Cowbridge Blue Plaque Trail

Cowbridge Blur Plaque Trail Jpeg

Come and Explore Cowbridge's Blue Plaque Trail

The Ancient Druid, 44 Eastgate

This is perhaps the oldest house still in occupation in Cowbridge. The 18C two storey house was built on a half burgage plot but it hides a much older earlier 14C house, built outside the walls, probably used as a hostel for pilgrims on their way to St David's. In the 19C it became a public house.   Note the plaques with griffins.

A private residence.

Pavilion Cinema, 60 Eastgate

The original building was developed on two burgage plots. It was divided in two in the 18C to include the town ball court (a Welsh version of fives) where the former cinema now stands and a public house to the west including the Wheelwrights' Arms once run by the eccentric Richard Aubrey who invented a flying bicycle. The 250 seat cinema was opened in 1925, Cowbridge's first and only.  Above was a maple floored ballroom also used for civic events including the conferment of the freedom of the borough on David Lloyd George in 1933, Britain's only Welsh Prime Minister. Largely destroyed by fire in 1942 it was after used as a depot by the council  who wanted to demolish it. Once restored in the Art Deco style it has been used as offices since 1996. 

Ty Mawr, 32-34 High Street

Now a chemist with apartments above, this splendid Grade II* listed building dates from the 16C. Originally it was owned by the Carne family of Nash Manor. In 1763 it was sold to Daniel Durel, headmaster of the Grammar School; it acted as a town house for entertaining during the season. There were orchards, gardens and a coach house to the rear. It was divided in two in the 1840s and by the 1870s the left half housed a small boarding school for girls.  At about the same date the other half became a chemists and the present frontage was added .In 1922 no.32 was leased to the Grammar School as a boarding house. The current chemists dates form 1946. 

Duke of Wellington 221 sq

 

Duke of Wellington, 48 High Street

This is a complex set of buildings late medieval in origin occupying a 3/4 burgage plot. The interior houses many medieval features and a barrel-roofed ballroom . It has been an inn since the 17C. Originally known as the Half Moon Inn it became the Black Horse from about the 1820s and the Coach and Horse from the 1840s. The present name dates from the 1860s following the death of the Duke in 1852; he often stayed here on his way to see General Picton in Ferryside.  It was acquired by the Cardiff brewery Brains in 1919. 

 

 

Caercady House, 58 High Street

This handsome three storey house with fine fenestration and a portico dates from the Georgian era.  It was the town house of the Thomas family of Caercady near Welsh St Donats.  In 1879 it was leased to Edward Ord a local solicitor but it was long associated with doctors including  a Dr Swann who was captured by Algerian pirates in the 1840s. Its most famous resident was Dr Charles Booth Mellor who moved here from Yorkshire. He was said to have the largest practice in rural Wales. He was noted for his treatment of all regardless of their social status.  He travelled by gig and stallion until he purchased a car in the 1920s.  After he died in 1936 his wife and daughter took over the practice. The house continues to remain in the Mellor family 100 years later. 

Old Hall 221 sq

Old Hall, High Street

Best known as the town house of the Edmondes family who developed this site in the 1740s on a series of seven burgage plots including one that belonged to a well known conninger- a rabbit breeder, a staple food of the period. In 1778 part was leased to William Brown, a judge from Massachusetts who, following the loss of the American colonies, later became Governor of Bermuda. By the 1840s the Edmondes had became a wealthy family owning land in Cowbridge, the Vale and coal bearing land in upland Wales. After the death of Rev. Thomas Edmondes in 1892 the two parts of the property were amalgamated and the present day Tudor style front was added. The rear of the house had attractive Venetian style windows overlooking a Victorian garden with large trees, a lawn tennis court and a kitchen garden. In 1932 the house was leased to the Grammar School and housed science labs, classrooms and a staff room. For want of finance the building deteriorated and was vacated in 1964. After 10 years of neglect the South Glamorgan Council tried to sell the hall and only local opposition prevented its demolition. Following partial restoration it now houses a community college and offices. The Cowbridge Charter Trust is renovating the gardens. 

The Mason's Arms (now The Market Place)

This is a rare example of a two unit hall town house built into the town walls in about 1400, next to the West Gate. The latter was demolished in1754 after which it became a public house. An upper storey was added in the 18C. In 1888 the town's cattle market was moved from its medieval location in the High Street to a site adjacent to the pub which no doubt benefited from farmers' thirst. Sold to the Ely Brewery Company in 1919 it was later bought by Hancocks. The Market Place restaurant opened in 2005. In its interior can be seen an exposed stretch of the town wall and other medieval features. 

Costa Coffee, 14 High Street

This plaque - erected long before the blue plaque scheme - commemorates Edward Williams (1747-1826), better known as 'Iolo Morganwg' who kept a shop here in the 1790s. The Welsh inscription refers to him as 'stonemason, bard of freedom, antiquarian and one of the greatest benefactors of the literature and history of Wales'. He was all of these things and something more: he was a forger of historical documents and ancient poetry and an inventor of traditions such as the Gorsedd of Bards which was a precursor to the National Eisteddfod. He was an 18C radical who refused to sell West Indian sugar in his shop because of its production by slavery. He is perhaps Cowbridge's only true internationally know figure. Long associated with the Bird family's agricultural farm machinery business it is now Costa Coffee.   

