The Gwent Local History Council was set up in 1954 to encourage public interest in local history, to bring together societies and persons interested in the study of local history, to arrange lectures and publish the results of historical research. Their twice yearly magazine "Gwent Local History" has made a valuable contribution to the store of historical knowledge. Here Caerleon Net, with the full agreement of the Gwent Local History Council, is making available many of the articles from this magazine relating to Caerleon.
Please note: copyright exists on all texts.
Enquiries relating copyright should be addressed to the Gwent Local History Council.
Gwent Local History No. 54, Spring 1983
by Eija Kennerley
Indeed, Caerleon Park as such does not exist any longer, although there is evidence that an area called that was used as a hunting park in the Middle Ages and that the name survived much longer.
In the mediaeval period, extensive districts were kept as preserves of forests, especially in the earlier conquered Eastern Marches. They had separate administration, and carefully defined boundaries, they were subject to forest laws which were administered in forest courts. These areas provided wood for the castle, they were hunting areas, there was charcoal burning, and ashes from the burnt wood were sold to dyers in the cloth industry. Dead wood even was sold for fuel and wind-fallen trees were cut up and methodically sold as well. There was pasture which was farmed or rented out, and pannage was another source of income for the lord. There was a fixed stipend, supplemented by fees from various sources, all according to the custom of the district. (1)
Caerleon Park was an entity in the 14th century at least, perhaps even much earlier. (2) There is a grant for life, of the year 1382, March 12th, to "the king's servant, Roger Goldsmyth, of the custody of the park of Karlyon in Wales." (3) Evidence of the fees is connected with the same servant of the king:
"To the receiver of the lordship of Karlioun in Wales, in the king's hand by reason of the nonage of the heir of Edmund de Mortuo Mari earl of March. Order to pay to Reynold Goldsmyth the king's serjeant every year for his life, as long as the same shall be in the king's hand, the wages and fees of keeper of Karlioun park, and the arrears since 12 March last, on which date, the king granted him for life the keeping of that park " (4)
If Caerleon Park had definite boundaries - that is: earth banks and fencings - they have all disappeared long ago. All the parks gradually changed from hunting areas to pasture and cultivation. The same has happened with Caerleon Park.
O. G. S. Crawford has written a most interesting article about Medieval Castle Mounds and Parks in which he gives the etymology of the word 'park'. The original meaning was 'enclosure' and the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon pearruc or pearroc, a diminutive form of Anglo-Saxon 'spar', a beam. The Anglo-Saxon verb 'sparran' (= to enclose, lock, fasten) has the same root. Pearroc became 'paddock'; the word 'park' is a French form of spelling. He continues to say that "a medieval park was simply an area over 30 acres in size which was surrounded by a bank or pale to keep the deer from straying out or in." (5)
Standing on the slope which is on the north side of Lodge Hill, one can see over half of the area which was Caerleon Park, the rest is upon the hill and on its other side. Along the near horizon there are some undulations in the ground which seem to suggest that once they could have been boundaries. The lane, now called Malthouse Lane, rises up towards the Craig, thought to be a prehistoric mound. However, the mound has never been excavated. Crawford writes: "Both mound-and-bailey and ring-and-bailey (i.e. without mound) forts are quite common in England. But there are also many mounds that were certainly thrown up for castles but have no bailey attached. They are seldom of any great size and usually unmentioned in documents, and for these reasons it is thought that they were thrown up by robber chieftains during the unsettled times of the 12th century. It is often difficult to be sure that such mounds are not prehistoric or later burial mounds; there is one which is both (Corwen). When a causeway is left across the surrounding ditch and the top is flat, a castle mound may be suspected. These mounds occur all over England. but are particularly common (and hard to diagnose) on the Welsh Marches." (6)
This is a most exciting view. The Craig "fort" is on the very edge of Caerleon Park, behind it there is a steep descent to the river Afon Lwyd. It may have been necessary to have some kind of fencing along the river, too, as the deer certainly at dry periods could cross the river. As to any causeway or even a ditch, it is impossible to see any signs of those.
