A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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ABERGEsLE (ABER-GELAU), a markettown and parish, in the union of St. Asaph, hundred of Isdulas, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 12 miles (N. W.) from Denbigh, 20 (N. W.) from Ruthin, and 209 (N. W.) from London; containing 2661 inhabitants, of whom 945 are in the township of Abergele. This parish takes its name from its situation near the mouth of the river Geley. It is celebrated as the scene of several military exploits in the earlier period of the wars between England and Wales, and for various transactions of great historical interest. Prior to the Norman Conquest, Harold, in his attempt to subjugate this part of the principality, was encountered by Grufydd ab Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, on the plain near Cevn Ogo, in this parish, and, after a sanguinary battle, in which he was defeated, and a considerable number of his men slain, was driven back to Rhuddlan. In the reign of William the Conqueror, Hugh Lupus, on his march to invade the Isle of Anglesey, passing through the defile of Cevn Ogo, which is the narrowest pass on this part of the coast, was attacked by an armed band of Welshmen, which had been posted there to intercept his progress, and of which, after an obstinate and protracted battle, 1100 were left dead on the spot. In the reign of Henry II., Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, on his retreat from Flintshire, fortified himself in this pass, where he gave battle to the forces of that monarch, and repulsed them with great slaughter: after having secured this important post, he retreated to Pen-y-parc, in the adjoining parish, where he made a stand against the English forces, and effectually checked the further invasion of his dominions. Near the same pass, Richard II., whom Percy, Earl of Northumberland, under pretence of an amicable interview with Bolingbroke, had inveigled from Conway Castle, after his return from Ireland, was surrounded by a military band, bearing the Northumberland banner, and conducted to Flint Castle, where he was treacherously betrayed by the earl into the power of the usurper. From these circumstances it has been justly remarked, that on no spot in the principality has more blood been shed than in the defile of Cevn Ogo.
The Town is delightfully situated in a valley watered by the river Geley, on the great road from Chester to Holyhead, and within half a mile of the Irish sea, which forms the northern boundary of the parish. The coast, in some parts, is formed of sandy cliffs, impending over the sea, which, according to tradition, has made considerable encroachment upon the land; a stone tablet, in the north wall of the churchyard, records in Welsh, but without either name or date, that a man was buried there who lived three miles to the north, to which distance the coast previously extended. The testimony of this epitaph is corroborated by the appearance, at low water, of a large tract of hard loam, in which oak-trees have been found, in an almost entire state, but softened to the consistency of wax. The salubrity of the air, the pleasantness of its situation, and the decided superiority of its shore for sea-bathing, have rendered Abergele a favourite resort for invalids, and made it a most fashionable watering-place: during the summer season it is frequented by numerous families, for whose accommodation every requisite arrangement has been made. The environs abound with picturesque and with strikingly bold scenery, affording various interesting excursions. About half-way between the pass of Cevn Ogo and the town is Gwrych Castle, built by Lloyd H. Bamford Hesketh, Esq., and occupying the summit of a rocky eminence. The front of this extensive structure exceeds 480 yards, and has on each side a noble terrace, 420 yards in length, extending to the east and west entrances, the latter of which is through a lofty arch, flanked by two embattled towers. The building comprises altogether eighteen embattled towers, of which the principal, called Hesketh Tower, is ninety-three feet high. Mrs. Hemans, the poetess, resided at the former mansion of Gwrych, for a time, when a child; her father removing hither with his family from Liverpool. Lead and copper ores, tin, and manganese, are occasionally found in the parish, and many spirited attempts have been made, but without proportionate success, to discover veins of sufficient extent to remunerate the adventurers for working them: lead-ore only is obtained at present, and that but in small quantities. The fine range of mountains on the south of the town abounds with limestone, of which great quantities are procured, and shipped off weekly for Liverpool: 200 men are constantly employed in quarrying, and fifty horses in conveying the produce to the coast. The Chester and Holyhead railway, opened in 1848, has a station about half a mile distant from the town, and a good omnibus conveys passengers to and from the trains as they arrive. The market, held on Saturday, is well supplied with corn and provisions; and fairs, which were formerly noted for the sale of cattle, but have considerably declined, are held annually on the 12th of February, 2nd of April, the day before Holy Thursday, on June 18th, August 20th, October 9th, and December 6th.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £12. 9. 9¼.; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph: the rectorial tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £1486. 17., and the vicarial for one of £489. 19., with a glebe-house and one acre of ground, valued at £15 per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a low edifice of great length, and of unpretending character, with a lofty square tower at the west end. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A Church school, established in 1836, is supported by subscriptions, collections, and school-pence. It appears from a memorandum in the parish records, dated 1737, that Bishop Fleetwood gave £100, and Mrs. Carter a similar sum, for the establishment of a school. These gifts, it is supposed, ultimately came into the hands of the registrar of St. Asaph, who failed, and all that was recovered for the purpose out of his estate was £29, the interest of which, together with a rent-charge of 10s. bequeathed by Edward Hughes, is paid to the master of the Church school. In 1846 a school was established under Dr. Williams's endowment, from which the master receives £25 per annum, in addition to about £15 paid by the parents of the children; and in 1847 the rector of Kegidock, an adjoining parish, established a school at Penyford, in a cottage within the limits of the parish of Abergele. There are also six Sunday schools, three of them belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists, two to the Independents, and one to the Wesleyans. A dwelling-house and eight acres of land, called Penucha, now yielding only a rent of £7 per annum, were left by a former vicar, as compensation for £190 the amount of various bequests left for the benefit of the poor, which he had otherwise disposed of.
On the summit of one of the limestone hills, about a mile north of the church, is a very large and perfect camp, called Castell Mawr. Near it, on a hill called Coppayr Wylva, or "the mount of the watch-tower," are some remains of an ancient British fortress of great strength, of which the north front is defended by an almost perpendicular precipice, 196 feet in height, while on the east and south are walls of stone and a deep fosse; on the west is a large opening between two mounds of earth and stone, beyond which is another deeper and broader fosse, called Fôs-yRhuveiniaid, or "the Roman fosse." About two miles to the west of the town is Cevn Ogo, a lofty and precipitous rock of limestone, in which, among others of minor extent, is one of the most spacious and magnificent natural caverns in Europe. The cavern has a bold front towards the sea, considerably elevated, and the entrance, which is many feet above the road, is by an arch of comparatively fine proportions, forty-eight feet in height, within a very short distance of which, proceeding inward, rises a tall columnar rock, presenting the appearance of a rudely sculptured massive pillar, and dividing the cavern into two apartments. The recess to the left soon terminates, but that to the right spreads into a spacious chamber, thirty feet in height, and extending to an unexplored depth into the interior of the mountain. The sides and roof of this surprising cavern are studded with beautiful pendant stalactites, many feet in length, ranged on each side with an appearance of perfect order, resembling the pipes of an organ, and reflecting the most brilliant diamondlike hues; the floor is strewed with immense masses of stalagmite, uniformly of a deep orange colour, and of the most grotesque and fanciful forms. Br&ygrave;nfanigl, in the parish, was the residence of Marchudd ab Cynan, head of one of the fifteen ennobled tribes of North Wales, who was contemporary with Roderic the Great: it was subsequently that of his descendant, brave Ednyved Vychan.
