THE HISTORY OF CARDIFF'S SUBURBS
Incorporating the estates of Lamby and Wentlooge
Rumney has been inhabited since the Bronze age, and evidence of occupation has been found near the Rumney Great Wharf, a piece of coastline near the sea at Wentloog.
Although there is little remaining evidence of Roman occupation in Trederlech (as it was known in the 1st century), it is thought that there may have been a Roman camp at the bottom of Rumney Hill.
The Via Julia Maritima (a 2,000 year old Roman coastal road) runs right through the middle of Cardiff, and it was at the bottom of the hill that a substantial bridge was built over the River Rhymney.
Roman pottery has been found in the district, and it's likely that clay from the river used in the manufacturing process.
Caer Castell, a few miles up the hill, may have been a Roman watch tower or look-out post. The Bristol Channel is clearly visible on a good day, and this would have been an excellent vantage point on which to spot raiders coming in from the south.
Rumney's history is unknown between the 1st and 11th century, and it is thought that the land was mainly used for farming.
Since the Romans had left Britain in the 4th Century, the Vikings had started raiding England and Wales. Some of the Nordic invaders decided to settle in Cardiff, and Lamby was one of their villages established for trading along the river.
Norman Occupation and Welsh Uprising
Remains of a Norman ring work and castle were excavated in Caer Castell in 1978, and evidence recorded shows that the fort was built around 1081.
It had been renovated numerous times over the next 200 years and for reasons made unclear, the castle was converted into a manor sometime in the 1260's.
One possibility is that the head of the Norman Lordship of Glamorgan, Gilbert De Clare, wanted somewhere secure for his mother Maud to live during the Welsh uprising.
Maud died in 1289, and Gilbert just nine years later. The estate that grew up around the manor was held under Wentlooge, which was an ancient parcel of land owned by the Lordship of Glamorgan and Morgannwg, being within Morgannwg though, not within Glamorgan. This means that until 1887, its administrative affairs were cared for by the town of Newport, which was at the time in England.
From Fort to Farm
During the 13th and 14th centuries, the manor and its estate had passed through the hands of various families, and undergone several changes of name.
Rompney as it was now known was owned by Lord Thomas Cromwell in 1532. The tenants on Cromwell's estate were required to build and fortify a sea wall due to regular flooding, which badly affected nearby Trowbridge.
When Cromwell was executed for treason in 1533 by Henry VIII, the land passed into the Keymes family, and the tenants carried on their sea wall fortifications right through to the late 1880's.
Over the centuries, the manor was converted into a farmhouse and occupied until its demolition in the 1930s, to make way for Ty Mawr Road and Ty Mawr Avenue.
A Community Develops
The church of St Augustine was built sometime in the 12th century and for 800 years has been the focal point for the Parish.
The original tower was rebuilt in the 15th century and one of its six bells dates back to 1709. A row of cottages known as Beili Bach, or the little bailey, was built around the time of the rebuilding of the tower.
The Carpenter's Arms at the top of Rumney Hill was built in 1872, and the Pear Tree Inn was built around the same time. The Pear Tree was reputed to have been a particular favourite with pirates, who stowed their ill-gotten gains until they could make their getaway on the Rhymney.
The Inn was purchased in the 19th century by an American Ambassador who added a mock Tudor facade and renamed it the Rompney Castle.
In the 1830's, a Pottery was established at the bottom of Rumney Hill, near the bridge. A small cottage near the Pottery was used a toll pike for people coming from Monmouthshire (England) to Glamorgan (Wales), and this brought a regular supply of passing trade.
Even today, people still have to pay a toll to cross the Severn bridge from Gloucester (England) to Monmouthshire, which is now in Wales.
The cottage has been long since demolished, but the Pottery remains and continues to thrive.
The Pottery has been owned by seven generations of the Giles family, who have made the most of the clay rich banks of the Rhymney just as the Romans did nearly two millennia ago.
20th Century Developments
The Parish was transferred to Glamorgan in the 1880's and Rumney become a suburb of Cardiff in 1938.
Within a decade a massive housing development had begun, which eventually spread into Llanrumney, Trowbridge and St. Mellons.
The large houses on Rumney Hill and Newport Road were swallowed up by the estate, but still stand out today as very desirable places to live.
Some of the suburb has remained relatively untouched however. Oak Meadow Cottage in Lamby is 300 years old and used to be a magistrates court where criminals were hung.
A large meandering section of the Rhymney, including a section of Lamby landfill, was reclaimed by the City Council and turned into a wildlife reserve. A new fresh water lake was constructed, which is now teeming with fish. The reserve was named Trederlech Park, and it opened in 2003.
Rumney Gardens were built on the site of a former cemetery and the local quarry has been turned into a children's park.
Page Updated: 01 December 2014
- Caer Castell Ring Motte - RCAHMW
- Pottery keeps it in the family - South Wales Echo
- Rumney and Llanrumney - Houses for Rent Wales
- Rumney Castle - A Ringwork and Manorial Centre - Castle Wales
- Rumney Castle (Cae-Castell) - RCAHMW
- Rumney History
- Schedule of place names: S - Z, Cardiff Records: volume 5 - British History Online
- Three final Bronze Age occupations at Rumney Great Wharf on the Wentlooge Level - CAT.INIST
- The Illustrated History of Cardiff's Suburbs - Dennis Morgan
- The manors of Cardiff district: Descriptions, Cardiff Records: volume 2 - British History Online
- Trederlech / Rumney, Monmouthshire - Genuki