Standing on our slope, we can continue to follow the line of the supposed boundary: along the ridge from the Craig towards the farm called Pen-y-Park. This is an ancient name which seems to give us a point of the boundary. It could of course be taken to mean "the end" of both Caerleon and Llantarnam Parks. From here the boundary seems to follow the boundary of Caerleon manor. It turns towards south and becomes more like guesswork, unless it indeed is going exactly along the same line as the manor boundary. In any case, it runs down towards the other river, the Usk, which could not be crossed by deer, at least not below Lodge Hill.
The name Lodge is also connected with the Park. Crawford says:
"Forest lodges also stood in park-like enclosures. - The name 'lodge' is common and it will often be found that the farm or site to which it is applied stands within a park; the word meant originally 'an arbour or bower' and denoted a temporary structure erected for the convenience of hunters." (7)
Another indication of an enclosed park is the name of Park Farm which still exists, just below Lodge Hill, in the north west of it. The farm is almost in the centre of the park. However, it is not easy to show how long the farm has been on the site. (See below.)
The laws concerning royal forests and parks were made in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. The Forest Charter was of the year 1217, confirmed in 1297. (8) This means that these laws were all in use at the time when de Clares were lords of Caerleon. But, at that time the king's laws and the king's word had not much power in the Marches. As everything else here, Caerleon Park belonged to the lord, except at periods when the lord was under age, as the document of 1382, earlier referred to, shows. It seems, however, that later it always was the king who chose the keepers of the park, at least in the period when Caerleon lordship was in the hands of the king.
In 1466, about 20 years before the Tudors, William Herbert, "King's knight", was appointed
" steward of the king's lordships and manors of Usk and Kerlion ... constable of castles of Usk, Kerlion, Dynas & Belth. . . chief forester of the forest of Usk & Kerlion & all the king's forests in South Wales, and master of the hunt of the same & the king's chase of Trelleck and parks of Usk and Kerlion ... receiving the accustomed fees with full power of appointing officers. . . power to appoint one parker at the park of Usk and two parkers at the park of Karlion, with wages of 2d daily each from the issues of the lordships & manors of Usk & Kerlion. (9)
The fact that there were two parkers for Caerleon but only one for Usk may indicate that Caerleon Park was the larger one of the two.
At the beginning of the 16th century the keeper was John Morgan, probably not the same John Morgan who became the ancestor of the Morgans of Llantarnam, but the one who was the constable of Newport Castle.
"Henry, by the Grace of God etc., greeting (to
the Archbishop of Canterbury). Know ye that We, of our special grace,
and in consideration of the good and faithful service which our beloved
servant, John ap Morgan hath rendered, and purposeth hereafter to render,
have given and granted to him, our said servant, the office of Keepership
of our Park of Caerleon, within our Lordship of Usk, part of our earldom
of March. To have and to hold to our said servant the said office by
himself, or by his sufficient deputy, from the feast of Easter last
past during our good pleasure, with the wages and fees due and customary
to the said office. To have, to hold, and to take the issues, profits,
and revenues forthcoming and growing from our said lordship by the hands
of the Receivers, Bailiffs, farmers, or other occupiers there for the
time being, by equal portions at the Feasts of St. Michael the Archangel
and Easter, together with all other profits, benefits and advantages,
to the said office in any way appertaining.
This could be the John Morgan who followed Henry VIII on the expedition against the French in 1512 and died about 1524. Also, he could be the same John Morgan who was mayor of Caerleon in the reign of Henry VIII. (11)
The keepership of Caerleon Park belonged to William Johns or Jones in 1532. He had obtained a patent for the fishery of Caerleon in 1527. (12) A William Johns was mayor of Caerleon about l527-30. (13)
The next keeper, Robert Johns, was William's son:
"Grant for life to Robert Johns of the office of keeper of the king's park of Carlion within the lordship of Uske, parcel of the earldom of the March, which his father William Johns, deceased, held; with wages out of the issues of the said Lordship payable at Easter and Michaelmas, the herbage and pannage of the park and other profits." (14)
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the lands of Llantarnam Abbey were farmed by a John Parker who paid 10s. rent (?), for the "Pill Park" or Parc-y-Pil. (15) Parker was granted the house and site of the late monastery, the church, belfry, churchyard, messuages, lands etc. and the park called Le Park which was reserved in the personal occupation of the late abbot. This Le Park was the smaller area near the Abbey, beyond the farm now called Pen-y-Park and thus not in the Lordship of Caerleon.
