Llanycil - Gazetteers

National Gazetteer (1868)

"LLANYCIL, (or Llanykill), a parish in the hundred of Penllyn, county Merioneth, 12 miles S.W. of Corwen, 15 N.E. of Dolgelly, and 1 mile from Bala, its post town. The parish includes the market town of Bala and five other townships It is situated on the western side of Bala Lake, and has the workhouse for that Poor-law Union. Many of the people are employed in stocking-knitting. The parish is of large extent, being about 9 miles in length by 4 broad. The surface is hilly, rising at Arrenig Fawr to an altitude of 2,809 feet above the sea. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of St. Asaph, value £350, in the patronage of the bishop. The church is dedicated to St. Beuno. There is a free grammar school, with an endowment producing about £80, besides six scholarships, and six exhibitions at Jesus College, Oxford. There are other charities, amounting to nearly £30 per annum. Fairs are held on the 3rd June, 11th September, and 2nd October."

"BALA, a borough and market town in the parish of Llanycil, in the hundred of Penllyn, and county of Merioneth, North Wales, 17 miles to the N.E. of Dolgelly, and 194 miles from London. It is situated at the north-eastern extremity of Bala lake, and is a place of great antiquity. It is a borough by prescription, and is governed by two bailiff's and a common council. It is the seat of a County Court district, and of a Poor-law Union. The town contains one principal street, with a townhall, market-house, and savings-bank. The inhabitants are employed in the manufacture of hosiery, gloves, flannels, Welsh wigs, &c. There are good inns, which are much frequented by mountain tourists.

A grammar school was established in 1712, and has a revenue of about £90 per annum. There are colleges and chapels belonging to the Independents and Calvinistic Methodists, also National and British schools. Bala lake extends nearly 4 miles in a south-westerly direction from the town, and is nearly three-quarters of a mile broad. It is the largest lake in the principality. Its bottom is rocky, and its water, which has a depth of about 40 feet, is remarkable for clearness and purity. The shores of the lake are cultivated, and partly wooded. Fine pike, eels, perch, red trout, and 11 gwyniads "(a famous local luxury) abound in it. The fishery, which belonged at an early date to Basingwerk Abbey, is now held by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, Bart., whose fishing lodge is at Glan Llyn.

The river Dee, the sources of which are in the range of lofty hills to the south, called Arran Fowddy, flows through this lake. The Roman Watling Street passed near its margin. From a lofty tumulus near the town there is a fine prospect over the lake and the neighbouring mountains, including Cader Idris. The native name of the lake is Llyn Tegid. It is also called Pemblemere. Polling for the county election takes place at Bala, and the assizes are held here in turn with Dolgelly. Petty sessions are also held. The market is on Saturday, and fairs take place on the 14th May, the 10th July, the 11th September, the 24th October, and the 8th November."

"CYFFTY, a township in the parish of Llanycil, in the county of Merioneth 2 miles S.W. of Bala."

"ISMYNYDD, a township in the parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, 4 miles from Bala. It contains the hamlets of Llidiarde and Rhyducha."

"LLIDIARDE, a hamlet in the parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, 4 miles N.W. of Bala."

"MAESTRON, a township in the parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, in the vicinity of Bala."

"RHYDUCHA, a hamlet in the township of Ismynydd, parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, 2 miles from Bala, near Bala lake."

"STREFLYN, a township in the parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, near Bala."

"UCHMYNYDD, a township in the parish of Llanycil, county Merioneth, 2 miles from Bala."