ABERGUILLY (ABER-GWILI), a parish, in the union of Carmarthen, lower division of the hundred of Elvet, county of Carmarthen, South Wales, 2 miles (E. by N.) from Carmarthen, on the road from that town to Llandilo-Vawr; containing 2366 inhabitants. This place is principally distinguished for its palace, which is the residence of the diocesan. It derives its name from its situation on the river Guilly, near its junction with the Towy. About the year 1020, a desperate battle was fought near the village, between Llewelyn ab Sitsyllt, Prince of Wales, and Rhûn, a Scottish adventurer, who, pretending to be the son of Meredydd ab Owain, obtained the assistance of several powerful chieftains of South Wales, the disaffected subjects of Llewelyn, and assembled an army sufficiently strong to hazard an engagement. Llewelyn, returning from North Wales, at the head of his own forces, hastened to attack the adventurer, who had arrayed his army here in order for battle; after a long and obstinate conflict he obtained a complete victory over the rebels, and slew their leader in the pursuit.
The village is pleasantly situated, and the meadows in the neighbourhood are watered by the rivers Towy and Guilly, over which latter is a neat substantial stone bridge of three arches. The parish comprises 10,748 acres, and abounds with roofing-slate of excellent quality, of which two quarries are at present open, affording employment to about fifty persons, and furnishing an abundant supply of that material for the use of the neighbourhood. Pettysessions are held here once a month.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £3. 6. 8., endowed with £200 private benefaction and £200 royal bounty, and augmented in 1841, by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, to £150 per annum, out of the fund raised by the suspension of certain canonries and prebends. The Dean and Canons of Windsor are patrons and impropriators; but from his residence in the parish, the Bishop of St. David's is by courtesy allowed to present. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £700. 6., and the vicarial for one of £50; with a vicarial glebe of one acre and a half, and a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. Maurice, and situated near the bank of the Towy, was made collegiate by Dr. Beck, Bishop of St. David's, in 1287, for twenty-two prebendaries, four priests, four choristers, and two clerks. In 1334, some alterations were made by Bishop Gower, who added a precentor, chancellor, and treasurer. This establishment, the revenue of which was £42 per annum, was removed by Henry VIII. to his newly erected college at Brecknock. In the church is a monument to Bishop Richard Davies; and in the churchyard, which is planted with evergreens, is a stone to the memory of Dr. Adam Ottley, bishop of the diocese, who died in 1723. At Llanvihangeluwch-Guilly is a chapel, endowed with £1200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Vicar of Aberguilly. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists. A National day and Sunday school for boys and girls, established in 1834, is supported by subscription, aided by payments from the parents; it is under the patronage of the bishop, and the schoolroom is spacious, and well-lighted and ventilated. At Pant-yGlaien is a school under the same patronage, commenced in 1840; at Llanvihangel is a Sunday school in connexion with the Established Church, and the dissenters have eight Sunday schools in the parish, five of them connected with the Independent denomination. A sum of £7. 10., the produce of bequests from different donors, is distributed about Christmas to the deserving poor: but a few other small charities have been lost.
The episcopal palace is situated on the banks of the Towy, whose meanderings through the grounds impart to it considerable beauty and interest, though, from the lowness of its site, it commands no extensive prospects. The scenery immediately surrounding it is cheerful, and pleasingly varied. The mansion, which had been suffered to fall into decay, was almost entirely rebuilt, in the Elizabethan style, at the expense of the late bishop, Dr. Jenkinson, and is now one of the most complete episcopal palaces in the kingdom. Cwm Guilly, the seat of Grismond Philipps, Esq., whose father represented the borough of Carmarthen in several parliaments; Gallt-y-Gôg, another residence; and Castle Piggin, which has been rebuilt by Walter Owen Price, Esq., are pleasantly situated in the neighbourhood. The defile of Cwm Guilly is one of the most romantic districts in this part of South Wales, extending some miles in length, and enlivened by the playful mountain stream of the Guilly: on each side rise lofty hills, which are clothed with wood to their very summits. Within a short distance of the village, and about four miles from Carmarthen, at a place called White Mill, is Merlin's Grove, a thick wood rising abruptly from the turnpike-road, celebrated as the abode of that renowned sage, and also as the place of his interment. The name is now usually applied to a neat family residence situated near it. The prophet is said to have lived in a cavern situated nearly in the centre of the wood, the supposed scene of his incantations, to which allusion is made by Spenser, in his "Faery Queene:" he is said to have been interred in a sequestered spot, near the extremity of the wood. The lordship of Vynne, belonging to the Bishop of St. David's, possesses some peculiar privileges, among which are those of holding a court leet, choosing a portreeve and appointing constables, and collecting tolls for the repair of its roads, which are kept in order independently of the parish rate; it does not however maintain its own poor, as an independent township, nor does it differ in any other respect from the rest of the parish.
ABERHAVESP (ABER-HAFESP), a parish, in the union of Newtown and Llanidloes, upper division of the hundred of Newtown, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 3½ miles (W. by N.) from Newtown, on the road to Machynlleth; comprising the upper and lower divisions, and containing 535 inhabitants. This parish takes its name from the river Havesp, a rapid mountain torrent, the name of which signifies "dry in summer." It is bounded on the north and north-east by the parishes of Tregynon and Bettws, on the east by Llanllwchaiarn, on the west by Llanwnnog, and on the south by the river Severn, with which the Havesp here forms a junction. The parish comprises 4563a. 3r. 38p., of which 3463 acres are arable, and cultivated meadow and pasture, in nearly equal portions, about 700 acres mountain land, and 400 wood and plantations: the produce consists chiefly of cattle, dairy-fed pork, wheat, oats, and a small portion of barley. The surface is beautifully diversified with hills and valleys, the former of which, with the exception of the open mountain land, are clothed with natural wood and ornamental plantations, exhibiting fine specimens of oak and ash, which here grow most luxuriantly, with other trees displaying a variety similar to that of the soils which distinguish the locality. From the rectory-house is a fine view, extending over the beautiful Vale of Severn, and embracing the numerous windings of that noble river, the prospect being bounded by the Plinlimmon and other mountains. A conspicuous hill in the centre of the parish is called "the watch-place." The Hall, an ancient mansion at present inhabited by farmers, is the property of Col. Proctor, who, and Lord Sudeley, are the chief landowners: the Earl of Powis is lord of the manor. The weaving of flannel is carried on to a moderate extent, affording employment to such of the inhabitants as are not occupied in agriculture.
The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £9. 6. 8.; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph: the tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £306, with a glebe of nearly six acres, and a house. The church, dedicated to St. Gwynnog, is an ancient structure, in the early style of English architecture, pleasantly situated near the river; it is sixty feet in length, and twenty in breadth, containing about 200 sittings. There are places of worship for Baptists and Independents. A day school on the principles of the Church, affording instruction to thirty-five children, is partly supported by subscription, and partly by payments from the parents; the building was erected at the cost of the Rev. R. J. Davies, incumbent. Of the two Sunday schools in the parish, one is in connexion with the Church, and the other with the Independent denomination. Various benefactions to the poor, amounting to £50, were lent in 1760 to a person who failed, and all that was received from his estate was £13. 11. 10.; this fund was subsequently increased to £21, and the interest, about £1, is distributed at Christmas. The parish is in the vicinity of the Roman road from CaerSws to Mediolanum, of which vestiges may still be traced on a farm called Llwyd Coed. In the southeastern part of the parish is a medicinal spring, called the Black Well; it is considered highly efficacious in scrofulous diseases, and is much resorted to by the people of the neighbourhood.