In 1566 William, Earl of Pembroke (of the second creation) was given licence
"to alienate a Park called Caerlyone Parke alias Parke Pen Beall in Caerlyon and Llanvyhangell Tonygroyes, Co. Monmouth, to William Morgan of Llanternam." (16)
That Caerleon Park once belonged to the Morgans of Llantarnam, becomes even clearer from the Inquisition Post Mortem of William Morgan, 15th October, 1582:
" also of and in all that park, with all its appurtenances called Park Penyveall, being in the Parish of St. Cadoc, by Caerleon, in the Country aforesaid " (17)
The value of the park is set together with that of the manor of Havodyrynis, Wentsland and Bringwin, altogether £25.
It seems that Robert Johns or Jones who was granted Caerleon Park in 1549, was still alive in 1582, because a person of that name is among the Jury at the I.P.M. of William Morgan.
In an Indenture tripartite of 1629 the same names appear again. It was made on the occasion of the marriage between Edward Morgan and Mary Englefield, for a jointure. Among other things is mentioned "the Park called Caerleon Park" and "all the meadow grounds.. . in Penivall mead, St. Cadoc." (18)
In connection with the Sequestration of the property of Sir Edward Morgan, the first Baronet, in 1650, "The Demesnes in Caerleon Park" are valued at £l27:00:00. (19) In his Will Sir Edward Morgan, third Baronet, gives 40s. to the poor of Newport, and continues:
"I give and bequeather a fat Buck out of my Park the next season amongst the better sort (sic!) of that Town." (20)
The Will is of the year 1680 or 1681. It is difficult to say whether he means with "my park" Caerleon Park or the "old park" of Llantarnam, mentioned in the Survey of Magna Porta in 1634.
There are several farms in the Caerleon Park area, some of which have certainly existed over 300 years.
Park Farm and Pill Mawr
Park Farm is in the centre of the Caerleon Park area. Although the buildings of the present farm do not perhaps go further than a couple of centuries back, there certainly has been a farm at this spot much longer. It was usual to have a farm in the middle of the old hunting parks, everywhere. However, it is most difficult to judge whether the names of the two farms, Park Farm and Pill Farm (Pill Mawr?) indicate those now in existence.
In the Ministers' Accounts of 1537 (1) a farm called Parc-y-pil is mentioned and its rent then amounted to 10 shillings. A hundred years later, 1634, in the Survey of Magna Porta, the chief manor of William Morgan's estates, we read: "the house called Parc-y-Pill where Ralph Dunford now dwelleth." (2) This Ralph Dunford is described in indentures of 1607 and 1627 as "de Lanternham." (3)
In 1669 Henry Walter, one of the first nonconformists in this area, resided at Park-y-Pill, in the parish of Caerllon (sic!). (4) He had been ejected from St. Woolos at the Restoration, and probably was a fighting character. At least he was caught "at the close of a Sabbath day", early in July 1660, in a fight at Llantarnam and suffered blows from swords and staves. (5) He had a licence to preach at his own house, dated 10th June 1672. (6)
In the Rent Roll of the estate of John Hanbury, of the year 1766, William Jenkins is said to have "a messuage and Farm called Pill and part in Lantarnam," for which he paid £60. (7) This William is apparently the son of Rowland Jenkins of the Pill, who made his Will in 1763.
