Llanrwst - Gazetteers


National Gazetteer (1868)

"LLANRWST, a parish and market town in the hundred of Isdulas, county Denbigh, and hundred of Nant-Conway, county Carnarvon, 10 miles S. of Conway, 16 S.W. of Denbigh, and 218 from London. The Conway and Llanrwst branch of the Chester and Holyhead railway has its terminus here. It is situated on the river Conway, which is here crossed by a steep bridge of three arches, built under the direction of Inigo Jones about 1636. The parish includes 7 townships, Garth-Garmon and Tre-ydre being among the principal.

The town, which is nearly surrounded by mountains, has of late years undergone great improvements, both in the buildings and general appearance of the place. There is a good townhall, in which the county court sits monthly, a market-place, and a branch bank. It is a polling-place for the county elections. The trade of the place is of no great extent, consisting chiefly of woollens, stockings, tanning, and malting. There are several corn mills. In the neighbourhood are stone-quarries, also coal and iron mines. Formerly Llanrwst was famous for the manufacture of the Welsh harp.

The living is a rectory in the diocese of St. Asaph, value £720, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Grwst, is a modern structure, adjoining which is the Gwydir chapel, built by Inigo Jones in 1633, no longer used for service, but containing many curious monuments and some good carving. Much of the interior fittings, such as the carved roof, rood-loft, stalls, &c., are said to have been brought' from Maenan Abbey. It contains numerous monuments, effigies, and a brass of the 17th century, to Sarah Wynn; also the stone coffin of Llewelynap-Iorworth, son-in-law of John, King of England, and the stone effigy of Howell Coetmore ap Gruffydd Vychan ap Dafyd. There are also two district churches viz: St. Mary's and Capel Garmon, the livings of both which are perpetual curacies in the patronage of the rector.

The charities produce abort £75 per annum, including £36, the endowment to the free school and Jesus' Hospital. The Independents, Baptists, and Calvinistic Methodists have each a chapel. In addition to the free grammar school there are National, British, and denominational schools. Sir W. W. Wynn, Bart., is lord of the manor. Gwydir is the seat of Lord Willoughby D'Eresby. Tuesday and Saturday are the market days. Fairs are held on the first Tuesday in February, 8th March, 25th April, 21st June, 10th August, 17th September, 25th October, and the second Tuesday after 11th December."

"GWYDIR, a township in the parish of Llanrwst, county Carnarvon, near Llanrwst. It is situated on the river Conway under Moel Siabod. The inhabitants are chiefly miners. Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, whose seat is Gwydir House, takes from this place the title of baron. In the park which surrounds the mansion is a cascade of 100 feet and a lake."

"GARTH-GARMON, (or Capel-garmon), a township in the parish of Llanrwst, county Denbigh, North Wales, 4 miles S. of Llanrwst.

"GARTHGYFANEDD, a township in the parish of Llanrwst, county Denbigh, 2 miles from Llanrwst."

"MATHEBRWYD, a township in the parish of Llanrwst, hundred of Isdulas, county Denbigh, 2 miles from Llanrwst, and 17 W. by S. of Denbigh. It is situated on the river Conway"

"TRE-Y-DRE, a township in the parish of Llanrwst, county Denbigh, 2 miles from Llanrwst, and 17 S.W. from Denbigh, near the river Conway."

"TYBRITH and ISSAF and UCHAF, hamlets in the parish of Llanrwst, county Denbigh, near Llanrwst."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales Samuel Lewis, 1833

LLANRWST (LLAN-RWST), a market town and parish, comprising the township of Gwydir, which maintains its own poor by a separate assessment, in the hundred of NANTCONWAY, county of CARNARVON, but chiefly in the Uchdulas division of the hundred of ISDULAS, County of DENBIGH, NORTH WALES, 20 miles (w. by S.) from Denbigh, 26 (W. by N.) from Ruthin, and 217 (N. W. by W.) from London, containing 3601 inhabitants. This town is of very great antiquity, and in the year 952 was the scene of an important battle in the contests maintained at this period, for the sovereignty of Wales, between the sons of Hywel Dda and those of Edwal Voel, when the former, assembling their forces in South Wales, laid waste the territory of North Wales as far as the river Conway, but were opposed by the latter at the town of Llanrwst, where, after an obstinate conflict, in which many of considerable rank were slain on both sides, the sons of Edwal Voel were victorious, and pursuing their enemies into South Wales, they retaliated upon their territories for the ravages which had been inflicted on their own.

