A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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PENMARK (PEN-MARK), a parish, in the union of Cardiff, hundred of Dinas-Powys, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 6 miles (S. E.) from Cowbridge; containing 486 inhabitants. The name, signifying literally "Mark's head," is supposed to have been originally derived from the preservation of a human skull in the churchyard, which, according to some monkish legend, was said to be that of St. Mark, and which was consequently regarded for many years with religious veneration. The place was distinguished at an early period by the erection of two castles, called respectively Penmark and Fonmon, both belonging to followers of Fitzhamon, and built for the protection of a portion of the territories which, upon the conquest of this part of the principality, that noble divided among the knights who attended him in his expedition. Penmark Castle, which was the property of Gilbert Humphreville, continued a place of strength till the reign of Henry IV.; it was then destroyed by Owain Glyndwr, in one of his incursions into the borders, and is now in ruins. Fonmon Castle originally belonged to Sir John St. John de Blesto, and continued in his family till the reign of Charles I., when, during the interregnum, it was given by the parliamentarian party to Colonel John Jones, an active and zealous supporter of their interests, whose descendant is the present proprietor; the ancient building has undergone various repairs and alterations, and now forms a venerable castellated mansion.
The parish is situated in the south-eastern part of the county, and on the Bristol Channel, which bounds it on the south; it is surrounded on the other sides by Llancarvan, Porthkerry, and St. Athan's. The village occupies the summit of an eminence overlooking a romantic dell, and the parish comprises a considerable tract of land, which has been inclosed from an early period, and is in a good state of cultivation. Its surface is generally flat, but intersected by small wooded valleys, in which elm and ash are the prevailing timber. Strong loam and clay, resting on a lias limestone, which is used for all building purposes, are the principal ingredients of the soil, producing wheat and barley, with a large proportion of turnips; and numerous sheep are reared and fed on the pasturage. The rivers Thaw and Kenson, the latter falling into the former, bound the parish for a part of their extent, and on them are two water-mills. The scenery is diversified and highly picturesque; and the views over the adjacent country, which is extremely fertile and richly cultivated, are extensive, and embrace many interesting objects, the castellated mansion of Fonmon Castle being most conspicuous. A fair is held annually on the 15th of April.
The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £8. 13. 4.; patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. The tithes have been commuted for £558. 0. 3., of which a sum of £347. 5. belongs to the Dean and Chapter, with a glebe of thirteen acres, valued at £16 per annum, and £210. 15. 3. to the vicar, who has a glebe of 100a. 2r. 26p., valued at £135. 10., and a house. The church, dedicated to St. Mark, is a substantial and well-built edifice, but not distinguished by any architectural details of importance: it is sixty feet long by twenty-three wide, exclusively of the chancel, which is thirty-three by seventeen; and contains 60 pew-sittings, and 152 free seats. The chapels of East Aberthaw and Rhôs, anciently dependent on the mother church, have long since fallen into decay. There are places of worship for Independents and Calvinistic Methodists. Two day schools are supported in connexion with the Established Church; as also is a Sunday school, held in one of the two day-schoolrooms. Several charitable donations and bequests, consisting of two houses; two acres of land at Sufton, yielding a rent of £7 per annum, the gift of William Jones, of Blacton, in 1713; and about £60 in money, principally by unknown donors; have been made for the benefit of the poor, the produce of which is on Good Friday distributed among them.
PENMON (PEN-MON), a parish, in the poorlaw union of Bangor and Beaumaris, hundred of Tyndaethwy, county of Anglesey, North Wales, 4 miles (N. E. by N.) from the town of Beaumaris; containing, with Puffin Island, 228 inhabitants. The name of this place, signifying "the head of Mona," is derived from its situation in the eastern end of the Isle of Anglesey (anciently called Mona), on a promontory boldly projecting into the Irish Sea, at the northern entrance to the Menai strait, and having at its extremity the small island of Priestholme. This and the surrounding country were desolated by the Danes, in 969, and again shortly afterwards, in common with the whole of Anglesey. The parish is not of very great extent, but comprises nearly equal portions of arable and pasture land, in a tolerable state of cultivation; the houses are widely scattered. Its scenery is not remarkable for features of rural beauty; and the views, though comprising some objects of romantic character, derive their chief interest from the expanse of waters in the Irish Sea and the Menai strait. The only metallic mineral found is pyrites of iron; but the parish abounds with beautiful grey-coloured marble, clouded with an almost endless variety of shades, and susceptible of a high polish. This marble has been long in estimation for ornamental purposes, and for the construction of mantel-pieces, tablets, &c., but its excellent qualities as a solid and durable material for buildings of superior strength and importance were only recently brought into notice, by its being selected for the construction of the piers and buttresses of the grand suspension bridge over the Menai strait. Some harbour works at Holyhead, the piers of the Conway suspension bridge, Penrhyn Castle, and many other public and private buildings, have been constructed of marble from the quarries here; and the town-hall of Birmingham, for the erection of which upon a magnificent scale the proprietor generously gave a sufficient quantity of marble, was built with this valuable material. The quarries, which are very extensive, have been worked for a considerable period with great success, and their favourable situation on the shores of the Menai strait on the east, and of the Irish Sea on the north and north-east, greatly facilitates the conveyance of their produce to its destination. A number of men are constantly employed in them; vessels can come in and load at all times of the tide, and several are regularly engaged in transporting the marble to various parts of the kingdom. Part of the parish is included within the limits of the borough of Beaumaris.
