Eglwys Newydd - Extract from 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' by Samuel Lewis 1833

"EGLWYS - NEWYDD, or LLANVIHANGEL Y CREIDDYN-UCHÂV, a chapelry in the parish of LLAN-VIHANGEL Y CREIDDYN, hundred of ILAR, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 14 miles (S. E.) from Aber-ystwith, containing 1027 inhabitants. This place derives the latter of these names from its relative situation in the parish, and the former from the erection of a church, in 1803, by the late Thomas Johnes, Esq., on the site of a former edifice originally built here in 1620, by the Herberts of Havôd, for the convenience of the family, and the accommodation of the miners employed in the adjoining district of Cwm Ystwith. Havôd, the seat of the late Mr Johnes, was originally the residence of a branch of the Herbert family, who, embarking in the mining adventures of the neighbourhood, built a house here, which, from the nature of the ground and the badness of the roads, being inaccessible except during the summer, obtained the appellation of " Havôd," signifying a summer residence. From the Herberts the estate passed, by marriage with the daughter and heiress of the last male representative of that family, to Thomas Johnes, Esq., ancestor of the late Mr.Johnes, who in 1783 made it his principal residence, and, perceiving the vast improvement of which the spot was susceptible, projected and executed those extensive and magnificent embellishments, which have rendered it one of the most attractive and admired seats in the principality. Mr. Johnes commenced his improvements by taking down the old house, and erecting on its site an elegant mansion of light and beautiful character, in the later style of English architecture, comprising, upon a moderate scale, a suite of apartments adapted in every respect to the elegant accommodation of his family, with a magnificent library, in which was deposited a rare and valuable collection of books and manuscripts, which with great labour and expense he had formed in every department of literature : adjoining the library he built a conservatory, one hundred and sixty feet in length, stored with every species of exotic plants, and communicating with the library by folding-doors panelled with plate glass. The whole of the interior of this mansion was destroyed in 1807, during the absence of Mr. Johnes, by an accidental fire which broke out early in the morning; and, with the exception of a very small portion of the books, rescued from the flames by the intrepidity of Mrs. Johnes, the whole of the library, consisting of many thousand volumes, several of the paintings, and nearly all the splendid furniture of the house, were consumed. The conservatory only was saved, and the walls of the house were alone left standing: the mansion was soon rebuilt, nearly in the same style, and, with some slight alterations, the internal arrangements are the same: another library has been formed, comprehending the Pesaro collection, purchased by Mr. Johnes in Italy, and which was on its way to Havôd at the time of the fire; many valuable works in the French, Spanish, and Italian languages ; some scarce editions of the classics ; and almost all the productions of the Aldine press. The principal of the pictures saved from the fire, and some other works of art, are arranged in the apartments of the present mansion. In the octagonal library are the busts of Mrs. and Miss Johnes, by Banks, a bust of Mr. Johnes by Chantrey, and a bust of the late Duke of Bedford by Nollikens. Over the mantel-piece is an old picture of the prophet Elijah fed by the ravens, which anciently belonged to the abbey of Talley, in the county of Carmarthen, and was, on the dissolution of that establishment, given by the superior to an ancestor of Mr. Johnes. In the long library is a beautiful piece of sculpture by Banks, representing Thetis dipping Achilles in the river Styx; and near the entrance from this room into the dining-room is a fine painting, by Reubens, of Decius Mus receiving the benediction of the Pontifex Maximus, on his devoting himself for the safety of his country. Among numerous pictures by eminent masters are, a portrait of Mr. Johnes of Llanvair, by Sir Godfrey Kneller; of Robert Liston, Esq., by Wickstead; of Richard Gorges, Esq., of Eye, in the county of Hereford; and of Viganoni ; a fine copy of Guido's Cupid Sleeping, landscapes by Both and Berghem, a fine painting of the ruined Alchymist by Salvator Rosa, and other subjects by different masters. In the drawing-room are, Hogarth's celebrated picture of Southwark Fair, a Descent from the Cross by Van-dyke, an " Ecce Homo " by Moralez, two landscapes by Claude, a procession of the Doge of Venice by Canaletti; an Assumption by Bernardo Lonino, pupil of Leonardo da Vinci, which was originally an altar-piece at Lugano ; a Holy Family by