A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1849.
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Radnor (New), or Maesyved
RADNOR (NEW), or MAESYVED, a small town, a parish, and a borough having exclusive jurisdiction, formerly of sufficient importance to have given name to the county of Radnor, in South Wales, 8 miles (W. S. W.) from Presteign, and 157 (W. N. W.) from London; the parish containing 478 inhabitants. The Welsh name of this ancient town, Maesyved, signifies in English "the imbibing or absorbent meadow." Welsh names are frequently descriptive of the places to which they are attached, and such appears to be the case in the present instance: the little river Somergill, during a great part of the year, sinks into the gravel in the immediate vicinity of the town, and thence pursues an underground course until, meeting with a bed of clay, it is thrown up in several strong and deep springs, giving rise, at a distance of nearly three miles, to Hendwell Pool. It is conjectured, however, by persona conversant with the ancient history of Wales, that the original appellation was Maes Hyvaidd, and that the district was so called from having belonged to Hyvaidd, son of Caradoc Vraichvras, at one time prince of the country. Be this as it may, it is certain that the place was of some note and importance at a very early period; though of the past state and condition of this corporate district, or of the events connected with its history, there remain but very scanty records.
In the parish of Old Radnor, but within the limits of the borough, is a monument of the Druidical era, consisting of four stones of unequal size, placed at the angles of a square, so as very nearly, though not precisely, to correspond with the cardinal points of the compass. The stones are symmetrically arranged as far as their rude shapes will allow, and their size is such as to make it difficult to conjecture either by what means or for what purpose they were placed where they stand. Some persons have thought that a table-stone once covered the whole, but the unequal height of the stones, and their distance from each other, render this supposition improbable. Of the long period during which the country was occupied by the Romans, no work remains that can with certainty be traced to them. Camden says, that the station called Magi was at Old Radnor, but as the opinion is not sustained by any evidence, it has long since been abandoned. It is, however, highly probable that the extensive lime-works which some exhausted quarries in that parish prove to have been carried on at a very early date, existed during the time when the Romans held possession of the country. The celebrated Dyke by which Offa, King of Mercia, in the latter part of the eighth century, defined the limits of Wales, traverses the eastern portion of the borough. It can be distinctly traced over Evenjob Hill, and to Burva Bank, down which it descends into the valley of the Somergill at a place called the Ditch Held; then, crossing the vale in a high and broad mound, it ascends the steep face of the hill called Herruck, along the ridge of which it passes into the county of Hereford.
In the end of the tenth century an incident befell the town of New Radnor, arising out of the following circumstances, recorded by Caradoc of Llancarvan in his History of Wales. Hywel Dda, who by an undisputed right had for several years held dominion over South Wales and the district called Powys, was, on the death of Idwal Voel, Prince of North Wales, in 939, by common consent elected to the sovereignty of the whole of Wales. By this election, the claims of an elder branch of the family of Hywel Dda were for a time set aside. Hywel ruled the country peacefully and prosperously for the space of nine years; but at his death, in 948, Ievav and Iago, the sons of Idwal, successfully asserted their claim to the dominion of North Wales, which was resigned to them without dispute. At the same time, the principality of South Wales and the district of Powys were divided among the sons of Hywel Dda, who were clearly entitled to inherit them. This right, however, was denied by the sons of Idwal; and, for nearly fifty years, Wales was made the scene of bloodshed by the conflicts that took place between various disputants. In the course of these struggles, Meredydd (ab Owain), grandson of Hywel, and Prince of North Wales, succeeded for a time in forcibly usurping the sovereignty both of South Wales and Powys, dispossessing of his territories his nephew Edwin (ab Eineon ab Owain), great-grandson of Hywel, who in his difficulties obtained the assistance of an English force. With the aid thus received, Edwin drove back Meredydd into his district of North Wales; but the latter recruited his forces with such rapidity that in the following year, 991, he invaded the possessions of Edwin, spoiled the district of Glamorgan, and destroyed the town of New Radnor.
Little is now known of the state of cultivation that prevailed in the district in these times. That it did not very materially differ from that which prevailed in the adjoining parts of England, may be inferred from the statements contained in that remarkable and valuable record, Domesday Book, embodying the results of a survey of England, made immediately after the Norman conquest. The survey appears to have been extended in some places beyond the confines of Herefordshire, into Wales. Amongst the lands which are stated to have been then possessed by Richard Osbern, and with respect to which the precise numbers of hides and carrucaria of cultivated land are carefully set down, we find that Titeleye contained three hides, Chenille two hides, and Hertune three hides. To these names answer the present designations of Titley and Knill, parishes in Herefordshire, and Lower Harton, in the parish of Old Radnor. Querentun, with one hide, is probably the same with Kinnerton, a hamlet in Old Radnor parish, generally pronounced Kennerton; this latter mode of spelling being but a small variation from "Quenerton," which, by the transposition of two letters, is the same with the designation in the Domesday survey. Discote, now Discoed in the parish of Presteign, had three hides; and Cascope, the present parish of Cascob, half a hide. With respect to this latter place, it is said that thirty-six carrucaria never paid any thing, as the land lay within the Marches of Wales; but it is especially noted, that "on these wastes there were extensive woodlands, in which the above-named Osbern exercised the right of hunting, taking thence whatever he could catch, but nothing else." In the same record it is stated that the king held Raddrenove, where he had seven hides and thirty carrucaria of land, as distinguished from fifteen hides of waste land. The king held also eleven hides of cultivated and seven of waste land in Birchelincope; though Hugo affirmed that William, Earl of Hereford, had given him this land at the same time that he had given him the land which his predecessor Turchill had possessed. The names thus spelled, it may very reasonably be supposed, apply respectively to New Radnor, and the village still usually called Birchope, though it has acquired the written name of Burlinjob, in the parish of Old Radnor. The property, also, which belonged at this time to Radulp de Mortimer, included some places whose names suggest the probability of the survey having embraced one or two other parishes in this part of Radnorshire; but the spelling is too uncertain to be depended on. Radulp was owner of Wigmore Castle, in the county of Hereford, which is stated in the record to have been built by the above-mentioned William Osbern, Earl of Hereford, "upon waste ground called Merestun, which one Gunnert had held in the reign of Edward the Confessor." This noble earl ended his days in prison, in the year 1071, and appears to have been one of the ancient possessors of the land who sank beneath the power of the Norman conquerors.
When or by whom the castle and fortifications of New Radnor were built, cannot now be ascertained. From the position of the fortress at the western entrance of the valley, and from the still apparent fact that all its outworks were on the west, it is evident that it was erected for the purpose of defending the country from the inroads of the Welsh; and Old Radnor had, no doubt, been abandoned because its situation on the eastern side of the valley rendered it unfit for that purpose. The castle is included by name in a list of the most important fortresses which existed along the line of the Welsh border in the early part of the reign of Henry III., who ascended the throne in 1216. This list is preserved in a manuscript in the British Museum, and runs thus: Hereford, Kilpek, Ewyas Haraldi, Ewyas Laci, Grosmund, Skenefreid, Castrum Album, Monemue, Gotrige, Wiltone, Clifford, Witesneic, Huntingdone, Herdeslie, Wigmore, Radnore, Keveuenleis. "Of these castles," says Mr. Wright, who prints the list in his History of Ludlow, "Hereford, Monmouth, Goodrich, Wigmore, and Radnor, were originally Saxon fortresses, and formed the defence of the border previous to the Norman conquest;" and this line of castles, he adds, "beginning at Monmouth, passing in continued succession by Grosmont, Kilpeck, and the two Ewyasses, to Clifford, Whitney, Eardisley, and Huntington, and ending at Radnor and Kevenlleece, formed the basis of the operations of the early Norman barons in the interior of Wales." Radnor Castle, which occupied an eminence rising on the northern side of the town, must have been a place of considerable strength: on three sides the descent from the castle walls was precipitous, while on the fourth it was defended by a succession of deep intrenchments. The town walls were protected by four strong gates, whose position can still be traced; and a plan of the town has been preserved on the map of Radnorshire in Speed's Geography, published in 1610, shewing the principal lines of street with perfect accuracy, and, with little variation, as they now exist.
