October 2020 Parish Magazine
Volume 121 Number 6 OCTOBER 2020
The Vicar Writes
As I write Swansea is entering a further lockdown, as the number of local people testing positive for coronavirus doubles each week.
The restrictions we will live with for the next few weeks or so will not be as severe as the original lockdown in March, but it will mean that those living on their own will be unable to mix with people from other households once again. There is the feeling that we have more anxious and challenging months ahead of us.
Much has been said about those who have not been observing the government guidelines and the rules on social distancing. Downing Street has been quick to point the finger of blame at them for the rise in the number of cases across the UK.
Yet, a number of leading scientists have suggested that the 'second wave' is heading our way, not because people have ignored the regulations but because they have followed government advice to go back to the office and factory, pubs and shops, schools and colleges. They argue that, as our children start back in class, thousands of students move into halls of residence and people return to their work place it was inevitable that cases would rise rapidly.
The government in Westminster and in the Welsh Senedd have the unenviable task of balancing the need to protect the more vulnerable members of our society from this randomly fatal virus while, at the same time, protecting jobs and the economy. Coupled with all of this is the looming 'hard brexit' from the European single market and the impact that might have on our lives in the new year.
The pandemic has affected many aspects of life in the UK and around the world, and the Church has not been immune from its impact either. All Saints' was shut to public worship for almost four months, which is unprecedented in our sixteen hundred year history.
It's probably not the time to reflect on the events of the past six months or to begin to apportion blame for the UK being so ill prepared for a pandemic or locked down too late, for we have a long way to go yet! But we shouldn't lose sight of some of the hugely positive things that have come out of this shared experience; the selfless devotion of our NHS staff, carers and frontline workers; the good neighbourliness shown to the more vulnerable members of society; and Captain Sir Tom Moore and those who have lifted our spirits along the way.
I recently read an interesting article in the Church Times where a journalist reflected on his experience of the pandemic from the perspective of a regular worshipper locked out of Church. For several months he tried online forms of worship, but felt that they were a poor substitute for the 'real thing'. He spoke of the experience as being 'unchurched'. Then he began to take regular walks from his home to his local Church and discovered a closeness to God through witnessing the cycle of the seasons. He watched the leaves develop on the trees, the spring and summer flowers bloom and the lambs in the fields growing. He wrote, 'I have watched God at work in a way that I have never previously had the time to do.' It led him to think about whether or not he would return to Church so regularly in the future. He concluded by writing, 'I have confirmed to myself that God is bigger than the Sunday morning Anglican version.' He came nearer to the real thing on his daily walk to the Church he was locked out of by the government and his diocese.
God is, of course, much larger than we can ever celebrate for an hour or so on Sunday mornings, but I very much hope that our experience of these last six months has also shown us how important coming together is for the Church. Being a fellowship, worshipping in the Lord's house on the Lord's day, serving in the community has always been at the heart of Christian life. It is, after all, the 'real thing,' and we need to hold on to this, especially now.
Though some of us have to remain 'unchurched', as we protect ourselves from the virus, I very much hope that we are all longing to celebrate again what it means to be a Christian family, worshipping and sharing fellowship together in Church again.
With every blessing,
James Williams - Our New Verger
We are delighted to announce that James Williams has been appointed by the PCC as the New Verger of All Saints'. He takes up the appointment on the first day of this month and follows in the footsteps of the late and great Bill Barrington MBE LOH.
James is very much a Mumbles boy. He grew up in Limeslade and his parents, David and Joyce Williams, were faithful worshippers at All Saints'. In his professional life he read Geology at university and served for many years on the oil rigs of the North Sea, overseeing the geological surveys of the fields there.
He married Katherine in 1998 and they and their children, Hannah, Alfie and Grace have been much loved members of our Church family ever since. Katherine served on the PCC and she and the children sang in the Church Choir for many years. Sadly, Katherine died last year after a courageous battle with cancer. The photograph [left] shows James with his beloved Katherine.
The office of a Verger is an ancient one and is thought to predate that of Churchwarden. The title refers to the staff, or 'virge', that is carried in liturgical and ceremonial duties. They play a prominent 'behind the scenes' role, looking after the building, opening up for services and concerts, setting up the altar, putting out service sheets, making sure the heating is on and much more.
Over the last few decades the roll of a Verger has been popularized in the television characters, Mr Yeatman in Dad's Army and Alice Tinker in the Vicar of Dibley. We don't expect James to follow in their footsteps, but he has had a great role model in our former Verger, Bill Barrington. We look forward to seeing how James will put his own personal touch on the role, which will be a key position in the parish as we eventually come out of lockdown and open up All Saints' fully again for the Church and community.
