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CILGERRAN

From

From Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833)

KÎLGERRAN ( CÎL-GARON), a parish (formerly an incorporated market town) in the hundred of KÎLGERRAN, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 2 1/4 miles (S S.E.) from Cardigan, containing 879 inhabitants. This place owes its origin to the erection of a castle, of great strength and extent, of which the original foundation is involved in much obscurity: some writers attribute it to Roger de Montgomery, and others to Gilbert Earl of Clare. In the year 1164, this important fortress was taken from the English by Rhys ab Grufydd, Prince of South Wales, by whom it was considerably strengthened; and in the following year the Normans and Flemings made an unsuccessful attack upon it. During the civil war between his two sons, Grufydd and Rhys, the former of whom had succeeded to his father's dominions, it was captured by Grufydd, in 1199, from whom, however, it was wrested by William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke, about the year 1204, Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, in 1215, included the capture of this castle among his other numerous conquests in this part of the principality, but ceded it, in the following year, to a native chieftain named Maelgwyn, from whom it was retaken, in 1222, by the Earl of Pembroke, who immediately commenced the erection of a new fortress, which was finished by the garrison, during the earl's absence in London, whither he had been summoned to attend the king. The castle thenceforward continued annexed to the earldom of Pembroke, until the decease of the youngest son of Earl William, when these vast estates descended to coheiresses, and the castle and lordship of Kîlgerran were separated from it. The importance of the castle imparted a proportionate degree of consequence to the town, which was endowed with corporate privileges, and continued to flourish until the decay of the former, on which it underwent a like decline.

It is now only a small village, consisting of one street, about half a mile in length, the houses in which are mean, straggling, and irregularly built, with the church at the western extremity. The river Teivy, which runs on the east and north to its estuary below Cardigan, here winds in beautiful and majestic reaches through the vale to which it gives name, and which at every bend presents some fresh features of novel and picturesque beauty. In sailing up the stream, in one part of its course, the hanging woods which clothe the sides of the environing hills recede from the margin of the stream, and leave room for a narrow strip of meadow land, whilst the beautifully varied scenery on the opposite bank is terminated by the august ruins of the castle, which crown the summit of a projecting rock rising precipitously from the brink of the river: on the opposite side, the noble woods which give name to the valuable estate and mansion of Coedmore, the seat of Thomas Lloyd, Esq., cover the sides and summit of the rock, partially disclosing at intervals impending masses, which contrast finely with the sylvan beauties of the scene. Pursuing the course of the river, rich groves, alternating with the naked rock, continue to excite the admiration of the traveller, till he arrives within a short distance of Llêchrhyd bridge, where the vale expands on either side, marginally luxuriant meadows, from which the hills recede, beautifully varied with churches, seats, and cottages, embosomed in the foliage of successive plantations. On this river is the Kîlgerran royal weir, which was purchased from the crown by Thomas Lloyd, Esq., of Coedmore. There are three mansions in the parish, namely, Glandovan, the seat of Abel Anthony Gower, Esq., of which family was the late Admiral Sir Erasmus Gower, who accompanied Earl Macartney in his embassy to China, and greatly distinguished himself in the naval service of his country; Castell Malgwyn, also the property of Mr. Gower, but now in the occupation of --- Davies, Esq.; and Rhôs y Gilwen,the elegant modern mansion of John Humphreys. Esq., who obtained this estate by marriage with Catherine, daughter of the late Thomas Colby, Esq., of Fynnonau, and erected the present house. There are extensive slate quarries in the parish, which are actively worked, and enjoy a facility of communication with the sea by means of the Teivy, which is navigable as high as Llêchrhyd bridge, about three miles above Cardigan. The market, formerly held on Wednesday, has fallen into disuse; but fairs are held annually on August 21st and November 12th, for the sale of cattle, horses, pigs, &c. This place has long since lost its municipal privileges, but retains the semblance of a corporation, in the election annually of a portreeve, who is chosen by a jury of burgesses at the court leet which is held twice a year: the tolls of the fairs are paid to him, but his other duties are little more than nominal.

The living is a discharged rectory, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St. David's, rated in the king's books at £9, and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The church, dedicated to St. Llawddog, is an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture, and in tolerably good repair, with a square tower at the western end; in the churchyard there is a rude stone, bearing an inscription now illegible, but evidently a Roman monumental stone. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists. A school, in which about forty children are instructed, is supported by contributions from the gentry resident in the vicinity. The ruins of the castle rank among the most striking, extensive, and picturesque remains of the ancient fortresses in South Wales; they stand on the edge of a rock which rises perpendicularly from the southern bank of the Teivy, and consist of several bastions of different forms, with portions of the curtain wall; the castle formerly had two wards, the plan of which, with the position of the integral parts, may be clearly traced. It is at present, together with that of Pembroke, held by grant from the crown, made in the reign of James II., by Pryse Pryse, Esq., of Gogerddan, in the county of Cardigan. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £203. 7.

Gareth Hicks, 23 Dec 1999

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