The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to that of Llanvaes, and endowed with £400 private benefaction, £800 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant. The church, dedicated to St. Seiriol, and originally the church of a priory situated here, was a regular cruciform structure, the northern transept of which has disappeared, at what period cannot now be determined. At present the building consists of a nave and chancel, with a tower standing between them; a small chapel, or transept, on the south side; and some traces of the transept on the northern side. The nave and south transept, with the tower, are of a very early period, but there has been a difference of opinion as to their exact date. The chancel is of the 15th century, and of larger proportions than the rest of the building; it is not improbable that it was enlarged by the monks for the accommodation of their tenants, and thus it may have served as a parochial church even before the Dissolution. In the southern wall of the nave is a curious round-headed doorway, supposed to be of the earlier part of the 13th century, and no doubt inserted, like the northern doorway, subsequently to the first erection of the edifice, which, with the exception of the chancel, may be referred to a very ancient date. There is little doubt that the western and central portions of this priory church may be classed among the earliest medieval monuments which Anglesey still possesses. Here are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The parish is entitled to receive every alternate year a sum of £3. 13. for apprenticing a boy, arising from the charity of William Wynne in the parish of Llangoed, and charged on the lands of Friddodd, in Bethgelart; and the interest of a benefaction of £17. 10. by Richard Owen, at a period unknown, is distributed in small sums among the poor at Christmas. A gift of £10 by Hugh Davis has been lost.
The priory, according to some historians, was originally founded in the sixth century, by Maelgwyn Gwynedd, and subsequently enlarged by Grufydd ab Cynan, who appointed his son Idwal prior, in 1140. Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, in 1220, made considerable additions to its revenue, and placed in it monks of the Benedictine order, in whose possession it remained till the Dissolution, at which time its revenue was estimated at £49. 12. 2. The site, with the park and other appurtenances, was granted, in the 6th of Elizabeth, to John Moore, Esq. The principal remains of this ancient establishment besides the present church are, the refectory, the dormitory above it, and, at the eastern end of the refectory, several apartments the ancient use of which is not exactly known, but which are commonly called the kitchens, and are now used as stables. A little to the east stands a square pigeon-house, with a domical roof, vaulted from the square, and surmounted by a cupola: it is uncertain whether it was erected before the Dissolution, but the style might possibly be referred as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. A building which occupies the place of what was once the prior's lodgings, joins on at the southern extremity of the transept, and reaches as far as the refectory; it is now occupied as a farmhouse, and does not appear older in character than the end of the 17th century. The refectory is of the 13th century. One of the most valuable remains connected with the priory is an ancient cross, said to have been removed from a spot near the conventual buildings, perhaps from the churchyard, and now standing in the upper part of the Deer Park, on the hill above the church. It is covered with zigzag and interlacing ornaments on all its sides: at the bottom of one side may be observed a stag drinking; at the bottom of another is a figure seated on an animal, conducted apparently by another figure, and in a compartment over this, on the same side, is the mocking of Our Saviour by the soldiers, who are represented with beasts' heads. Among the Plâs Gwyn manuscripts is preserved the grant of a free pardon to Robert ab Johns, with a fragment of the seal of the priory, bearing the upper part of figures of the Virgin and Child, with the legend PENMONA + SIG.
About a mile south of the priory are the remains of Castell Lleiniog, supposed to have been built by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and Hugh the Red, Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1098, when they jointly invaded the Isle of Anglesey, and committed the most cruel outrages on the inhabitants. This castle, which occupies the summit of an artificial mount surrounded by a moat, consists of four walls, inclosing a quadrangular area, with a small circular tower at each angle; and was evidently intended to defend the pass of the adjoining valley. Nearer the shore is a circular mound of earth, which was connected with the castle, and most probably thrown up to command the landing place near the mouth of a small rivulet that runs into the strait. During the civil war, the fort was garrisoned for the parliament, but was taken by Colonel Robinson, in 1645, and kept for the king. It forms one of the earliest specimens of military architecture extant in Anglesey; the mound on which it stands is thickly grown over with trees and underwood, and, with the ruined building, constitutes one of the sweetest and most picturesque spots of a highly beautiful neighbourhood. A little to the south-east of Castell Lleiniog is the farmhouse of Tre'r Castell, a small part of which may probably be referred to the time of Edward I.; the main building was of the 16th century, and was rebuilt in 1848 with the old materials. Sir Tudur ab Gronwy was owner of the mansion of Tre'r Castell in the reign of Edward. On the estate of Trôsyr Avon, in the parish, is a copious spring, the water of which holds in solution a sulphate of lime, and contains a considerable portion of fixed air: it is much resorted to, and held in high estimation for its efficacy in chronic diseases.
Within the limits of the parish is the small extraparochial island of Priestholme, anciently called Ynys Seiriol, and now commonly Puffin Island, from the number of puffin birds by which it is frequented. This island, which is situated in the Irish Sea, about a mile east of the shore, was originally occupied as a place of devotional retirement. St. Seiriol, to whom the priory church is dedicated, is said to have had a hermitage here, which afterwards became a cell to that establishment. Considerable uncertainty prevails among the old historians with respect to this place: Giraldus appears to have regarded the island as the site of the priory of Penmon, probably from the brethren being styled "Canonici de Insulâ Glannauch," by which name of Glannauch the isle was occasionally designated; and the remains of a square tower, and the foundations of other buildings, here, have been supposed to be the ruins of the original convent. Perhaps the cell occupied in the isle by Seiriol, and afterwards resorted to as a place of austere seclusion by some of the brethren, may have led historians to confound it with the principal establishment; or it may be, that the monastery was at first fixed here, and that subsequently, on the community becoming enlarged, the principal dwellingplace was removed to the main land of Anglesey. The nature of the island, consisting of barren rock but thinly covered with loose sand drifted by the winds, renders it impossible that any number of men could exist in a state of society on so sterile a spot, hardly capable of producing any vegetable, and cut off many weeks together from communication with the main land. In the isle now are, the remains of the church tower, above mentioned, serving as a landmark; the foundations of other buildings destroyed by the violence of the northern gales, to which the island is particularly exposed; and a hut inhabited by the family of a man who attends a signal staff, erected here in 1826, in connexion with Llandudno on the east, and Llanelian on the west, and forming a link in the telegraphic communication of Liverpool and Holyhead. On the south-western point of the island is a lighthouse, a fine work of art, lately erected by the Corporation of Trinity House.
