FROM HAMLET TO ECONOMIC DEPRESSION & HARDSHIP
Religious persecution and the reformation of churches meant that learned priests had more time on their hands and to supplement their income they established small schools.
In 1837 Queen Victoria came to the throne and reigned until her death in 1901. This was the time of the expanding British Empire and global trade began to influence even small hamlets such as Treoes.
This section also covers the period after Queen Victoria’s reign, including how the Great War of 1914 – 1911 affected Treoes, as well as the time of hardship in the 1920s and 1930s.
The section has been divided as follows:
Victorian Period – during which time industry is continuing to expand, and rural life is beginning to change for ever.
Coychurch – once closely associated with Treoes, sharing a common heritage and trade.
Edwardian Period – what was life like in Treoes at the start of the 20th Century? Who lived here then and how did they earn their living?
WW I – as Britain entered in war with Germany even small villages like Treoes were involved.
The 1920s and 30s – as economic depression affected many of the urban areas, in rural Treoes, at least in some respects, life went on.
As the process of industrialisation created new industries and urban settlements this was a time of great change, but for rural villages like Treoes, life went on and people did what they could to make ends meet.
In 1861 Jeremiah Powell was still named as a victualler of Treoes (Maltsters Arms), but this time he has also described himself as a Carpenter. His nephew Ebenezer Williams, born in Clifton Bristol, was now living with William John, whom he described as his brother in law, and his wife Catherine. Ebenezer was later to own Clifton House and no doubt gave it its name. Ebenezer described himself as single, and a Proprietor of Houses. Thomas John also described himself as Victualler and Farmer of Treoes, presumably of the Star Inn. We can also add County Road Labourer and Schoolmaster to our list of employments.
In 1871 Elizabeth Driscoll, widowed daughter of David and Margaret David was the local Grocer, she had two children John Driscoll aged 9 years and Daniel Driscoll under 1 year old. On the 26th October 1872 she was fined eight shillings and six pence for letting her donkey stray onto the highway. She married Owen Jones, a sinker of Pwll Andras on 19th February 1874, who died the same year and is buried with Elizabeth’s son Daniel in Saron Chapel Cemetery. By 1881 she was living with her brother Evan David her son Daniel and Elizabeth and Moses Jones. Elizabeth’s brother Moses David was the local Blacksmith. Thomas Williams described himself as Miller and Publican and Elizabeth Harry also described herself as a Publican and Farmer, presumably one was Landlord/Landlady of the Star Inn and the other The Maltsters Arms.
In 1881 the Landlord of the Star Inn was Mr Thomas Howell, a native of Llandeilo who described himself in the 1881 census as a Woodcutter and Publican. In his household was his wife Ann, sons William and James and daughters Elizabeth, Hannah and Margaret Jane, he was later to have another daughter Maria. Thomas Howell died in 1914. Owen Jones Grandson of his daughter Margaret, and Natalie Llewellyn, Grand-daughter of his daughter Hannah still live in the locality. Thomas Howell followed John Arthur as Landlord of the Star. Thomas John is the local Grocer. Robert Battrick from Tolpuddle Dorset with his wife Margaret their 2yr old son Alfred and their baby daughter Catherine Elizabeth are now residing with Margaret’s father Hopkin Llewellyn.
By 1891, Elizabeth Driscoll was the wife Thomas Gronow, of Treoes, they have two children together, Joseph aged 5, born when Elizabeth was 45 years old and Margaret aged 1, born when Elizabeth was 49 years old.
Treoes now has a butcher, William Thomas and four miners in the village, namely Thomas Thomas, William Llewellyn, Robert Battrick and Daniel Driscoll. The population of the parish was 182.
In 1895 the Lord of the Manor was the Earl of Dunraven and the principal landowners were Captain J G R Homfray and D F Morgan Esq.,
Thomas Jenkins who farmed at Heol Las was also the Registrar for Marriages, Births and Deaths. William Mordecai and sons farmed at Tyn-y-Caeau, Thomas Thomas was a Water Miller and Pharoah Hercules Lucas was a Grazier living in Greenfields.
