Saturday, 15 January 2011

Medieval Cardiff: Roath Tewkesbury, Roath Keynsham, Roath Dog Field - and the Benedictines

A Pre-Reformation Welsh Church in all its beauty.
I am very grateful to the vicar (Rev Paul Williams - though not, he tells me, a Welshman) and the archivist of Tewkesbury Abbey (in temporary tenure of the Anglicans) both of whom took the time to write to me after I contacted them with a query regarding St Margaret's of Antioch in Roath, being a daughter Chapel of the Benedictine Order based at the Abbey in the Medieval period.

The following kind email is reproduced in full (with typos) and contains many nuggets of info, as regards Roath's relationship with both Cardiff Castle and Tewkesbury Abbey.

It's clear that the Benedictine monks would have seen to the spiritual needs of the inhabitants of Roath and received tithes from the tenants.

What would be interesting to see is the partition of Roath into "Roath Tewkesbury," "Roath Keynsham," and "Roath Dog Field" as described below (the former two monastic lands and the latter manorial) especially in their relation to later maps and modern Roath.

Still, I'm pleased to find out I grew up on Benedictine land. It ties in Roath with huge swathes of European and Catholic history (see the link at the end of this post to read how the Benedictine Order converted Germany to Catholicism).
Dear Gareth

Fr Paul has sent me a copy of your email in the hope that I may be able to find some information regarding a connection between Roath and Tewkesbury Abbey.  Sadly very few documents regarding the abbey before the dissolution have survived, but we do have the account of the commissioners of Henry VIII who catalogued the possessions of the abbey at the time of its dissolution.  Unfortunately this is in Latin, and I afraid that my Latin is very limited and now extremely rusty.  James Bennett in his History of Tewkesbury gives a summary of the properties  mentioned in the account, and this includes ”Cardiff and Roth – Rents of assize of free tenants, Rents of customary tenants And Perquisites of Courts”.

I passed a copy of your email to a friend of mine who has a very considerable knowledge of the history of Tewkesbury abbey, and he sent me the following: -

St Margaret Roath founded by Robert Fitz Hamon in 1100, known as the chapel of Raht.  It was a Chapel of Ease to the Priory of St Mary at Cardiff.  Apparently its pasture lands were used as the Home Farm of the Castle of Cardiff, supplying meat, butter, cheese and fish.  St Mary and St Margaret were given to Tewkesbury , which provided clergy, wax and wine for their us.  Only the chapel at Roath received them.  In return Tewkesbury received it’s tithes.  Lands attached to the original manor of Roath were vast and extended far beyond the boundaries of the Parish of Roath, taking in parts of Llanedeycn, Lisvane and even Whitchurch (spellings may be incorrect!).  During the 12th and 13th centuries the manor of Roath was divided into three parts.  Large areas came under the juristiction of the Abbeys of Tewkesbury and Keynsham, and were names Roath Tewkesbury and Roath Keynsham.  The remaining land came under the direction of the Lords of Glamorgan and were known as Roath Dog Field.

You may have already discovered all of the from the internet, but I am afraid that I have been unable to find anything else from our archives.

With Best Wishes

Pat Webley
Honorary Abbey Archivist
 By Llanedeycn I assume the friend of the archivist means Llanedeyrn, a current suburb (though some would describe it as a series of 60s-style sprawling estates) of Cardiff.

I have found one history of Tewkesbury which mentions various Chapels in Wales (which must include St Margaret's). Click on the second link below to read more. Here's some of the pertinent quotes (the footnotes can be accessed at the original site):
Tewkesbury profited by the conquests of Norman lords in Wales and received before 1103, amongst other benefices, the parish church of St. Mary of Cardiff with eight dependent chapels. (fn. 12