Reubens, a portrait of Lord Chancellor Thurlow by Gardener, and some beautiful miniatures by the late Miss Johnes. The hall is paved with Mona marble, and is embellished with a Grecian statue of Bacchus ; and with six paintings of subjects from Froissart, in imitation of basso relievo, by Stothard. The grounds, which are very extensive, and are laid out with exquisite taste and judgment, comprehend a rich and diversified assemblage of every thing that is beautiful in picturesque, and impressive in romantic, scenery. The natural advantages of the spot have been improved by every variety of embellishment, and numerous walks have been formed through the grounds, in such directions as to bring successively into view the various beautiful features with which the scenery abounds, and the many objects of natural grandeur with which they are powerfully contrasted. The river, in its course through the grounds, frequently obstructed by lofty masses of rock impending over its stream, forms a succession of beautiful cataracts, which are seen from several points of view with peculiar effect: the beautiful church of Eglwys-Newydd forms an interesting feature in the landscape; and on the brow of a hill is an obelisk, erected to the memory of the late Duke of Bedford, with an inscription commemorative of the services which that nobleman rendered to the agriculture of the country. Independently of the mansion and grounds of Havôd, Mr. Johnes bestowed extraordinary attention and unlimited expense in improving the agriculture of the surrounding district, which from a barren desert he changed into a highly cultivated and richly wooded tract: the face of the country has been materially altered by extensive and thriving plantations ; and the lands have been brought into good cultivation and are to the utmost as productive as the nature of the soil will allow. Crops of wheat, barley, rye, and potatoes, have been raised with great success on lands which were previously thought to be incapable of producing them; and even some of the high and most exposed portions of land have been progressively advancing into a state of fertility. Numerous cottages of pleasing and comfortable appearance have been built for the labourers employed in cultivating the farms; and a very considerable number of the inhabitants of the hamlet of Llanvihangel y Creiddyn Uchâv, and its vicinity, have found employment upon Mr. Johnes' estate. According to Mr. Malkin, four hundred thousand larch trees, of which very few failed, fifty thousand alders, and two hundred thousand other trees, chiefly elm, beech, birch, and the common and the mountain ash, were planted by Mr. Johnes in the year ending June 1797; from October 1797 to October 1798, ten thousand oak trees of one and two feet in height; and from October 1798 to April 1799, fifty-five acres were set with acorns, and, during the same period, twenty-five thousand ash trees, of which number not more than five hundred died, and four hundred thousand larch trees, which all throve, were planted on the Havôd estate. The whole number of trees planted from 1796 to 1801 was two millions and sixty-five thousand, and since that period the plantations have been increased by the addition of nearly two hundred thousand trees every year for many years.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St.David's, endowed with £1000 royal bounty, and £1200 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of Thomas Johnes, Esq. The stipend of the incumbent is derived partly from the tithes, and partly from a rate upon the lands, estimated according to an old survey. The chapel, erected at the sole expense of Mr. Johnes, from a design by Mr. Wyatt, and situated within the precincts of the Havôd grounds, is an elegant cruciform structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a square tower at the west end. In the centre of the cross is a richly ornamented font of artificial stone, supported on an octagonal shaft; one side of the basin bears a shield charged with the arms of the family of Johnes, and the faces of the shaft are embellished with figures represent-ing the cardinal virtues. A fine painting, by Fuseli, of Christ and the two disciples of Emmaus ornaments the northern transept, and the window of the southern is wholly of ancient stained glass, which formerly orna-mented one of the Dutch churches, from which it was removed during the French Revolution, at the close of the last century. Several of the Herberts of Havôd are buried in the chapel, to whom monumental tablets have been erected and a splendid monument, by Chantrey, has been erected to the memory of the late Miss Johnes, on which are finely sculptured figures of herself and her weeping parents. Schools for the gratuitous instruction of poor children are supported by the family at Havôd."


[Gareth Hicks: 31 December 1999]