By whom, or to what extent, the town of New Radnor was restored after its destruction by Meredydd in 991, it is now impossible to say; but restored it was, for after a lapse of two hundred years, it appears to have been the scene of a remarkable contest. In the year 1194, Rhŷs ab Grufydd, Prince of South Wales, was deprived of part of his territory by Sir Roger Mortimer, who is stated by Caradoc of Llancarvan, already quoted, "to have marched a strong body to Melyenith, and built the castle of Cymaron, whereby he reduced the country to his subjection." In 1196, Prince Rhŷs levied a large army, and, leading it into the Marches of Wales, invested Clun Castle, which, says Caradoc, "cost him a long siege and many a fierce assault; therefore, to glut his vengeance, when he took it, he laid it in ashes." Thence he proceeded to Radnor Castle, which he likewise captured; but Roger Mortimer and Hugh de Say, immediately after, came with a numerous and well-disciplined army, consisting of Normans and English, to the relief of it. Rhŷs, not deeming it prudent to confine his men within the walls, led them out into "a campaign ground hard by," and at once resolved to give his enemies battle, though his forces were neither so well armed, nor so much accustomed to fighting, as were the English. The courage of the Welsh made amends for their want of suitable arms, and their leader's prudence supplied the place of discipline; the attack was boldly made, and the English were not long able to withstand their force, but quitted the field in great disorder, leaving a great number of their men slain upon the spot. Prince Rhŷs pursued them closely, and they were glad of the protection of the night to escape from his fury. Three mounds are still to be seen in the open plain, by the side of the turnpikeroad, about a mile and a half eastward of Radnor; they bear the appearance of burial-places after a battle, and their position accords precisely with the historical record of the engagement between Rhŷs and Mortimer: one of them, called the Knap, is of considerable size. The battle being ended, Mortimer and Say withdrew their forces to the shelter of Wigmore Castle, and Rhŷs proceeded to lay siege to "the castle of Payn in Elvel." It was at New Radnor that Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, a few years before this, in 1188, entered on his mission to preach the crusades throughout Wales. He was attended to this place by Ranulph de Glanville, justiciary of England, and was here received by Rhŷs and several other Welsh chieftains: he was accompanied in his pious and arduous undertaking by Giraldus Cambrensis, the historian of the expedition.
Such was the state of society in these times, that but a very few years elapsed before the din of war, with blood and sorrow in its train, was again heard around the walls of Radnor. In the year 1216, the English barons being engaged in their struggles to restrain the tyranny of King John, invited and obtained the aid of the Dauphin of France; marched to Winchester, where the king lay; and drove him thence for safety, says Caradoc, "to Hereford, in the Marches of Wales." Here King John applied to Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, Prince of North Wales, whose residence was at Aber, near Bangor, and to Reginald de Breos, owner of the strongholds of Brecknock, &c.; imploring their aid against the French. But "they refusing to hearken to his proposals," he destroyed Radnor and Hay Castles, and then marched forward to Oswestry, which he burned to the ground. Radnor now seems to have enjoyed the blessings of repose for the space of fifteen years. In 1231, King Richard, who was himself occupied in wars in France, left Hubert de Burgh in charge of the defence of the Marches; and it appears that Prince Llewelyn came against Hubert, in person, with a large army, and, encamping before Montgomery Castle, forced him to withdraw. Then making himself master of the place, he burned it to the ground, and put the garrison to the sword. The like fate attended the castles of Radnor, Rhaiadr, and other places. From this defeat, however, it seems that the dwellers in the Marches took no long time to recover; for in 1233, says the historian whom we have been quoting, the English in Wales, being in expectation of King Henry's coming thither, began to repair and fortify their castles, and particularly, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, rebuilt Radnor Castle, which the Prince of North Wales had so lately destroyed. In the year 1263, the castle was besieged by the confederate forces of Llewelyn ab Grufydd, Prince of North Wales, and the two sons of the celebrated Simon de Montfort; and, being taken, was destroyed by them. But although no further account of it occurs in the mean time, it was probably rebuilt, as its final destruction, together with laying the town in ruins, is stated, in the charter of incorporation granted by Queen Elizabeth, to have been effected by Owain Glyndwr. This chieftain, in 1401, having posted himself on Plinlimmon Hill, thence despatched his forces on plundering excursions, during which they destroyed the abbey of Cwm Hîr, and took the castle of Radnor, causing the whole garrison, it is said, to the number of sixty men, to be beheaded on the brink of the castle yard. Whatever might have been the importance of the place before this period, there is little doubt that it suffered a fatal shock by the attack of Owain Glyndwr. As a fortress, it was still entitled to some consideration; but as a market-town, Kington and Presteign, both situated within the distance of a few miles, from their more advantageous position, necessarily surpassed it.
It was not until the reign of Henry VIII. that the government of Wales was undertaken in a rational and benevolent spirit; and that an improved system was at length adopted, was mainly owing to the activity, good sense, and sound policy of Roland Lee, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, who was appointed in the year 1535 Lord President of the court held at Ludlow for the government of Wales and its Marches. His mission was, to reform and civilize the country entrusted to his charge. It was he who first obliged the Welsh gentry to abide by fixed surnames; and he not only cleared the Marches of the robbers by which they were infested, but found the means for effecting the final union of England and Wales. In a letter of Bishop Lee's to Thomas, Lord Cromwell, which has been published by Sir Henry Ellis, and bears date 26th December, 1535, he gives a lamentable picture of the state to which the country had been reduced by severity and misrule; a state so unlike that in which, by the influence of a milder policy, it has long continued to exist. "I have been," he says, "at Presteigne, where I was right hartily welcomed by Sir James Baskerville, and many other, without spears as heretofore had been used; which journey was thought dangerous by some, but, God willing, I intend after Easter to lye one month at Presteigne, even among the thickest of the theives, to do my master such service as the strongest of them shall be afraid to do as before, God willing." He then proceeds to say, "Radnor Castle is not to be repaired, but only a prison-house amended, which must needs be done, for there have been lost by evil keeping no less than eight theeves, and they have no place to keep them: all may not be brought to Ludlow." Of the state of Radnor after its destruction by Glyndwr, some judgment may likewise be formed from the description given by Leland, whose visit must have taken place about the year 1540 or 1545. He writes: "New Radnor town is metely well walled, and in the wall appeareth the ruins of four gates. There is an old church standing now as a chapel by the castle: not very far thence is the new church built by William Bachefield and Flory his wife. There goeth by the town, as I remember, a brook called Somergill. The building of the town, in some part, is meatly good, in most part but rude, many houses being thatched: the castle is in ruin, but a part of the gate hath been of late amended. The town was defaced in Henry IV.'s days, by Owen Glendower. The voice is there, that after he had won the castle, he took three-score men that had the garde of the castell, and caused them to be beheaded on the brink of the castle yard, and that since, a certaine blood-worth groweth where the blood was shed." He, however, who shall now search for this "certaine bloodwort," will as certainly search in vain.
History records another interesting incident connected with the district. A List of "the Marches and Removes of Charles I., from the time of his leaving London in 1641," has been preserved by Thomas Manley, who says that he was an eye-witness, together with his father, of what he has recorded. In this curious document, which bears the name of "Iter Carolinum," he states that Charles, after the defeat at Naseby in June 1645, crossed the Wye and took refuge in Monmouthshire, where his time was passed chiefly at Raglan Castle and at Tredegar: but "the approach of the Scots," says Manley, "involved us in a most disastrous condition, and made us doubt whither to go." After a futile attempt to reach Bristol, the ill-fated wanderer moved on the 5th of August to Brecknock; on the 6th he moved to Gwernyvet, where he dined with Sir Henry Williams. They went thence, says the record, "to Old Radnor, to supper; a yeoman's house; the court dispersed:" "on the 7th to Ludlow Castle; no dinner; Colonel Wodehouse." It is well known that the farmhouse in which the king lodged at Old Radnor stands west of the church, and is called The Stones: a room fitted with oak wainscot, in which he slept, remained unaltered down to a late period in the last century. Sir Henry Slingsby, of Scriven, who accompanied the king, has made a singular entry in his Diary, of this royal visit to the borough of Radnor. Speaking of Charles and his attendant party, he says, that being foiled and defeated by the activity of Poynze, "we gained so much time by the ways which we took through the almost inaccessible mountains of Wales, that he troubled our march no more till we got to Chester. In all our quarters we had little accommodation, but the best (? least) at Old Radnor, where the king lay in a poor low chamber, and my Lord Lindsey and others by the kitchen-fire, on hay. No better were we accommodated for victuals; which makes me remember this passage:—When the king was at his supper, eating a pullet and a piece of cheese, the room without was full, but the men's stomachs were empty for want of meat. The good wife, troubled with continual calling upon her for victuals, and having, it seems, but one cheese, comes into the room where the king was, and very soberly asks if the king had done with the cheese, for that the gentlemen without desired it." It would seem by this notice, that in all the monarch's wanderings, the strictness of courtly etiquette was studiously maintained.