About half-way between this point and the main land of Anglesey is a piece of rock, displaying itself above the surface at low water, from which, in a southern direction, stretches a causeway, constructed with large fragments of rock on each side, and having the interval filled up with smaller stones and cement. It is in a very perfect state, and extends for a considerable distance into the channel, where its termination is marked by a red buoy. It is traditionally said to have been a road leading across the channel of the Menai strait, which anciently was here very shallow, to the main land on the opposite shore, forming a communication between this place and the coast of Carnarvonshire, now nine miles distant. By whom or at what time this causeway was originally made, is not known; it may have been a work of the Romans, to facilitate the landing of troops or merchandise, as the remains of a paved Roman road may be traced leading through Penmon towards Llaniestyn. Near this spot the Rothesay Castle steam-vessel was wrecked, in the month of August 1831, when more than a hundred passengers perished.
The island is about a mile in length, of great elevation, and forming on all sides abrupt precipices, except towards Penmon, where the ascent is not precipitous, though very steep. The surface affords scanty pasturage for a few sheep and rabbits; and the island is the resort of various sea-fowl during the breeding season, more particularly of puffins, or puffin-auks, which congregate here in such numbers as to have given name to the island. Some of the inhabitants of the parish are engaged in the fisheries on the coast; and the large oysters found in the extensive beds in the sound are highly esteemed, and after being pickled, and packed in casks, are exported to various distant places as "Penmon oysters." Here is also an abundance of crabs, and a great variety of beautiful shells are taken in the dredges of the oyster-men between Priestholme Island and Beaumaris. The sound or channel between the main land and Priestholme, which is of great depth, forms the common passage for ships to and from the roads of Beaumaris; and on the eastern side of the island is another passage into the same roads, which is little more than a quarter of a mile in breadth, and navigable only for vessels of very small burthen. Maelgwyn Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, the original founder of the ancient priory, is said to have been buried in Priestholme.
PENMORVA (PEN-MORFA), a parish, in the union of Festiniog, hundred of Eivionydd, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 1½ mile (W. N. W.) from Trêmadoc; containing 1099 inhabitants. The parish is situated in the south-eastern part of the county, and the village stands upon a gentle eminence beneath craggy mountains of considerable elevation, and on the turnpike-road from Trêmadoc to Carnarvon. The scenery is rather bold and rugged than of pleasing or picturesque appearance; and the views of the adjacent country, though comprehending some romantic features, are neither very interesting nor extensive. Clenenny, the family seat of the Owens, is an ancient mansion, distinguished as the birthplace and residence of that independent royalist Sir John Owen, Bart., who commanded the king's forces in this part of the principality during the civil war. He was defeated and taken prisoner near Bangor, in 1648, in the last effort made by the Welsh in King Charles's cause, and was conveyed to Windsor, where, being tried, he was, with the Duke of Hamilton and others, condemned to death: but, through the intercession of some of the parliamentary commanders, he received a pardon, and returned to his patrimonial estate, where he died in 1666. Considerable deposits of copper-ore have been found in the parish, and several spirited attempts have been made, and large sums of money expended, in working them; but the ore, when found, was so mixed with iron, that the difficulty and expense of separating it, and the depression in the price of the metal, induced the proprietors to discontinue their works. Fairs are held in the village on March 6th, May 14th, August 20th, September 25th, and November 12th.
The living is a discharged rectory, with the perpetual curacy of Dôlbenmaen annexed, rated in the king's books at £9. 12. 6.; present net income, £300; patron, the Bishop of Bangor. The tithes of Penmorva have been commuted for a rent-charge of £200; and there is a glebe of four acres, valued, with a house, at £27 per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Beuno, is a small neat edifice, not distinguished by any architectural details; it contains a monument to the memory of Sir John Owen. There are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, and Independents; and four Sunday schools, gratuitously conducted by the dissenters. Mrs. Jane Owen bequeathed £60, Eleanor Owen a rent-charge of £3, and Anne Lloyd, in 1783, £30, to the poor; and there are some smaller benefactions in money and land: the produce of the whole, amounting to £10. 10., is annually distributed according to the will of the testators. On Bwlch Craigwen are the remains of an extensive Druidical circle, consisting of forty-one upright stones, several of them more than seven feet high; and near the church is a smaller circle, some of the stones composing which have been broken and used as materials in constructing or repairing fences. In 1829, a curious silver coin was dug up, in opening a grave in the churchyard; it was in good preservation, with the inscription, in rude ancient characters round the obverse, Radvlvs Dei Gra. Dvx Bvrg., and is supposed to be a coin of Rodolphus, Duke of Burgundy, who flourished at the commencement of the ninth century, and was a celebrated collector of sacred reliques. Sir Hywel y Vwyall is supposed to have been born in the parish, the greater portion of which belonged to him.
PENMYNEDD (PEN-MYNYDD), a parish, in the union of Bangor and Beaumaris, hundred of Tyndaethwy, county of Anglesey, North Wales, 2 miles (E.) from Llangevni, and 6 (W.) from Beaumaris; containing 611 inhabitants. The name of this place, signifying literally "the summit of the mountain," is derived from the situation of its church on a lofty eminence. The lordship originally belonged to the ancestors of Owain ab Meredydd ab Tudyr or Tudor, husband of Henry V.'s widow, Catherine of France, and grandfather of Henry VII., the first of the Tudor line of English sovereigns. Owain was born here in 1385. The mansion of the family, called Plâs Penmynedd, preserves many vestiges of its former owners, and some remains of its ancient grandeur; the great mantel-piece of the hall, some coats of arms, with dates of different parts of the building, and of successive repairs, are still in existence. The last male descendant of the house was Richard, sheriff of the county in 1657, on whose death the lordship or manor passed to Margaret, the sole heiress, who conveyed it by marriage to Coningsby Williams, Esq., of Glàn-y-Gors, in this county, who held it during his life. It was afterwards sold to Lord Bulkeley, whose representative still continues in possession of it.
