Wales

The tiny village of Rudry sits to the east of Caerphilly, one of many small and sedate villages that dot the Welsh landscape. Yet the community of Rudry consists of not just the village of Rudry itself but three other tiny villages as well - Draethen, Garth and Waterloo.

This modern community - the four villages - has a population of just over 800. These days most of the people who live there travel to Caerphilly or, more often, to Cardiff to work. It is a far cry from the early census returns at the beginning of the 19th century when the vast majority of inhabitants were engaged in agriculture in the fields around the villages.

Sitting in the Hundred of Caerphilly, in 1801 the population of Rudry was just 239. Ninety years later it had increased only to 409. Clearly, geographical mobility had not yet arrived in Rudry! You are left with the impression that nothing much had changed since the medieval period.

The village church of Rudry is St James' and it is rumoured that Oliver Cromwell once took shelter, and maybe even spent the night, within its walls. With the Puritans' well-known disregard for the trappings of Anglicanism, such a story is eminently possible as Cromwell was in the area during what is now known as the Second Civil War.

One thing we do know for sure is that King Charles I spent two nights at nearby Ruperra Castle after his defeat at the Battle of Naseby in 1645.

Ruperra Castle was built in 1626. It is more of a country house than traditional castle and in 1715 was bought by the merchant John Morgan for the princely sum of £12,000. The house duly passed into the Tredegar Estates of the Morgan family and became a particular favourite of the last Viscount Tredegar, Evan Morgan.

With Tredegar House being the main home of the Morgan's, Ruperra became something of a weekend retreat for the family, a place where they could ride, hunt and shoot. However, a disastrous fire in the 1940s when the army had requisitioned the property, left the place something of a ruin.

Cefn Mably, once the seat of the Kemeys-Tynte family, is also now a ruin. Although it operated as a hospital from the early years of the 20th century until 1980, it was devastated by a fire in 1994 and has since been left to rot.

Rudry was once renowned for its mineral spring. People would come to wash in the water, part of the Rhymney, which was said to cure eye complaints but industrialisation in the early 19th century ended this practice.

The Romans operated a lead mine under the village of Draethen. It runs for 120 metres underground and supposedly provides strong evidence of a counterfeit operation dating from the third century. Access, of course, is prohibited.

The community of Rudry now plays host, every autumn, to the Pentreffest Weekend, a folk festival showcasing traditional folk music from all over Europe. The village pub, the Maenllwyd Inn, remains at the centre of the community and is always a popular venue during the festival.

The community of Rudry remains a sleepy little place where nothing much ever seemed to happen. But it is deceptive, if you are prepared to look deeper.

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