Nos. 5 & 7 Cathedral Road, Cardiff

These were probably among the earliest houses to be built in Cathedral Road.  Prior to the numbering of properties, they were known as Leonida Villa (no. 5) and Bryn Tawel Villa (no. 7).  A photograph, thought to have been taken around 1871 from the clock tower of Cardiff Castle, includes a building which looks very much like this one, albeit without the bay window, and with very few neighbouring properties.  However, its history goes back at least a further decade as Bryn Tawel Villa appears in the 1861 census, when it was occupied by Thomas Morgan, a 53 year old retired grocer and his daughter, Catherine, aged 24.  They were still there is 1871 but Thomas died in May 1875 and Catherine in September 1876.  By 1881, a 29 year old master printer, William D. Jones, was in residence along with his widowed mother, Elvena.  None of these censuses seem to include entries for Leonida Villa – nor has it been found in contemporary directories.


1891 again sees a Morgan household in Bryn Tawel, headed by Palmer Morgan – another retired grocer, but we don’t know whether he was related to Thomas and Catherine.  It is at this date that Leonida Villa first appears, occupied by Charles Arkell, an outfitter, with his wife and family.  The 1901 census saw further changes with Sarah A. Davies at number 7 (Bryn Tawel).  Although married, her husband seems to have been absent on census day since she was listed only with a servant.  Number 5 (Leonida) was now occupied by Mary Ann Allgood.

By 1908, John James Chaddock, an Assistant Superintendent in the Post Office, was at number 7, and Mrs Mary Evans at number 5.  In 1909, she obtained building approval for an extension over the porch, which can be clearly seen in the drawing.   Mrs Evans remained until at least 1920 but Chaddock had left by 1913, when number 7 was occupied by John Lyal Williams, an elementary school teacher who worked at the Metal Street Council School and was also active in the Welsh Schools Rugby Union.  He stayed until his death in November 1945.  His son, John George Williams, born in 1913, became a noted ornithologist who spent much of his life as a curator at the Kenyan National Museum in Nairobi.

The 1955 Cardiff Directory lists Kenneth J. Williams at number 7 but by 1964 the house had become offices, occupied by accountants and estate agents.

In the 1932 Cardiff Directory, David Rees Jones, a medical practitioner, is at number 5, where he remained until his death on 7 January 1971.

Mary Traynor drew the building in 1980, since when it has been demolished and replaced by a modern office building known as Carlyle House.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/22]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for a new toilet for a villa, Cathedral Road, 1876 [BC/S/1/603]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for alterations to a house, Cathedral Road, 1876 [BC/S/1/650]
  • Cardiff Borough, building regulation plans, plan for room over porch, 5 Cathedral Road, 1909 [BC/S/1/17131]
  • 1871 – 1911 censuses
  • Various Cardiff and south Wales directories
  • The Medical Directory, 1967
  • Jones, Bryan, Canton (Images of Wales series)
  • Registrar General’s indexes of Births and Marriages
  • England & Wales National Probate Calendars 1875, 1876, 1945, 1971 & 1978
  • Western Mail, 6 Nov 1945

Interior, United Synagogue, Cathedral Road, Cardiff

Although there were Jews living in Cardiff in the 18th century, a Jewish community was not established until the first half of the 19th century.  The town’s first permanent synagogue opened at East Terrace, which now forms the southern end of Churchill Way, in 1858.  In the 1880s, part of the congregation seceded from East Street and established a separate synagogue at Edward Place, off North Edward Street, where the Capitol Centre and Churchill House now stand.  By 1894, the East Terrace congregation had outgrown its building and a site was purchased in Cathedral Road to erect a new synagogue.  The chosen location reflected, in part, the growing prosperity of many Jewish families, who had now moved from the Docks area to Canton and Riverside.

The new synagogue was opened on Wednesday 12 May 1897 in the presence of the United Kingdom Chief Rabbi, Dr Hermann Adler.  Designed by London architect, Delissa Joseph, it could accommodate 241 men on the ground floor and 158 women in the gallery, with provision for future expansion.

d1093-2- 019 Interior, United Synagogue, Cathedral Road_compressed

In 1941, the two Cardiff congregations agreed to merge as the Cardiff United Synagogue.  After the Second World War, many Jewish families moved to the Penylan and Cyncoed areas, which led to the foundation of a new synagogue off Ty Gwyn Road in 1955 (this re-located to Cyncoed Gardens in 2003).  The Cathedral Road synagogue continued to function until 1989, when it finally closed.  Now renamed Temple Court, the interior has been adapted for use as office space.

David Webb, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Sources consulted:

  • Mary Traynor Collection [D1093/2/15]
  • Cardiff Jewish Community Records and Papers, commemorative booklet to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Cathedral Road Synagogue, 1957 [DJR/5/16]
  • Cardiff Times and South Wales Weekly News, 15 May 1897