We wish James every blessing in his future ministry and thank him for taking on this role.
More Musings from the Past
Last month we shared some of the thoughts of the Revd Harold Williams who founded the Oystermouth Parish Magazine one hundred and twenty years ago. Reading through old editions gives an interesting insight into the life of the Parish a century ago.
Writing in 1907, he describes how he baptised two babies from the Gypsy community camped in the parish.
"The first baby was baptised in St Peter's Church, Newton, when two ladies of the congregation were godmothers. The mother brought her little baby to the door of the Church and, at first, could not be induced to enter herself, saying that the Church was not for the likes of her. Under persuasion she eventually entered and was soon at home in her unusual environment. She and her friends behaved with reverence 'indeed better than many well instructed Christians'. They thought St Peter's Church was a beautiful place."
"I happened to be passing by and saw a woman vigorously waving her hand to me from the van there and then. So, all kneeling down on the van floor, prayer was offered up and their little. Going up to her / found that there was another mother who wanted her baby baptised. As the child was not well and they were leaving the nest day, the mother was anxious to have her child baptised one was made a member of Christ's flock, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Never was there a more reverent congregation. May they ever remain Christ's children."
Booking in for Church As space is limited for our two weekly services we remind you that if you want to come to Church on Sunday or Wednesday morning please phone 369971 or email the Vicar on: revkeithevans©talktalk.net
Please also let us know if you are on the weekly list and cannot come. Many thanks.
Stewards – Thanks We thank those who have acted as stewards on Sunday and Wednesday mornings, making sure that everyone is booked in for Church and contact information taken under the government's 'Track and trace' guidelines. Special thanks to Babs Lewis, Mike Charles, Barbara Richards, Kate Jones and Sue Wilkinson for their help and ministry of welcome.
Dedication Ceremony The Vicar dedicated two memorial plaques on the park benches near to the Village War Memorial in Southend Gardens on Monday 28th September.
The first plaque is in memory of Bill Barrington [MBE, LOH], our long serving Verger and former President of the Mumbles & South Gower Royal British Legion.
The second is in memory of Anthony Colburn, former City Councillor and Chairman of the Legion Branch.
Both men were long serving and loyal members of the Legion over many decades.
The plaques were presented by Mumbles Community Council in their honour.
New Arrival We congratulate Jean Ricci on becoming a Great great grandmother recently, following the birth of baby Rosie. We send Jean and the family our warmest good wishes.
Maqazine Notes Notes for the November edition of the Parish Magazine need to be in by Sunday 25th October at the latest please. It's always good to receive articles,
stories and photographs, especially those of local interest.
Contributions can be emailed to the Vicar at: revkeithevans©talktalk. net
New Welsh Flag We thank Tony & Dinah Cottle for presenting All Saints' with a new Welsh flag. The old one was getting more than a little frayed. We also thank our flag master, James Williams, for ordering the flag for us.
We congratulate Peter and Julie Lewis who will be celebrating their Golden Wedding Anniversary on the 2nd November.
Their many friends in the parish wish them a happy day of celebration.
This year's Harvest Appeal will be for 'Housing Justice Cymru', which will oversee the Swansea Winter Night Shelter in 2021.
Because of Coronavirus restrictions we will not be able to run the shelter in the Churchrooms next year. The organisers are planning to have a centralised venue that will mean that the beds and bedding will not be moved around the various Churches.
'Housing Justice Cymru' will also help to find permanent accommodation for those who come to next year's shelters as guests.
If you would like to support the appeal please bring your donation to Church in an envelope marked 'Night Shelter'.
Well Wishes Maureen Donald, Hazel Batty and Mike Taylor have recently been in hospital.
We send our love to them and to those who have been unwell or undergoing treatment recently; Betty Jenkins Charles Billings, Pam Thorpe, Fr David and Merlys Watkins, Sheila Rees, Maria & Reuben Gomez, John Sutton, Bud Williams, Liz Batcup, Phillip Williams and Margaret David.
We assure you of our love and prayers at this time.
Attendance: Sunday: 60 Wednesday: 32
Collections: £656 Direct Giving: £342
For up to date news follow us on Facebook or
the Parish Website: www.parishofoystermouth.com
Mumbles & Havre de Grace Twinning
Dear friends in Mumbles,
We send you warm greetings. We are most thankful for your constant prayers and our bonds of affection across a sea. We are grateful for words of wisdom we have received from holy people of Wales, living in centuries past and today.