[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

LLANYCIL (LLAN-Y-CIL), a parish, comprising the market town of Bala, in the hundred of PENLLYN, county of MERIONETH, NORTH WALES, the church being situated 1 mile (S. W.) from Bala, on the road to Dolgelley, and containing, with that town, 2359 inhabitants. The name of this place, signifying "the church in the retreat," is probably derived from its retired situation in a sequestered part of the county, embosomed in hills, and nearly surrounded by mountains. The parish extends in length nearly nine miles from Bala lake, in a north-westerly direction, and is about four miles in breadth, from north-east to south-west. With the exception of that part adjacent to the lake, in which the town of Bala is situated, the surface is generally hilly, and the soil indifferent; but below the town are some fine luxuriant meadows, forming a rich and pleasing vale watered by the river Dee, and its first tributary, the Treweryn, the latter issuing from a small pool of that name in the upper part of the parish, and the former having its source immediately above the lake, through which it flows : the Treweryn, after pursuing a rapid though devious course through the vale, unites with the river Dee previously to its leaving the parish. The village is beautifully situated on the north-western side of Bala lake, commanding a fine prospect over that extensive sheet of water, and some pleasing and highly picturesque views of the surrounding country, and of the lofty mountains in the distance. The mountains called respectively Arenig Vawr and Arenig Vach, at the bases of which are pools abounding with excellent trout, are within the limits of this parish : they exhibit some volcanic remains, and indications of lava are discernible in many parts of them. Peat, which constitutes the principal fuel of the inhabitants, is procured in several parts of the parish. The knitting of stockings is carried on to a very considerable extent, affording employment to many of the inhabitants. Fairs are held in the village on June 3rd, September 11th, and October 2nd. The living is a rectory, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. Asaph, rated in the king's books at £9. 4. 4 1/2., and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. Asaph. The church, dedicated to St. Beuno, is an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture : it underwent a thorough repair in 1828, when it was enlarged by the addition of a gallery at the west end it contains several good monuments, among which are some to the families of Lloyd and Anwyl, formerly rectors of the parish. In the churchyard are eight fine yew trees of venerable growth. There is a chapel of ease in the town of Bala. The Independents and Calvinistic Methodists have each places of worship. Mrs. Margaret Price bequeathed £ 100, directing the interest to be applied to the clothing of five men and seven women; William Price, in 1774, bequeathed £ 100 for clothing poor people of both sexes, and £ 100 for bread to the poor ; Elinor Williams, in 1752, gave £40 to be divided annually among eight poor persons ; and Edward Meyrick, in 1712, bequeathed a rent-charge of £ 15 for clothing thirty poor boys of North Wales, and a rent-charge of the same amount, the use of a house, and three acres and a half of land, to a schoolmaster at this place, for the gratuitous instruction of poor children. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £ 823. 6.


BALA, a township, and a market and assize town, in the parish of LLANYCIL, hundred of PENLLYN, county of MERIONETH, NORTH WALES, 18 miles (N. E.) from Dolgelley, and 204 (N.W. by W.) from London. The population is returned with the parish. This place derives its name, which signifies "a running out," from its situation near the efflux of the Dee from the adjoining lake of Llyn Tegid. Its early history is involved in obscurity, and nothing peculiarly remarkable has been with certainty recorded of it. A high artificial mount, called Tommen y Bala, at the south-eastern extremity of the town, is thought to have been constructed by the Romans, who built a small fortress upon its summit, to protect the pass towards the sea, and overawe the turbulent inhabitants of the district : this mount was afterwards used by the Welsh, as one of a chain of forts which they established across this portion of the principality, terminating at the sea on the confines of Flintshire, for the purpose of defending themselves against the invasions of the lords-marcher. A castle was erected here, in 1202, by Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, probably, as Mr. Pennant supposes, on or near the site of a more ancient castelet, called "Castell Gronw Bevr o Benllyn :" some vestiges of it are still traceable on the eastern side of the Dee, near the point where that river emerges from the lake, Bala was probably dependent upon the castle of Harlech, and, in the reign of Edward II., was committed to the custody of Einion de Stanedon, constable of that castle : in that of Edward III. both these places were given in fee-farm to Walter de Manni, a distinguished military commander, who was appointed sheriff of this county for life.

The town, which consists of one wide street and a smaller one, not lighted, but well supplied with water, is situated on the road from Dolgelley to Corwen, near the north-western extremity of the lake ; and, although standing in an unfertile district, and destitute of all the advantages derived from water carriage, yet in appearance it is excelled by few towns in the principality. The surrounding country consists chiefly of wild moors and heathy mountains, from which circumstance this has become the general rendezvous of gentlemen resorting to this part of Wales for grouse - shooting. A book society was established here in 1828.

Bala and its neighbourhood have for a long series of years been noted for the knitting of woollen stockings, socks, and gloves, but this manufacture has of late been on the decline : in the year 1830, thirty-two thousand dozen pair of stockings, ten thousand dozen pair of socks, and five thousand five hundred dozen pair of gloves, were made. The hosiery is distinguished for the softness of its texture, which causes it to be held in. high esteem for winter wear, and universally recommended by the medical faculty.

The market, which is on Saturday, is well attended; and fairs are held on the Saturday before Shrovetide, chiefly for the hiring of servants, and May 14th, July 10th, October 24th, and November 8th, chiefly for the sale of live stock ; that in July is a great fair for lambs.