This parish is surrounded by the parishes of Llansadwrn, Pentraeth, Llanfinnan, Llanvihangel-Ysceiviog, Llanddaniel, Llanvair-Pwllgwyngyll, and Llandysillio. It is situated on the old Holyhead road, and comprises an extensive tract of land, the whole, with the exception only of a very small portion, inclosed and cultivated: by admeasurement it contains 3000 acres, of which 2000 are arable and pasture, and about 1000 meadow and bog. The surface is elevated, with some eminences that command wide views of mountain scenery; in other parts it is undulated. There are two small rivers, the Braint and the Ceint, the former discharging itself into the Menai strait, and the latter dividing the parish from that of Llanfinnan. A fair used to be held on Easter Monday, principally for hiring servants, but it has been discontinued for many years.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £450 royal bounty; net income, £86, with a glebehouse; patron, the Prebendary of Penmynedd in Bangor Cathedral. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £434. 4. 3.; and the glebe, belonging also to the impropriator, comprises 6a. 1r. 27p., valued at £7 per annum. The church, dedicated to Credivael, a saint who flourished about the close of the fifth century, and first presided over the college of Tŷ Gwyn, is a structure of the end of the 14th or beginning of the 15th century, consisting of a nave with a sepulchral chapel on the northern side, and a chancel. It is sixty-three feet long by twenty-four broad, and the chapel contains a superb altar-tomb of white alabaster, of the Tudor family, without arms or inscription, removed to Penmynedd on the dissolution of the abbey of Llanvaes. This monument, till lately fixed in the chancel, is a work of the 14th century, and supports the effigies of two recumbent figures, one a warrior in complete armour, with a helmet of conical form, and the other a female in flowing robes and a square hood; the heads are supported by angels, and the feet rest upon lions. The interior of the church has been entirely re-arranged and newly fitted, under the superintendence of a managing committee with the Dean of Bangor at their head: Her Majesty granted £50 for the restoration of the Tudor chapel. At the western end of the nave is a minstrelgallery in wood of the 16th century. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic Methodists, the last of whom support a Sunday school.
Ten almshouses which had been previously founded here under the will of Lewis Rogers, in 1617, were further endowed in 1623, by Lewis Owen, Esq., of Twickenham, in the county of Middlesex, with some tithes in Eglwys-Rhôs, which have long been held by the family of Mostyn, and are now possessed by the Hon. Edward Mostyn Lloyd Mostyn. Mr. Mostyn's agent pays £60 annually for the support of the ten almspeople, who are selected from poor old men of this parish, Llanvihangel-Ysceiviog, Pentraeth, and Llanfinnan. The almshouses consist of ten rooms on a ground-floor, all under one roof, and each has a small garden well cultivated; they are repaired by public subscription. The churchwardens of the respective places, on a vacancy, select a candidate for the approval of the trustees, who is subsequently appointed by the Bishop of Bangor. The parish of Penmynedd is also entitled to send a poor man to the almshouse at Bangor, under the will of Bishop Rowlands. A sum of £6 per annum is received from the Rev. Robert Wynne's charity at Llantrisaint; part to buy bread for twelve women on every alternate Sunday, and the residue, together with a rent-charge of 6s. 8d. charged upon the tenement of March Ynys, to be distributed among the poor generally. Two other sums of £22. 10. and £19. 10. were given by unknown donors for the use of the poor, but of the disposal of the first no account can be given; with the last, two cottages were built or purchased, in which three widows reside rent-free, put in by the parish.
PENNAL, a parish, comprising the Upper and Lower divisions, in the union of Machynlleth, hundred of Estimaner, county of Merioneth, North Wales, 4 miles (W.) from Machynlleth, and 14 (E. N. E.) from Aberystwith; containing 678 inhabitants, of whom 264 are in the Upper, and 414 in the Lower division. This parish is situated on the rivers Dovey and Dulas, and intersected by the turnpike-road from Machynlleth to Aberdovey and Towyn. It comprises 8349 acres, of which 3152 are common or waste. The soil is thin and poor, but in the lower grounds not altogether unproductive; the declivities of the hills afford a scanty pasturage for sheep and young cattle. Peat, which forms the principal fuel of the inhabitants, is found in various parts. The village is small, and presents rather a picturesque appearance; petty-sessions for the hundred are held here every alternate month. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £200 royal bounty, and £1400 parliamentary grant, the latter sum now invested in £1584 three per cent. reduced Bank annuities; net income, £75; patron and impropriator, the Bishop of Lichfield, whose tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £225. The church, dedicated to St. Peter, was rebuilt about seventy years ago, with the materials of an ancient Roman fortress, called Cevn Caer; but, as the edifice is entirely covered with stucco, the old Roman bricks are not discernible: it is situated near the western extremity of the parish, and is attended by many families from the contiguous parish of Towyn. There are places of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists. A day school affords instruction to about twenty children, six of whom are taught free at the expense of Miss Thurston, of Talgarth; the remainder are paid for by their parents. Five Sunday schools are also held. In 1774, Margaret Carr bequeathed £20, the interest of which is annually distributed among the poor.
Of the Roman fortress of Cevn Caer, nothing but the site is remaining. Several coins of Domitian, Augustus, and Tiberius, have been dug up on the spot; and in a turbary at no great distance from it was found a spear-head, evidently of Roman construction. From this situation is obtained a fine view of the river Dovey to its mouth, and of Cardigan bay, with the Cardiganshire coast, and the parts adjacent. At Esgair Llyverin, in the parish, are preserved the bed and furniture prepared for the reception of Charles I. at Machynlleth, when on his way through the country to Chester; having been removed to this place from an ancient mansion still remaining in the town of Machynlleth. In the grounds of Pant-yLludw is a yew-tree of amazing growth: the trunk is thirty-two feet in girth, at the height of six inches from the ground, and forty-eight feet in height; and the largest branch nine feet in girth, and forty-four in length.