In its present state the town of New Radnor, which contains from eighty to ninety houses, wears rather a mean appearance: it is built principally of a perishable slaty stone, which gives an aspect of decay to many of the buildings. Within the last ten years, however, it has been very considerably improved. The church built by William Bachefield and his wife Flory has been taken down, and a new church of smaller dimensions erected on the site, forming an interesting feature in the town. A new gaol has been built, and the town-hall rendered not only more commodious, but much more respectable in its external appearance. Several houses, of a character greatly superior to that of the old ones, have lately been built; the bridge at the entrance of the town has been widened, and the approaches to it altered and improved. The market, which was held on Tuesday, has altogether fallen into disuse: fairs take place on the Tuesday before Holy-Thursday, the Tuesday after Trinity-Sunday, on August 14th, and October 28th and 29th, which last is numerously attended.
The borough is of very early creation. The charter of incorporation granted by Queen Elizabeth refers to it as a borough that had long existed under charters from various lords of the Marches, and which then, as now, comprehended the whole of the extensive parishes of Old and New Radnor, and Llanvihangel-Nant-Melan, together with parts of Cascob and Llandegley, forming a district nearly thirty miles in circumference. This royal charter, by a neglect in filling up the vacancies that occurred in the corporation by the death of its members, at length became inoperative, and a new charter was therefore granted in the 12th of George II., which confirmed and extended the privileges conferred by the former charters. The government is vested by the charter in twenty-five capital burgesses, who must be selected from burgesses resident within the borough. It is their duty to elect from among their own number, annually on the first Monday after the feast of the Holy Cross, a bailiff and two aldermen, who act as magistrates for two successive years. They also elect a recorder, who holds his office for life. There are thus seven magistrates, who preside both at the quarterly and the petty sessions, and act within the limits of the borough, to the exclusion of the county magistrates, in all matters, and with respect to all crimes and offences not punishable by death. They are assisted by a town-clerk, a coroner, two chamberlains, and two serjeants-at-mace; and are empowered to levy on all property situate within the limits of the borough a rate of the nature of a county rate, out of which the town-hall and gaol, the borough bridges, and all other lawful corporate expenses, are provided for. The charter requires them to hold a court weekly for the recovery of debts and the determination of pleas not exceeding 40s.: at this court the bailiff presides, assisted by the town-clerk. The petty-sessions are held every Monday. With the exception of the Cascob portion, the borough is included in the jurisdiction of the new county debtcourt of Kington; the Cascob portion is in that of the county debt-court of Presteign. The court for the election of the knight of the shire may also be held here, though it has not been for more than half a century. It appears indeed, by the act of the 27th of Henry VIII., that New Radnor was constituted the shire town of the newly-erected county of Radnor, and that the assizes and quarter-sessions were directed to be held alternately here and at Rhaiadr; but by subsequent acts of the 35th and 36th of the same reign, the courts were ordered to be held alternately here and at Presteign, to which latter town the assizes have since been wholly removed, and where they now invariably take place. New Radnor has been appointed a polling-place for the surrounding district, at the county election.
This borough returns a member to parliament in conjunction with the boroughs of Knighton, Rhaiadr, Cnwclas, and Kevenlleece, to which the town of Presteign with a large adjoining rural district was added by the act passed in 1832 to "Amend the Representation." The right of election, heretofore vested in the burgesses generally, is now, by the act just mentioned, vested in the surviving members of the former constituency, if resident, and in every male person of full age occupying either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or premises of the annual value of not less than £10. The number of voters within the limits of the borough of New Radnor, in 1847, was 137; and the total number of voters, including the contributory boroughs, 515.
By the grant contained in the charter of George II., the borough is entitled to property which has gradually become of little value. The capital burgesses are lords of the manor of Radnor Foreign, which is held to extend over all the mesne manors within the limits of the borough. The forest of Radnor, once a royal chase, and the manor of Newcastle, were the only lordships reserved by the crown within the district, and the first of these was sold during the reign of Charles I. to an ancestor of the Right Hon. Sir Frankland Lewis, of Harpton, Bart., and M.P. for the borough, by whom the lordship is now possessed. The other property, the manor of Newcastle, was purchased of the crown, of late years, by the late John Whittaker, Esq., of Newcastle. As lords of the manor, the corporation became entitled not only to the advantages arising from the waste land, but to certain fee-farm rents, from which an income exceeding £40 a year was regularly collected down to the end of the last century. A fee-farm rent, however, amounting to £37. 8. 1½., had been originally reserved by the crown, and subsequently granted to the Duke of Leeds. This charge very nearly absorbed the annual income of the borough; the payments were suffered to fall into arrear, and about the year 1812 the then Duke of Leeds' claims on the corporate property were purchased for the sum of £1000 by Sir Frankland Lewis, who is thus entitled to receive whatever income the borough property still produces. This, being confined to the tolls collected at the October fair, and the rent of about sixty-five acres of land allotted under the Llanvihangel and New Radnor inclosure acts, does not suffice to liquidate the claims annually accruing for the fee-farm rent originally reserved by the crown. The large arrears formerly due to the Duke of Leeds, and the amount still annually accruing, remain undischarged.
The parish comprises from 2500 to 3000 acres. Of this area, 1150 acres are rich loamy pasture land, and a fertile tract capable of producing good crops of corn, the whole inclosed; and about 990 acres are allotted in severalty under the powers of the inclosure act, but have not as yet been actually inclosed. The upper part comprehends a portion of the mountain range of the forest of Radnor, consisting of about 360 acres; the lower part of the parish is partly flat and partly undulated. The land around the town is of excellent quality, and the neighbouring hills have of late years been decorated by the plantations of the Right Hon. Sir Frankland Lewis. These extend over from three to four hundred acres, and consist chiefly of larch and oak, both of which appear to flourish, the former planted on the sides and lofty summits of the hills, and the latter at their base. Care has been taken to plant that description of oak which is known, by the long stalk of its acorn, to be the quercus robur of the botanists, and which flourishes in such remarkable beauty in the adjoining county of Hereford. The quercus sessilifora, the acorn of which has the shortest possible stalk, is the native oak of Radnorshire, and is a tree of slower growth and smaller dimensions, the leaves of which lose their verdure much earlier in the autumn, but of which the timber is thought to be fully equal, if not superior, to that of its loftier and more beautiful rival. On the Vron Hill, westward of the town, the declivity is so steep that cattle and horses cannot well be pastured there. It has been found possible, therefore, to raise larch upon the declivity (when planted above the reach of sheep) without any fence or protection whatever: the trees, being placed from fifteen to twenty feet apart, grow freely in their natural forms, and are singularly ornamental. On the southern side of the valley is an extensive plantation of larch, which, though growing in a shallow soil on a plate of limestone, and exposed to the full force of the westerly wind, is seen to thrive with the greatest vigour. It is evident, from the fine plantations in this district, that the larch will endure cold, exposure, and hardship of every sort, if only it is not planted in a wet, retentive soil: where heath grows, it is useless to plant larch. Among the other features of interest in the vicinity of the town, is the curious fall of Water-break-its-neck, one of the largest and most celebrated cascades in Wales: it is situated amidst scenery of the most romantic character, about two miles west of New Radnor, in the parish of Llanvihangel-Nant-Melan. North-west of the town, one of the summits of the mountainous tract of Radnor forest, called Wimble, embraces a view of great extent over several of the adjoining counties, including some pleasing scenery in the immediate neighbourhood, with several gentlemen's seats. Downton House, in the parish, the property of the late Percival Lewis, Esq., is now the residence of Sir W. S. R. Cockburn, only son of the late General Sir William Cockburn, Bart.
