"BETTWS, (or Bettws-Caedewen), a parish in the hundred of Newtown, in the county of Montgomery, North Wales, 4 miles from Newton, its post and union town. It is on the banks of the river Bechan, a feeder of the Severn, and contains the townships of Dilforwyn, Garthgellin, Llanitheon, and Ucheldre. The Newtown branch of the Montgomery canal passes through the parish. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of St. Asaph, of the value of £250, in the patronage of the lord chancellor. The church is dedicated to St. Beuno, and belonged to a Cistercian nunnery, founded in the 13th century. In the chancel is a monumental brass to John ap Meredith, who erected the tower in 1531. The Methodists and Baptists have chapels here. The charitable foundations, including some almshouses founded in 1709 by Richard Weaver, produce about £24 per annum.
There are several ancient camps in this parish, the principal of which is Pen-y-Gaer, north-west of the village. The remains of the ancient castle of Dolforwyn stand on the top of a lofty hill, from which there are fine views over the Severn. Its name signifies" Castle of the Virgin's Meadow". Not far from Bettws is the old mansion of Grigynog, in the parish of Tregynon, formerly the seat of the Blayney family, one of whom, Arthur Blayney, greatly distinguished himself by his hospitality and judicious beneficence. He died in 1795. The mansion is now in possession of his heir, Lord Sudeley, whose father acquired it through his wife, Lady Tracy.
"DOLFORWYN, a township in the parish of Bettws, in the county of Montgomery, 3 miles N.E. of Newton. It is situated on the river Severn, near the Montgomeryshire canal. There are remains of a castle built in the 11th century by Bleddyn-ap-Cynfyn, and granted to the Mortimers. The principal residence is Dolforwyn Hall."
"GARTHGELLIN, a township in the parish of Bettws, county Montgomery, 4 miles N. of Newtown."
"GATHGELLIN, a township in the parish of Bettws, county Montgomery, North Wales, 4 miles N. of Newtown."
"LLANITHEON, a township in the parish of Bettws, county Montgomery, 4 miles N. of Newtown."
"UCHELDRE, a township in the parish of Bettws, county Montgomery, 4 miles N.E. of Newtown."
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
BETTWS, a parish in the upper division of the hundred of NEWTOWN, County of MONTGOMERY, NORTH WALES, 4 miles (N. by E.) from Newtown, containing 890 inhabitants. This place is pleasantly situated on the small river Bechan, which falls into the Severn at Aber-Bechan. The western branch of the Montgomeryshire canal to Newtown passes through the eastern part of the parish, which is also intersected by the turnpike road from that town to Welshpool; another road from Berriew to Llanwnnog passes through the village. The parish contains about six thousand acres of land, all enclosed, the commons having been divided pursuant to an act for enclosing the waste lands within the manors of Cedewain, Hopeton, and Gorddwr Uchav, obtained in 1796. The road leading from Brynderwen Bridge to Garthmael is beautifully picturesque; the high grounds on the north side are richly planted, from the base to the summit, with trees and shrubs of various kinds, and the scenery, which is enlivened by the meandering of the river Severn and the canal, presents, especially in the Autumn, when every variety of tint is seen to advantage on the wood-crowned heights, one of the most pleasing and interesting spectacles in this part of the principality.
The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. Asaph, rated in the king's books at
£ 10, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. Asaph. The church, dedicated to St. Beuno, a saint of the sixth century, originally belonged to the ancient nunnery of Llanllugan, founded prior to 1290, for sisters of the Cistercian order, and endowed with a revenue amounting at the dissolution to £22. 14. It is a plain neat structure, with a handsome tower, which was built in the year 1531, by John ab Meredith, whose effigy, engraved on a brass plate bearing a Latin inscription, ornaments a tablet of porphyry erected to his memory on the north side of the chancel. There is a place of worship for Welsh Calvinistic Methodists.
An almshouse was founded and endowed in 1709, for four poor persons of this parish, and for four of the adjoining parish of Tregynon, by Arthur Weaver, Esq., who also left £4 per annum to keep it in repair, and to purchase fuel for the use of the inmates.