Treoes was for many years closely connected to its neighbouring village, Coychurch, or LLangrallo in Welsh. The histories of these two settlements were closely entwined until new road development divided them.
Coychurch contains a large and historically important church dedicated to Saint Crallo, who was reputed to be the son of Saint Canna. Saint Crallo was also related to Saint Illtyd and may have studied at his large college in LLantwit Major, before establishing his own centre of study at Coychurch.
St Crallo’s Church, Coychurch
The present day Church is a Grade 1 Listed Building, with its origins dating back as far as the 13th Century. The Church had undergone little change until it was restored by the architect John Pritchard in 1870. No work was done to the tower due to lack of funds, and at the time is appeared sound. However, on the 7th February 1877 there was a calamity when the tower collapsed without warning, damaging the Cross in the churchyard and leaving the South transept in ruins.
Just prior to this a contractor had been moving the remains of graves close to the tower, relocating them to the East side of the Church. It could well be that this disturbed the ground and led to the collapse. No doubt superstition at the time would have attributed the moving of the graves as a violation which led to the Church’s damage. As the nave remained unscathed services were held there until funds were available for the main church to be restored.
The medieval Cross in the churchyard is also Grade II* Listed. The Nave in the Church contains two ancient monuments – a Celtic Cross and the Ebbisar Stone. The Cross was originally placed on top of the medieval preaching cross in the Churchyard.
The Ebbisar Cross is associated with an Angle invader who was captured during the 6th Century. When faced with execution or taking Holy Orders, he wisely chose the latter.
Saint Crallo’s Cross, Coychurch
There are some very fine stained glass windows in the Church, depicting Saint Crallo and Saint Canna – again emphasising the close connection between Coychurch and LLangan. These windows were dedicated by the Mordecai family.
Stained glass window dedicated to St Crallo
Stained glass window dedicated to St Canna
Plaque to William Thomas of Tregose in 1840
The Church also presents an interesting clue as to how Treoes got its name. The plaque dedicated to William Thomas inside the Church shows that he resided at Tregose before his death in 1840.
This provides further insight into how the original name, Goston, became firstly Tregose, then Treos, before finally becoming known as Treoes.
Saint Crallo’s Church is also associated with Thomas Richards, its Curate for 43 years and also the first person to publish the full length Welsh – English dictionary in 1753. It was produced through subscription, with the head of the list being the then Prince of Wales.
Born around 1709 in Carmarthenshire Thomas Richards moved to Glamorgan in 1737 and conducted services in Welsh for the parish since the rector Reverend Daniel Durel was a non-Welsh speaker. Thomas Richards supported the Circulating Schools organised by Griffith Jones from 1737 which visited Coychurch and translated into Welsh a number of current religious documents.
Plaque to Thomas Richards,
author of the first Welsh – English dictionary
He was also an early teacher of the poet and historian Iolo Morgannwg, whose mother lived and was buried at Coychurch.
Thomas Richards was appointed Vicar of Eglwysilan in 1777, but he continued to reside in Coychurch and died at 80 years old. He was buried in the Churchyard, a plaque to his honour is mounted inside the Church.
Roper Window, Saint Crallo’s Church, Coychurch
The modern stained glass windows which dominates the aisle were installed Frank Roper in 1969. Known as the Roper window the engraved glass shows Christ in majesty.
Roper was born in Haworth, Yorkshire in 1914 and studied at the Royal College of Art under Henry Moore. After WW II he taught sculpture at Cardiff College of Art, later becoming Vice-Principal.
Frank Roper died in 2000.
There is a cave in Coed-y-Mwster wood which is associated with Saint Illtyd. Historians Wilson and Blackett have claimed that this cave was used to secretly bury King Arthur for fear that his death would lead to in-fighting between the Celtic tribes at the time. Their theory then points to King Arthur being moved to a permanent burial place at Saint Peter’s Church, which now lies ruined above Brynna. There are of course many historical claims related to King Arthur, but Wilson and Blackett’s books offer a fascinating prospect that this area of South Wales was really at the heart of the Arthurian legends that are known throughout the world.