We celebrated the Feast of St. David of Wales at St. John's
Church, in early March as part of the Twinning Cities relationship. It was the last Sunday before houses of prayer and civic and commercial institutions were shut down and quarantined in Maryland and around the world, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We heard the dying words St. Dewi: Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things.
Regardless of the difficulties we face, then and now, don't lose heart! Be a joyful community of faith. That last will and testament from your patron saint is particularly timely now. We receive it with embrace it with you.
Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, a native son of your parish, known and revered around the world, and now Lord of Oystermouth, wrote:
When I alone try to fill the emptiness inside, it leads me to exploit and dominate others and my
whole world. When God's love comes alive in me, I start wanting what God wants. / stop taking it for granted that how I define what's good for me sets the agenda for everyone else and I learn that there is no good for me that doesn't involve good for others. [Rowan Williams, Luminaries: Twenty lives that illuminate the Christian Way © 2019]
There's no good for me that doesn't involve good for others. We're interrelated: bound together in common purpose, dedicated to the common good, fellow stewards of God's Creation, on "this fragile earth, our island home." This is the vision and impulse we share as Twinning Cities.
Let us pray: Eternal God, your image lies in the hearts of all people. Help us to remember that you love all people with your great love, that the yearnings of other hearts are much like our own and are known to you. Help us to recognize you in the words of truth, the things of beauty, the actions of love about us and the ties that bind us in hope. [World Council of Churches, 1983, in The Oxford Book of Prayer]
Peace be with you always. May God bless you and keep you. Rev. T. James Snodgrass
St. John's Church, Havre de Grace, MD
Ministry Area Online Worship
As we enter the local lockdown we will continue to send out our Mumbles
Ministry Area online worship resources on Sundays and Midweek.
We have a written 'Service of the Word' which goes out to around three
hundred people. If you would like to receive a copy please let the Vicar know. You can
also follow it on the parish website.
Canon Chris Darvill's pre-recorded Sunday and Midweek services are available on
Youtube at "Virtually St Peter's".
Llwynderw parish also has a monthly service on its parish website.
Marie Curie - an Up-date
You may have heard recently of the desperate financial situation faced by many UK hospices as the pandemic continues. In addition to running many of these hospices, Marie Curie is struggling to meet increased demand for its vital community services.
I was recently privileged to hear one of the charity's nurses speak movingly of the free overnight end-of-life care she continues to provide for patients in their own homes. She had taken on additional shifts - not made easier by the need to collect and wear full PPE - but her chief concern was for the additional burden faced by families and carers. Desperate not to see their loved ones admitted to hospital many of them feel isolated and exhausted.
"I cannot tell you how relieved they are to see us arrive in the evening to talk about their worries - or how difficult it is to leave them in the morning." She admitted that on occasion she had stayed beyond her allotted shift just to give the carers a little more time.
Not surprisingly there has also been a massive increase in demand for Marie Curie's telephone and on-line advice service which provides both practical and emotional support. A team of 60 trained volunteers are now helping the bereaved by keeping in regular contact and giving them space to talk.
"One of the most difficult things we are having to deal with is the level of grief," said one of the charity's experienced workers. "People are feeling so alone."
And of course all this is happening at a time when charities' finances have been badly hit. Marie Curie is facing a £30million shortfall this year. In Wales, fundraising is down by more than 50 per cent.
Here in Mumbles and Gower we have had to cancel all our major events this year and it seems there is very little chance of resuming until at least next spring. However we haven't given up on fund-raising so please watch this space for news of Covid-safe events. And if your thoughts are turning to Christmas shopping there are lots of goodies on https://shop.mariecurie.orq.uk or I'd be pleased to put a Marie Curie catalogue through your door. You can contact me on 01792-366657 or email@example.com.
With many thanks
[Mumbles and Gower Fundraisers for Marie Curie]
Annual Vestry Meeting [Parish ACM]
The Annual Vestry Meeting was held after the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday 27th September.
The Parish Report was accepted [which included the accounts for 2019].
In the subsequent elections the Vicar reported that Peter Rice and Les Harris had decided to stand down as Churchwardens. They were thanked, along with the late Basil Tavinor, for the faithful and loyal service they had given to the parish over many years. The Vicar was pleased to report that Peter and Les would be given the honorary title of 'Warden Emeritus'.
The following appointments were made;
Vicar's Churchwarden: Stuart Batcup People's Churchwarden: Anne Neumann
Parochial Church Council: Roger Beynon, David Carpenter, Katrina Guntrip, Sonia Jones, Barbara Richards, Carl Richards & Bruce Roberts.
