Llandennis Gardens (The Oval)

Llandennis Gardens, sometimes called The Oval or Llandennis Oval owing to its shape, is the name given to the most northerly section of Roath Park, an area of some two acres separated from the other sections of the park. It has also been called Oval Gardens and Round Park.

Its most significant feature was the pool which was fed by a strong spring rising near an old oak tree. This pool was known as Ffynnon Llandennis because it was associated with the memory of Saint Denis and its water was believed to be a cure for rheumatism and sore eyes. The name was adopted for this part of Roath Park by the Parks Committee in January 1898, following information from the Council Archivist describing the history and legends relating to St. Denis' (or Llandennis) Well.[1][2]

Llandennis Gardens was laid out and planted, principally with bamboos and rhododendrons, in the winter of 1897-98 and was enclosed by railings, but was not at that stage opened to the public.

In the early 1900s young fish reared in the hatchery in the Botanic Garden were placed in Llandennis' Well.[3]

During the 1914-18 War there were allotments in Llandennis Gardens, in common with many other open spaces in Cardiff.[4]

In 1923 Llandennis Gardens was opened to the public following the extension of Cardiff's borough boundaries.[5]

Ordnance Survey map 1920 showing Llandennis Gardens

This Ordnance Survey map from the 1920s shows Llandennis Gardens with the pool much as it is today, but with a more intricate pattern of footpaths.The pool is shown on Ordnance Survey maps from 1870, although the shape changed slightly on the 1900s map, after the park had been formed. The mound on the west side is shown on maps as early as 1901, and maps from the 1920s onwards show a tree is growing on it. Mound and tree (a Cedar) still exist today (2021). On the 1954 map a foot bridge is shown joining either end of the path which crossed the pool on its south east side. This path and bridge are no longer there and now a single path crosses Llandennis Gardens roughly from south east to north west. A photograph of "the rustic bridge at the Oval Gardens", appeared in the Western Mail in December 1950.[6]

The 1938 Inventory of Parks Buildings and Equipment included the following:

It seems that Llandennis Gardens was also called Round Park.[7]

Llandennis Gardens July 2020

Looking north in Llandennis Gardens July 2020

There are notable trees in Llandennis Gardens though the rare Shingle Oak (a Wales Champion tree) unfortunately was found to be rotten and was removed in March 2022. Other trees include mature Oaks, Planes, Sweet chestnut, Cedar and 'Raywood' Ash at the north end. In the 1980s during a National Tree Week, pupils from Rhydypenau Primary School planted a Beech tree on the west side of Llandennis Gardens south of the brick building.

Sources of Information

In general, the information in this section is taken from A. A. Pettigrew, The Public Parks and Recreation Grounds of Cardiff, Volume 2.

Other sources are:

  1. Meeting of the Parks etc. Committee 28th January 1898
  2. Evening Express Friday January 28th 1898 page 3
  3. W.W. Pettigrew, Notes on the hatchery and fish hatching at Roath Park, Cardiff Naturalists' Society XXXIV (1901-02), pages. 53-62
  4. Meeting of the Parks Open Spaces and Burial Board Committee 1st February 1917
  5. Cardiff City Council. Roath Park Lake and Gardens: Conservation Area Appraisal 2008, page 6
  6. Western Mail & South Wales News 16th December 1950 page 3
  7. Llanishen Local History Society