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Title: Scenes in North Wales - with Historical Illustrations, Legends, and Biographical Notices
Author: Wright, G. N.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Scenes in North Wales - with Historical Illustrations, Legends, and Biographical Notices" ***

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Transcribed from the 1833 T. T. and J. Tegg edition by David Price, email

                          [Picture: Book cover]

 [Picture: The Mænai Bridge; Beaumaris Castle; Holyhead Church.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

                               NORTH WALES.

                          BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICES.

                    G. N. WRIGHT, A. M. P. A. R. H. A.

                      [Picture: Decorative graphic]

                 Embellished with Thirty-six Engravings.

                                * * * * *


                       R. GRIFFIN AND CO. GLASGOW;
                  J. CUMMING AND W. F. WAKEMAN, DUBLIN.

                                * * * * *

                        PRINTED BY C WHITTINGHAM.

                                * * * * *


THERE is a local interest attached to mountain scenery, arising not only
from a natural concentration of grand and majestic objects, but also from
a spirit of independence and ardent love of liberty with which the
mountaineer, invariably, seems to be inspired.

The great deeds of Leonidas were done amidst the rocks and
glens;—Switzerland displays her hatred of tyranny in an undying affection
for the memory of Tell;—while from the chivalrous exploits of Glandwr,
brandishing high the torch of liberty, a stream of light has issued, that
seems to have poured its rays into the deepest recesses of his native

The demi-anarchy of the feudal system occasioned the erection, in
Gwynedd, of many stately castles, whose lonely ruins now adorn the petty
kingdoms they once overawed.  And in the violent struggles of the ancient
Briton to preserve his wild home from Saxon intrusion, originated those
yet more splendid palaces, that illustrate like monuments, or like
medals, the history of those periods in which they were erected.

Notwithstanding the great power by which the Cambrians were overthrown,
and the healing measures subsequently pursued to obtain a willing
submission to their conquerors, the draught appears to have been
imbittered by the introduction of some ingredient not easily detected by
historical analysis; for, as a people, the ancient Britons are still
totally distinct from the parent state in customs, manners, dress, in
feelings, and in language.  The tenacity with which they adhere to their
primitive tongue, tends to a dissociation from the greater part of the
empire, and contributes to the preservation, by intermarriages amongst
themselves and otherwise, of a state of society peculiar and
extraordinary as existing in the very bosom of the British isles.

The Isaurians were a small nation in the heart of the Roman empire; they
dwelt among mountains; they saw civilization on every side, yet they
rejected it with scorn, and, on occasion, found employment for the
legions through several ages.

The Cambrians have not despised civilization, but have rather so
engrafted it upon the ancient stem, that the variation in the tree is
scarce perceptible.  The fruit however proves fair and wholesome.  A
nation is produced, of such proverbial gentleness, that although the
envious attribute it to the obscurity of their abode, the legislature
must appreciate the moral value of subjects who are honest from a love of
justice, and governed without expense.

To illustrate the scenery of a country possessing so large a portion of
natural beauty, abounding in so many records of eminent persons and
remarkable events, and occupied by a peasantry peaceful, innocent, and
happy, presents a favourable opportunity for the production of a work
both of amusement and interest.  If these ends shall not have been
happily attained, there is still one more valuable recommendation in
reserve, that is, the moral tendency of the whole.

The inhabitants of North and South Wales are to be considered as quite
distinct.  They speak different dialects of the ancient language, are
sprung from a different ancestorial stock, and, in the Southern half of
the principality, the arts and manufactures of England are introduced and
cultivated with the most entire success.

The selection and arrangement of the graphic illustrations, which precede
each historic sketch, are influenced by two circumstances.  First, a
desire to include scenes intimately connected with the most interesting
periods of local history, and, secondly, a wish to introduce a number of
picturesque views sufficient to convey a distinct idea of the peculiar
features of a country so romantic.

Notwithstanding the small cabinet size to which public convenience limits
each delineation, truth and expression will uniformly be found
associated, accompanied also by a clearness rarely attained in engravings
executed on such a miniature scale.


ANGLESEA                                                       1
                     Mænai Bridge                              2
                     Beaumaris Castle                          9
                     Holyhead Church                          14
CAERNARVONSHIRE                                               16
                     Caernarvon Castle                        18
                     Snowdon, from Capel Curig                21
                     Bangor Cathedral                         24
                     Dolwydellan Castle                       32
                     Conway Castle                            36
                     Beddgelert                               42
                     Llyn Ogwen                               48
                     Pont-y-Pair                              50
                     Llanberis Lake                           54
DENBIGHSHIRE                                                  60
                     Denbigh Town                             61
                     Aber Waterfall                           63
                     Llyn Gwynant                             66
                     Llangollen                               68
                     Plas-newydd, Llangollen                  70
                     Denbigh Castle                           72
                     Valle Crucis Abbey                       77
                     Rhuthin Castle                           78
                     Wynnstay                                 80
                     Chirk Castle                             85
                     Llanrwst Church                          90
FLINTSHIRE                                                    94
                     Flint Castle                             95
                     Rhuddlan Castle                         100
                     Mostyn Hall                             106
                     St. Winifred’s Well, Holywell           111
                     Hawarden Castle                         116
                     Aberglaslyn, Caernarvonshire            119
                     St. Asaph                               121
                     South Stack Lighthouse, Holyhead        124
MERIONETHSHIRE                                               126
                     Corwen                                  128
                     Barmouth                                130
                     Tre Madoc                               132
                     Harlech Castle                          134
MONTGOMERYSHIRE                                              139
                     Castell Gôch (Welsh Pool)               140
CUSTOMS AND MANNERS OF THE WELSH                             147


ANGLESEA, the Mona of the Romans and the Mon {1} or Ultima Thule of its
still more ancient occupants, is the most western county of North Wales.
Its shores are washed on the north, west, and south by the waves of the
Irish sea, while the Mænai strait insinuates itself between this shire
and Caernarvon.  Here the beautiful scenery associated with the name of
Cambria is only to be enjoyed in the distant prospect, the level,
unwooded surface of the island presenting nothing of pictorial or
romantic interest.  Only two eminences of any consequence, vary the
monotony of the landscape, Holyhead Mountain and Parry’s Hill, the latter
containing that wonderfully productive mine of copper, whence two
families, now ennobled, have drawn the chief parts of their princely

The consecrated groves of this district, suited to the deep and wild
mysteries of the arch-druid, became extinct soon after the destruction of
the order itself by the Romans, under Agricola; but the celebration of
the savage festivals of this mysterious people—

    “Rites of such strange potency
    As done in open day, would dim the son,
    Though throned in noontide brightness,”

are attested by the existence of numerous cromlechs, circles, and
sacrificing stones, in every direction over the island.

The Cambrian Alps present a scene of great beauty, dignity, and
sublimity, to the inhabitants of Anglesea.  Emerging from the sea below
Caenarvon Bay, and ascending gradually to their point of culmination in
the peak of Snowdon, they descend again in shattered ridges towards the
north, where the lofty Penmaen Mawr terminates the chain.  No rivers of
importance diversify the surface of this insulated county; but the banks
of the Mænai strait are delightfully wooded and adorned with numerous
seats and villas.  The towns of Caernarvon and Beaumaris, as well as the
city of Bangor, are agreeably seated on its opposing shores.


THE union of Ireland with Great Britain rendered it an object of
paramount importance to facilitate and expedite communication between the
capitals of both kingdoms.  The shortness and security of the voyage
between Holyhead and Howth at once suggested the advantage of improving
the line of road through North Wales to Shrewsbury, and so on to the
metropolis of the united kingdom.  In the year 1810 a select committee
was appointed by the House of Commons, to inquire into the best mode of
accomplishing this desirable end, and, amongst the valuable improvements
recommended by them, none have given so remarkable and so dignified a
character to their proceedings, as the suggestion of throwing a
suspension bridge across the Mænai, a deep and rapid strait, where delay
always attended transmission, and danger not unfrequently.  Amongst the
many melancholy tales of disasters that befel passengers in crossing
Porthaethwy, {3} two possess a lamentable notoriety, from the number of
souls then hurried in an instant to a watery grave.  On the 5th of
August, 1820, the ferry boat was overturned, containing twenty-six
passengers, of which number but one escaped with life; and thirty-seven
years before an event of increased horror happened here in a similar way,
when sixty-nine poor beings perished, _one_ only, as before, escaping.
It is a singular fact that the name of the survivor in both instances was
Hugh Williams.  The Mænai, or “Narrow Water,” is about fifteen miles in
length, its breadth varying from two miles to two hundred yards.  Six
ferry stations have been established on its banks since the reign of
Henry the Eighth, who granted five of them to William Gifford.  These
stations passed subsequently into the possession of the Bulkeley family,
and were afterwards dispersed amongst various owners.  Porthaethwy, or
Bangor Ferry, when the idea of constructing a bridge over the strait was
first suggested, was found to be the property of Lady Erskine, from whom
it was purchased at the expense of twenty-six thousand three hundred and
ninety-four pounds, being thirty years purchase, according to an average
of the annual receipts for a number of years preceding.

Various designs were presented, by Mr. Telford, for the adoption of the
committee, from amongst which a suspension bridge was selected.  This
species of structure is now very generally preferred chiefly where
centering is attended with difficulty and expense; but it is by no means
a modern invention.  It has long been known to the eastern countries: a
Jihoola, or suspension bridge, was found amongst the inhabitants of the
Himalä vales, on the river Touse, in the East Indies, by Mr. Frazer; and
an ingenious and well executed work of this description made of
bide-ropes, was discovered by Captain Hall, on the river Maypo in South
America.  The magnitude of the Mænai Bridge, and the boldness of the
design render it still the most interesting and wonderful work of the
kind in existence; and, although the bridge of Avignon possesses a span
of fire hundred feet, and is also a truly admirable work, yet it is still
inferior in the breadth of the principal span, the height above the
water-level, and is constructed in a situation where there existed little
difficulty in placing each bar, pin, and bolt, in their allotted berths.

The Mænai Bridge consists of one principal opening, the breadth of which,
between the centres the supporting pyramids, is five hundred and sixty
feet, in addition to which spacious waterway there are four arches of
stone on the Anglesea site, and three on the Caernarvon, to complete the
communication, each having a span of fifty feet, with a springing line
sixty-five feet above the level of high water, spring tides.  The whole
breadth, of the channel, or rather length of the bridge, amounts to eight
hundred and eighty feet, and the roadway is elevated one hundred feet
above the surface of high water.  The sea-end of each series of arches is
terminated by a pyramid, rising fifty feet above the level of the
roadway; over the summits of these pass sixteen supporting chains, from
which a horizontal roadway is suspended by vertical iron rods, linked at
their lower extremities with the sleepers of the roadway.  The whole
breadth of the roadway is divided into two carriage tracks, each twelve
feet broad, and a footpath of four feet in breadth, in the intermediate
space, each protected by guards ten inches in height and six in
thickness.  The carriage ways pass through arches constructed in the
supporting pyramids, and, to prevent the possibility of a collision of
vehicles, are continued separate to the land extremities of each series
of arches.

In order to obtain a safe tenure for the main chains, the extreme links
are enlarged and pierced with eyes, through which strong iron bolts are
passed, constituting a species of framework, and the whole mass imbedded
securely in the solid rock.  The sixteen chains are formed into four
lines of suspension, extending one thousand seven hundred and fourteen
feet in length; five hundred and seventy-nine and a half of which form a
catenary curve, between the pyramids, from which the roadway is
suspended.  A weight of six hundred and thirty-nine tons, nineteen
hundred and nine pounds, is suspended between the pyramids, and the
estimated weight of the iron work, from one extremity of the suspension
chains to the other, amounts to two thousand one hundred and thirty tons,
eighteen hundred being of wrought iron and only three hundred and thirty
of cast.  To give the iron work a fair bearing in their respective
chambers, the following precaution was adopted: each bar and pin were
wrapped in flannel, saturated with white lead and oil, and, to establish
close and impenetrable joints, Borradaile’s patent felt was introduced
between them, eight thousand superficial feet of which were consumed in
this manner.  The floor is composed of three strata of planks, the first
three inches in thickness, the middle and the lowest two inches each,
layers of patent felt being introduced between the planking strata.
Twenty-four thousand seven hundred and ninety feet of felt were consumed
in the roadway alone.  Screens, or trellis-work of light bars protect
each side, and permit the breezes to pass freely through; and a hand-rail
of African oak directs and confines the hesitating steps of the foot
passenger.  The floor of the suspended part frequently assumes an arched
appearance, which is not its original form, but arises from a contraction
in the chains on the land side of the pyramids, the effect of which,
being diffused equally over the chain of the suspended part, causes a
temporary elevation of the roadway.  It must be remarked that the sixteen
main chains recline on saddles on the summits of the pyramids, without
being attached to them, whereby every contraction or expansion which may
occur on one side is communicated to the other, and over the whole,
without any danger of rocking or disturbing the masonry.

In the construction of the stone arches the same care and scientific
knowledge are displayed which characterize every part of this noble work.
The arches on each side, adjacent to the main piers, are semicircular,
the others are less segments gradually diminishing as they approach the
land: the crowns continuing parallel to the roadway admit a handsome
entablature and cornice.  A beautiful marble, raised at Penmon in
Anglesea, is employed in the mason work, and Aberdaw lime was used in
bedding the blocks that were laid under water.

The first stone of this great work was laid, without ceremony, by W. A.
Provis, Esq. on the 10th of August, 1820; it is a block of marble about
three tons in weight, placed in the centre of the sea front of the main
pier erected on Ynys-y-Moch.  Messrs. Straphan and Hall contracted for
the execution of the masonry.

On the 20th day of April, 1825, the first main chain was thrown across
the strait, in presence of an immense concourse of spectators.  At half
flood, and about half past two o’clock, p.m. a raft, stationed near the
Caernarvonshire coast, bearing a part of the chain intended to be raised,
was freed from its moorings, and towed by four boats, down the current of
the tide, to the centre of the strait between the pyramids or main piers:
when the raft was placed in its proper position it was secured to buoys
anchored in the channel for that purpose.  This first operation occupied
a space of twenty-five minutes.  The end of the chain, hanging from the
top of the pyramid on the Caernarvonshire side, was then bolted to one
end of the chain laid upon the raft, while two powerful blocks were
attached to the other end, for the purpose of raising it over the saddle
of the Anglesea pier.  This being completed, two capstans with
twenty-four men at each, and two preventive capstans, employing an equal
number of hands, were set to work.  To ensure equability in the rotatory
motion of the principal capstan, a fifer was at hand who continued to
play a lively tune, to which the men stepped with regularity, having been
previously trained to do so.  At fifty minutes after four o’clock the
bolt which completed the whole line of chain was fixed, so that from the
first unmooring of the raft to the uniting of those portions of the
chain, which have their extremities made fast in the shores of the two
opposite counties, only two hours and twenty minutes were consumed.  Upon
the completion of this important step, upon the success of which all
further advances entirely depended, the assembled crowd gave way to much
enthusiastic expression of admiration: three of the workmen, in the
ardour of the moment, had the great good fortune to succeed in walking
across upon the upper surface of the chain, and a shoemaker from Bangor
seated himself near the centre of the curve, and there drove the last
sparable into one of those useful productions of his art, called clogs.

It is a tribute justly due to the scientific projector of this stupendous
work, while we admire its beauty, also to acknowledge its utility and
entire success; and posterity will yet learn, with gratification, that
Mr. Telford has lived to see the offspring of his great genius attain an
age of maturity, without diminution of strength or incipient decay.  If,
when he has placed his laurel crown upon its cushion he perceives some
leaves are wanting, let him not regret to hear that a few were gathered
by his “fidus Achates,” W. A. Provis: the winds have strewn a few more on
the grave of Wilson, and Hazledine grasps the others that are missing
with an iron hand.


THE town of Beaumaris, now a fashionable watering place, containing a
permanent population of two thousand four hundred and ninety-seven souls,
appears to have originated in the circumstance of a castle having been
erected here by Edward the First, in the year 1295.  It subsequently
became a place of commercial importance, was erected into a borough and
constituted the shire-town; the first of these advantages it has been
gradually stripped of by its enterprising little rivals, Bangor and
Caernarvon.  The situation is low, as the explanation of the name _Beau
marais_, the beautiful marsh, indicates, but the coup de œil enjoyed from
the marine parade, called the Green, as well as from Baron Hill, the seat
of Sir R. B. Williams Bulkeley, Bart., is a composition both chaste and
picturesquely beautiful:

    “Hibernia’s eastern sea here Cambria laves,
    And pours on either shore its restless waves,
    While Mænai’s currents with its waters play,
    Now roll to meet or refluent fill the bay,
    And circling Priestholm shows its oval steep,
    Emerging boldly from the briny deep.”