All the documents given above seem to refer to the house now called Pill Mawr. From the year 1707 onwards, however, Park Farm appears as a separate entity. In the deed of partition of the lands of Sir Edward Morgan, his daughter Frances who had married Edmund Bray, got the Manor of Magna Porta. In the first Allotment, the Park Farm area is said to be 125 acres, 28 perches. (8) Two other farms are mentioned: Pill farm and the Little Pillmead, "part of the parish above (i.e. Llangattock) and part in Llanvihangel juxta Llantarnam" and their area is 122 acres, 3 roods and 7 perches; also Pen-y-pil, the area of which is 10 acres, 24 perches. Pill farm probably indicates Pill Mawr. It is possible that Pen-y-pil has disappeared. The name Pilton Vale must be connected with these names.
In the same document, five other farms are mentioned: Lodge Farm, William Nicholas's farm, Bryan's farm, William Leonard's farm and Phil. Meyrick's farm.
Lodge Farm will be dealt with below. Concerning the other farms mentioned, good sources of information are provided by the Particulars of the Lease Land which was in the early 18th century in the possession of Kingsmill Mackworth. (9)
William Nicholas's farm: "mearing to ye Highway leading from Ponthyr leading to Carlion ye lands of John Harry of Langattock aforesd ye river avon llwyd." Judging by information concerning the other farms, this is somewhere about the site of the Star Brickworks.
Phil. Meyrick's farm: in ye poss of Margaret Meyrick mearing to a Lane leading from Caerleon to Lanternam Hewl Yorath ye Land of John Morgan of Langattock Lanternam (sic!) and ye Brook Called dowl-eis ye Lands in hand of Barbara Yeorath on all parts." This most probably indicates Malthouse Farm. (See below.)
William Leonard's farm may indicate Penrhos or part of Penrhos, but Bryan's farm is unknown. Penrhos was, however, outside Caerleon Park, and the same may apply to William Nicholas's farm.
The owner of Park Farm in 1804 was Capel Hanbury Leigh and the occupier was Moses Jenkins. (10) In 1831 Roger Jenkins lived there and it is then valued at £4.0.10. On the map of Monmouthshire of 1831, three house are marked at "Park-y-Pill", situated at Park Farm. This again shows the confusion about the names of the farms. In 1832 Rosser (Roger) Jenkins still lived there, (11) until 1840 (12), but in 1843-44 Thomas Andrews was the tenant of Park Farm. (13)
Pill Mawr had belonged to William Keene before 1622, according to the Survey of the manor. At the beginning of the 18th century, the house and land belonged to the Mackworth family, and in the years 1702-3 Thomas Williams was the tenant. (14)
Of the year 1722 there is a document concerning Pill Farm which according to the description given must be Pill Mawr:
18 May 1722 Between 1) Sir Charles Kemeys of Kvenmably
in the Co. of Glamorgan (sic!) Bart. 2) William Jones of the parish
of Langattock Juxta Carlleon in the Co. of Monmouth yeoman.
Here is a great difficulty. Is it possible that William Jones really is William Jenkins who had Pill Mawr (the Pill) in 1766?
At the beginning of the next century a new family tenanted the farm. In 1804 David Rogers, in 1829 and until 1832 Thomas Rogers lived there, (16) but in 1844-45 a Jenkins, Thomas, is again mentioned. (17)
At the first Annual General Meeting of the Monmouthshire and Caerleon Antiquarian Society in 1848 its secretary, J. E. Lee observed:
"With respect to the word Belinstow, mentioned by Mr. Wakeman as another name for Lodge Farm, that Belenus was mentioned by Ansonius as a god peculiar to the Druids, and the name also occurs in Tertullian's Apology. He further mentioned that the word Belenus, in the Breton language, which is decidedly Celtic, signifies "far above us" or "far above, over our heads", so that the Lodge fortress may either have been named from the god or may merely have signified "the fortress on the high hill." (1)
That kind of speculation concerning Belinstock still goes on. However, there is no great probability that the fortress called Belinstow or Belinstock and Lodge Hill and Lodge Farm have any connection historically, although they are near neighbours.
Lodge Farm and the whole hill are inside the area called since the Middle Ages Caerleon Park. There usually was a lodge, a place the hunters used for refreshment and rest, in such a park. (See above.)
