Street
Adelphi
London
Temple Bar: 2727




Who lived at St. Johns House?




During the Victorian times St. Johns House was used at two houses: 20 & 22 Newcastle Hill
(below are census extracts and indenture papers collect by Louvain Rees and Linda Edwards)


1911 Census: No 20

Mary Bryant
Head
F, 63yrs
Widow

Henry Bryant
Son
M, 23yrs
Bill Poster

Lily Bryant
F, 10yrs

Alice Gould
Daughter
F, 29yrs

Percy Gould
Son In Law
M, 29yrs

Amy Gould
Granddaughter
F, 3yrs

1911 Census: No 22

Abraham Lewis
Head
M, 64yrs
Iron Mongers Warehouseman

Margaret Lewis
Sister
F, 63yrs


1901 Census: No 20

Thomas Bryant
M, 54

Mary Bryant
F, 53

Alice (?)
F, 19

Henry Bryant
M, 13yrs
Painter

Lily
Grandchild
F, 2months
John Cox
Lodger
M, 29yrs
Miller

William Schofield
M, 22
Bill Poster


1901 Census: No 22

Abraham Lewis
M, 53
Iron Monger Porter

Margaret Lewis
Sister
F, 63


1891 Census: No 20

Evan Bevan
Head
Married
M, 36yrs
Moulder
b.1855

Catherine Bevan
Wife
Married
F, 33yrs
b.1858

Moses W Bevan
Son
Single
M, 15yrs
Telegraph Messenger
b.1876

Edward D Bevan
Son
Single
M, 13yrs
b.1878

Morgan Q Bevan
Son
Single
M, 11yrs
b.1880

Evan John Bevan
Son
Single
M, 10yrs
b.1881

Samuel Thos Bevan
Son
Single
M, 8rs
b.1883

Ellen Victoria Bevan
Daughter
Single
F, 0yrs
b.1891

1891 Census: No 22

Abraham Lewis
Head
Single
M, 44yrs
Tin Plate Worker
b.1847

Margaret Lewis
Sister
Single
F, 33yrs
b.1858

George Palmer
Head
Married
M, 44yrs
Fish Monger
b.1847

Catherine Palmer
Wife
Married
F, 43yrs
b.1848

Jemima Palmer
Daughter
Single
F, 19yrs
Waitress
b.1872

Emma Lane Palmer
Daughter
Single
F, 14yrs
b.1877

Nelly Palmer
Daughter
Single
F, 10yrs
b.1888

George Palmer
Son
Single
M, 14yrs
Fish Monger
b.1877

William T Palmer
Son
Single
M, 12yrs
b.1879

Arthur Picton Palmer
Son
Single
M, 7yrs
b.1884




1881 Census: No 20

Catherine Pike
Head
F, 70yrs

Thomas Pike
Grandson
M, 16

Elizabeth Hussey
Lodger
F, 86yrs
Widow

1881 Census: No 22

Mary Lewis
F, 74

Abraham Lewis
Son
M, 34yrs
Tin Plate Worker





1871 Census: No 20

Catherine Pike
Head
F, 60yrs
Grocer

William Pike
Son
M
Collier

Robert Pike
Son
M
Collier

Francis Tennett
Lodger
M, 42yrs old
Tailor

1871 Census: No 22

David Lewis
Head
M
Tin Plate Worker

Mary Lewis
Wife
F, 64yrs old

Abraham Lewis
Son
M, 23yrs old
Tin Plate Worker

Michael Spencer
Lodger
M
Labourer

1861 Census : No.20

Catherine Pike
Head
Widow
F, 43yrs old
b.1818

William Pike
Son
Unmarried
M, 25yrs old
Block Layer
b.1836

Robert Pike
Son
Unmarried
M, 22yrs old
Block Layer
b. 1839

Elizabeth Phillips
Visitor
Unmarried
F, 35yrs
House Servant
b.1826

1861 Census: No 22
David Lewis
Head
Married
M, 56yrs
Tine Plate Worker
b.1805

Mary Lewis
Wife
Married
F, 54 years
b.1807

Elizabeth Lewis
Daughter
Unmarried
F, 27yrs
School Mistress
b.1834

David Lewis
Son
Unmarried
M, 21yrs
Tin Plate Worker
b.1840

Abraham Lewis
Son
Unmarried
M, 14yrs
Tin Plate Worker
b.1847

Eleanor Lewis
Daughter
Unmarried
F, 11
Scholar
b.1850


1851: Census shows that the house was unoccupied


1841: Census shows that the house was unoccupied


1828
Lease and release of these dates respectively the release made between the said Charles Lewellyn of the one part and the Reverend Thomas Hancome and William Lewis of the other part.


1827
Lease and release of these dates respectively the release made between the said Charles Llewellyn of the one part and Robert Loughor of the other part.




1826
Indenture of mortgage of this date made between the said Charles Llewellyn of the one part and Evan Reece of the other part.


