Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage' Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage'
English English Welsh Welsh
only search Kenfig.org.uk

Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource)


The Official Kenfig Community History Project
About | Contact | Location | Sitemap | Newsgroup / Facebook | Old Guestbook

Kenfig.org Local Community Group

Member Member Login Member Login
Margam Castle & Estate


Search Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) Website


History

The Margam Estate (Bronze / Iron Age - Present)


Location, Margam Park, South Wales


View Larger Map

Margam History

Background

There is evidence of over 4000 years of continuous human habitation with a heritage attraction of considerable distinction at Margam. The Margam Estate covers around 850 acres and is situated 2 miles east of Port Talbot on the narrow coastal plain set on the southern slopes of Mynydd Margam, a largely forested mountain rising to a height of 349 AOD. It's history can be traced back to prehistoric times with Bronze & Iron Age relics together with evidence of Roman and Celtic occupation within the immediate area.
A place of significant religious importance, the Norman Abbey founded in the mid 12th century, was until its dissolution at the hands of Henry VIII, a major religious centre in South Wales. Nowadays, the remains of the Abbey are extensive along with its runied Chapter House.
Following the dissolution of the Abbey, successive owners built and rebuilt their houses on the Abbey site. The surviving buildings form a unique record of its historical & architectural development. The late 18th century saw considerable redevelopment take place with the area laid out on classical lines as parkland together with the building of an Orangery which is one of the largest and most outstanding buildings of its kind in the country.
The early 19th century saw further enhancement with the building of Margam Castle; this Tudor-style Mansion remained in use until the end of World War II. The Estate fell into neglect and was eventually purchased by local Government and opened to the public in 1977 for the public to enjoy the countryside, gardens and heritage; for environmental education & to use the facilities socially.

TIMELINE OF THE MARGAM ESTATE

Bronze / Iron Ages & Roman Era

Bronze age man settled and farmed on Margam Mountain with evidence of several burial mounds existing to the north & east of the estate.
An Iron age hill-fort enclosed by a massive bank is established on Mynydd-y-Castel.
There is tangiable evidence of Roman and early Christian occupation with a number of stones, including a Roman Milestone bearing the name of Emperor Postumus (258-67 AD), the Bodvoc Stone and the later Celtic Stone Crosses.

The Monastic Era (1147-1536)

Year

Event

1147
Cistercian Abbey of the Mother House Clairvaux at Margam was founded by Robert, Earl of Gloucester.
1200
12-sided Chapter House built - Cistercian monks hunt wild deer & mine coal.
1349
Black Death reaches Margam with many deaths.
c.1470
Capel Mair/Hen Eglwys (Cryke Chapel) established to serve needs of local peasants/yeoman who didn't have right to worship in Abbey itself.
1536
9 Monks left at Abbey after its dissolution by King Henry VIII.

The Mansel Era (1536-1750)

Year

Event

1537
Dissolution of monastic establishment by King Henry VIII
1540
Abbey bought by Sir Rice Mansel (1487-1559) of Oxwich Castle, Gower Peninsular & Old Beaupre, Vale of Glamorgan.
Tudor mansion built out of & on former monastic ranges of Abbey with the Abbey's stone buildings adapted, elaborated & extended over 200 years.
The house is remodelled in late 16th century by Sir Thomas Mansel.
1611
Sir Thomas Mansel becaomes a Baronet when King James I creates hereditary order.
1661
1st mention of gardens when accounts show John Thomas as a gardener; reference made various walls & gardens.
1711
Sir Thomas Mansel (previously Controller of Household of Queen Anne) was elevated to peerage as Baron Mansel of Margam.
1723
Lord Thomas Mansel dies.
1727
Joseph Kirkman (gardner) drew up catelogue of greenhouse plants which is earliest detailed list of orange trees at Margam. An earlier reference being a 1711 book of household accounts.