Aberllyvni, or Aberllynvy (Aber-Llyfni, or Aber-Llynfi)
ABERLLYVNI, or ABERLLYNVY (ABER-LLYFNI, or ABER-LLYNFI), a hamlet, formerly a parish, in the union of Hay, hundred of Talgarth, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 4 miles (S. W. by W.) from Hay; containing 116 inhabitants. This place is situated at the junction of the river Llyvni with the Wye, on the southern bank of the latter, and amid the most luxuriant and richly diversified scenery. It has long since ceased to exercise the ecclesiastical rights of a parish, though they have not been transferred to any adjoining place. The inhabitants marry and bury their dead at Glâsbury, from which circumstance Aberllyvni is commonly considered a hamlet to that parish; but they do not contribute to the church-rate of Glâsbury, which is the usual mark of dependence. From the will of William Vaughan, of Maeslwch, dated 1582, the advowson seems to have been the property of that gentleman, who bequeathed it to his daughter, Catherine Vaughan, together with that of Llŷswen: it is also noticed in Pope Nicholas' Valuation, separate from Glâsbury, at £4. 6. 8. The benefice appears to have ceased to exist about the middle of the last century, when the church fell into ruins, and the patronage has not since been exercised; no tithes have been paid within the memory of man, nor has any churchwarden been appointed since the Restoration. Prior to the last century, the church, it is presumed, was regularly served; and there are persons still living who recollect the existence of tombstones: an aged yew-tree indicates the site of the building, but the whole is now covered by a small plantation of firtrees. At an adjoining farmhouse is an octagonal stone font, ornamented in its different compartments with mullets and crosses, and bearing the date 1635. Aberllyvni, with the hamlet of Velindre, receives £6. 8. 6. per annum, arising from a bequest by Sir David Williams, Knt., for the benefit of the poor. The same individual bequeathed 10s. for preaching a sermon in the church on Trinity-Sunday, but as that edifice has fallen into decay, no sermon is preached, and the money is carried to the general fund for charitable purposes.
ABERNANT (ABER-NANT), a parish, in the union of Carmarthen, higher division of the hundred of Elvet, county of Carmarthen, South Wales, 5 miles (W. N. W.) from Carmarthen; containing 890 inhabitants. The village is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Cowin, about two miles westward from the road leading from Carmarthen to Newcastle and Cardigan. It was formerly much frequented at the time of the Carmarthen races, which for many years took place in this parish, on a course held by lease under Lewis Evans, Esq., of Pant-y-Kendy; they are now held on the other side of the river Towy. The parish comprises 5500 acres, of which 400 are common or waste land. Pettysessions for the division are held here every month; and a court leet for the hundred is held alternately here and at Bwlch-Newydd, in the adjoining parish of Newchurch. The living is a discharged vicarage, with the perpetual curacy of Convil (which see) annexed, rated in the king's books at £7. 13. 4., and endowed with £200 royal bounty, and £1000 parliamentary grant; patron, the Duke of Leeds. A tithe rent-charge of £270 is paid to the impropriators, and one of £67. 10. to the vicar. The glebe attached to the living is one of the most extensive in the principality, comprising about 100 acres, valued at £100 per annum: there is also a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. Lucia, is a small neat building, in a quiet and retired spot. There are two places of worship for Independents, and one for Baptists, with a Sunday school held in each. The poor derive benefit from a distribution of 20s. at Easter, arising from a bequest by Thomas Howells, of the parish of Convil.
Pant-y-Kendy, a substantial brick mansion, was commenced by the father of the present proprietor, L. Evans, Esq., and from the local advantages which it possesses, and the improvements in the disposition of the grounds, is one of the most agreeable residences in the vicinity of Carmarthen. About twentyfive years ago, sixty silver coins, of the reigns of Elizabeth, James I., and Charles I., were found by some children at the vicarage-house; and in repairing the road near Pant-y-Kendy, not long since, a Roman urn was discovered, a few feet below the surface of the ground, containing ashes, with which also the place where it was found was much discoloured: the urn, immediately on its being removed, fell in pieces. Though no account of any Roman settlement at this place is on record, and no vestige of an encampment can be traced, yet, from its vicinity to Newchurch, about a mile and a half distant, where a battle between the Romans and the Britons is said to have taken place (in commemoration of which a stone, erected to the memory of Severinus, the Roman general, still exists), it is not improbable that the spot may have been the place of interment of some who fell in the battle, more especially as it is not far from the Roman road leading from Maridunum (Carmarthen) to the town of Fishguard.
ABERPORTH (ABER-PORTH), a parish, in the union of Cardigan, lower division of the hundred of Troedyraur, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 6 miles (N. E.) from Cardigan; containing 496 inhabitants. This place is pleasantly situated on the shore of Cardigan bay, in a cove near the mouth of the river Howny, forming a commodious though small port, which is a creek to the port of Cardigan. A brisk trade is carried on in limestone, culm, and coal, with Milford, Swansea, and Liverpool, employing numerous sloops and seamen, porters, and lime-burners: the herring-fishery in the bay also gives occupation to a great number of hands, and during the season imparts an appearance of activity and bustle to the village; but the fishing for turbot, cod, and mackerel, is scarcely worth pursuing. Aberporth is resorted to in summer for sea-bathing. In the vicinity is Cribach Road, which affords good shelter for vessels, and was much frequented by the French, during former wars with that people. The parish is bounded on the north by the sea, on the east by Blaenporth, on the south by Tremaen, and on the west by Verwic. It consists of two hamlets, the rectorial hamlet and that of Llanannerch. Of the latter the tithes are impropriate in the family of Currie, who pay annually to the rector one mark at Easter; it includes the manors of Mortimer îs Syrwen and Mortimer îs Coed. In the hamlet of Llanannerch, according to tradition, was anciently a chapel; but not the slightest vestiges of it now remain.
The parish contains, according to a survey taken in 1839, an area of 2100 acres, of which 1300 are in the rectorial, and 800 in the impropriate, hamlet, the former comprehending 400 acres of arable land, 100 of meadow, and 800 of pasture; and the latter, 250 acres of arable, 50 of meadow, and 500 of pasture. The soil consists partly of loam and clay, partly of gravel and peat, and, when manured with lime, seasand, and dung, yields barley inferior to none on this coast. It is also tolerably productive of oats, but the wheat crops are very indifferent. The lands are destitute of large trees, but are ornamented in several places with clusters of oak, ash, sycamore, and alder; the surface for the most part is hilly, with a few vales intersected by rapid streams, the principal of these being the river Howny, which separates the parish on the east from that of Blaenporth. The rocks on the coast are very precipitous, and afford retreats for numerous foxes and other animals prejudicial to the farmer; the sea abounds with porpoises and seacalves. A lofty hill in the parish commands fine views of Cardigan bay, and the mountains of Snowdon, Cader Idris, and Plinlimmon, the prospect on a clear day extending a considerable distance beyond the Irish coast. The estate of Plâs, belonging to the family of Morgan, has a mansion of great antiquity, built in the form of a cross; this demesne, as well as that of Pennarissa, formerly exhibited some fine timber, which has given place to a few ornamental plantations. The other seats are, Penralt, erected in the year 1813, a mansion in the Elizabethan style; and Penmar, which has been modernised by Dr. Jones.
The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £5. 13. 9., and endowed with £200 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant; patron, the Bishop of St. David's: the rectorial tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £104. 13. 4., and the impropriate for one of £57. 6. 8. The church, dedicated to St. Cynwyl, is a small plain structure of great antiquity, situated on an eminence about one mile from the village, and commanding a beautiful view of the sea. It consists of a nave and chancel, separated by a pointed arch, and measures in length forty-six feet and a half, in breadth twentytwo, and in height thirty, exclusively of the steeple, which is fifteen feet higher. The font is a square basin, placed on a round pillar; the sacramental cup is highly ornamented, but has neither date nor inscription. There are places of worship for congregations of Calvinistic Methodists at Aberporth and Blaenannerch, with a Sunday school for adults and children held in each of them.
