A History of Nolton.

The first reference to the hamlet of Nolton can be found in 1199. From this original hamlet a track led to the ford below the small village of Newcastle. The old stone bridge was erected around the date of 1425. There is no known recorded of the bridge being built or who made the decision for it to be built. In 1444 we see the first reference to the town we now know as Bridgend. At that time, the reference refers to a settlement o the eastern side of the river.

The next known reference to Nolton is found in a grant by Alice Matthews to Christopher Turbylle (which is an early version of 'Turbeville'.)  "a messuage of and seven acres of lands in the Vill of Nolton." The boundary that is described in the grant is to the west: "the high way in which leads from Ewenny to Bruge-End."

Nolton Church before the spire was added.

St. Mary's Church, Nolton

The earliest documentary reference of  'Nolton Chapel' is found in an entry in the Coity Anglia Survey of 1631. The Court of Survey of Coity Anglia was held in Bridgend during March of 1631 - three surveyors were appointed by the Lord of the Manor who was Robert Sidney.

Nolton Chapel is described as an old chapel which is annexed to the church of Coity.
A Thomas John Dio was held to the use of the chapel of Nolton one messuage with the appurtenances for which he paid a yearly rent of fourpence on Michaelmas and a relief/heriot at death.
The same trustee held another house for the Almshouse in Nolton at a rent of 8d.

Looking at the Dunraven Estate Map that was drawn in 1778, we can see that the Chapel of Nolton had a spired tower, a nave and a chancel. From this illustration we can see that is of medieval design but we cannot specifically say when it was erected. The font, with a new base is still use in the present building. Although it bears the date of 1632, we know that the Chapel of Ease was erected sometime before as it is described as 'old' in 1631.

John Wesley preached at Nolton Chapel of Ease on his second visit to Bridgend in 1769. He later returned in 1772, 1777, 1779 and 1781.

By the 1830's the congregation became too big for the building and the building had possibly fallen into disrepair. There is no record of the demolition of the Chapel of Nolton. In August of 1834, the foundation stone of the new chapel was laid by John Harding who was the rector of Coity. The building was to contain 300 seats, with 160 being free and a gallery for the National Schoolchildren. The building was erected by voluntary subscription and was consecrated in July of 1835.

The seconded chapel had a short life, only surviving 50 years. This was again due to the growth of the towns congregation. The new church was built on a site adjoining the old grave yard. The foundation stone was laid by the Countess of Dunraven on the 9th of September of 1885.

A great storm in December of  1886 demolished the western window and damaged every part of the new building. After this set back the church was consecrated on 23rd of November, 1887. It was consecrated by Richard Lewis, the Bishop of Llandaff.

Nolton Church received may a gift over the years including:

  • The Eastwindow was a gift from the rector and his wife, and after her death the west window was erected as a memorial to Mrs. Edmondes. 
  • Many other windows were given in memory of parishioners. 
  • For ten years the tower was without a spire but in 1898 the current spire was donated by Henry John Randall, in memory of his mother.
  • The altar was a gift from the family of William Hopkin of Island Farm.
  • The carillon was given to the church by Jacob Jenkins, in memory of his son Roy. Roy was killed in a flying accident on Salisbury Plain during the First World War - his grave can be found in the adjoining grave yard.
The description below is taken from a personal account of a woman who saw Mrs John Randall placing the foundation for the weather cock on the spire of Nolton Church: 

Alice then went on to the Board School in Brackla Street where her most vivid memory was of standing in the school yard to watch Mrs John Randall placing the foundation for the weather cock on the spire of Nolton Church.

"Apparently there was a lift or type of wooden cage attached to the scaffolding. Mrs Randall, her husband and the foreman landed on a platform, then climbed a ladder to the top of the spire, where Mrs Randall spread cement and set the top stone in place.The next week, after the cement was set ,the weather cock was fixed there, presumably by someone other than Mrs Randall."

A View of Nolton Grave Yard.

During 1799, a Calvinistic Methodist Chapel opened in an old ruinous cottage at upper Nolton Street (now Solid Rock Youth Centre.) The chapel and a garden belonged to Micheal Jones in the possession of William Powell. It is described as bounding the highway to Bridgend, which is lately known as Nolton Street.

This was the Chapel that preceded the later Hermon Chapel, which still stands along with the two school houses further down Nolton Street.

St. Gabriel’s School for Wayward Girls was situated at 71 Nolton Street. The school specialised in sewing and dressmaking. The girls were paid a 6d per week.
The School for Wayward Girls.

In 1893, there is a record of a private nursery class that was in the front room of the house at the bend of Cowbridge Road with Nolton Street. At that time Miss Francis ,who ran it with her sister, had been a pupil teacher at the Board School in Freeschool Court. 

The description below is taken from a personal account of a woman who attended the school: 

"The children sat on two rows, on wooden forms, with no back rest ass they were always supposed to sit up straight to develop good posture. When the children came to school they had to curtsy and say "Good Morning Miss Francis". They would then stand around the harmonium and sing a hymn followed by a prayer. Next they would be given a slate and chalk and learn how to form letters with neat pot hooks, and write "up slanty and thin and down straight and thick".

Once a week as treat, they were taught to knit using whale bone needles and string."

(Sources: Dr. Henry Randall - Caroline Williams)

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