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Help and advice for Lampeter - Extract from 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' by Samuel Lewis 1833

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

"LAMPETER ( LLAN-BEDR) PONT STEPHEN, a borough, market-town, and parish, partly in the upper division of the hundred of TROEDYRAUR, but chiefly in that of the hundred of MOYTHEN, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 27 miles (E) from Cardigan, and 203 (W. by N.) from London, containing, with the hamlet of Trêvycoed,1317 inhabitants. The name signifies the church of St. Peter, the distinguishing appellation having been added from the erection of a bridge over the river Teivy, at the distance of about half a mile, as has been vaguely conjectured, by King Stephen, in one of his inroads into Wales: that monarch is also said to have encamped in a meadow near the river, thence called " The King's Meadow;" and in an adjoining field was formerly a subterraneous apartment, called " The King's Cellar," to which led a curious flight of stone steps, removed a few years ago by a farmer, for the sake of the materials. But the bridge appears, from ancient Welsh pedigrees, to have been the work of an inferior manorial proprietor in this neighbourhood, called Stephen, whose name was used to designate this useful erection, and thus became conjoined with that of the adjacent town and parish. This was formerly a place of greater extent and importance than at present, " the men of Llan-Bedr " being repeatedly mentioned in terms of distinction in the Welsh Chronicle; and this opinion is corroborated by a plot of ground, to the south-west of the town, being still called Mynwent Twrnas, " St. Thomas' Churchyard," where fragments of leaden coffins have been frequently dug up : the street leading towards it is also called St.Thomas'-street, and tradition reports the ruins of the edifice to have been visible about two hundred years ago. The ancient lords of this place are represented to have been men of great wealth : their mansion was delightfully situated on the declivity of an eminence to the west of the town ; and there are still some remains of a causeway, which, according to tradition, led from it to the western door of the church. The castle of Lampeter is stated to have been demolished, towards the middle of the twelfth century, by Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, in an expedition against the Normans and Flemings in Cardiganshire and the parts adjacent : it is supposed to have stood in a meadow on the right of the road leading to Aberystwith, the site being marked by a lofty artificial mound, surrounded by an intrenchment. In 1188, Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, Giraldus Cambrensis, John, abbot of Whitland, and Sisillus, abbot of the neighbouring monastery of Strata Florida, here successively exerted their eloquence in preaching the crusades.

The town, which is small and straggling, consisting for the most part of low houses indifferently built, is pleasantly situated in the beautiful Vale of Teivy, on the northern bank of that river, which here forms the boundary between the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and in a cultivated tract of small extent, surrounded on every side by mountains of considerable elevation, over which, and adjacent to it, a new bridge is now in progress of erection : it is amply supplied with water from the river and from springs in the neighbourhood. Its principal architectural ornament, the establishment of which has been the means of promoting the prosperity of the town, is the College of St. David, a handsome and commodious edifice, begun August 12th, 1822 (when the first stone was laid with great ceremony), and opened for the reception of students on March 1st,1827, having been built from a design by Mr. C. R. Cockrell. It was founded by George IV., at the suggestion of Dr. Burgess, then Bishop of St. David's, incorporated by royal charter, and endowed by act of parliament with six livings, the establishment to consist of a principal, vice-principal, and three professors, but only one professor yet resides : accommodation is afforded for seventy students, who are admitted from all parts, with a preference to natives of the principality, for whose benefit especially this useful institution was established : the total annual amount of the necessary expenses of the students, of whom there are at present forty-five, does not exceed from £ 50 to £ 54 per annum. Francis Button, Esq., late one of the justices of great sessions for the counties of Chester, Denbigh, Flint, and Montgomery, gave £ 100 to this college, to be invested in the public funds, as the commencement of a foundation for annual prizes for competition among the students ; and prizes presented by different individuals have been annually awarded. An act of parliament has been obtained for the construction of a new line of road from this town to Llandovery, but the work has not yet been commenced. The inhabitants procure grocery and various other articles of domestic consumption from Bristol, which are brought by sea to Aberaëron, and thence by land carriage a distance of thirteen miles : coal, of a bituminous quality, from Newport and Llanelly, which is brought to the same port ;and stone, coal, and culm by land from Llandebie and Llandyvan, a distance of about thirty miles : there is neither trade nor manufacture carried on here. The market is on Saturday : three principal fairs, in addition to others of inferior note, are held annually on the Wednesday in Whitsun-week, July 10th, and October 19th.The earliest charter of incorporation, of which there is a copy extant, is that of Henry VI., which, however, recites others as far back as the reign of Edward II. : that under which the borough is now governed is a confirmatory charter of George III., dated in 1814. The principal officer is a portreeve, appointed annually at the court leet held for the manor, whose authority is undefined, and, as at present exercised, limited in extent : there are also a town-clerk, constable, and beadle. Lampeter is contributory with Cardigan, Aberystwith, and Atpar, in the return of a member to parliament : the right of election was formerly in the burgesses at large, the number of whom, in 1816, was six hundred, but cannot at present be exactly ascertained : it is now, by the late act for amending the representation of the people, vested in the resident burgesses only, if duly qualified according to the provisions of the act, and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the annual value of ten pounds and up-wards, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs : the number of burgesses at present resident within the borough is thirty, and about two hundred more reside within seven miles ; and the number of tenements of the annual value of not less than ten pounds is, within the ancient limits of the borough, fifty-eight exclusively of twelve sets of apartments in the college, occupied by students paying each not less than ten pounds per annum, and, within the new limits of the borough, which are correctly defined in the Appendix to this work, sixty-one. The freedom is bestowed by a jury of burgesses appointed at the manorial court leet. The Easter quarter sessions for the county are held at Lampeter; and it has also been recently made one of the polling-places in the election of a knight for the shire. The town-hall is a commodious edifice, erected in 1818, at the expense of Richard Hart Davis, Esq., lord of the manor: the lower part is appropriated to the use of the market.

The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St.David's, rated in the king's books at £6. 13. 4., and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's. The church, dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, is a plain unadorned building of considerable antiquity, situated on a pleasing eminence a little to the north of the town ; and its external appearance is rendered still more venerable by an abundance of yew trees in the cemetery. It consists of a nave, south aisle, and chancel, with a square tower; the two former are separated from each other by pointed arches, and from the chancel by an ornamented screen. It contains the remains of a rood-loft, a very ancient font decorated with sculpture in a singular manner, and some ancient monuments, principally of the family of Lloyd of Millfield. The churchyard commands a fine view of the Vale of Teivy. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A National school affords the means of instruction to from sixty to one hundred children ; and there is an unendowed grammar school. In the town and its vicinity are numerous remains of military intrenchments, and other works of early date, monuments of the fortitude and persevering opposition which the Welsh displayed in defending their territory from the inroads of invading armies. A little northward of the church is an artificial mound of earth, supposed to be either a sepulchral tumulus, or the site of a fortress: and near Olwen is another artificial elevation, the site of a Roman encampment, where part of a Roman mill was discovered a few years ago. Eastward of this, on the summit of a hill called Alltgôch, are the prostrate stones of a Druidical temple, on one side of which is a Roman camp of considerable extent, and on the other a British, or Flemish, encampment, of an oval form, and much larger. There are also traces of other fortifications, and of a Roman road which led from Loventium, at Llanio, to Menevia, at or near St. David's. A house in the town, called the Priory, is supposed to occupy the site of a conventual establishment, of which no record has been preserved: there are some low ruined walls in the garden belonging to it. In the vicinity are some mineral springs, but they are not much resorted to. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £ 436. 4."

[Gareth Hicks: 1 Jan 2000 ]