Pennant, or Pennant-Melangell
PENNANT, or PENNANT-MELANGELL, a village and parish, in the union, and Upper division of the hundred, of Llanvyllin, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 10 miles (N. W. by W.) from Llanvyllin; containing 795 inhabitants. This village derives its name, signifying "the head of the brook," from its situation near the source of the river Tanat, which rises in the parish, and falls into the Vyrnwy near Llanymynech, on the confines of Shropshire. The adjunct to the name, by which it is distinguished from other localities of the same appellation, is derived from St. Monacella, by the Welsh called Melangell, the daughter of an Irish monarch, who, devoting herself to a life of celibacy, retired from her father's dominions to this place, where she spent her time in seclusion. St. Monacella had passed fifteen years in devotional retirement here, in a small cell among the rocks near the present church, when Brochwel Yscythrog, Prince of Powys, gave her some lands, to which he added the privilege of sanctuary to all who fled thither for protection. Iorwerth Drwyndwn, or "Edward with the broken nose," eldest son of Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, being deprived of his succession on account of that natural deformity, fled to this place for shelter; his younger brother Davydd ascended the throne, and the unfortunate Iorwerth was, not long afterwards, killed at Bwlchcroes Iorwerth, at no great distance from Pennant.
The parish is remarkable for the irregularity of its boundaries, portions of it being separated from others by the intervention of the parishes of Llangynog, Llanrhaiadr, and Hîrnant. It comprises some rich arable and pasture land, inclosed and in a high state of cultivation; the total area is 5000 acres, of which 2872 are common or waste. The scenery is diversified, in many parts highly picturesque; and the views over the adjacent country abound with objects of interest, and features of romantic beauty. The village, consisting only of the church and four or five houses, is most picturesquely situated in a valley, inclosed on all sides by hills, except at the entrance, and watered by the small river Tanat. Half a mile below the church the vale divides into two branches, the extremities of which are bounded by two lofty precipices, separated from each other by the vast and rugged promontory called Moel Dimmor, which stretches into the vale; down each of the precipices, at certain times, rushes an impetuous torrent, descending from a considerable height, and forming an imposing cascade.
The living consists of a rectory and a vicarage; the rectory being a sinecure, rated in the king's books at £11. 16. 10½., and annexed to the bishopric of St. Asaph; and the vicarage, which is discharged, being rated at £5. 16. 5½., and endowed with £200 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant. The tithes of the parish have been commuted for £405, of which a sum of £298 is payable to the bishop, who has also a glebe of ten acres, valued at £15 per annum; £100 to the vicar; and £7 to the parish-clerk. The tithes also of one-half of the township of Bryn, in Llanyblodwell, near Oswestry, belong, three-fourths to the rector, and one-fourth to the vicar, of Pennant. The vicarage is in the gift of the bishop, and the net income payable to the incumbent amounts in the whole to about £200 per annum, of which £75 a year were lately assigned as an augmentation by the bishop. A glebe-house is attached to the benefice.
The church is an ancient edifice of simple architecture, dedicated to St. Monacella, and no doubt erected on the site, and partly with the materials, of a still older edifice. It forms a very pleasing feature in the secluded scenery of the valley already referred to; at the western end is a tower, and on the south side are two porches: the walls are three feet thick. Internally the building is divided into a nave and chancel by a wooden screen. In the southern wall, above and around a window, are the capitals of four small Norman shafts, built into the wall, but turned upside down: portions of the shafts themselves also appear jutting out. These Norman relics, with the font, are undoubtedly fragments of the original building. In front of a gallery at the west end, is some very curious carved wood-work, representing the legend of St. Monacella; it is the chief object of interest in the church, and in ancient times was probably part of the western side of a rood-loft, or of a gallery above the chancel-screen. Within the precincts of the churchyard are two recumbent figures, greatly mutilated, one of them said by the common tradition of the place to represent Iorwerth Drwyndwn, and the other, St. Monacella: the date of the male figure may be the 13th century, that of the female is apparently more recent; but both the figures are so much weather-worn and defaced, that it is difficult to ascertain their monumental character with precision. Notices of the church, and of St. Monacella, are given in the Archæologia Cambrensis for April, and October, 1848. There are places of worship for Independents and Wesleyans; a British school, in the village of Penybont, established in 1847; and three Sunday schools, one of which is in connexion with the Church, one with the Independents, and one with the Calvinistic Methodists. The produce of some trifling charitable donations and bequests, amounting altogether to £6.10. 6. per annum, is divided among the poor of the Lower division on Easter Monday and St. Thomas's day, in sums varying from 6d. to 2s.
On the mountain between Llanwddyn and this parish, is a circular inclosure surrounded by a wall, called "Hên Eglwys," supposed to be a Druidical relic, or probably the remains of an ancient cemetery; and near Plâs Dû, in the Lower division of the parish, are some vestiges of a British encampment. On the mountain between Bala and this place a large bone was found some time since, perhaps the bone of some fish; it is called the Giant's Rib, and is kept in the church. In the left branch of the valley in which the village is situated is a large stone, under which were found several coins, rings, and other relics of antiquity. It is said that a Roman road passed near the place, towards Aberystwith; and in many of the narrow passes between the hills that confine the vale are vestiges of intrenchments, apparently thrown up for defence.
Pennarth, or Pennard (Pen-Arth)
PENNARTH, or PENNARD (PEN-ARTH), a parish, in the union and hundred of Swansea, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 7½ miles (W. S. W.) from Swansea; containing 372 inhabitants. The name of the parish, signifying "the bear's head," is supposed to be derived from the peculiar form which this part of the coast assumes in its projection into the Bristol Channel. Pennarth is thought to have been once of more importance and of much greater extent than it is at present; and the remains of a castle, which appears to have been a structure of some magnificence, the ruins of the ancient church, and the foundations of numerous buildings, now covered with sands, afford striking evidences in support of this opinion. By whom or at what time the castle was originally erected, has not been satisfactorily ascertained: its foundation has by some writers been ascribed to the Earl of Warwick, who brought this territory under his dominion in the reign of Henry I.; and by others its erection is attributed to an earlier period. A town is supposed to have existed where the sands now are: to the south of them is a small village, which still retains the name of Southgate, and to the north is a farm preserving the original name of Norton, or North-town.