The living is a rectory, rated in the king's books at £13. 10. 10., and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; net income, about £300, with a glebe of three acres, and twelve acres of hilly ground allotted under the inclosure act. Dr. Merewether, Dean of Hereford, is the present incumbent. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, and situated on the declivity of a lofty hill to the north of the town, has been rebuilt at an expense of £1500, of which sum a third part was raised by mortgaging the parish rates, and the remainder by subscription. The new edifice, which was consecrated in the month of August, 1845, though smaller than the former church, is sufficiently commodious, and has considerable architectural beauty. The windows are lancetshaped, and the tower, at the western end, though small, is handsome and well proportioned. The south transept was built solely at the expense of the owner of the house at Downton; the north transept at the sole cost of the owner of Harpton Court, Old Radnor; and the seats in these portions of the church are permanently appropriated to the two properties, respectively. The rectory-house is a poor, thatched building, unfit for the residence of the officiating minister, and let, with a large garden, at £6 a year. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. In 1788, Mr. John Green, of Hereford, bequeathed £300, for the purpose of raising a fund of £10 per annum as a salary for a schoolmaster, to teach fifteen boys of this parish and five of that of Glâscomb, and £3 per annum for buying bread for industrious housekeepers, to be distributed on the first Sunday in every month; the residue, if any, to be applied in purchasing cloths for the pulpit, desk, and altar, fine linen for the communion-table, and a hearse and pall for the poor. The bequest was lent on mortgage, and in the year 1817 was called in, and applied in the purchase of £499 three per cent. consols. Of the interest accruing, nearly £15 a year, £10 are paid to a master for instructing twenty children, he being also allowed to take pay-scholars; £3 are distributed in fifteen fourpenny loaves among fifteen aged widows and men, and the remainder is left to accumulate in the banker's hands. There is a small charity school for girls, and one or two Sunday schools are supported. A small estate called Longney, in the county of Gloucester, was devised to the parish by Henry Smith, of London, in 1627, the proceeds of which are distributed among the poor: being subject to inundation from the river Severn, the land varies greatly in its value, the rent fluctuating from £7 to £15 a year. A bequest of £50, by an unknown donor, was allowed to accumulate, with its interest, in consequence of a suit in the court of exchequer, until it amounted to £104. 7. three per cent. consols, the interest of which, £3. 2. 6., after three or four years' addition, is expended in the purchase of fuel for distribution among the settled poor. Of the lost charities may be enumerated, one of £40 by John Bedward in 1668, called the Vron charity from a supposed rent-charge bought on that property with the amount; and another charity of £5, by Thomas Eccleston, in the same year, which is thought to have been distributed soon after the testator's death. The parish is comprised in the poor-law union of Kington. Radnor gives the title of Earl to the Bouverie family.
RADNOR (OLD), a parish, comprising the townships of Ednol, Evenjob with Bareland, Kinnerton with Badland, Old Radnor, Walton, and part of Harpton, in the liberties of the borough of New Radnor, union of Kington, county of Radnor, South Wales, 3 miles (E. S. E.) from New Radnor; containing 1744 inhabitants. This place by the Welsh is called Pencraig, a name it derives from the situation of its church on the summit of a rock. It was anciently of some importance, and had a castle, which Sir Richard Colt Hoare identifies, but not satisfactorily, with that mentioned by Giraldus Cambriensis under the appellation of "Cruker." The parish is of great extent, comprising 10,069a. 3r. 9p., of which 7700 acres are titheable. It is intersected by a stream called Somergill, and also by the Hendwell, a brook issuing from a small lake of the same name, which abounds with excellent trout and eels. The surface is principally flat, partly undulated, and in some places rising into hills of considerable elevation; the lands, with the exception of some tracts of wood, are in a good state of cultivation, and the soil is in general a fertile loam, well adapted for the growth of corn, and affording pasturage for sheep and cattle. In the southern part of the parish is an extensive deposit of transition limestone, from which a very valuable supply of stone for making lime is obtained. The parish is crossed by the turnpike-road from Hereford through Kington to Aberystwith. The surrounding scenery is agreeably diversified, and the parish is enlivened with several gentlemen's seats, among which are, Harpton Court, the residence of the Right Hon. Sir Thomas Frankland Lewis, Bart., a handsome mansion in grounds tastefully laid out; Evenjob, Womaston, and Newcastle Court, all good houses pleasantly situated, and forming interesting features in the scenery of the place.
The living is a vicarage, with the chapel of Kinnerton annexed, rated in the king's books at £35. 1. 0½., and in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester; net income, £180, with a glebe-house. It was originally a rectory, but was made a vicarage in 1534, when the rectorial tithes and the patronage were given to the Dean and Chapter, who at present are in possession of all the tithes of the parish, and pay a small stipend to the vicar, who is further supported by the interest of £800 parliamentary grant, and by £63 per annum assigned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in 1841, out of the fund raised by the suspension of certain canonries and prebends. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £1330, embracing a portion of Herefordshire, and there is a glebe of three acres, valued at £5 per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Stephen, is a spacious and venerable structure, with a lofty square tower containing six bells; the body consists of a nave, with north and south aisles, and a chancel, separated from the rest by a screen of richly carved oak, which extends across the nave and both the aisles. The font is of large dimensions, rudely carved out of a single stone; and on the north side of the chancel stand the remains of a singular organcase, of large size, elaborately carved in oak: there are some handsome monuments of modern erection to the family of Lewis, of Harpton. Near the church is the site of an ancient house, supposed to have been a nunnery, or more probably the rectoryhouse; the moat by which it was surrounded is still plainly visible. At Ednol and Kinnerton are chapels of ease, the former of which has become a ruin, though the township of Ednol is exempt from churchrates on account of its liability to uphold the chapel. There are two places of worship for dissenters.
Lady Joan Hartstongue, of Trewerne, bequeathed a house and fifty-nine acres of land at Weythel, for the foundation of a school for the gratuitous instruction of children of the township of Trewern with Gwiller, in the parish of Llanvihangel-Nant-Melan, and the township of Old Radnor with Burlinjob and Weythel, in the parish of Old Radnor. The annual income arising from the endowment is £32, exclusive of repairs, rates, &c. National schools have been just built; another school is held, and the parish contains three Sunday schools. A farm named the Wolfpits, now producing £14 per annum, and a rentcharge of £1 on another farm named Barland, were bequeathed by unknown benefactors to the poor; and Mrs. Cassandra Davis, in 1744, left to poor persons not receiving parochial relief, some land called Broken Bank, of which the proportion for this parish produces £2 per annum, which is regularly paid; as is likewise a bequest of forty shillings per annum, charged on an estate called the Callenders, a grant by Edward Hughes, in 1680. Among the charities lost is a bequest left in the year 1777, by Thomas Lewis, Esq., of Harpton, who directed his executors to purchase stock to secure an annuity for preaching two annual sermons, for which the minister was to receive £1. 1., the clerk 10s., and the sexton 5s.; and also that £2 should be distributed among the deserving poor: he likewise in a codicil bequeathed £50, annually, to the poor, to be paid out of his India Bonds; but the testator's India Bonds were sold during his lifetime.—See Radnor, New.
RADNORSHIRE, an inland county of South Wales, bounded on the north side by the county of Montgomery (in North Wales), on the west by Cardiganshire, on the south-west and south sides by Brecknockshire, on the east by the English county of Hereford, and on the north-east by that of Salop. It extends from 52° 2ft. to 52° 27ft. (N. Lat.), and from 2° 59ft. to 3° 45ft. (W. Lon.), and comprises an area, according to Mr. Carey's Communications to the Board of Agriculture, of three hundred and ninety square miles, or two hundred and forty-nine thousand six hundred statute acres. It contains 4716 inhabited houses, 225 uninhabited, and 19 in course of erection; and the population is 25,356, of which number, 12,826 are males, and 12,530 females. The annual value of real property assessed to the property and income tax, for the year ending April 1843, was as follows: lands, £107,648; houses, £14,864; tithes, £6039; railway property, £316; quarries, £79; manors, £40: making a total for the county, of £128,986.