                                                    LLWYD’S BEAUMARIS BAY.

One broad, handsome, and spacious avenue passing up the centre of the
town, is finely terminated by the castle gate, an interesting contrast to
the many gay, graceful, modern erections which decorate each side of the

Edward the First caused three noble fortresses to be erected in North
Wales, to curb the spirit of the stubborn Welsh; and chose Conway,
Caernarvon, and Beaumaris for their sites.  Of these, Caernarvon Castle
is by far the most majestic and spacious pile: Conway enjoys the most
picturesque position; while the interior of Beaumaris Castle strikingly
suggests how perilous and uncertain must the tenure of human life have
been in the feudal ages.  The royal founder appointed Sir William
Pickmore, a Gascon, to be constable of the castle and captain of the
town, situations subsequently held, probably with emolument, but without
conferring any military renown upon the possessors.  In the reign of
Henry the Seventh the garrison, which consisted of twenty-four men, was
withdrawn, during the constableship of Sir Rowland Villeville.  The Earl
of Dorset being constable of the castle in 1642, his deputy, Thomas
Chedle, furnished it with men and ammunition; but Thomas, the first Lord
Bulkeley, succeeding in 1643, his son Colonel Thomas Bulkeley, with the
gentlemen of Anglesea, held it for the king until the year 1648, when it
surrendered upon honourable terms to General Mytton.  The property of the
castle is still in the crown, but the constableship was deservedly
restored to the Bulkeley family, and is now vested in Sir Robert B.
Williams Bulkeley, Bart., the representative of that ancient and noble
house.  Edward is supposed to have imbibed that Asiatic style, which
pervades the architecture of his royal castles, during his expedition to
the Holy Land.

The site of this fortress was adopted for a twofold purpose, both as
being well adapted for defensive operations, and convenient for the
landing of supplies, by means of a canal which communicated with the sea,
a portion of which called “Llyn-y-Green” was till lately perceptible.  An
outer ballium of low but massive and embattled curtains is flanked by ten
circular bastion towers: those which occupy the angles exceeding
considerably in diameter all the intermediate ones.

The Postern gate opened to the west or land side, and was situated
between two ponderous square towers, which were again flanked by turrets
of dissimilar shape and of unequal dimensions.  Several portcullises
appear to have been lowered within the long arched-way of this entrance.
Fronting the sea there was a second entrance, protected by two vast
circular bastion towers, besides the additional security of successive
portcullises.  A massive square building overhangs this entrance on the
left, and a long embattled curtain, extending to the right, formerly
sheltered those employed on the canal or fosse, in supplying the garrison
with stores.  This last singular and irregular work is called “the
Gunner’s Walk,” and several large rings, still firmly fixed in the
masonry, very sufficiently show that here the supply barges of the
garrison were anciently moored.

The envelope is separated from the keep or citadel by a broad intermural
ambulatory, extending entirely round; a second entrance of fine
proportion opens a communication with the inner court, beneath a spacious
castellated building, the ground plan of which may yet be distinctly
traced.  This is a level area one hundred and ninety feet square, from
the four corners of which small triangles are cut off by the enclosing
wall.  On the north-west side of the court, projecting from the curtain
wall, stands a stately edifice, spiritedly and gracefully designed.  The
front consists of two stories; the upper adorned with five pointed
windows of large dimensions, furnished with architraves of cut stone, and
lighting the great council hall, which measures seventy feet in length:
the basement is pierced by four smaller windows and the principal
entrance door, while the whole is terminated by two beautiful round
towers, with tapering bases, in the style of modern architectural
pavilions.  A ground plan precisely corresponding with that of the
council hall may be traced amidst the ruins on the opposite side of the
court, but how far their decorations resembled each other must continue
to be matter of conjecture.  To all these ancient castles a chapel is
uniformly found attached, a circumstance which some historians attribute
to the superstition, others, more charitably, to the piety of our
ancestors.  The little ecclesiastic edifice included within the walls of
this castle rather argues the possession of the latter quality, from its
unostentatious style and circumscribed dimensions.  The walls and roof
are still entire, the former decorated with pointed recesses, and the
latter groined and supported by ribs springing from pilasters; while
three lancet-windows, or rather loop-holes, at the eastern end, appear to
have been the only means for the admission of light, that this modest
little oratory ever possessed.  From the thickness of the wall
surrounding the inner court a gallery is gained, by means of which
communication is preserved with every part of the citadel, and several
square apertures, opening into recesses in the side walls of the gallery,
are conjectured, by Grose the antiquarian, to have been the mouths of so
many dungeons, yawning for their prey.

Part of the inner area is desecrated into a tennis court: desecrated, for
a ruin is a sacred thing, rooted for ages in the soil, identified with
it, and considered as a work of nature rather than of art.  It is a
deposit, of which the very proprietor is esteemed but the guardian, for
the amusement, admiration, and instruction of posterity.


THIS is the principal seaport in the Island of Anglesea, as well as the
most important packet station for Irish communication on the western
coast.  The arrival of the steam packet is the chief incident of each
day, and in auspicious weather a fourth part of the inhabitants are
frequently assembled as spectators.  The situation of the town is
naturally exposed and bleak, but it has attained an appearance of
respectability, cleanliness, and something of commerce, by the formation
of an excellent asylum harbour, where vessels of any burden may take
shelter, and by the completion of the Parliamentary road, which,
commencing at Shrewsbury, passes through the Cambrian Alps, and
terminates its useful object at the pier of Holyhead.  The town and its
local circumstances do not constitute an agreeable landscape, but there
are still many objects of deep interest here, which deserve a separate
and individual examination.  From the summit of the mountain overhanging
the town, a prospect extensive and gratifying may be enjoyed; the highest
apex, just seven hundred feet above the sea, commands a view of the whole
Snowdonian chain of mountains, apparently rising from the plains of
Anglesea, at a distance of twenty miles; while to the west the Wicklow
mountains are seen, upon a clear day, to hang over the green waters of
the Irish sea.  The ancient church is not without its attractions to the
inquiring mind; it occupies the site of a monastery founded by Saint Cybi
in the fourth century, and bore on its north wall this inscription,
“Sancte Kybi ora pro nobis.”  Part of the churchyard wall is of Roman
architecture, and was pierced with small square apertures, a practice
usual with that people in all mural enclosures.  The probability of the
Romans having advanced so far across the island, is increased by the
discovery of coins and other reliques of that warlike nation in the
vicinity of Holyhead.  King George the Fourth sailed for Ireland from
this port in the year 1821, an event commemorated in a spirited manner by
the erection of a fine open colonnade thrown across the pier, near to the
spot where his Majesty embarked.


THIS is not only the most mountainous and picturesque of the six northern
shires of Wales, but retains more distinct characteristics of a peculiar
people, and greater primitiveness of customs and manners than any of the
remaining counties.  Here the Cambrian Alps are seen in all the dignity
and sublimity attached to space restricted only by the grand natural
boundaries of mountain, lake, wood, and river.  The district included
between the mountains and the sea, as well as the whole promontory of
Lleyn, consists of fertile land, enjoys an agreeable and cheerful aspect,
and is adorned with the seats of many wealthy landed proprietors.  From
the highest part of this inclining plain, a surface, possessing an
endless variety of form, swells with inconceivable rapidity, nor ceases
until it attains the vast height of three thousand seven hundred and
fifty-nine feet above the sea in its ambitious throws.  This point,
called “Y Wyddffa,” the Conspicuous, is the summit of Snowdon, and the
loftiest pinnacle in ancient Britain.  Two neighbouring rivals, Carneddau
David and Llewellyn, seem to dispute the lofty throne, and reach within a
hundred feet of the ancient Cairn which crowns the hoary head of the
great monarch of Snowdonia.  The greatest length of Caernarvonshire, i.e.
in a direction north and south, is forty-five miles, and its mean average
breadth about twenty.  It is watered by several rivers, whose rocky beds
abound in noble cataracts, as well as in scenery of the most delicate and
fascinating character.  The Conway is probably the richest in each kind
of subject; the Llugwy, Lledder, and Ogwen, preserve their bold romantic
natures until their noisy spirits are “deep in the bosom of the ocean
buried.”  Perhaps the placid lakes, notwithstanding the noiseless tenor
of their lives, may find more worshippers than even the Conway’s majestic
tide.  Llynnyau Gwynant and Crafuant are the most graceful, perfect
compositions; Llynnyau Ogwen and Idwel the most sublime.

     [Picture: Caernarvon Castle; Snowdon; Bangor Cathedral.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

The mountainous unequal surface of this county has not militated against
the introduction of new and admirable lines of road.  It is probable that
the facility of obtaining a very durable stone, at the cost of removal
only, has encouraged the construction of the most beautiful and
interesting public avenues in the kingdom.  The Holyhead commissioners
have carried the British Simplon through the flinty rocks of Ogwen and
along the wind-swept valley of Francòn.  The county engineers have
diminished the terrors of Penmaen Mawr by descending from the beetling
cliff to a judicious and secure path along the margin of the sea; and the
new road through the pass of Llanberis has rendered these scenes of
“pleasing horror” accessible to the most timid and nervous, who are
frequently the best and truest appreciators of such mysterious and
sublime formations.


CAERNARVON is an ancient borough town, a favourite watering place, and
enjoys the benefit of a considerable export trade in slates of the best
quality, besides the supply of the interior with wines, coal,
earthenware, &c.  It is surrounded by walls, the space enclosed
resembling the form of a harp, the royal castle being the head or
termination of the upright arm, and a fine, broad, marine terrace outside
it, now constitutes the chief promenade of inhabitants and visiters.  The
local position of Caernarvon is extremely beautiful,—the town walls, and
long terrace are washed by the sea in front; the river Seiont flows round
the castle walls, and meets the waters of the Mænai beneath its lofty
turrets, while Coed-Helen Mount impends over the town on the south,
Twt-Hill on the North, and Moel Eilio and the Snowdonian range cross and
terminate the distant view.  There is a striking similitude between the
natural position of Algiers and that of the town of Caernarvon, as seen
from the water.  Twt Hill corresponds with the Jewish cemetery; there is
a mount also hanging over Algiers on the right, and the terrace of
Caernarvon is an exact miniature of the famous thousand-gun battery of
the Turkish city, though happily deficient in such a supply of dread

The name Caernarfon is compounded of the British terms _Caer yn ar-ffon_,
or _Mon_, the citadel in Arfon, or in the district opposite to Mon
(Anglesea).  It was the ancient Segontium of the Romans, and was the only
post of consequence in this part of Cambria over which the imperial eagle
flapped his wings.  Some fragments of a Roman wall are still
distinguishable near the town, and outposts, roads, and encampments yet
survive in the immediate vicinity.

Upon the final subjugation of the ancient Britons, in the year 1282, King
Edward the First commenced the building of a noble castle at Caernarvon.
This he designed for his royal palace; and mixing up some soothing
artifices with the vigorous measures of a conquering prince, caused his
faithful and much beloved queen to be brought hither, at an interesting
moment of her life, where she gave birth to Edward, afterwards sirnamed
Caernarvon.  This was the second wily stratagem practised upon the
obstinate Welshmen by King Edward.  His first attempt to render their
fetters less galling, was made by assimilating the form of the
fortifications of Conway and Caernarvon, which were actually species of
state prisons, to the likeness and disposition of the arms of a harp.

Caernarvon is the largest of Edward’s castles, and is probably still the
most entire; the river Seiont and the Mænai strait washed the walls on
two sides, and a deep fosse, originally crossed by a drawbridge,
completed the watery circuit.  The entrance possesses an air of much
grandeur.  It is a lofty pointed arch, defended by noble flanking towers,
and adorned with a colossal figure of the conqueror himself, standing in
a canopied niche, in the act of unsheathing his sword.  The interior,
which is represented in the accompanying view, is much more ruined.  The
apartments for the accommodation of the garrison are quite buried in
rubbish.  Of the entrance gates, a fine ribbed archway, with the grooves
of four successive portcullises, are still distinct; the mural gallery is
complete nearly round the whole circuit of the castle, and the outer
walls of the royal apartments, with the enriched mullions of the windows,
yet unbroken.  From the walls of the great western towers, light delicate
turrets, of polygonal forms, appear to spring; one of these is accessible
by stone stairs to the summit, which is adorned with the figure of an
eagle, said to have been brought hither from Segontium by the Saxon king,
but more probably a species of ornament suggested to the founder by the
proximity of the Roman citadel, and intended to be complimentary to the
inhabitants.  From the observatory, on the top of the eagle tower, there
is an extensive prospect over the Island of Anglesea, the Bay of
Caernarvon, and the low lands along the base of the mountains, but it is
wholly commanded by the hills on either side of the town.

The graceful archway, called Queen Eleanor’s gate, does not appear to
have been a portal of entrance.  From this a platform may have been
lowered, on which the queen mother appeared holding forth her royal
infant towards the assembled chieftains, and, after the performance of
this great mockery, restored to its secure fastenings in the wall; but no
satisfactory evidence appears of any entrance doors, except the chief one
mentioned previously, and the water-gate at the western end of the
castle.  The Newborough, Bulkeley, and Mostyn families have successively
been vested with the government of the town and constableship of the
castle, cares now entrusted to the Marquis of Anglesea.

The town walls are still perfect, and interesting to the antiquary.  A
handsome assembly room has been fitted up within the towers of the
principal gate, at the expense of Sir Watkyn W. Wynne, Bart.  An elegant
chapel of ease occupies the northern angle of the walls, and includes one
of the large rounders; and a beautiful barbacan, in advance of the
water-gate, is in the most entire preservation.  Caernarvon is situated
in the parish of Llanbeblig, and the parish church, an ancient edifice,
dedicated to Saint Publicius, stands at the distance of about one mile
from the castle.


THE Cairn, or Carnedd, on the summit of Snowdon is elevated three
thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine feet above the level of the sea.
This is the highest of the north Cambrian chain, and still supposed to be
the loftiest hill in Great Britain.  It raises its grand pinnacle above
an extensive mountain range, constituting the ancient forest of
Snowdonia, which was felled by the Saxon monarchs to build their navy.
And, though not a tree or stem adorns its scathed brow, yet so lately as
the reign of Henry the Eighth, the civil list contained this item,
“Annual Fee of the Chief Forester of Snowdon, 11_l._ 8_s._” a sum by no
means inconsiderable at the period alluded to.

The great mountain region, of which Snowdon constitutes the leading
feature, and to which it lends its Saxon epithet of Snowy, originates
northward in the Penmaenmawr, and spreading over great part of
Caernarvonshire, returns again and dips into the sea in the Reifels,
three beautiful conical mountains overhanging the bay of Caernarvon.
These hills bound a prospect from the centre of Anglesea, picturesque,
sublime, and graceful, but, like many scenes in human life, upon a nearer
approach, are comfortless, forlorn, and desolate.  The ambition of most
tourists is to attain the dizzy height of Snowdon, and, although the
approaches are numerous, none are free from difficulty, and some even
attended with danger.  From the melancholy vale of Llanberis the height
is greater in proportion as the surface of the vale is depressed.  The
access from Llyn Cwellyn is less difficult, but more tedious than others.
The charms of Beddgelert compensate for the remoteness of the goal, while
the elevation of Capel Curig is to be subtracted from the whole absolute
height, leaving the inquisitive tourist a large balance of perpendicular
ascent in his favour.  Snowdon from Capel Curig presents a grand
spectacle; the vale in the foreground watered by two fine pools, and on
each side skreens are formed of huge dark mountains, enclosing a great
vista, leading the eye directly up against the shattered front of
Snowdon.  As the point of view approaches, the aerial complexion of the
great pinnacled mass is lost, and new features, new wonders, are
successively displayed.  Illusions here are ever varying.  The transient
circumstances of a thunder cloud,—the streaming of a sunbeam, casting
partial gleams upon the precipices,—the dark shadows that follow and
figure out unforeseen inequalities,—then sweeping over the mountain’s
brow, involving all in momentary obscurity,—and, lastly, resigning all to
the full possession of the solar beams, all contribute in a most happy
manner to augment the astonishment and gratification of the spectator.