1717-18
GGAT
The Lordship of Coity is divided into the lesser Lordships of Coity Anglia and Coity Wallia. Coity Anglia forms part of Bridgend. It seems that in 1717-1718 the castles of Coity, Newcastle and Nolton and the Manors of Coity Anglia and Coity Wallia were conveyed by the Earl of Leicester to Samuel Edwin of Llanvihangel, the son of Sir Humphrey of Dunraven. Thus they passed into the Dunraven estate.


1791
Lease and Release of these dates respectively the Release made between **Walter Coffin** and Thomas Williams of the first part.  Rees Roberts of the second part and Charles Llewellyn of the third part.

1631
GGAT
'Survey of the several manors of Coity Anglia, Coity Wallia, Newcastle, Court Coleman, Kevan Cribbwr, Lanharry and Newland' 1631.  At the time of the survey in 1631 the Lord of these Manors was the Right Hon. Robert Earl of Leicester.


*(There is no substantial evidence linking the house to the 'Knights Hospitallers')

**Walter Coffin possibly the 2nd.
Founded a large Tannery at Sunnyside, c.1760.
His mother Mary was the half sister of Dr Richard Price, thus making him a relation of Ann Maddocks (Nee Thomas)

(additional information about the area of Newcastle during the Victorian era)


Population Statistics for Newcastle

Area, Houses and Population

Census YearArea in Statute AcresHousesPopulation
InhabitedUninhabitedBuildingPersonsMaleFemale
1841-2522151239633606
185128703271141536760776
18612870428510224411941050
18712870585167345018261624
18813039723572449623582138
18913039803388500126582343



Newcastle
"NEWCASTLE, in the Cwmwd of Tir yr Hwndrwd, Cantref of Cron Nedd (now called the Hundred of Newcastle), County of GLAMORGAN, South Wales: a discharged Vicarage, with the Curacies of Lalyston and Tythegston, valued in the King's Books at £7..7..3 1/2: Patron, The King: Church dedicated to St. Illtyd. The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, (consisting of the Higher and Lower Hamlets) was 611.The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was, £249..18..7 1/4. It is adjacent to Bridgend, on the West. This Parish contains about 900 acres of Land; of which, about 80 acres are uninclosed. It appears to derive its name, in opposition to Old Castle in the Lower Hamlet of the Parish of Coyty, and from which it is divided by the River Ogwr. "


From: A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, London, 1811.



NEWCASTLE is a parish forming a portion of the town of Bridgend, its post town, in the union and county court district of that place, and hundred of its own name. It is divided into Higher and Lower Newcastle, for parochial purposes. The parish church is at Bridgend. The church in Newcastle - named in honour of St. Illtyd - is a stone erection in the early decorated style, consisting of a chancel, nave, north aisle, and square tower with a peal of 4 bells. The are also places of worship for Methodists. Population in 1861, 2,244, and in 1871, 3,450

From: Slater’s Commercial Directory: 1880



Newcastle - Extract from "A Topographical Dictionary of Wales"

by Samuel Lewis 1833


"NEWCASTLE, a parish comprising the Higher and Lower hamlets, each of which separately maintains its own poor, in the hundred of NEWCASTLE, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, adjoining the market town cf Bridgend, and containing 890 inhabitants, of which number, 305 are in the Higher, and 585 in the Lower, hamlet. This parish, which is situated on the western bank of the river Ogmore, near its confluence with the river Ewenny, derives its name from a fortress of later date than that of Oldcastle, on the opposite bank of the Ogmore. By whom these castles were originally built has not been clearly ascertained ; but their origin has been attributed to some of the Norman invaders of this part of the principality, who probably erected them for the protection of the territories of which they had obtained possession. The Lower hamlet forms part of the market town of Bridgend : the lands in the Higher hamlet are, with the exception of only a small portion, enclosed and cultivated. The scenery is generally pleasing, and from the eminence on which the church is situated is a fine view, including the influx of the Ogmore into the Bristol channel, the castles of Coyty and Ogmore, and the mansion of Coytrehene, higher up the river Ogmore, with its luxuriant groves, forming an assemblage of picturesque objects. The living is a discharged vicarage, with Bettws, Laleston, and Tythegston annexed, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Llandaf, rated in the king's books at £ 7.7. 3 1/2., endowed with the rectorial tithes of the parish of Bettws, and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The church, dedicated to St. Illtyd, is an ancient structure with a tower, and is situated on the declivity of an eminence. The interest of £20, bequeathed by several individuals, and of which £ 10 is vested in trust with the overseers, is annually distributed among the poor of the parish. The only remains of the ancient castle are, a gateway remarkable for the elegance of its pointed arch, and the ruins of the wall which enclosed the site ; the area has been converted into a garden: they are the property of the Earl of Dunraven. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor of the whole parish amounts to £288. 4., of which sum, £55. 16. is raised on the Higher, and £232. 8. on the Lower, hamlet."









1 comments:

  1. Hey, Good work :) I have passed that building nearly every day of my 35 years, and it's origins are very interesting.

    ReplyDelete