More about Cefn Carnau

The mother and toddler group in our village was the heart of the community. I had just started going along with my little grandson when the lockdown hit. This was where you could order cake and bread from the cafe, arrange for your bike to be mended – and now I’ve had an email from one of the mothers who had found my blog about Cefncarnau-fawr. She was trying to find out a bit about the farm because in the 1930s it belonged to her great-grandfather, the Cardiff builder C. E. Hockridge. It was sold off after his death in 1935. At that time it was described as a farm of nearly 154 acres. 137 acres were held by a Mr Spencer Wride on a yearly tenancy at a rent of £100. There were also 15¾ a. woodland held by the landowner and two sites for huts and a poultry run held on short tenancies. The farmhouse had grown considerably from the hall-and-chamber house of the 17th century: 5 bedrooms, 2 living rooms and a dairy. The outbuildings were the barn whose ruins can still be seen clearly from the lane, cowshed with accommodation for 26 cows, a three-stall stable, carthouse and loft. This was a farm pretty much like the one my mother was brought up in, between Newport and Cardiff, and just a bit smaller than Llwyn-yr-Eos, which is now part of the National History Museum at St Fagans.

I went back to the tithe plan on for a bit more information. That gave the owner in 1840 as the Rev. William Price Lewis (a Lewis of the Van or of Pantgwynlais, possibly?) and the tenant as Thomas Davies. The farm was 140 acres – possibly including a bit of the woodland that was in hand in 1935.

For comparison, in 1840, Cefncarnau-fach was 48a., Blaen-nofydd was 45a. Bwlchygelli was split between the parishes of Eglwysilan and Rudry (this is where using the tithe map gets awkward) and seems to have been about 29 a. in total; Bwlch-y-llechfaen was 13 a. In 1840 Cwmnofyd was only 11a. of meadow, pasture and wood: the tenant Lewis Lewis must have been working elsewhere to make a living.

22 Responses

  1. John Owen

    Interesting. Being bored during Lockdown,I was investigating the Porter \Bennett side of my family, pre 1851 migrants to Cardiff from Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Among their descendants was a Hockridge link. A second cousin from Whitchurch, now a yuppie in London, found scores of descendants across north Cardiff. Of more interest to me, was I found marriage links with pre 19th century Llandaff, Bonvilstone, Flemingstone, which means I have early Cardiff roots.
    Regarding Rudry, it’s sometimes considered a separate Manor, as a Member of Caerphilly. Would the Parish coincide with the Manor. There’s something odd about the lower Rhymney Valley Parishes. Michaelstone y Vedw, Machen and Bedwas, all Monmouthsire Parishes have hamlets in Glamorgan, on the other side of the river. Historically, the Welsh Lordship s of Senghenydd and Gwynllywg, and their successors were divided by the river. So why don’t religious boundaries coincide with secular.

    • Madeleine Gray

      Bennetts, eh – my father was a Bennett. But from Oxford. So perhaps we aren’t related after all.
      Those parish boundaries are bewildering. Parish boundaries were solidifying in the late C11/early C12, pretty much when those manors were being established.

  2. Sian Hockridge

    Hi John that’s interesting that you found Hockridge in your family line.
    I am the Hockridge that Maddie was referring to from our village toddler group.
    My grandfather and great grandfather (great grandfather being the Hockridge who was the owner of the Cefn-carnau fawr in 1935) lived in Whitchurch. They built many of the houses around what I think was once called station estate. St Margarets Road, St John’s Crescent, St Mary’s Road area.

    Interestingly, 20 years ago a very elderly lady from Whitchurch told me she remembered Mr Hockridge. As a girl she would see him walking up the street weekly with tophat and cane to collect the rent. (ground rent I suspect).
    We have recently discovered that the Cholera hospital on Flat home island was also built by one of the Hockridge’s (great grandfathers brother I believe) in partnership another builder.
    I’ve digressed Maddy from your blog’s topic, my apologies!

  3. Madeleine Gray

    All part of the tapestry. I wonder if he acquired Cefncarnau with a view to building there? or did he own other farms as well?
    Many years ago now I was shown marked-up OS maps with plans to build a huge area of housing in Tongwynlais, all over what are now still fields. I think those were plans going back to the 1920s. In the end it wasn’t done but the Pantgwynlais council estate was built on part of it.

