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Llandaff’s annual and weekly Fairs were established when it was granted a Royal Charter in 1206 by King John. These occasions were always thirsty occasions, and a large number of pubs and “beer-houses” sprang up in Llandaff to refresh those who flocked to these “hiring” and “stock” Fairs. “Malting” and brewing were done locally, much of it on a small scale and in people’s houses, as the profit from the sale of beer made a much-needed contribution to the year’s rent. A bush was hung outside the door of a cottage indicating that beer was for sale within and over the years, these events increasingly became “pleasure fairs” with wild animal shows and other fairground attractions.  However, in the eighteenth century, the heavy drinking, with the accompanying rowdy and “antisocial behaviour” increased to the point where the Llandaff Fair had become notorious!

Thus, in 1898 the Fair was finally suppressed and the number of pubs rapidly declined as their regular patrons no longer came to Llandaff.  So what pubs are – or were – in Llandaff?  


THE MALTSTERS ARMS (Cardiff Road opposite High Street)

This is an establishment of some antiquity, although the building as it now stands owes much to two post-war refurbishments. The cellar behind the small door in Cardiff Road is part of the old building and the Malt House stood behind the main building. We suspect that Edward Charles, who died in 1702, was the Maltster, and he seems to have run a small farm in addition to his malting business. For more about the Charles family see “The Maltster’s DaughtersLlandaff Society Occasional Paper 8 by Jill James.

THE BUTCHERS ARMS. (Half way up High Street)

Also a pub of some age, and a side-line to a Butcher’s business well into the nineteenth century.

THE BLACK LION. (Corner of High Street and Cardiff Road)

So named because a Black Lion appears as part of the Heraldic Shield of the Mathew Family of Llandaff. Three of their family tombs are in the Cathedral and other members have wall memorials there. They were the hereditary Guardians of St Teilo’s Tomb in the Cathedral, and as recently as 1996 Capt.Mathew returned a reputed relic of St Teilo to the Cathedral from Sydney.(See The Legend of Saint Teilo’s Skull by Anthony Bailey).

For a short period in the nineteenth century this pub was known as “The Romilly”, in recognition that Sir Samuel Romilly MP, the Solicitor General and a leading anti-slavery campaigner, acquired the Manor of Llandaff from the Mathew family in 1817. His family sold the Manor to W S Cartwright in 1852. The pub then reverted to being the Black Lion.


Another pub with a “Mathew” connection in its name because the “Mantling” on the helmet surmounting the Mathew Coat of Arms takes the form of a Black Grouse – otherwise known as a Heathcock.

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