Llandilo, Present & Past
[An Illustrated Guide to the Ancient castles and Other Antiquities of the Neighbourhood.
A Sketch of the History and Annals of the Town, embracing that of the Kingdom of Dynevor.]
By W Samuel, Carmarthen; "Welshman "Printing Office, 1868.
Edited extracts by Gareth Hicks 2000
Preface [edited extract]
"In the compilation of this little book assistance has been derived from Mr Clark's Report to the Government on the sanitary condition of Llandilo ; and from the map made by Mr Bagot for "The Local Board".Also from Clark's Kidwelly Castle ; from the valuable pages of the Archaelogia Cambrensis ; as well as from Woodward's History of Wales ; but especially, for "The History" from that portion of The Beauties of England and Wales which treats of this district. The matter taken from The Beauties [ itself derived from the Myfyrian Archaelogy] is large.
The reader should be cautioned however that much which passes for Welsh history of the Vale of Towy is believed, by very competent authority, " to be destined to suffer many corrections and alterations from the light of archaelogical science"......................................................etc etc"
The first part of the book is in the format of a tour directed from here to there , with commentary on the way on other places not obvious from the Contents heading.
Some of the sections as extracted will be edited for brevity but will be faithful to the original words and expressions in the book to maintain a feeling for the period i.e 1867.
The Contents listings act as clickable links to the relevant sections of the book
This section is on the town of Llandilo and is an exact copy from the book as written in 1867.
Llandilo occupies a sloping and commanding position on the right bank of the River Towy, across which it is approached by three bridges, namely--Llandilo bridge, a very elegant stone structure; the railway bridge; and a footbridge built at the expense of A J Gulston, Esq., and now generally called by that gentleman's name.
Llandilo is twenty four miles from Swansea, twenty from Llanelly, fifteen from Carmarthen, and twelve from Llandovery, and is connected with those places by railway; Lampeter is twenty four miles distant.
The hill upon which the town stands is crowned by the beautiful park of Dynevor, and attains in some points an elevation about 200 feet above the river.
The exposed and elevated position, the steepness of the surface on which it is built, and the absence of any remarkable crowding in the houses, are circumstances highly favourable to cleanliness. Much of the surface is rock, and admits of being easily swept. Many of the cottages face the open country. In addition to these natural advantages, the sanitary condition of the town is further secured by the operation of the "Nuisance Removal Act ". Its slaughter house too, attached to the Market Place, situated on the margin of the upper part of the town, is in every respect well appointed for its purpose.
The population in 1861 amounted to 1430 , which in 1841 was 1313.
A line circumscribing the town would be somewhat of an oblong, having its longer axis east and west. The main road from Trallwm to the bridge lying N.E. and S.W.; and that from the Market-place to the further end of the Abbot Street, lying N.W and S.E., divide this oblong into four compartments of which the northern is the most thickly studded with houses; and the southern, in which stand the Church and Church Street, is the least so. Bridge Street is considered as being outside the supposed oblong.
The town and liberty contains some 200 acres, and is one of the fourteen hamlets , comprising the large parish of Llandilo-fawr, which altogether is 26,000 acres.
It is under the provisions of the Local Government Act; it has an abundant supply of soft water, obtained from the hill facing it on the south, at a distance of a couple of miles. It is lighted by gas, supplied by a company limited. It is the county town; but owing to its deficiency of accomodation, the assizes are held at Carmarthen, where also is the County Gaol. The Quarter Sessions are held here and at Carmarthen alternately. The principal business connected with the election of members for the county is carried on here. An annual Court Leet is held under the authority of the Lord of the Manor.
The feature in the town which is not unlikely to strike a stranger as uncommon is its large and well-wooded churchyard, cut in twain, as it is, by the main road, and surrounded by terraces facing it.- thus forming a good example of a "Rus in urbe", or the country in town. A few of the more recent tomb and headstones bespeak some attention to appearance by their variety in form and lettering. Some of the trees have braved many a breeze, but the majority of them have been planted since the rebuilding of the Church, among which will be found the following:
Cedar of Lebanon. Cedrus deodora [or Himalaian Cedar]. Arbor Vitae. Double-flowering Cherry.Purple-leafed Beech. Robinia pseudacacia. Robinia inermis. Juniperus sabina [common savin]. Taxus baccata [common yew]. Taxus hibernica [Irish yew]. Araucaria imbricata- or "Puzzle Monkey". Pyrus aucuparia [Mountain Ash]. Ulmus crispa [curled-leaf Elm]. Ulmus pendula [weeping Elm]. Fraxinus pendulua [ weeping Ash]. Betula pendula [weeping Birch]. Pinus Maritima [small Fir]. Sumach.
The old standards or large trees are- Wych or Scotch and common Elm, Oak, Sycamore, and large Horse-chesnut.
Supposing now a visitor having arrived at the Railway Station [the Llandilo], and desirous of being made acquainted with the ins and outs of this little town, we here proffer him assistance. Taking the roadway, and passing the saw-mills of Messrs Thomas, we ascend to Trallwm, where, on the right, will be noticed a large building, constructed of the native stone - it is Lewis's, or " The South Wales Brewery", in the arrangements and fitting up of which the most modern improvements have been adopted, both as regards machinery and apparatus. The place is well worthy of a visit.
Proceeding up and leaving the new road which leads by a short cut to the Market Place, Dynevor Park, and the Carmarthen Road; and observing another as yet unopened road opposite on the left, which leads to Church Street, we attain the summit of the rising ground in Rhosmaen Street; and here on the right is an entrance to a street - Bank Buildings, leading to a cluster of houses- and having an outlet into the new road.
Pursuing our way along Rhosmaen-street we come to the Castle Inn, the second in the town; further on and next door to which is the Post Office, and somewhat in the rear is the oldest chapel in the town- namely that of the Calvinistic Methodists. Just beyond and on the same side is the Savings Bank, designed by Mr John Harries, of Llandilo, opposite which in the rear is situated the Wesleyan Chapel, and a little lower stands the principal hotel--the Cawdor Arms-- and opposite to it is the Stamp Office.
Further on, a little after passing the the temporary station of a branch of the National and Provincial Bank, we get to the central point of the town, where five streets or roads meet ; the direct route leads, between the churchyards, to Bridge Street; but taking our course short to the right , we enter Carmarthen Street [ the Local Board has not yet thought it necessary to put up the names of the streets], and advancing a little we pass an entrance into King Street, and then come to the Shire Hall on the right- a plain structure erected in 1802 ; the ground floor of which is the Corn Market ; and the room above it, of the same area, is the Court Room, suitable for its purpose by daylight, but a dingy place by night, gaslight not yet having penetrated there. On the same floor are two retiring-rooms, and another room on a lower elevation, now used as an armoury. The back part of the ground floor consists of a store-room and two cells for prisoners, and other offices.
Retracing our steps, let us enter King Street by the entrance just passed, or further down, at our central point, near the chesnut tree, which is so great an ornament to the town. It will be noticed that a triangular block of houses separates these two entrances into King Street. Upon the site occupied by the portion of these houses facing the south, stood once the old shambles. Strolling up this street, and attaining the point at which it goes off to the right, the south prospect of the south and east across the churchyard should be viewed.
Ascending the hill to the right, a large quadrangular building is reached, which was formerly the George Hotel; but, after various vicissitudes, has become through the munificence of the Lord Dynevor, "The Vicarage". Going along the George Lane, the upper part of Carmarthen Street is reached, and proceeding along this to the left, we come to another monument of Lord Dynevor's benevolence- the National Schools, attached to what was formerly the Charity School, built and carried on for many years at the sole charge of the late Lord Dynevor, and carefully and assiduously superintended by those excellent ladies, the sisters of the present baron. There, a few if not many, a Llandilo sexagenarian was aided in his early scholastic struggles. The National School buildings have been made over by Lord Dynevor to trustees for the public benefit. They are very ample and commodious, and deserving of the inspection of the tourist, and of the gratitude of the humane.
A portion of the old school-house is converted into the master's dwelling; and a part of that is the present locale of the Llandilo Literary Institution, which has had a chequered existence of some twenty years; its present state is perhaps the best it has ever enjoyed; and to all appearance further prosperity awaits it. Whilst so much money and so much attention is being paid publicly and contributed privately to what is designated the education of children, it is a little strange that the efforts of those who have passed their teens to educate themselves , in this great country, should receive so little encouragement and material assistance; but this kind of philanthropy has not yet, perhaps, become fashionable, and cant cannot very well utilise it. This Institution of Llandilo is and always has been a lodger, occupying one room, subject to a short notice to quit; is more of a name than a habitation. The room is open to strangers visiting the town, at a charge of sixpence a week. The Times and other dailies, together with weeklies and monthlies, are taken in.
Opposite the National Schools stands the commodious Market-place, with slaughter-house attached. It is the private property of A.J.Gulston Esq., whose property also is the greater portion of the land upon which the town stands.
Now returning along the George Lane, passing the Vicarage and upper part of King Street, and taking the road to the right, we arrive at the Bank, the establishment of Messrs. D. Jones & Co., carried on for many years to the greater benefit of the district , under the able and obliging management of Mr. John Prytherch.
Proceeding, we descend the Lamb Hill, and pass the King's Head Inn, and Jones's brewery, we then get to the lower end of the main road, dividing the churchyard, whence diverge Church Street, Quay Street and Bridge Street, and the hill just descended. Opposite the King's Head is another brewery and malthouse, the Canton, Davies's. Church Street and Abbot Street form the curve, which, with the central main road contain the lower churchyard.
Quay Street leads down the steep hill, to some of the meadows on the river. Bridge Street is the terrace facing the south and open country, from which a fine and extensive view may be had, including the river and railways, and backed up by a bold escarpment of the hills, three or four miles distant.
Tregib, the mansion of J.W.M.Gwynne Hughes Esq., is a striking object on the south of the river; and the Union Workhouse [ workhouse by figure of speech] lies also on the flat. Proceeding down the street, the magnificent prospect to the S.W and West, which on attaining the bridge, opens to view a long reach of the far-famed Towy, meandering in " a long and verdant lawn", adorned by the noble wood enfolding the ruins of the ancient Castle of Dynevor, Grongar Hill, Nelson's Tower, Dryslwyn Castle, and Golden Grove- the park and mansion of the Earl of Cawdor. The western scene presented from the bridge on a fine summer's evening , may safely be pronounced as simply gorgeous.
The house, somewhat in the Tudor style, seen on the terrace overlooking the bridge, and abutting on Dynevor Park, was built in the time of the Lord Cawdor, grandfather of the present Earl, for the Carmarthenshire residence of his lordship's chief agent. R.B.Williams Esq., and is still occupied by that gentleman, who, however, resigned some time since that responsible post, the duties of which he discharged for very many years, with such satisfaction to the late Earl and his father, that, to all appearance, and according to general report he was regarded by them more in the character of a friend than that of agent. The ground occupied by the house and its appurtenances is the whole of the land [ situated in that vicinity] which belongs to the Golden Grove estate-and it is surrounded by the Dynevor property and the high road. It is a bit of land well utilised and prettily adorned- a kind of advanced post of one bold baron into the territory of another.
The visitor will not fail to notice the massiveness and grandeur of the bridge, upon which he is supposed to stand. A good view of it is to be had from the meadow below, on the right bank of the river. The span of the fine elliptic arch is nearly 145 feet, and the height of the arch from the level of the spring is 41 1/2 feet. The length, breadth, and height of the whole structure are respectively 363 feet, 26 feet, and 47 feet. It was completed in the year 1848. The design was furnished by Mr Williams, mason, of Llandilo, and bridge surveyor of the county. The original contract was taken by Mr Morgan Morgan, mason, of the neighbourhood, who executed the whole of the more difficult works, which, however, absorbed a good deal more than the amount of his contract, £6,000, and ultimately he was unable to proceed. The county became its own builder, and the affair got very troublesome to the magistrates. Mr Haycock, an architect, of Shrewsbury, was got to the rescue; £22,000 were spent altogether, the job was finished, and the county got the finest stone bridge in Wales, and one of the finest in the kingdom, and well harmonising with the surrounding magnificent scenery.
The road across the bridge leads to the street called Towy Terrace, commenced after the completion of the bridge, in which is situated the Llandilo Bridge Station on the Vale of Towy Railway, and to the suburb of Ffairfach and the station of that name on the Llanelly and Llandilo Railway, near which is a large building in a burial ground, with a handsome facade pedimented and ornamented. This is "The Tabernacle", the spacious place of worship of the Congregationalists of the neighbourhood. Its interior arrangements and fittings are in keeping with the exterior.
Nearly opposite the chapel, and behind some cottages, are the Gas Works. A little to the right of the road where it is crossed by the railway is the quarry whence was obtained the excellent stone with which the principal portion of Llandilo bridge was built.
Returning to the bridge, up Bridge Street, to Church Street, which leads, on the margin of the lower churchyard, round to Abbey Terrace, and so on to our central station. About midway stands Mount Pleasant, where diverge two roads-one leading to the river, Gulston Bridge, and the Llandilo Railway Station; the other to the main road between the town and the station. The large building on the left, at the commencement of the second of the roads referred to, is the Baptist Chapel, in whose construction comfort and commodiousness have been principally if not entirely consulted.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The Church stands on the southern edge of the Terrace facing Church Street; and overlooking the Vale. It is dedicated to St Teilo, the same holy personage whose name is borne by the town. The present ediface was completed in the year 1851, on the exact site of its predecessor; but the old square embattled tower still remains unmolested, for want of the funds necessary to carry out the whole of the design of the architect, Mr G.G.Scott.
..............no doubt the time will come .......when money shall be found........when also the belfry, once tenanted by six bells, whose merry peals ever and anon wakened the echoes along Towy's lovely vale; and for some many a year long past , proclaimed some event of joy , or, with muffled tongues, told a tale of sorrow, or delightfully sent their soothing chimes, advancing and receding with the breeze of the otherwise silent and serene Sabbath morn, shall be rescued from its present mutilated condition, and restored to its prestine and perfect state..........the bells are cracked and the clock is decrepid with old age; And so, Llandilo, with its many public improvements , is destitute of of a public arbitrator of character, to determine definitely the stealthy inroads of the certain consumer of our very lives. Tempus edax rerum.
The Church is double, or composed of two nearly equal bodies or halves-like many of the Carmarthenshire churches- a row of arches occupying the middle line and supporting the meeting of the two roofs...................the chancel is contained in the eastern end of the extended half.........all the windows are plain green glass. The organ-a powerful one- cost £400 by general subscription................The execution of Mr Scott's design was was carried out under the sole charge of Mr J. Harries, Llandilo.
The living of Llandilo is a vicarage- patron the Vicar of St David's, valued in "the King's Books" at £16, but now aportioned at £512. The present vicar is the Rev. John Griffiths, who with one and sometimes two curates works the parish exclusive of the ditsrict of Cwmaman.
By far the larger proportion of the parishioners is Nonconformist, and every sect has one or more chapels in different parts of the district.
The area of the parish, inclusive of Cwmaman, is about 128 square miles, with a population of 5,439.
About one half of Bridge Street is situated not in the parish of Llandilo-fawr, but in that of Llandyfeisant, and contains about seventy-two persons.
Church of England;
- Vicar----John Griffiths, B.D, Lampeter
- Wardens----W.Philipps, W. Nicholas, J. Thomas
- Curate----David Griffiths
- T. Davies, Tabernacle, Independent
- B.D.Thomas, Salem, Calvinistic Methodist
- J.Hughes, Ebenezer, Wesleyan
- O. Griffiths, Ebenezer, Baptist
- Judge----H.R.Bagshawe, Q.C.
- Registrar----N.Davies, Solicitor
- High Bailiff----R.Gardnor, Solicitor
- Deputy Bailiff,Appraiser, and Seller----B.Davies
- Clerk----N.Davies, Solicitor
- Sergeant----John Crow
Poor Law Union
Board of Guardians;
- Chairman----J.L.Thomas, Caeglas
- Vice-Chairmen----D.Prothero, M.D., J.Lewis, Llwynyfedwen.