The newly elected PCC made the following appointments;
Parochial Church Secretary Sonia Jones Treasurer Julia Payne
A Happy Celebration
at St David's Cathedral
The Vicar and Mary represented the parish at the Ordination service at St David's Cathedral on Saturday 27th September when the Revd Jordan Spencer was presented to the diocese.
Jordan was ordained Deacon on Sunday 28th June at St David's Church, Abergwili. As it was held during the first lockdown the ordination was limited to just a handful of worshippers.
At the service in the Cathedral Jordan received a copy of the New Testament, which is traditionally given to new deacons. He also renewed his ordination vows and was presented to the people along with the two other candidates who were ordained that day.
Due to Welsh Government restrictions only a few dozen were able to be in the cathedral. The service was led by the Bishop of St David's and the choral parts of the Eucharist were sung by a Vicar Choral, Luke Phillips, who is Bev Lansdowne's nephew. So there was quite an Oystermouth connection on the day! It was really moving to hear someone sing again in Church.
Jordan is serving his 'Title' in the Parish of Fishguard and will be ordained priest at Petertide next year. We hope that things will be back to normal by then and we hope to organize a parish trip to the ordination.
The photograph [top left] shows the Vicar, the Bishop of St David's and Jordan after the service. The photograph [right] shows our new deacon with the Archdeacons of Carmarthen and St David's, The Ven Dorrien Davies and The Ven Paul Mackness. Jordan is wearing one of the four stoles we presented him as an ordination gift.
We wish Jordan every blessing in his future ministry.
[photographs & on the front cover: Rosie Davies]
Part 6: Thistleboon House: Origins
..This early sketch of Mumbles showsThistleboon house overlooking the village.
Our Trek, using the 1844 Tithe Map has taken us to the site of the building originally known as Thistleboon House. This was a great lump of a building sitting high on the skyline looking towards Mumbles Village from Norton as shown on the Sketch shown of 'The Mumbles' and two of the old Mumbles Railway Carriages made in the eighteen seventies. It is also shown on the very stylised Painting also shown. This was painted about a hundred years earlier showing its South facing elevation to Higher Lane, its Crenelations or Embattlements and its four grand chimneys. When it was built it clearly had an amazing panoramic view out over Swansea Bay as well as a clear view of Oystermouth Castle, described in Oliver Cromwell's Survey of 1650 as;
"An old decayed castle called the Castle of Oystermouth beinge for the present of noe use, but a very pleasant situation and near vnto the sea side;"
Not until two hundred years later when Graham Vivian rebuilt Clyne Castle, and Henry Crawshay built his 'summer house' LIan y LIan at Langland, apart from the Castle, Thistleboon House was clearly the largest dwelling in the Parish of Oystermouth in the late Seventeenth Century. A great deal has been written about it. In particular, in Gower 53 published in 2002 Wendy Cope, writing about "Oystermouth in the late Seventeenth Century" deals extensively with what went on there from about 1670 onwards starting with the Hearth Tax Return for that year. Thistleboon House seems to have been occupied by a 'John Robin' at the time, and with eight hearths had nearly twice as many hearths as any other buildings in the Parish, which were mainly cottages.
When it was still a private house in 1808 it was described in an Article in The Cambrian newspaper as having on the ground floor an entrance hall, a parlour twenty foot square, a breakfast parlour, an excellent kitchen with two ovens, a smaller kitchen with oven, butler's and other pantries, laundry and servants' hall. There were "capital arched cellars" below, and twelve more rooms on the first and second floors, presumably the living rooms with the views and the bedchambers, for family and servants.
Wendy's Article is well worth reading as it explains how Thistleboon House was used for Meetings of the Manor Courts under the legal system in force at that time; in particular the Baron Court dealt with matters relating directly to the administration of the land as an estate, and the Leet Court dealt with petty offences. Both Courts seem to have met half yearly on the same days and dealt with such matters as the appointment of constables, the repair of the Village stocks, whipping post and ducking stools!
As will be seen from Rod Coopers latest extract from the 1844 Tithe Map [on page 9] the Thistleboon Pound was nearby, and that was the subject of suits for payment of fines for the release of impounded stray animals, and for the more serious offence of 'Pound Breach' where owners had unlawfully recovered their stray animals from the Pound. Rod's Article in Gower 68 "Pounds in Gower" in 2017 is a fascinating account of how extensive these Pounds were across the Peninsula. There were in fact two Pounds in Oystermouth: the other being a square one beside Limekiln Lane close to Oystermouth School.
Other Articles have been written by Wendy "Thistleboon House School 1841 -1894" in Gower 46 in 1995 and by Gerald Gabb " Limeslade to Rotherslade: a Few Surprises" in Gower 48 in 1997.These contain a wealth of information, but none of them have been able to tell me:
- Who built Thistleboon House, and when?
