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The Origin of The Pelican and Its Name

Ewenny Priory was founded in 1141 by Maurice de Londres, Lord of Ogmore, as a small cell of Benedictine monks. In 1188 Archbishop Baldwin "passed by the little cell of Ewenny” on his way to Margam Abbey during his itinerary through Wales, accompanied by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales).

In 1535, following the dispute with Rome over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon , King Henry VIII declared England's break with the Roman Catholic Church and founded a new Church of England, establishing himself at its head. The Pope therefore excommunicated Henry and, in 1536, Henry dissolved the monasteries and seized Church lands and properties for the Crown.

In 1536, Sir Edward Carne, the second son of Howel Carne, of Nash, was granted the lease of Ewenny Priory after the last Prior, Dompmus Thomas, and the remaining few monks were forced to leave the Priory. Sir Edward Carne was allowed to purchase the Priory in 1545.

The "Pelican in her Piety" is featured in the coat of arms of the Carne family (as illustrated). This is an ancient Christian symbol possibly originating in the Middle East. It usually depicts a female Pelican on her nest, with wings half spread and chicks waiting at her feet with open beaks. She is plucking her breast and allowing the drops of blood to fall into the mouths of the chicks, thus symbolising Christ feeding his flock with his blood. This heraldic device can be seen in many places throughout Europe and beyond. It is featured on a bronze door in Cologne Cathedral, on the tower on top of Glastonbury Tor, and many other places including the new Saint Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Bridgend.

In 1542 Sir Edward Carne was head of Greek Hall, Oxford, and had served King Henry VIII in a trusted capacity as executor during the King's divorce. He had been sent to Rome for a time in 1530 and so pleased the King that Henry recommended him to the Abbot of Gloucester as a fitting tenant of Ewenny Priory and, in effect, became “Abbot” and charged to provide a priest and to keep the Church and other buildings in repair as a condition of his tenancy. He was Chancellor of Salisbury and in high favour. In 1538 he was appointed Special Ambassador to the Emperor Charles V. He returned home and on the death of Henry VIII was much in favour with Queen Mary and Philip and as English ambassador to Rome , was nominated, with Lord Montague and the Bishop of Ely to make the re-submission of England to the Pope.

In spite of this, he maintained his position under Queen Elizabeth I and was appointed her Ambassador to the Pope to seek the Pope's approval of her claim to the throne. Sir Edward failed in this mission and Elizabeth's succession was deemed unlawful according to the Church and she should therefore relinquish all claims to the throne as disposed by the Holy See. In spite of being ordered to return, Carne refused and remained in Rome where, in 1561, he died.

A memorial to Sir Edward is to be found in the church of Saint Gregoire in Rome.

Ewenny Priory remained in the posession of the Carne family and later the Nicholl-Carnes until the death of John Carne in 1741 when it was passed by marriage to the Turbervilles whose descendants still occupy the priory today.

The first Inn to be named “The Pelican” on the present site was built while the Carne family was prominent and well before 1741.

The name was changed on the 15th November 2000 to ‘The Pelican-in-her-Piety’ to depict its true history