Set into the slope of an ancient highway to St. David’s, St. John’s House is one of the oldest habitable dwellings in Glamorgan, dating back as far as 1511. The interior is full of late-medival and Tudor-era historical gems. If you’re lucky enough to get the chance to visit, you won’t want to leave.
St. John’s House is known locally as “St. John’s Hospice,” since legend holds it was once used as a hospice for the medieval Knights Hospitallers, a monastic order based in Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades, also known as the Knights of Malta. The order’s symbol, the Maltese Cross, can be seen on the front of the house, adding to the air of mystery around this historical site. However, there is no actual evidence to back up this intriguing local lore.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of gems to discover after stepping through the front door, from the restored Tudor fireplace to the historic architecture. The attic space is covered with ritual markings in the form of daisy wheels, which were believed to ward off evil spirits. Set into the wall of the main passageway are two medieval stone plaques, both of which are detailed with religious iconography. More recently, archaeological investigations have found a concealed cupboard with a lintel covered with fragments of Victorian wallpaper.
In the 18th century, the house was owned by Walter Coffin, father of the famous Welsh coalowner and member of Parliament, Walter Coffin III. Over the following decades, it was occupied by several families, the last of which resided there from 1841 right up until the house was sold in 1919.
Know Before You Go
St. John's House is open on the last Saturday of every month from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Other opening dates and details of tours are available on the trust's website. Private tours are available by request.
There is on-street parking on West Road. The house has steps throughout, Parts of the ground floor may be accessible to some people with limited mobility.