The view from the summit is inexpressibly grand, although much impeded by
the elevation and proximity of other mountains, Carneddau David and
Llewellyn particularly,—the former being three thousand four hundred and
twenty-seven feet above the sea, the latter three thousand four hundred
and sixty-nine.  It however commands an extensive prospect towards South
Wales and the sea, and displays a wonderful chart of all North Wales to
the spectator.  The view at first is incomplete and scarce intelligible,
but gradually distinct and separate hills unfold themselves; the broken,
abrupt, and intersecting outlines seem now and then to retire, as if by
some supreme and invisible working, and permit an oblique glimpse into a
deep vale below.  Frequently a gigantic mass just shows itself by a
distant partial gleam, and after awakening the highest expectation,
leaves the fancy “to paint the forms of things unseen.”  The shape or
form of Snowdon is uncommon and picturesque.  Its ground plan or base, if
such terms be applicable or just, is cruciformed, each arm supporting a
great mural precipice, along the ridges of which lie the perilous
pathways to the highest point, and in the intervening angles sleep dark,
cold pools.  The summit ridge, when seen from a distance, appears of a
triple-headed form, like the impression of a vast festoon of clouds just
dropped upon it.  The points or ridges are usually called Wyddffa, Crib
y-Distyll and Crib-Coch, or the red ridge.  The passage of the last is
hazardous, from the shortness and slippery quality of the grass at those
seasons of the year when the mountain may be approached.  It is from this
causeway that two stones thrown from the same spot, one to either side,
and with a moderate force, will reach, it is said, an interval of three
thousand feet asunder at the period of their rest from falling.


THE city of Bangor is one of the most prosperous and improving seaports
on the Welsh coast.  Its position, at the embouchure of the Cegin river
and entrance of the Mænai strait, has given it a natural commercial
superiority, an advantage spiritedly and wisely improved by the principal
proprietor in the vicinity.  The city occupies a narrow piece of ground,
bounded on the east by a precipitous hill, and on the west by the
bishop’s lands and the Mænai strait.  Extension is inconvenient, from the
necessity of lengthening the main avenue, already one mile long, whenever
additional houses in a proper thoroughfare are required.  Handsome
assembly-rooms are constructed over the market hall: convenient lodging
houses are erected in the lower part of the city, and many elegant villas
in the immediate neighbourhood; besides which, the numerous visiters who
frequent this agreeable spot, either for the benefit of sea bathing, the
bracing influence of a mountain breeze, or the gratification of examining
the noble design of the Mænai Bridge, have further accommodation afforded
them at the spacious and elegant inns provided for their reception.  H.
D. Pennant, Esq. the heir and representative of the noble house of
Penrhyn, is the chief proprietor and munificent patron of this place.  To
him, and to his amiable predecessor, Lady Penrhyn, this neighbourhood is
indebted for the stability of its trade, as well as for the rapidity of
its growth.  The slate quarries of Dolawen, whence the Bangor slates, as
they are generally called, are brought, are about seven miles distant
from the sea-side.  Here from fifteen hundred to two thousand hands are
constantly engaged in quarrying metal, and fashioning it into slates.  In
the process of manufacturing the aid of machinery is embraced, and the
powerful press of Bramah is used for crushing and splitting the metal.
When formed into the classes or sizes designated by the fanciful
distinctions of Queens, Duchesses, Countesses, and Ladies, they are
transported by a rail-road of seven miles in length, (one of the earliest
introduced into Wales,) to the quay of Port Penrhyn, the termination and
consummation of the great and enterprising scheme, accomplished at
individual risk and expense, to promote the conveyance of the Bangor
slates to all the markets of Europe and America.  Whatever modern
importance Bangor possesses is attributable to the successful conduct of
these quarries, and its commercial value will always be found to rise and
fall with the prosperity of this trade alone.

Immediately adjoining the north-eastern extremity of the principal
street, the noble demesne of Mr. Pennant originates, and spreads over a
wooded surface of considerable area.  His castle occupies the site of a
palace, erected in the year 720, by Roderic Moelwynog, the last British
Prince of Wales, who flourished in the eighth century.  The ancient
palace was destroyed by Meredydd ap Owain in the year 728, and not
rebuilt until some time in the reign of Henry the Sixth, when Gwillim ap
Gryffydd raised a stately castle here.  This last building endured for
many years, and was ultimately subjected to renovation by the hand of a
Wyatt; but even this judicious restoration was unable to render it
suitable to the rapidly accumulating wealth which the hills of Dolawen
poured out upon the board of their fortunate possessor.  From a noble
design of Mr. Hopper, in a bold and pure Saxon style, a castle has been
erected on the ancient site.  The style is uncommon, rarely introduced in
domestic architecture, and applicable only where the scale is great and
the means ample.  In this instance the materials, a beautiful dark
marble, contribute much to increase the dignity and grandeur of the
design, upon which probably one hundred thousand pounds have already been
expended.  A fine specimen of the Hirlâs, or ancient British drinking
horn, bearing the initials of Piers Gryfydd, graven upon the silver
mounting, is preserved in the castle of Penrhyn.  The castle of Bangor is
not to be confounded with that of Penrhyn just described.  It was founded
some time in the reign of William Rufus, by Hugh, Earl of Chester, but,
little of its history survives, and even the ground plan now is with
difficulty traced.

The process of quarrying, dressing, and preparing slates for public
market, and the fanciful titles by which the various sizes are now
uniformly designated, are very happily, playfully, and truly described in
the following irregular verses.  They are the production of the late Mr.
Leycester, who was for many years a judge on the North Wales circuit,
while the old system of judicature was tolerated.

    It has truly been said, as we all must deplore,
    That Grenville and Pitt made peers by the score;
    But now ’tis asserted, unless I have blundered,
    There’s a man who makes peeresses here by the hundred;
    He regards neither Grenville, nor Portland, nor Pitt,
    But creates them at once without patent or writ.
    By the stroke of the hammer, without the king’s aid,
    A Lady, or Countess, or Duchess is made.
    Yet high is the station from which they are sent,
    And all their great titles are got by descent;
    And when they are seen in a palace or shop,
    Their rank they preserve, and are still at the top.
    Yet no merit they claim from their birth or connexion,
    But derive their chief worth from their native complexion.
    And all the best judges prefer, it is said,
    A Countess in blue to a Duchess in red.
    This Countess or Lady, though crowds may be present,
    Submits to be dress’d by the hands of a peasant;
    And you’ll see, when her Grace is but once in his clutches,
    With how little respect he will handle a Duchess.
    Close united they seem, and yet all who have tried them,
    Soon discover how easy it is to divide them.
    No spirit have they, they are thin as a lath,
    The Countess wants life and the Duchess is flat.
    No passion or warmth to the Countess is known,
    And her Grace is as cold and as hard as a stone;
    And I fear you will find, if you watch them a little,
    That the Countess is frail, and the Duchess is brittle;
    Too high for a trade, without any joke,
    Though they never are bankrupts, they often are broke.
    And though not a soul either pilfers or cozens,
    They are daily shipped off and transported by dozens.

       In France, jacobinical France, we have seen
    How thousands have bled by the fierce guillotine;
    But what’s the French engine of death to compare
    To the engine which Greenfield and Bramah prepare,
    That democrat engine, by which we all know
    Ten thousand great Duchesses fall at a blow.

       And long may that engine its wonders display,
    Long level with ease all the rocks in its way,
    Till the vale of Nant Francon of slates is bereft,
    Nor a Lady, nor Countess, nor Duchess be left.

The see of Bangor extends over all Anglesea, and parts of
Caernarvonshire, Denbigh, and Montgomery.  It was most probably founded,
or at all events a monastic establishment was formed here, in the year
525, by St. Deiniol, who was at first abbot, and afterwards bishop.  The
name Bangor may signify “the White Choir,” or the “High Choir,” and is
found applied to an ecclesiastic institution in Flintshire, as well as to
a famous religious house in the County of Down, in the North of Ireland.
The subject of this description was distinguished by the prefix “Fawr,”
or great, to mark its superiority.  The original church existed to the
time of the Saxon intrusion, when it was wholly demolished by that fierce
and relentless people.  In the year 1212 it was restored in a style of
much magnificence by John, King of England, but it was again much injured
in 1247, during the contentions between Henry the Third of England and
the Welsh nobles.  The demon of destruction once more visited this sacred
edifice in the year 1402, when it was wholly reduced to ashes by a
violent conflagration.  This occurred in the civil wars, kindled by the
brave and artful chieftain, Owain Glandwr.  For ninety years there was no
resuscitation of the embers; no pious prelate wore the wealthy mitre of
this see, who preferred the honour of the church to all earthly
considerations, until the reign of Henry the Seventh, when the learned
and amiable Bishop Deane commenced the reedification of the cathedral, by
erecting the present beautiful choir at his own expense.  From an
inscription over the western entrance, it appears that the tower and nave
were added by Bishop Skiffington, in 1532, whose heart was deposited in
Bangor Cathedral, but his body removed to the Cistercian monastery of
Beaulieu in Hampshire, of which he had previously been abbot.  The
conduct of Bishop Bulkeley has afforded matter of much disputation
amongst ecclesiastical writers: it is asserted, on one side, that this
prelate dishonoured the mitre, which should have graced his brow, by
spoliating the see of its estates, and the cathedral of its plate and
bells; others assure us, with great earnestness, that Bulkeley did not
alienate or abstract the property of the see, but that, on the contrary,
he was a benefactor of the church and diocese, and that this was a
calumny raised against the church by Godwin, who thought proper to direct
his venomous shaft against the establishment through the character of
this respectable prelate.

Dr. Warren re-edified and improved the whole structure; and during the
long incumbency of Dr. Majendie, still farther decorations were
accomplished.  The choir is handsome, though wanting height, and is
lighted by a noble pointed window with stone mullions.  The eastern
transept serves as a parish church, in which Welsh service is performed;
and the nave has lately been converted into a place of worship, for the
celebration of the service in English, the choir being found
inconveniently small during the summer season.  Though several prelates
were interred here, no monumental honours have been paid them.  Morgan
requires neither brass or marble to make his fame endure; he has erected
a more eternal monument, and established a more immortal name by his
learned and laborious translation of the Bible into his native tongue.
An effigiated tomb, occupying an intermural canopy in the south transept,
is, by some unaccountable tradition, said to belong to Owain Glandwr: if
so, it can only be a cenotaph, as that chieftain was entombed at
Monington, in Herefordshire, where he expired.  The most likely
appropriation of this ancient monument is to Owain Gwynedd, who was
interred here with his brother Cadwalader, in the year 1169.  The
investigation of this little historic fact exposes to the light the
unrelenting spirit of fanaticism and bigotry.  Owain Gwynedd had
displeased the hierarchy by marrying his own cousin-german, for which
offence his very bones were pursued with the maledictions and hatred of
Thomas à Becket, who ordered his remains to be disinterred and removed
from the chancel into the cemetery of the cathedral.  His servants appear
to have possessed a more tender and christian feeling than the great
pontiff himself, and in the execution of their pitiful task caused a
subterranean passage to be made from the vault into the earth without,
thereby evading in some degree the sacrilegious charge of exhumation.  In
the year 1831 a white marble tablet, bearing a latin inscription, written
with much spirit and feeling, was erected here to the memory of Goronwy
Owen, a Welsh bard, who flourished in the last century.  He was born in
the county of Anglesea in the year 1722, and the little story of his life
is beautifully and briefly told in the concluding words of his epitaph.

    “Nullus eum patronus exciperet, id quod sui negârunt,
    Apud exteros quærens perfugium in Transatlanticis terris,
    Obscurus vixit, ignotus obiit.”

Which may be translated,

    At home he felt no patronising hand,
    Then sought its warmth in Transatlantic land,
    Where bowed with poverty, by years o’ergrown,
    He sunk neglected, as he lived unknown.


FEW parts of ancient Britain, so consecrated by historic recollections,
and endowed with so many natural graces, appear to be less known than the
vale and castle of Dolwydellan.  The former is nearly a Welsh _cwm_, or
hollow, but more expansive than that term in general implies, bounded on
all sides by hills of fanciful and picturesque forms, and sheltered on
the west by the beautiful leaning pyramid of Moel Siabod, at whose base
the little village reposes in tranquillity.  Little rocky eminences,
covered with copse-wood or stunted oak, decorate the enclosure of the
vale, while a scene of simple greatness envelopes the whole.

In the centre of the valley, and on the summit of an isolated rock, on
one side precipitous and inaccessible, and on the other easily
defensible, stand the remains of the ancient British castle of
Dolwydellan.  It was a royal residence, and a place of defence, though
now “its walls are desolate; the gray moss whitens the stones; the fox
looks out from the window; and rank grass waves round its head.”  The
castle consisted of two square towers, each containing three stories,
connected by a centre, and enveloped by a curtain wall, enclosing the
whole superior surface of the rock.  The style of building resembles that
discoverable in Dolbadarn and the other British castles, the
counter-arches being pointed, and of flat shingle.  The verdant area
encompassing the ruins is usually browsed by a few head of cattle,
forming a happy combination, and resembling the compositions of Bergham
and other great masters of like style, in whose pictures cattle and ruins
are made to lend their graces to each other.

   [Picture: Dolwyddellan Castle; Conway Castle; Beddgellert.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

Jorwerth Drwyndwn, or Edward, sirnamed “Broken Nose,” son of Owen
Gwynedd, by the Lady Gwladys, was lord of Dolwydellan Castle about the
year 1169, and here Llewellyn ap Jorwerth, better known to the historian
as Llewellyn the Great, was born.  His father’s claims to the throne of
Wales were disallowed in consequence of the deformity of his countenance,
but the martial daring of the son obtained for him the possession of that
diadem which the barbarity and folly of the times had withheld from the
father.  Llewellyn was acknowledged sovereign prince of Wales A.D. 1184;
and after a brilliant, glorious, and eventful reign of fifty-six years,
embittered only by domestic calamities, was released from the cares of
this world, and interred with great ceremony in the abbey of Conway in
the year 1240.  Amongst the grants made during the usurpation of the Duke
of Glo’ster, is found one of Dolwydellan Castle to Sir Ralph Berkinnet,
of the county of Chester, knight, chamberlain of North Wales.  In the
third year of King Henry the Seventh, an act of resumption was passed,
whereby all the grants of Richard the Third were recalled, except the
lease of the (ffrydd) fryth of Dolwydellan.  At this time lived Meredydd
ap Jevan ap Robert, who had been enriched by a bequest of Crug in
Caernarvonshire, from his foster father, and who had farther augmented
his treasures by a marriage with the daughter of William Gryffydd ap
Robin.  This child of fortune, after a short residence on his newly
acquired estate of Crug, removed into his native country of
Cessailgyfarch, and there purchased the lease of the castle and frydd
{34} of Dolwydellan from the executors of Sir Ralph Berkinnett, part of
the castle being then in a habitable condition.  After many years
residence in the old castle, Meredydd erected a small, but exceedingly
substantial house, in the close valley or _cwm_ of Penanmen, the walls,
staircase, and roof of which are at this day in good preservation, and
afford a comfortable dwelling to the tenantry of his descendants.

The state of this country at his first entering upon possession was so
lawless, that Meredydd, although guarded by “twenty tall archers,” dared
not make known when he went to church or elsewhere, or go or return by
the same way through the woods and defiles, lest he should be waylaid.
To protect and strengthen himself he filled his tenements with “tall and
able” men, and fixed others of similar prowess in arms on the king’s
lands adjoining; one of these, William ap Robert, was placed at Pencraig
Inco, for which he paid a relief to the king of ten shillings and
fourpence, and his posterity, the Davises of Cyffdû, are still in
possession of this ancient estate.

As a further security against interruption in attendance upon divine
worship, he threw down the old church, then standing upon a little
eminence called Bryn-y-beddau, about three hundred yards from the present
church, and erected a new one in its stead.  This site was chosen in
order that the house of Penanmen and the church of Dolwydellan might both
be brought within the ken of a sentinel, to be placed upon a rock called
Craig y Big, overhanging the narrow entrance of Penanmen Cwm, who was to
give the alarm, if either church or house should be assailed.

In this manner he continued to defend himself and organize the less
powerful gentry and free-holders, until at last he counted around his
banner seven score tall bowmen, accoutred with an armolette, a good steel
cap, a short sword and dirk, together with their bows and arrows.  Most
of them also were furnished with horses and hunting spears, and were
sufficiently matched against the robbers and outlaws of the district, who
exceeded one hundred in number, all too well mounted and arrayed.