- Surgeon [Town District]----W. Davies
- Relieving Officer [Town District etc]----W. Davies
- Inspector of Nuisances etc----[Office not filled]
- Rate Collector----J. Thomas
- Master----M. Pendry
- Matron----M. Pendry
- Schoolmistress----Jane Harries
- Porter----W. Escott
- Chairman----J.L.Popkin, Solicitor
- Inspector of Nuisances----[Office not filled]
- Surveyor of Roads----[Office not filled]
- Colllector of Rates and Tolls----W. Morris
- Chairman of Directors----J. Prytherch
- Treasurer----Dd.Jones & Co
- Secretary & Collector----T.Evans
- Inspectors----J.Jenkins, J. Samuel
- Supervisor----Edward Bucklow
- Officers----James Donovan, W. Webb
- President----D.Pugh, M.P.
- Vice-Presidents----Rev. J.Griffiths, N. Davies
- Secretaries----G. Jones, J. Hughes
- Librarian etc----H. Thomas
- Llandilo Bridge----J.Davies
- Fairfach----J. Massey
- Provincial Grand Secretary of the Western Divison, South Wales----J.Prytherch
- Births and Deaths----D.W.Jones
- Assistant Actuary----T.Evans
- Captain----D.Pugh, M.P.
- Surgeon----D.Prothero, M.D.
- Drill Sergeant----James Switzer
- Adjutant----Major Hill
Benefit and Other Societies
- Secretary----["George and Dragon"], O. Richards
- Secretary----["White Horse"], G. Morgan
- Secretary----[" Ship"], John Williams
- Secretary----["Golden Lion"], G.Williams
Town Crier---Thomas Lewis
- Feb 20---Pigs, Woollen Fabrics etc
- Monday before Easter---Pigs, Woollen Fabrics , Seeds
- May 5---Horses, Horned Cattle etc
- May 14---Horses, Horned Cattle etc
- June 21---Horses, Horned Cattle, Wool etc
- Aug 23---Horses, Horned Cattle etc
- Sept 28---Horses, Horned Cattle etc
- Nov 12---Horses etc, Hiring Agricultural Servants
- Monday before Christmas---Pigs, Woollen Fabrics etc
All Cattle and Horse Fairs followed next day by a Pig Fair.
Market for Fat and Store Cattle, Sheep, and Pigs, second and last Tuesday in each month.
Store Sheep and Lambs, every Tuesday between the 14th May and the 21st June.
Not in alphabetical order.
These are copied word for word although the original layout/fonts not followed exactly.
Education at Careg-Cenen house, near Llandilo, South Wales
Half an hour from Railway Station
By William Samuel, B.A. Cantab.
The Training will embrace, at the option of the Pupil, preparation for the Universities' Courses and Public schools, or Public examining Boards; or, directly, for the Professions; or, a practical introduction to Commercial and Scientific Pursuits, including Agriculture.
Terms on Application.
Separate and Private Instruction may be had in Elocution and English Composition on special terms. Payments in advance.
Situation, salubrious and picturesque; premises, commodious and extensive.
References given and required.
For further particulars see prospectus.
Castle Commercial Inn
Every Accomodation for Commercial Gentlemen, Post Horses, Gigs, etc
Private Apartments by the Week or Month
Plumber, Glazier, Brazier
Manufacturer in Galvanized Iron, Zinc, Tin, Lead, Copper Wire, etc
Hydraulics fixed on the most improved science. Baths of every description made on the shortest notice.
Verandas covered, Shutes and Pipes of all Sorts, Pendants etc.
Depot for Gas fittings of every kind. Water Closets on the most improved principles.
Wholesale and Retail
Furnishing and General Ironmonger,
Tools of every description, Best Gunpowder, Caps etc,
Agricultural Implements of every kind on the shortest notice and at Market Prices.
Saddle and Harness Manufacturer,
Whips, Spurs, Bits, Sponge, Brushes, Varnishes, Twine, Mats, etc
Portmanteaux, Travelling Bags, Hat cases, etc etc
London House , Llandilo
Linen and Woollen Draper, Silk Mercer, Hosier, Haberdasher, etc
Hats, Caps and Straw Bonnets.
Funerals Completely Furnished.
A constant succession of many Elegant Novelties of Home and Foreign productions, including
Millinery, Mantles, Silks, Shawls, Dresses,
Lace and Embroideries,
Underlinen, Corsets, Gloves, Ribbons, Trimmings.
Thompson & Shackell's
Pianoforte & Music Warehouse
Guildhall Square, Carmarthen
Pianofortes for Sale & Hire
Harmoniums for Sale & Hire
A large and superior Stock to select from by all the best Makers
No charge for hire if purchased within three months
Quarterly Payments Taken on the Three Years System
Experienced Tuners sent to any part of the country.
Music at Half-price. Every Article connected with the Music Trade kept in Stock
The New Cottage Harmonium,
Five Octaves, Five Guineas
General Stationery Warehouse,
50, King Street, Carmarthen
William Rees [ late H White & Sons]
Wholesale and Retail
Bookseller and Stationer,
Fancy Repositary, Bookbinding etc
Magazine and Newspaper Agent.
Fishing tackle, Photographs,
Concertinas, Prayer Books and Church Services, Photographic Albums, Workboxes, Writing cases and Desks.
Courier and Ladies' Leather Bags in Great Variety
School Books and Other Requisites.
A London Parcel of Books, Periodicals, Newspapers, Music etc received four times a week.
Depository of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
Books, Stationery, and Printing, in all its branches.
Richards & Lockyer
Stamp Office, Rhosmaen St
Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Companies.
Rhosmaen Street, Llandilo.
Carriages of every description Built or Altered to order.
Repairs executed with Despatch
Wholesale and Retail
Cabinet and Chair Maker,
China, Glass, and Earthenware Establishment,
Rhosmaen Street, Llandilo
Organist and Choirmaster to the Parish Church
Teacher on Organ and Pianoforte
Lessons in Vocal Music; Harmoniums, Pianos, and all Musical Instruments, at Makers' Prices.
All New Music supplied at half the published price.
Weekly Parcel from London
Agency for the Liverpool and London, and Globe Insurance Companies.
Cawdor Arms, Llandilo.
Family and Commercial hotel,
Posting House etc
T. Evans, Proprietor.
Close to the Llandilo Bridge Railway Station
Private apartments, by Week or Month
Hop, Corn, Seed, & Porter Merchant
Canton Brewery, and Malt Stores
Bridge Street, Llandilo
King Street, Llandilo
By the autumn J.R. will have removed to his new and extensive premises, situate at the upper end of Carmarthen-street, facing the Vicarage.
15 Queen Street, 7 & 18 Chapel Street, Carmarthen, & New Road, Llandilo.
Glass, Sheet Lead, Lead Pipe, Oil and Colour Warehouses, Brass, Copper, Wrought, and Cast Iron Pipes and Troughs.
Lewis , Rogers & Co.
Practical Plumbers, Gas-fitters, Painters, Glaziers
House decorators, & Atmospheric Bell-Hangers.
Hydraulic and other Pumps.
Hot, Cold, and Shower Baths, Water Closets, and Plumbers Work in general, made, fixed, and repaired on the most approved principles.
Chandeliers, Brackets, Hall Pendants, and every description of Gas-fittings constantly on sale.
Glazing, Ornamental Painting, Paper Hanging,
And Repairs of every description neatly and expeditiously executed by experienced workmen at moderate charges.
A large Assortment of Paper Hangings , of the newest dsigns and patterns always in stock.
Estimates given for all work in the above branches
Experienced workmen sent to any part of the country at two days 'notice. Testimonials from some of the principal residents in the county may be seen on application.
Gas and Water Meters of Every Description Always on Sale
Engineer, Iron & Brass Founder,
Agricultural Implements and Machines of every Description
Blue Street, Carmarthen
Manufacturer of Hot Water and Steam Apparatus for Green and Hot Houses
Estimates given and plans forwarded to any part of the country
Wholesale and Retail
Fishmonger and Meat Salesman
Fresh and Dried Fish. Shell Fish of all kinds. Pickled Salmon and Barrelled Oysters.
Country Orders Srictly Attended to.
Your favours and recommendation are respectfully solicited
Half Moon Inn, Bridge St., Llandilo
British and Foreign Spirits
Home-brewed , Burton and Other Ales
Well Aired Beds, Excellent Stabling etc
Private Apartments, by week or month
Linen and Woollen Draper, Silk Mercer, Hosier,
Haberdasher, Tea Dealer, and General Grocer.
Millinery, In All Its Branches.
Ivy House, Llandilo
Red House, Llandilo
Dispensing and Family Chemist,
Horse and Cattle Medicines,
Oils, Colours , etc
Foriegn and British Wines,
Cigars and Fancy Snuffs, Tea, Coffee, Spices, Dried Fruits, etc, Brushes of every description, Huntleys and Palmer's Reading Biscuits, Wax, Sperm, Paraffin, and Composite Candles, Night Lights, etc etc.
Golden Key, Llandilo
Draper, Hosier, Glover & haberdasher.
Shawls, Mantles and Choice Millinery.
Straw Bonnets, Flowers, and Cap fronts
Wedding Gifts, Birthday Presents, Souvenirs of Affection, And Articles of Amusement and Recreation.
Bookseller, Stationer, Bookbinder, News Agent,
And Dealer in Paper hangings,
County Press, Llandilo
Books, Periodicals, etc, supplied at the shortest notice possible.
A London Parcel Daily and Weekly
A large Assortment of Berlin and other Wools; also a choice
Selection of Modern and Fancy Articles.
Cricketing, Archery, Croquet, and other Out-door Games.
A Large Stock of
Toys, Dolls, & Christmas Tree Ornaments.
Concertinas, Flutes, Violins, Cornopeous, Clarionettes, and other Musical Instruments.
New Music, Half Price.
Agent for the Bristol Packet Tea, The Lancashire Fire and Life Insurance Co., and Collard & Collard's Pianoforte.
Manchester House, Llandilo
Linen & Woollen Draper, Hosier, Glover,
Haberdasher and Laceman.
Broad Cloths, Cassimeres etc, Hat, Cap, Ribbon & Bonnet Warehouse.
Grocer, Tea Dealer etc.
Old Golden Key, Llandilo.
T. Thomas & Sons
Ladies and Gentlemen's Fashionable Boot Makers
A large Stock of every description of
Ready-made Boots and Shoes, Ladies' Legletts, Leather Leggings, Goloshes, etc, always on hand.
All Boots and Shoes Made Easy and Perfectly Creakless.
Book & Stationery establishment,
Post Office, Llandilo.
Mercantile & family Stationer,
Book & Music seller,
Newspaper And Magazine Agent,
Begs to call the attention of his friends and the Public generally, to his well selected and varied Stock of
Books, Stationery, & Fancy Goods.
Elementary and Class Books, in Welsh and English, for Sunday and Day Schools.
New and Standard Works in Divinity, the Sciences, History, and General Literature.
Books, Periodicals, and Newspapers supplied to order daily and weekly
A London parcel of the same received every evening.
Bibles, Prayer-books, and Church services, in ivory and other elegant bindings.
Photographic Albums and Scrap-books
Musical Instruments of all kinds, Mathematical ditto, & Paint Boxes.
New Music supplied at Half Price.
Dealer in Photographs of every description.
Cartes de Visite of Welsh Costumes & Local Views
Photo Views of Llandilo & Neighbourhood.
Stereoscopes & Slides, Opera Glasses & Telescopes, Toys, Games,
Pictures, Gilt Mouldings, and Paper Hangings.
Crticket Bats and balls, Crocquet, Archery goods, and all kinds
of Indoor and Outdoor Games.
Dolls, dressed and undressed in great variety, India-rubber Balls,
grey & coloured ditto, ditto musical and whistlers,
Fruit Balls & Toys
A large Assortment of School Books and School materials always
in stock. Teachers & managers of schools treated very liberally.
French and English Paper-hangings of the newest patterns and
most modern designs.
Depot for the British and Foreign Bible Society, and
all the Books and Publications of the Religious
Tract Society, and Sunday School Union.
Agent for Casell's Choice Coffees and Horniman's Pure Teas.
Printing and Bookbinding
D.W & G. Jones
Printers and Bookbinders,
Post Office, Llandilo,
Respectfully direct attention to their establishment for the supply of all kinds of
And every description of
All orders are executed with promptitude and on reasonable terms,
for Book-work, Pamphlets, Prospectuses, Tabular Work, Club Rules,
Handbills, Catalogues, Circulars, Cards, Cheques, Bill-heads, etc.
Posting Bills or Placards.
An excellent Assortment of Types for bold Posting Bills, for public
auctions, public meetings, concerts, lectures, sermons etc.
Bookbinding :--Russia, Morocco, Calf, Roan, and every variety of
Binding, plain and elegant.
Account Books ruled and bound to order.
Timber & Slate Merchants,
Steam Saw Mills,
South wales Brewery.
Best Description of
Ales, Stout, and Porter,
Supplied at any Railway Station on the local railways.
Watch & Clock Maker,
Watches, Clocks, Jewellery etc.,
Of every description
Kept In Stock & Carefully Repaired.
Wine, Spirit, Ale And Porter Stores,
King Street, Llandilo.
Wholesale and retail
Wine, Spirit, Ale, and Porter Merchant.
Bass's, Allsopps', Salt's, and Ind & Coopes' Ales , & Guiness's Extra Stout, in Casks & Bottles.
Bridge Street, Llandilo.
General Ironmonger, Cutler, etc.
Carpenters' Tools of every description.
Oils, Colours, Brushes, etc, of the best quality.
Agent for the Patent Climax Door Springs.
Family Grocer and Tea Dealer.
W. John Williams,
Family & Dispensing Chemist,
Medical Hall, Llandilo.
Agent for Cross & Blackwell's Preserved Fish, Pickles, Sauces, etc,
Huntley and Palmer's Cakes and Biscuits,
Twining's Choice Teas and Coffees, Lipscome's Water Filters,
Thorley's Food etc etc.
SaddlerAnd Harness Maker,
London Whips, Bits & Spurs.
Horses carefully fitted.
King's Head Inn, Bridge Street,
Dealer in British and foreign Spirits,
Good Home-Brewed Ale etc.
Private Apartments. Well-Aired Beds. Excellent Stabling etc.
The privilege of fishing on the Dynevor property is granted to those who stay at this house.
Here is an undated label advertising The "Safeguard" Irish Whiskey sole proprietor William Jones, Wine and Spirit Merchant, Canton Stores, Llandilo.
It has no connection with this book and may relate to a different William Jones, see separate entry for Canton Stores run by a John Davies at this date [submitted by Nick Hedges 11/2017]
Building Contractor, etc
Designs for Public Buildings, Houses, etc., with working plans,
prepared on the shortest notice.
Llandilo Commercial School.
Master:- John Pughe,
[Member of the London University]
A sound English Course, Classics and Mathematics.
The School is conducted with special regard to the requirements of
the sons of Tradesmen and Farmers.
Every boy is, as far as possible, well grounded in English, made to
write a hand fit for business, and trained to be quick at Accounts.
Young Men prepared for the various Dissenting Colleges and Lampeter.
Family & Commercial Hotel,
Blue Street, and Dark Gate,
Wm. Bright, Proprietor.
In the centre of the town, and within a few minutes' walk of the
principal houses of business.
Established 1829, by the Late Mrs Brigstock.
Victor & Co.
House & Decorative Painters, Paper-Hangers,
Glaziers, Plumbers, Gas Fitters, Bell-hangers, etc.
61, King Street, Carmarthen.
Competent workmen in sufficient numbers to expedite large or small orders sent out.
Thos. H. Lewis,
Nott Square, Carmarthen,
Sole Agent for W. & A. Gilbey,
Wine Importers and Distillers.