In 1109 Abbot Gerald resigned and returned to Winchester. (fn. 13) In 1123 the church was dedicated by Theulf, bishop of Worcester. (fn. 14) About 1137, Robert, earl of Gloucester, founded the priory of St. James at Bristol as a dependent cell to Tewkesbury, (fn. 15) and he is also said to have been the founder of the cell at Cardiff. (fn. 16)...
Abbot Peter was engaged in a number of lawsuits in defence of the rights of the house. (fn. 19) In 1221 owing to disturbances in Wales, he was obliged to recall the monks from the cell of Cardiff and let the priory on lease for some years. (fn. 20)  
Of interest is material from the Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), ii, 471-86. The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 was the first book of reports commissioned by Henry VIII, controlled by he hated Thomas Cromwell. I do not know if the second volume (ii) was of the same year, but the report from Tewkesbury would have happened prior to its dissolution in 1540. This is what the royal commissioners had to say of Tewkesbury:
The monastery, including the three cells, was surrendered on 9 January, 1540. (fn. 61) It is probable that the number of monks then in the house was about thirty-seven; thirty-six were included in the pension list, (fn. 62) and of these a prior and two monks lived at each of the cells. John Wakeman, the abbot, received a pension of £266 13s. 4d., and drew it until September, 1541, when he was consecrated to the newly-founded see of Gloucester. The prior got £16 a year, the priors of the cells of Deerhurst and St. James, Bristol, £13 6s. 8d., the prior of Cranbourne and one other monk £10, two of them £8, another £7, and the remaining twenty-seven £6 13s. 4d. each. Wages were paid up to date to 144 servants. (fn. 63)
The possessions (fn. 64) of the monastery included the manor and borough of Tewkesbury, the manors of Coln St. Dennis, Compton Parva, Preston-upon-Stour, Alvescot, Welford, Washbourne, Prescot, Gotherington, Tredington, Fiddington, Oxenton, Walton Cardiff, Forthampton, Ampney Crucis, Hosebridge, Lemington, Church Stanway in Gloucestershire, the manor of Pull Court, a moiety of the manor of Queenhill, the manors of Bushley, Pirton, Ashton Keynes and Leigh, in Worcestershire, the manor of Burnet in Somerset, the manor of Taynton in Oxfordshire; in Dorsetshire the manors of Cranbourne, Chettle, Upwimborne, Boveridge with Estworth, Tarrant Monachorum; in Sussex the manors of Kingston and Wyke; in Devon the manors of Loosebeare and Midlande; rents in Gloucester, Cardiff and other places; and the rectories of Tewkesbury, Fiddington, Walton-Cardiff, Aston-upon-Carron, Southwick and Tredington, Compton Parva, Preston-uponStour, Washbourn, Forthampton, Thornbury, Ampney, Fairford, Eastleach, Wotton-underEdge, Marshfield in Gloucestershire, Sherston and Aldington in Worcestershire, Taynton in Oxfordshire, Great Marlow and Chetelhampton in Buckinghamshire, St. Wenne and Crewenne in Cornwall, Tarrant Monachorum in Dorset, Kingston in Sussex, in Wales Llantwit, Llanblethian, Llantrisant, Penmark with the chapel of St. Donat and Cardiff, and tithes and pensions in a number of other churches in England and Wales, and the priories of Deerhurst, St. James Bristol, and Cranbourne.

So no specific mention is made of St Margaret's in Cardiff/Roath but "other churches in England and Wales" are mentioned. Could the "Chapel of... Cardiff" be St Margaret's? Or might the monks have let the Chapel go to another order prior to the Reformation?

One last very interesting site (well worth visiting and perusing!) is Monastic Wales, whose page on the Benedictines has their Priories in Cardiff, Kidwelly, Carmarthen and other places, but sadly no mention of the daughter chapel in Roath.

According to the Monastic Wales site the Cardiff Priory was dissolved in 1403. Their timeline goes:

pre 1106Foundation - Robert fitz Hamon granted the church of St Mary with its eight dependent chapels to Tewkesbury Abbey, to establish a cell for five monks. [2 sources]
1173x83Rebuilding and re-dedication - The church was rebuilt and re-dedicated to St Mary and St Thomas the Martyr. [1 source]
1220Community flees - The community escaped the turbulent conditions in Wales and took refuge at Tewkesbury Abbey. [4 sources]
1233Administration - The prior of Cardiff returned from Tewkesbury to administer the priory's holdings but the weir on the Taff was leased out for five years. [2 sources]
c.1291Wealth - The priory’s holdings were assessed at £20 for the Taxatio Ecclesiastica.  [2 sources]
c.1300Patronage - Patronage of the house was vested in the earls of Gloucester; it then passed to the Despensers and thereafter to the Crown.  [1 source]
1403Dissolution - The house was dissolved although the site may have been abandoned prior to this. [2 sources]
c.1403Destruction - The priory was sacked by the rebel, Owain Glyn Dŵr (d. c. 1416). [1 source]

If the main priory (where the original 5 monks were based in 1106) was dissolved, one wonders if the Church of St Margaret (which stood as a Norman church until it was replaced in Victorian times) came under the auspices of a parish priest or another religious order in the 130-odd years from 1403 until the Reformation.

So we have found out a good deal more, but have a way still to go!

A History of the Benedictine Order
The Monks at Tewkesbury
English Monastic Archives: Tewkesbury
Monastic Wales

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