The parish is situated in the south-western part of the county, and is separated from that of Penmaen by a small rivulet called Pennarth Pill; the coast is lined with rocks that extend from this place to Pwll Dû Point, forming the eastern side of Oxwich bay. The lands, with the exception of a very large portion which has been covered with sand and rendered incapable of tillage, are inclosed and cultivated. The surrounding scenery is of rugged and dreary character; and the views, though combining some romantic features, derive their principal interest from the contiguity of the Bristol Channel. Kilvrough House, a seat here, is a handsome mansion; the grounds around it have undergone considerable improvement, and are laid out with great taste and judgment, forming an interesting feature in the scenery. Here is a respectable and commodious house of entertainment, called the Gower Inn, lately built for the accommodation of tourists, or persons on business, who, previously to its erection, were deterred from visiting the place or the neighbouring country. The parish abounds with limestone of excellent quality, and extensive quarries have been opened, much of the produce of which is shipped to the counties of Cornwall and Devon.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £3. 16. 8., and endowed with £600 royal bounty; present net income, £79; patron, Thomas Penrice, Esq. The present church, dedicated to St. Mary, and erected about two centuries since, occupies a situation on the summit of a hill, about half a mile from that of the more ancient structure. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. Sarah Bennett, in 1735, left £15, for the benefit of widows not receiving parochial relief; but though stated in 1786 to be in the hands of one Gabriel Powell, no trace can now be discovered how the sum was disposed of. The remains of the ancient castle occupy a site a few hundred yards above the mouth of Pennarth Pill, and consist principally of the gateway entrance, which is nearly perfect, and in a good style of architecture; they are surrounded with sand-hills of considerable elevation, and present a very singular appearance. In the limestone rocks along the southern boundary of the parish are two remarkable caverns, in which have been found bones of animals of various kinds: one, called Bacon's Hole, is inaccessible from the sea at any state of the tide, and is entered only by a steep narrow path from the summit of the cliff.
PENPONT (PEN-PONT), a hamlet, in the parish of Llanspythid, hundred of Devynock, union and county of Brecknock, 5 miles (W. by N.) from the town of Brecknock; having 133 inhabitants. This place, though containing what is called Capel Bettws, is more generally known under the name of Penpont. It is pleasantly situated on the river Usk, near the influx of the Camlais; and on the road from London, through Brecknock, to Milford Haven. The area is 1970 acres, of which 288 are common or waste land. The scenery is diversified and highly picturesque, and the views from the more elevated grounds, though partially obstructed by the intervention of luxuriantly wooded hills, embrace many objects of pleasing character, and features of romantic beauty. Penpont is a handsome and substantially built mansion, lately modernised, and beautifully situated in extensive park-like grounds, comprehending a variety of finely varied scenery. The grounds are enlivened by the windings of the river Usk, on the bank of which a beautiful walk has been constructed, leading through them to Abercamlais; the margin of the river is shaded by lofty oaks throughout this walk, and its waters, rolling over their rocky bed beneath, give to the whole a most picturesque appearance. The demesne is almost surrounded by hills richly clothed with wood to their very summits; and within it the chapel of Penpont, otherwise called Capel Bettws, with its ample cemetery, forms a strikingly interesting object. In the house is preserved a portrait of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII., and mother of Queen Elizabeth; from whose family, of French origin, that of Williams, owners of Penpont, is descended. Abercamlais, the seat of a branch of the same family, is a good mansion of more ancient appearance, situated in grounds which, though pleasingly disposed, are not distinguished by any strikingly picturesque scenery. Aberbrân, formerly the seat of another branch, has been converted into a farmhouse. All these houses are situated on the south bank of the Usk, within two miles of each other; and there is a bridge over the river nearly adjacent to each.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £1000 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the parishioners residing within the township; net income, £80: the tithes have been commuted for £110, of which £18. 6. 8. are payable to the vicar of Llanspythid, and the remainder to the impropriators. The chapel is a very small neat edifice with a cupola at the west end, pleasantly situated close to the turnpike-road, in an extensive cemetery, inclosed within a ring fence, and surrounded with some venerable yews of luxuriant growth, intermixed with other trees. Being much dilapidated, it was rebuilt about sixty years since, and its general appearance greatly improved, at the sole expense of Mr. Philip Williams. Here is the place of interment for the Williams family. Forty twopenny loaves of bread, arising from a bequest by Mrs. Catherine Games, in 1721, are distributed every fourth Sunday, among the poorest inhabitants. On a hill called the Gaer are some remains of an ancient British encampment.
PENRHÔS (PEN-RHÔS), a parish, in the union of Pwllheli, hundred of Gaflogion, Lleyn division of the county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 2 miles (W. S. W.) from Pwllheli; containing 95 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the western shore of Cardigan bay, is of moderate extent, comprising only a small tract of arable and pasture, with some common. In many parts the soil is poor and sandy, and a considerable portion of the land will scarcely repay the labour and expense of cultivation. The living is a perpetual curacy, annexed to the vicarage of Abereirch; the tithes have been commuted for £62. 10., of which £55 are payable to the impropriator, and £7. 10. to the incumbent. The church, dedicated to St. Cynwyl, is a neat building, erected on the site of the old edifice, in 1842. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, in which a Sunday school is also held.
