St Athan

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St Athan
The Four Bells, St Athan - - 1284239.jpg
The Four Bells, St Athan
St Athan is located in Vale of Glamorgan
St Athan
St Athan
 St Athan shown within the Vale of Glamorgan
Population 4,495 (community and ward 2011)[1]
Principal area Vale of Glamorgan
Ceremonial county South Glamorgan
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Barry
Postcode district CF62 4
Dialling code 01446
Police South Wales
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Vale of Glamorgan
Welsh Assembly Vale of Glamorgan
List of places
Vale of Glamorgan

Coordinates: 51°24′07″N 3°24′58″W / 51.402°N 3.416°W / 51.402; -3.416

St Athan (Welsh: Sain Tathan) is a village and community in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales. The village and its parish church are dedicated to Saint Tathan. The church dates to the 13th–14th century, though an earlier church was dated to the Norman period. The village and the adjacent dormitory village of Eglwys Brewis are known primarily for the MOD St Athan RAF base. There are three pubs in the village, as well as a football team at St Athan Football Club and the St Athan Golf Club.[2]


Located in the Vale of Glamorgan, St Athan lies off the B4265 road, roughly 8 miles (13 km) by road northwest of downtown Barry. A 1632 survey defined the boundaries of the manor of St Athan by Eglwys Brewis and Castleton to the north; South Orchard, West Orchard and Llantwit Major to the west, Gileston and the Bristol Channel to the south; and East Orchard and the River Thaw to the east.[3]


The village and parish church in the distance


Legend holds that Tathan was an Irish monk who was in a boat which ran aground at Portskewett, after being blown across the Bristol Channel, around 540 AD.[4][5] He founded a monastery and school and is said to have been buried in the orchard of the vicarage at Caerwent. However, somewhat confusingly, a Tathan the Younger is said to be buried at St Athan Parish Church, although the exact location of the grave is unknown.[4] Others say the village obtained its name from Tathana, granddaughter of Meuric ap Tewdric of Trebeferad (Boverton), who lived a humble life as a nun in a mud hut on the River Thaw, near the Old Mill; she was associated with the monastic school of nearby Llantwit Major, and was buried at the church.[4]

Early history[edit]

Historical records indicate that in the Taxatio (1291) and Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535) the village was named Llandathan and the parish church named simply Tathana’s.[4] St Athan's comprised three sub-manors: Castleton, East Orchard, and West Orchard.[6] The early history of the parish of Eglwys Brewis records that it was situated in the manor of St Athan and was held by the same lordship as that of Castleton.[6] Roman coins have been discovered in the vicinity including a find in 1798 in a field between St Athan and Eglwys Brewis.[7] The Castleon manor existed in St Athan from the Norman period under the lordship of the Nerber family. Norman castles were later constructed in West Orchard and East Orchard as manorial residences. In 1320, a Richard de Nerber was said to have "retained only half a knight's fee at St Athan."[8] However, from around 1240, the Berkerolles family appear to have received entitlements to the manorial estates of West and East Orchard and built a new manor house in West Orchard and later at East Orchard in 1377.[3] The earlier Norman castles appear to have been destroyed by Ifor Bach. The Berkerolles family's influence grew stronger in the 14th century. Sir Roger Berkerolles died in 1351; a tomb is dedicated to him in the parish church, which also contains his parents' remains. The current church is mainly dated to the 14th century and it is thought the Norman church originally here was ordered to be rebuilt by the Berkerolles.[9] Later, the manor fell under the Stradling family.[9]

Modern history[edit]

Entrance to MOD St Athan

In 1811, A Topographical Dictionary of the Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle included the following entry on St Athan:

ATHAN, ST., in the Cwmwd of Maenor Glynn Ogwr, Cantref of Cron Nedd (now called the Hundred of Ogmore), County of GLAMORGAN, South Wales: a Rectory, valued in the King's Books at £15..9..7: Patron, Robert Jones, Esq.: Church dedicated to St. Athanasius. The Resident Population of this Parish, in 1801, was 264. The Money raised by the Parish Rates, in 1803, was £125..17..1, at 1s..8d. in the pound. It is 6 1/2 m. S. from Cowbridge. This Parish contains 1300 Acres of cultivated Land. In this Parish are the ruins of East Orchard, one of the twelve Norman Castles, and the Site of West Orchard, another Castle of later date: As well as the Port of West Aber Ddaw, so much noted for the superiority of its Lime.[10]

In 1847, the village had a population of about 379 people.

The village was served by St Athan Road railway station between 1892 and 1930. There is no longer any local rail connection.

