1990 St Hilary900

This is the remarkable and memorable story of the wide range of activities and events that the villagers held in 1990 to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the church. In addition to the information on this page, there are also a lot of documents on the St Hilary 900 collection on the People's Collection Wales website.

stocks1    rosemary rightmorgan1    Jenny Hales pink Colin the jester
The Stocks   Rosemary Morgan - right (West House)   Jenny Hales (White Lodge) Colin Mitten (Bluebell Wood)

Events were planned throughout the year and included:

   27 February Church kneelers project launch Manor Piece
7- 10 June History in Flowers Flower Festival, St Hilary Church
10 June  History in Song Cowbridge Choral Society, St Hilary Church
17 June  Family Luncheon  Coed Hills
25 June – 11 July Best Kept Village Judging
7 July
Festival Dance
Caribbean Steel Band, Coed Hills
18 August  St Hilary Sports Day
1 September St Hilary Village Fair A day of medieval fun
2 December Ceremony at the Clump Tree planting

Plans for this momentous event were hatched on 23 February 1990 at a launch cheese and wine party in the village hall. Vale MP John Smith officially launched the celebrations. 

The purpose of holding the celebrations was to raise money for the restoration of land around ‘The Clump’, a circle of trees on St Hilary Down.

On Tuesday 27 February 1990 village volunteers were invited to Miss Giles' home (Manor Piece) to launch a project to refurbish the church kneelers. They were offered wine and nibbles whilst they chose the kneeler design that they wanted to make. 

The plan was to have the ready for the opening of the flower festival on 7 June. Forty kneelers were made and continue to be used in the church today.

The Flower Festival that took place in June was wonderful and enjoyed by not only locals but people from around the area and culminated in a joyful musical event.

900 history flowers

This was followed by a family luncheon at Coed Hills on 17 June. Gill and Bill Clay hosted a number of lunches at their home and they were always very enjoyable events with plenty to entertain the children. The greasy pole over the swimming pool was always a winner!

1990 family luncheon

The action packed year continued with the judging of the Best Kept Village competition.

St Hilary had entered and won in previous years: 1959 and 1962. Everyone was therefore thrilled to hear that all their efforts had been rewarded when it was revealed that St Hilary was the winner of the competition.  Those involved in coordinating St Hilary’s submission were invited to dinner at Coychurch Village Hall on Wednesday 11 July 1990.

BKVletter    BestKeptVillageTrophy    BestKeptVillageSign 

On 7 July Bill and Gill Clay hosted a Caribbean evening in their barn. Entertainment was provided by the Silver Star Steel Band and a very enjoyable night was had by all. The weather was memorable because although it was the height of the summer there was a thick mist over the village making it difficult to find your way up the lanes and through the Coed Hills grounds. But, on entering the barn you really did feel as though you could be in the Caribbean with great music provided by a Cardiff based steel band and some dazzling colourful fancy dress costumes!

caribbean letter to villagers

In August the villagers enjoyed sports day. Neighbouring parishes of St Mary Church, Llanblethian and Llandough were invited take part in sack races, egg and spoon, three legged races and welly throwing.  Click here for more photos.

Bob Brierley group sack race  sports race tug o war1

Medieval Fayre on 1 September was a spectacular event that rounded off the year’s fundraising and celebrations. Roads were closed and covered with straw and villagers dressed in medieval costume for the day – truly authentic!

There were attractions to entertain all ages:

  • Games and a bouncy castle on the crescent – games generously loaned by RAF St Athan
  • Francisco Spaghetti the Clown
  • Welsh folk dancers
  • The Eclectic Plums – welsh minstrel singers
  • Traditional Welsh harp
  • A pig roast on No Man’s Land

Not forgetting the fun fair, town crier, medieval stocks, traditional craft demonstrations, craft fair, fortune teller, helicopter rides over the village, raffle, mead, homemade freshly cooked Welsh cakes and other refreshments. The Bush joined in with the celebrations by serving venison. No time to be bored!

Jill Williams2   Mary Llewellyn and Daughter
 Jill Williams (Holly Cottage)   Mary and Sally Llewellyn (Old Beaupre Farm) 
colin the jester   Ramsdens2
 Colin Mitten (Bluebell Wood)    Tony and Chris Ramsden (New House)
isobelle Lowe1 centre   rosemary rightmorgan1
 Isobelle Lowe (The Grange)   Rosmary Morgan - right (West House) 
Mrs Lassiter in helicopter2    group 
 Mrs Lassiter   Heather Shaw (The Old Vicarage) 
 David Lorraine Ravey and Maud Jenkins   stocks1 
 David and Lorraine Ravey (Lansdowne) and Maud Jenkins    The Stocks
 Joan and rod Davies    jeannie Griffiths
Joan and Rhod Davies (7 The Crescent)   Jeannie Griffiths (Litlle Hall Cottage)
Jenny Hales pink Colin the jester   StHilary900SL1 
Jenny Hales (White Lodge) Colin Mitten (Bluebell Wood)    
StHilary900SL2   village2002

900 bouncy castle

Monica Dennis (Ffynnon Wen) Martha Steadman (Church Cottage) 

 Muriel and jenny    pat bouncy castle   clown entertaining    Jenny and Mel 
    900programme   Medieval Fayre yellow    

There is a commemorative programme for St Hilary 900. Pages 3 & 4 have a list of the residents of the village in 1990 - it's bound to bring back memories for those who lived in the village at the time. There is a copy on People's Collection Wales.

And here's an article in the Parish Magazine about St Hilary 900 generally and the winning of the Best Kept Village competition specifically:

BKV report in parish newsletter

The celebrations ended with the planting of a commemorative tree by Sir Cennydd Treharne at the Clump on 2 December. The stone wall surrounding the Clump was also renovated.


The Clump has been a feature of the landscape for well over a century. It is believed that it was planted by the Rev. John Montgomery Traherne (1788-1860), scholar and antiquary, who had lived in St Hilary and served briefly as curate of the Parish and who is buried in the churchyard.

An official photo of village residents is in the Village Hall.

St Hilary 900 group pic


And, as a gesture of thanks to those who helped coordinate the whole year’s events, a certificate was awarded!!



A lasting memory of the St Hilary 900 celebrations can be found in the church as local villagers gave their time and money to make new kneelers for the church. They are still in use today. Below are pictures of some of them.

kneelerDennis   kneelerLord
kneelerLyons   kneelerMorgan


Huge thanks must go to Jenny Lord, formerly of Gardd y Gegin. She has kept a wonderful album of photos and newspaper articles about the St Hilary 900 celebrations which have been significant in developing this document.