PENRHÔS-LLIGWY, a parish, in the hundred of Twrcelyn, union and county of Anglesey, North Wales, 5 miles (E. N. E.) from Llanerchymedd; containing 524 persons. This parish is situated near the shore of the Irish Sea; it is of very considerable extent, and is principally distinguished for its fine quarries of Mona marble, in the working of which several of its inhabitants find constant employment. A small creek running up from Dulas bay affords every facility for conveying the produce to the shipping-place there, whence great quantities of marble are sent to London and Liverpool. At a short distance from the mouth of the bay, which forms a very commodious harbour, is a little island called Ynys Gadarn, a lofty rock of marble, on which is placed a beacon, lately enlarged by Colonel Hughes, of Llŷsdulas, to direct mariners in their navigation of these dangerous coasts, and to point out an object that has often proved fatal to those unacquainted with this part of the shore. A part of the population is engaged in carding and spinning wool, of which a small manufactory is carried on within the limits of the parish.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £200 private benefaction, £800 royal bounty, and £500 parliamentary grant; net income, £75; patron and impropriator, Lord Boston. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a neat modern structure. In the churchyard was formerly preserved an ancient sepulchral stone, with an inscription in very rude and antique characters, noticed by the author of the "Mona Antiqua Restaurata," as covering the grave of Mechell, or Macutus, grandson of one of the lords of Gloucester, Bishop of St. Maloes, and founder of the church of Llanvechell, in this county, who was massacred at Stonehenge. The inscription is given in the work just mentioned, but the stone has since disappeared. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, in which a Sunday school is also held. Owen Lloyd, Esq., merchant, of London, in 1665, bequeathed a farm in the parochial chapelry of Iscoed, near Wrexham, consisting of about sixty-one acres, directing the income to be applied to the apprenticing of poor boys of this parish to some trade or calling in London. He also left £400 to be laid out in the purchase of land for the endowment of two exhibitions in the University of Oxford, for one boy a native of this place, and one a native of any part of the Isle of Anglesey. The rental of the farm is now £70 per annum, which is applied to the apprenticing of three boys with premiums of £10 each; the exhibitioners, who receive £20. 16. per annum, are appointed by Mr. Meyrick, of Bôdorgan. There are also some small charitable donations and bequests for distribution among the poor, the principal of which is a rent-charge of £3, payable out of a farm called Prys-dolphin, the property of Lord Boston. Of other benefactions, amounting to £8, the greater portion was stolen out of the parish chest about thirty years since, and the residue was expended towards erecting a cottage on the common, now occupied by a family rent-free.
Lligwy, in the parish, the ancient seat of the family of Llwyd, and now the property of Lord Boston, has been a venerable mansion celebrated for the extensive woods surrounding it, of which at present there are but very small remains, the woodlands being now covered only with small brushwood and brambles, and the mansion almost in ruins. On the same estate are some vestiges of an ancient chapel, situated on an eminence overlooking the bay of Llŷsdulas: the architecture, which is of the very rudest kind, bears testimony to its great antiquity. It is said to have been a private chapel belonging to the mansion, or a chapel of ease to Llaneugrad and Llanallgo. On digging out a fox that had taken shelter in the ruins of the building, a large square vault was discovered, containing several human skeletons, which, on exposure to the air, crumbled into dust; and, on searching further into the interior, the ground that it inclosed was found to consist of a mass of human bones, several feet in depth, and protected only by a covering of plaster, which formed the floor of the chapel. About a quarter of a mile to the south of these ruins is a very large cromlech, one of the largest in the county; the table-stone is nearly eighteen feet in length and about fifteen feet broad, and is supported on five low upright stones, having one end resting upon a rock. This relic is called by the country-people Arthur's Quoit.
Lewis Morris, an eminent antiquary, poet, and man of science, was born in the parish, in 1702. He was employed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to make a survey of the coast of Wales, which was completed and printed in 1748; and he also left a work which he called the "Celtic Remains," still unpublished, with an immense number of manuscripts, of which eighty volumes are deposited in the library of the Welsh charity school in Gray's-Inn Lane, London. Richard, his brother, distinguished himself as a Welsh critic and poet of considerable talent; he spent the greater part of his life as first clerk in the Navy Office, during which time he superintended the printing of two valuable editions of the Welsh Bible.
Penrice, or Pen-Rhŷs
PENRICE, or PEN-RHŶS, a parish, in the union and hundred of Swansea, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 13 miles (W. S. W.) from the town of Swansea; containing 385 inhabitants, of whom 31 are in Pilton-Green. This place is thought to have derived its name, signifying "the head of Rhŷs," from the circumstance of Rhŷs ab Caradoc ab Iestyn having been defeated and slain here, in defending his territories from the aggression of a party of Norman invaders. According to other authorities, the place is said to have obtained its name from the family of Penrice, who accompanied William the Conqueror into England, and effected a settlement in Gower in the reign of Edward I. The ancient castle, of which there are still some fine remains, is supposed to have been one of the fortresses raised by the Earl of Warwick, for the defence of the territory of Gower, which he had subjected to his authority: some writers think that the earl was not the actual founder, but that he greatly enlarged a previously existing British fortress. It was conveyed, together with the lordship, by marriage with Isabel, daughter and heiress of Sir John Penrice, to Sir Hugh Mansel, in the time of King Henry V. The property remained in the possession of this family till the year 1750, when, in default of heirs male, it passed to the second son of Mary, youngest daughter of Sir Thomas (afterwards Lord) Mansel, who had been married to John Ivery Talbot, Esq., of Laycock Abbey, in the county of Wilts.
