South Gower Bracelet Bay to Port Eynon. Part 2.

South Gower Bracelet Bay to Port Eynon. Part 2.

Part 2.

The blog is taking longer than the walk, it took us about 7 hours including a stop or two for lemonade.

Back to it, where were we?

Looking over to Pobbles, here’s a link to the Gower Society https://www.thegowersociety.org.uk/  where you can find more walks.

We walked down through the fragmenting dunes to the beach, below the golf course, in 1933 there was a plan to develop Pobbles, the resistance got as far as Swansea County Court where Judge Rowland Rowlands presided. The trustees of Pennard Golf Club, Dr. Frank C. Thomas and Arthur Andrews sued F.W Wilks and Pobbles Bay Ltd. for damages from trespass also to get an injunction, the golf club was represented by Mr. Rowe Harding (famous Swansea name) the solicitor was C.J.C. Wilson, Mr. Rowe Harding declared the defendants wanted to turn Pobbles into a mini-Lido! After the openings the judge declared the defence had been withdrawn, he granted £5 damages and an injunction against Pobbles Bay Ltd. and Mr. Wilks. It seems people walking around going to the bay because of the publicity around the lido were annoying the members.[1] Mind you 4 years later there might have been a more pressing problem for any members fancying a dip in the sea at Pobbles, 12ft. sharks were terrorizing bathers at according to the Daily Mirror, ‘the monsters’ it was thought had followed a school of fish into the Bristol Channel. [2] I wonder if the golf club had anything to do with it.

Eva is not bothered by sharks.

We walked below the three cliffs to Three Cliffs bay, under the wathchful eye of Pennard castle, and maybe the ghosts of a De Beaumonts, De Braose, Despenser, De Mowbray or a Beauchamp all of whom had some control of the building before the shifitng dunes took the castle and the surrounding settlement.[3]

Turbulent times were witnessed by these ghosts. A snippet, “The district of Gower was wrested from the sons of Caradoc ab Iestyn, about the end of the eleventh century, by Henry Beaumont, Earl of Warwick, who established in it a colony of English and Flemish settlers…

On the death of Beaumont in 1107, he was succeeded by Robert, illegitimate son of Henry I and Nêst, daughter of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr; to whom that monarch gave in marriage Fitz-Hamon’s daughter Mabel, or Mabli. He attempted to enforce the feudal laws on the native landowners, which led to Grufydd, son of Rhŷs ab Tewdwr, late Prince of South Wales, entering Gower with a large body of native troops; and, failing in an attack on the castle of Abertawe, or Swansea, set fire to the suburbs of that place, ravaged the adjacent country, and returned into Carmarthenshire, loaded with booty. In the following year he again entered Gower in like manner”.[4]

We headed peacefully up the hill to Penmaen Burrows and Great Tor.

“PEN MAEN, in the Cwmwd of Gwyr, Cantref of Eginog (now called the Hundred of Swansea), County of GLAMORGAN, South Wales: a discharged Rectory valued in the King’s Books at £4..10..0: Patron, The Lord Chancellor: Church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, (including the little Hamlet of Paviland) was 131. The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was £7..7..9. It is 9 m. W. S. W. from Swansea. This Parish contains about 450 acres of inclosed Land, and about 300 acres uninclosed. The Hamlet of Paviland is six miles to the Westward of Pen Maen: and from which, one of the Church wardens and Overseers of the Poor for the Parish are chosen. Below the Church, on the Sea shore, are some very grand Rocks, particularly one called The Great Tor, which runs up to a great height, terminating in a sharp point: at 1ow water spring tides, there is a Passage under this Rock, which allows of a pleasant ride over Oxwich Sands and Pen Arth Burrows to Swansea, and is a saving of between two and three miles. The Rocks form the Eastern side of Oxwich Bay. About a quarter of a mile further is a small Pill or Rivulet, running up into Nicholaston Marsh, which divides one part of this Parish, and Oxwich, from that of Nicholaston. According to the Diocesan Report, in 1809, the yearly value of this Benefice, arising from Augmentation, Tythes, Glebe, and Surplice Fees, was £143..10..0.”[5]