Bala was anciently incorporated, under the government of two bailiffs and a common council : it is under the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. The spring assizes, and the winter and summer quarter sessions, for the county are held here ; and the county court, for the recovery of debts under forty shillings, is held once a month, by the deputy sheriff, either here or at Dolgelley. The town-hall is a plain substantial building, standing in the principal street : attached to it is one of the county bridewells, which is under the regulation of the magistrates for the hundred, but is too small to admit of an extended system of classification, A chapel of ease was erected by subscription, in 1811: it is a small plain structure, with a low tower, surmounted by a spire. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic Methodists, with Sunday schools attached. A grammar school was founded and endowed, in 1712, by Dr. Edmund Meyrick, chancellor of St. David's, who bequeathed, in trust to the Principal and Fellows of Jesus' College, Oxford, land then let for £15 per annum, for the instruction of children : thirty boys are now clothed and educated for four years on this foundation, and the master, who is appointed by the Principal and Fellows, receives a salary of £40 per annum, with a rent-free residence : the sum of £ 60 is annually applied towards clothing the children.

A branch of the Roman Watling-street, passing from the station Mediolanum, in Montgomeryshire, to that of Heriri Mons, near Festiniog, proceeded through or very near the present town of Bala; and at the upper end of the lake, the remains of a Roman station, now called Caer Gai, are very conspicuously situated, around which a great quantity of Roman bricks lies scattered.

The Rev. T. Charles, formerly of Jesus' College, Oxford, one of the founders of the British and Foreign Bible Society, and an indefatigable promoter of Sunday schools and circulating charity schools, resided at this place, where he died in 1814, and was interred in the parochial church : he also distinguished himself as the author of an extensive work, in the Welsh language, entitled Geiriadur Ysgrythyrol, or a " Scriptural Dictionary."

Bala lake, called also Llyn Tegid and Pimble mere, is the largest in Wales, being about four miles in length, and in some places nearly one mile in breadth : its greatest depth, which is opposite Bryn Goleu, is about forty-six yards. Its overflowings, when the wind rushes from the mountains at the upper end, occasion great damage : in stormy weather it receives a great accession of water from the mountain torrents, and rises to the height of seven or eight feet above its ordinary level, covering a considerable portion of the vales of Penllyn and Edeyrnion, and even endangering the security of the town itself. The river Dee has its source under Aran Penllyn, a high mountain at the head of the lake, through which it has been said, by Giraldus Cambrensis, Drayton, and others, to flow without mingling its waters ; as the Rhone is fabled to pass through the lake of Geneva, and the classic Alpheus through the Adriatic sea. This assertion is partly founded on the circumstance that salmon, which are plentiful in the river, are never found in the lake; nor are gwyniaid, which swim in shoals in the lake, ever seen, except rarely, in the river ; but this may be accounted for by the instinct which all creatures exhibit, in resorting only to those haunts most congenial to their habits, and most convenient for feeding and shelter. The lake abounds with pike, perch, trout, and eels ; and there are also a few roach, and innumerable gwyniaid (so called from the whiteness of their scales), a species of fish found only in Alpine waters, and resembling whitings in flavour, which spawn in December, and are caught in great numbers in spring and summer. The fishery, in the thirteenth century, belonged to the abbot and monks of Basingwerk : the whole is now the property of Sir W. W. Wynne, Bart., Who has a handsome villa, called Glyn Llyn, pleasantly situated upon the margin of the lake. From the summit of Tommen y Bala, at the north-eastern extremity of this fine sheet of water, the view to the south-west is exceedingly grand : on the right it is fringed by a line of rich meadows, and on the left is the bridge, under which the Dee passes : a large rocky hill, the sides of which are well clothed with wood, rises over it in picturesque beauty, and hence the eye is directed along a ridge of craggy elevations, to the lofty Arans, with their two pre-eminent summits, Aran Mowddwy and Penllyn. On the north-west soar the Arenigs, Vawr and Vach, with the cloud-encircled summit of Cader Idris, terminating the prospect. The local tradition vulgarly connected with the formation of this lake, in common with most other large pieces of water in the principality, is, that it occupies the site of the palace and grounds of a rich, haughty, and irreligious prince, whose wealth, acquired by acts of rapine and murder, was preserved by oppression and the violent exercise of arbitrary power ; till at length, disregarding the warnings he had often received from a superhuman agent, he drew down upon himself the vengeance of an offended God, and his magnificent mansion was suddenly swallowed up, whilst celebrating the birth of his eldest son's first-born, and surrounded by a gay concourse of lords and ladies, whom he had invited as friends to participate in the festivity : the towers and parapets of the palace are credulously reported to have been frequently seen, by the superstitious boatmen of former times, when the bright full moon reflected its refulgent lustre upon the glassy surface of the unruffled waters. Some flourishing plantations of young trees have within the last thirty years been formed at Cyvty, Caer Leon, and Tal y Bont, in the vicinity of this town, by W. M. Thackeray, Esq., M.D.

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