Besides the “good work,” as it was called, of extirpating banditti,
Meredydd also served his royal master abroad, and was an officer of rank
at the siege of Tournay.  On his return to his native land, he purchased
the seat of Gwydyr from Dafydd ap Howell Coytmor, and erected what is
called the Lower House, but more properly that portion of it called the
“Hall of Meredydd.”  Placing a tenant in his strong house of Penanmen,
and abandoning the old castle to the owls and wolves, he settled in his
new house at Gwydyr, where he departed this life, in peace and honour, on
the eighteenth day of March, 1525, aged fifty-five: his remains were
deposited in the church of Dolwydellan, which he had caused to be erected
at his own expense, and where a modest tablet of three lines epitomizes
his history, in the pious form of inscriptions of that day.

The church built by Meredydd is of such substantial workmanship, that it
will probably prove the most lasting, as well as pious, monument of his
deeds.  A little chapel or transept was subsequently added on the south
side by Robert Wynne, uncle of Sir John, the author of the Memoirs.

The village consists of a few cottages, unconnected and poor looking:
riches or civilization would not harmonize with the scenery of
Dolwydellan, which is as though it existed in an age when the use of
money and the various arts of life were still unknown or undiscovered.


CONWAY is an ancient fortified town, seated on the western bank of the
noble river from which it takes its name, and formerly called
Aber-Conway, i.e. the mouth or embouchure of the chief river.  The
position is happily chosen, both as a strong post of defence and a key to
those parts of Denbigh and Caernarvon which lie remote from the sea.  In
the arrangement and decorations of the interior the town of Conway has
little to attract a mere spectator, the streets being few, narrow, and
irregular: but the historian and the antiquary will view with much
interest the old Plas Mawr, erected in the year 1585, by Robert Wynne, of
Gwydyr, Esq., uncle of Sir John Wynne the historian.  Over the principal
entrance, in Greek characters, are inscribed the words ανεχθ απεχθ, i.e.
bear and forbear; and above may be observed, in Roman capitals, J. H. S.
X. P. S. supposed to be the initials of the words “Jesus Hominum Salvator
et populi salus;” the interpretation of the three first letters is
probably correct, but of the latter three extremely questionable.  The
old college, which stands in Castle Street, is adorned with armorial
bearings of the Stanleys, and was possibly an alms-house or charitable
institution of some sort, founded or endowed by that noble family.  Of
the old Cistercian Abbey, founded by Llewellyn ap Jorwerth in the year
1185, no traces are now visible; Edward the First transformed the
building into a parish church, removed the monks to Maenan Abbey, on the
Denbighshire side of the river, three miles distant from Llanrwst, and
obliterated all traces of the monkish establishment as far as it was

The church is a low unarchitectural structure, built and repaired from
time to time from the mouldering walls of the ancient abbey, without
having borrowed one happy thought from the symmetry of its proportions.
Here is a fine baptismal font, supported by a clustered pillar of gothic
design; and a tablet to the memory of Nicholas Hookes, of Conway, Gent.,
who was the forty-first child of William and Alice Hookes, and himself
the father of twenty-seven.  He died on the 20th of March, 1637.

The town was incorporated and made a free borough by Edward the First,
the charter constituting the mayor to be governor of the castle also.
This politic prince erected the castles of Caernarvon, Beaumaris, and
Conway, to awe the turbulent spirit of his dearly acquired subjects; and
whatever merit may be due to the policy of the plan, sufficient
admiration can hardly be awarded to the choice of position and beauty of
design.  If he had not been the prince who commanded those walls to be
erected, he might well have wished to have been their architect.  The
picturesque features of these fine ruins are quite distinct; Caernarvon
boasts magnitude, Conway a most romantic position, and the great hall of
Beaumaris brings back the spectator immediately into the society of other

The embattled walls which surround the town are coeval with the castle,
and drawn in the form of a British harp, like those encompassing
Caernarvon.  The design and style of the castle however are wholly
different, and most happily suited to its bold position.  The ground plan
is nearly in form a parallelogram.  Two sides of the castle rise from a
steep rock, washed by the tide water of a little creek that runs up along
the town walls, and by the flood of the Conway river.  The exterior
presents to view eight noble circular towers, from the walls of which
issue slender machiolated turrets, giving a singular lightness to the
whole design, and connected by massive embattled curtains.  A long wall
formerly extended from the southern angle of the castle into the river,
terminated by a little water tower, used to obstruct the passage of
enemies, and facilitate the landing of their friends.  The principal
entrance, which is tolerably perfect, was by a drawbridge thrown across a
deep fosse, concealed within a barbacan.  The interior is divided into
two distinct parts, an outer and an inner court, the entrance to the
latter impassable by more than one person at a time, and that by the
permission of those within.  Around the outer courtyard were the
apartments of the garrison, the chapel, great hall, &c.: the inner area
was encompassed by the apartments of the royal founder and his household.
The walls of a small chamber, still entire, with an open ornamented
casement, bear the name of the Queen’s Oriel, and appear, from a poem of
the age in which it was erected, to have been the ladies’ dressing-room.
At the south-western extremity, beyond the royal apartments, a broad
terrace is raised above the river upon a ledge of solid rock; from this,
as from the oriel, a view of the adjacent country is enjoyed, intersected
by cultivated hills, between which and the castle the Conway is seen to
roll his flood, passing beneath the broad waterway afforded by a
beautiful suspension bridge, which, from the appropriateness of style,
seems an appendage of the ancient pile.  A curious proof is here afforded
of the excellence of masonry in the early ages.  Although the castle
appears identified with the rock from which it springs, a separation has
taken place in one instance; neither has this occurred from the
disintegration of the walls, which hang out beyond the base of the broken
tower, it is the rock itself that has crumbled away.

There are many historic events of deep interest connected with the story
of this warrior pile.  Like the artist of the brazen bull, Edward was the
first who was necessitated to make trial of the sufficiency of his new
state prison.  Here he was besieged and nearly reduced by famine, and
only rescued from such a critical situation by the providential arrival
of a fleet with supplies.  This was also the appointed rendezvous of
forty thousand loyalists who attached themselves to the fortunes of King
Richard the Second, and were destined to check the career of Bolingbroke.
Here Percy and King Richard held an interview, from which it would appear
that the unhappy prince mistrusted his faithful friends; for, secretly
withdrawing from Conway, he put himself into the hands of Northumberland,
at Flint, by whom he was betrayed into the power of his rival.  Amongst
its different vicissitudes Conway Castle was once converted into a public
treasury, and discharged its trust with honour and good fortune.  In the
civil wars of King Charles’s time, being held by Dr. Williams, archbishop
of York, for the king, the country gentlemen entrusted to his Grace’s
keeping their title deeds, plate, and most valuable moveables.  This
trust he cheerfully undertook and made himself entirely responsible for
their value by giving to each depositor a personal receipt.  In the May
of 1645, Prince Rupert was appointed governor of the castle, and by his
order Sir John Owen was substituted for the archbishop in the
guardianship of the valuables lodged within.  Sir John constantly evading
the archbishop’s applications on the subject of the deposit, the prelate,
to avoid his own ruin, and seeing no prospect of a return to regal
government, joined the Parliamentarians, assisted Mytton in the reduction
of the castle, and having again got into possession of those treasures
for which he had pledged himself, restored them uninjured to the
respective owners.  For these services parliament granted him a free
pardon and a release from all his sequestrations.  The singular beauty of
this fortress appears to have obtained for it not only the admiration but
the respect of the ruin-making conquerors of the seventeenth century; but
being at last granted by Charles the Second to Lord Conway, while it was
still roofed and perfect, that gothic personage dismantled the entire
structure, and sold the lead, iron, timber, and all other disposable
materials which could be easily separated.

The suspension bridge at Conway is thrown from the foot of the southern
tower to a small island in the river, the suspension piers corresponding
in design with the rounders of the castle occasion little interruption to
the harmony of the whole, and reduce it to a mere question of taste,
whether the bridge be not an appropriate accession to the scene, and the
very drawbridge of the castle.


THE village of Beddgelert, the Goodesberg of Cambria, is situated on a
little plain reposing amidst wild and awful mountains, and adorned by the
conflux of two bright streams, the Glaslyn and the Colwyn.  The agreeable
and fascinating character of the scene is more immediately and vividly
impressed upon the traveller who approaches it from the Caernarvon hills.
After traversing a wild heathy district, and coasting along the banks of
many gloomy lakes, the little village of Beddgelert, in the centre of a
verdant mead, with its cheerful accompaniments of inhabitation, breaks
suddenly on the view amidst all the horrors of untamed nature.  No
situation could be more happily chosen for the inspiration of religious
meditation, or more wisely selected for the maintenance of an institution
of human beings, in a region so savage and unproductive as this must have
been when the vale was occupied by a college of monks.  The village
consists of a few huts coarsely and substantially built, deriving all
their charms from the beauty of their position, a handsome inn, embosomed
high in tufted trees, and the old parish church.  Moel Hebog, or the hill
of the falcon, known in the world of elegant literature as “Lord
Lyttleton’s Hill,” hangs over the valley on the opposite side to the
village, and at its base was discovered, in the year 1784, a Roman shield
of a circular shape, and formed of thin brass.

The church, which is dedicated to St. Mary, was anciently conventual, and
belonged to a priory of Augustines, conjectured to be also of the class
called Gilbertines.  The regulations of this last order permitted the
residence of men and women beneath the same roof, their convents being
separated by a wall; and this opinion receives some support from the
circumstances of a tract of land adjoining the church being known to this
day by the appellation of “The Nun’s Meadow,” in Welsh Dol y Lleian.
Beddgelert is the oldest monastic establishment in North Wales, Bardsey
excepted.  Llewellyn the Great, who commenced his reign in 1184, appears
to have bestowed upon it certain grants of land, and David ap Llewellyn
granted others which were afterwards resumed, an investigation
establishing the property of them to have been originally in Tudor ap
Madoc, and not in the reigning prince.  Besides many granges in
Caernarvon and Anglesea, an allowance of fifty cows and twenty-two sheep,
the Prior had a certain tithe or proportion of bees, or rather of their
honey and wax.  It is extremely probable that all the preceding were not
intended for the sustenance of the few religious of this house, but for
the maintenance and extension of a liberal hospitality to all persons
travelling this way from North to South Wales, and England to Ireland.
Mead was the favourite drink of those times, the nectar of that age,
whence the veneration in which bees were held of so vain a character,
that the priests fabled them to have been blessed by the Almighty at
their departure from Paradise, and that therefore no mass ought to be
celebrated but by the light of wax.  This conceit is mentioned in the
laws of Howel Dda.  A farther and rather substantial testimony of the
hospitality practised here in by-gone days, was afforded in the existence
of a pewter drinking mug, capable of containing about two quarts, which
remained until within a very few years in an old tenement called the
Prior’s House.  Any traveller who could grasp the Beddgelert pint with
one hand, when filled with good ale (_cwrw dda_) and quaff it at a single
draught, was entitled to the liquor _gratis_.  The tenant was to charge
the value to the lord of the manor, who deducted the amount from the
ensuing rent.  It was also for the further continuance of such an useful
hospitality that Edward the First munificently repaired the damages which
the convent had sustained by an accidental fire in 1283; and Bishop Anian
granted indulgences to other benefactors.  At the dissolution of
monasteries the revenues of Beddgelert were estimated at seventy pounds,
Edward Conway was its last Prior, and its lands in Caernarvonshire were
granted to the Bodvells.

Here are interred two eminent bards, Rhys Gôch Eryri, who flourished
about the year 1420, and Dafydd Nanmor, whose death is placed in 1460.
The poet attributes the foundation of Beddgelert church to a later date,
and to a different prince, and rests his proof upon the following
tradition.  Llewellyn the Great came to reside here, during the hunting
season, accompanied by his princess and their children; and one day while
the family were abroad a fierce wolf was seen to approach the palace.
The prince, upon his return from the chase, was met at his entrance by
his faithful dog Gelert all smeared with blood, though still using his
accustomed indications of happiness upon seeing his master.  Llewellyn
alarmed ran with haste into the nursery, and there finding the cradle
overturned and the floor stained with blood, concluded that Gelert had
been the destroyer of his child, and drawing his sword instantly plunged
it into the heart of his favourite dog.  But upon restoring the cradle to
its proper position the infant was discovered wrapped confusedly in the
clothing, and a monstrous wolf lying dead by its side.  Llewellyn, says
tradition, immediately erected a church upon the spot, in thankfulness to
God, and placed a tomb over the remains of poor Gelert, who lies buried
in the centre of the valley, called from that day Beddgelert, or Gelert’s
Grave.  This interesting tale forms the subject of the following pleasing
ballad, by the Hon. W. R. Spencer—

   The spearman heard the bugle sound,
      And cheerly smiled the morn,
   And many a brach and many a hound
      Attend Llewellyn’s horn.

   And still he blew a louder blast,
      And gave a louder cheer,
   “Come, Gelert, why art thou the last
      Llewellyn’s horn to hear?

   “Oh where does faithful Gelert roam?
      The flower of all his race:
   So true, so brave, a lamb at home,
      A lion in the chase.”

   ’Twas only at Llewellyn’s board
      The faithful Gelert fed;
   He watch’d, he served, he cheer’d his lord,
      And sentinel’d his bed.

   In sooth he was a peerless hound,
      The gift of royal John; {46}
   But now no Gelert could be found,
      And all the chase rode on.

   And now as over rocks and dells
      The gallant chidings rise,
   All Snowdon’s craggy chaos yells
      With many mingled cries.

   That day Llewellyn little loved
      The chase of hart or hare,
   And scant and small the booty proved,
      For Gelert was not there.

   Unpleased, Llewellyn homeward hied,
      When near the royal seat,
   His truant Gelert be espied,
      Bounding his lord to greet.

   But when he gain’d his castle door,
      Aghast the chieftain stood;
   The bound was smear’d with gouts of gore,
      His lips and fangs ran blood.

   Llewellyn gazed with wild surprise,
      Unused such looks to meet,
   His favourite check’d his joyful guise,
      And crouch’d and lick’d his feet.

   Onward in haste Llewellyn pass’d,
      And on went Gelert too,
   And still where’er his eyes he cast,
      Fresh blood gouts shock’d his view.

   O’erturn’d his infant’s bed he found,
      The blood-stain’d covert rent;
   And all around the walls and ground,
      With recent blood besprent.

   He call’d his child—no voice replied:
      He search’d with terror wild;
   Blood, blood, he found on every side,
      But no where found the child!

   “Hell-hound, by thee my child’s devour’d,”
      The frantic father cried:
   And to the hilt the vengeful sword,
      He plunged in Gelert’s side.

   His suppliant, as to earth he fell,
      No pity could impart;
   But still his Gelert’s dying yell
      Pass’d heavy o’er his heart.

   Aroused by Gelert’s dying yell,
      Some slumberer waken’d nigh;
   What words the parent’s joy can tell
      To hear his infant cry?

   Conceal’d between a mingled heap
      His hurried search had miss’d:
   All glowing from his rosy sleep,
      His cherub boy he kiss’d!

   Nor scratch had he, nor harm, nor dread,
      But the same couch beneath
   Lay a great wolf, all torn and dead,
      Tremendous still in death!

   Ah, what was then Llewellyn’s pain!
      For now the truth was clear,
   The gallant hound the wolf had slain,
      To save Llewellyn’s heir.

   Vain, vain, was all Llewellyn’s woe,
      Best of thy kind, adieu!
   The frantic deed which laid thee low,
      This heart shall ever rue.

   And now a gallant tomb they raise
      With costly sculpture deck’d,
   And marbles storied with his praise
      Poor Gelert’s bones protect.

   Here never could the spearman pass,
      Or forester, unmoved,
   Here oft the tear besprinkled grass,
      Llewellyn’s sorrow proved.

   And here he hung his horn and spear,
      And oft as evening fell,
   In fancy’s piercing sounds would hear
      Poor Gelert’s dying yell!

   And till great Snowdon’s rocks grow old,
      And cease the storm to brave,
   The consecrated spot shall hold
      The name of Gelert’s grave.