The Coed-y-Mwstwr Hotel, named after the nearby wood was at one time the home of Arthur John Williams MP and his wife Rose.
Many famous and influential guests came to stay at their home including the songwriter Ivor Novello and the Prime Minister at the time David LLoyd George.
The large memorial in the village dated 1920, was financed by Rose Williams following the death of her husband.
Williams Memorial Hall, Coychurch
As Edward VII ascended to the throne in 1901, the pace of change in rural Treoes increased.
The landscape of the area differed so much from today that it would be barely recognisable to an inhabitant of our village a hundred years ago. Treoes was surrounded by green fields mostly laid to pasture on which sheep, cattle and horses peacefully grazed. The villagers socialised and traded with the nearby villages of Coychurch, Llangan, and St. Mary Hill. Roads from Treoes led directly to each of these villages.
By 1901 the census shows that the entire population of the parish of Llangan was 218, and of these 140 lived in Treoes. Of the 44 men and boys of working age in the village, 15 worked in the Coal Mines. The predominant language was Welsh.
Treoes had its share of the gentry in the landowning family of William Mordecai, at nearby Tyn-Y-Caeau and John Howell Mordecai of Ty-Mawr (Great House), but most of its residents were considered working class. The Aristocracy were titled landowners whereas the Gentry were simply large landowners without titles.
The Edwardian era was regarded as being immoral, with super strong beer seen as a significant factor.
It was no doubt the effect of the strong beer that resulted in two young colliers from Treoes to cause wilful damage to the farm gates on the Treoes Road as they made their way home from Bridgend on a Saturday night in 1903. No less than 23 gates had been un-hung and some of them had been carried a considerable distance and thrown into the Ewenny river. The defendants did not appear in court and a warrant was issued for their arrest, but was not acted on as the farmer involved told the court that the defendants had made good the damage and that he did not want the matter to be pursued further.
David Thomas who farmed at Ty-Ellis was also a Carpenter and Undertaker, when there was a death in the village he would hasten with his horse and trap to Tondu sawmills to buy the wood to make the coffin. He would spend 5 days in his workshop, making and elaborately decorating the coffin by hand. Ironically his wife Mrs Mary Ann Thomas (pictured centre front) delivered the new arrivals in the village, the epitome of a cradle to grave service.
Residents of Treoes at the turn of the Century, thanks to Gwyneth Jones for the photo
Back row, Mabel Llewellyn, Catherine Alice Jones, Mary Whittle, Kitty Whittle, Middle row, Mary Ann Llewellyn, Irene Lee, Mrs Thomas.
Front row, Catherine Lee, Mary Ann Thomas, Ann Thomas
In1914 the country went to war with Germany – and the lives of Treoes residents was about to take a drastic twist.
Some of the residents of Treoes who became soldiers and served in the Great War were:
- Pte’s Kemp
- William Llewellyn
- brothers William and David Llewellyn
- brothers Jeremiah, Richard and William Donovan
- Thomas Powell and John Morgan.
All returned safely, although some had suffered injury.
Sergeant T. S. Lewis of Murrrey House Treoes, son of Thomas Lewis and husband of Iris, died in service on 5th December 1916 and is buried at Ancre British Cemetery at Beaumont-Hamel.
Pte. John Morgan (8th Welsh Pioneers) who had served in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia (Iraq) and India died of injuries in 1919, aged 28 years.
Pte William Donovan was awarded the Military Medal for gallant conduct in action in Belgium.
David Llewellyn is the father of Miss Natalie Llewellyn who still has the Teapot presented to him and all local veterans of the First World War by Llangan Parish Council.
In 1919 the scene in the village in February would have been grave and respectful as the villagers, on hearing the sound of marching boots approaching, would have gathered at the graveyard, heads bared and bent to await the arrival of the military funeral procession of Pte. D. Walter Humphreys, husband of Margaret Jane Kemp.