About half a mile to the north-west of the village is Pen y Gaer, a British camp defended by a triple intrenchment ; there are also several smaller encampments in various parts of the parish. On the summit of a lofty conical hill of steep ascent, commanding an extensive prospect of the Vale of Severn and the surrounding country, is Castle Dol y Vorwyn, or the Castle of the Virgin's meadow. The name is supposed to allude to the traditionary story of Havren, daughter of Locrinus, the son of Brutus, first king of Britain, by Essylt, daughter of the king of Germany, whom Locrinus had taken captive in his wars against Humyr, king of the Huns. Locrinus, having espoused Essylt, in violation of a former pledge given to Gwenddolau, daughter of Corineus, who had accompanied Brutus into Britain, was compelled by a threat of hostilities to fulfil his engagement to the latter; and, concealing Essylt, whom he pretended to have banished from the kingdom, married Gwenddolau, according to his engagement. On the death of Corineus, which followed soon after, Locrinus divorced Gwenddolau, and declared Essylt queen ; but, on the death of Locrinus, GwenddoIau assumed the government, and in retaliation caused Essylt and her daughter Havren to be drowned in the river Severn. From this circumstance the river is supposed to have derived its name, originally "Ys Havren," and by contraction Savern, from which are deduced the Latin name Sabrina and the English Severn. The castle is said by Camden to have been originally built by Prince Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, between the years 1063 and 1073 ; but Dugdale refers its erection to Davydd ab Llewelyn, about the year 1245. In tbe Welsh Chronicle (Brut y Tywysogion) it is said to have been taken by Llewelyn ab Grufydd, in 1269. It was besieged in the year following by the Earl of Lincoln and Roger Mortimer, to whom the garrison, being in want of water, surrendered it: the Iatter, in 1278, obtained from Edward I. a grant of it, together with the castles of Cedewain and Kerry. The castle was of a quadrangular form, about fifty yards in length, and twenty-five in width, and built of the small ragstone found in the neighbourhood : a small portion of the north wall, with some parts of the interior, are the only remains. On the more accessible sides of the hill on which the castle is built it is defended by deep intrenchments cut in the solid rock, and the base is surrounded by a deep dingle, thickly planted with wood, in which rises a small stream, which, after pursuing a course of nearly a mile, falls into the river Severn. A brass pot, an earthen jug, and some other ancient relics, were dug out of the ruins, some years since, and are at present preserved at Gregynog.
In the township of Dolvorwyn there is a mineral spring, strongly impregnated with sulphur and iron, which is esteemed highly efficacious in cutaneous diseases. The ancient mansion of Gregynog, in this neighbourhood, was the residence of the late Arthur Blayney, Esq., who was distinguished for his hospitality to strangers of every degree, his unwearied endeavours to promote the prosperity and comfort of his tenantry, and his public-spirited encouragement, regardless of the sacrifices made by himself, of every undertaking calculated to advance the interests, or conduce to the convenience, of the county. His house was always open for the hospitable reception and entertainment of travellers ; his tenants were aided in every suitable attempt to improve their farms, which were invariably held at a moderate rental, and their convenience was carefully studied in the construction and alteration of the farm-houses and offices ; the habitations of the cottagers on his estates were always comfortable, and had a small plot of ground attached, for the support of a cow during summer, for which he gratuitously supplied them with hay in the winter ; and the roads in the neighbourhood were greatly improved, and the churches repaired and embellished by him ; whilst his beneficence was extensively diffused among the poor, rather in the more praiseworthy solicitude to seek for and relieve deserving objects, by affording them that timely assistance which might enable them to provide for themselves in future, than in indiscriminate almsgiving to idle vagrants and clamorous mendicants ; his object in mitigating the pangs of distress being to foster industry, and to discourage idleness by withholding relief. This benevolent man died at Gregynog, at an advanced age, in the year 1795. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £529. 9.
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