As this district never contained any very large or important town within its limits, or formed of itself a separate community until the act of Henry VIII. raised it to the rank of a county, it does not appear to have taken any signal or prominent part in the events which marked the troubled history of Wales. At the period of the invasion of Britain by the Romans, it was included in the territory of the Silures, who so greatly distinguished themselves by their resolute opposition to the progress of the Roman arms. After their subjugation, which was partly effected by Ostorius Scapula, and completed by Julius Frontinus, it contained a Roman station at Cwm, on the western bank of the river Ithon, between one and two miles to the north-east of Llandrindod Wells; and was traversed by several vicinal ways. Upon the abandonment of Britain by the Romans, it became a portion of the territory of Ferregs, between the rivers Severn and Wye, and was subjected to Caradog Vraichvras, or "Caradoc with the Brawny Arm," ruler of Brecknock, who flourished about the commencement of the sixth century, and is celebrated in Welsh story, as one of Arthur's knights. The derivation of the present Welsh name of the county, Maesyved or MaesHyved (which has been noticed under the head of New Radnor), is by some persons deduced from Hyvaidd, the name of one of the sons of Caradog Vraichvras, for whom his father is said to have formed this portion of his lands into a separate lordship. Offa, King of Mercia, having expelled the Britons from nearly the whole of the fertile province of Ferregs, introduced into the eastern part of the district a Saxon population, and constructed the celebrated line of demarcation still called Offa's Dyke, which, however, included within the Saxon territory only the easternmost extremity of the present county of Radnor. In the division of the sovereignty of Wales by Roderic the Great, among his three sons, the territory forming the present county of Radnor is thought, but on slight grounds, to have been comprised in the kingdom of Powys. The scene of the great battle which was fought about the year 1088, between Rhŷs ab Tewdwr and the sons of Bleddyn ab Cynvyn, for the sovereignty of South Wales, and which terminated in favour of the former, has been generally laid at Llêchrhŷd, in the parish of Disserth, near the banks of the Wye, in this county; but it is now, with more probability, considered to have been at Llêchrhŷd, on the Teivy, near Cardigan.
After the Norman conquest of England, the territory of Maesyved became the prey of the Norman adventurers who successfully attacked the adjoining districts of Brecknockshire and Herefordshire: the family of de Breos, and the Mortimers, had the most extensive domains in it. In the year 1196, Rhŷs ab Grufydd, Prince of South Wales, invading the Marches, took the castles of Radnor and Painscastle-in-Elvel, in the county. Trahaern Vychan, a Welshman of great influence in the territory of Brecknock, having been treacherously and barbarously murdered, about this time, by William de Breos, lord of Brecknock and Abergavenny, Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powys, who was related to Trahaern by marriage, marched a body of troops into Breos' territories, in Radnorshire, and laid siege to Painscastle, declaring that, after he had gained that fortress, he would devastate with fire the whole country as far as the Severn; a sacrifice, he added, which he owed to the manes of Trahaern Vychan his kinsman. The Welsh chieftain, however, having no means of destroying the fortifications, lay for three weeks before the castle without capturing it, which gave time for William de Breos to receive reinforcements from England, under Geoffry FitzPeter, the justiciary, and from several of the lords marcher, who came to his assistance. But as the issue of hostilities might be uncertain, he proposed terms of peace to Gwenwynwyn; which the latter indignantly refused, his followers declaring their firm resolution of avenging, in this enterprise, the past wrongs of their country. The English then released from confinement Grufydd, son of the late Rhŷs ab Grufydd, between whom and Gwenwynwyn they knew that a deadly feud subsisted; and being joined by the Welsh forces immediately raised by that chieftain, they advanced to the relief of Painscastle. Gwenwynwyn, confident in his strength, deviated from the wary system of warfare generally pursued by his nation, and opposed the English in an open plain, where he was defeated, with the loss of three thousand men slain, besides a great number of prisoners, among whom were many of considerable note.
In the year 1282, Llewelyn, the last native sovereign of Wales, marched with his little army to Aberedw, or Aberedow, where he had a castle or mansion, on the Radnorshire side of the Wye, three miles below Builth, in expectation of their holding a conference with some of his friends; but his object having been treacherously communicated to the enemy, he was surprised by the approach of a superior force from Herefordshire, under the command of Edmund Mortimer and John Giffard. The unfortunate prince then endeavoured to effect his escape, and arrived at the bridge over the Wye in time to cross it, and break it down, before his pursuers came up. Thus baffled in their object, the English returned downwards to a ford known to some of the party, about eight miles below, near a ferry, at that time and still called Caban Twm Bâch, or "Little Tom's ferry-boat," where they crossed; and thus ceased the movements of the two parties in this county. The sequel of this melancholy transaction is described in the article on Aberedw.
During the war waged by Owain Glyndwr against Henry IV., the former, in the year 1401, destroyed the abbey of Cwm Hîr, in this county, and took the castle of Radnor, causing the garrison, it is said, amounting to threescore men, to be beheaded on the brink of the castle yard. After this event, Owain, by his continued successes, excited so much alarm in Henry, that the latter resolved to march against him in person: he issued writs to the lieutenants of thirtyfour counties, requiring them to assemble their respective forces, and attend him at Lichfield, on the 7th of July, 1402. But before the royal army could be collected, Owain had advanced with his troops to the borders of South Wales, in the direction of Herefordshire, carrying fire and sword into the lands of his opponents. Of these none suffered so severely as the vassals and tenants of Edward Mortimer, Earl of March, a child of ten years of age, whose uncle, Sir Edmund Mortimer, collected a large body of his nephew's tenants and retainers, as well in Herefordshire, as from the district of Maelienydd in Radnorshire, and with these marched to resist the invader. The two armies met on Bryn Glâs, a mountain near Pilleth, a little to the south-west of Knighton, and the battle raged in the valley below, where victory declared in favour of Owain. Eleven hundred men fell on the side of Mortimer; and, as the loss was suffered chiefly by the people of Herefordshire, there seems reason to believe that March's Welsh retainers were not hearty in his cause. It is to this battle, and to some "shameful villanie," as Holinshed calls it, "used towards the dead carcases," that Shakspeare finely and mysteriously alludes, in the First Part of Henry IV. When the conflicts ceased which "the irregular and wild Glendower" had excited, this district seems to have sunk into repose; but under the rule of the lords marcher (a singular compound of hostility and government), Wales, though sometimes composed, was never pacified. It was not until, by the act 27th of Henry VIII., cap. 26, the rights and privileges of English subjects were extended to Wales, that peace, order, and obedience were established; by that act Radnorshire was included amongst the newly-established counties.
The COUNTY is partly in the diocese of Hereford, and partly in that of St. David's, and is wholly in the province of Canterbury. The portion included in the former diocese (consisting of the parishes of Presteign, Old and New Radnor, Norton, Knighton, and Michaelchurch-on-Arrow) is comprised in the archdeaconry of Hereford, and deanery of Leominster; and that in the latter, in the archdeaconry of Brecknock, and deaneries of Upper and Lower Elvel, and Melenith sub Ithon and ultra Ithon. The total number of parishes is fifty-three, of which fourteen are rectories, sixteen vicarages, and the rest perpetual curacies. For purposes of civil government it is divided into the six hundreds of Colwyn, Kevenlleece or Cevnllŷs, Knighton, Painscastle, Radnor, and Rhaiadr. It returns to parliament one knight for the shire, and one member for the borough of New Radnor and the contributory boroughs of Presteign, Knighton, Rhaiadr, Cnwclas, and Kevenlleece. The assizes are held at Presteign, where the gaol and house of correction are situated, and where the chief business of the county is transacted. The county elections are usually held there, though they may be held at New Radnor, where the member for the boroughs must be chosen. The polling-places appointed by the act of 1832 to "Amend the Representation," are Colwyn, Knighton, Painscastle, Peny-Bont, Presteign, Radnor, and Rhaiadr. Presteign, Knighton, and Rhaiadr are the principal market-towns: New Radnor has the privilege of a market, but none is held there. The county comprises nearly the whole of the poor-law union of Rhaiadr, and part of the unions of Hay, Builth, Kington, Presteign, and Knighton.
Radnorshire is one of the most regularly-shaped counties in the principality, being a trapezium, the mean dimensions of which are about twenty-two miles by twenty. Its surface throughout is hilly. In many places the mountains attain to a considerable elevation, the summit of the Forest of Radnor being two thousand one hundred and sixty-three feet above the level of the sea. The hills have generally a regular outline, with gradual slopes and rounded summits; but in many parts, abrupt declivities and deep ravines relieve the monotony of the scenery. There are several small lakes worthy of mention, viz., one in the vicinity of Rhaiadr, near the road leading from that town to Aberystwith, the most picturesque and interesting lake within the limits of the county; Llyn Gwyn, a piece of water of considerable size, situated within a few miles of Rhaiadr, in the opposite direction; Llyn Llanillin, about a mile in circumference, and containing abundance of fish, singularly situated near LlanvihangelNant-Melan, in an elevated mountain-valley; and Llys;n Bychllyn, in the vicinity of Painscastle.