The soldiers forming the firing squad were Sergeant Ivor Williams DCM, Sergeant W. Richards MM, Private Alfred Little MM, Private H Davies, Private Gwilym John, Gunner W P Young and Private Kemp ( Treoes) led by Sergeant Major Grey (Bridgend). They approached the village from Coychurch for the service interment at Saron Chapel. The bearer party under the command of Sergeant Edmund Jones fired three volleys and the last post sounded by Lance-Corporal Robert Lewis, S.W.B. Trumpeter George Hales A.S.C. and Arthur and David Davies. The proceedings were impressive and a large crowd attended.
THE 1920s – 1930s
After the First World War ended in 1918 many things had changed – not least that women had been entrusted with men’s work and had proved themselves capable.
Also the gap between the rich and poor had diminished significantly due to the minimum wage legislation and full employment.
Drunkenness was still seen as a significant cause of the moral squalor ,so public house hours were cut from 19 and a ½ hours a day to 5 and a ½ hours a day, and the super strong beer disappeared. The crackdown worked and the number of arrests for Drunk and Disorderly decreased.
The school leaving age was raised to 14 and there were more opportunities for all children to go to Grammar Schools.
Some residents had accumulated wealth, for instance, Mr Howells of the Star Inn purchased a freehold pasture and accommodation field near the Star Inn, with a freehold cottage and garden, two freehold two-roomed cottages with small gardens in front, and a freehold cottage and garden, for four hundred and fifty pounds.
However, it was not all peace and tranquillity, as the following story taken from the Llantrisant Observer of the 10th January 1919 illustrates:
“On Christmas day in the morning… there was little good will and certainly no peace between two fair ladies of the generally peaceful hamlet of Treoes, viz., Mrs M wife of Mr M and Mrs B wife of Mr B. The parties were neighbours, and had fallen out over the pigs in the sty, and the trough out of which the swine (when so minded) absorb nutriment. Each lady blamed the other, and naturally it was a case of a summons taken out on one day by Mrs B …and on the next day by Mrs M who swore that in the affray (after she had been feeding the pigs) the other lady sprang at her throat and scratched her fair and bare arms!. … The Chairman said it was unfortunate, and to be regretted, that the parties, having been for years on good terms, should have covered themselves with disgrace. Both summonses would be dismissed, and he added, by way of salutary warning: “If you had ever been here before we should have fined you”. Both the ladies smiled and left the Court apparently good friends again, although neither could claim to have won advantage from the Christmas Morning idyll at Treoes that began in the pig’s trough and ended in a draw.
The 1920s and 30s were generally years of hardship and mass unemployment, particularly for urban dwellers. In Treoes, they were a little more fortunate than those living in mining villages, since most residents remained in gainful employment and had vegetable gardens, a pigsty and possibly a few chickens. The village was a close community and neighbours would help each other.
Women’s clothing changed because of the austerity, it became acceptable to wear knee length clothing whilst for the same reason men’s clothing also changed and the young men of the village wore short pants, sleeveless vests, casual trousers and pullovers instead of waistcoats.
This era saw the introduction of the Widows pension and a change in the Old Age pensions now available for men at age 65 years, and women at age 60 years.
The Miners’ Strike of 1926 affected several households in the village. Whilst they were out of work the young men would sit on the stiles and offer their services to the village ladies – they would carry water from the wells for ½ pence a bucket.
Although this was a tough decade because of mass unemployment those that were in work saw their lives become more comfortable because of falling prices of food and rent.
New industries were emerging such as aircraft manufacture, car manufacture and electronics some of which would affect Treoes in the future. Transportation was changing and Ford had already produced their first mass produced car.
In 1928 Poplar Fach (now re-named Kilmore) was purchased by David Llewellyn and his widowed mother Hannah from Mary Ann Jones of Llandre, Cardigan. It was once a traditional rural dwelling of one up- one down. Hannah was the daughter of Thomas Howell Landlord of the Star at the beginning of the century, and sister to Maggie Jones (Malt House) and William Howells who succeeded his father as Landlord of the Star. The one living room had a big baking oven in the front corner next to the fireplace, whilst on the opposite side of the fireplace was a cupboard which when opened revealed a ladder which was used to ascend to the upper floor, which by that time was divided into two bedrooms.