Talbot Era (1750-1941)

Year

Event

1750
4th & last Baron, Bussy Mansel dies without a male heir. The title becomes extinct & Margam, along with Oxwich & Penrice passed through marriage into the Talbot family to the Reverend Thomas Talbot of Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.
Margam eventually passed to his son, Thomas Mansel Talbot.
1768
Thomas Mansel Talbot sets out on Grand Tour of the Continent returning home in 1772 to the Penrice Estate in the Gower.
1786
Construction of the Orangery begins to the design of Anthony Keck.
1792
Viscount Torrington reports that the Chapter House now houses a stag, it's roof collapses in 1799.
1793
Completion of Orangery.
Estate accounts record final demolition of dilapitated Tudor House by Thomas Mansel Talbot who now resides at Penrice. When visiting Margam the family lodged at Margam Cottage on outskirts of Estate.
1794
Gardens were fenced to keep out the deer and entrance of stone piers with rustic gates were made.
1800
The Citrus House was erected to house some of the famous citrus tree collections.
1802
Lord Nelson (Travelling through South Wales with Sir William & Lady Hamilton) visited the Orangery.
1814
Estate Map shows Talbot achieved his aim of creating a park with illustrations called 'Great', 'Little' and 'Upper' parks.
1820's
Plans to build a new house at Margam were commissioned by Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803-90).
1830
Work commences on construction of Margam Castle being designed by Thomas Hopper (1776-1856).
Edward Haycock (1790-1870) was supervisory architect & was also responsible for interior/exterior works on the house, stables, terraces & lodges - Talbot took a keen interest in the works and the expenses.
1837
Historic stone facade attributed to Inigo Jones (Temple of Four Seasons) is re-erected fronting Ivy Cottage. (This is all that remains of this 17th century banqueting house).
The West Driveway (including the bridge at the north end of fishpond lake) was built.
1840
Construction of Castle complete and works to stable & courtyards in progress.
Main driveway from the east constructed by C.R.M. Talbot.
Construction of East Lodges, together with Middle Lodge & the West Lodge commenced (designed by Edward Haycock).
1841
Marshy valley to the north of the gardens was damned to form present fishpond lake; the water was used to supply the fountains on the Orangery Terrace. The west end of the park was extended to include much of pubic road & village of Margam.
The new model village of Groes was built - which was designed by Haycock.
1852
Construction of the Orangery Terrace.
Henry Fox Talbot (Photographer Pioneer) & frequent visitor to Margam at this time carried out several early experiments in grounds of Margam Castle taking the earliest photographic views of the mansion.
1876
The only son of Christopher R.M. Talbot (Theodore) dies as a result of a riding accident.
1881
The Prince & Princess of Wales (later Edward VII & Queen Alexandra) visited Margam on Monday 17 October 1881. The couple stayed for lunch after which the Princess planted a tree in the Orangery gardens.
1890
Margam was inherited by Emily Charlotte Talbot.
The Vine House is built & most of greenhouses replaced with new ones by Messenger & Co of Loughborough.
The Engine House was built.
1891
Electricty is introduced into the Castle.
1892
At the Castle, a Billiards Room was built over a small inner courtyard.
Twyn-y-Hydd House (with seperate dressed stone rusticated piered entrance) was built as a home for Emily Charlotte Talbot's agent, Edward Knox.
1902
A bamboo garden is established below the lake & a Pergola introduced to the south western part of the Orangery garden by Emily Charlotte Talbot.
1918
Emily Charlotte Talbot dies and Margam was left in trust to her great nephew, John Theodore Talbot Fletcher, (a minor) - his father was Captain Andrew Mansel Talbot Fletcher.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas were planted at Margam.
1926
New Pond was created by Captain Fletcher to relieve unemployment and improve the view from the house.
1930
Captain Fletcher converts the old stable block into a squash court & garage and creates a tennis court to the south east of the Castle.

War Years / Sir David Evans-Bevan

Year

Event

1941
World War II - The billeting of troops at Margam Castle. (Fletcher & family were still in residence)
Trustees of Margam Estate decide to sell the Estate and Captain & Mrs Fletcher return to Saltoun Hall, East Lothian, Scotland.
Contents of House were auctioned by Christies of London in a 4-day sale between 27th & 30th October 1941.
The Castle continued with occupation of both British & American troops during the War Years.
1942
Estate acquired by Mr D.M. (later Sir David) Evans-Bevan, owner of Vale of Neath Brewery.
At the end of the War (following de-requisitioning) the Castle remained empty, the family residing in Twyn yr Hydd. The Castle was vandalised & fell into decay.
1950's
Sir David Evans-Bevan commissions landscape designer Ralph Hancock to redesign the gardens of Twyn yr Hydd.