The town is pleasantly situated on the eastern bank of the river Conway, which here forms the boundary between the two counties, four miles to the north of the road to Holyhead, and in the spacious and beautiful Vale of Llanrwst, environed by majestic and well-wooded hills, the land at the foot of which is well watered and exceedingly productive : it is large, well built, and amply supplied with water, but consists principally of small houses and shops : the streets are spacious and well paved. Over the river is an elegant bridge of three arches, built about the year 1636, under an order from the privy council of Charles I., from a plan by Inigo Jones, who is erroneously stated to have been a native of this place : the expense of its erection, amounting to about one thousand pounds, was conjointly defrayed by the two counties which it connects : two of the arches are exceedingly handsome; the third, having been rebuilt in 1703, is somewhat inferior : the centre arch, which forms a much larger segment of a circle than the other two, is nearly sixty feet in span. Excellent roads have lately been made, communicating with the London, Liverpool, and Holyhead roads, and also with Denbigh and St. Asaph, the improved state of which has caused a considerable increase of visitors, during the summer months, to the picturesque and much admired scenery of this neighbourhood. Llanrwst was formerly noted for the making of harps : at present the spinning of woollen yarn, and the knitting of stockings, constitute the principal branches of trade, the town being situated at the north-western extremity of the hosiery district of North Wales, and, next to Bala, the principal market for that article. The river Conway is navigable from its mouth to Trevriw, three miles from this town, for vessels of sixty tons' burden, which bring coal, lime, timber, and grocery, for the supply of the inhabitants of Llanrwst and the neighbourhood, and carry back the produce of the slate quarries and mines of the adjoining parishes. The market, which is on Tuesday, is well supplied, particularly with corn, which is not sold by sample, but in small quantities, suitable to the circumstances of the purchaser : it is the general mart for the inhabitants of the surrounding district, to a distance of twenty miles in every direction. Fairs, chiefly for the sale of cattle, corn, and wool, are held on the first Tuesday in February, March 8th, April 25th, June 21st, August 10th; September 17th, October 25th, December 11th, and the second Tuesday after that day: at the June fair a great quantity of wool is sold to the clothiers in Yorkshire, and at the September and October fairs great numbers of cattle are sold to the English drovers. The market-place is a spacious square area, in the centre of which stands the town-hall, a plain substantial structure, erected at the expense of Maurice Wynne, Esq., of Caer Melwr, as appears from a stone over the principal entrance, bearing the arms of the Wynnes, and the initials of the founder, with the date 1661: above this is a clock, with a cupola containing the market bell, and surmounted by a large gilt eagle. The general quarter sessions for the county were formerly held in this hall, which practice has been discontinued since the removal of the assizes from Denbigh to Ruthin. The petty sessions for the Uchdulas division of the hundred of Isdulas are held here; and Llanrwst has, by the late Boundary Act, been made a polling-place in the election of knights for the shire.