The house which now is called Lodge Farm most probably was built about 1650-60. However, there is an outhouse, just above the present-day dwelling, which seems to be quite a lot older. It has several puzzling features, some of which point to alterations. The walls are not quite as thick as some of the walls in the present dwelling. It has no cellar, whereas the lower house has a most interesting, vaulted one. There is a small pond, now overgrown, near the outbuilding.
The first family we know about who lived at Lodge Farm was called James. Bradney in his History of Monmouthshire gives the pedigree of the family and says the ancestor, about 1650, was James ap John Jenkin. This man called himself also James Jones and Bradney says his son William took his father's first name as surname. (2) Bradney could be right, but, on the other hand, the name James as a surname existed in Caerleon already in the 16th century. (In 1585. John William James of Llangattock-juxta-Caerleon granted to Watkin John Gwillim a close in the parish, fee of Edleagon. (3) ) This does not prove anything either, as the name James existed in many places in the 16th and 17th century. Also, in the National Library of Wales is an inventory of a William James of Llangattock juxta Caerleon, from the year 1640. It does not tell very much:
"The true Inventory
of William James of
Langattog iuxta Carelion ... third of ffebruary 1640.
So, he was not a rich man by any means.
According to Bradney the James family came from Llantarnam. James ap John Jenkins granted by indenture of 1659 to his son William five parcels of land in Llantarnam, containing six acres of Welsh measure. (5) This land may have been in the south-east corner of the parish of Llantarnam, near to the boundary between that parish and Llangattock.
A branch of the James family continued to live in Llantarnam, but there also was a family of the same name in Caerleon town, at least in 1667, as a Will of that year shows. (6)
The James family lived at Lodge Farm until mid-eighteenth century. William James of the Lodge married Dorothy, daughter of John George of Llantarnam. The year of the marriage is not known but the settlement of the post-nuptial jointure is of the year l665. (7) This concerns five parcels, containing 30 kevers in Llantarnam. They could be the same parcels William received from his father.
The James family as well as the Georges were Catholics. They may both have been tenants of the Morgans of Llantarnam who were the most prominent Catholic family of the area. (John George, Dorothy's father was still alive in 1658. According to that information he was a tenant of Edward Morgan. Lodge Wood at that time belonged to the Morgans, probably the farm as well.) William James was for some time the servant of the Jesuit David Lewis who was travelling from house to house saying Mass in secret. In the 1670's and especially during the time of the Titus Oates Plot, 1679-81, it meant death for a man in Holy Orders to be found out doing this work. It was dangerous for laymen, too, to harbour a priest or at least it cost them a fortune in fines. Anyone informing the authorities of a priest saying Mass was entitled to the third part of the forfeited property of the priest if it did not exceed £150.
Here William and Dorothy had their temptation. Either they were temporarily short of money or their religion did not matter very much to them. In any case, they joined the betrayers of David Lewis and appeared as witnesses at his trial. During the trial Dorothy was seen to be a cruel or at least a thoughtless woman. Another witness told the horrified jury that she had sworn to "wash her hands in David Lewis's blood and to boil his head to potage." (8)
After the execution of David Lewis in 1679 we do not hear any more about Dorothy James.
William and Dorothy had two sons, John and William. (9) William was buried April the 15th, 1741, in Llantarnam churchyard. (10) John married Margaret, daughter of John ap Morgan Watkin of Llantarnam and they had a son James whose wife's name was Mary. (11)
The last member of the family at Lodge Farm was Evan James who died in 1774 and was buried in Llantarnam. Indeed, most members of the family were buried there, in the centre of Catholicism. However, Evan James appears as churchwarden of St. Cadoc's in 1753-55, and again in 1766. (12) In that year Evan James paid £61 rent to John Hanbury. (In the document concerned Evan is called Evan Jones. (Gw.R.O./JCH/1311.)) The Hanburys owned the property from the first or second decade of the eighteenth century. On the wall of the barn near the house is the year 1716, with the letters JCH, John Capel Hanbury.
