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Ystradmeurig - Extract from "A Topographical Dictionary of Wales"
by Samuel Lewis 1833

"YSPYTTY YSTRAD MEURIC, a parochial chapelry, in the parish of YSPYTTY YSTWITH, upper division of the hundred of ILAR, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 13 miles (S. E.) from Aberystwith, containing 109  inhabitants. This place formerly belonged to the abbey of Strata Florida, about three miles distant, an hospitium or cell to which was situated here ; and from this circumstance, probably, and from its situation near the river Meuric, is derived its name. It is of very limited extent ; but is much distinguished in history for its ancient castle, of the original foundation of which nothing satisfactory is known: the first notice of it occurs in the history of the siege of Aberystwith castle by Grufydd ab Rhys when the governor of that fortress sent to Ystrad Meuric by night, and received before the morning a reinforcement which enabled him to defend it against the attacks of the Welsh prince. It was partly destroyed by Owain Gwynedd, in 1136, when that chieftain, aided by his brother Cadwaladr, destroyed several other castles in Wales, which were held by the Anglo-Norman invaders. It was, however, repaired in 1150, by Rhys, Prince of South Wales, who, with his brother Meredydd, sons of Grufydd ab Rhys took it from Hywel ab Owain Gwynedd, and fortified it for themselves. In 1158, it was besieged and taken by Roger Earl of Clare, but was retaken, in 1189, by Maelgwyn ab Rhys, who, in 1194, gave it to Anarawd his brother, as a ransom for the liberation of his two brothers Hywel and Madoc, whom that chieftain had made prisoners. It did not remain long in the possession of Anarawd, for, in 1198, Maelgwyn again retook it, and retained it till the year 1207, when, despairing of being able to defend it against Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, from whom he expected a hostile attack, he razed it to the ground, and from that time it does not appear that it was ever rebuilt. The surrounding country is composed chiefly of. elevated and barren hills. The turnpike road from Aberystwith to Tręgaron passes through this place, and an annual fair is held on the 2nd of July for pigs, wool, and pedlery. The chapel, which has no separate endowment, is served by the incumbent of Yspytty Ystwith, or his curate. It is dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and is a small plain building, consisting only of a nave. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. A free grammar school was founded here by the Rev. Edward Richards, who endowed it for thirty-two boys from any part of the country preference being given to those of this parish and neighbourhood. The grammar school of Llanvihangel-Lledrod, an adjoining parish, of which Mr. Richards was master. and which was endowed for forty boys of the upper division of that parish, was, after his decease, united to the school of this place; and this institution has long been eminently distinguished as one of the best classical schools in the principality. A very handsome school - house has been recently erected, in the later style of English architecture, to which is attached an excellent library, comprising a valuable collection of books in various languages. It is conducted by a head master and second master, and is visited by the Bishop of St. David's, and John P. A. Lloyd Philipps, Esq., of Dale Castle, in the county of Pembroke: the endowment amounts to about Ł100 per annum. There is an exhibition to St. John's College, Cambridge, belonging to this school, for the best Greek scholar. Among the eminent persons who have been successively masters may be noticed Mr. Edward Richards. the Rev. John Williams, who conducted it for forty years, and the Rev. D. Williams, late fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, an eminent divine and critic, who distinguished himself as an impartial magistrate, an elegant scholar, and a polished gentleman. There are some remains of the ancient castle of Ystrad Meuric, occupying the summit of a gravelly hill near the village, which, though inconsiderable, denote it to have been originally a place of great strength and importance. On one of the hills in this parish, called Friwllwyd, are the remains of a Roman intrenchment, occupying a commanding site to the north of the church; and on another hill, called Tommen Vilwyn, there is a cairn of considerable extent. An ancient house called Mynachty is supposed to have been the hospitium from which the parish most probably derived its name. Edward Richards, founder of the grammar school, was a native of this parish: he was distinguished as a profound scholar and critic, an antiquary, and a Welsh poet, and was the author of some pastorals, which, for elegance of composition and purity of style, are unrivalled by any writings in the Welsh language : he is supposed to have been born in the year 1714, but his name does not appear in the parish register. The average annual expenditure for the relief of the poor is Ł 19.3."

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[Gareth Hicks: 17 December 1999]

 

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