Allsopps' Pale and Burton Ales.
Guiness's and other Irish Stouts, in Cask and Bottle.
Cider, Perry, and Mineral Waters.
List of Prices of Wine gratis on application.
Boot & Shoe Manufacturer,
Lower market Street, Carmarthen.
Depot for American Overshoes.
French, German, English, and Home-made Goods in all styles for
every season and purpose. Riding, Leggings, Gaiters, American
India Rubber Overshoes, Goloshes, Box Spurs, Boot Trees, Jacks,
Hooks, Brushes, Blacking, Polishes,,etc, etc, of all best Makers.
General Printing and Publishing Office,
Lammas Street, Carmarthen.
The Proprietors state that their Office for General Printing has been
furnished with a choice, varied, and
Extensive Assortment of the most approved type,
For the execution of all kinds of Printing, with accuracy and despatch.
Special attention is devoted to the production of
First- Class Book Work in Every Style,
Which for excellence of Workmanship cannot be surpassed out of the Metropolis.
Authors and men of Business who require good and accurate Printing,
may therefore depend upon prompt and careful attention to their
Orders; and upon being charged most reasonable Prices.
Lithographic & Copper-Plate Printing
In All Their Branches;
Comprising Bankers' Cheques, Bills of Exchange, Invoices, Bill
Heads etc etc.
Account Books of Every Description;
The essentials of which are, to ensure durability. Good Paper and Good Workmanship,
and great care and exactness where intricate rulings are required.
Circulars, Cards, Note Heads etc., neatly executed.
Posting Bills, Hand-Bills, etc.,
In bold and Effective Type, and in the best style.
Great care is bestowed on this department to produce first-class work. The most complicated
Patterns ruled with neatness and precision. Orders for the trade executed with the least possible
delay, and at charges as moderate as any House in the trade.
Estimates given when required for all kinds of Printing.
Writing Paper, Business and Other Envelopes in Great Variety.
The Best Advertising Medium in South Wales.
Published at Carmarthen.
Every Friday Morning,
Price 3 1/2d ; Stamped 4 1/2d.
"The Welshman" has a larger circulation in South Wales, among
the higher and middle classes, than any other paper. In addition to
the news of the week, at home and abroad, its columns are enriched
with a careful selection from the leading political, literary, and religious
papers, on the topics of the day. Both sides of every question are
given with fairness and impartiality. A large space is also devoted to
practical and scientific agriculture.
"The Welshman" is, however, pre-eminently a LOCAL NEWSPAPER.
An efficient staff of reporters ensure full and accurate
reports of all public meetings in South Wales. In this department
neither expense nor labour are spared to make "The Welshman"
perfect as a reporting medium. The earliest and most reliable intelligence
respecting railways, docks, ports, coal, iron and lead mines,
markets, fairs, and other matters of local interest are found in its
pages from week to week.
The leading columns of "The Welshman" are for the most part
occupied in the discussion of local subjects, affecting the condition and
prospects of South Wales. Its columns are also freely resorted to by
correspondents for the ventilation of grievances, the investigation of
abuses, and the advocacy of every measure which concerns the
prosperity of the country.
Orders for "The Welshman", Advertisements, and all Communications
should be addressed direct to the head Office, Lammas Street,
Carmarthen, NOT LATER THAN THURSDAY MORNING.
Carmarthen, South Wales.
Ivy Bush Royal Hotel,
Situate within one hundred yards of the Railway Station.
Valentine Rees, Proprietor.
This Hotel affords to Families, Commercial Gentlemen, and Tourists,
superior accommodation and comfort, and equals in moderation of
charges, houses of a much lower class.
Private Sitting Rooms,
Spacious Coffee Rooms etc
The Hotel is beautifully situated within its own grounds,
commanding a magnificent and extensive view of the River and Vale of
Towy, the distant hills, and surrounding picturesque scenery.
In the grounds attached to the Hotel, the Proprietor has added a
superior BOARDING HOUSE , where families can be accommodated
by the week, month, or any longer period, at moderate charges.
A Billiard Room
Is about being added to the Establishment.
The Royal Mail Omnibuses to and from every Train.
Posting in all its Branches.
Hearses and Mourning Coaches.
"The Ivy Bush the best conducted Hotel in Carmarthenshire, and one of the best in Wales "-See Times, Sept 6, 1867.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
Making for the northern entrance to the park, the visitor will go towards the National Schools, and so on, to the lodge gate, and take the carriage road to the mansion.........along here is the view so much admired by Sir John Burgoyne and called after that gallent officer's name.........it lies down the glade to the left and includes the massive wood above which the ancient fortress of Dynevor is seen rising......further on the large mansion lawn is entered and the eastern front of the house is full in sight with the numerously tenanted Rookery on the right.......the further enclosure is the Deer Park in which the mansion more properly stands......within the last twelve years the house has undergone thorough repair including considerable alterations and complete recasing......the surrounding enclosed terrace, with fountain, are new.
The dining room north of the portico had the honour pnce of feasting George the Fourth.....the ground lying west of the house....gently slopes to the Towy.........the view from the extremity of the hill is a very fine one and is sketched in Roscoe's "Wanderings in Wales"......Lord Dynevor's Head gardener is currently Mr Tycehurst whose civility and intelligence will be found agreeable and useful, especially if visiting the grounds and the Old Castle.
This section is just a brief illustrative extract of that section of the book [covering 8 pages] written in 1867 which is in the form of a detailed tour round the castle with reference to a numbered plan.
The route here from the mansion will probably be that which passes the old kennel and slaughter house, just beyond which, in the Deer Park, will be seen a very large and handsome specimen of the Cedar of Lebanon.
Ascending to the castle that which was once a formidable defensive outer earth-work will be passed, and the north west circular angle of the keep will be approached.......from this angle a wide deep fosse for the protection of the castle on the west will be noticed.........passing the north wall whose still solid masonry is worthy of attention.....on to the large drum tower......and the place where the curtain was probably continued..........the remains of the outer works may be seen, both of earth and masonry.......the ditch here is deep and fourteen yards wide...........it is viaducted, a very likely situation for a draw bridge............we cross the main avenue leading into the outer bailey of the castle ......................................................................................................................
Having completed our survey of this castle, formerly the abode of the princes of Wales, which the visitor will see is preserved with considerable care, let us take our departure along the path in the wood leading in a north west direction to the mill.......beyond that is the Heronry..................this route will take him across the ground which the Llandilo Volunteers use for their target practice............and visit the sylvan and secluded little church of Llandyfeisant, which although on the ground of Dynevor Park, is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Earl of Cawdor.
This section is an exact copy from the book as written in 1867, apart from the exclusion of the poem itself.
In order to make our inspections somewhat systematically, perhaps the next tour from Llandilo should be an extension of the former, and so proceed to Grongar Hill, either through Dynevor Park or by rail to the Golden Grove Station, and then foot it. But better on the whole take the Park path--visit Grongar--then Dryslwyn Castle, Nelson's Monument, Golden Grove, making the rail available on the homeward journey.
In conformity with the latter suggestion, the visitor will have to pass through the village of Llangathen, whose church contains a seventeenth century tomb, with the effigies of Bishop Rudd and his wife, from whose family the neighbouring estate of Aberglasney descended to that of Dyer, the poet. The church is about to be restored.
Leaving the mansion of Aberglasney on the left, whose fine grounds should be visited, we have to make a steep ascent of Grongar, a visit to which must be deemed a pilgrimage to the true shrine of Dyer, whose presence in the spirit ought to be invoked upon these occasions by the possession, and, if possible, the perusal of his celebrated poem, there and then; therefore, here it is--an amplified and exhaustive description of the grandeur of the surrounding scenery.
In the book the poem "Grongar Hill " is given in full, followed by a Welsh translation of it by Teilio styled "Bryn y Grongaer"
Antiquaries are inclined to the opinion that Grongar [crwn-gaer, the compact fort] was a British camp, subsequently occupied by the Romans as an intermediate station between Llanfairarybryn station, near Llandovery, and that of Maridunum, or Carmarthen.
On the east side the work is somewhat curved, an indication of its British origins, but on the west it is rectanglar. The direct walk is not very long to Dryslwyn, where the fragments of a castle of considerable extent crown a most picturesque precipitous site.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
[Antiquaries are inclined to the opinion that Grongar [crwn-gaer, the compact fort] was a British camp, subsequently occupied by the Romans as an intermediate station between Llanfairarybryn station, near Llandovery, and that of Maridunum, or Carmarthen.
On the east side the work is somewhat curved, an indication of its British origins, but on the west it is rectanglar. The direct walk is not very long to Dryslwyn, where the fragments of a castle of considerable extent crown a most picturesque precipitous site.]
The fortress spreads over the whole upper and undulating surface of the extensive natural mound ; but is now a "crumbling foundation on a crag top" and nothing more. It is part of the Golden Grove property.
An entry made by the late Archdeacon Beynon in the parish vestry book runs
"The wall round the Castle Hill at Dryslwyn was begun in the year 1780 by Richard Vaughan, of Golden Grove Esq., and finished in 1781 by John Vaughan Esq.,"
The view from the hill rising as it does in the very midst of the vale, beggars description............every tourist to these parts should saunter here for the best part of a summer's day, cogitating on times past, contemplating the beauties, the business, and the intricacies of the present, and dreaming on the future.
For the entomologist's interest, this hill is a favourite resort of the "Painted Lady"amongst others of creation's flying flowers.
Looking northward from the hill, the steeple of a church , built at the expense of the Rev. G Wade Green of Court Henry, is visible...........in the glade below is Court Henry--once a mediaeval mansion of considerable pretensions, but now entirely modernised..................in a field further on was the Eidon Stone, now at Golden Grove............the village of Llanfynydd lies in this direction , and also Pantglas, the seat of David Jones, Esq., M.P., for the county. Eastward, over Golden Grove, Careg Cenen Castle is in view.
Descending the hill, and hailing the boat, the visitor will cross the river. It is hoped, and expected, that those who hold the county purse will , ere long, see fit to aid in erecting a substantial stone bridge at this place, for already the talents of a very eminent architect....are concerned in the matter.
Proceeding towards Dryslwyn Station[on the Vale of Towy Railway].................in the direction of Carmarthen until the bye-path is arrived at, which leads up to Nelson's tower, the visitor should make for that monument which was erected to commemorate the deeds of the greatest of our naval heroes, at the expense of the late Sir William Paxton. It was designed by Cockerell, and occupies the northern extremities of Middleton Hall park, and commanding a prospect of prodigious extent.....externally the building is triangular, to the height of two stories ...................................................................................................................
To the south west of the tower, lies Middleton Hall, designed by Cockerell for Sir W Paxton, it is one of the most splendid mansions in South Wales. It is situated in the only gorge in the chain of hills , on this side of the Towy, between Llandilo and Carmarthen Bay. The name is given after David Middleton, a brother of Sir Hugh Middleton, who resided here. The present proprietor is Edward ab Adams Esq.
The tourist will now make the pleasant village of Llanarthney in his way to the railway station. He will find an early-inscribed tombstone in the churchyard.
Pulling up at the Golden Grove station, the visitor may diverge to the village of Llanfihangel Aberbythych ....where he will find a small and interesting specimen of one of Mr G.G Scott's ecclesiastical designs, executed at the expense of the late Earl of Cawdor, who also erected the commodious school-house there. The benefice is a chapel, not in charge; Patron, the Earl of Cawdor, as devisee, in descent of John Vaughan. The dedication is to St Michael. Formerly the parish church was situated on the level ground nearer to the Towy. That church was built at the cost of Sir John Vaughan , who was comptroller of Prince Charles' household. The vestry book has the following entry; "1780, April 15th, two lime trees were planted in Llanfihangel Aberbythych churchyard--one each side of the gate- T.Beynon."
The noble Elizabethan mansion of Golden Grove , close at hand, demands the attention of the visitor.........designed by Wyatville, erected at the time of the late earl.......stands on a much higher and better site the mansion occupied by the Vaughans, Earls of Carberry, one of whom was Jeremy Taylor's patron during the usurpation............extensive improvements under the superintendence of his lordship's indefatigable gardener, Mr Hill..................the large clock in the tower is worthy of remark, it is a very perfect piece of machinery, the cost was £800.............the "Eidon" Stone, removed from Glansannan some years since has found an honourable resting place here..........the farm homestead lies not far off, near the railway station , and the river[crossed there by a substantial stone bridge]...............the stock, machinery, and all appliances of the establishment , for feeding purposes , are worthy of inspection. .............notice with pleasure the architecture and suitable colour of the stone and tiling used in the construction of the lodges at the entrance to the park, however the use of blue stone in some of the dressing is to be regretted.
Let our next tour of inspection be the "Caer A'r Genen."
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
Caer a'r Genen, i.e in the vernacular--Careg Cenen Castle, which lies about three miles to the south of the Towy, in the narrow, deep, and picturesque valley of the Cenen, that for seven or eight miles winds its way to the Towy, which it enters near the railway bridge, in the vicinity of the town...........the rock upon which the castle stands..............by its mass and nakedness, its joints and fissures, may well lead the fancy to imagine it, at a distance, a huge cyclopean structure...........the southern face.......has the appearance of a vertical section, and is 300 feet perpendicular. On the table formed on its summit stand the venerable and still extensive ruins of the castle. It is the property of the Earl of Cawdor, the lord of the manor, whose steward annually holds his court in the vicinity.
If Llandilo be in the homeward way of the visitor, the castle should be left by the direct road to the town, that is the hill road..... very extensive and charming prospects of the surrounding country will be presented from the ridge..........the extreme north west presents a glimpse of the Prescelly range, near Newport in Pembrokeshire.....the west shows Carmarthen town, shut in by the hills beyond.........and most of the Vale of Towy with its many works of man, ancient and modern, embosomed in a mass of luxuriant vegetation, lighted up ever and anon with brilliant streaks reflected by the Towy and its numerous tributaries.
Deviating from the walk from the station[Derwydd-road] , about midway....visit the handsome little chapel of ease, at Llandyfaen--a recent erection after the design of Mr Kirke Penson; and built at the cost of the Lady Dynevor and Mrs Dubuisson, of Glynhir. The chapel occupies the site of a former one, which was somewhat antique.The adjoining Baptistery has been renewed....the situation is a picturesque one........the style of the chapel is transition Gothic.......the sitting places are about 150...........the windows of the chancel are fitted with stained glass from the establishment of the Messrs Hardman, and the nave windows with Powell's.
The road passing the chapel leads over the opposite hills , to the coal and iron district of Cwmamman, but on the near side of the hills is Glynhir, the residence of Mrs Dubuisson........through the grounds of Glynhir the River Loughor flows.
Returning to the direct route to Careg Cenen we come ......to an old farmhouse, a field belonging to which is called "Twyn Beddau Derwyddon", [the graves of the Druids] where the sides of one of the cists or stone coffins may still be seen in situ.
We will suppose ourselves once more on the confines of the castle..........the visitor may rest awhile and otherwise refresh himself at the comfortable and scrupulously clean old farm-house there, to whose occupants , as tenants, the grounds belong..........in that house a guide and lights for the exploration of the cave can be procured, as well as a supply of hot water , for the production of the cup that exhilarates without inebriating, and bread and butter, fresh eggs, and cream: the hyson or souchong , and sugar are supposed, on such occasions to form parts among other essentials or luxuries of the commissariat of the excursionist, who invigorated may pursue the beaten and easier track to the ruins..........
This next section is in the form of a lengthy and detailed tour round the castle with reference to a plan, and is largely omitted .
The Castle is of the Edwardian or concentric type, and in plan an oblong......the whole works covers about an acre of ground..........................................