- Why the hamlet is called Thistleboon?
For the reasons mentioned in the last Part of this Trek these are questions which have intrigued me for years, and now with the benefit of retirement and time I have been able to focus on the issues. I do not profess to be an historian of the calibre of Wendy or Gerald who have spent much time examining resources locally and in the National Library. However, having spent a life of forensically working with evidence of all sorts and none to come to conclusions "on the balance of probability", I have been able experience to the questions, and come up with what I regard as some respectable
to apply that conclusions.
This chapter will not be as light-hearted as what has gone before, but I trust that, gentle reader, you will bear with me on this part of the journey and enjoy the accompanying Images. So, let us move on.
Who built Thistleboon House and when?
- The turning point appears to be the outbreak of the Civil War in 1640, but first we must go back to the Norman Conquest of 1066. As Juliet Barker says in her scholarly book "Agincourt" 'The new technique of fighting which had won the Battle of Hastings for the Normans was also adopted in England; instead of standing or riding and hurling the lance overarm, these new warriors, the knights, charged on horseback with the lance tucked beneath the arm so that the weight of both horse and rider was behind the blow and the weapon was re-usable... .lntimately connected with these military developments was the equally significant rise of the feudal system of land tenure, which provided the knights to do the fighting by creating a chain of dependant lordships with the king at its head. Again, it was William the Conqueror who introduced feudalism to England from France. Immediately beneath him in the hierarchy were his tenants-in-chief, each of whom had to perform a personal act of homage, acknowledging that he was the king's vassal, or liege man and that he owed him certain services. The most important of these was the obligation to provide a certain number of knights for the royal army whenever called upon to do so. In order to fulfil this duty, the tenants-in-chief granted parcels of their own land to dependent knights upon the same conditions, so that a further relationship of lord and vassal was created.'
- As the Welsh proved harder to control, the role of monarch was granted to the Marcher Lords. Until 1536 and the first Act of Union, the Lordship of Gower was, like other marcher lordships almost an independent realm. It was bound to the English crown only by its lord's fealty to the monarch and by statute law. However, within such lordships the manorial systems were broadly similar to those of other more ordinary lordships in England. The details are complicated, but the marcher lord 'owned' the lordship, and in his lordship everyone who had land held it as the lord's tenant. If the lordship had not been a marcher lordship, all its land holders would have been tenants of the king, including its lord and he would have been the king's 'tenant in chief'.
- It was this link between providing fighting men and occupation of land for fealty that gave rise to the peculiar system of land tenure that crops up from time to time hereafter. From 1492 the Lordships of Gower and Kilvey have belonged to the Somerset family. In bathes in feudal times, both sides were not always intent on killing the leading Knights on the other side, as there was much money to be made from capturing such individuals and holding them to ransom. The book "Agincourt" goes into great detail about this but suffice it to say for present purposes it was necessary to know what a knight was worth to enable the captors to value the ransom. This, then, was one of the reasons that Surveys of the Lordships were carried out.
- So back to the Lordships of Gower and Kilvey , and in particular to the Manor of Oystermouth, the boundaries of which almost aligned with those of the Parish. In 1640 our marcher Lord was Henry Somerset, 5th Earl and 1st Marquess [sometimes Marquis] of Worcester [c1577-1646] [image left] whose seat was at the magnificent Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire. He was a Roman Catholic and supposed to be the richest man in England with great influence and power.
When Parliament decided to depose King Charles 1 in November 1640, triggering the First Civil War he decided to espouse the Royalist Cause and, indeed the end of that War centred on Raglan Castle in August 1646.
- The details of the campaign are covered in great detail in Rowland Phillips two volume work 'Civil War in Wales and
the Marches' published in 1874. Its Appendices include the written exchanges that passed between Col Thomas Morgan, and later General Sir Thomas Fairfax, both of Cromwell's New Model Army on the one side, and the Marquess on the other during the siege of the Castle that began on 29th June 1646.
- It also contains a list of the 500 Officers and Gentlemen who surrendered at Raglan on 19 August 1646, and the Articles for the Surrender of the Castle which is a 'stiff upper lip' sort of document setting out how the
garrison was to march out of the Castle, and the terms on which they were all to be pardoned after the expiration of three months. All, that is, except the Marquess..
