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A brief history of St Fagans

St Fagan was one of 4 missionaries sent by the Bishop of Rome to bring Christianity to the area – having been invited to do so by the local chieftain, Lleurwg, in the year 180 AD.

We then enter the Dark Ages, to reappear in 1091 when the Normans came to this part of Wales. A long period of lordship of the manors followed, with feuding, marrying, and inheriting, transferring ownership of the land (and for centuries its people!) until the present day when substantial land and property is retained by the Plymouth family. The ‘Glamorgan Historian’ by Stewart Williams is an excellent book covering the history of the village, although I suspect it may no longer be in print.

As a community we made the news headlines in 1648, when one of the last battles of the ‘English’ Civil War was fought here. The royalists (in reality a ragbag army of chancers and no-hopers) were soundly defeated by the well equipped New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell did not make it on time to join in the fighting, because by midday on the 8th of May what was left of the Royalist army was in retreat.

 St Fagans became the site of major rail sidings in the nineteenth century, when coal was king. Wagons from the valleys were shunted (for many years by horsepower) ready for transport to the ports of Barry and Cardiff. The line from the valleys to Barry crossed the main line linking Cardiff and West Wales a mile from the site of the present level crossing. The viaduct carrying the line across the river Ely was blown up in the 70s to make way for the ‘link road’ – an act of vandalism that would not be permitted today!

The Barry line continued as a passenger line until the axe fell in the Beeching era. It passed through a 1.1 mile long tunnel, which still survives – passing below TESCO at Culverhouse Cross.

St Mary’s church was originally built around 1300 AD, but was extensively renovated and extended in 1860. However a much older church was originally built in the village within the site of what is now the castle grounds.