The approach to the Cave is through a vaulted gallery, built on the southern face of the rock.........by gradual descent of about eighty feet a large opening in the rock is entered...a wide flight of steps leads to the bottom .........the mouth of the cave.........general direction is......under the outer bailey.........in width and height the measurement of this cave varies from three or four feet to nine or ten, but its length of 150 feet may be traversed without much difficulty..........for the greater part it is totally dark......a shallow depression in a shelf of the rock is said to be the well where the garrison derived its supply of water when besieged........but in olden times thirst, unquestionably, was the most deadly foe the garrison had to dread.......the holes in the stack supporting the stairs near the mouth of the cave were for pigeons for whose ingress, egress and regress the adjoining openings in the south face were undoubtedly made.
The surrounding countryside........................the large homestead crowning the nearer hill is Cwrt-bryn-y-beirdd [ Bard's Hill Court], whose architecture claims for it an age as great as that of the castle; and antiquaries are agreed that that the ediface was occupied for some purpose or other in connection with the castle.......................to the left of the house may be seen a displacement in the limestone ridge..............at this spot issues from the rock, in full stream, a large body of water , which after flowing about 167 yards separates into two portions, the larger portion proceeds south-west, and is the commencement of the river Loughor....which after a run of about 3 miles forms a cascade in the Glynhir grounds,.......the smaller flows northwards for a short distance and then tumbles down a wooded glen into the river Cenen , some way below the castle....
Changing the south for the south west view, the Loughor bridges, at Loughor, are seen, together with the intervening country..........Loughor Castle and Careg Cenen [distance fifteen miles] would be in direct communication by semaphores.................let the visitor place himself near the west wall of the ward ....a full view of the south-west, west and north-west, which will include the Vale of Loughor, Llandybie, Llangendeirne, and a long reach of the finest part of the Vale of Towy...................the view to the includes the narrow and rocky ravine along which the Cenen descends; the surrounding country comprises Gwynfe, Llanddeusant etc.........the castellated building seen crowning the high ground to the north is a modern structure--Cenen Tower.
The tourist sojourning at Llandilo should not lose the chance of visiting the Garn Goch.............
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The tourist sojourning at Llandilo should not lose the chance of visiting the Garn Goch ....an ancient stronghold, situated on a hill to the right of the road leading on the south of the Towy to Llangadock. In this excursion the visitor at a short distance from Llandilo passes on his left Llyshendy [Llusendy] , whichbwas presented by Dr. Rudd to the aged poor of the parish of Llangathen: on his right is Manorabon, the seat of D.Pugh Esq.,M.P. for this county. Beyond Manorabon is the hamlet of Pontbrenareth, once upon a time, the scene of a very tragical and romantic occurrence, which resulted in the hanging of about a dozen people..................Proceeding along the main road we come to a farm called Llwyn-y-maen-du-uchaf, on which, near the road, numerous hillocks may be seen, which are suggestive of tumuli. At the foot of the great Carn is the little chapel of Bethlehem, where for some years the locally well-known Davies of Sardis officiated.....................Taliaris, the seat of William Peel Esq., and once the property and residence of the late Lord Robert Seymour , who for many years represented the county, is a prominent object on the higher ground; also Glabrydan Park, the seat of Robert Smith Esq., on the lower ground, together with several homesteads, in whose names the word maen forms a part, thus--Rhosmaen, Croesfaen, Brynmaen etc. ....at about 4 miles from Llandilo , our road to the right leads up to the encampment, which crowns an elevated portion of table-land lying immediately to the south of the loftier range of Truchrug..........proceed into the fort by its western portal........it will be seen that the rubble fence wall is nearly continuous about the main enclosure, whose form is oblong, having its length of 660 yards......and width 187 yards................there is a carnedd on the flat to the south of the eastern end..........a few years ago one of these carneddau was explored but no funereal indications were discovered. The valley to the south will be noticed to be occupied by numerous heaps of stones which are generally considered to be the ruins in situ of of ancient Cyttua--cots or dwellings. A similar encampment occupies the lower ground to the north-west. The road..leading from the eastern portal has been pronounced to be British; it leads from Llys Brychan [ Brychan's Court] and on to the Vale of Sawdde[ The book says-Is this a portion of the Rykneld-street , supposed to have passed within a short distance of these hills ?].....[There follows in the book the opinion of a Mr Moggridge and the Rev.Longueville Jones on the probable history of these camps]
On reaching the river Sawdde, the tourist will persue the high road ...towards Llangadock.........on his way stand the grass-grown remains of Castell Meurig, supposed to have been an arx speculatoria, or "look-out". Passing through the little town of Llangadock and across the Towy, by the fine stone bridge planned and built about 45 years ago, jointly by the late Messrs William Harries, architect, of Llandilo, and David Thomas, mason............leave, beyond the toll gate, the ancient mansion of Abermarlais, some of whose former occupants figured conspiciously in the history of South Wales....and on the left the modern mansion of Dirleton, the residence of J.Alan Gulston Esq., a descendent of the Stepneys.
Proceeding towards Llandilo, passing Glanbrydan Park, the lodge to which on the road is much admired, we arrive at the Red Lion, where a road on the right leads up to a handsome little church, a chaple of ease of the Llandilo mother-church, not long since built, principally by public subscription. It was originally intended for a Roman Catholic chapel........[in a half built atate] it was purchased for the uses of the Church of England and under the superintendence of Mr J Harries, architect, Llandilo, the transepts and a bell turret were added........more recently the chapel yard has been constructed for burial purposes. And here it is most veraciously averred that however great be the need of churches in this extensive parish, the need of Church of England burial ground is not less.
The visitor may now take the rail at the Talley Road Station for Llandilo, and a future day may be pleasantly spent exploring the now grass-grown fortress of Maes-y-Castell........
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The visitor may now take the rail at the Talley Road Station for Llandilo, and a future day may be pleasantly spent exploring the now grass-grown fortress of Maes-y-Castell........Situate on a farm of that name, in the vicinity of Taliaris Park ...the keep and outworks are of some extent and occupy a very commanding position. There is no trace of masonry.
A cut across the country would take the visitor to the village of Talley, with its lake and ruined abbey. Further on, and across the Cothy, is Edwinsford, the seat of the dowager Lady Drummond. The town of Llansawel lies in the same direction, and more to the right is Dolau-cothy--the seat of J Johnes, Esq., the recorder of Carmarthen, of noble and ancient lineage, where are extensive excavations [the Gogofau] made by the Romans in their mining operations.
This interesting neighbourhood is about 15 miles from Llandilo ; but the sanction of Parliament has been obtained for the construction , or rather , the completion, of that railway which is to connect Swansea directly with Aberystwyth. This line , so very important to Wales, is waiting only the occurrence of the next full tide on 'change to carry it through. It will pass through a part of the Vale of Cothy.
The tourist may make an intersting and pleasant excursion by walking to Talardd, near the town.....inspect the ancient archways in the interior...and the principals of a rich perpendicular roof.........and proceed thence to Derwydd, once a seat of one of the Vaughans, and subsequently , of the Stepneys. It is probable that a portion of Derwydd wasa built in the reign of Elizabeth, as there are heraldic and other decorations of the C17. A bedstead of the Tudor period may be seen here.
From Derwydd, the tourist should make for Llandybie, this route will bring him on the way to the series of Lime Kilns at Cilyrychen, having a handsome and imposing facade designed and constructed by Mr Penson, the proprietor. The works carried on here are extensive and very large quantities of lime are taken hence by rail in various directions. There is also a large quantity of stone burnt at the Pistill Kilns, opposite to these ,on the other side of the turnpike road. In the Cilyrychen rock is a cave of considerable extent, to which is attached a legend connected with owain Lawgoch, or Owen of the bloody hand. The cave is worth exploring; and the visitor should get up to the extensive and undulating upper surface of this great headland, which is known locally as "Y Ddinas"[ the city], where a magnificent panorama may be obtained. Doubtless time has been when this naturally almost impregnable position was fully fortified by our ancestors, and its name bears testimony to its importance then. The rock, together with a large extent of the surrounding countryside, is the property of the Lord Dynevor, a portion of the remnant of a once princely domain. The Dinas is still used as a position whence all stirring events connected with the affairs of the house of Dynevor are proclaimed far and wide by means of bonfires.
At Llandybie, the principal object of interest is the church, dedicated to St Tybie. Recently the church has been partially restored and beautified, under the superintendence of Mr J Harries, of Llandilo, and at the expense of Mrs Du Buisson, of Glynhir. In the chancel are some large and ornate tablets commemorative of the Vaughans etc. The large school buildings in the village are in connection with the National Society.
About two miles further is Cross Inn, in the Amman Valley; and on the opposite side of the river is the village of Bettws. This valley is pretty well , already, the scene of considerable mining and manufacturing activity from its commencement at Bryn Amman to its junction with that of the Loughor, and the subsequent continuation to the banks of the estuary of the river Loughor.
A run by rail to Carmarthen and back should certainly form an item in the visitor's programme and therefore, in furtherance of that object the greater part of a letter communicated to the "Welshman" newspaper is here appended;
To the Editor of the "Welshman".
Sir, --Can you, "or any other man", say where there are such a fourteen miles of railway as those just completed by the Messrs Watson, between Carmarthen and Llandilo--such for wood and water, hill and dale--for ancient castles and modern mansions--for well-designed and suitably-constructed stations and ample platforms--for signals and switches embracing the most recent working improvements--for carriages so comfortable, commodious, and handsome--and for transit so smooth that writing is as easy as reading ? Any one having experience of railway travelling must be struck with the excellence of the road and its appointments. The run may not inaptly be called a trip by water, seeing that the beautiful Towy is a close and constant companion nearly all the way. The tourist has his attention engaged without intermission by a succession of interesting objects on either side; Llandilo--its picturesque position, the noble desmene of Dynevor and its old castle, Grongar Hill, and Llangathen; a charming glimpse for miles up the Dulais and Sannan valleys; the once formidable position of Dryslwyn, with the shattered remains of the fortress; the valley of the Cothy; Llanegwad, and the wall-like rock near Nantgaredig; Alltygog, backed by the lofty and almost perpendicular Penallt-fawr; the once fortified hill of Merlin, whose approach is now adorned by a fine mansion; the very pretty peep up the Gwili and of Castlepiggin, o'ertopping the surrounding timber. But this pleasing right-hand view down the road is unfortunately anti-climaxed on the approach to the Carmarthen junction by that saddening picture of dilapidation and desolation, the old tin works; the unpleasant effect of which on the mind, however, the Carmarthen Parade somewhat aids in dispelling. If the tourist does as we did on Friday last, he will get, by hook or by crook, into the summer house on the lawn of the Ivy Bush Hotel, and there let "contemplation have its fill" at the sight of a considerable part of the beautiful scenery through which the iron horse now snorts and strides its thirty miles an hour. The view of the vale is charming and unique, and every lover of scenery should take his mental photograph of it. The right-hand up-view embraces the Llangunnor hill, Abergwilly, with the Bishop's grounds, Llanarthney, with a distant view of that gorge in the old red sandstone in which lie Middleton Hall and the road leading to Pontyrhyd, Nelson's tower and the bold eminence on which it stands; Llanfihangel soon follows, with Golden Grove, which has the pleasing effect of not breaking but aiding the landscape; it does not present itself to the eyeas one huge cube or solid block, but its many turrets mingle with the branches of the trees, and their blue colour harmonizes with the foliage ; the lines seen, though straight, are not long, and therefore the landscape's undulations are but partially marred. The return to Llandilo brings into view Tregib and the bold and distant hills in this direction. Weather permitting, tourists travelling by this line should, if possible, obtain open carriages. The vision should be free in all directions, so that nothing be lost.
Llandilo, June 6th 1865. W.S.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The Towy takes its rise in the mountain morasses of the wildest part of Cardiganshire, a short distance from Glyn Teivi. Not far from its source it is joined by the lesser Towy, or Tywi Vychan, at Moel Rescob.
Further on , at Vanog " the river raging over the rocks, roars through its gloomy bed, in some places near a hundred feet below the surface, but entirely concealed by the profound depth of its channel, and the luxurience of the foliage on its banks, with hills folding over hills in the distance; and this contrast, produced by the advance of a single yard, after having traversed a dreary waste of several preceding miles, may easily be conceived capable of producing an effect that no one unless totally insensible to the beauties of nature, can pass without admiration".
Below Vanog, the Towy receives the Camdor, and by a circuitous route approaches Ystrad Ffin...................the scenery about Ystrad Ffin partakes more of the sublime than that of any other part of this incomparable river...............the Towy here winds round the base of Cerig Tywi, a schstoze rock five or six hundred feet high, and rushes with impetuous fury into the embrace of the Dethia............halfway up the side of Cerig Tywi is Twm Shon Catti's Cave, the retreat of the Rob Roy of Wales............the Towy continues to.........Pen-y-Gareg, towards Nant-y-Mwyn................................. Its tributaries are the Bran, at Llandovery; Sawdde, near Llangadoc; Dulais and Cennen, near Llandilo; another Dulais; the Cothy and Gwili, on the way to Carmarthen, whence its proceeds to the Bristol Channel. The tide reaches up about a mile above Carmarthen and affords water for the conveyance of ships of about 300 tons burthen to the quay.
The Towy is much celebrated [or was, perhaps] for its fish--salmon, sewin and trout.........the supply of the latter more especially has undergone considerable diminution during the last thirty years. In the height of the season it is difficult now to obtain any at any price; whereas salmon and sewin , formerly, were daily hawked about, the one at 6d. or 8d the pound, the other at 6d. It is considered that poaching and the non-observance of the fence months have led to this most undesirable state of things....................
The Towy, from Llandilo bridge, for [by water] perhaps ten miles, runs through the Golden Grove property, except a small portion belonging to the Dynevor estate. Above the bridge the properties are various, and there much of the river is allowed to be free.
In the book follow a set of Rules and Regulations enforced by the Board of Conservators of the Carmarthen Bay Fishery District. [Signed by Francis Green, Clerk to the said Board]
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
But, before going back into times more especially historical, let us glean what we can from the memories of the older inhabitants.
It is recollected then, that the bridge was a narrow wooden structure--that the few houses forming Bridge-street were more to the south side than on the north side--that the two churchyards were one--that the present wide King-street was pitched and narrow, and entered below, only,opposite the "Corner House"--that the "Boot and Shoe" was a decent public house and kept by William Jones, tailor and auctioneer, who was the pioneer in the formation of new Llandilo. He built the "White Lion", or rather a couple of them, and several houses in Rhosmaen-street etc, and his example was followed by other people; and thus a number of the straw-thatched houses gave way to larger and slate-covered dwellings--that the Post-office, near the "George" was kept by the clergyman's daughter, Miss Jenkins--that the present Vicarage was the "George Inn", where the Petty Sessions were held, and, other magisterial business transacted--a partly slated, and partly straw-thatched house, celebrated among other things, for the capital dances held there on fair days, patronized by presence of the patres et matres famliarum of the best class of farmers, and of the Llandilo bourgeois, and heartily joined in by their offsprings of suitable ages.