- The Marquess was 84 years of age and died a prisoner later in 1646, and his son Edward
Somerset [1601-1667], the 2nd Marquess
outlived his father by only a year. Edward's eldest son and heir was Henry Somerset
[1629-1700], 3rd Marquess of Worcester and
1st Duke of Beaufort. Raglan Castle was mined and rendered uninhabitable by General
Fairfax [photo right] so the Duke transferred his principal seat to Badminton in Gloucestershire in 1650 and so it continues to this day. It is now the seat of the 11th Duke of Beaufort.
8, As a direct result of all this, and of the execution of Charles I on 30th January 1649 The Rt Hon Oliver Cromwell MP (1599-1658)
Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and
Wales 1653-1658 [image left] was granted, by Parliament parts of the Somerset family estates, including the Lordships of Gower and Kilvey.
The Lordships belonged to him until he died in 1658. On the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 the then 1st Duke of Beaufort secured the reversion of Cromwell's slice of his family estates and resumed management of the Lordship.
9. The Badminton Estate Records from 1262 to 1921 comprising some 5,537 items are deposited in the National Library of Wales, and
have long been available for study, and have proved a rich source of
materials for historians, including Wendy Cope. If she had come across any reference to the
creation of a Grant of any sort referring to the building of Thistleboon House, then I am
certain that she would have mentioned it. If it was built during Oliver Cromwell's time as the Lord of Gower, then there probably is no record, and so the period of my search is narrowed to the years between 1649 and 1660.
10. Even without any record, it is clear that whoever built Thistleboon House must have been rich and powerful, and when this narrow time window is explored, one name becomes
the obvious candidate, and that is Captain, later Colonel Phillip Jones [1618 to 1674]. During the first Civil War this character met Oliver Cromwell in Swansea on at least two occasions. In his seminal work "Swansea and its History " Volume II published in 2019 Gerald Gabb devotes some twenty pages of narrative and supporting data on Jones, describing him as 'the most significant individual to come out of Swansea'.
- According to Gerald his first important position was as Governor of the Town of Swansea, appointed by Parliament on 17 November 1645 when he was only 27. He consolidated his position locally by becoming Steward of the Marquess of Worcester's Lordships of Gower and Kilvey in 1645 and on 1St October 1646 he became a Burgess of the Town. On 19th August 1650 he became an Alderman. By then he was being called "Colonel - steward and governore of the towne of Swansye" usually abbreviated to Coil. Jones.
- The story of his rapid rise from then on to the rest of Glamorgan, throughout South Wales and then to Westminster is fascinating. In his "The Account Book for the Borough of Swansea, Wales 1640-1660; A Study in Local Administration During the Civil War and Interregnum", by Michael Price published in 1990 Coll. Jones' contribution is summarised in the following way:
'Philip Jones, Governor of Swansea... had a profound influence on the government of the town and indeed the whole of South Wales during the Commonwealth period. Jones was probably born at Liangyfelach near Swansea of humble origins. After the Civil War, he emerged as the leading Parliamentarian in South Wales and went on to become a member of the new Council of State of the Protectorate in 1653 and Comptroller of Cromwell's Household in 1657. However, his rule was marred by accusations of bribery, corruption and obtaining tithes by menaces, fraud and force. Eventually, a Petition of Impeachment was presented to the Rump Parliament in 1659, accusing him of amongst other things "oppression and high Breach of Trust". Even though various witnesses were presented to testify against him, Jones emerged unscathed with his estates intact. After the Restoration, he faded into obscurity and died in 1678 at Fonmon Castle in Glamorgan.'
13. But what evidence do we have to link Phillip Jones with Thistleboon House. Fortunately, there are several threads:
- Phillip Jones developed a landed estate for himself on a grand scale. Cromwell's Survey of 1650 records a number of properties held by Jones in 'Gower Anglicana/ the Town of Swanzey and the Libertyes thereof being a member of the said Seignory', suggesting that he had, within five years, acquired three Mansions on High Street [image right]. One was later called 'The Great House' and is recorded in the Survey as "the new dwelling house of the said Coil. Jones" in the Eighteenth Century it became the home of the then Duke's Steward Gabriel Powell and is identified by Bernard Morris in his "Survey of Gower 1764" on the extract from the Buck brothers "East View of Swansea" published in 1748 shown
- This was in addition to holdings that he had built up on Gower and in the Vale of Glamorgan, the earliest acquisition being of some land in Liangyfelach in May 1642. Indeed, during the interregnum "he spent the massive sum of £15,800 on land, including £4,000 between 1650 and 1652.1n 1650 he even bought £1600 worth of the 1st Duke's Estate in the Vale of Glamorgan
- With Mansions in the Town who would not want 'a weekend retreat' in somewhere as pleasant and convenient as Thistleboon in Mumbles with its spectacular views of the ruins of Oystermouth Castle and over Swansea Bay. I have reproduced the Section of the 1650 Survey that sets out the Customary holders of the Manor of Oystermouth with the rents they pay [imager left]. As you will see at Ffistleboon Coil Jones had a 'house and garden' with a nil acreage, and a yearly rent of one penny! Strange at a time when a Welsh acre was twice the size of an English acre, and the 'going rate' for Oystermouth (per Grant Francis) was between 3s 4d and 15s per annum per acre. The 1844 Tithe Map suggests that with the walled Garden opposite, and the Coach Yard alongside, the Thistleboon House holding ran to some four acres. The Survey shows that the Marquess usually granted leases of land for 25 years at the going rate.
