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Cefn Cantref – the history of a Breconshire farm

Researched by John Ball, 2013


Early in 2013, the new occupant of a converted barn near Brecon contacted the BLFHS in the hope of discovering something about the history of his property. The request stimulated my interest enough to take up the challenge and research the history of the former farm known as Cefn Cantref.
A few weeks later, I presented my findings to the client in the form of a 'timeline' report plus full source documentation. I have since expanded the report and adapted it for publication here on our website, as an interesting piece of local history and an example of 'house history' research methodology.

Locating Cefn Cantref

OS mapGoogle map

The first task was to identify the position of the former farm buildings on a modern Ordnance Survey map (left), accessed through the Streetmaps website, and a satellite image (right) from the Google Maps website.
The two maps, which cover the same area of land, show Cefn Cantref to be situated southeast of Bailyhelig Farm, and about two kilometres due south of Brecon. The boundaries of the surrounding fields are easy to identify on both maps.
I then examined the same location on a late 19th-century large-scale Ordnance Survey map (below) on the Old-Maps website.

Below: This large scale map, published in 1889, is from the Ordnance Survey 1:2500-scale series.

1889 OS mapDetail: 1889 OS map

Above: This enlarged section of the map shows the cluster of buildings enclosing the farmyard, and the surrounding garden or 'nursery'. To the south, a large pond, just across the lane from the farm, is still a prominent feature of the local landscape today.

Identifying the parish and tithe district

The next major step would be to examine the Cefn Cantref area on a tithe map. If Cefn Cantref could be identified on the tithe map, I could find out who owned the land and who occupied the farm when the tithe survey was conducted circa 1840. But first I had to discover in which tithe district Cefn Cantref was located. Tithe districts generally correspond to parishes, so I used the parish boundary maps published on CD by Kain and Oliver in 2000. The authors researched the boundaries of parishes and their subdivisions for the whole of England and Wales, and they superimposed the boundaries on...

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