Doubtless all this was sinful: the middle classes' dancing days seem to be over; but the classes above, and above those, still indulge without scandal; perhaps, too, the grade below amongst us persist in tripping it on the heavy fantastic toe, despite of all sanctimonious denunciation...................Preach down the open sin of dancing and your success extends no further than converting it to some secret and peradventure to some more offensive indulgence. Well, what to mere mortal ken appeared a very joyous, healthy, and harmless amusement of the young of both sexes, of town and country, on the afternoon of Llandilo fair days., exist now only in the memories of the older inhabitants................who furtherr recollected that the upper portion of Carmarthen Street was occipied wholly by stables and other essentials in the management of quadrupeds; that the site now occupied by the National Schools and Literary Institution was a part and parcel of the park; the market house was Cae-bargod; that the whole of the new road with the ground occupied by the house there was wholesome pasture; that the large timber yard now there was then represented by an apology for one partly down Quay-street and partly on the public road, near the west angle of the lower churchyard; that the whole of the Bank buildings was "gardd yr hen Sue"; that the whole of Rhosmaen-street, from the Savings Bank up, consisted of straw-thatched houses of the poorest description, expecially from the situation of the present Railway Tavern in the direction of Trallwm; that the Post-office occupies the site of "The Plough", a "public" which sent its gable very near to the front of the then New Inn, on the other side of the way; that the Cawdor Arms stands on the site of the old "Bear" stabling, over which was the "Long Room"--renowned for scenes histrionic, civil, and political--where oft feasting was carried to satiety and drinking to excess amongst the partisans and dependents of seekers for parliamentary honours; and where many a strolling player strutted his hour as a Richard or an Alexander , abounding the while in the best sauce in the world for a supper or for any meal which might be named. Here again, one is reminded of the vast improvement which has taken place in the religious condition of the people, obtained negatively. In those days scarcely two summers in succession passed without the town getting infected by the presence of a company of strolling players, whose stay was prolonged for six or nine weeks or more; for somehow or other all classes as well as ages would countenance and support those vagabonds ; and there were really, not withstanding, some very agreeable, respectable, and clever fellows amongst them; and some of who subsequently attained the highest reputation in their craft on the London boards, to wit, Mathews and Kean, seniors; Siddons etc. But the "Long Room " has long ago disappeared , and the Llandilo play-goer is a being of the past or one fast passing away, though, perhaps, not without pleasing reminiscences of some happy evening in the old "Long Room". In those days the Bear was held by old Bostock--a noble specimen of the John Bull genus--of large dimensions and portly paunch, daily well lined with capon, diluted more with sack than small beer, his speech sonorous and well seasoned with----------.
Well, then, the old church stood, and its pews were deep enough tp conceal the sitters from all eyes below, or here and there above, the plane passing immediately over their tops. Naps might be taken without scandalising anybody; .....................................they, the pews, were painted in white.....the white tablets became a source of sore temptation.......how numerous were the instances in which the victim succumbed ......to neglect the pulpit and take to his pocket-pencil. Of such instances here is one in reference to Mr Bostock;
"If signs are emblems what the landlords are,How well portrayed is Bostock by the Bear".
The seniores remember, too, the remarkable old building which, in its day, occupied a part of the further end of the old Abbot-street[Abbey Terrace], said to have been originally a store, or receiving house for certain dues claimed by the abbot of talley; also that the Llandilo fairs great and small were held in the one large central churchyard, the tombstones serving for tables for money changers--and for trafficers in all manner of wares--by day, and for all manner of revels and riots by night..............................................
Our sires, and even ourselves, have vivid recollection of the time when the Cawdor Arms Hotel was the head-quarter of a troop of her Majesty''s fourth regiment of light dragoons--kept ever on the qui vive by the "Flying Dutchman" the invisible Rebecca--nevertheless , here, there, and everywhere, like Sampson at Gaza carrying off the gates; ..........before the trumpeter could rouse to horse, or indeed before he could be roused himself, the deed was done, and behold all around was still before the cavalry could come to the charge.........the dragoons thus constantly done had only to face about and go to bed to. The horse having failed recourse was had to the foot; and the present vicarage became the barracks of a portion of the 41st regiment for about one year. Llandilo thus for nearly two years was a military station, had for the time ten percent added to its population, the addition consisting , of course, of gentlemen of independent means so far as resources of the locality were concerned, therefore, the riots , as they were called, was a wind that brought much money to Llandilo.
But these riots had a very considerable amount of reason on their side, fully appreciated and inferentially sanctioned by Parliamentary enquiry, which, consequently, reflected by implication on the laxity of the local management of turnpikes. The upshot was the adoption of that excellent piece of legislation known as "The South Wales Act".
Our elders bear pleasant memories to the time when they crowded on a summer evening round the church and steeple precincts to watch, approve, and applaud the several sets of players at ball [fives], that game so intelligible and, therefore, interesting and even exciting to all beholders ................many years saw the steeple and church the ball-courts of Llandilo. Frequent but futile for many years were the attempts of the parsons to prevent the impropriety................our elders look back upon the days when they were young as better than the present; they are not convinced that it is not better to have ball, football, and hockey in the churchyard for the boys, than not to have them at all.
Prior to the year 1832, Llandilo was a place of the last importance in all matters connected with the county elections. and a contest for the county in those halcyon days was a consummation devoutly to be wished for, and long to be remembered ; therefore the few amongst us whose memories go back to 1802 speak with great gusto of the Lecshoon Vawr [ the great election]. On this occasion, the candidates were the the late Sir W. Paxton , of Middleton Hall, in the Whig interest,; and Sir James Williams, grandfather of Lady Drummond, of Edwinsford, on the Tory side. The polling was carried on, of course, in the churchyard, where six polling booths were erected together, with one for the sheriff. Every public-house in the town was made open during the continuance--eleven days; the reult gave Williams 1217; Paxton, 1110; but it was challenged, and a Parliamentary committee investigated it; but the allegations were not proven. The total expenses incurred , or stated to have been incurred , on account of Paxton, amounted to £15,690.4s.2d.This sum included payments to innkeepers for 11,070 breakfasts; 36,901 dinners; 684 suppers; 25, 275 gallons of ale; 11,086 bottles of spirits; 8,879 bottles of porter; 460 bottles of sherry ; 509 bottles of cider; and eighteen guineas for milk punch. The charge for ribbons was £786, and the number of separate charges for horse hire was 4,521. The comparatively small number of suppers put in juxtaposition with the amount of ale etc, is suggestive of gentlemen being , at the usual hour of that meal, hors de combat.
The 14th of May, 1807, found Paxton again in the field. His opponent on that occasion was the Lord Robert Seymour of Taliaris. On this three days sufficed to satisfy Paxton that his chance was hopeless , and he retired. Lord Robert[sic always] continued to represent the county in the Tory interest until March 1820, when he retired in favour of George Rice Esq., the present Lord Dynevor, who continued to sit until the Reform agitation, in 1831, when Sir James Hamlyn Williams, of Edwinsford, was returned unopposed. The reform Act of 1832 having distributed the polling places through the country, the great interest formerly attaching so much to Llandilo in respect of the elections, and more especially to contests, no longer exists.
Lastly, the older inhabitants speak occasionally, and with great pleasure, of those fine defensive forces, our local militia and yeomanry, cavalry, of the latter of which the late Lord Dynevor was colonel, and the present Lord Dynevor was captain of one of the troops; and they, our seniors descant admiringly on his bearing as a cavalry officer. The yeomanry, consisting of well-to-do farmers riding their own horses, were in all respects men of weight--their mettle in the field was never tested. To assemble a troop of men and horses equal to the old cavalry from similar resources at this time would not be easy, if possible. Their gathering once a month in the spacious yard at Dynevor Castle had become an institution.........the week's continued duty, the drills, parade, the sword exercise.......the trumpet calls ......of Trumpeter Davies, who, still hale in health at eighty, hearty in spirit , and thriving in his agricultural pursuits at Pentrecwn, and this year, 1867, the most successful competitor at the Llandilo agricultural show--are all indelibly fixed as pleasant reminiscences in connection with our now no more yeoman cavalry.
An opportunity occurs here, and it must be embraced, of paying a very humble tribute to the memory of one who for many years devoted his fine talents and valuable time to the material improvement of Llandilo, as well as to any means tending to the welfare of its inhabitants. The bridge, the new church, the widening and lower entrance into King-street, the widening of the George-lane, are amongst the many important results attained by the indefatigable exertions of the late Mr Leyshon Orton Lewis.
The history of the town of Llandilo
.......for the length of time it embraces, is one scanty of events. It may however, pretty safely be taken for granted that the fortunes of the fortress of Dynevor, whether prosperous or adverse, were also the fortunes of the dependent ville; and therefore the accounts which will be given hereafter of the varying conditions of the castle may be considered more or less to involve those of the town.
Llandilo has an historical existence of some seven hundred years, and a legendary one of about six hundred years or more. Its name, which is enjoyed by seven or eight other places in South Wales, signifies a place containing a church, dedicated to Teilo--a renowned divine of the fifth century, who was , according to Welsh annals--Son of Esyllt, a vu vreinin yn werddon[ who had been king in Ireland]--born at Ecclius Gunnian, near Tenby, educated by Dubricius, bishop of Llandaff, and subsequently by Paulinus, having then for his fellow pupil, St David.
Teilo established a college--"Bangordeilo"--at Llandaff, and became bishop of the diocese.......................In the Triads, Teilo is mentioned as one of the three blessed visitors of Britain..........as a greater preacher than St David and Padarn........he had a brother named Vabon; hence the designations of two of the hamlets in the parish of Llandilo-fawr--Manordeilo and Manor-vabon.
It does not seem that Llandilo is named in history earlier than the commencement of the C13...........
The facts from the book are now converted into a ;
1214---Rhys and Owain, grandchildren of the Lord Rhys [third] ab Gruffydd, ab Rhys ab Tewdwr, sought aid from King John against Rhys Grug, their father's brother, who found it expediant to burn Llandilo. The incident is placed by Llwyd in 1214.[the book contains a relevant extract from Archaeologica Britannica.]
1233---Rhys Vychan , son of Prince Rhys, died at Llandilo-fawr. It is related that his son , also Rhys Vychan, sought the aid of Henry III to recover lands from Llewellyn, Prince of North Wales. The King's force, under Stephen Bacon, laid waste the land of Ystrad Tywy, and advanced as far as Llandilo Vawr. They were harrassesd by the men of Cardigan and Ystrad Tywy, who, under Meredydd ab Rhys Gryg and Meredydd ab Owain. The English force were routed, with three thousand and more falling, including Bacon, who was "very dear" to the King.
1284---King Edward , in trying to close his accounts with Wales, deputed Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloster, to the south whilst he himself went to the north. One pitched battle was fought near Llandilo, supposed to be at Caledfwlch, in which Clare lost 5 knights, but the Welsh were almost cut to pieces. This event and the death of Llewellyn in 1284 left Edward complete master of the Principality.
Whatever more may belong to Llandilo in history must be gathered, or guessed from the following epitome of the records of;
Extractor's caution; what follows is essentially a summary of family squabbles between the various Welsh princes over several centuries, with the occasional diversion of joining together to fight the English , it is a very lengthy extract from the book and not to be attempted by anyone short on determination !
The book contains a table of pedigrees from Roderick Mawr, 876, to Gruffydd 4th, 1268, which provides a view of the names of of the princes, who have held lawful sway in Ystrad Towy, and dwelt at Dynevor, together with the names of those who were interlopers............it will be seen that the ruling power during the period changed hands about thirty times..........Roderick Mawr, who was king of all Wales, divided it at his death between his three sons--giving Caredigion, or the southern portion , to his son Cadell, with Dynevor as his residence; expecting that this arrangement would satisfy his sons, and secure the peace of the country. Soon, however, the prince of Dynevor invaded Powys, the dominion of his brother Merrfyn, who then obtained the assistance of his elder brother, Anarawd, prince of Gwynedd, who ravaged the south, and despoiled Ystrad Tywy. Cadell, however, was ultimately restored, and succeeded by his son........
Hywel [ Dda]............
who, by the rectitude of his conduct and the ability of his administration, obtained the title of "the good".By peaceful means only, it would seem ,he became king of all Wales, and swayed it for 72 years.................. He and his councillors prepared and perfected a code of laws of singular ability for the age in which they lived; and they exist to this day, under the names of the Laws of Hywel Dda. It is recorded by Caradoc of Llancarfaen, the first authentic Welsh historian[C12] , that in 926 "Howell the Good, son of Cadell, king of all Wales, went to Rome........to consult with wise men pn the manner of improving the laws of Wales.......and ascertain the laws by which the Roman emperors governed Britain during the period of their sovereignty...........on his return to Wales he summoned the heads of all tribes .....and all the wise and learned among the laity and clergy to hold an extraordinary meeting at the White House upon Taf, in Dyfed. Hywel then returned to Rome for further opinion of the wise men of that city, and thereafter submitted his laws to the judgment of the hundreds and commots, and to the nation at large. Henceforth their authority was established in every Welsh lordship, and in the court of every lord, and every tribe. The laws remained in force until the subjugation of the country by Edward I, and in great part until the 27th of Henry VIII.
The book contains a very detailed description of the Laws of Hywel Dda, one important aspect worth picking out is that the law of gavelkind prevailed---all the sons shared equally the property of the father; and no crime committed by the father prejudiced the birthright of the children.
Hywel died in 948 , ...........
..............his four sons, relinguishing North Wales, divided the south among themselves---Owen becoming prince of Dynevor, his whole reign was a continued scene of warfare, he had to defend his kingdom against the encroachments of his cousins, Ievaf and Iago.....they ultimately dispossessed him of Dynevor which they held for some years although Owen succeeded in reinstating himself at Dynevor, he died in 987.
Einon, eldest son of Owen, having been murdered in North Wales during his father's lifetime, Dynevor was usurped by his brother Meredith , to the exclusion of the two sons of Owen, Edwyn and Tewdwr. When Meredith died, his only issue, was a daughter who had married Llewelyn, lord of Essyllt in Powis, who was only 14 years of age. Aedan, son of Blegorad, taking advantage of Llewlyn's youth, added South Wales to his dominion in the north, and kept Dynevor from Llewelyn for 15 years, i.e to 1015 when Llewelyn fought and conquered Aedan, Llewelyn then finding himself master not only of the kingdom of Dynevor but also of North Wales. Nearly the whole of Llewelyn's reign was peaceful but in 1020 , Run, an adventurer from Scotland calling himself a son of Meredith, claimed the throne--war ensued. Llewelyn fell eventually through the treachery of Madoc Min, bishop of Bangor..... his heir Llewelyn was a minor and Rhydderch ab Iestyn, lord of Morganwg, was consequently able to take unlawful possession of Dinevawr.....Hywel and Meredith soon again appeared in arms, attacked Rhydderch, slew him in 1031 and took possession of his kingdom........but Gruffydd, Llewelyn's son was soon prepared to assert by the sword his claim to the throne, of the whole of Wales.....his success in North Wales was rapid and complete and the states of the south lost no time in acknowledging him as the lawful sovereign. Hywel made several attempts to reinstate himself.......but was slain in 1043. Gruffydd had next to repel the sons of Iestyn---Rhydderch and Rhys---and subsequently Caradoc, son of Rhydderch...these storms came from Glamorgan and Gwent.
In about 1056 Gruffydd ....
........was slain in a battle against Caradoc ab Rhydderch and the forces of Harold, son of Godwin, again through the treachery of bishop Madoc Min. Gruffydd may be ranked among the most illustrious of the Welsh princes, and his reign forms, perhaps, the most brilliant period in the history of the principality.................................... Harold soon disposed of Caradoc, by banishing him from the country, and on condition of receiving the lordship of Herefordshire, consigned the sovereignty to Meredith ab Owen, thought to be descended from Hywel Dda. On the death of Harold, Caradoc re-appeared, and succeeded in defeating and slaying Meredith, died himself the folowing year and was succeeded by his son Rhydderch.
This period is that in which the Normans began their depredations upon Wales,......
.......and laid the foundation of that system of plunder and conquest which in a few years rendered them masters of its most valuable possessions. Caradoc, before his death repelled them on two occasions, the latter in 1071.
In 1072, Rhys ab Owen, grandson of Hywel Dda, claimed the sovereignty of Dynevor but after defeating Bleddin ab Cynfin in the north, came to an arrangement with Rhydderch by which the government was shared, but after Rhydderch's death Rhys was made sole sovereign. The latter died c 1075 in a battle with the forces of Goronw and Llewelyn, chieftains of North Wales, and grandsons of Bleddin ab Cynfin.
In 1077, Rhys ab Tewdwr, ........
........who had gone to Armorica for safety, returned to Wales with a view of placing himself on the throne of his ancestors, then occupied by Iestyn ab Gwrgan, prince of Glamorgan, he was accepted almost unanimously. In 1080, William the Conqueror marched an army into South wales, but no opposition was offered to him..........so he proceeded on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St David, where he made some rich offering to propitiate the saint.