Aberthaw, East (Aber-Ddaw)
ABERTHAW, EAST (ABER-DDAW), a small sea-port and hamlet, in the parish of Penmark, union of Cardiff, hundred of Dinas-Powis, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 7½ miles (S. S. E.) from Cowbridge: the population is returned with the parish. This hamlet is situated on the east bank and near the mouth of the river Ddaw, from which it derives its name; and had formerly a chapel, which has fallen to ruin. The harbour is small, but is resorted to by a few coasting-vessels of inferior burthen, for conveying the produce of the district to other places, especially lias limestone, called Aberthaw tarras, which is much used in making cement for works under water, and for canal locks, &c.
Aberthaw, West (Aber-Ddaw)
ABERTHAW, WEST (ABER-DDAW), a small port and hamlet, in the parish of St. Athan, union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Cowbridge, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 7 miles (S. S. E.) from Cowbridge: the population is returned with the parish. This place is situated on the western bank of the river Ddaw, opposite the port of East Aberthaw: near it is Seabreak Point, a promontory which protects the mouth of that river. Limestone of excellent quality is procured in the vicinity.
ABER-WHIELOR (ABER-CHWILER), a township, in the parish of Bôdvari, union and hundred of Ruthin, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 3½ miles (N. E.) from Denbigh; containing 534 inhabitants. It is situated at the junction of the Whielor with the river Clwyd, the former flowing here along a narrow, luxuriant, and well-wooded vale, between two high mountains. The area of the township is 2598 acres, of which 300 are common or waste. The neighbourhood of Maes Mynan, where the last prince of Wales, Llewelyn ab Grufydd, had a house, the foundations of which were discernible in a meadow some years since, abounds with highly diversified scenery. Moel-y-Gaer, or "the hill of the camp," apparently a British work, was probably constructed for the purpose of defending the pass here through the Clwydian mountains: this pass is remarkable as being the only natural break in the Clwydian range, which extends for more than twenty miles in a direction from north to south. The tithes belong to the Bishop of St. Asaph, and have been commuted for a rent-charge of £492. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists and Wesleyans, with a Sunday school held in each. The township is separately assessed for the maintenance of its poor.
Aberyscir, or Aberescir (Aber-Esgair)
ABERYSCIR, or ABERESCIR (ABERESGAIR), a parish, in the union of Brecknock, hundred of Merthyr-Cynog, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 3½ miles (W. N. W.) from Brecknock; containing 117 inhabitants. This place is pleasantly situated on the river Yscir, near its confluence with the Usk, and from that circumstance derives its name. The former of these rivers is crossed by two bridges in the vicinity, namely, Pont ar Yscir, to the west of the parish of Battle, and Pont ar Vran, on the road to Trallong; and the latter river by Aberbrân bridge, by a handsome stone bridge from the grounds of Penpont, another of the same material in the grounds of Abercamlais, and a small suspension bridge near the latter residence. The river Brân runs along the parish on the west, and here falls into the Usk. The mesne lordship of Aberyscir, formerly held under the lords of Cantref-Selyf, and separated only by the Yscir from the ruined town of Caer-Bannau, once the capital of the district, was given by Bernard Newmarch to Sir Hugh Surdwal, or "Sir Hugh of the Solitary Vale," whose residence is stated by tradition to have occupied the site of a more modern house, near the junction of the rivers, now a farmhouse. The parish comprises 1918 acres, chiefly arable; 336 acres are common or waste land. The soil consists of light loam mixed with gravel, well adapted for the production of turnips, barley, and clover; the ground on the south is of easy ascent, but on the west and east sides of the parish rather steep, terminating in a hill.
The living, formerly a discharged vicarage, is now a rectory, having been endowed with the great tithes; it is rated as a vicarage in the king's books at £3. 6. 3.: patron and incumbent, the Rev. David Jones. The tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £150. The church, which belonged to the priory of Malvern, is dedicated, according to some authorities, to St. Mary, and according to others to St. Cynidr: it is beautifully situated on the western bank of the river Yscir, in the angle between that river and the Usk; but is a mean-looking building, possessing no claim to architectural notice. There is neither parsonage-house nor glebe land attached to the living. Close to the church is a farm of about thirty-five acres, with a house, barn, and out-buildings, now in a dilapidated state, called "The Parsonage;" but whether or not it ever belonged to the Church, at any period, has not been ascertained; if so, it may have been alienated during the protectorate of Cromwell. In the parish is a place of worship for Independents, with a Sunday school held in it. Aberyscir participates in a donation of land by the Rev. Mr. Powell, vicar of Boughrood, in the year 1686, for apprenticing poor children.
Nearly opposite the church, on the eastern bank of the Yscir, is the Roman station called the Gaer, or Caer Bannau, whence the Sarn Helen, in its course to Neath, the Nidum of the Romans, joined the Via Julia Maritima at some distance from this place: it crossed the Yscir a little above the church, and proceeded through the parish nearly in the direction of the present turnpike-road to Aberbrân. Near the margin of the Usk is an artificial mount surrounded by a moat, which was probably occupied by the keep belonging to the ancient mansion of the Surdwals. Of this family was Hywel Surdwal, one of the heraldic bards of Wales, who flourished towards the close of the fifteenth century; he was employed by Edward IV. to certify the pedigree of the first Earl of Pembroke of the Herbert family.
ABERYSWITH (ABER-YSTWYTH), a sea-port, borough, markettown, and chapelry, and the head of a union, in the parish of LlanbadarnVawr, lower division of the hundred of Geneu'r Glyn, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 38 miles (N. E.) from Cardigan, and 208 (W. N. W.) from London; containing 4916 inhabitants. This place, from its having been fortified at a very early period, and also forming part of the ancient parish of Llanbadarn-Vawr, was originally called Llan-Badarn Gaerog; whilst the small ancient village of Aberystwith was situated to the west of it, on ground now covered by the sea, and on the bank of the Ystwith or Ystwyth, into which river the Rheidol or Rheidiol probably emptied itself, at some distance from the ocean. These rivers now unite at the town, and form at their mouth the modern harbour of Aberystwith. The courses of both have been changed, the Ystwith having flowed directly into the sea, prior to the diversion of its channel some years ago, which was done in order to strengthen the current of the Rheidol in clearing away the bar at the entrance to the harbour.
