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Cowbridge ( ) is a market town in the Vale of Glamorganmarker in Walesmarker, approximately west of Cardiffmarker. Cowbridge is twinned with Clissonmarker in the Loire-Atlantiquemarker department in northwestern Francemarker.


Roman times

The town lies on the site of a Roman settlement identified by some scholars as the fort of Bovium (cow-place). Recent excavations have revealed extensive Roman settlement; the town lies alongside a Roman road. There are 17th century references to a 'cow-bridge' over a tributary of the river Thaw (which flows through the town) but Cowbridge's Welsh name, Y Bont-faen, means literally 'the stone bridge'.

Middle Ages

The town centre is still arranged on its medieval plan, with one long street divided into "burgage plots". It is one of very few medieval walled towns in Wales, and substantial portions of the walls, together with the south gate, are still standing. On 13 March 1254, Cowbridge received its first borough charter from Richard de Clare, the Lord of Glamorgan. Richard de Clare was one of the most powerful Barons of the day, having huge estates stretching across much of South Wales and also lands in southern and eastern England.

From 1243 de Clare was actively extending his authority in Glamorgan; in 1245 he seized the manors of Llanblethian and Talyfan from Richard Siward, and the lordships of Miskinmarker and Glynrhondda from Hywel ap Maredudd. In Llanblethian he founded the town of Cowbridge and in Miskin he founded the castle and town of Llantrisantmarker. The largely medieval church of the Holy Cross was initially a chapel of ease to the parish church at Llanblethian. In 1307 Earl Gilbert de Clare, grandson of Richard de Clare, began work on the stone fortifications of St Quintins Castlemarker in Llanblethian.

The Battle of Stalling Downmarker was fought near Cowbridge when the large English army of King Henry IV of England met a combined force of French and Welsh soldiers under Owain Glyndwr in 1403.

Georgian times

The 18th century antiquary, Iolo Morganwg, inventor of the present-day rituals of the National Eisteddfod of Wales kept a bookshop in the High Street, the location of which is now marked with a plaque inscribed with the words 'Y Gwir yn erbyn y Byd' in Welsh and ogham script. It was just outside the town that he held the first meeting of the Gorsedd, an assembly of bards, in 1795. Cowbridge Grammar Schoolmarker was founded in 1608 and had close links with Jesus College, Oxfordmarker through its later benefactor, Dr Leoline Jenkins. Its famous pupils included the poet, Alun Lewis, and the actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins. The old grammar school eventually merged with Cowbridge High School for Girls to became a comprehensive school, and the original buildings, having for some time lain derelict, have been converted into private accommodation.

Notable buildings

Boxing Day Hunt in Cowbridge
The present town hall, a building dating back perhaps as far as the Elizabethan era, served as a prison until 1830, when it was converted into a town hall to replace the former Guild Hall, demolished at that date. The money for the reconstruction was raised by public subscription.

Six of the original prison cells are still intact, and house the exhibits of Cowbridge Museum. The remainder of the building is used by the town council and for public events. The museum holds archaeological finds from Cowbridge and district, as well as displays on the later history of the town, including industrial and domestic artefacts, a photographic collection, and a small historical costume collection.

The main street contains a number of Georgian houses, including the former town houses of important local families such as the Edmondes and Carnes. The Carnes' town house is known as Great House, a Grade 2* listed property of Medieval origin.

Modern Times

Cowbridge contains the following inns: the Bear Hotel, the Horse and Groom, the Edmondes Arms, the Duke of Wellington and the Vale of Glamorgan. The latter is located at the premises of the former Vale of Glamorgan Brewery.

Closely attached to the town of Cowbridge is the village of Aberthin. Aberthin contains two inns; The Hare and Hounds and The Farmers Arms.


Cowbridge Comprehensive Schoolmarker with approximately 1300 pupils, is one of the best performing secondary schools in Wales. There are three sites of the school with Lower School being in the south-west of the town and Middle School and Sixth Form in the north-east.


Cowbridge is home to Cowbridge RFC a Welsh Rugby Union affiliated rugby union team, which fields two senior, a youth and ladies team.Cowbridge Cricket Club has six senior and junior teams and is affiliated to the South Wales Cricket Association. Notable cricketers who have played for the club include former test players John Clay, Tony Lewis, C F Walters and on one famous occasion Douglas Jardine. Among the many county cricketers produced by the club is the current Glamorgan player Ben Wright.Cowbridge also has a leisure centre where can be found various clubs including, tennis, football and badminton.Behind Cowbridge leisure centre is Cowbridge Bowling Club and tennis courts.

September 2009 also saw the reintroduction of senior football to Cowbridge Town after a ten year absence. The current side now play in the Barry and District third tier and as above, play their home fixtures at the Bear Field - Cowbridge Leisure Centre.

Notable residents

Notable people who attended school in Cowbridge include:


  1. The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press 2008.
  2. Wyn Owen, H. and Morgan, R. (2008) Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales. Llandysul: Gomer.
  3. The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pg174. ISBN 9780708319536

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