Although a settlement has existed at St Athan for over a thousand years, St Athan and its dormitory village of Eglwys Brewis significantly enlarged around the nearby MOD St Athan RAF base. This unit is home to the Special Forces Support Group, the DSG large aircraft maintenance unit and an element of the Defence College of Electro-Mechanical Engineering. In 2010 it was announced that a proposed £14 billion defence training academy, which would have created 2,000 jobs, had been cancelled by the government as part of the 8% cut in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.[11]

On 11 February 2009 two Air Experience Flights by the Air Training Corps left RAF St Athan and collided in mid-air, killing the pilots and two female Cadets. An investigation was launched.[12]

On 23 February 2016 Aston Martin announced that their new factory to build its DBX crossover model would be located on the airfield at St Athan. Construction of the 90 acre site would commence in 2017, with a total investment of $280 million and the creation of 750 jobs. The factory would be located in the existing buildings on the site. The U.S. state of Alabama, along with two UK sites and a Middle Eastern location, had been on Aston’s shortlist for the factory. Aston unveiled the DBX at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show; DBX production will start in 2020 with an output of up to 5,000 units a year envisaged.[13][14][15]

Politics and Administration[edit]

County Council St Athan Ward Elections[edit]

The current county councillor is Cllr John Thomas.

2012 St Athan Ward Election[edit]

2012 St Athan Local Election[16]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Sandra Toker 311 41.7% +59.8%
Conservative John Thomas 435 57.7% -21.9%
Spoilt Ballots 8 1.1%
Majority 124 16.4% -74.3%
Turnout 754
Conservative hold Swing -21.1%

2008 St Athan Ward Election[edit]

2008 St Athan Local Election[17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Gavin Toker 248 26.1% +15.5%
Conservative John Thomas 701 73.9% +12.1%
Majority 453 64.7%
Turnout 949
Conservative hold Swing

2004 St Athan Ward Election[edit]

2004 St Athan Local Election[18]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Dennis Harkus 205 22.6%
Conservative John Thomas 598 65.9%
Plaid Cymru Mark Roberts 105 11.6%
Majority 393
Turnout 908
Conservative hold Swing

1999 St Athan Ward Election[edit]

1999 St Athan Local Election[19][20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour B. Doughty 425 49.0%
Conservative John Thomas 442 51.0%
Majority 17
Turnout 867
Conservative hold Swing

1995 St Athan Ward Election[edit]

1995 St Athan Local Election[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Ms. C. Price 505 38.9%
Conservative R. Thomas 532 41.0%
Liberal Democrat Ms. S. Wilson 93 7.2%
Plaid Cymru J. Bellin 80 6.2%
Independent Ms. J. Horton 87 6.7%
Majority 27
Turnout 1297
Conservative hold Swing

St Athan Community Council[edit]

Current Representatives[edit]

St Athan Community Council
All of council elected every five years
Three Wards of St Athan
Houses Unicameral
Cllr Ann Barnaby
Seats 13
St Athan Community Council.png
Political groups
First past the post
Meeting place
The Old School Hall

St Athan has a Community Council of 13 seats including a chairperson and separately 1 clerk which represent the 3 wards of St Athan, Gileston, and Flemingston.[21] The Chairperson sits at the top of the table, with Deputy to Chair's right and Clerk to Chair's left.[22]

  • Cllr David Crompton
  • Cllr David Street
  • Cllr Derek Willmot
  • Cllr Brian Acott
  • Cllr Ms Ann Barnaby
  • Cllr Mrs Jackie Lougher
  • Cllr Mrs Gillian Phillips
  • Cllr Roger Eustace
  • Cllr Steve Hains
  • Cllr David Crompton
  • Cllr Mrs Shane Williams
  • Cllr David A Elston

+ 1 Vacancy

John Haswell (Clerk)


  1. St Athan
  2. Flemingston & Eglwys Brewis
  3. Gileston & West Aberthaw
Community Ward Remit[edit]

The community ward of St Athan includes the Village of St Athan and the Castleton Residential Park.

The community ward of Flemingston & Eglwys Brewis includes the village of Flemingston, the village of Eglwys Brewis (which is split between the Ex MOD housing estate West Camp and the Northern "Bird's Estate"), the East Camp Ex-MOD housing estate which does not make up any village, the hamlet of New Barn and the area known as Beggars Pound.

The community ward of Gileston & West Aberthaw covers the village of Gileston, the soon-to-be housing estate of the Old Boys Village, the houses collected within West Aberthaw and Limpert Bay.

Notable buildings and monuments[edit]

Tomb of Katherine Turberville and her husband, Sir Roger Berkerolles, within Church of St Athan.