In 1087 Rhys found it prudent to retire from Dynevor to Ireland..........but returned and met his enemies, the sons of Bleddin ab Cynfin, at Llechryd, where the sons of Bleddin were defeated and two of them slain.........Rhys then reinstated himself at Dynevor. Rhys was ultimately defeated with the loss of nearly the whole of his army at Hirwaun Wrgan, near Aberdare, against a force including Eion ab Collwyn and Robert Fitzammon, the Marcher lord. Rhys lost his life soon after although the mode of his death is uncertain. Two sons of Rhys met their death, but two others --Gruffydd and Hywel, infants, escaped.
With Rhys ab Tewdwr the kingdom of Dynevor may be said to have fallen, for it never regained under his successors the rank and consequence it had before possessed. The turbulent spirit of the Welsh chiefs, together with the well-planned policy of the Norman princes, tended effectually to this end. The conquest of Wales generally may be said to have been given out by contract to the favourites of the English court; the terms being simply permanent possession of all lands obtained by conquest, subject only to the feudal seigniority of the English king; every quarter of Wales was consequently infested by these hordes of licensed banditti, and the history of this period is chiefly occupied with the details of their depredations; and within a short time the territorial dimensions of the kingdom of Dynevor was reduced within the present limits of the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen; and for several years the history of Dynevor is altogether merged in that of Wales generally; which after the overthrow of Rhys, was in a very unsettled and disorderly state.
During this time the supreme authority rested between Gruffydd ab Conan and Cadwgan ab Bleddin on one side , and the English kings, William Rufus and Henry I., and their dependents , the lords of the marches,on the other. .........ultimately Cadwgan held the country on sufferance from Henry I., and all things were proceeding peaceably until an affair of love and abduction involving Cadwgan's son, Owen, and Nest, daughter of Ab Tewdwr, and wife of Gerald de Windsor, governor of Pembroke Castle, placed Cadwgan in serious trouble, and in banishment. Henry restored Cadwgan, who was afterwards assassinated, when Henry took the country into his own hands until c 1113.
[c 1113 ]Gruffydd, son of Ab Tewdwr, now appeared on the stage...........
......Gruffydd , and his younger brother , Hywel, placed themselves under the protection of Gruffydd ab Conan , of North Wales. They took sanctuary in the church of Aberdaron, and Gruffydd the Second reached Ystrad Tywi in safety, and prosecuted his claim in open warfare. He unsuccessfully atacked Swansea Castle, and Llandovery and Carmarthen Castles.... he did manage to take Kidwelly from William de Londres...and successfully attacked Carmarthen again despite its being reinforced by King Henry's friends.....the king now leagued himself with Owen ab Cadwgan and Trehaern of North Wales who marched their forces against the Prince of Dynevor. However, Gerald de Windsor, despite being the king's man, temporarily put aside his allegience to indulge in revenge for his wife, Nest's abduction, and as soon as Owen got to Ystrad Tywi, persued him and Owen was killed in the encounter. This event terminated the expedition for Trehaern, seeing the king's vassels were not to be trusted, he withdrew his forces to North Wales............In 1121 Henry made peace with Gruffydd, ceding him a large portion of the kingdom of Dinevawr as his domain. These possessions are enumerated in Brut y Tywysogion.[ and in the book].
Affairs continued in this state until 1130, ......
..........when Henry on the complaints of the Norman lords, commanded Gruffydd to be attacked and dispossessed of his territory and government. Gruffydd , having driven the Norman and Flemish invaders from his territories, despatched some of his principal nobility to the king, under safe conduct of the Bishop of St David's, to ascertain the particulars of his offence, but Henry declined to satisfy him. This embassy had the effect of terminating the war.
Stephen [ 1135] sent Gruffydd a peremptory summons to attend in London to certain charges.Instead of obeying, Gruffydd immediately commenced chastising the foreign settlers........and nearly cleared South Wales of these foreign settlers.......the battle of Neath terminated this outbreak when c 3000 of the Normans and allies are said to have fallen. After this Gruffydd appointed a grand festival to be held at his palace in Ystrad Tywi, to which he invited all the princes and nobles of Wales and the Marches.........the festival continued for forty days.....during the remaining portion of his life Gruffydd assiduously applied himself to the improvement of the laws and general condition of the people, he died in 1136, universally lamented by his subjects.............
[In 1136] he was succeeded by his eldest son, Rhys 3rd........
The earlier part of this reign is involved in considerable obscurity, with Rhys and his brothers employed prinicipally in endeavouring to keep the Normans from reinstating themselves, with the king, Stephen, fully engaged in the more immediate affairs of England. About this time, 1150, Rhys and his brother Cadell recovered the castles of Carmarthen, Dynevor and Llanstephan; he repaired and nearly rebuilt the castle of Dynevor, and made it much stronger than it was before.......... Henry II, having succeeded to the English throne, summoned Rhys to London, threatening vengeance should Rhys not comply......Rhys went and an amicable arrangement resulted with Henry agreeing to concede Cantref Mawr, in which Dynevor was situated, tohether with some other lordships at that time in his possession, and to deliver up several castles which Rhys was to hold as securities for the ratification of the treaty...Rhys left two sons at the English court as hostages but soon perceived that he had been deceived by the king who withheld the possessions promised to him........and ere long he was attacked in Ystrad Tywi by the Earl of Clare supposed to be acting with the king's sanction. While Rhys was besieging Carmarthen Castle, Henry sent a force under the earls of Bristol and Clare, augmented by one from North Wales, under the sons of Owen Gwynedd, now acting as allies to Henry against their countrymen. Rhys thought it prudent to retire, and withdrew his forces to Cefn Rhester. The enemy , failing to find him, withdrew..........
In 1163 on his return from Normandy, Henry .........
....... led an army into South Wales and advanced as far as Pencadair before the intervention of some Brecon nobility led to an amicable adjustment with Rhys retaining certain territories and giving hostages for his future submission.....this transaction is described by Giraldus in detail . The king delivered hostages, two of Rhys's nephews, into the custody of the earl of Gloster, who maliciously put them to death..........this act of treachery roused the resentment of the Welsh prince who instantly flew to arms and devasted the possessions of the earl of Cardiganshire, and those of the Normans and Flemings in Pembrokeshire. Rhys was now joined by his fellow chieftains from Powis and by Owen Gwynedd ....resulting in Henry having to retire in disgrace. Henry retaliated by wreaking his vengeance on Cynwrig and Meredith, sons of Rhys, and on Rhys and Cadwallon, sons of Owen Gwynedd, the hostages, by pulling their eyes out.
The following year, Henry advanced as far as Chester then suddenly abandoned his enterprise. Rhys afterwards, secured the south, took Ceredigion and Cilgerran, and returned to Dynevor with a large booty, so ended the military operations of Rhys against Henry.........Rhys , in 1172, even meeting Henry on his way to Ireland with an army and offering him assistance, which pleased the king so much that he confirmed to him the possession of all his territories......and also restored to him his son Hywel who had been a hostage in England.......some time later Henry , prior to leaving on an expedition to France, appointed Rhys Chief Justice of South Wales.
In 1189, on the accession of Richard I....
......Rhys mustered his forces against England because he considered Richard had committed an indignity upon him by refusing to meet him personally at Oxford.......Rhys demolished the castle at Carmarthen, proceeded towards the Marches, took the castles of Clun and Radnor and Payne's, in Elved, and returned in triumph to Dynevor..........that was his last exploit, he died in 1196 and was buried at Ystrad Fflur.
Now, if the testimony of an ecclisatic of that age is truthful, or even approximate the truth, Llandilo, or its neighbourhood may boast, and boast proudly, of having reared the most perfect of the genus homo that has ever trod this earth ---[there then follows in the book an excerpt written by a monk of Chester extolling the virtues of lord Rhys.].By his submission to Henry, Rhys lost his rank and authority as an independent sovereign and became, like the other nobility of the country, a mere feudal vassal to the English crown.
Rhys was succeeded in the lordship of South Wales by his son Gruffydd......
............who was however soon dispossessed by his brother Maelgwn....and delivered to the custody of the English lords..........he was released the following year and during the remaining 4 years of his life he and his brother Maelgwn, together with their respective friends, carried on perpetual warfare. Gruffydd died in 1202 and was also buried with his father at Ystrad Fflur.
[In 1202]Gruffydd was succeeded by his son Rhys 4th........
.........whose mother was Maud, daughter of William de Breos, of Brecon. Rhys is said to have taken the castle at Llandovery from his uncle, Maelwgyn, and afterwards fortified Llangadock castle.....and possessed himself of the royal residence of his ancestors, Dynevor. In 1208 Rhys and his brother Owen marched against his uncle Rhys Grug who had taken Llangadock, they destroyed the garrison and razed the fortress to the ground. Vychan then sought aid from King John.........and Llandovery soon fell into Vychan's hands.
In 1212 King John summoned Rhys and his brother Owen to do him homage, [they initially refused but faced with the threat of great forces]..........found it expedient to comply and sued for peace........they did homage and relinquished the district between Dyvi and the Aeron. Their uncles Maelgwn and Vychan continued to assail them......and they in their turn sought the assistance of the English king..........Vychan was commanded to desist ..and to restore Llandovery to Rhys.....he refused, and hostilities followed.
It was on this occasion that Llandilo was burnt.
Rhys eventually became reconciled with his uncle Maelgwn and they united to annoy the English settlers..taking the castle of Kidwelly, and other places.......in the same year they joined with Llewelyn ab Iorwerth against the English.......Carmarthen castle was razed, and the castles of Llanstephan, St Clears, Laugharne, Emlyn, Cilgerran and Cardigan were taken. But at this time Ab Iorwerth also constituted himself lord paramount of the Principality and as such adjusted a dispute between Rhys/Owen and their uncles Maelgwn/Vychan, respecting a division of the conquered territory.......the [detailed in the book] partition showing that the seat of government was taken from the young lord Rhys 3rd, and given to his uncle Vychan.........this shows the power of Ab Iorwerth and the weakness of Rhys...........Rhys died soon after the partition, again buried at Ystrad Ffur...his possessions divided between his brother Owen and uncle Owen.
In 1223, Rhys, son of Rhys Vychan.......
...............lord of Dynevor, carried on warfare against his father and made him prisoner..........the latter having to cede Llandovery castle to obtain his freedom.
In 1230, Maelgwn died..........
..............also buried at Ystrad Fflur.........and succeeded by his son Maelgwn.
In 1233, Vychan and his nephews , Owen and Maelgwn, joined with Richard Marshall, earl of Pembroke, who, having quarrelled with Henry III,laid a siege to Carmarthen Castle , which after about 3 months resistance he was obliged to abandon........about that time Vychan died , and the death of his nephew ocurred, both buried at Ystrad Ffur. Owen was succeeded by his son Meredith; and Vychan by his sons Meredith and Rhys also called Vychan in the welsh annals.
On the death of David ab Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, King Henry sent Nicholas de Miles to Carmarthen with a commission for Meredith ab Rhys Vychan and Meredith ab Owen to assist him in dispossessing Maelgwn Vychan ab Maelgwn ab Rhys of his territories.....Maelwgn prudently withdrew to North Wales.
In 1254, Rhys Vychan obtained possession of Careg Cenen which his mother had given over to the English settlers.
Prince Edward, afterwards Edward I, had obtained some estate in Cardiganshire belonging to the Welsh nobility. Prince Llewelyn marched to the south, recovered the lands, and gave the principal part of them to Meredith Owen of Dynevor. He also took Builth from Rhys Vychan and gave it to young Vychan's brother, Meredith. Vychan.......obtained a powerful force from King Henry to aid him to recover them. With these, commanded by Stephen Bacon, he came by sea to Carmarthen and marched against Dynevor Castle which he besieged. Llewelyn sent a large force to the relief of the place.........the two Merediths commanded the Welsh troops and defeated them
In 1258, the Welsh nobility held a convention at which they bound themselves ...to stand firm to each other to maintain the common cause of their country against the English. [They should have learnt from .....the past , that to maintain that cause against each other was .....the more difficult thing to do.] But Meredith ab Rhys shoretly after deserted.......and joined the king's party.
In 1268 Meredith ab Owen died.........
..........he left issue one son, Gruffydd[4th].
Edward I., now seriously bent on the conquest of Wales, assailed it with two powerful armies, simultaneously north and south...the northern under his own command...the southern under Payen de Chaworth.....who obtained possession of the castle of Dynevor from Rhys ab Meredith, who had deserted his country's cause. Edward was equally successful in the north and both armies retired, but the oppression of the king's officers became intolerable and the inhabitants revolted, and took several of the fortresses, and Edward renewed the war.The Archbishop of Canturbury endeavoured to pacify the parties, but failed. people will have their amusements, and war is the game that princes play at. The ecclesiastic....excommunicated Llewelyn, but Edward, for obvious reasons, escaped that terrible treatment. During the negotiations , between the archbishop and the Welsh chieftains on the occasion, they laid before him....their complaints against the officersof the English king. [ those of Rhys Vychan of Ystrad Tywi are itemised in the book].
Edward again marched to the North, and at the same time the Earl of Gloster and Sir Richard Mortimer led their forces to the South, and met the Welsh forces at Llandilo. After these events Edward erected the territories which had latterly pertained to more immediately to the house of Dynevor, and which were now in possession of the crown, into the present two counties of Caermarthen and Cardigan.
And thus, so far as concerned the line of Roderick Mawr, ended the princely house of Dynevor.
However, after the lapse of some years , during which the country had been in a peaceable state, and when Edward was absent from England, Rhys ab Meredith, whose traitorous conduct had so much aided Edward in conquering South Wales, and whom he had knighted for his services, revolted from his new allegiance. Robert de Tibetot, the justiciary for South Wales, and Alan Plumket, the king's steward in the Principality, had summoned him to the Welsh Courts. Rhys refused.....flew to arms, and took the castles of Llandovery and Dynevor, and burnt several towns. The king attempted to conciliate in a letter but at the same time ordered Earl Cornwall to proceed to Wales with a force to enforce compliance.....by the sword. The Earl advanced into Carmarthenshire, whence Rhys had retired, took and destroyed Rhys's castles..........in the attack upon Dryslwyn a serious befell the besieging army..........the lord Stafford, William de Montchancey, and several officers, were inspecting a mine which their own workmen were carrying under part of the works were killed by the fall of one of the walls.The approach of winter obliged Cornwall to suspend operations and grant Rhys a truce.The departure of Cornwall brought out Rhys again but Robert de Tibetot compelled him to cross the Irish Channel, where he remained for three years, and again, appeared in South Wales. He was met by the justiciary and a fierce engagement ensued............Rhys was defeated with the loss of four thousand of his followers......and executed as a traitor at York. The services of Tibetot was rewarded by Rhys's possessions. Edward now called upon the Welsh for contributions to meet the burdens of the country, but was answered by insurrections in several parts. Maelgwn Vychan headed a strong party, he was however soon taken and executed at Chester.
Thus two of the great grandsons of Prince Rhys ab Gruffydd suffered under the hands of the executioner.
The only instance of serious results from opposition to the authority of the English king after this period, in South Wales, are those which were excited by the spirit of
the revolt of Owen Glyndwr...........
