St Hilary Celebrating 900 Years

1990 was a memorable year for St Hilary as 900 years of the Church was celebrated by village residents.

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 6.00pm
17 June Family Luncheon Coed Hills St Hilary 12.30pm
25June-11 July Best Kept Village Judging
7 July Festival Dance Caribbean Steel Band, Coed Hills, St Hilary
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

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Plans for this momentous event were launched on 23 February 1990 at a 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.

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!

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. And, the DC Jones Challenge Cup was presented to Miss Elizabeth Giles by Captain Norman Lloyd Edwards of Llandaff, the judge of the competition. Following this St Hilary was invited to take part in the Best Kept Village in Wales competition but unfortunately did not win.

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!

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.

The 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 numerous 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!

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

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.

Thank you also to local resident Joan Davies for her

If anyone has any memories or photos of the St Hilary 900 celebrations and would like to share them please get in touch.

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