[Picture: Llyn Ogwen; Pont y-Pair; Llanberis lake.  London.  Published by
                T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]


OGWEN Lake is contained within a circumference of about three miles,
presenting itself in rather an oval form.  It is encircled by mountains,
except at the eastern extremity, which fall abruptly into the water, and
afford scenery in the highest degree romantic.  On the left the broken
shattered crags of Trifaen {48} hang over the margin of the lake, and
throw the surface into an everlasting shadow.  The distant forms of
Francôn mountains are, if possible, still more grand and picturesque; but
the side skreen of Braich-ddû slopes down more smoothly and gradually to
the water’s surface.  Perhaps there are too many broken summits hovering
over Ogwen; probably the mind of true taste may think the simplicity and
grandeur of the scene interrupted by their repetition, but this is too
refined a criticism.  Ogwen is generally acknowledged to present the
finest lake scene in Caernarvonshire, the very Derwent of North Wales,
and, like it, well described as “Beauty sleeping in the lap of Horror.”
The waters of Llyn Ogwen abound in a species of red trout, easily taken
with the fly, and not inferior in flavour to salmon.  The surplus waters
discharge themselves at the western end of the pool through a chasm in
the rocks, and tumbling in three noble cataracts down a height of about
one hundred feet, are concentrated into a bed in the green meadows of
Nant Francon; flowing by Dolawen and Penrhyn Castle, they are lost at
length in the Mænai straits.

The noble line of road constructed through the Welsh mountains, under the
surveillance of parliamentary commissioners, is carried along the very
margin of Llyn Ogwen, amidst the great debris that continue annually
falling from the rocky sides of Trifaen.  In the winter of 1831 upwards
of one thousand tons of rock fell from the dizzy heights of Benclog, a
little below the Ogwen cataracts; part rolling straight across the road
fell into the valley and river in the bottom, while another part having
acquired a less momentum rested on the ledge the road supplied them.  The
intercourse of travellers was for some days impeded, although one hundred
miners were engaged in clearing and restoring the surface of the road.  A
gentleman from the vale of Llanrwst had just passed along in his phaeton,
on his way to Bangor, when the terrific sound of the dissolving mountain
fell upon his astonished ear.

About one mile from Llyn Ogwen, in a deep hollow of the Glyder mountains,
lies the dark pool, called Llyn Idwal.  The gloomy horrors of the
surrounding scene exceed even those of Ogwen; the encircling cliffs are
overhanging, broken, and dark; in one part the whole mountain is rent
asunder, and the chasm of “Twll ddû,” or the “black cleft,” gapes between
the terrific masses.  The solitude of Cwm Idwal proved favourable to the
perpetration of a deed of blood, and it was here that young Idwal, the
infant heir of Prince Owen Gwynedd, was treacherously assassinated by
order of his foster-father Nefydd, to whose care his father had consigned

   And thou, O Idwal, of immortal fame,
   Dying, to the vale hath left thy name.

PONT-Y-PAIR {50a}.

THIS curious and picturesque bridge is thrown over the rapid river
Llugwy, {50b} at the village of Bettws-y-Coed, {50c} in the county of
Caernarvon.  Though flung high above the surface of the water it consists
of but little masonry, the natural rock supplying piers the most solid
and enduring.  One of the arches affords an open transit for the waters
which flow from the noble fall and salmon leap above the bridge, and
produce by their impetuous rotatory motion a deep reservoir or caldron
below it, whence this graceful structure derives its appropriate name.
Four of the arches are dry except in rainy seasons, when the torrent
rises with such rapidity as would endanger a less substantial work, at
which period these openings are found perfectly necessary.

The history of the origin of Pont-y-Pair possesses a singular though
simple interest.  Howel, a mason, from Penllyn, having occasion to attend
the assizes then, A.D. 1468, held at Conway, found his passage over the
Lleder, which flows through Dolwydellan, obstructed by the violence and
greatness of the flood.  This suggested to him the idea of removing to
the spot and of erecting a bridge there, at his own expense, trusting to
the generosity of travellers for compensation.  The success of one
project engendered a second, and Howel next resolved upon the erection of
the beautiful bridge at Bettws-y Coed, called now the Pont-y-Pair; but he
did not live to see its final completion.

To the right of the Pont-y-Pair is the “Carreg y gwalch,” or rock of the
Falcon, a beautiful hill of singular and broken forms, clothed with wood
for the most part, a few fine bold rocks occasionally elevating their
fronts above the foliage, and producing a noble and great effect.  In
this rock is a deep recess, called Ogo ap Shenkin, or the Cave of Jenkin,
in which that famous outlaw took shelter during the Lancastrian wars.  A
large rock now blocks up the entrance, like the grotto of Polyphemus, and
there is a tradition that this was once rolled away by some inquisitive
persons, who, advancing a few yards, discovered a huge oak chest clasped
with iron, on the top of which stood a monstrous goat bowing his aged
head, and following with his horns the direction of those who had the
courage to approach.  The chest of course continues in this dreary
treasury, and the character of its guardian is hinted at by the
discoverers, but never openly declared.

Dafydd ap Shenkin held the fastnesses of Nant-conway for fifteen years,
during which period he was unrelentingly pursued by the captains of
Edward the Fourth.  From their persecution, when he could no longer keep
the open country, he sought refuge in his mountain cave.  Howel ap Jevan
ap Rhys Gethyn, a contemporary of Jenkin, and the Robin Hood of those
times and this country, was also Shenkin’s or Jenkin’s mortal foe.  Being
expelled from the castle of Dolwydellan, and from his strong hold at
Penanmen, he was compelled to flee into Ireland, where he continued for a
year or more, and then returning appeared with his followers all clad in
green, spent the residue of his life as an outlaw, seeking a fortuitous
existence amongst the mountains and forests of his native land.  There is
a township in the parish of Bettws-y-Coed still bearing the name of
Hendre-Rhys-Gethyn; it is the estate of Dafydd D. Price, Esq., and was
once probably part of the possessions of the brave but unfortunate Howel,
the consistency of whose politics constituted his greatest offence.

The village of Bettws, an attractive and fascinating spot, is situated
near the meeting of the Llugwy and Conway rivers.  The few cottages
composing it, though poor in detail, are rich in composition, no village
in the principality presenting a more beautiful landscape than Bettws,
viewed from the road to Coed Cynheliar.  The village church stands in a
little cemetery in the centre of the vale, resembling in some degree the
church of Beddgelert.  It is enclosed by a few stately forest trees, and
forms a venerable and interesting object.  Within is shown a fine
effigiated tomb of Gryffydd ap Dafydd Goch, son of Dafydd Goch, who was a
natural son of Dafydd, brother to the last reigning Prince of Wales.  The
figure is recumbent, clad in armour, and the outside border of the torus
is inscribed with these words,

    Hic jacet Grufud ap Davyd Coch, Agnus Dei misêre mei.

Above the village, on the stream of the Llugwy, is the famous waterfall
called Rhaidar y Wennol, or the cataract of the swallow.  It consists of
three noble falls, differing in character, though all conspicuous in
picturesque interest; the highest consists of innumerable frothy streams,
gliding with great velocity down a sloping rock but little broken; the
second is a concentrated volume, rushing with impetuosity into a foaming
caldron; and in the third the whole is dashed away in spray.  A huge
perpendicular rock rises abruptly from one side to a height of five
hundred feet and upwards, while the opposite side is formed of broken
banks and rocky patches, clothed with noble aged oaks.  In the solemn
depths of the lowest fall the spirit of the turbulent Sir John Wynne, of
Gwydyr, which had haunted the glen for many years, is supposed to be laid
at rest beneath the waters.


THESE lakes, though not remarkable for extent of surface, are
distinguished by the solemn grandeur of their rocks and mountains, that
rise in very bold and awful characters.  On the northern shore the
mountain rises to a towering height, and with great abruptness.  The
hills on the opposite side are more rugged and sterile, but recede more
gradually, while they aspire to an equal elevation.  Between the lakes a
bold promontory issues from the mountain and shoots into the water,
adorned by the majesty of Dolbadarn’s ruined castle, whose ivy-mantled
walls seem part of the very rock on which they stand.  Beyond this a
second expanse of waters is disclosed, enveloped in scenery yet more
terrific and sublime than the former, the perspective being terminated by
the dark blue heads of innumerable mountains, projections merely of great
Snowdon and the Glydyr, where the mountains appear to meet and shut in
the scene.  Amidst scattered rocks, at the entrance of Bwlch y Gwyddol,
and where fragments from the heights almost choke up the pass, stands the
little church of Llanberis.  If solitude and simplicity be inseparable
characters of a religious edifice, then is Llanberis Church most entirely
suited to its pious destination.  Saint Peris, to whom the church is
dedicated, lived in the thirteenth century, and this is supposed to have
been his retreat.  Here he founded a church, blessed a well, which now
bears his name, and to which miraculous qualities were ascribed.  The
most singular circumstance however, connected with the later history of
this holy well is, that here a monstrous trout has continued for upwards
of twenty years, and become so familiar, that it will take a worm from
the hand of a poor person, who appears to have adopted that privilege as
her own.  Peris was a legate from the church of Rome, and accompanied in
his mission by Saint Padarn.  Our saint chose the little meadows on the
upper lake, in Nant y Monach, or the Monk’s Vale; and Padarn, his friend,
settled on the lower lake, which is still called after his name.

Dolbadarn Castle consists at this day of a single round tower or keep;
but traces of a greater occupation are sufficiently distinct around.
Time has rolled its dark waves over the date of foundation and name of
founder, and, one incident excepted, nothing but conjecture remains as to
its history.  Padarn Beisrydd, the son of Idwal, was the supposed builder
of this fortress, the obvious utility of which was to guard the mountain
pass behind it.  The date of its erection, in that case, would be some
time previous to the eleventh century; a conjecture supported by the
style of architecture, which is clearly Welsh.  Owen Goch was imprisoned
here by his brother Llewellyn ap Gryffydd, last Prince of Wales, of the
British line, for the term of twenty years, and his merits are celebrated
in an ode composed by Howel-Voel, bewailing the captivity of the unhappy

The following translation of the opening stanzas embraces the meaning,
but does not pretend to imitate the bold spirit of Howel’s lamentation.

    Ye powers, that rule both earth and sea,
    Release from dark captivity,
    Snatch from an inglorious grave
    The lion-hearted, mild yet brave,
    Owen,—a prince of matchless strength,
    Whose bright lance dripped, for all its length,
    With the best blood of the bravest men
    That dared to foray his mountain glen.
    ’Twas his to succour,—relieve distress,
    The proud to humble, the foe to oppress.
    His charity measureless, his bounty great,
    His gifts well suited such wide estate.
    But now these vales seem dark and dreary,
    No hall to shelter the weak, the weary,
    Since Owen has changed his lordly bower
    For the darksome dungeon of Padarn’s tower:
    Its dark gray walls their prince now sever
    From those who have lost their glory for ever.
    Their pride, their honour, their fame is fled,
    Their light is extinguished, their hopes are dead.
    Oh! Owen, dauntless, valiant and bright,
    Chieftain of Cambria,—warrior knight, &c. &c.

The seclusion of Llanberis has been broken by the formation of a new line
of road along Llyn Padarn to the town of Caernarvon, and the charms of
its solitude dissipated by the erection of two spacious inns in the
immediate vicinity of the ancient castle.

To scenes like these, a tale of wonder is a welcome introduction; it
awakes the mind, and adds new interest to every rock and precipice.  The
melancholy fate of little John Closs, who was overtaken by a mist, and
perished in the snows upon Moel Eilio, calls forth a tear, but excites no
wonder.  The _feats_ of Margaret uch Evan, though very singular, are as
certainly well attested: she dwelt near the margin of the lower lake, and
was the last specimen of the strength and spirit of the ancient Briton.
Her biographer asserts that “she was the greatest hunter, fisher, shooter
of her time: she kept a dozen of dogs, terriers, greyhounds, and
spaniels, all excellent in their kind.  She killed more foxes in one year
than all the confederate hunts did in ten: rowed stoutly, and was queen
of the lakes: fiddled excellently, and was acquainted with all the old
British music: was also a good joiner: and at the age of seventy years,
was so expert a wrestler, that few young men dared try a fall with her.
She was a blacksmith, shoemaker, and manufacturer of harps.  She shod her
own horses, made her own shoes, and built her own boats while under
contract to convey the copper ore down the lakes.  Contemporary bards
celebrated her praises in strains purely British.  She gave her hand, at
length, to the most effeminate of her suitors, as if determined to exert
that physical superiority which nature had bestowed on her even in the
married state.  Foulk Jones, of Ty Dû, was also a person of singular
powers; the tales related of his prowess recall the poet’s character of

    —“he then confronts the bull,
    And on his ample forehead, aiming fall,
    The deadly stroke descending, pierced the skull.”

                                                            ÆNEID, v. 666.

The pass of Nant Peris is entered by a gap called Bwlch y Gwyddol; {58a}
tremendous rocks impend on either side in masses of gray crag, the long
shattered ridge of Snowdon on the one hand, and the broken forms of
Glydyr fawr on the other.  These rocks are overlooked again by still more
awful mountains, that fall in abrupt lines and close up the vista, except
where they are commanded by some peak of Snowdon or its opposing rival.
Images of desolation and of stupendous greatness compose the scene.  A
solitary cottage disturbs the retirement; and sometimes the shepherd’s
shrill call, in “the office of his mountain watch,” is heard repeated
among the rocks of the “Blue Vale.” {58b}  Some distance up the pass a
huge stone, which does not appear to have been an appendage of the
mountain, but rather an independent erection, lies across the centre of
the defile.  A hollow beneath it was once converted by a poor woman into
a summer habitation, for the convenience of tending her little flock.  It
exceeds the dimensions of the Boother stone {59} in Westmoreland; and the
spot on which it rests is called, from the story of the poor herdswoman,
“Ynys Hettys,” or Betty’s Island.  The scenery decreases in magnificence
as the highest point or resting-place (Gorphwysffa) is attained, where
new and different beauties burst upon the sight, in the view down the
Bwlch Eisteddffau into the enchanting vale of Gwynant.

Accomplishing the passage of the “Blue Vale” was amongst the great boasts
of Cambrian tourists: if the reward was great, so were the difficulties
of the task.

    “If the path be dangerous known,
    The danger’s self is lure alone,”

might then have been the adopted motto of the inquisitive tourist, but
now the wheels of a stage-coach, in mimickry of the revolutions of time
and of events, roll rapidly over the Gorphwysffa itself, that spot where
the way-worn traveller paused to take a congratulating retrospect of the
difficulties he had passed.


THE largest, most wealthy, and populous shire in North Wales.  Its form
is irregular; the greatest length from north to south extends forty
miles, and the mean breadth is calculated at twenty-three.  The area
occupies a surface exceeding four hundred thousand acres.  It presents a
front of a few miles length to the Irish sea.  Parts of Flint, Cheshire,
and Shropshire form the eastern boundary; Merioneth and Montgomeryshires
the south; and it is joined on the west by the county of Caernarvon.  The
surface presents an endless variety, and may be illustrated by the idea
of an island whose shores are peopled and cultivated, while the interior
is comparatively in a state of natural wildness.  The vales of Llanrwst,
the Abergelle line of coast, the fertile vale of Clwyd, represent the
fringe of cultivation which surrounds an elevated though improvable
district of many thousand acres.  With the exception of the Dee and
Conway, which form natural county bounds on the east and west, the rivers
of Denbigh are inconsiderable.  The mean elevation of the interior
district, extending from Bettws-Abergele to Derwen, and from Denbigh to
the Gwytherin hills; is about eight hundred feet above sea level.
Several small pools are found amongst the hills, possessing neither great
extent nor much natural beauty; and, being collected in the highest
regions, they are devoid of those accompaniments which give such
picturesque effects to those lakes that are deposited in deep and hollow
valleys.  Cairn y Brain, between Llangollen and Llandegle, is the highest
point in Denbighshire, reaching one thousand eight hundred and
fifty-eight feet above the sea; and Llyn Conway is the largest assemblage
of waters.  The county of Denbigh, under the late Reform Bill, sends two
members to parliament; the united boroughs of Denbigh, Rhuthyn, Holt, and
Wrexham return one.

