Corwen - Gazetteers

National Gazetteer (1868)

"CORWEN, a parish and market town partly in the hundred of Edernion, in the county of Merioneth, and partly in the hundred of Isaled, in the county of Denbigh, North Wales, 10 miles N.E. of Bala, and the same distance from Llangollen. It is situated under Berwyn Mountain, on the river Dee, and includes the seaport of Barmouth, and the extra-parochial liberty of Gwern-Howell, besides 12 townships The town of Corwen, which is said to signify "white choir," is a pretty little place, containing less than 1,000 inhabitants, situated on an eminence on the S. bank of the river Dee. It is the seat of a Poor-law Union, and of County Court and registration districts.

The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of St. Asaph, value £373, in the patronage of the bishop. The church, dedicated to St. Julian, is an ancient cruciform structure, partly in the Norman style of architecture. It contains a curious monument to Jorwerth Sullen, one of the vicars, and an ancient ornamented stone pillar in the churchyard, known as Owain Glyndwr's sword. The charities amount to £164, and there is an almshouse for poor widows of clergymen of the Church of England. The Calvinistic Methodists have a chapel, and there is a partly endowed school. Here is the Union poorhouse, and also a bridewell.

This spot is remarkable as being the place to which the celebrated Owain Glyndwr retired on the approach of Henry IV. The English king, as the chroniclers relate, infuriated at not meeting his enemy, scoured all Wales, yet never could find Glyndwr; he consequently concluded, agreeably to the common opinion, that the Welsh prince was a necromancer; and, completely foiled, he quitted Wales, to the great triumph of the Welsh, who acknowledged Owain to be the true descendant of Llewellyn. Owain is believed to have wisely encouraged this belief, to secure the enthusiasm of the people; and very probably, while endeavouring to persuade others, he worked himself into a belief of the reality. This hero and patriot died in freedom, as supposed, after the battle of Agincourt; but the facts of his death and sepulchre are uncertain. It is, therefore, not unlikely that the rude cross in Corwen churchyard may mark his real sepulchre.

A high point called Sychnant, about 3 miles from Corwen, shaded by trees and commanding a view of nearly 40 square miles, is pointed out as the site of Glyndwr's famous seat. Colonel Vaughan, of Rhug, possesses Glyndwr's dagger, &c.; and the gentleman's harriers meet here. Market days are Tuesday and Friday, and there are fairs on the 12th March, 24th May, 14th July, 17th October, and 20th December."

"BODORLAS, a township in the parish of Corwen, and hundred of Edernion, in the county of Merioneth, North Wales, not far from Corwen."

"BONWEN, a township joined with Rhuggatt, in the parish of Corwen, hundred of Edernion, in the county of Merioneth, North Wales, not far from Corwen."

"CARROG, a township in the parish of Corwen, hundred of Edernion, in the county of Merioneth, North Wales, 1 mile from Corwen. It is near the river Dee and the Berwyn mountains."

"DOL-AC-ABERALWEN, a township in the parish of Corwen, in the county of Merioneth, North Wales. It is situated near Corwen, and derives the affix to its name from dot, a dale or meadow."

"LLYGADOG, a township in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, in the vicinity of the town of Corwen."

"MWSTWR, a township in the parish of Corwen, hundred of Edernion, county Merioneth, near Corwen, and 10 miles N.E. of Bala. It is situated on the river Dee, under Berwyn Mountain."

"OWEN-GLYNDWR, a demesne in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, 10 miles N.E. of Bala. It is situated in the vale of the river Dee, called by the Welsh Glyndyvyrdwy, and contains Sychnant, where some trees mark the site of Owain Glyndwr's house."

"RHUGGATT, a township in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, 2 miles from Corwen, and 10 N.E. of Bala. It includes the hamlet of Bonwen. It is situated near the river Dee, under Berwyn Mountain."

"TIRLLANERCH, a township in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, 10 miles N.W. of Llanidloes. In this township are Nant Ysgolion fall, and an arched rock at Glyn Yal."

"TREWYN, a township in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, 9 miles N.E. of Bala, and 2 from Corwen, near the river Dee, under Berwyn Mountain."

"YCHYLDREF, a township in the parish of Corwen, county Merioneth, 2 miles from Corwen."

