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Betws y Coed


National Gazetteer (1868)

"BETWS-Y-COED, a parish in the hundred of Nantconway, in the county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 3 miles to the S. of Llanrwst. It is situated in a charming valley, protected by mountains, at the junction of the river Llugwy with the Conway. The latter is crossed by Waterloo-bridge, a single arch of iron, erected in the year of the battle of Waterloo. Over the former is the bridge called Pont-y-Pair, of singular construction, the work of an ingenious mason of Pennlyn, who lived in the 15th century. It consists of four arches, each resting on a mass of rock, over which the water, in time of floods, runs in fine cascades.

There are many grand waterfalls in the district. The rivers abound in trout and salmon. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bangor, value 84, in the gift of the bishop. The church, a small and ancient structure, stands on the site of an earlier religious house, and is dedicated to St. Michael. It contains a very interesting monument to Gruffydd ap David Gch, a relative of the last Llewellyn, being an altar tomb with an effigy and inscription, a work of the 13th century. The Calvinistic Methodists and Independents have chapels. There is a free school, established in 1821."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson 2003]

 A Topographical Dictionary of Wales
Samuel Lewis, 1833

BETTWS Y COED, or BETTWS-WYRION-IDDON, a parish in the hundred of NANTCONWAY, county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, 3 miles (S.) from Llanrwst, on the road to Holyhead and Dublin, containing 348 inhabitants. This parish derives its name from an ancient religious establishment, called Bettws Wyrion Iddon, or "the bead-house of the children of Iddon," on the site of which the present church was built ; and was formerly only a township in the parish of Llanrhychwyn, from which it was separated in the sixteenth century. The village is delightfully situated in a beautiful vale, surrounded on all sides by the Carnarvonshire and Denbighshire mountains, and near the confluence of the rivers Conway and Llugwy. Over the former of these rivers, about half a mile above the church, is an iron bridge of one noble arch, beautifully ornamented with the rose, thistle, and shamrock, with an inscription in Roman capitals, purporting that it was constructed in the year in which the battle of Waterloo was fought, and thence called Waterloo bridge; and over the latter is a bridge of singular construction, called Pont y Pair, consisting of four arches resting upon masses of rugged precipitous rocks of romantic appearance, which in high floods exhibit below the bridge several beautiful cataracts of striking magnificence. This picturesque structure was projected and partly raised by one Howel, a mason from Penllyn, who, about the year 1468, had previously erected a bridge over the Lleder, at a spot where his passage had been obstructed by a flood, whilst on his journey to Aberconway, to attend the Merionethshire assizes, to which place he removed, and, having built the bridge at his own expense, received no other remuneration than the voluntary donations of travellers : he then removed to this place, where he commenced Pont y Pair bridge, but died before its completion. The scenery around this spot consists of rocky mountains fringed with wood, in the fissures of which are found trees of stately growth, and the whole neighbourhood abounds with strikingly magnificent and finely contrasted features.

The three rivers, Conway, Llugwy, and Lledr, unite within the parish, and, in their course through the mountainous districts, form numerous and majestic cataracts, for which this parish is celebrated. Of these the principal are the falls of the Conway, Machno, and Llugwy : the first, rushing with impetuosity through rocks of tremendous height, which contract the passage of the waters, after descending from a great height, forms four smaller falls, which are seen in succession from the same spot; and just below the confluence of the Conway and the Lledr there is a deep, wide, and still piece of water, called Llyn yr Afangc, or " the beavers' pool," from its being the resort of that animal, the skin of which was anciently prized more highly than that of the ermine. About two miles from the village is the cataract of Rhaiadr y Wenol, or "the waterfall of the swallow," formed by the river Llugwy, which, after pursuing its course for a considerable distance through a strait rocky channel, along narrow meadows enclosed by mountains of majestic elevation, falls into a hollow of amazing depth, the sides and summit of which are shaded with trees, that have taken root in the fissures of the rocks. The whole of the neighbouring mountains abound with lead-ore, but none of the mines have been worked for some time, on account of the great reduction in the price of that article, which has recently taken place : a few of the inhabitants are engaged in the spinning of woollen yarn and the knitting of stockings. A considerable variety of quartz chrystal, of a beautiful whiteness, is found in the parish.

Fairs are held here annually on May 15th and December 3rd. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Bangor, endowed with 800 royal bounty, and 200 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of Lord Willoughby de Eresby. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a small, but interesting edifice, romantically situated near the confluence of the Conway and Llugwy, and occupying the site of the ancient religious house before noticed : the interior contains, among other ancient monuments, an altar-tomb to the memory of Grufydd ab Davydd Goch, son to Davydd Goch, natural son of Davydd, brother of Llewelyn, the last prince of Wales, on which is a recumbent effigy in plate armour, with an inscription in a very perfect state : this beautiful relic, which is the production of the thirteenth century, is injudiciously concealed by the erection of a pew over the monument. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A charity school, open to all the poor children of the parish, was founded in 1821, by the Right Hon. Lord Willoughby de Eresby, and is supported solely at his lordship's expense. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is 152.12.

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