In 1958 Kilmore was completely refurbished by David Llewellyn. He incorporated the cowshed into the building and created the house as we see it today. During this refurbishment a One Penny coin dated 1788 was found when an old fireplace was removed, supporting the belief that the house has stood there for several centuries. This coin is in fact an Anglesey Parys Mines Druid Penny, a token which was readily accepted by traders. All coins of this genre were called Condor Tokens (named after an early collector called James Condor). Concerned about the growing proliferation of these tokens, in 1797 the Government made the production and issuance of them illegal.
David Llewellyn also erected a small wooden structure on the land where he and his wife would live, this was later sold and Holmwood now stands where this used to be.
As with other similar communities at that time many of the villagers were related. There had been families of considerable size born in the community in the previous generation, often ten or more children, more of whom survived than in previous centuries. People didn’t travel far in their leisure time and would often marry a close neighbour and settle in the same village. You would find several households having the same surname living near to each other. This caused much confusion as there seemed to be a limited number of popular forenames and there would often be two or three people of the same name in the same vicinity – giving rise to the typically Welsh habit of adding a separate word to an individual name. In the case of Treoes some examples would be “Maggie (Jones) Malt House” “Maggie Moor Mill” and “Dai (Llewellyn) Bwt”, because they were either living in, or had lived in the properties named. To add to the confusion there does not appear to have been any control as to the naming of property, so it was commonplace to have more than one house in the vicinity with the same name. In Treoes in the early 19 hundreds there were two houses called The Poplars, Molchenydd in the village and Molchenydd just outside the village and Great House also had cottages for their agricultural workers bearing only the name of Great House. Letters addressed to one of these houses would be delivered correctly providing the occupiers of the houses had different surnames, as the Postman would generally know most of the people on his round. If confusion arose because of the name similarity or the lack of local knowledge of a new Postman then the letter would simply be re-delivered by the person who wrongly received it in the first instance. The Postman until 1916 was Mr John Phillips who also delivered to Coychurch and Coed-y-Mwystr.
It was considered disrespectful for children to call their elders by their Christian names, so all the ladies were either Aunty, Miss or Mrs, and all the men were either Uncle or Mister, but mainly Aunty or Uncle
Despite the fact that women had worked in the war, few married women in Treoes went out to work. Without the use of modern day machines just keeping house and cooking for the family was sufficient. Those married women who did work would have done so only if absolutely necessary. Some widows would seek work to eke out their widows pensions and of these most would have been domestic servants.
One of the major lifestyle changes which had affected more urban areas and completely bypassed Treoes was the use of Gas and Gas Stoves in the early part of the century. Apart from their convenience they also affected the way people lived in their homes. Some homes had two rooms downstairs one being the kitchen and one the front room: the kitchen would have a range or fireplace which would heat the room and facilitate cooking. The family would all gather in the kitchen and the front room would be kept for “best’ and visitors. With the installation of a gas cooker which made cooking easier and cleaner but did not heat the room, the family started living in the front room, which they then called the living room. Gas was not available in Treoes until 1988, indeed it was 1951 before Treoes had Electricity.
Maggie Jones, the widow of John Jones who died in 1918, had inherited the Star from her father Thomas Howell, she also owned the Malt House. Walter Jones, Maggie’s son, lived in the Malt House with his mother and sister Dolly, he had two petrol pumps across the road behind Treoes Farm. Dolly and Maggie ran the Post Office, later Maggie would be helped by her sister Liza, and they lived there together until Maggie died aged 80 years in 1957. The Telephone Kiosk was in the Garden and the Post Box was on the outer wall.
