LLANVAIR-DISCOED and DINHAM is a parish 6½ miles west-by-south from Chepstow railway:station and 4½ north-east from Magor station on the South Wales section of the Great Western Railway, in the Southern division of the county, Caldicot hundred, petty sessional division, union and county court district of Chepstow, rural deanery of Netherwent, archdeaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff.
The village of Llanvair-Discoed is on the road from Caerwent to Usk, at the foot of a lofty eminence, known as "Mynydd Llwyd", or Grey Hill, from the top of which a magnificent prospect is obtained: on this hill are some vestiges of an ancient stone circle. The Neddern brook flows through the parish.
The church of St. Mary, a building of stone in the Early English style, appears to have been rebuilt, according to an inscription formerly over the south door, in 1746, and consists of chancel, nave, south porch and a western turret containing one bell: the church was thoroughly restored and enlarged in 1883, the chancel at the expense of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners: there are 110 sittings.
In 1885 the late Col. Kemeys-Tynte gave land for the extension of the churchyard and built a fence wall round it. The register of baptisms and burials dates from the year1681; marriages, 1680. The living has been annexed to Caerwent since 1885, joint net yearly value £300, with 5 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Llandaff, and held since 1895 by the Rev. William Andrews Downing M.A. of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, who resides at Caerwent.
On an eminence close by the church are the ruins of the ancient castle, which appears to have been erected in the earlier part of the 13th century by the noble family of Fitz-Pain, possibly on the site of an older building : the castle was subsequently held by the De Monthermers, and passed from them by marriage to the Montacutes, and afterwards descended to the noble families of Nevile and Pole.
Having reverted to the Crown in the time of James I, the castle was granted in 1610 to Thomas Woodward, who conveyed it to Rhys Kemeys, ancestor of the present owner, Capt. Kemeys-Tynte. Two large round towers, some part of the keep and a small portion of the curtain walls remain.
The Court House (now a farmhouse, occupied by Mrs. C. Pritchard) is an old building, having an inscription in Welsh above the doorway, signifying, "It is better to write the name of the Most High on stone than with ink."
Charles Theodore Halswell Kemeys-Tynte esq. of Cefn Mably, Llanveder, Glam. is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The soil is loam ; subsoil, gravel. The chief crops are wheat, barley, clover and roots. The area is 1,359 acres rateable value, £917; the population in 1891 was 134.
DINHAM, a hamlet 2 miles east and formerly a distinct parish, is one of the few places in Gwent mentioned by name in the Domesday survey. There was a castle here, as early as 1128, some vestiges of which are to be found in a thick copse on a steep bank just above a picturesquely wooded dingle, through which one of the old roads leading to Wentwood formerly passed: little more than the foundations of some of the walls remain: the castle was probably erected by some of the family of Le Walleys or Walsh, by whom Dinham was held for many years. In the time of Queen Elizabeth Dinham was purchased by William Blethyn, Bishop of Llandaff (1575-91), whose descendants resided here in a mansion standing on the site now occupied by Great Dinham farm
The estate having subsequently passed through several hands came into the possession of the Bayly familv and now belongs to Capt. C. H. Bayly, R.N., who owns the entire parish with the exception of the glebe and a small portion belonging to trustees of the late Edward J. Lowe esq. of Shire Newton Hall.
Caruth, a famous British bard, resided at Dinham, and refers to it in one of his songs as the burial place of Caradoc, the great British chieftain, better known as Caractacus, who for nine years kept the Roman legions in check, but was finally defeated at Caer-Caradoc, and sent a prisoner to Rome. He is said to have been permitted to return to his native land, and, according to tradition, his remains rest near to where the Dinfiam Castle afterwards stood.
There was formerly a church at Dinham, some traces of which may be seen at the gable end of one of the farm, buildings belonging to Great Dinham farm. The font is used as a pump-trough in the farm yard and the lid of a stone coffin, locally known as "The Bishop's Stone," is built into the, garden wall.
The church has been long abandoned and the parish is now united for ecclesiastical purposes to that of Llanvair-Discoed. At Whitewalls Brake, between Dinbam and Caerwent, a tesselated pavement has been found. The area of Dinham is 635 acres, rateable value, £383; the population in 1891 was 32.
Parish Clerk, William Mullett.
Letters through Chepstow arrive at 10 a.m. Shirenewton is the nearest money order office, & Penhow the nearst telegraph office, about 2 miles distant. Wall Letter Box cleared at 4.30 p.m.
The children of this place attend the National School at Caerwent