Of the superficial area of the county, only about one-third is supposed to be inclosed, and of this inclosed portion not more than a fourth part is under the plough at the same time. In the vicinity of market-towns, and on farms where the soil is good, the cultivation of grain for sale prevails to a considerable extent; but, as regards the whole of the county, it must be observed, that the distance from large corn-markets, the high price of lime, and the roughness and moisture of the climate, operate as great discouragements to the growth of grain; and the chief object of most of the farmers is to grow only what is sufficient for their own consumption, viewing their stock of sheep, cattle, and horses, as the main sources of profit. It is a common practice to plough a piece of sward (which is sometimes pared and burnt for a crop of wheat), and to take, in the first instance, one or two crops of oats; then to summer-fallow the land, giving it all the manure of the farm, and what lime can be procured, for a crop of wheat: after this the land is generally thought capable of bearing a crop of barley, with which the better sort of farmers sow clover and grass seeds; the crop is mown the first year, and afterwards the land is suffered to rest, whilst some other portion of the farm undergoes the same process. Rye, and a mixture of rye and wheat (called Monks'-corn), were formerly much grown, but they are now seldom seen. Potatoes, as a field crop, are extensively and successfully cultivated: peas, though precarious and unprofitable, are sometimes sown; and flax, for domestic purposes, rather than for sale.
In the mode of cultivation there is little that is peculiar; the implements are cheap and imperfect, though much improved. A light cart, drawn by three small stout horses, is in general use; wagons also are common. A ground sledge with two wheels in front, called a wheel-car, is found useful in drawing heavy weights down steep declivities; and a rude car without any wheels is still used for purposes for which the former may not be convenient. The ploughs in general use have a bent iron mould-board, similar to those in Herefordshire; but the Scotch plough, drawn by two horses abreast, is gradually advancing into use throughout the county. The fertile districts that are found in the Vales of Wye, Lug, and Teme (to which may be added the Vale of Radnor), are subject to a better system of cultivation: in these tracts turnips are grown to a considerable extent, being drilled on ridges, in imitation of the Scotch practice. On the red soils of Glâsbury and Clyro the two favourite objects of Herefordshire husbandry, namely the hop and the apple, might be cultivated with advantage. Throughout the whole county irrigation is successfully, though somewhat rudely and unskilfully, practised: the rapid fall of the brooks facilitates the construction of new watercourses, which are not unfrequently conducted in long continued lines along the steep sides of the valleys; and the purest water, issuing at once from the clay-slate rocks, often produces most fertilizing effects in cases where no deposit of earthy matter can be discerned by the eye. The assistance thus obtained from various mountain streams enables the farmers to mow annually considerable tracts of land, the produce of which chiefly supports their cattle and horses during the winter. Such land as cannot be irrigated, and which may be also too steep and rugged, or at too great a distance from the farmyard, to be advantageously ploughed, is usually devoted to the pasturage of cattle and horses, both of which are reared in considerable numbers.
The black cattle which still prevail in the adjoining county of Cardigan, have not for many years been much bred in Radnorshire. They gave place to a coarse hardy variety of the long-horned breed, introduced from Shropshire; these are generally of a brindled colour, and give much milk, but though some of them still remain, they have in a great measure been superseded by the Herefordshire breed, which, being found to be sufficiently hardy to endure the scanty food and rough climate, have the advantage of growing to a larger size, and possess a greater aptitude to fatten. The draught horse in general use is rather small, but capable of enduring great fatigue. The original Welsh ponies are still bred in the mountains, and their price in the markets has of late years increased: of their activity, courage, and patience, and of their strength, as compared with their size and the little sustenance they require, it is difficult to dilate in terms too favourable. Where so large a portion of the surface is uninclosed, the pasturage of the commons necessarily forms an object of interest to the farmers. Upon the lower ranges of commons the young cattle of the farm, of every kind, are frequently pastured; but for the most part cattle are found to require more attendance and care than can well be afforded them on commons. Accordingly, throughout the entire county, the breeding of sheep is the primary object of the farmers occupying farms adjoining the open lands. On the western side of it a small active breed prevails, mostly without horns, with white faces and legs, and having long, open, coarse wool, abounding with kemps. But in the Forest of Radnor, and on the lower hills on the north and south of that elevated range, a breed has been produced by the introduction of rams from Shropshire: these sheep are well covered with a fleece of thick close wool, and have larger carcases than those just described; they are, however, less hardy, and can only be maintained by farmers who can afford some shelter to their stock during the winter, which is done either by pasturing them in their own inclosures, or tacking them out in the adjoining counties of Hereford and Salop. Throughout the county it is the practice to take the ewes into the inclosed grounds in October, and, if possible, the lambs of the preceding spring also; the wether sheep, for the most part, brave the climate of the hills during the whole of the year. These sheep, when fat, usually weigh from nine to fourteen pounds per quarter, and their fleeces average from two to three pounds: vast numbers of them are driven into Essex and Hertfordshire, where the superior quality of the mutton ensures for them a ready sale. Large quantities of butter are still made in the county, though it is chiefly an object to the smaller farmers: it is salted during the summer, and placed with great care and cleanliness in tubs, in which it was thus formerly carried to the fairs in Herefordshire and Shropshire: some of this article of produce, however, has of late years been sold by the farmers at their own houses. Oxen, which were formerly much used in husbandry, are now sold at too early an age to be so employed, and almost the whole draught of the county is now executed by horses.
In a county of which nearly two-thirds are uninclosed, it may be presumed that there exists great capability of improvement, and the large tracts of low commons which are seen on passing through the centre of it tend to confirm this idea. Of late years, considerable encroachments have been made on the wastes both by cottagers and by farmers, and even this lawless process has tended much to improve the lands taken in. About six parishes have been submitted to the operation of inclosure acts, but the expense attending the allotment of the land, and the still greater cost of maintaining the fences, have discouraged attempts of this sort: in the immediate vicinity of Rhaiadr, the most beneficial effects have resulted, the produce of a small common having been increased many hundredfold, to the great advantage of the inhabitants of that town. Many tracts still remain which are susceptible of almost equal improvement; but the rough surface of the pasture land throughout the greater part of the county, overgrown as it is, in many places, with rushes, shows that, without an extensive and effectual system of drainage, the soil can never be brought to its utmost point of fertility. It is by this, rather than any other mode, that the reclaiming of the lowlands can be effected. On the hills the use of ironwire in fencing has been introduced to some extent, and is likely to enable the farmers to defend their lands from the mountain sheep, where no other means would avail.
Radnorshire was anciently distinguished for its large woods and forests, but these, excepting a few scattered coppices of comparatively small extent, have disappeared. The forests of Radnor, Cnwclas, Colwyn, and Blethvaugh, continue such in name, and still suggest the idea of extensive wooded tracts; but if at any time they were covered with wood, except that of Blethvaugh, they have long ceased to be so in reality. The mountain sheep have been the chief destroyers of the woods; no ordinary fences can restrain them, and when once a wood has been felled, by browsing the young shoots in the spring, they have effectually prevented a renewed growth. On the estates of the principal landed proprietors, thriving young plantations of forest-trees are to be seen. The larch is likely to be grown to a considerable extent on the steep declivities of the mountains. This hardy plant, which pines in the moist and fertile plains of the south of England, thrives in this elevated district; its rapid growth, when young, enables it soon to lift its head beyond the reach of the sheep, which will not, except when pressed by severe hunger, either bark or browse on it. Larch is popular, too, because it foliates so early in spring that it is clothed for weeks with the most vivid green, when no other tree has unfolded a bud; and again in autumn its golden tint serves to enliven even the latter half of November.
The geological structure of the county was but imperfectly known until within the last few years, there being no mineral productions sufficiently valuable to attract much attention to it. The highly interesting features it presents are now better known, through the light thrown upon it by Sir Roderick Murchison, the eminent geologist. The great mass of the county consists of the same grey wackè slate which prevails through the whole of the principality: it emerges from beneath the old red-sandstone of the counties of Hereford and Brecknock, a part of which fertile stratum is found on the northern side of the Wye, and constitutes the most productive tract within the county. The red soil prevails in the parishes of Glâsbury, Clyro, Llowes, Boughrood, and some others in Painscastle hundred. The upper beds of the grey wackè, or clay-slate, very much resemble the lowest or tilestone beds of the old red-sandstone; insomuch that the produce of a quarry worked near the summit of the Forest of Radnor is of the same granular and micaceous texture as the tile of Clyro Hill. But these beds soon disappear, and give place to a stratified lead-coloured rock, of rhomboidal fracture, so perishable as to be useless for roofing houses, and scarcely applicable either to masonry or the making of roads. It must be observed, however, that the lower beds of this formation are much harder and more durable than the upper; so that on the western verge of the county, in the neighbourhood of Rhaiadr, coarse durable slates of good colour, and very strong stones for building purposes, are obtained.