The parish is situated on the western shore of Oxwich bay in the Bristol Channel, and comprises a moderate portion of arable and pasture land, the latter of which has been for the greater part recovered from the sea. The village is neatly built, and of prepossessing appearance. The scenery is pleasingly diversified, and enriched with wood; and from some points the views over the bay and the adjacent country are full of interest: a field near the eastern extremity of Penrice comprehends one of the finest coast-scenes in the principality. Near the remains of the ancient castle stands the modern villa called Penrice Castle, erected by the late Mr. Talbot, with stone brought from the quarries of Margam; the grounds, which are laid out with great taste, and ornamented with a large artificial sheet of water well stocked with fish, comprehend a variety of pleasing scenery. At the distance of about half a mile from the house is Oxwich marsh, an extensive tract, partly in the parish of Penrice, and partly in the parishes of Oxwich and Nicholaston adjoining. It was formerly overflowed by the sea at high water, but was reclaimed by means of an embankment, constructed at the expense and under the superintendence of Mr. Talbot; it was also drained by a broad ditch cut on the north side, which empties itself by flood-gates into a rivulet or pill communicating with the sea. This land, which is more than 200 acres in extent, affords excellent pasturage for cattle and horses, but the sheep that feed in it are now invariably subject to the rot, from which they were always free previously to the exclusion of the sea-water. A market was formerly held, and there are some remains of the old market-place; fairs still occur annually on May 17th, June 20th, July 17th, and September 17th.
The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £800 royal bounty; net income, £53; patron, E. V. Nash, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Andrew, and situated on the summit of a hill, is a Norman cruciform structure with a lofty tower, which being partly mantled with ivy, is both a conspicuous and picturesque object, as viewed from the sea, and from the grounds of Penrice Castle. The edifice has lately undergone restoration. There is a place of worship for Wesleyan Methodists in the village of Horton; and two Sunday schools are held, one of them, in connexion with the Established Church, in Penrice village, and the other in the meeting-house. Sarah Bennet, in 1735, bequeathed £15 to the poor; but though it is stated in 1786 that this sum was then vested in the representatives of Thomas Hancorne, no interest has been received for many years. The remains of Penrice Castle occupy the summit of a high rock commanding Oxwich bay, and from its ruins it appears to have been of great strength: there is a good Norman entrance. Near the village are vestiges of an intrenchment; and at a short distance is an old house, called the Sanctuary, which is said to have belonged to the manor of Millwood, or St. John's, the property of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. A number of silver pennies of Ethelred II. were found in 1825, in making a new road to Mr. Talbot's mansion.
PENRIETH (PEN-RHŶDD), a parish, in the union of Newcastle-Emlyn, hundred of Kîlgerran, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 7 miles (S. S. E.) from Cardigan; containing, with the hamlet of Castellan, 390 inhabitants. This parish is situated in a mountainous district in the north-eastern part of the county, and comprises a moderate portion of arable and pasture land which, though light and poor, is inclosed and cultivated, and a considerable tract of uninclosed moor not susceptible of profitable culture: the total area is 2300 acres. VrenniVawr, which, with only one exception, is the highest mountain in the county, is comprehended within the limits of the parish. The surrounding scenery is bold and striking, but contains few features of picturesque beauty. The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £4, endowed with £400 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; present net income, £100: the tithes have been commuted for £107, of which £71 are payable to the rector, and £36 to Lord Milford, the impropriator of Castellan. The church, dedicated to St. Cristiolus, is not remarkable for any architectural peculiarities. In the hamlet of Castellan is a chapel; it is now in ruins, but the incumbent receives one guinea per annum from the impropriator on account of the chapel. A substantial school-house was built by the late rector, the Rev. John Jones, which is used both for a day and Sunday school.
PENSTRYWED (PEN-Y-STROWED), a parish, in the union of Newtown and Llanidloes, Lower division of the hundred of Llanidloes, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 3 miles (W.) from Newtown; containing 133 inhabitants. This place is situated in the southern part of the county, and on the right bank of the river Severn, which nearly surrounds it, dividing it from the parishes of Aberhavesp and Llanllwchaiarn. It is bounded on the east and south by Newtown, Moughtrey, and Llandinam, and is intersected by the road leading from Newtown to Llanidloes. It contains by admeasurement 1800 acres, whereof 800 acres are pasture, 500 arable, and 500 woodland; the arable portion, which is chiefly in the upper grounds, is gravelly, producing wheat, barley, and turnips, whilst the soil of the beautiful meadow lands near the Severn is a rich loam. The banks of the river are thickly studded with ornamental hedge-row trees, the meandering yet bold and majestic stream often appearing, gleaming through the foliage; indeed, the whole scenery of the parish is strikingly and beautifully diversified, hills crowned with timber being pleasingly contrasted with fertile meadows. The prevailing timber is oak, and there are some splendid trees of this description, scarcely to be equalled, now standing in the parish. An excellent stone-quarry, admirably adapted for building purposes, is worked to a considerable extent, many thousand tons being annually produced; the church at Newtown was recently built of materials extracted from the quarry. The living is a discharged rectory, rated in the king's books at £5. 0. 10.; patron, the Bishop of Bangor: the tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £110; and the glebe consists of seventeen acres and three-quarters, with a house. The church, dedicated to St. George, is an ancient structure in the early style of English architecture, forty feet long by twenty broad, containing twelve pews and twenty free sittings. Portions of the Roman road leading from Caer-Sws to the Gaer near Montgomery, may be traced in the grounds of Glàn Havren, and at other places, in the parish.
PENTIR, formerly a parish of itself, now merged in that of Bangor, to which it has become a hamlet, in the union of Bangor and Beaumaris, hundred of Isgorvai, county of Carnarvon, North Wales, 4 miles (S.) from Bangor, with which the population is returned. This place, which is situated among hills, after being repeatedly united to, and separated from, the parish of Bangor, was at length finally consolidated with it by the result of an action tried at Shrewsbury in 1657, at the suit of Meredith v. Maurice. The living, once a vicarage not in charge, is now annexed to the benefice of Bangor; and the tithes belong to the vicars choral and parochial of that city. A new chapel was built near the old one in 1847-48; it is in the early English style, with very beautiful details, and will accommodate 342 persons: the architect was, Henry Kennedy, Esq., of Bangor. A day and Sunday school is held, in connexion with the Established Church; and there is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists, with a Sunday school held in it.— See Bangor.