[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

CORWEN, a market town and parish in the hundred of EDEYRNION, county of MERIONETH, NORTH WALES, 10 miles (S. by W.) from Ruthin, and 194 (N.W. by W.) from London, containing 1980 inhabitants. The name of this place signifies " the white choir." On the invasion of North Wales by Henry II., in 1165, that monarch advanced at the head of his army to the Berwyn mountains, near this town, where he was met by the combined forces of the Welsh, consisting of the entire power of North Wales, under the command of Owain Gwynedd and his brother Cadwaladr ; the forces of South Wales, led by the gallant Rhys ab Grufydd; those of Powys, by Owain Cyveilioc and the sons of Madoc ab Meredydd ; and the men of the country between the Wye and the Severn, by their two chieftains, the sons of Madoc ab Ednerth. These exerted themselves with so much vigilance and activity in cutting off the supplies of the English troops, and in harassing them by skirmishes, that Henry, unable to compete with the resolute spirit of the Welsh and the unfavourableness of the season, deemed it prudent to retire with his forces, and for a time at least to abandon the project of subjugating the principality. The English monarch took up his position on the ridge of the Berwyn chain of mountains, and the Welsh occupied a strong intrenchment on the steep declivity of a hill on the opposite side of the vale. This camp, called Caer Drewyn, was of a circular form, and was defended by a single wall : there were two entrances, near the north-eastern of which was an oblong square, strengthened by a ditch and a wall : within the area were several strong buildings, together with cells in the walls themselves. Remains of these works are yet visible, consisting of a circle of loose stones, about half a mile in circumference, and the foundations of the buildings. This strong post is also said to have been occasionally resorted to by Owain Glyndwr, whose magnificent house on the Dee was situated about four miles from Corwen, on the eastern side of the road to Llangollen, where part of the moat by which it was encompassed is still visible, being almost the sole relic of that noble and extensive pile, which was surrounded by every convenience for the exercise of unbounded hospitality : at a short distance from its site there is a mount of considerable size, supposed to have been the station where a watch was kept.

The town is pleasantly situated on the southern bank of the river Dee, on the great road from London to Holyhead and Dublin, under a rock at the foot of the Berwyn mountains, and in the rich and beautifully diversified vale of Edeyrnion. About half a mile to the south-west, on the line of the Holyhead road, the Dee is crossed by a handsome stone bridge of seven arches, the view from which, both up and down the vale, is exceedingly pleasing, especially upward, where the river assumes the appearance of a glittering lake, skirted on each side by luxuriant meadows and thick enclosures. Upon the Berwyn mountain, behind the church, is a place called Glyndwr's Seat, which commands a charming prospect; and from this spot it is superstitiously reported that Owain threw a dagger; which, falling upon a stone, formed in it an impression of its whole length, half an inch deep ; this stone is now in the south wall of the church. The parish is very extensive, being eleven miles in length, and from three to four in breadth. There are two weekly markets, on Tuesday and Friday ; the former being principally for corn, which is pitched in the open street. Fairs are held on March 12th, May 24th, July 14th, October 7th, and December 20th, for the sale of horses, horned cattle, &c. One of the bridewells for the county is situated at this place, under the care of the constable ; but as it is a very small inconvenient structure, prisoners are only confined in it until they can be conveyed to Dolgelley.

The living consists of a sinecure rectory and a vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. Asaph, the former rated in the king's books at £ 15. 5.10., and the latter at £7. 1. 3., and both in the patronage of the Bishop of St. Asaph : the tithes of the parish are divided into two equal portions, which are respectively assigned to the rector and the vicar. The church, dedicated to St. Sulien, is a cruciform structure, in the Norman style of architecture, with a square tower at the western end. Under an arch on the northern side of the chancel is the tomb of one of the early vicars, named Iorwerth Sulien, representing, in relief, a human figure habited in priestly robes, and bearing the following inscription in old characters : --" HIC JACET JORWERTH SULIEN, VICARIUS DE CORWAEN, ORA PRO EO." In the south wall of the church, on the outside, is the stone before mentioned as bearing the cross supposed to be the impression of Owain Glyndwr's dagger. In the churchyard stands a curious stone cross, consisting of a square upright pillar of one entire stone, ornamented at the top, and inserted in a fiat circular stone, which rests upon four or five rude smaller ones. Built in the porch is a rude pointed stone, called Carreg y Big yn y vach Rewlyd, " the pointed stone in the icy recess," of which it is fabulously related, that every attempt to erect the church on a different site having failed, the founders were directed by a supernatural power to the spot where this stone stood. At Rug there is a private unendowed chapel, supported by G. H. Vaughan, Esq., in which the English service only is performed. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, with a Sunday school attached.