- The fact that Coil. Jones was only paying a penny a year for an indeterminate acreage suggests that the Survey may have been self-serving for Coil. Jones, for Bussy Mansell and for the Walter Thomas mentioned in the extract. The Contents page to the 1650 Survey (which I have also reproduced) covers the whole of the Lordship, with the dates the various Surveys were carried out. The earliest relates to 'Landewi 'in 1326, and the Surveys of 'Landymore' in 1598 and 1602 are typical. In each case a 'Jury' made up of tenants of a manor was sworn to confirm from local knowledge the extent of the various holdings, the occupiers and the rents payable. No such Juries were convened for the 1650 Survey, and it will have been noted from the Preamble I have already mentioned that Bussy Mansell was one of the authors of the Survey, and the fact that Walter Thomas had been the Steward of the Lordship until 1645 when Jones took over may not be coincidental!
- Close examination of the entries on the Survey concerning the Manor of Oystermouth reveals that under 'Freeholders paying Rents' at Ffistleboon there are four parcels of land running to about four and a half Welsh acres which produced four pence per annum, and there are four further Customary holders mentioned , one of land only running to ten acres at a rent of 7s id. The remaining three each had a 'messuage' (dwellinghouse) and land running to a total of twenty acres at a total rent of 18s 9d.
- All this seems to confirm that the holdings were all agricultural in nature, but Coil. Jones' holding was something else because of the use of the word 'house' in the description.
I am satisfied, on the balance of probability that the 'house and garden' at Ffistleboon mentioned in the 1650 Survey is in fact Thistleboon House, and that it was built by CoI.i
Phillip Jones in 1648/1649, so it could not be totally ignored when the Survey was carried out.
As an interesting counterpoint I am producing a photograph taken of me in our front garden in the Winter of 1952/53 with Thistleboon House in the background [photo right]. The snow emphasises the Crenellations/ battlements and main elevation of Thistleboon House at that time. Alongside it is a photograph [below left] of Fonmon Castle taken by the late Roy Kneath for Gerald Gabb in May 2013. Can you spot the difference?
In Gerald's Volume II there are a series of photos of the interior taken by Roy at the same time with the kind permission of Sir Brooke Boothby the present owner and resident of the Castle, who is a descendant of our Coil. Jones. For the avid Television viewer both Sir Brooke and the Castle recently figured in Rhod Gilbert's 'Work Experience' on BBC Wales when he worked there as a butler for one evening. The Portrait of the good colonel in later life that I have reproduced also figured in the programme.
Why is the hamlet called 'Thistleboon;?
- As will be appreciated from what I have already said, the first written representation of the name appeared in the 1650 Survey as 'Fistleboon' or 'Ffistleboon'. Etymology being what it is, this may not have been what the scribe of the Survey was told, or what he heard. Indeed, he may have been given two words 'Pissle', 'Fissle' or 'Fistle' and 'Boon' as was the case in the 1799 Survey of Swansea Bay. That being the case it is worth breaking down my quest by looking at those two words, with English, Welsh and local dialect in mind.
- The starting point seems to have had a lot to do with water. Although Thistleboon is quite high up, it was, and clearly still is a very wet sort of place because of the limestone strata on which it stands. Just look at the name given to Marespool in 1844. It was then called Mear Pool', which is a bit strange as 'mear' or 'mere' is an old English word for a lake or a pond ie the 'Lake Pool' or the 'Pond Pool'? [Another meaning of 'mere' was 'boundary', so it may have meant 'Boundary Pool', which makes more sense]. Even I remember the Pool regularly discharging water onto Plunch Lane, which is itself an anglicisation of the Welsh word 'plwnch' which means 'plunge'. It was that very water which contributed to my mother turning over one of her Post Office vans in Plunch Lane in 1942!