 [Picture: Denbigh; Aber waterfall; Llyn Gwynant.  London.  Published by
                T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]


THE borough town of Denbigh occupies the sides of a steep hill, rising
abruptly from the level of the beautiful vale of Clwyd, and bearing on
its towering crest the venerable ruins of an ancient castle, a proud
memorial of the bravery of the inhabitants in those days, when love of
anarchy was mistaken for independence, and loyalty and fidelity were
terms of reproach.  The principal street approaches the market-place from
the foot of the hill, and contains several very elegant and handsome
private residences.  The Town Hall possesses no architectural beauties,
its sole merit is utility.  Many excellent private houses are scattered
through the town, which terminates at the other side of the hill in a
miserable approach called Henllan Street.  Denbigh, in conjunction with
Rhuthyn and Holt, has for many years returned a member to parliament, but
Wrexham has been admitted to a participation in the privilege, by a
clause in the new Reform Bill.  The corporation derived its last charter
from King Charles the Second, and consists of two aldermen, a recorder,
two bailiffs, and two coroners.  Whitchurch, where the old parish church
of St. Marcellus is situated, lies in the open valley one mile from the
town.  It is no longer used as a place of worship, but resembles a chapel
or oratory, in which the remains of chiefs and men of learning are
deposited.  Their blazoned arms and sumptuous tombs are rapidly yielding
to the decay incident on damp and negligence.  In the porch is a brass
plate, engraven with figures of Richard Myddleton, governor of Denbigh
Castle in the reigns of Edward the Sixth, Mary and Elizabeth, with the
Lady Jane, his wife.  Behind him are represented his nine sons and seven
daughters in the attitude of prayer.  Many of his sons rendered
themselves conspicuous in public life, and even “did the state some
service.”  William Myddleton, his third son, was a post captain in the
British navy, and behaved with great coolness and wisdom when sent to
reconnoitre the Spanish fleet off the Azores in 1591.  He was one of the
first persons who smoked tobacco publicly in England, and was a poet of
eminence in his day.  Thomas, the fourth son, was Lord Mayor of London,
and founder of the Chirk Castle family in this county.  And, Sir Hugh
Myddleton, the sixth son, was a person whose useful life would impart a
lustre to the greatest family.  This was the enterprising individual who
“smote the rock” and brought the waters of the New River into London.

A mural monument vainly attempts to perpetuate the fame of Humphrey
Llwyd, the scholar and antiquary.  This remarkable person is celebrated
as a master of eloquence, an excellent rhetorician, and a sound
philosopher.  In the art of medicine and study of antiquities his
knowledge appears to have been unconfined.  Camden eulogises his memory.
His friend, Ortelius, owes to him his map of England; and some of the
most rare and valuable works in the British Museum were collected by
Llwyd for his brother-in-law, Lord Lumley.  He was born in the town of
Denbigh in the year 1527, and died at the early age of forty-one.  The
altar tomb of Sir John Salisbury is a rich specimen of monumental
architecture.  In the cemetery surrounding the church is a slab to the
memory of Twm y Nant, the Cambrian Shakspeare, who died in the year 1810,
at the age of seventy-one years. (See account of Denbigh Castle, p. 72.)


THE little village of Aber is situated on the coast of Caernarvonshire,
at the foot of a steep green hill, against which the tower of the little
church appears relieved, and forms a useful landmark to travellers who
venture to cross the Lavan sands and ferry from Beaumaris.  In foggy
weather they are directed in their dangerous journey by the tolling of
the church bell.  The church and inn constitute nearly the whole of the
buildings, public and private, in this sequestered spot.  At a little
distance from the village, and in the bwlch or entrance of a grand
defile, stands an artificial mount, anciently the site of a palace
belonging to Llewellyn ap Gryffydd.  William de Breos, a powerful lord in
the reign of Henry the Third, happening to fall into the hands of
Llewellyn, at the siege of Montgomery, was conducted by him to his castle
at Aber, and detained there a state prisoner for a considerable time.
After his liberation suspicions of jealousy began to haunt the prince’s
mind, and with a baseness which nothing but that hateful passion could
create, invited De Breos to return to Aber as a guest; and, under the
guise of friendship, violated all laws of princely honour and hospitality
by hanging up his guest at the palace gate.  While the luckless lord was
suspended from the tree, Llewellyn is said to have asked his princess, in
a taunting manner, what would she give to see her lover; and leading her
to the window, pointed out to her the lifeless body of De Breos.
Tradition preserves this tale in a few bardic lines, thus translated:

    Lovely princess, said Llewellyn,
    What will you give to see your Gwillim?
    Wales and England and Llewellyn
    I’d freely give to see my Gwillim, &c.

In a field now called Caer y Gwillim Ddû, or the field of Black William,
a cave is shown in which De Breos is believed to have been interred.  The
life of the Princess Joan, both before and after this cruel tragedy,
contradicts the unworthy suspicions of her lord.

Aber was also the favourite residence of Dafydd ap Llewellyn, who,
sinking beneath a weight of afflictions, expired here in the year 1246,
and was interred in the abbey of Conway.  The royal palace occupied the
site of an ancient fort, auxiliary to the castle of Caer-Hun, in
protecting the pass of Bwlch y ddau ffaen.

A noble glen at right angles, nearly with the line of coast, opens
towards the Rhaidar mawr, or Great Cataract of Aber.  Precipitous hills
close in on either side, and all egress seems denied in the remote
distance.  Down the front of Maes y Gaer, a height of one hundred feet
and upwards, the waters are thrown with vast impetuosity, and dashed from
the lower part of the fall with a wonderful horizontal projection.  The
suddenness of the break, over which the cascade tumbles, leads many an
innocent victim to a painful termination of its existence, and the gloomy
character of the picture is generally increased by the shattered remains
of some poor animal numbered amongst the rocks at the foot of the great

    —“the roused up river pours along,
    Resistless, roaring dreadful, down it comes
    From the rude mountain and the mossy wild,
    Tumbling through rocks abrupt, and sounding far.”



THIS is one of two fine lakes occupying the beautiful vale between
Beddgelert and Dyffryn Mymbre, or Capel Curig.  It washes the lowest
visible part of Snowdon’s base, and is supplied by a noble cataract
issuing from Ffynnon las, {66} one of the pools in the dark recesses of
the great mountain.  The hills around it, though picturesque and lofty,
are not sufficiently broken for sublimity.  On the southern extremity of
the lake some fragments of a building are still discernible, confidently
believed to be the ruins of a chapel erected by Madoc, the son of Owen
Gwynedd, who dwelt here previous to his emigration to South America.  The
vale here contracts, and the grand mountain masses rapidly close in,
forming the hollow of “Cwn Llan,” where Snowdon is observed to tower with
greater majesty than in any other position.  Beneath his darkening front,
and encompassed by a noble amphitheatre of mountains, is Plas Gwynant,
the truly romantic seat of Mr. Vaudrey.  At this precise spot the beauty
of the scenery increases wonderfully, and the spectator is lost in an
endless variety of rock, and wood, and flood, and mountain.  Llanberis
Vale may be more sublime, no valley in Wales is equally beautiful.  Nor
is the accompaniment of lake wanting here.  Lyn Dinas now opens to the
view, with its dark brown surface and verdant banks.  At its extremity
rises a remarkable hill commanding the whole vale, whose rough, bold
sides are in unison with the surrounding objects.  Here are the ramparts
of a fortress, which frowned, from its precipices, over the dark waters
of the lake, and commanded the narrow avenues of the valley.  This is the
Dinas Emrys, where

    Prophetic Merlyn sat, when to the British king
    The changes long to come auspiciously he told.

Here Vortigern retired, disgusted with the treachery of his Saxon allies;
and being frustrated in his first essays to raise a fortress, by some
invisible hand, consulted all the wise men of the age, who assured him,
that his palace would always want stability until sprinkled with the
blood of one “without a father born.”  In the town of Caermarthen the
child Merlin was found, the circumstances of whose life corresponded with
the advice of the elders.  The harmless boy was ordered to be sacrificed,
but his questions so confounded the base advisers of his death, that he
obtained both life and liberty.  The legend is thus embodied in poetic
translation by Drayton:

          “To that mighty king, which rashly undertook
    A strong walled tower to rear, those earthly spirits that shook
    The great foundation still, in dragon’s horrid shape,
    That dreaming wizard told, making the mountain gape
    With his most powerful charms, to view those caverns deep.
    And from the top of Bridd, so high and wondrous steep,
    Where Dinas Emrys stood, shew’d where the serpents fought,
    The _white_ that tore the _red_; from whence the prophet wrought
    The Briton’s sad decay, then shortly to ensue.”


THE character of Llangollen Vale is peculiar.  The hills on either side
are steep and lofty, and descend abruptly, though in verdant lawns, to
the channel of the Dee.  Although it may be considered to extend a length
of ten or twelve miles, yet such is the extraordinary sinuosity of its
form, that it hardly admits a prospect of half that extent or distance.
The village has partaken largely of the benefits resulting from good
public roads, and has progressed with much rapidity.  It is more visited
by tourists than any other part of the principality.  The church, a
handsome structure, is dedicated to Saint Collen, and from the cemetery
is seen the much admired view of the old bridge across the Dee, with rich
accompaniments of wood and rock, and the fine back-ground of Dinas Bran.
About four miles from the village the vale expands, and discloses a scene
of inexpressible beauty.  Here the noble aqueduct of Pont-y-Cysyllte, on
a scale so vast as to approach the character of a natural creation, is
thrown from mountain to mountain.  It extends a length of nine hundred
and eighty feet, and is sustained by twenty piers one hundred and sixteen
feet in height from the bed of the river Dee, the span of the intervening
arches being forty-five feet.  At each end are spacious embankments, now
clothed with the richest foliage; and the old bridge across the river has
not only lent its name to the great work, but has made a sacrifice of its
beauty and publicity, being concealed and quite eclipsed by the towering
structure above it.  The object of its construction, as well as the
meritorious exertions of its originators, are fully set forth in the
following inscription graven on the central pier:

               The Nobility and Gentry of the adjacent counties
            having united their efforts with the great commercial
          interests of this country, in creating an intercourse and
               union between England and Wales, by a navigable
         communication of the three rivers, Severn, Dee, and Mersey,
           for the mutual benefit of agriculture and trade, caused
            the first stone of this Aqueduct of Pont-y-cysyllty to
        be laid on the 25th day of July, 1795; when Richard Myddleton,
       of Chirk, Esq. M.P. one of the original patrons of the Ellesmere
     was Lord of the Manor, and in the reign of our sovereign George III.
      When the equity of the laws and security of property promoted the
    general welfare of the nation; while the arts and sciences flourished
     by his patronage, and the conduct of civil life was improved by his

This inscription is doubtless true, and conveys a rational moral; but the
writer forgot that artists and men of science deserve, as a reward for
their great services, at least, the introduction of their names upon such
commemorative tables.  Mr. Telford furnished the design, and the contract
for its erection was fulfilled by Wilson.

    [Picture: Llangollen vale & aqueduct; Plas Newydd; Denbigh Castle.
     London.  Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]


THE history of the late occupants of this beautiful little cottage is at
variance with the censure of the poet’s Angelina on the quality of
friendship.  Lady Eleanor Butler, daughter of the Earl of Ormond, was
born in Dublin, and almost from her cradle had been an orphan.  Wealthy,
beautiful, and nobly sprung, her hand was sought by persons of rank and
fortune equal to her own; but to all addresses of that description she
expressed at once her disinclination.  Although she openly avowed this
taste for independence, no woman was ever more distinguished for
mildness, modesty, and all those feminine graces which adorn and give
interest to the sex.  Miss Ponsonby, a member of the noble family of
Besborough, had been an early associate of Lady Eleanor; and, possibly,
it may have contributed in some degree to cement their growing
friendship, the incidental circumstance of both having been born in the
same city, upon the same day and year, and being both bereaved of their
parents at precisely the same period.  Minds of so much sensibility soon
mistook their fancies for realities, and rapidly concluding that they
were destined for a life of independence, at the early age of seventeen
vowed eternal friendship and devotion to each other for the residue of
their lives.  At the age of twenty-one, when the arm of the law rescued
them from the friendly detention of their relatives, they withdrew to the
solitary little cottage of Plas-Newydd, never to return again to the gay,
glittering world of fashion, or the country which gave them birth.
Having enlarged and decorated their rural dwelling, laid out and planted
their grounds, the selection of a library became an early care.  Here
much time was spent; and the glowing language of Miss Seward, a friend
and frequent guest at Plas-Newydd, bears a high testimony to the
philosophic quality of their minds.  “All that is grateful, all that is
attached, will be ever warm from my heart towards each honoured and
accomplished friend, whose virtues and talents diffuse intellectual
sunshine that adorns and cheers the loveliest of the Cambrian
vales.”—Letter 38.

The habits and manners of the “Llangollen ladies” were frank and open,
and their hospitality of the most liberal kind.  They visited and
received the neighbouring gentry until the “weight of years pressed heavy
on them.”  Madame de Genlis and the Mademoiselle D’Orleans, are to be
numbered amongst their visiters; and it was here that intellectual being
first heard the wild notes of our Æolian harp, of which she remarks, “it
is natural for such an instrument to have originated in a country of
storms and tempests, of which it softens the manners.”

Upwards of half a century these amiable companions graced the valley of
Llangollen, extending a cheerful hospitality to their numerous guests,
and exercising a benevolence the most unlimited towards the most
friendless of their neighbours.  At length they were called before the
throne of brightness and purity, at the advanced ages of seventy-two and
seventy-seven.  Their remains are deposited in a vault in Llangollen
cemetery, where the body of Mrs. Mary Carroll, their faithful servant,
had been laid at rest before them.


THE castle of Denbigh (_Dinbach_, the little fort) occupies the crown of
a rocky eminence on the south side of the noble vale of Clwyd, and
commanding an extensive prospect over that rich and beautiful vein of
country.  This impregnable fortress, with one thousand pounds in lands,
was granted by Edward the First to Davydd, the brother of Llewellyn, as a
marriage portion with the Earl of Derby’s widow, whom he espoused at the
king’s request.  Davydd forfeited these grants by his rebellion, which
enabled Edward to reward one of his English followers with this noble
estate.  The fortunate grantee was Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln and of
Denbigh, who had married the daughter and sole heiress of Long-sword,
Earl of Salisbury, by whom he had two sons, Edmund and John, who both
died young, one of them by a fall into a very deep well within the castle
of Denbigh; and a daughter named Alicia, espoused by Thomas Plantagenet,
Earl of Lancaster, who, in right of this lady, became Earl of Lincoln and
of Sarum, Lord of Denbigh, Halton, Pomfret, and constable of Chester
Castle.  The melancholy death of his son Edmund so afflicted the earl,
that Leland assures us it caused him to desert his proud castle without
completing its great design.  Upon the attainder of Thomas of Lancaster,
son-in-law of Lacy, the lordship of Denbigh was conferred upon Hugh
D’Espencer, a favourite of Edward the Second; but this unpopular person
being also cut off by violence, Roger Mortimer obtained a grant of his
estates, in fulfilment of a promise made to his mother by Edward the
Third, before he ascended the throne, “that he would bestow one thousand
pounds upon her son if ever he should succeed to the crown of England.”
The proprietorship of this impregnable rock seems to have inspired its
lords with ideas of independence, uniformly growing up into rebellion.
Mortimer was infected with the same anti monarchical notions, and met
with a similar fate.  The succession of tragedies was at length arrested
by a Sir William Montacute, afterwards Earl of Salisbury, who continued a
grateful and zealous adherent of the crown.  Salisbury dying without
issue, and the attainder of Mortimer being reversed, Denbigh was
restored, by marriage, to the house of York, and, consequently, to the
crown once more.

Queen Elizabeth bestowed the lordship of Denbigh upon her favourite
Leicester, who did not conciliate the affections of the Welsh people with
the same zeal he did those of his royal mistress, and an insurrection of
the tenantry was the consequence of his tyrannical government.  In the
year 1696 a similar unpopular grant was made of the lordships of Denbigh,
Bromfield, and Yale to the Earl of Portland; but the resistance given to
the investment of the grantee by the Welsh gentry was so decided, that
parliament petitioned the crown to reverse the grant.

Edward the Fourth, while Duke of York, sustained a siege here from the
army of Henry the Sixth, and ultimately effected his escape.  Charles the
First lodged in the castle for a short period after his retreat from
Chester; and the Siambr y Brennin, or king’s apartments, though totally
ruined, are still pointed out.  The Welsh, however, have greater cause of
self-gratulation, and may point to this monument of departed power with
more pride, from the gallant defence which they made from its walls,
under the conduct of the brave William Salisbury, against the
parliamentary forces, than from any adventitious circumstance involved in
its sad and eventful history.

The ruins are of great extent, and the grand portal is nearly entire; but
from the mode of its erection, as well as the means of its destruction,
they afford but little that is picturesque in their appearance.  The
ground plan was at first surrounded by double walls, parallel to each
other, and distant only by six or eight feet, the intermural space was
then filled up with rubble stone and hot mortar, which on cooling became
a solid conglomerate.  Upon the barbarous dismantling of the castle,
after the Restoration, which was done by springing a mine of gunpowder
beneath it, the walls separated and fell from the grouting, exposing a
mass of shattered fragments, without the advantage of a single tree or
any impending object to throw a relieving shadow over the melancholy

Near to the grand entrance of the castle stand the side walls of an
unfinished church, one hundred and seventy feet in length, and pierced by
many spacious windows.  These were raised by the Earl of Leicester, and
destined for the celebration of the reformed service; but he did not
like, or, as others say, did not live to visit his oppressed Welsh
tenantry, and left this pious work unfinished.  A subscription was some
years afterwards set on foot, and ample funds obtained for roofing over
the walls, but the Earl of Essex, on his way to Ireland, procured a loan
of the sum collected, and no effort was ever after made to save the whole
from falling to decay.