A castle was founded here in 1109, under the following circumstances. A Flemish nobleman of the name of William de Brabant, in journeying through South Wales, was waylaid by Owain, son of Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, and slain with all his retinue; which so incensed Henry I., that he granted permission to Gilbert de Strongbow to invade the territory of Cadwgan, in Cardiganshire, and win it by the sword. Strongbow was successful; and in order to defend the possessions thus acquired, he built at least two castles, one at Aberystwith, and the other at Dingerait, supposed to be Kîlgerran, near Cardigan. In 1114, Grufydd ab Rhŷs, a Welsh prince, who had for some time carried on with considerable success, in the county of Carmarthen, a desultory warfare with the Norman invaders of South Wales, being invited by the inhabitants of the province of Cardigan, to assist them in throwing off the Norman yoke, attacked the castle of Ystradpeithil, near Aberystwith. This he reduced; and then encamped at Glâs Crûg, about a mile east of Llanbadarn-Vawr church, intending to attack the castle of Aberystwith on the following morning. The governor, apprised of his design, had sent to the neighbouring castle of Ystrad-Meirig for a reinforcement, which arrived during the night; and in the morning Grufydd, ignorant of the circumstance, and confident of success, advanced to a place called Ystrad Antaron, opposite Aberystwith Castle, where he encamped, and held a council of war. Preserving no discipline among his troops, the Normans took advantage of their disorder, and sent out some archers, to tempt them into a skirmish, and to draw them by a feigned retreat towards the bridge over the Rheidol; at the same time placing a part of their best cavalry in ambuscade behind the Castle Hill. The Welsh eagerly pursued these archers to the bridge, over which they were allured by a fresh device of the enemy, and continued their pursuit almost to the gates of the castle, when the horse which had been posted behind the hill attacked them in the flank, while those whom they had pursued made a stand, and assaulted them in front. By this means all the Welsh that had crossed the bridge were cut to pieces, and Grufydd was compelled to retreat with the remainder of his forces, and to abandon his enterprise.
In 1135, Owain Gwynedd and Cadwalader, sons of Grufydd ab Cynan, with a large body of Welsh, made a more successful attempt on the castle, which they took and utterly demolished, putting to the sword all the Normans and Flemings who had settled in this part of the principality, with the exception only of a small number, who escaped by sea into England. Cadwalader, soon afterwards marrying Alice, daughter of Richard, Earl of Clare, and Lord of Cardigan, rebuilt the castle, and made it his chief place of residence; but Owain Gwynedd, after his accession to the sovereignty of North Wales, in revenge for his brother's contumacy, besieged it and burned it to the ground, in 1142. The place continued for many years to experience all the disasters arising from predatory and intestine warfare, and was frequently destroyed and rebuilt in the continued struggles for dominion which occurred, not only between the English and the Welsh, but also among the rival princes of the country. During this period, mention occurs of the castle of Aber Rheidol being destroyed, in 1164, by Rhŷs ab Grufydd, on his invasion of the territories of the Earl of Gloucester; which circumstance has led to a supposition that there was another castle on the seashore, near this place, though it is not at all improbable that the castle of Aberystwith was occasionally designated by that name. Notice of the town of Aberystwith first occurs about the close of the twelfth century.
After rising from some of its frequent demolitions, the castle was again destroyed, in 1207, by Maelgwyn, a chieftain of South Wales, who had previously restored and fortified it, in order to maintain his power in this part of the principality, but who felt himself unable to hold it against Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, who was advancing to attack him. Llewelyn, on his arrival at Aberystwith, rebuilt and garrisoned the castle, and seized the whole of the extensive territory lying between the rivers Aëron and Dyvi; the castle he retained in his own hands, but the territory he afterwards surrendered to Rhŷs and Owain, sons of Grufydd ab Rhŷs, and nephews of Maelgwyn. In 1212, King John, having with the aid of Maelgwyn and his brother Rhŷs Vychan compelled Llewelyn and other chieftains to do him homage, sent Foulke, Viscount Cardiff, warden of the marches, to force the sons of Grufydd also to acknowledge him as their sovereign, in which attempt Foulke was joined by Maelgwyn and Rhŷs Vychan. The two nephews, unable to withstand so powerful a force, made the required submission, and agreed to relinquish all right to the territories which had been ceded to them by Llewelyn; and Foulke, having repaired and strengthened the fortifications of the castle, placed in it a strong garrison, to defend it for the king. Maelgwyn and Rhŷs Vychan, disappointed in their hope of obtaining for themselves the territories of which Rhŷs and Owain had been dispossessed, now laid siege to the castle, which they succeeded in taking, after an obstinate defence; and razed it to the ground. It appears to have been almost immediately rebuilt; for in 1214, Rhŷs Vychan, being defeated by Foulke, in Carmarthenshire, took refuge in it with Maelgwyn, and brought with him also his wife and children. In the reign of Henry III., the castle was in the possession of Rhŷs ab Grufydd, who, about the year 1223, joined the party of the Earl of Pembroke, in consequence of which, Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, seized it, with all its dependencies; Rhŷs, however, complaining to the king, and requesting his protection from this violence, Henry commanded Llewelyn to appear before him at Shrewsbury, and the prince obeying the summons, the quarrel was amicably adjusted.
In the reign of Edward I., Grufydd ab Meredydd and Rhŷs ab Maelgwyn besieged and took the castle, then held by Llewelyn ab Grufydd, Prince of North Wales. It soon after fell into the hands of the English; and Edward, in order to secure the fulfilment of the conditions of the peace which he had concluded with Llewelyn, rebuilt it in 1277, and, placing in it a strong garrison, returned to England. The oppressive conduct of Edward's lieutenants, in this part of the country, soon led to an infraction of the peace lately concluded, and among the principal exploits of the insurgent Welsh was the capture of Aberystwith, otherwise called Llanbadarn, Castle, by Rhŷs ab Maelgwyn and Grufydd ab Meredydd: but it was not long afterwards delivered up to the English forces, and from this period nothing of importance peculiarly relating to it appears to have occurred till the reign of Henry IV., when it was assaulted and taken, in 1404, by Owain Glyndwr, in whose possession it remained for three years, till it was surrendered on terms to Prince Henry. Owain soon after regained possession of it by stratagem; but it was finally reduced in the year 1408, by the English, who appear to have retained it without further molestation. In the 35th of Henry VIII., William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, was appointed captain of the castle and town of Aberystwith. In 1637, Mr. Bushel, who succeeded Sir Hugh Myddleton in the possession of the mines royal of Cardiganshire, having obtained permission from Charles I., established a mint in the castle, for coining silver, for the convenience of paying the men employed in the mines; and specimens of all the coins then struck in it, bearing the crest of the Prince of Wales, and dated between the years 1638 and 1642, are to be met with in the cabinet of the collector. At the commencement of the civil war, the castle was strengthened with additional fortifications, and strongly garrisoned for the king; the royalists kept possession of it till the year 1646, when it was besieged and taken by the parliamentarians, who soon afterwards dismantled it.
The town, which owes its origin to the erection of the castle, is described by Leland as being encompassed by walls, the last remains of which were removed some time since, and as being, in his time, a better market than Cardigan. Camden, who ascribes the building of its walls to Gilbert de Clare, commonly called Strongbow, states that when he wrote it was the most populous town in the county. Of late years it has materially increased both in extent and importance, and the town may be regarded as the most flourishing place in this part of South Wales. It is pleasantly situated at the lower extremity of the valley of the Rheidol, amid lofty hills, and on a gentle eminence overlooking the bay of Cardigan, by which it is bounded on one side, while on the other it is environed by the Rheidol, over which is a stone bridge of five arches, forming an entrance to it from the south. It consists mainly of two long streets, from which others, branching off nearly at right angles, lead down to the shore. The houses are in general of stone, and for the most part well built and of respectable appearance, some of them being large and handsome, especially such as are of modern erection. The streets are disposed with considerable regularity, and the turnpike roads leading to the town rank among the best in the principality. An act was obtained in 1835, for lighting, watching, and paving the town, which authorizes the levy of a rate not exceeding 2s. 6d. in the pound on the rack rental, on all houses, &c., valued at £8 per annum and upwards; also for supplying the inhabitants with water, which had previously been brought from the rivers Ystwith and Rheidol in barrels, on sledges drawn by one horse. Water-works were accordingly erected by the town commissioners in 1837, the expense being defrayed by a rate levied on the inhabitants, aided by the rent received for the supply of the water; pipes are laid down through the streets, and the reservoir affording the supply will hold about 185,000 gallons, exclusively of a cistern or well in another part of the town, subsequently built, and capable of holding 5000 gallons. Gas-works were erected in 1838, by a company formed with the consent of the commissioners and other authorities; they are substantially built, and are situated in a suburban part of the town.