Looking back, physically and historically up on the hill overlooking the bay is a large building, which was once the Gower Union workhouse, built around 1861 and housed about 50 souls.[6]

The 1881 census shows Christopher Davies 61 born Glamorganshire Master of Workhouse his wife Ruth Davies 61  born Glamorganshire Matron of Workhouse, their son Edward Francis Davies unmarried 34 born Glamorganshire a Farmer. Here are few of the unfortunates housed there, Elizabeth Phillips unmarried aged 27, a Domestic Servant and her one year old daughter Elizabeth, Thomas Walters widower aged 74 a Blacksmith, George Edwards married aged 66, born Glamorganshire , a Thatcher, Margaret Williams umarried 69 born Glamorganshire a Fisherwoman.[7] So a single mother and he child, elderly craftspeople all fits with the history of these lpaces that the elderly, infirm, unmarried mothers, mentally ill were all forced to the insitiution.

Around the headland to Nicholaston, On the 19th May 1838 in the Village of Nicholaston, Gower, John Macnamara, mariner, aged 87 was mentioned in the death notices, [8] he was buried at St. Nicholas church. [9]

St Nicholas Church, Nicholaston cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Chris Henley – geograph.org.uk/p/263482

From here we headed down to the beach at Crawley woods and aimed for Oxwich, and the Penrice estate where 29 generations of the Methuen-Campbell family have lived.[10]

Some refreshments wert taken on board ready for the long haul up the steps near St. Illtyd’s church, a quiet even dank place. “The parish church of St. Illtyd’s overlooks Oxwich Bay. A place of worship has stood on this site since the 6th century, but the main tower of today was built in the 14th century. The chancel of this church is thought to be a 6th-century cell. The church bell in the tower also dates back to the 14th century, but was recast in 1892. In the churchyard there is a well, which locals believe is haunted by a ghost. Legend has it that a ghost was seen in the churchyard before vanishing into a well.”[11]

St. Illtyd’s Church. Rainer Boettchers. Public Domain.

The keepers of the Bull Inn had married at St. Illtyd’s church in 1839, Thomas Gibbs and Mary Bidder both aged 20, Mary was the publican, Thomas was a shoemaker, his father was a quarryman, her father was a mariner,[12] reflecting many of the trades practiced in early 19th century Oxwich. How did I know they were at the Bull Inn? The census, Thomas Gibbs 22, a Victualler, born Glamorgan. Mary Gibbs 22 born Glamorgan, Francis Gibbs 1, born Glamorgan (Oxwich) George Gibbs 1 month, born Oxwich.[13]

Out around Oxwich point. Marching towards Port Eynon, a slight detour after a lanslip inland to Slade, the tuthe map shows we were walking on lands owned by the Mansell family, the tenant was David Sheppard. [14] Another famous Gower name.

Tithe Maps Slade.

He is on the 1865 electoral register, living still at Slade.[15]

Onto the beach, heading past Horton, there was a Red Cross hospital here in WW1,  a few lines in The Herald Saturday December 4th 1915…Sapper C. Potts 2nd Glamorgan ATRE the husband of Mrs. Potts of Temperance Cottage Treboeth, was taken to Horton after being accidently wounded in the arm.[16]

To the finish at Port Eynon near the Salt House “It appears to have been originally built in the mid C16th as a site of salt production. The main building still visible today was used for occupation and storage whilst three large chambers on the beach were used for salt production. The sea water would enter the beach chambers at high tide where it would be stored in a reservoir. The water would be pumped into large iron pans and slowly heated and evaporated. As the salt formed it would be scooped off and stored in the northern part of the main building to dry. The first knowledge of a salt house at Port Eynon is also mentioned in a document of 1598. It would seem Welsh salt houses of the later C16th were amongst the most advanced of their day. The value if the salt is perhaps shown by the fact that the site was enlarged and fortified during the C17th, with the inclusion of musket loops within the thick walls. It appears salt production ceased around the mid C17th. Some of the structures were subsequently demolished but occupation continued in the main house. The most recent being the use of the northern end as oystermen’s cottages, which were finally abandoned c1880.”[17]

Couple of lads and Eva heading to the finish.