In 1933, the Lee family of Eston (Esty) and Doll, with their two daughters Gwyneth and Betty, moved to Parc Newydd. Esty had lost his job at Ewenny Quarry as a result of an accident in which he had injured his leg leaving him unable to work there any longer. Parc Newydd was rented from the Mordecai family for five shillings a week and the family had enough land to enable them to keep livestock, so that all the family could help to earn a living. The house was large and had five bedrooms but had been empty for some time and was in need of complete re-decoration. Fortunately both Mr. and Mrs. Lee had close family in the village, with Mr. Lee’s brother living in Ty-Phillip and Mrs. Lee’s sister living in Pen-yr-Heol help was readily available. As in most of the homes in the village the floor was of flagstones, there was a black-lead grate and a big oven built into the wall. There was a very large pantry and one of the upstairs rooms did not have a ceiling and one could see the rafters. With the help given this was soon made comfortable with wallpaper on the walls, coconut mats on the floor and carpet mats in the front parlour.
Gwyneth Lee and her Father each had a horse, Esty rode frequently because walking was difficult , and later when she was older, Gwyneth would ride bare back down to Lako in the morning before going to school, to get the cows in for milking.
There were not many horses in the village now, most of the villagers rode bikes, with the exception of Ernie James who needed a car to get about as he had had an accident, and Mr Thomas, of Treoes Farm who had a Van. Master Henry Mordecai however was often seen in the village when he would ride down from Llangan to visit.” He had the most handsome horse and the men would ‘doff their caps to him.” said Gwyneth
In 1933 bus services were nationalised and now Treoes would have a reasonable mode of Transport.
In 1936, a main water supply was brought to the village although not every house was connected to the supply and it would be fair to say that the life of a housewife in Treoes up to this time would have been significantly different and more arduous than in less rural areas. Prior to 1936 water was drawn from wells. One on the common and one in Parc Newydd called Shwill, there was also one in Malt House.
It was common practise for villagers who lived in rented houses to move about by simply swapping houses as it suited them – supposedly the Landlord didn’t worry much about who the tenant was as long as the rent was paid.
A Sunday School outing circa 1933/34.
Back row from left Cassie Llewellyn, unknown, Mr Humphreys ( Rector) Jane Paynter, Mrs Diamond with baby, Miss Battrick, Kath Davies, Miss Battrick, Kath Davies, Miss Battrick, Mrs Emma Jenkins, Mrs Lucas, Mary Ann LLewellyn, Doll Lee, Mrs Frederick (LLangan) Mr Eston (Esty) Lee.
Front, from left: ? Diamond, Gwyn Thomas,? Diamond, Betty Lee, Gwyneth Lee wearing her navy nap coat and white panama hat, Betty Vaughan, Sid Jenkins, Mattie Llewellyn,(just behind) Cyril Way and Matt Lucas.
A Mr Harry was the Landlord of the Star after Mr Howells and the Mari LLwyd used to take place there around Christmas time each year. Ned Lee who lived in Ty-Phillip owned the costume of the horse figure, so he would take the part of the Mari Llwydd. Ned with his followers would rap on the door of the Star, and begin the ancient ritual, asking for permission to enter. They would sing and challenge the occupants of the Star to a verbal contest. The contest would follow between a member of the Mari Llwyd and an opponent in the Star, and usually amounted to leg-pulling and mocking of each other’s singing, drunkenness and various other abilities of the two contestants. Victory in the debate would entitle the Mari Llwydd to access the house and partake of the ale and maybe even a gift of money.
In 1935 the Chard family with their daughter Nancy (now Davidge) moved to Tynewydd in nearby Llangan. Tynewydd had earlier been the home of the Basset family. The family had a horse and trap and Mrs Chard was frequently seen passing through the village on her way to Bridgend to do her shopping. Nancy describes her father as having beautiful golden coloured hair which he always wore long and loose.
Mr Chard was a wheelwright who served the local farmers until his services were no longer needed. Nancy tells of her father also repairing the wheels of the carts belonging to the Gypsy community when they camped locally, particularly during the time of St. Mary Hill fair. Aged 10 years, Nancy arrived in Llangan from London where she had lived with her family after they had moved from her birthplace in Trehafod, Rhondda. She says of her days in Llangan School, (extracted from the Gem where it was printed as examples of the work of present pupils of the school on its centenary in 2011).
“When I arrived at the school in 1935 I thought how small it was compared to the very big schools I had attended in London”.
Much has been written by other former pupils of how harsh a few of the teachers were. The cane was used if the children misbehaved.