The advantages of its situation on a fine open bay, the purity of its air, and the efficacy of some mineral springs adjacent, have contributed to render Aberystwith a place of resort for invalids. About the close of the last century, when it was a mere fishingtown and small sea-port, it began to rise into notice as a bathing-place, and from a series of improvements, it is now one of the most frequented places of fashionable resort on the Welsh coast. The beach, though composed of pebbles, affords a pleasant and interesting walk; and the shore, consisting of lofty and precipitous rocks of dark-coloured slate, is worn by the action of the waves into caverns of picturesque appearance. In some parts the coast scenery near Aberystwith is remarkably striking. The interior of the country, also, affords some beautiful excursions. Hot and cold sea-water baths are provided, with every requisite accommodation; bathing-machines are kept; and, from the convenient sloping of the beach, a facility of bathing is afforded, at almost any state of the tide, within a very short distance of the shore.
For the accommodation of the increasing number of visiters who annually resort to the place, many additional lodging-houses have been built, of which the Marine Terrace, a handsome range of buildings, is situated on the margin of the bay, embracing a fine marine view, enlivened by the frequent arrival and departure of vessels trading to these coasts. In this range is the Belle Vue, a spacious and commodious hotel; and in front, where the beach is level, is a good promenade. On the south-west of the Marine Terrace is a gateway leading to a castellated mansion of unique appearance, called the Castle House, commanding an extensive prospect across the bay. It was originally built as a private mansion by Sir Uvedale Price, Bart., of Foxley Hall, in the county of Hereford, but latterly has been held by yearly tenants, and is now furnished and let out in apartments. It consists of three octagonal towers, connected by ranges of apartments, and having a light and elegant balcony on the side towards the sea. Beyond this, on one side, is the Castle Hill, crowned with the venerable ruins of the ancient fortress, and forming another favourite promenade, affording, from different points, various extensive and romantic views of the sea, the neighbouring hills, and the surrounding country. On the other side of the Castle Hill, separated only by the churchyard, are the Public Rooms, built in the Grecian style of architecture, on ground given by W. E. Powell, Esq., of Nant Eôs, lord-lieutenant of the county, from a design by Mr. Repton. They were completed at an expense of £2000, raised by subscription on shares of £10 each, and opened to the public in 1820. The suite consists of a very handsome assembly and promenade room, forty-five feet long, and twenty-five feet broad; a cardroom twenty-five feet long, and eighteen feet wide, opening into the assembly-room by folding-doors; and a billiard-room, of the same dimensions as the card-room. The assembly-room and card-room are similarly ornamented; and under the same roof is a dwelling-house, with a bar for providing the visiters with refreshments. The assembly-rooms are opened generally in July, and closed in October. When the card-room is not wanted for balls, it is used as a reading-room. There are also three good circulating libraries in the town. Races are annually held, generally in August, which continue for two days: a field near Gogerddan, the seat of Pryse Pryse, Esq., about three miles distant from the town, is, by the courtesy of that gentleman, used as a race-course.
The harbour, towards the close of the last century, appears to have been in a very bad state, and is described as in great danger of being lost or destroyed; a bank of sand at the mouth was the chief cause of injury to the trade. In the year 1780, therefore, the inhabitants obtained an act of parliament to "repair, enlarge, and preserve" their port, under which trustees were empowered to levy duties upon articles landed within the limits of the port, and to borrow a sum not exceeding £4000, upon the credit of the harbour-dues, for the improvement of the harbour. About the year 1806, a pier was attempted to be built on the low ridge of rocks called the Weeg, at the end of Pier-street, as a refuge for fishing-boats; but it appears to have been designed on too small a scale to be efficient, and, being constructed with dry stone, has long since disappeared. A subsequent act was obtained in the 6th of George IV., for the same object as the former act, with power to borrow £20,000, on the credit of a new scale of tolls; and in 1830 the trustees consulted the late Mr. Alexander Nimmo, the eminent engineer, upon the state of the harbour. That gentleman made a report; and at his death, upon the recommendation of the Duke of Newcastle, then owner of the Havôd estate, the trustees selected as their engineer the late Mr. George Bush, who likewise surveyed the harbour, and made a report agreeing in the main with Mr. Nimmo's. Under his superintendence, and the more immediate management of the present resident engineer and harbourmaster, Mr. Page, the existing works were commenced in 1836. They chiefly consist of a pier, extending in a north-north-west direction from the high-water point of the beach of the Ystwith, towards Bardsey island; the present length of the pier is 260 yards, and it is intended to carry it forty yards further, as soon as the funds of the trust will permit. Upwards of £15,000 have been already expended on these improvements, towards which the Duke of Newcastle made a donation of £1000, the members for the county and boroughs £500 each, and several of the neighbouring gentry various other sums.
The trade of the port, since the commencement of the new works, has greatly improved; the harbour is now accessible to much larger vessels than formerly, and is found of signal benefit to vessels driven into the bay by stress of weather. The principal exports are, lead-ore and black-jack, or blende, for Bristol, or the ports on the river Dee; a small quantity of copper-ore, for Swansea; oak-bark for Newry, and other parts of Ireland; and poles of oak and other kinds for the iron-works in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire. The imports include timber from North America and the Baltic; hemp, also, from the latter. Shop-goods and other merchandize are brought from Liverpool, Bristol, and London, to which places are regular traders. Coal is imported from Newport, Llanelly, and other ports on the Bristol Channel, and also from the ports on the river Dee; slates and slabs from Bangor, Carnarvon, and the river Dovey; flaggings from Cardigan; bricks and earthenware from Bideford and Bridgwater; grain from London, Yarmouth, and Poole; salt-fish from the Isle of Man, and Cornwall; and limestone from Milford and Red-Wharf. The number of vessels belonging to the port, including the creek of Aberdovey, in 1847, was 164, and their tonnage 9000, employing upwards of 700 sailors, men and boys. The present customhouse, built in 1828, is a neat edifice, commanding a good view of the harbour. By a treasury warrant dated November, 1847, the limits of the port are extended so as to reach from New-Quay Head to the north bank of the river Dysynni, beyond Towyn, Merionethshire; thus including the additional creeks of New-Quay and Aberaëron. Here are two ship-building establishments, an old-established ropewalk, with a sail-maker, chain-cable and anchor smith, and oar and block manufacturers. The Cardiganshire lead-mines, about seventy in number, are chiefly in this part of the county, and several of them are now worked upon an extensive scale.
The markets are well supplied. The corn-market is held on Monday, in a new hall, built on a handsome plan in a central part of the town; all kinds of grain are sold here, and this is the mart for cheese, wool, and various agricultural products. Monday is also the market-day for butter, eggs, poultry, fish, vegetables, &c.; and on Saturday is a market for butchers' meat, for which a building was erected in 1824, measuring 104 feet in length, by 31 feet in breadth. The fish-market is held in the area under the town-hall, and is well supplied with such fish as the bay affords, together with salmon from the neighbouring rivers, and other fish from distant places. Fairs for horses and cattle are held on the Monday before January 5th, the Monday next before Easter, on Whit-Monday, May 14th, June 24th, September 16th, and the Monday before November 11th. The first Mondays after the 13th of May and the 13th of November are called by the natives of the surrounding country Dydd Llun Cyvlogi, or "Hiring Mondays;" and on these days a great number of the farmers and others meet here to hire servants.