The parish is upwards of forty miles in circumference. The living comprises a sinecure rectory and a discharged vicarage, united by act of parliament passed in 1678, locally in the archdeaconry, and in the diocese, of St. Asaph, the former rated in the king's books at £12, and the latter at £ 6. 5. 5., and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. Asaph. The church, dedicated to St. Grwst, Rhystyd, or Restitutus, is a small edifice, situated close to the margin of the river: it is said to have been originally erected on ground given by Rhun, son of Nevydd Hardd, one of the fifteen tribes of North Wales, to expiate the murder of Prince Idwal, a son of Owain Gwynedd, by order of Nevydd, to whom Owain had entrusted him to be fostered, according to the custom of the country. The present structure is supposed, from its style of architecture, to have been erected early in the fifteenth century. Adjoining it, on the south side, is the Gwydir chapel, a handsome square castellated edifice, the interior of which is decorated with a profusion of carved work : it was built by Sir Richard Wynne, from a design by Inigo Jones, in 1633, as a burial-place for his family, the deceased members of which had previously been interred in the chancel, and contains several elegantly engraved brasses, exhibiting portraits of several of this family : it has a carved and fretted roof, which is said once to have belonged to the conventual church of Maenan abbey, situated about three miles distant. On the eastern wall is a slab of white marble, recording the pedigree of the founder, and tracing his ancestors to Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales. On the southern wall is a mutilated monument to the memory of Sir John Wynne, Bart., a learned antiquary, and an indefatigable gleaner of materials for the illustration of Welsh history, which were published under the title of the " History of the Gwydir family ;" also to that of his father Meredlth, and his wife Sidney, daughter of Sir William Gerard, Chancellor of Ireland. In the centre of the chapel, upon the floor, lies the stone coffin of Llewelyn the Great, who died in 1240, and was interred in the abbey which he had founded at Aberconway, thence removed to Maenan, and from that place, at the dissolution, the coffin was brought to the old parish church of Llanrwst, where it remained obscured by rubbish until placed in its present more appropriate situation. The same attention has likewise been paid to another piece of antiquity, placed near it, viz., a recumbent armed effigy of Howel Coytmor, grandson of Davydd, brother to Llewelyn ab Grufydd : he was owner of the Gwydir estate, which was sold by one of his descendants to the family of Wynne. At Garthgarmon, three miles distant, there is a chapel of ease ; and at Gwydir, half a mile off, is a private chapel belonging to Lord Willoughby de Eresby. There are in the parish eleven places of worship for dissenters, of which four are in the town, belonging respectively to the Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, each, except the Wesleyan chapel, having a burial-ground attached.

Divers benefactions of considerable amount have been made for the benefit of the poor of this parish, which are judiciously managed, the proceeds being regularly distributed among the most deserving objects annually on St. Thomas's day. The neighbourhood of the town is delightfully picturesque, being ornamented with several mansions of noblemen and gentlemen; the principal of which are, Gwydir, the seat of Lord Willoughby de Eresby ; the Abbey, that of Lord Newborough; Cyfdy, that of Mrs. Davies; Belmont, that of the Rev. J. Nanny; Plas Madoc, that of Wm. Lloyd Jones, Esq. ; Penloyn, that of Peter Titley, Esq. ; the Cottage, the property of Robert Read, Esq. ; Hendre House, the seat of the late William Edwards, Esq. ; Oaklands, that of -- Blackall, Esq. ; Beaver Grove, the property of Mrs. Davies, of Cyfdy, now in the occupation of the Rev. Maurice Hughes; and Tan y celyn, a neat residence newly built on the banks of the river Conway, the property of G. N. Wright, Esq., of St. Albans. The ancient mansion of Gwydir, beautifully situated amidst extensive woods of oak, which clothe the rocks projecting between the rivers Conway and Llugwy, near the foot of a lofty precipice called Carreg y Gwalch, or "the rock of the falcon," was erected; according to some initials and a date over the gateway, by John Wynne ab Meredydd, in 1555, and comprised an extensive, but somewhat irregular, pile of building, ranged in a quadrangular style, and consisting of an inner and an outer court : this edifice was taken down in 1816, since which time the present structure, on a much smaller scale, has been built : a small portion of the former mansion still remains, and is now being fitted up in an antique and elegant style. Above this stood another edifice, called the Upper Gwydir, erected in 1604 by Sir John Wynne, which was pulled down several years ago. The Vale of Llanrwst, which is neither so widely extended as the Vale of Clwyd, nor so contracted as that of Llangollen, is regarded by the admirers of picturesque scenery as exhibiting the most varied assemblage of beautiful features which the pencil could delineate. The prospect of the dense woods and towering hills which enclose it on each side is enlivened by the sparkling waters of the sportive Conway, which every where present an animated scene, either of small vessels arriving at and departing from the village of Trevriw, or of the diminutive boats called coracles, which are used in fishing for salmon and smelts, considerable quantities of which are caught in their respective seasons. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor of the entire parish amounts to £ 1833. 2.: exclusively of the township of Gwydir, it is £ 1668. 18.



