"HAY, a parish and market town in the hundred of Talgarth, county Brecon, South Wales, 15 miles N.E. of Brecknock, and 156 from London. A tram railway of about 30 miles runs from Brecon through Hay to Kington. The town, which is called Tregella by the Welsh, occupies a beautiful spot on the river Wye, near the English border. It consists of the High-street, with an avenue running at right angles to it. Hay is a borough by prescription, but now enjoys none of its ancient privileges. In olden times it was encompassed by walls and defended by a noble castle built by William De Breos, but the latter was razed to the ground by Henry II. It was subsequently rebuilt by Humphry Bohun, Earl of Hereford, but was taken by Prince Edward in 1265, and at length destroyed by Owain Glyndwr, so that the ancient gateway is all that remains of the structure.
The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St. David's, value £140. The old church of St. John, which stood within the precincts of the town, has entirely disappeared, but a new church has been erected on the precipitous bank of the Wye, commanding an extensive prospect down the vale. It contains an ancient silver chalice with the inscription, "Our Lady Paris of the Haie". In the town there are three chapels belonging to Protestant Dissenters, and two banks, viz: a branch of the Hereford Banking Company, and a sub-branch of the National Provident Bank of England. A workhouse has been erected here by the Poor-law Commissioners, capable of accommodating 150 persons, for the Hay union, which embraces 25 parishes. It is also the seat of a County Court, and head of a superintendent registry district.
The lord of the manor holds a courtleet annually, with the power of calling a court-baron also, and appoints a collector of tolls. The parochial charities produce about £408 per annum, principally the endowments of Harley's and Gwynne's almshouses, and of Pennoyer and Goff's free schools, besides which the parish participates in Powell's benefaction for the apprenticing of children. The principal seats are, Hay Castle and Oakfield. Saturday is market day. Fairs are held on the 17th May, second Monday in June, 12th August, and 10th October, chiefly for sheep and cattle."