Newcastle Hill: Brief Historical Notes


Newcastle Hill is situated in the parish of Newcastle Lower and until 1851 was not part of the parish of Coity. The village of Newcastle (including the hill) is thought to be one of the oldest parts of Bridgend, with the castle dating back to the 12th century (1106) - at that time the hill would have been the old route out of the town until the old stone bridge was built during 1425.

During the 19th century the road in Bridgend were not in very good condition, as a result of this tollhouses/gates were set up to cover the cost of road maintenance. One of these tollhouses was situated at the bottom of Newcastle Hill (bottom right hand side).

The living conditions at the Newcastle Hill and the Village were "stagnant and dirty". The local authority that "The condition of the Unitarian Burial Ground is much complained about by the neighbours." - The Public Health Report of 1849 talks about how the inhabitants of Newcastle Hill relayed on water from the River Ogmore and some even paid local women to fetch it - 1/2d a six gallon pail. With no underground drains most street drains were left open.

Travellers

As the road was the main route for travellers for many hundreds of years, many of the travellers would need a place to rest and freshen up. A few of these places were situated on the hill.

St. John's House (or Hospice as it's more commonly known) is a medieval building that is situated half way up the hill. Said to be in existence from the year 1425, the house has also been known as Church House. It is thought that during the 15th century the house was used as a stopping/resting place for travellers during their journeys.

In more modern times travellers would have used public houses including: The Lamb and Flag which earliest record of trade is 1790 - along with The Horse and Groom, and The Talbot also trading at that time. The earliest recorded record  of trade of The Angel Inn is 1790, it was said to have stables and an on site groom.

Places of Worship

The Unitarian Chapel situated at the bottom of Newcastle Hill was founded in 1702 by Rice Price of Tynton (father of Dr. Richard Price) - the land and adjoining cottages were donated by Michael Williams, who was the Sheriff of Glamorgan 1719. The Chapel as it stand now was rebuilt in 1795. Other people that are/have been associated with the building include he Coffin and Morgan families - all relations to the Price family of Tynton. (read more)

The first Ruhamah Baptist Chapel was situated on the corner of West Road, it was built in 1808. It became too small for the congregation and a new chapel was built in 1890. All that remains of the first chapel is the grave yard.

St Illtyd's Church is a  Grade II listed church situated on top of Newcastle Hill. The church overlooks the town of Bridgend and is dramatically lit up during evenings. It is a Victorian decorated, Gothic rebuilding of an early 14th century church. The churchyard is entered through a lychgate donated in 1910 by Samuel Llewellyn of Coed Parc. Steeped in history, the building is well maintained and the surrounding graveyard is a well-kept chapter of history. (read more)

People of the Area

Captain Charles Napier was the first Chief Constable of the Glamorgan Constabulary - he lived at the Vicarage for sometime and is buried in St. Illtyd's Church Grave Yard.

Mr. William Riley was a local antiquarian who died in 1914, he lived at Newcastle House. He was an archaeologist who during his time, found and excavated the Beaker burials at Merthyr Mawr. He was also know to have carried out a few excavations in Penyfai, 1898. - There he found a cross bearing a carving of St. Leonard, this is thought to have been taken from St. Illtyd's Church.

Caroline Williams, a suffragette before her time, was born on Newcastle Hill in 1823. Caroline spend her life working for the cause of women education, and funded many scholarships for women students of Cardiff University. She wrote a book about the history of her family, her relatives being: The Coffin Family, The Prices of Tynton and William Morgan, the man who first discovered the X-Ray.



(Sources: BLHS - Dr. Randall)



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