The dip of the strata throughout the great slate formation will be found, on examination, to be extremely irregular. It has been disturbed by the contact of two very considerable and independent trap formations, which occur in different parts of the county. One of these has been described by Dr. Gilby, and has its western termination in the river Wye, about a mile above Builth, opposite to which town it rises in high, rugged, irregular masses, forming the ridges of the Carneddau hills, and then, stretching northwards by Penkerrig and Llwynmadock, passes Llandrindod and Kevenlleece, where one branch diverges, and terminates at Llandegley; another branch passes to Llanbadarn-Vawr, near which it disappears, though an independent mass of the same formation occurs at some distance, called Baxter's Bank. This remarkable tract is perfectly irregular throughout, being neither columnar nor stratified: its mineralogical characters vary at almost every step; felspar is probably the chief component part. Around its base mineral springs are found, which deservedly enjoy a very high reputation. At Llandrindod are a salt, a sulphur, and a steel water; at Builth are the same, though of a coarser quality: at Llandegley and Blaenedw the sulphur springs are also found. Round the edges of this formation the clay-slate of the county is seen broken up, disturbed, and in some places evidently turned over; and both its colour and its texture have been so altered by the contact, that it has become black and friable, and is not unfrequently mistaken for coal, or at least is thought to indicate its presence.
The other trap formation mentioned above occurs near Old Radnor, and is separated from the Llandegley formation by a distance of seven miles, and by high intervening hills composed wholly of clayslate. It occupies two parallel ridges; the eastern, three miles in length, comprising Stanner Rocks, Worsel Wood, and Hanter Hill; and the western, called Old Radnor Hill, about half the length of the other. These hills differ so much in mineralogical character from the Llandegley range as to suggest the probability of a different period of formation. Sienite and porphyry occur in many parts; and a coarse amygdaloidal trap is met with at the base of Old Radnor Hill, near the church: the character of the whole bears some resemblance to granite, though neither felspar nor mica prevails to any great extent. The hill at Old Radnor appears to have raised with it a considerable mass of grey stratified transition limestone, the strata of which lie round the base of the trap rock, dipping from it in every direction; on the north and east sides these beds have been nearly exhausted, but on the south and west vast and almost inexhaustible masses still remain. The stone emits a strong and disagreeable odour on being broken: it contains shells, but not in abundance, and corals, and has throughout a crystalline texture. As a manure for land, the lime obtained from it is more valuable than that produced by the carboniferous or mountain limestone, which is used so extensively in North and South Wales; the beneficial effects being greater and more durable. As a cement it is inferior, slacking more slowly and with greater difficulty, though it is extensively used for mortar, there being no stratum of limestone that can be worked between Old Radnor and the seacoast of Cardiganshire.
Since the four formations already described, namely, the old red-sandstone of the hundred of Painscastle, the pervading grey wackè slate, the trap formations, and the limestone of Old Radnor, constitute and define the geological character of the county, no minerals of value can be looked for within its limits. Coal can scarcely exist to an extent worth working. Some narrow seams of lead have been found and worked near Llandrindod and Llandegley, and leadmines have been also wrought near Cwm-Elain. As connected with the geological structure of the county it may be observed, that wherever the soil consists of the wreck of the clay, or grey wackè, slate, it is porous and fertile, though of a less powerful and productive character than the soils which result from the old red-sandstone. The soils that are composed of the detritus of the trap rocks are clayey and retentive of water, the surface for the most part being covered with a thin layer of peaty soil. It is remarkable that the wreck of these rocks has been carried and deposited to the south and east of their positions, to a much greater extent than in any other direction. Their fertility is greatly increased by the addition of lime, the supply of which from Old Radnor, and from a striking mass of similar rock which occurs at Nash, in Herefordshire, not far from Presteign, is facilitated and augmented by the tramroad from the canal at Brecknock, by Hay and Kington, to Old Radnor. The total consumption of coal in the two districts of limestone rock is said to amount to about five thousand tons annually.
The chief commercial traffic of Radnorshire consists in the sale of its agricultural produce at the public fairs and markets. The trade in manufactured goods and in foreign and colonial produce is small, little being sold except for immediate consumption. Until of late years the chief supply of these articles was introduced through Kington, from the respective manufacturing districts, or from Bristol; but the construction of an easy road from the canal at Newtown in Montgomeryshire, through the centre of this county, to Builth in Brecknockshire, has enabled the inhabitants to derive partially what is necessary for their use from the marts of Liverpool and Chester. Small manufactures of flannel are carried on at Maestreyloe near Presteign, and at Llanvihangel-Rhydithon. Considerable quantities of hides are tanned and dressed, and find a market out of the county. The rivers are none of them navigable, and no canal has been constructed within the limits of the county.
The principal rivers are the Wye, with some of its tributaries, and the Teme. The romantic and rapid Wye, the scenery on the banks of which has so frequently been the subject of the pencil and the pen, rises on the southern side of Plinlimmon mountain, in Montgomeryshire, about a mile from the source of the Severn, and, flowing first southward, then eastward, and again southward, for about eleven miles through desolate wastes, enters this county about four miles to the north of Rhaiadr, and crosses the north-western extremity of it, by that town, to its confluence with the Elain. Here it becomes the boundary between Radnorshire and Brecknockshire, and it so continues during the remainder of its course in the principality (a distance of thirty miles), excepting a short interval at Glâsbury, where a small portion of Radnorshire is situated on its southern banks. The Elain river (anglicè the Roe), likewise affording many attractions to the admirers of the picturesque, is a powerful stream from the west, which for several miles separates the north-western extremity of the county of Radnor from the northern part of Brecknockshire. With this accession of waters the Wye shapes its course south-southeastward, until within a short distance of the town of Builth, in Brecknockshire, when it turns southeastward. At the southernmost extremity of Radnorshire it winds north-eastward; and the river quits this county and Wales on entering the English county of Hereford at the town of Hay, in Brecknockshire; after a turbulent course of about fortyseven miles. The principal tributaries to the Wye from Radnorshire are, the Ithon, which descends from the mountains in the north-eastern extremity of the county, and at its junction with the Wye near Disserth, five miles from Builth, after a course of about twenty miles south-westward, is of nearly equal magnitude with that river itself; the romantic Edw, or Edwy, which joins the Wye about four miles below Builth; and the gloomily picturesque Mâchwy, or Bâchwy, which falls into it a few miles lower. The Teme rises in the Kerry hills, in Montgomeryshire, and forms the entire boundary between this county and that of Salop, which it enters a little below the town of Knighton. The Lug, the Somergill, and the Arrow, are all tributary to the Wye, but do not join it in this county. The Lug has its source in the Llangunllo hills, and flows south-westward along the Vale of Llangunllo, into Herefordshire, which county it enters after forming the eastern boundary of Radnorshire for some distance below Presteign. The Somergill rises in the Forest of Radnor, and one of its tributary streams forms the cascade called "Water-break-its-neck:" it soon enters the basin-like Vale of Radnor, by the dry gravelly soil of which it is wholly absorbed in dry summers: on reaching a bed of clay it re-appears, after flowing by New and Old Radnor, and enters Herefordshire after a course of about thirteen miles. The Arrow is a small stream which flows by Newchurch towards Kington in Herefordshire.
In 1812, an act of parliament was obtained for the formation of a tramroad from the canal near the town of Brecknock, by Hay, to Kington, a branch of which is continued to the Weythel lime rocks near Old Radnor, between three and four miles westnorth-west of Kington. This line of communication confers considerable benefit on the county, by supplying the south-eastern part of it with coal, and in return conveying agricultural produce to the mining districts of Brecknockshire and Glamorganshire. The roads which pass through the centre of the county have been much improved of late years, and are now remarkably good; but the cross roads are in general of an inferior kind. The road from London to Radnor, by Hereford, enters the county from Kington: one of the roads to Presteign passes through Hereford. That from London to Aberystwith, by Worcester, enters from Leominster in Herefordshire, and passes through Kington, New Radnor, Pen-y-Bont, and Rhaiadr, into Cardiganshire: three miles beyond New Radnor, a branch of this road diverges to Builth in Brecknockshire. Another road from London to Aberystwith, branches from the foregoing at Leominster, runs through Presteign, Whitton, Blethvaugh, and LlanvihangelRhydithon, and joins the former at Pen-y-Bont. There is also a new and beautiful line from Rhaiadr to Aberystwith, which passes along the banks of the Wye for some miles from the former town, through Llangurig in Montgomeryshire, and is the general way of travelling.