The following landmarks are listed buildings of St Athan and its sub-manors:[23][24]

St Athan
  • Church of St Athan (I)
  • Anonymous Monument and railings in Churchyard of Church of St Athan (II)
  • St Athan War Memorial (II)
  • The Old Rectory (Balfour House) (II)
  • Myrtle Cottage and out buildings (II)
  • West Farmhouse (II)
  • West Orchard Farmhouse (II)
  • Aderyn [Prev. part of West Orchard Farmhouse] (II)
  • Castleton Farmhouse (II*)
  • Bakehouse and Donkey Stable at Castleton Farmhouse (II)
  • Former Barn at Castleton Farm (II)
East Orchard
Eglwys Brewis
  • Church of St. Brise (II*)[25]
Bethesda'r Fro Chapel, near St Athan West Camp
Myrtle Cottage
St Athan War Memorial
Parish Church of St Athan

The main entrance to the Grade I listed Parish Church of St Athan (partially restored 1888-90)[26] lies on the south porch, which contains the remains of a sundial and displays the Berkerolles coat of arms, dated to the 13th or 14th century.[5] The windows are dated to the 14th century and the tomb in the south wall remains untouched, although the tomb in the west window was restored in 1934.[5] The large rounded font which stands on a square three foot high base is made of Sutton stone retrieved from the Ogmore River and appears to date to the earlier Norman church.[5] The church bells date to 1635, 1707, 1720 and 1744, and two further bells were added in 1919; this is commemorated next to the hymn board.[5] The church contains effigies of Sir Roger Berkerolles and his wife, Katherine Turberville, eldest sister of Sir Richard Turberville of Coity Castle.[27]

Bethesda'r Fro Chapel

The Bethesda'r Fro Chapel, a United Reformed Church chapel, dates from 1807. Roger's Lane, a lane leading from St Athan to the chapel is reportedly haunted and phantom funerals have been reported in the area with witnesses hearing funeral music and a procession and nobody being there.[28] One elderly farmer recognized several of the mourners and the procession halted before a house before vanishing.[28] St Athan is also said to be haunted by a lady in white.[29]

Old Rectory

The Old Rectory is dated to the early to mid-19th century. Built of stone, the porch included fluted pilasters. The Old Rectory was converted to a school in around 1960 but now contains flats.[24]


A number of dwellings in the village hold listed status in recognition of their special architectural or historic interest. Cadw, the governmental body that administers the listings, designated Myrtle Cottage as Grade II. It is the last cottage in the area with a thatched roof, and retains period features such as heavy oak beams and an old iron bread-oven.[30] New Barn Cottage, a 3 bedroom formerly-thatched cottage was part of the Radcliffe estate until it was sold in 1928. The Croft is a cottage which dates to the late 19th or early 20th century and is noted for its rounded-head door opening and symmetrical facade.[30] Also of note is The Willows, a late-17th-century farmhouse which once featured in Glamorgan Farmhouses.[30]

East Orchard, a castle within the village, was built in 1691 by Roger Berkerolles; curiously, in 1843, a wild fig tree grew out of the cement of the chapel walls.[31] West Farm is a Grade II listed building, dated to the early 16th century with 19th-century alterations. Formerly thatched roofed, it has "dressed stone tudor-arched doorways, straight-cut with fillet ceiling timbers and gable-entry stone stairs" and "castellated stone bay windows".[30] West Orchard Farm is also a Grade II listed building, c. 17th century. Its unusual architectural features include its five inline chimneys, a "Tudor arched doorway, broad chamfered beams and gabled porch".[30]


The war memorial is located on the grass along the B4265 road at Gileston Cross to the south of the village. It was built in around 1920 to commemorate those who died during the First World War. The memorial, built from Portland stone ashlar, is a square pillar raised on three steps with a dentilated cornice, capped by a ball.[24] The Church of St Athan contains monuments of the Berkerolles family with recumbent figures of a knight and his lady.[26]

Former Holiday Camp[edit]

See St Athan's Boys Village.


St Athan Primary School was first mentioned in 1847 and was located in what is now the Old Community Centre, built by the Rayers in about 1860.[32] A new school was built in the mid-1960s and was inaugurated in September 1966.[32] In November 1995 the nursery was established.[32]

St Athan Library[33] is located on Old Church Lane. The Library is currently moving from County Council[34] control to a Community Charity[35] after a consultation took place between October and December 2014.

There is also the local newspaper The Llantwit Major GEM.[36] and the MOD St Athan magazine Tathan.[37]


The village has a Post Office,[38] a Londis,[39] a Laser and tattoo removal service,[40] a pharmacy[41] and an Esso petrol station.[42]

Also see:


St Athan has had three train stations in the past but are now closed, the Gileston railway station, the St Athan Railway Station aka St Athan Halt and St Athan Road Railway Station.

Taxi services also run to St Athan[44] as a part of the Vale of Glamorgan.

