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Chronicle - Your place in history

Oil painting of Gelligroes Mill by L.J. Pearce

Towards a Revolution

The years between the end of the Civil War, the collapse of the Republic and the rise of a new King, were testing times for the Welsh gentry. Some had lost their estates only to then regain them, others had acquired new estates only to then loose them, whilst others rode the storm. From this turmoil grew a period of relative peace and stability and with it rose a more powerful and confident gentry, capable of swallowing up the smaller estates. In general they were a conservative breed, keen to immerse themselves in the ways of the European gentry. This was their heyday! The Morgans of Ruperra Castle for example, accumulated much land and great wealth and lavished it on their estate. Extravagant gardens and parkland surrounded the gentry's houses and isolated them from the 'common people' beyond. It was these 'common people' who were now the champions of the Welsh culture. Unlike the gentry, the majority spoke Welsh and were reminded daily of their roots. Life for them remained tough and uncompromising as they eked out a living from the land. For some, the emerging industries in the county borough offered new hope.

Among these industries were the woollen trade, iron production and small scale mining. A 'cottage' woollen industry had existed in the county borough since at least the fourteenth century and by the eighteenth century this was growing in scale, producing woollen shawls, stockings, flannel and the like. Iron had been commercially produced around Caerphilly and Machen since the sixteenth century. Furnaces also existed at Abercarn in the Sirhowy Valley. Iron ore and coal to fuel the furnaces was mined on Caerphilly Common, south of Caerphilly and from Rudry Woods over looking Draethen. The remains of the simple bell pits and spoil heaps can still be seen littering the landscape today.

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