In 1753 a Mr. Charles Griffiths lived in the house, or in one of the buildings. In Caerleon Registers is a note on the christening of Charles, son of Charles Griffiths of the Lodge, November 2nd that year. Mr. Griffiths' daughter Mary, christened 7th January 1755 must have died, because there is another Mary christened on February 18th, 1756. (13)
In 1821, Charles Charles lived at the Lodge, according to Mr. T. R. Till, the recent owner. The Charles family were concentrating in the trades of victuallers and butchers.
Then, there is no information until 1829, when in the Land Tax Assessment Mary Charles is said to be the occupier and the sum assessed is £6.9.7½. (14)
The occupier in 1831 was Henry Rowlands (He could be the third son of Rowland Jenkins of the Pill. (See Jenkins Story.) He was in 1763 fairly young.) and the value was one half penny less than in the previous assessment. He was still there in 1844, paying rent £50 a year. (15) In 1845 Joseph Rowland who must have been his son, lived at the Lodge Farm. (16)
Lodge Wood was very important at times. In 1649 it belonged to Sir Edward Morgan of Llantarnam who sold part of the wood to "one, Mr. Samuel Jones" in order to pay his fines for recusancy. (17)
This house is one of the oldest in the whole Caerleon area, perhaps the very oldest. In "Monmouthshire Houses", part II, by R. Fox and Lord Raglan, it is listed under sub-medieval houses, about 1550-1610. According to the authors, this type of house is usually small, with surviving medieval traits, with ground floor rooms 'ceiled', providing upper rooms or attics, and illustrating therefore the "social movement towards privacy."
The first time the site or the land around is mentioned in documents, is in 1458/9. In the Extent of the lands of William Herbert, in the part which deals with Caerleon, we read:
"Ieuan ap (?) ap David ap Hoell tenet ad firma octo clausa (8 enclosures) terre arabile in simul iacenta subtus de Kayrlyon inter viam ducentem de parcum de Kayrlyon versus villain de Kayrlyon predicta ex parte una, et altam viam ducentein de Kayrlyon versus abbathiam de Lantnam ex parte altera. (1) (Ieuan etc. has in his tenure farming eight enclosures of arable land situate under Caerleon (Lordship?) between the road that leads from Caerleon park towards Caerleon town on one side and the old road that leads from Caerleon towards Llantarnam Abbey on the other side.)"
If the theory concerning the estimation of the age of hedges is right, even approximately, then it could be said that the roads mentioned in this document, with the hedges lining them, must have existed at the time of William Herbert. Looking at a map we see that the eight enclosures must have been to the west or south west of Malthouse Farm.
Another document which may have something to do with this area, is of the year 1654. Jenkin William of Pontheere leased land for his son Roger Jenkin, from William Morgan of Pencreek:
" in the par. of Saint Cadoc iuxta Carlyon, adjoining to the lands of Morgan Watkin, now in the tenure and occupation of George Morgan Watkin, the highway leading from Carelyon to Pontheere and the Lord's lands now in the possess. of the said William Morgan Esq." (2)
A Morgan Watkin Griffiths is mentioned among the customary tenants in the Survey of Magna Porta, 1634, and William Morgan of Pencreek Estate (as were the mills of Ponthir). In 1750 the name of the occupier was Barbara Yeorath. The name Yeorath or Yorath was known in 1707 (3) and it is possible that the area belonged to the Yorath family in 1635 already, because in the I.P.M. of William Morgan of Llantarnam the following placenames are given: Caedd ap Yoreth, We add ap Yoreth, Cae David ap Yoreth. (4) Also, in the Bishops Transcripts of St. Cadoc: 1696 - Gregorius Yorath et filius eius (qui sepulti fuit). (5) At the beginning of the 19th century the wood above the Malthouse Farm was called Graig Yorath Wood. (6) Then, the house and farm belonged to John Lawrence (probably of Llantarnam), until 1840. (7) In 1840 The Tithe Map mentions Malthouse Field, on the south side of the little brook which runs down from Lodge Hill and in front of the farm. Matthew Wills was then the occupier.
1. W. Rees. South Wales and The March, pp. 110, 119,
1. Bradney, Llantarnam.
1. Newport Library.
1. Gw.R.O. MAN/B/77/0001.