Though there may be traced numberless intrenchments and mounds scattered over the county, which mark the ruins of former fortresses, the remains of antiquity are upon the whole of minor interest: the name Castell Pren (or "castle built of wood"), which still exists in several instances, suggests the probability of many of these intrenchments having been fortified only with a stockade. The Roman station already mentioned may be distinctly traced on a farm called Cwm, about two miles north-east of Llandrindod Wells. This camp is a perfect square, including an area of about four acres, and seems to have been originally surrounded by a thick stone wall, the massive foundations of which are yet visible, with a deep fosse on the outside: at a short distance are vestiges of other military works and buildings. The vicinal roads from Carmarthen, and the Gaer near Brecknock, to Chester, appear to have united at this station; and a branch, passing through the centre of Radnorshire, is thought to have proceeded hence to Kenchester, in Herefordshire, but no traces of such a work have hitherto been discovered. In the parish of Llandewi-Ystradenny, about four miles above Pen-y-Bont, near the Vale of Ithon, is an ancient British encampment, called the Gaer, which is oval, and defended by two deep fosses. It occupies an eminence above the river; and on the opposite side of the valley is a large tumulus, or barrow, designated Bedd Ygre, or "Ygre's grave." In the vicinity of Rhaiadr are several remarkable tumuli, some of which are composed wholly of stones, and bear the descriptive name of carneddau: the largest is styled Tommen Llansaintfraid, and is said to have had an underground communication with Rhaiadr Castle. There is also a large tumulus close to the churchyard of Aberedw.
Of the numerous buildings for military defence, little can now be ascertained. Camden says, "there remain many footings of castles, to be seen here and there, but especially Kevenlleece and Timbod, which, standing upon a sharp poynted hill, Llewellin, Prince of Wales, overthrew in the year 1260." The same author reports, that the castle of Maud in Colwyn was very famous, and that Robert de Todeney, a noble Norman, was once lord of the fortress; which took the above name from Maud of Saint Valeric, wife to William de Breos who rebelled against King John. This castle being thrown down by the Welsh, was rebuilt in 1231 by Henry III., and called by him, in despite of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales, Maugrè Llewellin. The fortress at Rhaiadr owed its origin to other hands. The celebrated chief Rhŷs ab Grufydd, had, in 1169, made peace with Henry III., and become attached to English interests. In 1176, he gave a feast in the castle of Cardigan, to which he invited many Normans and English: some of these visiters, however, in their way home, treacherously murdered his son-in-law, Eineon; and, to awe his enraged and revengeful opponents, Rhŷs is said to have "built the castle of Rhaiadr, on precipitous strong ground, (near the noted cataract of that name,) above the Wye," where the fosse and site of a considerable fortress may still be distinctly traced. There are some small remains of the castle of Aberedw, or Aberedwy, at the junction of the Edw, or Edwy, with the Wye; of that of Bâchrhŷd, or Boughrood, lower down on the banks of the Wye; of that of New Radnor; of the castle of the Black Rock, overhanging the tremendous chasm through which runs the river Mâchwy, or Bâchwy, anglicè Little Wye; and of a small fortress on the banks of the Wye, about two miles above Builth. There are also vestiges of the town walls and ditch of New Radnor; of the moat of Castell Cymaron, near Llandewi-Ystradenny; of the foundations of Castell Glyn Ithon, at Kevenlleece; of those of Dinboeth, or Tynboeth, Castle, near the upper extremity of the Vale of Ithon; and of those of Painscastle. Offa's Dyke, entering on the north from Shropshire, is first seen in Radnorshire near the town of Knighton, to which it gives its Welsh name of Trev-y-Clawdd, or "the town on the dyke," and whence, proceeding southward, it is easily traced between the parishes of Norton and Whitton to the vicinity of Beggar's Bush, where it inclines to the south-east, entering Herefordshire at the parish of Knill. Burva Bank, a steep hill on the border of the county, near this place, is skirted on the west by the dyke, which is about fifty feet broad, and of great depth. On this hill are traces of an extensive camp, and strong intrenchments, which have induced the opinion that it was the site of one of the fortified places by which the great rampart was defended.
Of ecclesiastical buildings there have never been many worthy of much notice. The foundations of the abbey founded at Cwm Hîr, in 1143, by Cadwallon ab Madoc, for sixty monks of the Cistercian order (the only religious house existing in the county at the period of the Reformation), are yet visible in the valley of the little river Clywedog, a tributary to the Ithon. The names of Monachty, near Knighton, and Coed-y-Monach, near Rhaiadr, indicate a monkish connexion, of which little is known. The churches at Old Radnor and Presteign still remain, as proofs that the influence of that pious zeal by which large and beautiful places of public worship were raised, was not wholly excluded from this portion of Wales; but with the exception of these two buildings, Clyro, Knighton, Nantmel, Glâsbury, and a few others, the churches throughout the county are of an inferior description. The principal gentlemen's residences are, Maesllwch Castle, Stanage Park, Harpton Court, Boultibrook, Penkerrig, Wellfield House, Pen-y-Bont Hall, Downton House, Evanesed House, Newcastle Court, Noyadd, Nant-Gwyllt, Cwm-Elain, Nant-yGroes, Norton House, Rhydoldog, Ddrew, and Abbeycwm-Hîr. There is a curious old house at Devanner Park.
The county contains a greater number of Mineral Springs than all the other counties of South Wales conjointly. Those at Llandrindod have for many years been held in high repute, and are much resorted to in the summer by valetudinarians. They are three in number: the waters of one of them are saline, containing Epsom salt, sea-salt, and some earth; the waters of another, sulphureous, containing hepatic air and sea-salt; and those of the third powerfully chalybeate, containing a considerable portion of iron in a volatile acid, and probably a neutral salt. The two first are very near each other, and are situated within a short distance of the principal lodging-house for the accommodation of visiters; the latter is about half a mile north-eastward from the others, in a little rocky valley on the contiguous waste. Llandegley Wells, near the public road between New Radnor and Rhaiadr; and Blaenedw Wells, distant therefrom about two miles south-eastward; are all of them sulphureous, are of considerable note, and much frequented. Near Pen-y-Bont, on the Ithon, are two springs, one sulphureous, and the other chalybeate. The following springs are all sulphureous: viz., Fynnon Ddewi, or "St. David's well," in the parish of Llanbadarn-Vynydd; New Well, in the parish of Llanano; and two springs in the parish of Llanbister, within ten yards of each other, one depositing a black, the other a reddish sediment, the latter of which turns copper white and silver yellow in a very short space of time. Several springs in the vicinity of those at Llanbister deposit a black sediment, and their waters are reputed to have great efficacy in the cure of scorbutic complaints. The most remarkable waterfall in the county is that called "Water-break-its-neck," situated in a narrow defile among the hills of Radnor Forest, about two miles to the west of New Radnor; its height is about one hundred and seventy feet, and the scenery around is perhaps, with the exception of the Elain valley, the finest in the county.
English is spoken in Radnorshire almost universally; so that it is rare to find a peasant who speaks Welsh, except in the north-western angle of the county beyond Rhaiadr, consisting of the parishes of St. Harmon and Cwmtoyddwr, the inhabitants of which for the most part use the Welsh only; and in these two places alone is the church service now performed in that tongue. The Welsh language is, however, understood by persons in the adjoining parishes of Nantmel and Abbey-Cwm-Hîr, although not much in use. By what means the inhabitants of the county have acquired the use of the tongue in which the laws are administered, and knowledge is disseminated, it is not easy to trace. The Saxon names of Norton, Whitton, Knighton, and many others on the eastern border, show that the places bearing them were wrested from the Welsh at an early period. In their immediate neighbourhood, however, the ancient language continued to be spoken till little more than a century ago; and in the church of LlanvihangelNant-Melan, within three miles of New Radnor, and in that of Cascob still more eastward, the Welsh Bibles still remain which were used in the service of those churches, though no Welsh is now spoken within twenty miles of them.