In Meyrick's History of Cardigan, is a copy of a charter, dated the 20th of November, in the 20th year of Henry VIII., and granted by that king to the burgesses of the town of Llanbadarn (Aberystwith); but it does not appear that any copy of this document has ever been kept among the muniments of the borough, nor has it been referred to in practice, the corporation being considered such by prescription. Until lately the title of the corporation was, "the Mayor, and Burgesses of the town, borough, and liberty of Aberystwith;" and the government was vested in a mayor, coroner, chamberlain, town-clerk, two serjeants-at-mace, a bellman, two scavengers, and an indefinite number of burgesses. The officers were elected by the jury out of the body of burgesses, at a court leet held before the mayor, within a month after Michaelmas-day; and at this court and a similar one which took place within a month after Easter, burgesses were admitted, and the ordinary business of the corporation was transacted. By the act 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the corporation is styled "the Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, together forming the council of the borough. The council elect the mayor annually on November 9th, out of the aldermen or councillors; and the aldermen triennially from among the councillors, or persons qualified to be such, one half going out of office every three years, but being re-eligible: the councillors are chosen annually on November 1st, by and from among the enrolled burgesses, one third going out of office every year. The aldermen and councillors must have a property qualification of £500, or be rated at £15 per annum. The burgesses are, the occupiers of houses and shops who have been rated for three years to the relief of the poor. The mayor and ex-mayor are justices of the peace, and a commission has been lately granted by Her Majesty, by which five gentlemen are appointed magistrates for the borough, in addition. Two auditors and two assessors are elected annually on March 1st, by and from among the burgesses; and the council appoint a town-clerk, treasurer, and other officers annually on November 9th. The revenues of the corporation are derived from certain lands within the borough, let out on leases, some for building and some as pasture and meadow land: the total rental is about £130 per annum. This property, prior to the year 1808, consisted of uninclosed land, over which the burgesses enjoyed rights of common; but such privilege being disputed by some parties, the corporation were compelled to assert their exclusive claim, which entailed an expense of £3729, and it was to meet these heavy costs that they adopted the plan of letting their lands, now the most valuable property in the town, for long leases upon considerable fines, and with small annual rents.
This is one of the contributory boroughs in the county, which unite in the return of a member to parliament. The right of election, until the passing of the Reform Act, was vested in the burgesses generally, but is now in the former resident burgesses, and in all persons occupying, either as landlord, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the clear annual value of at least £10, if duly registered according to the provisions of the above act: the present number of voters in the borough is about 330. The mayor of Cardigan is the returning officer. The old town-hall is a building in an ancient style of architecture, erected in the year 1770. The new hall, or court-house, at the end of Portland-street, erected in 1848, is in the Grecian style, with a portico of four Ionic columns; the centre contains a court for civil and criminal business, and the wings contain, on one side, judges' apartments and rooms for counsel, and on the other, rooms for grand and petty jurors, and for witnesses. This building was raised partly with a view to secure one of the assize fixtures every year, and a portion of the county sessions' business; an object not yet attained. The powers of the county debt-court of Aberystwith, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Aberystwith. The prison, which is also one of the houses of correction for the county, is adapted to the reception of only eight prisoners, in three separate classes.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £600 royal bounty, and £400 parliamentary grant; net income, £139; patron, the Vicar of LlanbadarnVawr. The late chapel, dedicated to St. Michael, was built by subscription, being completed in the year 1787. It was a plain structure, situated within the precincts of the castle, and separated from the walks around the ruins of that edifice by a stone wall, erected at the expense of the inhabitants. It measured sixty feet in length, and twenty-six in breadth: a gallery was erected at its western end in the year 1790, at an expense of about £100, by Mrs. Margaret Pryse; an organ was presented by Pryse Pryse, Esq. The augmented population of the place, and the increased number of visiters, rendering the erection of another place of worship necessary, a new chapel was commenced in 1830 upon a larger scale, by subscription, aided by a grant of £1000 from the Parliamentary Commissioners for Building New Churches, and £400 from the Society for the Enlargement of Churches and Chapels. The funds, amounting to £3500, were sufficient for completing the body of the building, which is in the later style of English architecture, and is so planned that a tower of corresponding character may be added at some future time. In the gallery is a fine-toned organ by Robson, which cost £350, raised by subscription among the inhabitants. Divine service is performed in Welsh at the old school-house, which has been licensed for that purpose. Many years before the erection of Old St. Michael's chapel, which was taken down in 1836, the town appears to have been deprived of a church or chapel by the encroachments of the sea. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, and Roman Catholics.
A National school for boys and girls, established in 1819, is supported by subscription, by which means also a suitable building was erected, Mr. Pryse contributing £200 towards the expense. In the town are also a British school, commenced in 1846; an infants' school, commenced in 1842; several schools supported at the parents' expense; and a number of Sunday schools. A savings' bank was established in 1818, which has now deposits to the amount of £30,000. In Upper Portland-street is the Aberystwith Infirmary and Cardiganshire General Hospital, founded in January, 1838, supported by subscription, and intended to afford, among other benefits, every advantage of a sea-bathing infirmary. In Pierstreet are the premises of the Cambrian Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, commenced in 1847, and supported principally by voluntary contributions from all parts of Wales. The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed on the 28th of May, 1837, and comprises thirty parishes and townships; namely, Aberystwith, Broncastellan, Ceulany-Maesmawr, Clarach, Cwmrheidiol, Cyvoeth-yBrenhin, Cynnullmawr, Eglwys-Newydd, Elerch, Hênllŷs, Isâ yn Dre', Isâ yn Vainor, Llanavan, Llanbadarn Isâ yn y Croythen, Llanbadarn Uchâ yn y Croythen, Llancynvelyn, Llanddeiniol, Llangwyryvon, Upper and Lower Llanilar, Llanrhŷstid-Hamining, Llanrhŷstid-Mevennydd, Llanvihangely-Creiddyn Isâv, Llanychaiarn, Melindwr, ParcelCanol, Rhôsdiau, Trêvirig, Tîrmynych, Uchâ yn Dre', and Uchâ yn Vainor. It is under the superintendence of thirty-three guardians, and contains a population of 22, 242. The workhouse is situated on an elevated spot, about a quarter of a mile distant from the town, and forms a striking feature in the approach to Aberystwith from the north: the style is a mixture of the pointed and the Elizabethan, and the main front is 220 feet long.
There are now no remains either of the town walls or their gates. Of the latter, one, called the Great Dark Gate, was situated in the street leading to Llanbadarn-Vawr; another, called the Little Dark Gate, in the street which now leads to the Baptist meeting-house; and a third, opposite to the bridge. The remains of the castle, which occupy the summit of a rock projecting into the bay of Cardigan, consist chiefly of portions of the towers, the principal gateway, and some fragments of walls, forming a picturesque heap of ruins. The area, which was originally of very considerable extent, and in the form of an irregular pentagon, is at present greatly diminished, through the action of the waves, which have undermined the rock. It was laid out in walks and pleasure-grounds, with much taste, by the late Mr. Probart of Shrewsbury, to whom the site had been granted on lease. On Pendinas Hill, adjoining the town, where the lines of an encampment are still visible, an ancient British celt and other remains have been found: in 1802 a golden angel of the reign of Henry VII. was turned up there by the spade. There are traces of another encampment, or of a fortress, also in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, at Tan-y-Castell, in the parish of Llanychaiarn; and adjoining Craig Glais, which commands a splendid prospect, is a small rock, called Br&ygrave;n Dioddau, or "the mount of suffering," from its having been formerly a place of execution. It is doubted by some antiquaries whether the castle built by Strongbow occupied the site of the present ruins; they would place the original castle at Pendinas, or at Tan-yCastell, and some passages in the Welsh Chronicles appear to warrant this variation from the common historical accounts of the town. Aberystwith Castle was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, and it is very probable that after its demolition on some one occasion, a new site was chosen. Another interesting spot in the environs is Plâs Crûg, formerly a castellated mansion surrounded by a moat; it seems to have been the residence of some person of distinction, and was probably at one time the manor-house of the lordship of Llanbadarn. The present tower, however, was erected about a century ago, and the place now exhibits few traces of its original importance. Some hundreds of Roman coins were found about two miles from the town, in 1841.