Thomas Richards married 31, Head born Penrice, Glamorganshire, Labourer, Jane Richards 30, Wife, born Llandewy, Glamorganshire, Charles Richards, Son bron Llandewy, Glamorganshire, Mary Richards 2, Daughter born Porteynon, Glamorganshire was one family at the cottages in the Salt House.[18]

We sat on the beach and enjoyed some well earned fish and chips, Eva had one or two also, after nearly 17 miles.


[1] Western Mail 1933. Golf Club’s Action. Western Mail. 21 July. P. 10b. Collection: British Newspapers. The British Library. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 11 September 2021.

[2] Daily Mirror. 1937. SHARKS INVADE CHANNEL. Daily Mirror. 16 June. P. 21a. Collection: British Newspapers. The British Library. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 11 September 2021.

[3] Castles For Battles. Pennard Castle. http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/south_west_wales/pennard_castle.html

[4] Samuel Lewis, ‘Gelly – Glyn’, in A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (London, 1849), pp. 358-385. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/wales/pp358-385 :accessed 11 September 2021.

[5] Genuki. Penmaen. https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/Penmaen (From: A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, London, 1811.)

[6] Workhouses.org. Gower, Glamorgan. http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Gower/

[7] Census records. Wales. The Workhouse, Penmaen, Gower, Glamorganshire. 03 April 1881. DAVIES, Christopher (head). RG11 PN:5369. Page:165. Collection: Census Transcript Search, 1841-1911. www.thegenealogist.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

[8] The Cambrian. 1838. Births, Marriages, Deaths. 02 June. P. 3c. Collection: Welsh newspapers online. https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3329300/3329303/21/nicholaston : accessed 12 September 2021.

[9] Burials (PR) Wales. St. Nicholas, Nicholasotn, 1838 (no date on record) Gower. MACNAMARA, John. Collection: Glamorganshire Burials. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

[10] Penrice. Penrice Castle Estate. www.penricecastle.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

[11] Wikipedia. Oxwich. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxwich

[12] Marriages (PR) Wales. St. Illtyd, Oxwich, Gower. 06 June 1839. GIBBS, Thomas and BIDDER, Mary. P. 3 entry No. 5. Collection:  Glamorganshire, Wales, Anglican Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1570-1994. www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

[13] Census records. Wales. Oxwich, Gower, Glamorgan. 06 June 1841. GIBBS, Thomas. Archive reference HO107. Piece number 1424. Book number 22. Folio number 8. Page number 9. Collection: 1841 England, Wales & Scotland Census. www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

[14] Maps. Slade, Gower. Wales Tithe maps online. https://places.library.wales/ : accessed 12 September 2021

[15] Electoral Register. 1865. Slade, Oystermouth, Glamorgan. SHEPPARD, David. Collection: Glamorganshire, Wales, Electoral Registers, 1832-1978. www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021

[16] The Herald. 1915. Gower Notes. 04 December. P. 8e. Collection: Wales Newspapers Online. https://newspapers.library.wales/view/4114967/4114975/162/Horton%20Gower : accessed 12 September 2021.

[17] The National Trust. The Salt House – Port Eynon Point, South Gower Coastal Properties. https://heritagerecords.nationaltrust.org.uk/HBSMR/MonRecord.aspx?uid=MNA135108

[18] Census records. Wales. 07 April 1861. RICHARDS, Thomas (head) RG9 PN:4109. Page:95. Collection: Census Transcript Search, 1841-1911. www.thegenealogist.co.uk : accessed 12 September 2021.

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