    • Sian Hockridge

      Yes it’s certainly food for thought.
      Interesting details about Tongwynlais. I wonder who the builder was for Pantgwynlais?!
      He built in thornhill area too

      • Madeleine Gray

        I went past Cefn Carnau again today and had a long chat with the tenant. I had the plan on my phone but the brambles and nettles have grown so high that it was difficult to make anything of it. We’ll have to have another go in the winter when the undergrowth has died back again.
        I’ll put something on the parish newsletter to see if anyone can remember anything about the building plans for Tongwynlais, or who actually built the Pantgwynlais estate.

        • Sian Hockridge

          Oooh interesting! Was the tenant you spoke to a Richard Butcher?
          Good idea about parish news letter. I wonder if anyone from Ton would know anything about the farm? The news of the fire would have traveled into local areas I’m sure.

  4. duncan hockridge

    Hi John,
    I am Sian’s father. My grandmother was a Porter from Wenvoe who married Reg . Pryce. They lived in 65 Heathwood Road, Heath, Cardiff. The Hockridges were, as you have found, builders and had many sites around Cardiff. The Porters had a market garden in Birchgrove(where the New Inn is now) and in Wenvoe.
    Hope that helps you a bit. Kind regards, Duncan Hockridge

  5. duncan

    Thanks Madeleine,
    No there is no connection to the Prof. Reg worked at Cardiff docks. I have no idea why my Grandfather bought the Farm or when. I have a cousin who lives in a care home near Southhampton. She used to live with my Grandfather at 1 St. John’s Crescent, Whitchurch. She remembers going with him to the farm. I shall see if she recalls anything else about the farm. I recall in the late 40’s that the farmer used to bring a turkey to us at 8 St. John’s Crescent, every Christmas.That would mean that after the farm was sold in 1935 the tenant farmer still was there in the late 40’s. The electoral reg. would allow us to find out any changes in Tenancy and ownership.

  6. Andrew Watkins

    Hi Madeleine

    I live in Bwlch cottage where the bridleway starts. I bumped into Sian today, if you do find any additional information out about my property or the surrounding area I’d really appreciate if you could let me know. My cottage is apparently from the 1600’s so as soon as I’ve completed the refurbishment I’m planning to start some research. I do already have some information on my property so happy to share if you would like to review

    • Madeleine Gray

      Lovely to hear from you. You have probably got further than I have on this! But I’d love to see what you have found out so far. You may have seen in the comments on one of my postings that John Owen of Caerphilly thinks the other Bwlch cottages – Bwlchygelli and Bwlchyllechfaen, on the lane past Blaennofydd – were both carved out of the original Cefncarnau farms. There was a lot of that sort of thing going on in the C16 and C17 so that would fit in with your house as well. Once this virus is out of the way we must all meet up there.

      • Andrew Watkins

        Yes that’s correct. Unfortunately we have nothing in the sale particulars or deeds with the property so it’s from a standing start. Yes would be great to meet up once it’s safe. I’m also going to ask the owner of blaengwynlais farm (Brian and Sandra) for any information they have as it appears this was linked with our property. The previous owner had told me it was originally an old mule house but another neighbour has also told me there was apparently some kind of tavern here originally. Look forward to meeting up once safe

        • Madeleine Gray

          Yes, Blaenycwm was part of Blaengwynlais on the tithe plan. It was part of the Clive estate – have you managed to track the estate records down?

          • Andrew watkins

            No I’ve not looked through the estate records, would you happen to know the best place to start searching please? Thanks

  7. duncan

    Just a thought. The lady I met in the livery yard just beyound my Garndfather’s farm said she had bought the land in an auction some years ago. It may well be that when she obtained the deeds during the land sale that there could be a lot of information on them about previous owners and sales. I believe that she is at the yard most days tending her horses.

  8. duncan

    By the way Andrew, Sian is my daughter. If you do get any further information if you are able to contact the Livery lady I would appreciate it if you could kindly let us know via this site.

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