An interesting and national spectacle was exhibited on the bowling-green
under the castle walls of Denbigh, in the autumn of 1828; it is called in
Welsh an Eistedfodd, and means a meeting of the bards.  This is an
institution of ancient origin, and was formerly held under a precept or
commission from the crown, directed to the principal inhabitants in the
district where the meeting was intended to be held.  The latest royal
mandate for the holding of an Eistedfodd was issued by Queen Elizabeth,
and directed to the ancestors of some of the most respectable families
now resident in Flint and Denbigh shires.  The bardic assemblage of 1828
was accompanied by circumstances of a very peculiar and gratifying
character, and the remembrance of it will long be cherished by all
Cambrians who witnessed it, with feelings of the deepest and warmest
enthusiasm.  The verdant platform of the bowling-green commands one of
the richest and happiest prospects in nature; the eye sweeps down the
green hills on the south, and passing over the noble and broad valley of
the Clwyd, climbs rapidly the Clwydian hills, where it finds an index to
a brighter prospect in the national monument on Moel Ffammau.  Here a
handsome obelisk on the highest of the hills commemorates the fiftieth
year of the eventful reign of King George the Third.  This accidental
circumstance gave an additional interest to this bardic meeting, for, by
a singular coincidence, Sir E. Mostyn, a descendant of Sir Piers, one of
the persons named in the precept of Elizabeth, was president of the
Eistedfodd.  A noble individual, the representative of the brave William
Salisbury, the defender of the castle, graced the assemblage by his
presence.  A dignitary of the church, who embodied those gallant actions
in a valuable history, judged some of the bardic effusions, and a royal
prince looked gratefully over the heads of an innocent and happy people
towards the monument which their loyalty and affection had raised to his
venerable father.

     [Picture: Valle Crucis Abbey; Ruthin Castle; Wynnstay.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]


THE Vale of Crucis opens into the beautiful scenery of Llangollen, about
two miles from the little village.  Fancy cannot paint a scene more
suited to the indulgence of solemn thought.  It is the spot which a
recluse, enamoured of the great scenes of nature, where the eye is
continually presented with sublime ideas, where every object contributes
to soothe, but not transport the mind, would select as an habitation of
cheerful solitude.  In the days of its greatness it must have been a
place consecrated to retirement, but now how much is the solitude of the
scene heightened by the accompaniment of a ruined abbey shrouded in
forest trees that wave over its mouldering towers,—

    Say, ivy’d Valle Crucis; time decay’d
       Dim on the brink of Deva’s wandering floods,
    Your ivy’d arch glittering through the tangled shade,
       Your gray hills towering o’er your night of woods;
    Deep in the vale recesses as you stand,
       And, desolately great, the rising sigh command:
    Say, lonely ruin’d pile, when former years
       Saw your pale train at midnight altars bow,
    Saw superstition frown upon the tears
       That mourn’d the rash, irrevocable vow,
    Were one young lip gay Eleanora’s {77} smile?
       Did “Zara’s look serene one tedious hour beguile?”

The foundation of the Cistercian Abbey of Valle Crucis is attributed to
Gryffydd ap Madoc Maelor, Lord of Bromfield and Yale, about the year
1200; considerable parts of both church and abbey still remain.  The
former was cruciformed, and exhibits several styles of architecture.  The
eastern end is the most ancient; it is adorned by three lancet slips,
forming one grand window.  The entrance was in the west beneath a broad
and beautifully ornamented window, above which is a smaller one of a
marigold form, decorated with tracery and fret work, and under it may be
discovered the following inscription:

         A.D.A.M.  D.N.S.—fecit hoc opus, pace beatâ quiescat.  Amen.

The abbey and cloisters are more imperfect, the latter evidently built in
a rich and ornamental style of architecture, well calculated to shed a
“dim religious light,” but now desecrated into a farm house and offices.


RHUTHYN, or (Rhudd-Din, the red fort), is placed upon a gentle eminence
on the south side of the vale of Clwyd, backed by wooded hills, and is
one of the best and most agreeable towns in North Wales.  It has
undergone much modern improvement, and is possessed of several ancient
endowments and privileges.  The great sessions for the county are held
here in a very elegant modern hall, faced with cut stone, and accurately
finished in the interior.  The church is spacious and architectural,
designed and finished in an excellent style.  A range of alms houses
surround the churchyard, and represent the ancient hospital; and adjacent
to the mansion of the warden is the free school, richly endowed by
Gabriel Goodman, D.D. whose monument is set up against the north wall of
the church.

Some doubt appears to exist as to the foundation of a castle here
anciently, the Welsh name “Castell gôch yn gwernfor,” indicating a
fortress of earlier date than any erected by the Saxons.  The general
belief, however, is, that Reginald de Grey, second son of Lord Grey de
Wilton, had a grant of the lordship of Rhuthyn, then embracing nearly the
whole vale of Clwyd, as a reward for his services in reducing the ancient
Britons.  This great captain built the noble castle and enclosed the
town, and, to secure the quiet enjoyment of his grant, did homage to
Edward the Second at Chester in the year 1301.  A drawing preserved
amongst the manuscripts in the British Museum exhibits the magnitude and
stateliness of De Grey’s castle, and fully justifies the wordy
description of the honest Churchyard:

    “This castle stands on rocke much like red bricke,
    The dykes are cut with toole through stonie cragge,
    The towers are hye, the walles are large and thicke,
    The worke itself would shake a subject’s bagge.”

Both castle and lordship continued in the posterity of De Grey until the
reign of Henry the Seventh, when, by a special compact, George Grey, Earl
of Kent, and Lord of Rhuthyn, assigned them to the crown.  From this
period until the reign of Elizabeth this stately fabric was suffered to
decay, but was then new roofed and entirely restored by Ambrose, Earl of
Warwick, on whom the queen bestowed it.  From the Warwick family it
passed to the Myddletons of Chirk Castle, by the marriage of Charlotte,
daughter of Sir Thomas Myddleton, who had for her first husband an Earl
of Warwick.  The lordship has since continued in this family, and the
rights are exercised by one of the coheiresses of the late Richard
Myddleton, Esq.

A modern castle has arisen from the ruins, the ancient ground plan being
pursued with the assistance of the drawing before alluded to.  The
restoration does not extend over the entire area, yet forms a truly
lordly residence.  A reference to the original plan indicated the
existence of a well in the centre of the rocky citadel, where, after a
careful examination, it was at length discovered, built around with
stone, and having a depth of nearly one hundred feet.


THE noble demesne of Wynnstay, the seat of Sir Watkyn Williams Wynne,
Bart. is situated at the eastern extremity of the vale of Llangollen, in
an open and level, though elevated district.  The grounds owe much to the
taste and magnificent ideas of its successive proprietors, and the
embellishments, that have been added year after year present now a
wonderful and beautiful association, their grandeur being accompanied, as
the scenery of all private parks usually is, with an air of melancholy.
The Hall is a spacious but not a regular building.  It consists of an
ancient mansion, to which a part only of a new and extensive design has
been attached.  The old house stands upon the site of a British palace,
once the residence of Gryffydd ap Madoc Maelor, Lord of Bromfield and
Yale, and founder of the abbey of Valle Crucis.  The new house, part of a
greater design, by Cockenell, was built by the first Sir Watkyn; it is a
simple regular elevation, possessing the great merit of capaciousness, a
quality indispensably requisite in the Hall of a family conspicuous
through generations for the exercise of a liberal hospitality.  The
principal apartment or state drawing-room is seventy feet in length by
thirty in breadth, lighted by six spacious windows, the piers being
occupied by richly ornamented cabinets filled with curiosities of various
descriptions.  The ceiling, which is separated into sunk panels and
beautifully finished with stucco and gilding, is sustained by pillars of
porphyry corresponding with the elegant pilasters which adorn the side
walls.  In this splendid apartment are a few portraits by Sir Godfrey
Kneller, Vandyck, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Dahl, with a bust of the
_Great_ Sir Watkyn, as he is sometimes styled, by Rysbach; and two
admirable busts by Nollekens, one of the present baronet, the other of
Lord Grenville.  A few good landscapes are hung in the different
apartments, a portrait of Wilson by himself is a masterly performance,
and an original three-quarter portrait of Flora Macdonald is both
interesting and clever.  The library contains the remains of a choice
collection of manuscripts, the rest having unhappily been destroyed by an
accidental fire; those that were preserved are chiefly biographical.  In
the dining-room stands a large silver font about three feet in length,
supported by a pillar of the same height.  This tribute of public merit
was presented to the present Sir Watkyn by the gentry of his native
county, Denbigh.

The extent, elegance, and beauty of the demesne are more than
proportionate to the arrangements of the mansion.  A spacious park well
stocked with red and fallow deer surrounds the house, it is adorned with
noble forest trees, and varied by well disposed artificial pieces of
water.  The quarter of the demesne, called the “Bath Grounds,” is a most
gratifying specimen of landscape gardening.  These delightful pleasure
grounds, laid out by Mr. Evans, consist of shrubberies, walks, and
bowers, disposed with admirable taste.  A noble sheet of water occupies
the centre of the wood; it is formed by the expansion of a little brook,
artfully conducted over a rocky precipice at the extremity, where it is
thrown into a pleasing and picturesque cascade.  The Bath, which lends a
distinguishing name to this part of the demesne, is a limpid fountain
confined by an enclosure of cut stone.  A beautiful Grecian temple,
adorned with a portico of four columns, supporting an entablature and
pediment, stands close by it, and is beautifully reflected in its smooth
waters at the approach of evening.  Near the entrance to the Bath Grounds
a fluted column of one hundred feet in height, surmounted by a funeral
urn, presents an interesting memorial of maternal affection, and a
beautiful specimen of columnar architecture: it was designed by Mr.
Wyatt.  The entablature is surrounded by a gallery approached by steps
concealed within the shaft, and the plinth is adorned with wreaths of oak
leaves descending from the beaks of eagles.  On the cenotaph is graven
this brief but feeling epitaph—

                    Filio optimo, Mater, eheu! superstes.

In a demesne of such extent, the creation and combination of so many
persons, years, events, &c. many beautiful and romantic rides may
naturally be supposed to have been formed.  The new approach, opened by
the present Sir Watkyn, and commencing at the iron bridge, leads to the
Hall by an avenue of three miles in length, through an amazing variety of
sylvan scenery.  But this is not the great boast of Wynnstay; the
consummation of all its wonders and its beauties is reserved for the vale
of Nant y Belan. {83}  Here nature has profusely displayed her charms.
Two steep banks, richly clothed with woods that dip into the torrent’s
bed and wave upon either side, form a long vista of inexpressible
grandeur.  The winding Dee here pours her rapid flood along with awful
murmurings and at a fearful depth, then throwing herself headlong into a
deep dark pool, seems to rest, as if exhausted with the violence of the
efforts by which it was attained.  This grand picture forms but the
foreground of an extensive landscape, wherein the middle distance is
occupied by the happy scenery of Llangollen, and the remotest filled by
the British Alps.  Upon the rock from whence this panorama is beheld, Sir
Watkyn has erected a circular temple, to the memory of his brave
associates, his army of ancient Britons, who fell in the unhappy Irish
rebellion of 1798.

The whole of this spacious demesne is enclosed by a stone wall nine miles
in extent, and the principal entrance is through a straight avenue, one
mile in length, overshadowed by aged oaks.  Wattstay was the original
name of this estate, so called from its situation upon Watt’s Dyke, but
exchanged for Wynnstay by Sir John, when it became his property by
marriage with Jane, daughter and heiress of Eyton Evans of Wattstay, Esq.

     [Picture: Chirk Castle; Llanrwst Church; Flint Castle.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

Sir Watkyn is of the ancient Gwydyr stock, and traces his descent to Owen
Gwynedd, Prince of Wales.  The Wynnstay branch has been united with some
of the noblest families of England; the present baronet is married to the
Lady Harriet, daughter of the Earl of Powis, and sister of the Duchess of

The manufacturing village of Ruabon, or Rhiwabon, lies immediately
outside the demesne wall, and is inhabited by persons connected with the
iron foundries and coal pits of this mineral district.  On a conspicuous
height above it, commanding a view of the vale of Llangollen, stands a
handsome square embattled tower of two stories, erected by the present
owner of Wynnstay to commemorate the event of the field of Waterloo.

The posthumous honours paid to this ancient family have employed the
chisels of the ablest sculptors, and adorn a temple which their
munificence has erected.  The first Sir John of Wynnstay, who was the
grandson of Sir John of Gwydyr, is interred in Rhiwabon church, beneath,
as Mr. York calls it, perhaps for the exercise of a pleasant
alliteration, “a mass and massacre of marble.”  The monument of Lady
Harriet Somerset, first wife of Sir Watkyn, who died in 1769, is one of
_Nollekens’_ happiest designs; and on one side of the altar is a noble
monument, by Rysbach, of the first Sir Watkyn, who was killed by a fall
from his horse, on the 26th of September, 1749.  The image of this
eminent person’s mind has been as feelingly pourtrayed by the classic Dr.
King, as the graces of his person are truly expressed by the chisel of
the artist.

An elegant baptismal font, of white marble, and resting on a tripod of
distinguished grace, was presented to the church and parish, along with
the excellent organ in the gallery, by the second Sir Watkyn, in the year


THE seat of Mrs. Myddleton Biddulph, stands in a spacious and noble
demesne, spreading over the sides and summit of a finely situated and
isolated hill.  It is an ancient building, uniting the castle with the
mansion, in which strength and solidity have been consulted to the
neglect or prejudice of grace and beauty.  Its form is quadrangular,
strengthened by a massive flanking tower at each corner, and a fifth
projects from the principal front, through which a lofty archway passes,
giving admission to a court within.  The dimensions of the court yard are
one hundred and sixty-five feet in length by one hundred in breadth,
surrounded on all sides by various apartments, the windows of which, for
the most part, open towards the enclosed area.  A handsome arcade, which
formerly occupied the basement on the east side, has been closed up and
converted into habitable rooms.  The dungeon said to be as deep towards
Tartarus as the castle walls were reared towards Heaven, is still entire,
still furnished with its dread machinery, and its floor is reached by a
descent of two-and-forty steps.  The great entrance of the castle was
originally protected by handsome and lofty iron palisades, having statues
of Hercules and Mars on either side; but the former have been removed,
and set up at the western entrance to the park, and the statues are
probably committed to the dungeon.

The principal apartments are both comfortable and elegant.  The picture
gallery, one hundred feet in length by twenty-two in breadth, is adorned
with portraits of illustrious persons, and of different members of the
Myddleton family; amongst them are those of the great Duke of Ormond and
of his son the Earl of Ossory.  This was the virtuous stoic who censured
the corrupt age and court in which he moved by exclaiming on the early
decease of his favourite son, “I would not exchange my dead son for any
living one in Europe.”  Besides portraits of Sir Thomas Myddleton, and
his daughter the Countess of Warwick, there are some rare landscapes in
the state rooms, painted by Wilson, and coloured on the spot from nature.
They are chiefly views in Chirk-Castle Park, and are very reflections of
the grayish tone of colouring so peculiar to Wales.  Here is also a view
of Pystil Rhaidar, in which the cataract appears falling into the _sea_,
while a few _ships_ are seen sailing past it.  The cause of this singular
misrepresentation is explained in this way: a foreign artist, not very
familiar with the English language, was engaged to execute a painting of
this noble waterfall; but, when his work was completed, one of the first
persons to whom he exhibited it observed, that a few _sheep_ at the foot
of the fall would give animation to the whole.  Willing to accept the
advice, but mistaking the adviser, the artist immediately introduced a
few _ships_ (sheeps) with the natural and necessary accompaniment of the

Castel Crogen, the original name of Chirk, was an ancient British
fortress, and fell into the hands of Roger Mortimer, Justice of North
Wales, in the following manner.  John Earl of Warren and Roger Mortimer
Earl of Wigmore, being appointed guardians over the sons of Gryffydd ap
Madoc, a partisan of Henry the Third and Edward the First, put their
wards to death and seized upon their estates, Mortimer taking Nanheuddwy
and Chirk, the portion of the younger child, and Warren possessing
himself of Bromfield, Yale, and Dinas Bran.  A property held by so base a
title required to be protected by powerful measures, and Mortimer thought
it expedient to erect a strong castle at Chirk, on the site of the
British fortress.  The building was commenced in the year 1011, and
completed in 1013.  The crimes of Mortimer were punished by an
ignominious death in the Tower of London, but Chirkland continuing in his
family, was sold by his grandson, John, to Richard Fitz-Alan, Earl of
Arundel, whose son was appointed governor of the castle with a
continuation of the grant, whereby Chirkland was again annexed to
Bromfield and Yale.  Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, having espoused a
sister of Lord Arundel, the estate passed over to him, but was
transferred to the Earl of Abergavenny, who had married another of the
sisters of Lord Arundel, upon the Duke of Norfolk’s disgrace and
banishment in 1397.  By the marriage of Edward Nevil with the
granddaughter of the last proprietor it passed into his family, in the
reign of Henry the Sixth.  Sir William Stanley appears to have been the
next proprietor, upon whose untimely death it escheated to the crown.
Elizabeth bestowed it upon the Earl of Leicester, at whose death it
passed into the possession of Lord Bletso, from whose son it was
purchased by Sir Thomas Myddleton, Knt. in 1595, and is now possessed by
his descendant, Mrs. Myddleton Biddulph.