- We also have the 'Well Field' along Higher Lane which is the subject of the present lively and controversial debate about its proposed use for residential development, notwithstanding that it is within the boundary of the Gower Area of Outstanding Beauty. The well that was there has long been out of use, but the bottom of the field remains wet and marshy for most of the year: legend has it that it is a bottomless bog which has consumed mammoths in the past, and might do the same to houses!
- When Coil. Jones [image right] came to build Thistleboon House in 1649/1650, he had no problem sourcing the necessary stone. I believe that it would have come from the site of the three cottages Nos 13, 15, and 17 Thistleboon Road, and the small quarry behind which is now almost totally overgrown. We certainly knew it as 'the Quarry' when we played there as children and its use to provide stone for building makes perfect sense as the stonemasons would only have to haul the stone a few yards across the natural gulley at that point. It also follows that they left a level plateau on which the cottages could be built later. Any timber needed in the construction would probably have been shipped to the 'Key of Mumbles' mentioned in the 1650 Survey and hauled up Village Lane.
- Water would have been needed by the builders in the construction of the house, and, more importantly for its use as a substantial gentleman's residence. It appears that when Thistleboon House was built, the main building was oblong in shape, with carriage access down the track at the left hand side [looking from Higher Lane] to a Carriage Yard, Coach House and Stables, and the Porch giving access to the House on the side. As I have already said, with the walled garden on the other side of Higher Lane, the whole site probably ran to some Four English acres.
- About 25 yards from the Pound shown on the 1844 Tithe Map and up the hill forming the field shown as Pound Acre there was a well. Its location is probably under one of the present bungalows at the junction of Heatherslade Close / Higher Lane. in the nineteen fifties, the Pound was just a pile of stones, and the Well head was surrounded by brambles, but it was certainly still there. The Welsh word for a 'spout or well' was and is 'pistyll'. This had become 'pissle' in the local dialect and is defined as "A spring running from a bank or wall channelled down a pipe' in Ben Jones and Rob Penhallurick's 'The Gower Glossary" published in 2018: just what was needed to service Thistleboon House, its occupants and their animals.
- A clue as to the significance of the second part of the name lies in the name 'Tichborne' or 'Tichbourne' [as the City of Swansea spells it on their current street sign for Tichborne Street]. 'Borne' 'Bourn' or 'Bourne' is a common suffix and is a variant of the Scottish 'burn'. One of its OED meanings is "a small stream, especially one that flows intermittently or seasonally". If ever you have trekked up Village Lane and the gully that is Thistleboon Road when it is raining, or just after you will have walked up something more than a 'small stream'!
- My theory therefore is that the name Thistleboon has nothing to do with thistles, but is derived from 'Pissle Bourn', with the Mumbles dialect turning 'Bourn' into 'Boon'. Fistle or Ffistle is not a word known to the Welsh language, but it is known in Scotland as an intransitive verb meaning 'to make a rustling sound, to bustle about or to fidget', so I think we can discount that as well.
- Sensitivity toward any connection that the word 'Pissle' may have had with Urine may have led the 1650 scribe to use the less offensive 'Ffistle' in his spelling of the word. He was, of course the scribe to the eminent gentlemen already mentioned who were all Puritans. It does not take a great leap of conjecture to conclude that their sensitivity to such a crude sounding word led to 'Pissle Bourn' becoming 'Ffistleboon' then 'Thistleboon' where we have been for the last Two hundred and twenty years or more.
Stuart Batcup September 2020
Please accept my sincere thanks for your prayers over the past months during which Luke and I have moved to Fishguard, I have been ordained and began my ministry here in the diocese of St David's.
Can I also say a huge thank you for your kind gift of a set of stoles which Fr Keith presented to me. Due to the pandemic I received a white and red set prior to my ordination and therefore wore my white stole gifted by the parish for my deaconing.
During the reaffirming of my vows last week at St David's Cathedral Fr Keith presented me with the green and purple stoles which completed the set. I currently wear the green as it is ordinary time within the church calendar and look forward to getting around to wearing the others as we move through the seasons. Whilst the stole is a symbol and a reminder of my role and responsibilities as a deacon, this particular set is also a reminder of my time at All Saints and of all the treasured memories and friends that we have made.
I do hope that you will continue to pray for me as Luke and I will indeed pray for you and your loved one during these times.
Next Month's Magazine
We will publish an interesting article next month to coincide with Remembrance
Sunday. Kate Jones has researched the story of the Rood Screen Great War
Memorial at All Saints' which was installed and dedicated one hundred years ago.
Contacting the Vicar
Revd. Canon Keith Evans DL
Letter: The Vicarage,9, WesternClose, Mumbles,
Swansea, SA3 4HF