...........in connection with this the most important circumstance respecting South Wales was the landing of the French force of twelve thousand menin the interest of Owen, in Milford Haven, which marched to Carmarthen, and took the castle. Owen , however, shortly after sustained a serious loss in the defection of the nobility of Ystrad Tywi, who returned to their allegiance to the English king. At the time of this revolt, Jenkin Havrad was constable at Dynevor Castle, and on hearing that Glyndwr's attack on the castle of Dynevor had been successful, wrote to the Receiver of Brecon as follows;
"A Dear Friend, I do you wetyn that Oweyn Glyndwr, Henry Don Ris Duy, Rees ap Griffith ap Llewelyn and Rees Gothin, hau y won the town of Kermerdyn, and Wigmor, constable of the castell, had held up the castle of Kermerdyn to Oweyn; and they hau y brend the town, a slay of men of the town of more than fifty men; and thei budd in purpose to Kidweli; and a siege is ordeynyd at the castell that I kep, and that is great peril for me and all that buth wyddein; for they hau y made hor a vow that they will algate hau us dead therein; wherefore I pray you that ye wil not bugil us, that ye send to us warning wythin schort time, whether schul we have any help or no; and but there be help coming that we haue an answer, that we may come bi night, and steal away to Brecnoc; cause that we faylyth vitals and men and narvely men; also Jenkin ap Llewelyn hath yeld up the castell of Emlyn with free will; and also William Gwyn, Thomas ap David ap Griffith: and gentils ben in person wyth oweyn, warning herof I pray that ye send me by the berer of this letter. fareth well yn the name of the Trinitie y wright at Dyevwr yn haste and yn drede yn the feast of St Thomas the Martir "
As already stated the line of Roderick Mawr through Rhys ab Tewdwr terminated historically with the executions of Rhys Meredith and Maelgwn Vychan.
The lineage of the subsequent, that is the present noble family, is altogether different.
They are descended in a direct line from Urien .........
...............the prince or king of a small principality called the Kingdom of Reged, which comprised the betyween the rivers Neath and Tywi, including the cantrefs of Kidwelly, Carnwallon, Gower etc...as traced in Collins Peerage. Little has been narrated of the history and exploits of this race , till the time of Gruffydd ab Nicholas, who was a person of great power and influence in these parts, in the reign of Henry VI., possessing a large fortune and being allied by marriage with the principal families both in North and South Wales...........his antipathy to the English was so great that it was some time before he could be induced to declare for the White or Red Rose......his tenants committed crimes and pillaged the lands of the English lords of the Marches..........as a result Lord Whitney had a royal commission to arrest Gruffydd.....[the book describes how Whitney was disabled of his powers]......Gruffydd subsequently joined forces with the earl of March at Gloster and fell mortally wounded at the moment of victory at Mortimer Cross...he was succeeded by his eldest son, Thomas.
Thomas ab Gruffydd was a mild man, he went abroad for a time to avoid the civil contest in which the country was then engaged.He was a noted dual fighter [the book relates several contests with other named nobles], and died as a result of one such contest. His first marriage wwas to the daughter of Sir John Gruffydd of Abermarlais, who brought him that property, and the second to the daughter of the Duke of Burgundy, he left issue by both. From the latter marriage descended the Johneses of Havod etc, and from the former, through Sir Rhys ab Thomas, Lord Dynevor.
The elder sons of Thomas ab Gruffydd, Morgan and David, both are said to have lost their lives on opposite sides of the wars of the Roses.
The next son of Thomas, in seniority, was Rhys ab Thomas........
........his marriage to the daughter and heiress of Henry ab Gwilym , of Court Henry, made him one of the most opulent subjects in the realm................displayed the magnificence of a prince rather than that of a private gentleman .....The book describes at length his many acts which brought him unbounded popularity, and by degrees very formidable power. A poet of his day wrote
"Y brenin bia'r Ynys, Ond sy o ran i Syr Rhys" [The king owns the island, save what pertains to Sir Rhys]
This couplet was considered to impeach Rhys's loyalty, and led to his arraignment.
After the defection of the Duke of Buckingham from Richard III.,and when a marriage was being concerted between Lady Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Edward IV., and the Earl of Richmond, Rhys ab Thomas's assistance was regarded as of great consequence; and Milford Haven was the safest, if not the only place, at which the earl could land...but here Rhys was completely master; his friendship was therefore essential, and a reconciliation was effected between him and the Duke of Buckingham.......................The Earl of Richmond duly landed at Milford..........the combined forces were now ordered to march for Shrewsbury---one under Richmond through Cardiganshire, the other under Rhys through Carmarthenshire, then beacons were lighted and the whole country was immediately under arms. Rhys and his forces joined Richmond at Shrewsbury, Richard was informed of his danger and lost not a moment in preparing himself for the contest.
...........The two armies encountered at Bosworth, and the rest is history.
Welsh tradition asserts that Rhys ab Thomas slew King Richard in this encounter, fighting with him hand in hand, whatever, the conduct of Rhys on this memorable day was distinguished. The spoils of Richard's tent were shared between Rhys and Sir william Stanley, the earl of Richmond's father in law, and when the latter had placed the crown on Richmond's head, and the army had saluted him King Henry VII., as the first act of his reign, he conferred on Rhys ab Thomas the honour of knighthood.
That was only the beginning , the king also appointed Rhys of the number of his council, then Governor of all Wales; constable and lietenant of Brecknock; chamberlain of South Wales in the counties of Cardigan and Caermarthen; and seneschal of the lordship of Builth. [The book relates several instances of valour on Sir Rhys's part in support of his king]. He was installed a Knight of the Order of the garter, received the lordship of narberth, and it is said declined either the earldom of Essex or Pembroke, alleging that knighthood was the greatest honour that could be conferred on a soldier.
That is the last we hear of Rhys in the reign of Henry VII...on the accession of Henry VIII he appears to have been continued in all his offices.....and soon called upon to attend his royal master on an expedition to France....here he commanded the light horse at the siege of Therouenne and Tournay, and aquitted himself so much honour that on his return he was invested with the office of seneschal and chancellor of the manors of Haverfordwest and Roos in Pembrokeshire, with reversion to his son, Sir Gruffydd ab Rhys..
From this time Sir Rhys appears to have withdrawn from court and resided wholly at Carew Castle where he passed the closing of his long and active life in retirement. He died in 1527 and was buried in the priory at Carmarthen but his tomb is now at St Peter's Church in that town.
Sir Gruffydd ab Rhys seems to have died during the lifetime of his father, for it is stated that Sir Rhys's estates devolved to his grandson, Rhys ab Gruffydd. The latter was attainted of high treason, see below, in the reign of Henry VIII., and escheated to the crown by that event , his estate was granted to Sir Thomas Johnes.
The Dynevor estates reverted to the crown under the following circumstances---Rhys ab Gruffydd resumed the custom of adding Fitsurien to his name, in conformity with the general Welsh custom, to show descent. This being reported to the king, in association with the immense possessions and unbounded popularity of the family, was construed into a design to assert the independence of the Principality.And part of a plot to bring the English throne to James V., of Scortland. The grounds of this so called high treason were frivolous and absurd but Rhys was found guilty and beheaded at Tower Hill in 1531.
[In 1531]Rhys ab Gruffydd was succeeded by his son.........
...........Gruffydd ab Rice, of Newton [ sheriff 1567] who was slain France. He had no issue.
He was succeeded by his brother, Sir Walter Rice [sheriff 1586] who married one of the Mansels of Margam. he was succeeded by his son, Sir Henry Rice, who was succeeded by his son, Sir Edward Rice, who died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother, Walter Rice Esq, no issue.
Gruffydd Rice Esq.[sheriff 1694], represented the county in Parliament from 1702 to 1710, he was succeeded by his son, Edward Rice Esq MP for the county, issue George Rice Esq MP. , who married Cecil, daughter and heiress of the Earl of Talbot, who was created Baron Dynevor, with remainder to his daughter. Mr George Rice was a member of the Privy Council and lord-lieutenant for Carmarthenshire, he died in 1779, succeeded by his son, George Talbot Rice[a minor], who married a daughter of the first Viscount Sidney, and was lord-lieutenant of Carmarthenshire and colonel-commandant of the county militia. He died in 1852 and was succeeded by the present very estimable baron.
The foregoing pedigree, down from Gruffydd ab Rhys .................
..........has been abridged from a portion of "Historical Notes" written for the Welshman Newspaper by Llwyd[the Rev Lloyd Isaac, vicar, Llangathen], who concludes his contributions on Dynevor with the following complimentary strain-
"Long have the lords of Dynevor
Been patrons of the Celtic song:
In war the leaders of the host,
In peace their country's pride and boast;
Firm with the right, and foes of wrong ."
This section is an exact copy from the book as written in 1867.
Few, scattered and accidental are the notices of this castle, in the authentic records of the period during which it is considered to have flourished. It may fairly be assumed that so remarkable a position would always be held as a military post, both in times of civil broil , and when the foreign foe found his way into the remote valley of the Cenen; and therefore there must be a long and stirring story, now buried amongst forgotten things, concerning the fortunes of the structures, which, in their turns, have frowned from the lofty, isolated, and stern rock of Careg Cenen---a story, involving the fears , loves and fates of many a fair one, and deeds, both brave and cruel, of the strong.
A manuscript in the British Museum inscribes the erection of the [a?] castle of Careg Cenen to Urien, lord of Iscenen, who was a knight of Arthur's Round Table[ sixth century]. The architectural details exhibited by the present ruins do not justify an earlier date to the building than that of Edward II, and they go to sanction the opinion that the whole was erected at the same period.
According to the Welsh annals, it was taken from the English by Rhys Vychan [ see Dynevor pedigree ], whose mother had, out of dislike to him, delivered it to the English.
Subsequently, Gruffydd and Llewellyn, sons of Rhys Vychan, are called lords of Iscenen, and stated to have captured Careg cenen etc, four days after Palm Sunday, 1282.
Rhys, a grandson of Vychan, notwithstanding a conciliatory letter sent to him by Edward I., took Careg Cenen in the beginning of June 1287.
In 1362 [36 Edward III.], John of Gaunt claimed for his wife Blanche, daughter of the Duke of Lancaster, the whole of the estates of the late Duke of Lancaster, including the castle, town, and lordship of Kidwelly, the lordship of Carmarthen, with the estate of Cereg Cenen, and the common of Iskenning.
On July 5th, 1403, John Scudamon, constable of Careg Cenen, writes to John Fairford, inter alia, thus ;-
"He", Owen Glyndwr, " lay last night at Dryslwn with Rees ab Gruffydd, and there I was, and spake to him upon Wales, and prayed of a safe conduct under his seal, to send home my wife and her mother, and their company, and he would none grant me."
In a charter dated Windsor, 29 June 1445 [23 Henry VI.] and granted by the king and duke of Lancaster, and sealed with the duchy seal, the castles, lordships and manors of Kidwelly, Kaerkenny, Iskenny, and Karnwalthan, are enumerated as part of the duchy.
The ruins were inspected by the Cambrian Archaeological Association, when that learned body held its meeting at Llandilo, under the presidency of Lord Dynevor. The old Castle then received a very careful examination, and the judgment pronounced was that the date of the building, as already stated, was not earlier than Edward II. The verdict was a shock to the popular notion, which would make it not only prehistoric, but almost antediluvian.
At one of the evening meetings of the Association, this part of the subject was referred to by the then Earl of Cawdor. The late Venerable Archdeacon Williams, a determined upholder of the great antiquity of the Castle, was also present. In memoriam of those two distinguished Oxonians, this notice of Careg Cenen shall close with a transcript, from the Cambrian Archaeological Journal, of the words of the noble earl.
" The Earl of Cawdor said 'They had all been in the habit of ascribing to it a much higher antiquity than was permitted by the archaeologists. These gentlemen seem to have better grounds for their opinion in this case than in that respecting the Gogofau. Yet he had no doubt that if the venerable Archdeacon who sat near him had been present on Tuesday morning, the fortress they then visited would not have been so readily capitilated to the Edwardians. For himself he could only say " Non nostrum est tantas componere lites"
Coins of the realms, Dimitian and Constantine, have been found in the debris. But Roman coins circulated in this country long after the Romans had left it. A stone hatchet, now in the British Museum, was discovered here; but this circumstance goes scarcely any way to prove high antiquity, since the solitary stone implement might be, and most probably was, an object of curiosity in the castle at the Plantagenet period of our history.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
Of the present mansion and grounds mention has already been made, but here a few remarks shall be made of what is now called the "Old House".
In "The Beauties" it is said---" Golden Grove, the seat of John Vaughan [Celtice Vychan], Esq., deceased, a descendent of the first Earl of Carberry, but at present the property of Lord Cawdor.............................................the house is an indifferent building...............the groves from which the name probably derives, no longer appear................extensive park...almost destitute of wood.......it is capable of every improvement.and it may be hoped that a few years will impart to it something of its ancient appearance............."
Well, all this , and much more than this, has now been accomplished.
Oliver Cromwell, on his way to besiege Pembroke Castle, came suddenly across country with an intent to seize the person of Richard, Earl of Carberry, who was a royalist. The Earl having notice of his approach retired to the hills; the Protector, after having dined at Golden Grove with the Countess of Carberry, pursued his march to Pembroke.
The book contains an extract from an old MS document concerning the Earl of Carberry and Cromwell.
At Golden Grove is a beautiful drinking horn presented by the Earl of Richmond to one of his hosts in Cardiganshire during his march through that country from Milford to Bosworth Field. It was afterwards given to the Earl of Carberry.
The Golden Grove library contains " The Golden grove Books of M.S. Pedigree" which contain both the lineal and collateral desecents, not only of the greater of Welsh families and their connections, but also of the numerous others who from time to time had settled in the Principality.
The book now contains what is said to principally be a reprint from Rev D Lloyd Isaac's Historical Notes styled "The Vaughans of Golden Grove" [ Vychaniaid y Gelli'aur].
According to Welsh genealogies this family is descended from Gwaethvoed Vawr, Prince of Dyfed, who lived in the tenth century. The pedigree shown starts from 1520 with a Hugh Vaughan, of Kidwelly, gentleman, usher to King Henry VII. This Hugh Vaughan built the house of Golden Grove.
There then follows in the book a note re the Penoyre branch of the Vaughans, Penoyre being the modern seat of the late John Lloyd Vaughan Watkins.
Then a section on the Earls of Cawdor, which is said to be a junior branch of the house of Argyll, creation, Earl, 1457; Duke, 1701.
This section not extracted.
This section of the book concerns the Gwynne family of Taliaris, Glanbrane, Cynghordy, and the Williams , of Rhydodyn, who it appears were all knighted by Charles II., for their fidelity to Charles I.
The inclusion of this section appears to be because of a presumed family connection to the Vaughans of Golden Grove which seems to have been in dispute.
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
Hitherto in a commercial point of view, Llandilo has been scarcely anything more than a market place for the surrounding district; and since the opening of the Railway to Cwmamman, that district has been considerably lessened.
Long ago it was a saying, "Most of the money that comes to Llandilo comes over Llandilo Bridge"; meaning that the best, at all events, the greatest number of customers, came from the south. The opening of the railway alluded to "tapped" the reservoir of our trade, and the stream beyond a certain level then ran to Llanelly , and has done so now for many years. The recent extension of this line of railway to Llandilo, it is expected, or rather perhaps hoped, will gradually restore the status quo ante..............
........the sexagenarian, even in this locality, cannot but see what the blighting effect of improved turnpike roads have been on once busy villages, which have been left a mile or so either to the right or left of the main road..................
...........forward then we must look, progress is essential to thriving in these days of competition........the consideration then for those interested in the welfare of Llandilo and its neighbourhood is not how to keep business stationary , but how to increase to the fullest extent the business capabilities of the locality..........how to find profitable employment for the greatest number of hands on the spot by the manufacture of every raw production sufficiently afforded by the locality.............
The town and neighbourhood may now be said to be dependent for all kinds of fabrics, very much on extraneous sources, and a large quantity of the wheat and of the barley used here is of distant growth...........
At present in some articles of dress of home manufacturer, the demand now reaches the supply in quantity and far exceeds it in the matter of quality. Cannot this state of things be mitigated if not remedied ? Glance at the Sunday costume of the young mechanic. What article of his attire is not "shop goods" ? His shoes, and perhaps, hose. All besides have a London, a Manchester, a Yorkshire, or a West of England origin.............but cannot we obtain here at first hand a well made hat ? Why must by far the larger portion of so important a staple as wool make, as it were, a tour of Yorkshire before we can obtain it in the form of a decent bit of cloth?