GWYDIR, a township in that part of the parish of LLANRWST which is in the hundred of NANTCONWAY, county of CARNARVON, NORTH WALES, on the western bank of the river Conway, a mile west from Llanrwst, containing 376 inhabitants. The name is a contraction of Gwaed-dir, "  the bloody land," either from this having been the scene of some battles fought by Llywarch Hen, about the year 610, or from a sanguinary conflict which occurred, in 952, between the sons of Hywel Dda and the princes Ievav and Iago. The surface of this township is exceedingly hilly, and within its limits is comprised the greater part of the vast lofty mountain called Moel Siabod, one of the most prominent of the Snowdonian chain. The estate of Gwydir comprises thirty- one thousand acres, of which upwards of two thousand consist of plantations, formed since 1790, and five hundred are in lakes, twelve in number : it includes the whole of this township, and extends into the parishes of Trevriw, Llanrhychwyn, Bettws y Coed, and Dolwyddelan, and contains an abundance of lead-ore, zinc, and pyrites, all worked, besides four extensive slate-quarries, in active operation. It came into the possession of the family of Wynne by purchase from a descendant of Howel Coytmor, grand-son of Davydd, brother of Llewelyn, the last prince of Wales, whose monument is in the Gwydir chapel adjoining Llanrwst church, and continued for several generations to belong to that family, until it passed, in the year 1678, into that of the Duke of Ancaster, by the marriage of Mary, daughter and heiress of Sir Richard Wynne, with Robert Marquis of Lindsay. Priscilla, Baroness Willoughby de Eresby, elder sister of Robert Duke of Ancaster, having espoused Sir Peter Burrell, Bart., the mansion and estate of Gwydir became the property of that gentleman, who in 1796 was created Baron Gwydir; and, at his death in 1820, it descended to his eldest son, Peter Robert Drummond Burrell, second Lord Gwydir, and present Lord Willoughby de Eresby. The ancient mansion was situated beneath the wood-clad rock, called Carreg y Gwalch, or "The Rock of the Falcon : " it was built by John Wynne ab Meredydd, in 1555, and consisted of a greater and a lesser court, but was taken down in 1816, since which time the present structure, on a much smaller scale, has been erected : a small portion of the former mansion still remains, and is now being fitted up in an antique and elegant style : the grounds are laid out with corresponding judgment and taste. In the plantations above the Lower Gwydir stood another edifice, called the Upper Gwydir, which was pulled down several years ago, and the walls of which were almost covered with inscriptions ; it was erected in 1604, by Sir John Wynne, who distinguished himself by his partiality to antiquarian researches, and by compiling the memoirs of his family, as a kind of summer house, embracing a fine prospect of the rich and beautiful Vale of Conway, and of the picturesque scenery with which this mountainous district abounds.

Near its site stands a small handsome chapel, built by Sir Richard Wynne, in 1673, and lately improved by the present noble possessor of the estate, whose domestic chaplain performs divine service in it, every Sunday, in the English language, which affords great accommodation to the numerous English families resident in the neighbourhood. Carreg y Gwalch was the retreat of Davydd ab Shenkin, a noted partisan of the house of Lancaster, who for some time concealed himself in a cave, called from that circumstance Ogo Davydd ab Shenkin. Mr. Pennant says that the " noblest oaks in all Wales grew on this rock, within memory of man," although they are " totally destitute of earth for a considerable way, so that the nutriment which the oaks received must have been derived from the deep penetration of the roots, through the fissures of the stones, into some nutritive matter." This township is separately assessed for the maintenance of its poor, the average annual expenditure amounting to £164. 4.

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