Christmas Cottages, 6-7 Church Street

Originally a single house, the cottages were probably built in the 15C as a residence for the chaplain who served in Holy Cross Church opposite. They may have got their present name from the Mari Lwyd, the beribboned horse's head that was carried about the town during Christmas festivities. Although much altered over the centuries the cottages retain high quality fixtures and fittings such a stone fireplaces and archways which date from the Middle Ages.

Private residences.

Cowbridge Grammar

The Old Grammar School, Church Street

The Grammar school was founded about 1608 by the Stradling family. It was owned by Jesus College ,Oxford from 1685 to 1919. The present building was built in 1849-52  in the Tudor Gothic style designed  by the architect John Prichard, who also restored  Llandaff Cathedral. It became part of the Cowbridge Comprehensive School in 1974 but ceased to be used in the early 1990s. Abandoned for some years, it has been carefully restored and converted to apartments. The Grammar School educated many distinguished men in its long history - the best known pupil in our day being the actor Sir Anthony Hopkins who was here in the 1950s. Note the plaque to Alun Lewis, the poet killed in the Second World War, a pupil 1926-32.

Private premises 

Town Wall Cowbridge 221 sq

The Town Walls

The Cowbridge town Walls were built in the 13C, probably soon after the first borough charter was granted in 1254 by Richard de Clare, Lord of Glamorgan. Much of the wall standing was rebuilt in 18C and 19Cs, but the South Gate - the only one surviving of the four original gates - and the south-west bastion remain from more than 700 years ago. Cowbridge, alone among the ancient boroughs of Glamorgan, retains a portion of its medieval fortifications. The length of wall on the south side of Old Hall gardens and the Physic Garden has been restored within the last 10 years. 

The Spread Eagle Inn and Spread Eagle Academy, I Westgate

This was a public house with its own brew house to the rear. It had a fine assembly room on the first floor which has been well restored and named the 'Minstrel Room' in respect of the balconies where musicians once played to assemblies of Cowbridge's elite. John Wesley preached here on several occasions. A private school known as the Eagle Academy took the building over in the 1790s and became the most reputable of many such schools in the town in the 19C. After 1880 and through most of the 20C it was a corn and agricultural supplies stores.

The building is a business premise.

Woodstock House, 83 High Street

The handsome facade is 18C but it probably fronts a much older building adjoining the West Gate of Cowbridge. John Wyndham of Dunraven was living here in 1640, paying tax on ten hearths, before he inherited his father's castle and estate. Its present-day name apparently commemorates the Stockwood family of lawyers who lived here in the latter part of the 19C. Woodstock House was government offices during and after the Second World War and is now divided into apartments.

Private residences.

Bear Hotel 221 sa

The Bear Hotel, 63 High Street

The Bear was Cowbridge's principal inn in the 18C, having an elegant assembly room for important meetings and entertainments. It was where the mail coaches to and from London stopped to change horses. Previously it had been a private house, of late medieval date, belonging to the squires of Llanmihangel Place. Medieval features are still visible (especially the stone-vaulted undercroft) but the present street frontage dates from the 18C.

Town Hall 221 sq

Town Hall

The Town Hall was adapted and enlarged in 1830 from the House of Correction or Bridewell built in 1806. The original town hall or guildhall stood in the roadway near the Duke of Wellington Inn and had been demolished to facilitate traffic along the main street. The Town Hall housed the chamber of the ancient town council until it was abolished in 1974 and replaced by the present council in 1974. For many years the building housed the police and fire stations. The rounded arcade along the sides of the building were once open and used as a produce market. The clock was presented to the town by the Bishop of Llandaff in 1836. The Cowbridge Museum makes use of the former cells.

Cowbridge History Society

We'd like to acknowledge Cowbridge History Society for providing all the information on the Cowbridge Blue Plaque Trail. Thank you very much. 

The Vale of Glamorgan is a fantastic place to go walking

Our series of ten Vale Trails  will help you discover the world of coastal and countryside walks on your doorstep. This includes the Iolo Morgannwg Trail in and around Cowbridge. The places of interest are linked to Iolo Morganwg to give a taste of the many different aspects of his life and character. 

Along the Vale’s rugged Glamorgan Heritage Coast you can discover the last manned lighthouse in Wales (automated as recently as 1998). Inland, walk in the footsteps of one of the Vale’s most colourful characters on the Iolo Morganwg Heritage Walk. If you dare – try the Haunted Field walk where you’ll come across Neolothic Tinkinswood Burial Chamber  - it’s capstone is one of the largest in Europe.

Don't miss our brand new Vale Tales app. The storytelling app brings to life all the stories behind the trails. You will hear tales of treachery, romance, Hollywood legends and dastardly deeds by famous pirates. Your walks will come alive with the true history of the Vale. Make sure you download the App and pick up your map before you go. 

To find out more about which of our Vale Trails are dog friendly, visit Paws in the Vale walks.