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Legends and Heroes of Bridgend

Richard Price

Dr Richard Price

Bridgend has myths, legends and tales of colourful characters in abundance.  Of historical importance is 'Richard Price', who was born in Llangeinor in 1723 and achieved international fame for his radical political ideas. He influenced the members of the very first American Congress - Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, inspired one of the first campaigners for women's rights Mary Wollstonecraft, and directly brought about the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Over in Blaengarw, Daniel James wrote the renowned hymn Calon Lan. A bench now commemorates his talent with the words of his hymn carved out in English and Welsh. In St Davids Church, Betws rests the grave of 'Private Samuel Pitt', one of the heroes of the famous stand against the Zulus at Rorke's Drift. And one of Bridgend's most treasured real-life heroines is 'Sarah Jane Howell', a dedicated young teacher at Brynmenyn School, who was only 22 years old when she died in 1911 saving a boy who had fallen into the River Llynfi. A plaque at her the school still testifies to her bravery and a trust fund set up in her name awards a prize each year to a chosen pupil.

Sarah Jane Howell 001 Copy

Sarah Jane Howell

Over the centuries Bridgend has also had its fair share of the evil and the eccentric, as well as the great and good. 'Cap Coch' was the sinister licensee of the New Inn who, with his band of outlaws, murdered unsuspecting travellers stopping over at his inn on their way to London. In modern times 'Ben the Hermit' of Kenfig Sands was introduced to the readers of the South Wales Echo and Express in 1934 as a 'real-life Robinson Crusoe'. A timberman in the mines for 40 years, Ben one day decided that civilised life held nothing for him and he wished to live with nature. For ten years he lived alone in a dugout he built in the side of a high sand dune on Kenfig Shore. With dovetailed beams, a galvanised roof and wooden walls he skilfully fashioned a home with a bed, table, chairs from boxes and a grate to cook on. He lived from a meagre pension, what he could find on the beach and by barter. His only companions were two wild cats and the birds he fed fish to.

kenfig

Kenfig Nature Reserve

In the realms of local legends, there is the much-loved tale of Ann Thomas and Wil Hopcyn: The Romance of the Maid of Cefn Ydfa, tells the story of the thwarted love of a daughter of the landed gentry for a yeoman thatcher-poet. Ann, born in 1704, was the daughter of William Thomas and Catherine Price and heiress to Cefn Ydfa, a rich farm with extensive land. Wil, the son of Hopcyn Thomas and Diana Harry, was born in 1701 from yeoman stock and grew up to be a plasterer and thatcher. Ann was destined to marry Anthony Maddocks of Cwmrisca, a lawyer from a good family, but when Wil was employed to carry out repairs at Cefn Ydfa he and Ann fell passionately in love. The two held lovers trysts, defied imprisonment, even sent secret letters written in blood, but all in vain. Against her will, Ann's marriage to Anthony Maddocks took place on May 5th 1725. Tragically, Ann fell ill and died from her grief whilst Wil died a bachelor in 1741.

John Lyons Cefn Ydfa

Cefn Ydfa Farm the home of The Maid of Cefn Ydfa

These are just a few of the rich tapestry of stories woven into the local landscape. Wherever you go in the Bridgend area, you can be sure to find yourself walking in the footsteps of history and legends.

Videos

The Maid of Cefn Ydfa

 

Dr Richard Price

 

Private Samuel Pitt

 

 Sarah Jane Howell

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