Llys Nini Farm is recorded as being ancient in the 1507 Quit Claim. Whether Llys Nini was in existance before that is unknown but at least one local person says that he remembers a Roman Fort onthe site and if true that could have formed the basis of the later Llys or Court.
Llys Nini RSPCA Animal Centre is built on the foot print of a much older house, while documented evidence shows that a property known as Llys Nini dates back to at least the mid 15th Century. It is possible that a Roman practice fort existed there and that it was used by Prince Einon ap Owain ap Hywel Dda, Penteulu ( leader of the war band) of Owain of Dinefwr, King of Deheubarth in the 960/70s. It is probable that he established a Llys on the site and that it was called Llys Einon or Llys Enniaun in the Latinised form and that in the interim the name has become Llys Nini.
The present building is built on the footprint of the 17th Century farm house. The Royal Commssion in the 1960s recorded it as a “long house with additions”1 comprising just a living area or hall and cow shed or byre.
The house was a hearth passage long house, built of local pennant sandstone. There was a loft above the hall, accessed via a large stone stair case that wound around the back of the fireplace.
The animals and people would enter the house through a common doorway, once inside the animals would turn one way and the people the other. This style of house was common in areas where cattle rustling was prominent. Once inside the building, it could be locked from the inside, keeping the cattle secure over night.
Floor plan or original house
The Commission believed that the house was extended in the C18th; More probably in 1807 by David Jones of Ystradfellte when he bought the farm for £900 from the Nydfwch/Penllergare Estate. A parlour was built next to the original hall and some additional bedrooms on the extended upper floor. A new front door with an arched porch was built in the extension, so the door from the cross passage into the hall was no longer needed, it was blocked up and a bed cupboard was built into the recess beside the chimney.
The top of the Llys Nini site has a commanding view over the lowlands towards the River Loughor and according to Gwyn Jones 1993 (6) was the site of a Roman practice fort. The open cast mining at Llys Nini in the 1960s would have destroyed any evidence of a fort. It would have been strategically sensible for Einon to establish a stronghold, court or Llys on the west of the River Loughor. He could have used this as a base from which to raid Gower and the rest of Glamorgan. He could possibly have used the old Roman Fort. If he did have a court locally, it may have been called Einon’s Court or Llys Einon.
The property is marked on Emmanuel Bowen’s
1729 map of South Wales as “Croft Inon”. Thereby adding
more evidence that Llys Nini, was associated with an an Einon and possibly Einon ap Owain ap Hywel Dda. .
The earliest documented evidence of Llys Nini is a quit claim dated 1507 2, written in Latin it describes the gift of Llys Nini from Gwilym ap Ieuan ap Gwilym Ddu to his brother Tomos:
Quit claim or Deed
“Know all men by these presents that I, Gwilym ap Jeuan ap Gwilym Thuy have remised, released and in every way by me, my heirs and executors forever quitclaimed to Thomas ap Jeuan ap Gwilym Thuy, all my right and claim which I ever had, have or in any wise could have in the futures, of and in two tenements with all their appurtenances lying in the parish of Llangevelagh [Llangyfelach] in Gower Supraboscus, of which one is called Biettinge and the other Llesneny, according to their usual ancient metes and boundaries, ……in witness thereof I have set my seal to these presents, dated at [illegible; possibly Loughor] the 11th day of August in the twenty second year of the reign of Henry VII (1507).”3
In 1578, Rice Merrick the historian, who had married into Gwilym Ddu’s extended family. He wrote of Pryscedwyn, a nearby house and estate in Pontarddulais, “Pryscedwyn the house of Thomas ab Ieuan Gwyn ap Gwilym Ddu and so lineally to Gruffydd Gwyr“4.
Gruffydd ( Gwyr) ap Cydifor of Ynyscedwyn, Defynnog, in the Upper Swansea Valley, had presumably joined the forces of Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Llewelyn the Great and Rhys Grug of Dinefwr; the ruler of Deheubarth, in 1215, when his army passed through Brecon and on to Swansea, ousting the Normans from the area and returning the land to the Welsh; Gruffydd ap Cydifor so he became mense lord of Gower,(The Lordship of Gower, at this time, comprised the peninsular, including Llys Nini, as well as upland Gower, the Swansea Valley to the Breconshire border.) Gruffudd ap Cydifor became known as Gruffudd Gwyr or Griffith Gower.
Documented evidence shows that Llys Nini stayed within the family, being incorporated into the Nydfwch Estate before passing to the Penllergare Estate in 1728 and being sold in 1807.
The farm - then 100 acres was bought by David Jones of Ystradfellte for £900. He probably extended it before giving it to his son and his young family.. The Jones family owned several properties in the area including Cwrt Y Carnau and Dantwyn Farms. Although they moved to Dantwyn, they kept the ownership in the family until the 1960s when it was sold to Victor and Mable Thomas, the then tenants. They farmed for a number of years before selling in 1992 to a Mr Watkins, who stayed for just 2 years before the local branch of the RSPCA bought it.
In the 1994, the house and the barn were in a sorry state. However the then local planning authority required that any new building was constructed on the foot print of the old and the house was pulled down. The spectacular fire place, was ,eant to be kept in tact but fell down during the building works.
The modern Llys Nini buildis look very like the old.