The County Council Years

Year

Event

1973
The Estate acquired by the Glamorgan County Council.
1974
The Estate passes to West Glamorgan County Council on local government re-organisation. A programme of refurbishment is made available.
1977
Restored Orangery opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II during her Silver Jubliee visit in June 1977.
Modern entrances constructed to west off A48 & to south of the east lodges.
Archaelogical dig of kitchen garden (to rear of Citrus House) reveals footings of cottages & the Corner House Inn of the old village of Margam as well as foundations of the medieval complex.
On Thursday 04 August at 10am a fire within the Castle destroys the roof and its interior.
1978
Glamorgan Cattle brought to Estate from Sussex.
1981
On 29 July (A spray of orange blossom from Margam Park) is affixed to the carriage for the wedding of HRH the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.
1982
North Wing of the Castle is re-roofed together with stabilisation of structure of south & west wings.
1983
1st stage of rescue plan for the Castle commenced & electricity re-introduced for 2nd time in it's history.
1985
Park staff move into offices in 1st floor of North Wing. First Sculpture Park in Wales established & Internationally famous sculptors such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth & Elizabeth Frink exhibited.
1986
Repair works to Chapter House & Vestibule executed.
1987
A rare daguerreotype of the Castle from the south east taken by C.R.M. Talbot's great friend, the Reverend Calvert Jones of Swansea is put up for sale by Talbot's descendants (sells at Christies to an American Gallery).
This unique picture (earliest view of Castle & one of 1st photographs taken in Wales) was saved by a refusal of an export licence & purchased by the National Library of Wales.
1995
Service held on 01 March by the Bishop of Llandaff to commemorate restoration work to date.
1996
After local government re-organisation, West Glamorgan County Council ceased to exist - Margam Park becomes repsonsibility of newly created Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council.
1999
Refurbishment of North Wing of Castle takes place for educational use by the Field Studies Council.
The Citrus House becomes home to major collection of Fushia.


The 21st Century

Margam Park continues in its significant moderisation plans and is now a thriving Country Park.
Further updates to timeline will continue...

Explore The Margam Estate in depth - See below for more details...




Source: Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council



EXPLORE KENFIG - THE COMPLETE HISTORY (E-RESOURCE)

History of Kenfig & surrounding areas - Prehistory to the Present Day


MARGAM HISTORY

  • Bronze / Iron Ages & Roman Era
  • The Monastic Era (1147-1536)
  • The Mansel Era (1536-1750)
  • Talbot Era (1750-1941)
  • War Years / Sir David Evans-Bevan
  • The County Council Years

  • KENFIG COMMUNITY



    EXPLORE THE MARGAM ESTATE IN DEPTH

    Bronze / Iron Age & Roman Era


    Coming soon...


    The Monastic Era (1147-1536)


    Coming soon...


    The Mansel Era (1536-1750)


    Coming soon...


    Talbot Era (1750-1941)


    Coming soon...


    War Years / Sir David Evans-Bevan



    Coming soon...


    Present - The County Council Years


    Coming soon...


    Acknowledgements


    Bibliography

    • Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
    • Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
    • Neath Port Talbot Libraries
    • West Glamorgan Archive Service, County Hall, Swansea
    • Glamorgan Archives, Cardiff
    • Rob Bowen, Kenfig.org Local Community Group

    Webpage Author

    • Rob Bowen, Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2011



    War Years War Years Pictorial History Pictorial History
    Folklore Folklore The Sport of Bando The Sport of Bando
    Graffiti Artists - Is this art or vandalism? Graffiti Artists - Is this art or vandalism?

    Related Sections

    Margam Abbey (1147-1536)

    Margam Abbey
    Founded in 1147 by Robert, Earl of Gloucester, Margam Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey of the Mother House Clairvaux - its dissolution came about in 1536 and was the first abbey to fall under the Dissolution of the Monastries by King Henry VIII... Margam Abbey

    Capel Mair (c.1470)

    Capel Mair
    The medieval chapel known as Hen Eglwys or Capel Mair stands on the east side of Margam woods on a grassy knoll below Graig Fawr at 107m OD. Built c.1470 it appears to have served the local community who lived near to Margam Abbey; the Abbey Church being restricted to the monks... Capel Mair

    Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - An important part of Wales' documentary heritage

    EXPLORE KENFIG - THE COMPLETE HISTORY (e-RESOURCE)

    History

    War Years

    Community

    Folklore

    The Coast

    Pictorial History

    Exclusive Pictorial History of the old Kenfig Borough ENTER