The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868
"CARDIGAN, (or Aberteify), a parish, market town, seaport, municipal and parliamentary borough, and the county town of Cardiganshire, South Wales, about 240 miles to the W. of London. The nearest station on the South Wales railway is Narberth Road, which is about 18 miles from Cardigan. Two coaches run daily to the station. The town is situated 3 miles from the coast of Cardigan Bay, on the edge of Pembrokeshire, into which the borough extends, and on the banks of the Teify, or Teifi. Its Welsh name is Aberteifi, which denotes its position near the mouth of the Teifi. It is an ancient town, and was probably founded before the Norman Conquest. A castle was erected here by the Norman, the possession of which, a post of no little importance as commanding the river, was frequently and fiercely contested by the Welsh and the Normans during the 12th and 13th centuries. The Welsh princes finally lost it about 1240, when it was captured by the English, and fortifications were erected by Gilbert Marshall, Earl of Pembroke. Edward I. made the castle his residence while organising the government of South Wales. It was given, with the lordship, by Henry VII. to Catherine of Arragon, on her marriage with Prince Arthur. During the civil war of, the 17th century, the castle was first garrisoned for the king, but was taken in 1654 by the parliamentary forces under General Laugharne. Cardigan, although the county town, possessing about 3,000 inhabitants, is rather behindhand with the rest of the world, as yet not even being lighted with gas; and from its inconvenient position as regards the rest of the county much of the public business has been transferred to Aberagron. It has one principal street. The public buildings are the shirehall, a handsome structure erected in 1764; the county gaol, erected from a design by Nash in 1793; the market-house, and the Union poorhouse. The Teifi is crossed by an ancient bridge of seven arches. The pursuits of the inhabitants are chiefly agricultural. Some are employed in the coasting trade, and in the salmon and herring fisheries. Aberaeron, Aberporth, Fishguard, Newport, and New Quay are subports to Cardigan. There are about 230 vessels belonging to the port, mostly of small burthen. The entrance to the harbour is obstructed by a bar, so that large vessels can only approach the town at spring tides. The principal exports are corn, slate, butter, and bark; and the imports, coal, limestone, timber, &c. The river abounds in good salmon. Cardigan is a very old borough, and claims to be such by prescription. Under the Reform Act it is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, with the style of the "mayor, common council, and burgesses of the town and borough of Cardigan." The limits of the borough comprise, besides the parish of Cardigan, the hamlets of Abbey and Bridge End, in the parish of St. Dogmell's, in Pembrokeshire. As the head of a parliamentary district, Cardigan, with the contributory boroughs of Aberystwith, Adpar, and Lampeter, returns one member to the imperial parliament. It is the seat of a Poor-law Union, the head of a County Court district, and a polling-place for the county elections. The assizes and quarter sessions are held here. Cardigan is the seat of an archdeaconry in the diocese of St. David's. The living is a vicarage* in the same diocese, of the value of £153, in the patronage of the lord chancellor. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. It is a large and ancient edifice in the decorated and perpendicular styles, with, a fine tower at the W. end. It contains an old octagonal font adorned with sculpture, and a good canopied piscina. The chancel is the oldest part of the building, and has recently been restored. There are four chapels in the town, belonging to the Independents, Baptists, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The free grammar school was founded and endowed by Lady Letitia Cornwallis in 1653, and has an income of about £20 a year. A handsome building, in the early English style, was erected in 1848 for the National school, in which divine service is also occasionally performed. There is also a free school for girls. A small Dominican priory anciently existed here, which was a cell to Chertsey Abbey. On its site now stands the mansion called the Priory, formerly the seat of the Pryse family. The ruins of the castle, consisting of part of the walls and towers, are situated by the river, near the ancient bridge, and are now converted into a modern dwelling, except the keep, which still retains its underground passages and dungeons, used as cellars. There are no remains of the town walls. Hen Castell is a small ancient camp near the town; and 1 mile nearer the mouth of the Teify are the scanty ruins of the once famous Abbey of St. Dogmells, which was only second in size and importance to Strata-Florida. Cardigan gives the title of earl to the Brudenell family. Saturday is the market day. Fairs are held on the 13th February, the 5th April, the 8th September, and the 19th December.
[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2018