Bus services include the 303, G1 and the X91[45] as well as Greenlinks Community Transport.[46]



There are three pubs in the village, the Three Horse Shoes,[47] the Four Bells[48] and Moonshine. There is also a skate park and two community centres, one of which holds an annual fun-day. The village has a football team[49] and the St Athan Golf Club.[50]

St Athan is the poorest rural area in the Vale of Glamorgan.[51]


Y Ladi Wen is said to be connected with the village of St Athan.


  1. ^ "Community and web population 2011". Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Home". 
  3. ^ a b "Castles". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "History". Archived from the original on October 17, 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Church". Archived from the original on October 17, 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Green, Charles Alfred Howell (1906). Notes on churches in the Diocese of Llandaff (Public domain ed.). T.E. Smith. pp. 134–. Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Carlisle, Nicholas (1811). A topographical dictionary of ... Wales, a continuation of the topography of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  8. ^ Spurgeon, Clifford (April 2000). An inventory of the ancient monuments in Glamorgan. Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, H.M.S.O. p. 468. ISBN 978-1-871184-22-8. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b "About". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "St. Athan". GENUKI. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "£14bn St Athan defence academy plan axed". BBC. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  12. ^ "Four die in mid-air plane crash". 11 February 2009 – via 
  13. ^ "Aston Martin picks UK over U.S. for new plant to build DBX crossover". Automotive News Europe. 23 February 2016. 
  14. ^ "Aston Martin picks St. Athan site in Wales for new crossover car". Reuters. 24 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Aston Martin creates 750 jobs in St Athan". BBC News. 24 February 2016. 
  16. ^ "St Athan". 
  17. ^ "Local Elections Archive Project - 2008 - Vale of Glamorgan". 
  18. ^ "Local Elections Archive Project - 2004 - Vale of Glamorgan". 
  19. ^ "Thomas, John W.". 
  20. ^ a b
  21. ^ "Home - St Athan Community Council". 
  22. ^ "Councillors - St Athan Community Council". 
  23. ^ "Listed Buildings" (PDF). Vale of Glamorgan Council. Retrieved 12 May 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c "Vale of Glamorgan County Treasures" (PDF). Vale of Glamorgan Council. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "Church of St Brise, St Athan". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  26. ^ a b Cassell's Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland: Being a Complete Topographical Dictionary of the United Kingdom; with Numerous Illustrations and Sixty Maps (Public domain ed.). Cassell and Co. ltd. 1900. pp. 317–. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  27. ^ MacNamara, Francis Nottidge (1895). Memorials of the Danvers Family (of Dauntsey and Culworth): Their Ancestors and Descendants from the Conquest Till the Termination of the Eighteenth Century; with Some Account of the Alliances of the Family and of the Places, where They Were Seated (Public domain ed.). Hardy & Page. pp. 246–. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  28. ^ a b Trevelyan, Marie (1 January 1973). Folk-Lore and Folk-Stories of Wales. Kessinger Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-85409-938-2. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  29. ^ "Welsh roads in haunted list". BBC. 17 November 2001. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  30. ^ a b c d e "Places". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  31. ^ Dugdale, Thomas (1854). Curiosities of Great Britain: England & Wales delineated, historical, entertaining & commercial, alphabetically arranged (public domain ed.). L. Tallis. p. 60. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  32. ^ a b c "School". Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  33. ^ "St_Athan_Library". 
  34. ^ "St Athan Library". 
  35. ^ "Library Strategy Consultation". 
  36. ^ "Arts Council offers advice - Home - The Llantwit Major GEM". 
  37. ^ "Tathan Online - Tathan Magazine". 
  38. ^ "Branch Finder - Post Office". 
  39. ^ "Your LONDIS convenience store and off licence in ST ATHAN - fresh food, groceries". 
  40. ^ "Vale Laser Clinic - Tattoo & Hair Removal in The Vale of Glamorgan.". 
  41. ^ "St Athan Pharmacy St Athan, Barry Shop opening times and reviews". 
  42. ^ WMI. "Esso Petrol Station in Barry, Wales". 
  43. ^ Barry, Sion (25 June 2014). "Two enterprise zones in South Wales boosted after being included in new EU assisted area status map". 
  44. ^ "Taxis". 
  45. ^ "Bus Timetables". 
  46. ^ "Greenlinks". 
  47. ^ "Three Horseshoes, St Athan • Pub Details •". 
  48. ^ "Four Bells, St Athan • Pub Details •". 
  49. ^ "St Athan FC - Home of St Athan Football Club". 
  50. ^ "RAF St Athan Golf Club". RAF St Athan Golf Club. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  51. ^,%20Policies%20&%20Plans/Local%20Service%20Board/Anti-Poverty-Event-2013/Health-Inequalities-Presentation.pdf

External links[edit]