Nevertheless, the neighbourhood is not altogether without factories ; one of which, especially, is carried on with intelligence and spirit, and supplies excellent woollen fabrics of a certain kind.But this only raises the question.....why may not many more such establishments be carried on with equal success ? The districts abutting on the Vale of Towy are not deficient in streams for water power..........
Would the hat trade in the hands of skilful men be out of place amongst us ? This article of dress now drains our little bullion considerably.
The only branch of manufacture that.................thrives with us is that of leather......advantages........considerably more of the raw material is manufactured in the locality than the immediate neighbourhood affords. A large sum is expended in the neighbourhood annually for gloves of all sorts, foreign and English kid--thread and Berlin--which latter kind are far inferior in quality to those of sheep-skin. Why are not sheep-skin shoes supplied ? .......and no slight improvement on the expensive brown paper slippers which alone are now obtainable, and made, no one knows where.
In the manufacture of furniture, much progress has latterly been made......and now may be obtained on the spot articles ready-made which some years ago could be got no nearer than Carmarthen or Swansea. Llandilo also has ample means at hand for the manufacture and repair of carriages, as well as for all operations connected with gas and water works.
Connected with the requirements of agriculture , there are two branches of manufacture which, if caried on in the immediate vicinity of the town, would tend much to the convenience of the farmer, and to the advancement of farming.........the branches alluded to are iron founding and draining pipes......with respect to the latter there is already one respectable establishment a few miles out of the town........there might be more.
With respect to iron implements, their use in the neighbourhood would be considerably extended were there a good foundry in Llandilo.
Notwithstanding the abundance of stone all round.......a well manufactured brick would command a ready sale---both fire and ordinary building............the trade in house building is everywhere under particular restraint ; it is a point on which expiring feudalism and the interest of commerce often collide.........and interfere with the progress of this kind of business............it may be asked , is not Llandilo yet ripe for the operations of a building society ?
[Other] places..have for years had......Chemical Works, that is, the distillation of the spiritous and acid products of woody matter, and the manufacture of certain compounds therefrom...........may we not do that work nearer home?
Some little time ago a good deal of expectation was raised by the discovery of what seemed a very promising load of zinc near the town [ the sulphuret of that metal, commonly called "Jack"] [The book goes on to describe the financial problems of the initial company set up to exploit the above, and expresses some optimism that new speculators might be attracted in with the required capital].
Favourable mention has already been made of the lime-kilns at Cilyrychen and at Pistyll. The bearing of these works on the trade of the district cannot but be very considerable, by the number of men employed in them, and the increased crops which the use of lime must insure in the soils of the Silurian formation---namely those to the north of the Towy, as well as within the coal basin. The Cylyrychen stone is mountain or carboniferous limestone. At Crug, to the north of the town, a limestone of another kind is found---one into the composition of which clay enters, and lime made from this...although not as good for agricultural purposes.....is very valuable as a cement for works under water, production of lime at Crug at present is very limited.
As a local means of keeping money at home.........the live produce of our streams must not be overlooked. It is really a sad thing that the prolific Towy, with its many tributaries, should be systematically despoiled of what would be under proper ....preservation, a sumptuous supply of trout , salmon and other fish. Better than interfere with the ancient privileges of the poor fishermen, or in other words rather than put down the poacher, this important source of human food is to be rendered comparatively of no avail.
Another very important branch of business that ought to be sustained by the locality..........is brewing. The malting trade in the place is well and respectably carried on. The Llandilo water approximates much to the constitution to that of Burton; wherefore then , need there be so large an importation of all sorts of ale and beer into the locality replete as it is with all the conditions necesary for their production on the spot ---once the land of cwrw da, why not again ? The answer, and only answer, is want of enterprise.
The Celt, by nature, is not a seller.---the Cymro is not commercial.
The Saxon invasion continues.......imagine Carmarthen, a large place compared to Llandilo, stagnating on so important a branch of trade as now discussed , until a Sais, ........seized the occasion and prospered. Llandilo apparently awaits a similar surprize..............the foregoing remarks on brewing made ten years ago no longer apply to the present time, we have now ,in 1868, three breweries, carrying on extensive business, nevertheless, the stranger is still a supplier.
But all these enterprizes almost necessarily involve the assistance of the banker.....and Llandilo and its neighbourhood have for many years been well off in this respect.
If the time has not already arrived for the bakers at Llandilo to extend their operations, it cannot be far distant............this important branch of business awaits developments at Llandilo.
There is room too and a necessity for a regularly supplied butcher's shop in the town, as a rule the market day is the only day upon which fresh meat can be obtained. Smaller towns than Llandilo have this great convenience.
Now that the town possesses an abundant and ever ready supply of water, might not a little speculation , private or public, be safely entered upon in the bath line, hot and cold ?
A new branch of industry has lately been started , close to the town, in the form of an extensive and well-assorted nursery; branch of a large concern at Chester.
The question of market-day is one that occupies the attention of some people at the present time, whether it should be changed from Saturday to Friday.[the book lays out over several pages the very detailed arguments for and against such change, and concludes that it is not easy to say what will happen on this].
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
.........it may be observed of the neighbourhood of Llandilo that there is scarcely a district in Great Britain where so many systems of rocks are brought so closely together; and consequently so conveniently situated for investigation as they are here.
A walk of four or five miles southward from the town will take us across the outcrop of no less than five formations...........in fact , over samples of the whole of the primary or palaezoic rocks [those containing petrified impressions of plants and animals] except one---the magnesian limestone........if the walk was extended on the one hand to Aberystwith and on the other to Swansea, no rock of another system would be met with. The Towy from its source to a point a few miles below Carmarthen is bounded and immediately underlaid altogether by the Silurian formation, which may be roughly stated to be the upper portion of the earth's crust [as far as Wales in concerned] to a line drawn from Llandilo through Carmarthen and Haverfordwest to St Bride's Bay; and from a line from Llandilo through Builth and Presteign towards Ludlow, excepting, however, a large portion of Merioneth, Carnarvon, the whole of Anglesea, and a part of Pembrokeshire about St David's and north of Haverfordwest.
The book has a diagram showing the various rocks which are considered to compose the Silurian system......together with the old red sandstone above and the Cambrian rocks below......
The newcomer to geology should be informed that when rocks are called after the names of places e.g Llandilo, Caradoc, Ludlow etc, it is not meant that such rocks are confined to those localities. .......they are generally found to be more distinct in those situations......
Llandilo then, stands on the formation called " The Llandilo Flag", which is a member of the "Lower Silurian". The "Llandilo Flag" has the Bala or Caradoc next above it and the Lingula Zone below it--the base as at present known are the Cambrian or Longmyund rocks..........the crop of the Llandilo Flag commences near Myddfai and extends its course towards Narberth................ North of the Flags to Cardigan Bay the formation is the Caradoc or Bala limestone..............Southward , between the Flags and the Old Red, lie the Upper Silurian.............but to the north east.......the Llandovery or May Hill rocks crop............
Extractor's note; at this point , as a genealogist interested in local history, my fascination with rock formations has become strained, as I assume has the reader's, so these further brief extracts will be just where local names are mentioned.
An introduction to the various members of the Silurian............a saunter from Llandilo to Tregib......up the hill to Onen-fawr, down to Trap......to Forge................passing......Troedyrhiw between Cwmcib-issa and Maes-Evan-fach ..................slate known locally as Cilmaenllwyd tiles.....southward to Trap, crossing the river Cenen........ascending the opposite hill..........in vicinity of Llwyndewy the Mountain Limestone is reached..........to the right of the road quarries...................Millstone Grit which forms the high contiguos mound, Caregydwfn with its sand pit.........descend to Forge on the grit......to the Loughor river on the other side......commence the coal beds...........which continue to Swansea Bay.
Proceed along the right bank of the Loughor...pass the Llandyfaen woollen Mills.....over the footbrige.......get home[to Llandilo] by Llandyfaen church.....the road to the town lies over Storm Hill......
The construction of a railroad from Llanelly by Llandilo to Llandovery laid open masses of sandstone and schists beneath the calcareous flagstones..........this section is exhibited near Pont Ladies on the left bank of the Towy.........
The great mass of the strata above the Llandeilo Flags as seen in ascending the Nant-y-Rhibo Brook to Cwm-y-gerwn...................
................still higher proceeding to Mynydd banc-y-fair...............
In Cilgwyn Park, under the conglomerate terrace of Glan Towy .......................................................................................................................................
Such then is the most complete existing epitome of the geology of the Llandilo district which is now in print.
It is impossible to commend this subject too strongly to the serious consideration of all people interested [ and who are not ?] in the well-being, mentally and morally, of their fellow creatures, and more especially of those who believe in the efficacy of " looking through Nature up to Nature's God."
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The scene of the battle of Llandilo, mentioned first above in the History of Llandilo section above, has been particularised by the Rev. Lloyd Isaac in his "Historical Notes" as published in the Welshman under the name of "Coeth Llangathen".
The book reprints the above at length but the brief extracts below are only by reference to local place names, and sufficient detail to show who won , of course........
Anno 1257............the men at war prepared to devastate the lands of Ystrad Tywi...........arrived at Llandeilo-fawr....where they fearlessly tarried over the night.........but the surrounding woods and valleys were filled with the followers of Meredydd ap Rhys Cryg and Meredydd ap Owain, who had been summoned from Ceredigion and Ystrad Towy.................on the 10th of June, the guide of the English, Rhys ap Rhys Mechyll, forsook them..and escaped in disguise to the castell of Dynevor......................from daybreak till noon the battle was carried on in the deep woods.....near Coed Llathen, the English lost all their provisions...........they arrived as far as Cymerau...............more than 3000 English were slain that day................the Welsh rendering thanks to God, returned homewards, laden with the spoils and arms of the enemy.........and the triumph of having achieved a great victory.
[There is a variation in the manuscript on some of the details]................this memorable battle....was fought within the hollow between Castell-y-Gwrychion and Cefn Melgoed and Hafodnethyn, a basin about four miles in circumference.......covered in woods and jungles, as etymology, " the tongue of antiquity", bears witness---Cefn Melgoed, Wernfawr, Cilwern Cildderi etc.....................The old name Cefn Melgoed has become extinct.......and Cadvan---the battle field---has assumed its place...................are found the following names on the map of the parish, all within the circumference aforesaid:---Rhywdorth, the hill of reinforcement; Llaindwng, the slang of oath ; Conglywaedd, the place of shouting ; Caeyrohain, the field of groans ; Caetranc, the field of dying ; Caefranc, the field of Normans; Cadvan, the field of battle ; Caedial, the field of retribution ; also Cilforgan, Caer Capel etc.
Now all these names are strange names and foreign, and inapplicable, and quite unaccountable, save on the assumption that they commemorate some terrible battle.
Historic Foot note
There was another attempt made in favour of Welsh independency; that of Owen Glyndwr in 1400; and at the head of his forces we find names of Rhys ab Gruffydd, of Dryslwyn Castle, Rice ab Tewdwr, and Gwilym ab Tewdwr; all of the family of Dynevor. When Henry V. proclaimed a general amnesty, these three noble youths were excepted. They are heard of no more, and it is not generally known that with these three the line ended, at least in the trunk line. There may be collateral branches. There is something indescribably impressive in a silent exit from the stage, after having caused so much noise in the world. They gathered their mantles round them, and took the leap from the stage in the dark, leaving behind them a long path, illuminated with glory.
About 12 miles north west of Llandilo is the village of Myddvai, the residence of the celebrated physicians known as the "Meddigon Myddvai". Their history is curious and interesting. The first of this noted family was Rhiwallon , who lived in the beginning of the C13, He had three sons, Cadwgan, Gruffydd, and Einion, who were brought up in the medical profession. They were patronised by Rhys Grug, a wise and liberal prince of South Wales, about the year 1230, who bestowed on them a situation, lands, and privileges at the above place, that they might without molestation or interruption attend to the study of their profession, and administer relief to such as would apply to them. Their descendents pursued the same science, and practised at Myddvai till the beginning of the C18. The last of the family did not practise, and died about the year 1740.
The Physicians drew up a full account of the practice of physic, as then known to them, and the original M.S. is still preserved in the Welsh Charity School in London, of which there are several old copies. The earliest English Medical Work is supposed to have been Andrew Borne's " Breviarie of Health" , which was published in 1547.
In the book the opening paragraph is as follows below but very little else is considered to be of genealogical relevance, and has not therefore been extracted.
The following more technical matter is appended for the advantage of those who may be desirous of greater intimacy with the points of archaeological architecture............
"..................those who have once visited Castell Carreg Cennen will not forget the wild beauty and grandeur of the spot. It is a desirable place for the artist, as well as the archaeologist........and it may serve as a good object of comparison with other castles in South Wales, especially those in Gower--that in Llanstephan---and those in Pembrokeshire. The remains of the castles at Brecon, Llandovery, Dryslwyn, Dynevor and Caermarthen, should be examined in conjunction with those of Carreg Cennen, there is much to be learned from them." [H Longueville Jones -Archaeologia Cambrensis.]
"To find an unfortified residence of the C14 on the side of a peculiarly wild hill, in front of an impregnable fortress of a somewhat earlier date , constitutes a case of social anomoly. Either we must consider Cwrt Bryn y Beirdd to have been an open mansion of the kind mentioned above, without any external defences of notable value, standing in a district almost uninhabited, and untilled at that period; or else this absence of defence must be taken as an indirect proof that the district was in the c14 one of peace , probably better tilled than it is now, one that required no other means of safety for its inhabitants than what the arm of the law then offorded. And yet, if this supposition be correct, what are we to say of Castell Cerreg Cennen ? What was the need of so strongly fortifying that place at the beginning of the same century ? And what are we to say to the anologies of Welsh history of that period , which do not lead us to suppose that society was peculiarly tranquil in Ystrad Towy, nor the slopes of the mountain highly cultivated ? We are inclined to assume that it is a datum, that no person in the C14 would have inhabited what was then a large mansion , without external lines of defence, on the side of a bleak open mountain, far removed from the usual lines of traffic, and close by one of the strongest holds of the country, unless it had been for purposes of peace, nor unless the confidence of living there in undisturbed security had been based on good grounds.
Either then , this mansion stood in the midst of a country well cultivated, and secure, and therefore not needing many precautions of defence, or else it was rendered safe, notwithstanding the wildness and loneliness of its situation, by religious sanctity,---by its being the country mansion or outlying grange of some religious house. Or else, perhaps, as a third supposition, it may have been the Hafod-ty , ---the summer residence,---the abode in times of peace, however rare,---ot the owner of Carreg Cennen Castle. We learn nothing from its name, except that at some period or other, before the present one, it was a house where tenants paid rent---as the word Cwrt implies---and nothing more.
It may have been a manor house............the name and style and size of the buuldings show it belonged to some person of wealth....the other portion of the name, Bryn y Beirdd, refers not to the house but to its position; it indicates the name of the hill......on the Ordnance map.....this place is called Cwrt Pen y Banc.......................................
...........................the situation is highly picturesque, ...........within half a mile over the southern ridge of the hill is the mystic cave whence rushes the river Llwchwr; north east frowns Castell Carreg Cennen; beneath brawls the Cennen itself ; above the house rises the Mynydd du, bleak and stony; while down in the far west opens the Vale of Towy, with the slopes of Golden grove, the stately oaks, and the ancient towers of Dynevor "[ HLJ Archaeologia Cambrensis]
This section is an edited version of that section of the book written in 1867
The statement made that Grongar Hill is now visible from Llandilo Bridge is not correct, but was when the hill upon which the old castle of Dynevor stands was bare of wood..........................and with respect to this wood, grand as it is, one could wish for the removal of a great part of it, for then a charming variety in the landscape, and intrinsically a magnificent object from the bridge, would meet the eye on the extreme escarpment of the hill---" whose feet were[once] deep in Towy's flood"---namely the ancient ruins themselves[i.e Dynevor Castle]........................
Copyright © GENUKI and Contributors 1996