A parochial school is supported by subscription, aided by a bequest of £ 4 per ann. by a member of the family of Salusbury, formerly owners of the adjacent domain of Rug, who have been great benefactors to this place, and one of whom also bequeathed funds for clothing four boys annually. Situated behind the church is a college or hospital, for the support of six widows of clergymen of the Church of England, who died possessed of cure of souls in the county, which was built and endowed in 1750, by William Eyton, Esq., of Plas Warren, in the county of Salop. Only two of the houses are now occupied : the inmates, who have each a good house and garden, receive in addition £20 per annum each. Almshouses for eight poor women were founded by a member of the family of Salusbury. There are also various pecuniary bequests for the relief of the poor, including one of £400, by Lumley Salusbury, for clothing eight poor women of this parish, two of Gwyddelwern, and two of Llangar ; one of £ 200, by Roger Salusbury, for clothing six poor old men and twelve children ; one of £ 150, by Mrs. Jones, for the benefit of thirty decayed families ; and £75 by Hugh Jones, £50 by William Jones, £20 each by Roger Jones, the Rev. Mr. Humphreys, and Mrs. Wynne, and £ 10 by David Jones, for distribution among the poor.

Within the limits of the parish is situated the elegant mansion of Rug, now the property and residence of G. H. Vaughan, Esq., which is memorable in history as the spot to which Grufydd ab Cynan, King of North Wales, was inveigled by one Muriawn Goch, soon after the decisive victory obtained by him at Carno, in 1077, which placed him upon the throne ; and there betrayed to Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and Hugh Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury, by whom he was conveyed to the castle of Chester, from which he escaped by stratagem, after an imprisonment for twelve years. Near it is a well, called St. Sulien's, the water of which is efficacious in the cure of rheumatic complaints. On one of the Berwyn mountains, called Moel Verma, in this parish, an urn of earthenware, containing human bones, and now in the possession of Col. Vaughan, was discovered some years ago. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £766.


RUG, a chapelry, partly in the parish of CORWEN, and partly in that of GWYDDELWERN, in the hundred of EDEYRNION, county of MERIONETH, NORTH WALES, 1 1/2 mile (W. by N.) from Corwen. The population is returned with Corwen. This place, which is situated on the turnpike road from Corwen to Ruthin, and between the beautiful vales of Edeyrnion and Glyndyvrdwy, anciently formed a lordship, and is memorable for the treachery practised on Grufydd ab Cynan, King of North Wales, who, after his victory at Carno, in the year 1077, was inveigled to this place by the artifices of Meirion Goch, by whom he was betrayed into the power of Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and Hugh Belesme, Earl of Shrewsbury. From this place Grufydd was conveyed to the castle of Chester, in which he remained a prisoner for twelve years, but was at length released from confinement by the enterprising bravery of a young man of this neighbourhood, named Cynric Hir, who, going to Chester under pretence of purchasing goods, contrived, while the keepers were feasting, to carry away his prince, loaded with chains, upon his back, and convey him to a place of safety. The lordship afterwards came into the possession of Owain Brogyntyn, natural son of Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, whose great merit procured for him an equal share in the inheritance of that prince with his legitimate brothers : it subsequently passed by marriage with the heiress of Ievan Hywel, one of his descendants, to Pyers Salusbury, of Bachymbyd. After the attainder of Owain Glyndwr, in the reign of Henry IV., the lordship of Glyndyvrdwy, or Glyndwrdwy, was purchased from that monarch by Robert, a descendant of this family, which existed in the male line till the last century. The house and demesnes are now the property of G. H. Vaughan, Esq., who, in 1807, succeeded his brother, Lieut.-Col. E. W. Vaughan, who had assumed the name of Salusbury, a distinguished officer in the Guards, who died in Sicily, and to whose memory a handsome monument was erected at Syracuse, by his brother officers. The ancient mansion was taken down and rebuilt by that gentleman, only a short time before his decease. The present house, which is a handsome structure, is pleasantly situated ; and in the grounds there is an artificial mound, which was probably once the site of a small fortress. The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to the rectory of Corwen, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. Asaph. The chapel, founded by Colonel William Salusbury, who was governor of Denbigh Castle during the parliamentary war, is a neat edifice, appropriately fitted up for the performance of divine service.

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