A chalybeate spring, which is in great estimation for the medicinal property of its waters, was discovered about the year 1779, at a short distance from the eastern extremity of the town, on the road to Llanbadarn-Vawr, and near Plâs Crûg: the well is covered with a small square building, from one side of which the water issues by a spout. There are various other springs in the neighbourhood having a ferruginous impregnation, and traces of sulphur have been discovered at Penglais. A new and an excellent "Guide to Aberystwith and its Environs," by Thos. Owen Morgan, Esq., was published in 1848, from which some of the particulars in this article are derived.
ABOVE-SAWDDE, a hamlet, in the parish of Llangadock, union of Llandovery, lower division of the hundred of Perveth, county of Carmarthen, South Wales; containing, with the market-town of Llangadock, which is within its limits, 736 inhabitants. This hamlet is situated between the rivers Sawdde and Brân, near the western declivity of the Black Mountains; there are some thriving plantations, and a few respectable residences. It is supposed to have been the site of a Roman station from the names of the places on the farm, but no relics of Roman antiquity have been discovered in the hamlet.
ACTON, a township, in the parish and union of Wrexham, hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, North Wales, 1½ mile (N.) from Wrexham; containing 223 inhabitants. Acton Park was the property and residence of the family of Jeffreys, from which sprang the notorious judge of that name, in the reign of James II. It is at present the seat of Sir R. H. Cunliffe, Bart., whose father, the late Sir Foster Cunliffe, purchasing it in 1785 from the trustees of Ellis Yonge, Esq., modernised and enlarged the mansion, and tastefully embellished the grounds. The site is a little elevated, and embraces a pleasing view of the town of Wrexham and the adjacent country. That ancient boundary line, Wat's Dyke, passed through the township. Acton supports its own poor, according to an arrangement entered into in March, 1830. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £142. 14. 9., and the vicarial for £1. 10.
ALLINGTON (TRÊF-ALUN), a township, in the parish of Gresford, union of Wrexham, partly in the hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, and partly in the hundred of Maelor, county of Flint, North Wales, 6 miles (N. by E.) from Wrexham; containing 859 inhabitants. Here was formerly a chapel of ease to the parochial church, but no vestiges remain of it, except the cemetery which marks the site. A tithe rent-charge of £286. 15. 6. is paid to the Dean and Chapter of Winchester, one of £153. 4. 6. to the vicar of Gresford, and one of £62 to certain impropriators. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. In this township stands the ancient and venerable family mansion of the Trevors, of whom Sir Richard, whose monument is in the parochial church, greatly distinguished himself in the wars in Ireland, towards the close of the sixteenth century, as governor of Newry, and of the counties of Armagh and Down. In the hall is his portrait, representing him with a prayer-book in his hand, in a meditative attitude, having his helmet and armour behind him, with mottoes alluding to the former and latter periods of his life, and uttering an ejaculation of gratitude to God for his goodness to his children's children's children, whom he had lived to see.
ALLTMAWR (ALLT-FAWR), a parish, in the union and hundred of Builth, county of Brecknock, South Wales, 4 miles distant (S. E. by S.) from Builth; containing 34 inhabitants. This parish, the name of which signifies "the great woody mount," is crossed by the turnpike-road from Builth to Hay, and comprises about 500 acres, one fourth of which is wood, and the remainder arable and pasture in nearly equal portions. The scenery on the banks of the river Wye, which forms the northern boundary, and in its immediate vicinity, is exceedingly romantic; and the view from Alltmawr House, a pretty villa in the parish, is one of the most delightful in this part of the principality. The surface is partly undulated, and partly mountainous. In the low lands the soil is partially clay, on which, or the shallow bed of loam by which it is overspread, the oak appears to thrive well. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant; net income, £48. The tithes have been commuted for £25. 6. 8. payable to the Dean and Chapter of St. David's, and £12. 13. 4. to the vicar. The church, dedicated to St. Mauritius, consists of a nave and chancel, both lately ceiled, and is remarkable for its diminutive size, being less than thirty-five feet in length; it stands just above the road side, and differs in its appearance from a neat cottage in no other respect than in having a small belfry near the west end of the roof.
ALLT-Y-GRAG, a hamlet, in the parish of Llanguicke, union of Neath, hundred of Llangyvelach, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 10 miles (N. by W.) from Neath; containing 1078 inhabitants. It forms the higher and north-eastern portion of the parish, bordering on Brecknockshire, and is intersected by the Swansea canal at its eastern extremity.
AMBLESTON, a parish, in the union of Haverfordwest, hundred of Dungleddy, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 8 miles (N. N. E.) from Haverfordwest; containing 605 inhabitants. Ambleston has been identified as the site of the longsought-for Roman station Ad Vigesimum, noticed in the Itineraries as the first from Maridunum or Carmarthen, the distance from which corresponds exactly with that mentioned in the Itinerary. The discovery, which, from a variety of concurrent testimony, appears to be founded in truth, was made in the year 1805, by Mr. Fenton, author of the "Historical Tour through Pembrokeshire," accompanied by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, Bart., while collecting materials for that work. The form of the station, which is situated about a mile north-east of the church, is nearly a perfect square, having the angles rounded off, and comprehends an area of 260 feet: the agger by which it was inclosed, though almost effaced by tillage, may still be accurately traced; and the Via Julia, leading from Maridunum to Menapia, passes through the centre of the area. This camp is called by the inhabitants Castel Flemish, having been subsequently occupied by the Flemings, who first settled in this part of the principality, in order to assist in subjugating the natives; and another Roman road, more to the north, and afterwards uniting with the Via Julia near St. David's, is from the same source designated Via Flandrica, or "the Flemish way." Within the area of the station have been found Roman bricks and cement, part of a stuccoed floor, a large flagstone bearing an inscription, now lost, and other Roman relics. At a short distance to the west, near the village of Ford, are the remains of a smaller camp, evidently of Roman construction, and probably the campus æstivus of the station; and in the same neighbourhood were discovered, in 1806, the remains of a Roman hypocaust, six feet in depth, and eight feet long, lined on each side with stone and cement, from which two flues of one foot four inches in the aperture, and widening towards the upper extremity, rose in an angular direction to the surface: these flues were formed of fluted Roman bricks. The parish comprises 3993 acres, of which 300 are common or waste land; the soil is in general fertile. The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £3. 19. 4½., endowed with £600 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant; present net income £183; patron, the Crown; impropriator, Lloyd Phillips, Esq. The church is dedicated to St. Mary. There is a chapel of ease in the parish, called Rinaston chapel. The Calvinistic Methodists have also a place of worship, with two or three Sunday schools.