Previous to the year 1506 the castle was regularly garrisoned: during the
usurpation it was besieged, and three of the towers battered down by
Cromwell’s artillery.  Sir Thomas Myddleton, the owner, defended himself
gallantly, and was reimbursed by Charles the Second for his losses,
amounting to thirty thousand pounds, accompanied by an offer of elevation
to a peerage, which honour he very modestly declined.

The view from the high grounds of the park is amazingly extensive,
commanding a prospect over seventeen different counties.  A part of the
grounds, distinguished by the name of the “Black Park,” derives its
epithet from the death of a keeper, who, coming to the assistance of a
young woman who was attacked by a stag, was himself gored to death by the
ferocious animal.  The village of Chirk lies at the foot of the hill on
which the castle stands.  It consists of a few cottages built from
agreeable rustic designs, and presents a neat and cheerful appearance.
The church is handsome, spacious, and adorned with a noble tower.  The
interior is ornamented with monuments of the Chirk-Castle family; the
best and most interesting of which is erected to the memory of the famous
Sir Thomas Myddleton.

The little river Ceiriog, which separates England from Wales, flows
through the valley of Chirk, and is crossed by a handsome aqueduct
conveying the waters of the Ellesmere canal.  This extremity of the
aqueduct is met by a tunnel passing under the hill, and carrying the line
of navigation towards the aqueduct at Llangollen.  A singular mound may
be observed on the brow of the hill hanging over the Ceiriog, and at a
little distance from the church, it is obviously artificial, and is
doubtless a sepulchral barrow, such as are frequently found in other
parts of the principality.


THE town of Llanrwst is situated on the eastern bank of the river Conway,
in the beautiful and luxuriant vale to which it lends its name.  The
river is broad, smooth, and shallow, except when swollen by the mountain
floods, which rise and fall with wonderful rapidity.  One of the most
celebrated objects here is the famous shaking bridge, built from a design
of Inigo Jones.  It consists of three arches, the centre sixty feet span,
and, if the crowns of the arches were not too high, would be a light,
beautiful, and ingenious work.  The ceremony of shaking is performed by
two persons upon the crown of the centre arch, first rocking themselves
sufficiently to acquire a gentle momentum, and then falling back against
the great centre stone of the battlements; a person leaning against the
opposite battlement will feel the tremulous motion communicated through
the whole masonry of the bridge.  The view of Llanrwst vale from the
bridge, and from the road leading to it on the Denbighshire side of the
river is of unexampled beauty.  The Gwydyr woods clothe a precipitous
mountain on the west, for a length of five miles, through which a bold
crag here and there is seen protruding with a fine effect.  The opposite
side is also finely wooded, and variegated with mansions, parks, meadow,
corn-land, and all that enriches a landscape.  This perspective of the
vale presents a composition embracing grandeur and magnificence in a high
degree, combined with scenes of great pastoral beauty.

The town possesses no architectural or other peculiar attractions, and
from the lowness of its situation does not participate in the exquisite
scenery with which it is surrounded.  Its recommendations are of a less
romantic though not less useful character, consisting in the excellence
of its fairs and markets, and its convenient position for the conduct of
a profitable inland trade.  The town and market-hall, the free school,
and the almshouses {91} are its most ancient institutions of a public
class.  The church is picturesquely placed on the bank of the river; and
the view of the valley, with the famous bridge in the foreground, enjoyed
from the churchyard, is eminently beautiful.  The church is dedicated to
Saint Rystyd or Rwst, archbishop of London in the year 361, and one of
those who were present at the council of Arles.  The ground on which it
is built was given by Rhun ap Nefydd, in expiation of the foul murder of
Prince Idwal, who was slain in Cwm Idwal, by order of his foster-father
Nefydd Haradd.  The chief object of interest here is the Gwydyr chapel,
adjoining the church, of which Inigo Jones was the architect, A.D. 1663,
the expense being defrayed by Sir Richard Wynne.  The design is much
admired, and its restitution by Lord Willoughby D’Eresby, representative
of the ancient house of Gwydyr, is characteristic of a happy exertion of
munificence and taste.  The carved roof is not part of Jones’s design, it
was brought hither from the dissolved abbey of Maenan, three miles from
Llanrwst.  In this mausoleum of the Wynnes are some curious monuments,
illustrative of history, and no mean specimens of the progress of the
arts at the period of their execution.  A white marble tablet contains a
pedigree of the family from the time of Edward the First down to the year
in which the chapel was erected.  Underneath this pedigree is an
exquisite portrait, engraved on brass, of Dame Sarah Wynne, daughter of
Sir Thomas Myddleton, of Chirk Castle, executed in a masterly style by
William Vaughan in the year 1671.  On the south side are two pyramidal
columns of variegated marble adorned with military insignia, one to the
memory of Meredyth; the other of Sir John Wynne, and his consort the Lady
Sidney, daughter of Sir William Gerard, chancellor of Ireland; and
between the columnar monuments is a simple tablet to John ap Meredydd who
died in 1559.

A fine effigiated tomb, sunk in the floor, represents Howel Coetmore ap
Gryffydd Vychan ap Dafydd Gam, in complete armour, his feet resting on a
lion couchant.  He was grandson of Gryffydd, {93} who lies interred in
the church of Bettws-y-coed, and proprietor of the Gwydyr estates, which
were purchased from one of his descendants by the Wynnes.

Here also is preserved the stone coffin in which the remains of Llewellyn
the Great were deposited in the abbey of Conway; upon the dissolution of
religious houses in Wales it was removed here.  A singular Latin
inscription, of which the following is a translation, appears on a
monument in the pew belonging to the Davises of Cyffddû; it is dedicated
to the memory of Gryffydd Lloyd of Bryniog, and is supposed to have been
written by himself,

                     “Once the undeserving schoolmaster,
                     Then the more undeserving lecturer,
         And last of all the most undeserving rector of this parish.
          Do not think, speak, or write any thing evil of the dead.”


THE smallest of the six shires included within North Wales.  It occupies
an area of one hundred and ninety-seven thousand seven hundred and sixty
acres, and extends thirty-three miles in length and ten at its mean or
average breadth.  The estuary of the river Dee and the waves of the Irish
sea lave its shores on the east and north.  Denbighshire joins it on the
west and south, and Cheshire on the east.  A range of hills, the loftiest
of which, Moel y Gaer, attains a height of one thousand and twenty feet
above the sea-level, extends from Prestatyn to Hawarden, and bisects the
surface of the county longitudinally.  The section on the sea side is the
richest mineralogical district in the principality, and that on the land
side yields an abundant agricultural return.  The coal field occupies the
parishes of Whitford, Holywell, Flint, Northop, and part of Hawarden; and
considerable quantities are exported from Mostyn quay for the consumption
of the principality.  Pure limestone exists along the sea coast, and
constitutes a valuable export.  Lead ore, lapis calaminaris, zinc,
pseudo-galena, petro-silex, and other valuable minerals are found in the
Holywell and Mold districts.  Many of these are wrought at the towns
along the coast, the supply of fuel being abundant, from which
circumstance this small county has acquired considerable wealth.  The
Marquis of Westminster, Lord Mostyn, Lord Dinorben, and Sir Edward Mostyn
are amongst the wealthy mineral proprietors.  The scenery here is less
interesting than in the adjoining shires; it possesses less variety of
surface, less plantation, fewer rivers, and there is a partial denudation
of the surface from the mine waste, which completely poisons vegetation.
The termination of the beautiful vale of Clwyd, and the embouchure of its
meandering river, lie within the county boundaries, and the Allen makes a
circuitous, but not picturesque, course through the south-eastern
hundreds.  Flintshire includes the respectable manufacturing towns of
Holywell, Mold, and Hawarden, and returns one member to the imperial
parliament.  The boroughs of Flint, Caergwrle, St. Asaph, and Holywell,
enjoy the privilege of electing a second; the two last mentioned places
deriving that advantage from a clause in the Reform Bill of 1832.


FLINT, an ancient borough town and the capital of the shire, is situated
upon the banks of the navigable estuary of the river Dee, and was
anciently an important military position and valuable maritime situation.
It was probably a Roman citadel or encampment, afterwards adopted by the
ancient British as being happily circumstanced both for commerce and
secure habitation; and, lastly, selected by the conqueror of Wales,
Edward the First, as an appropriate site for the erection and
establishment of a vast military depôt.  The borough was erected in the
year 1283, and is contributory with Holywell, Rhuddlan, Caerwys,
Caergwrle, and St. Asaph in returning one member to parliament.  The
decay of trade here, and the vast increase of commercial prosperity in
the vicinity of Mold, in addition to its more central position, have
occasioned the transfer of the great sessions from Flint to that town.
Here, however, all prisoners are confined, and the county jail, an
admired and clever design by Turner, stands in a healthy elevated
position within the courtyard, of the ancient castle.  Provision has been
made in the interior for the infliction of that most cruel of all species
of earthly punishments, solitary confinement; but the habitual morality
of the Cambrians has superseded the necessity of its operation, and the
constitution of Britain, which disclaims all species of torture, must
assuredly shrink from this, the most merciless of all.  The following
inscription, which is engraven on a tablet above the principal gate, was
written by the learned and accomplished Mr. Pennant:—

    “In the twenty-fifth year of his Majesty, George the Third, in the
    Sheriffalty of Thomas Hanmer, Bart. this prison was erected, instead
    of the ancient loathsome place of confinement, in pity to the misery
    of even the most guilty, to alleviate the sufferings of lesser
    offenders, or of the innocent themselves, whom the chances of human
    life may bring within these walls.  Done at the expense of the
    country: aided by the subscriptions of several of the gentry, who, in
    the midst of most distressful days, voluntarily took upon themselves
    part of the burden, in compassion to such of their countrymen on whom
    fortune had been less bounteous of her favours.”

The castle, build by Edward the First, and the outer walls of which are
still entire, is placed upon a freestone rock jutting into the river Dee,
in a north-east direction from the town, with which it was originally
connected by a drawbridge falling against the barbacan, a fine remain of
the Norman style, but now nearly demolished.  The first design consisted
of a square building, flanked at three corners by massive towers, with a
keep or citadel, called the double tower, removed a little distance from
the remaining angle of the square.  This must have been an inaccessible
prison before the invention of gunpowder; it was approached from the
castle court by a drawbridge, and was formed by concentric walls six feet
in thickness, the intermural gallery being eight feet wide, and
encircling a central apartment of about twenty feet in diameter.

The foundation of Flint Castle is attributed by all chroniclers to Edward
the First, and dated in 1275.  About six years after its completion it
was surprised, and nearly wrested from Edward, in a sudden insurrection
of the Welsh, and was only relieved by the greatest activity and courage
on the part of the English king.  The reception of Piers Gaveston, in the
year 1302, was the next historic event of consequence that occurred here,
this was followed by the appointment of the Black Prince as governor,
A.D. 1335.  In the year 1385 Flint Castle, with some lands of the Lord
Audley, were granted, by Richard the Second, to De Vere, Earl of Oxford,
whom he farther honoured by creating Earl of Dublin and Lord Chief
Justice of Chester.  On the attainder of De Vere, Percy, Earl of
Northumberland, extorted a grant of this castle from his unsuspecting
monarch, where he afterwards basely betrayed him into the hands of his
rival Bolingbroke.

Richard was in Ireland when he received an invitation from the
treacherous Percy to meet his rival, who professed his only objects to be
the restoration of his property, inquiry into the death of his uncle, and
that the kingdom should be allowed a parliament.  To all which reasonable
requests the king consented; and passing over to Conway, and thence, at
the pressing solicitation of the false Northumberland who accompanied
him, advancing towards Flint, he met, in the recesses of the hills at
Penmaen Rhôs, a party of soldiers assembled.  At length, perceiving that
treachery was meant, he attempted to turn his horse round, but Percy
springing forward, grasped the bridle, and in this forcible manner
conducted him to Rhuddlan Castle, where they dined, and thence to Flint.
Stowe details the interview at Flint between Richard and Lancaster in the
following circumstantial manner: “The Duke of Lancaster entered the
castle all armed, his helmet excepted; King Richard came down to meet
him, and the Duke, as soon as he saw the king, fell on his knees, and
coming nearer unto him, he kneeled a second time, with his hat in his
hand; and the king then put off his hoode, and spoke first.  ‘Fair cousin
of Lancaster, you are right wellcome.’  The duke, bowing low to the
ground, answered, ‘My lord, I am come before you sent for me, the reason
why I will shewe you.  The common fame among your people is such, that ye
have for the space of twenty, or two and twenty, years ruled them very
rigorously: but, if it please our lord, I will helpe you to govern
better.’  The king answered, ‘Fair cousin of Lancaster, sith it pleaseth
you, it pleaseth me well!’  The duke then, with a high sharp voyce, bad
bring forth the king’s horses, and two little naggs, not worth fourtie
franks, were brought forthe; the king was set on the one, and the Earl of
Salisbury on the other; and thus the duke brought them from Flint to
Chester; from whence, after one night’s rest, they were conveyed to

In the civil wars of Charles the First’s reign this fortress was
garrisoned for the king, having been repaired at the expense of Sir Roger
Mostyn, the governor.  It was closely invested in 1643, by Colonel
Brereton and Sir Thomas Myddleton, and held out until compelled to
surrender from want of food and ammunition, having obtained from the
enemy the most honourable conditions.  The royalists a second time crept
into possession, and defended themselves for a while, but yielded at last
to the disciplined forces of General Mytton.  In the month of December,
1646, the castles of Flint, Hawarden, and several others in the
principality, were dismantled by the orders of parliament.


THE time-decayed honours of Rhuddlan frown over the fragments of monastic
greatness, and throw the little dwellings of the village into an
insignificant obscurity by the effect of contrast.  The lofty and
substantial towers of this military relic are rendered more conspicuous
by the remarkable flatness of the circumjacent district, and as its
accompaniments are devoid of any picturesque attractions, it relies
wholly on historic and classic recollections for the interest it
uniformly excites.  The little place itself, though an ancient
contributary borough, retains nothing of wealth or comfort in its
exterior.  It boasts but one tolerable street, a range of warehouses for
the storage of goods landed at the quays, and a handsome bridge of one
large arch, and one auxiliary, erected in 1598.  The Clwyd, which flows
below the castle walls, and passes by the town, is navigable by vessels
of small burden up to the wharfs of Rhuddlan, to which fortunate
circumstance the continuance of a modern settlement here is probably to
be attributed.

Near the centre of the town, and on the north side of the high street,
are situated the scanty remains of the hall in which King Edward once
convoked a parliament.  They are now incorporated with the gabel of a
cottage; one small doorway and the architrave of a pointed window forming
all the witnesses that can be produced to identify the court in which the
never to be forgotten statute of Rhuddlan was enacted.  The late Dean of
St. Asaph caused a tablet to be inserted in the only remaining wall of
the Rhuddlan Council Hall bearing this inscription: “This fragment is the
remains of the building where King Edward the First held his parliament,
in 1283, {101} in which was passed the statute of Rhuddlan, securing to
the principality of Wales its judicial rights and independence.”

The abbey belonged to a monastery of black friars, and was founded about
the year 1268, it stood a little to the south-east of the castle, and its
remains form part of the enclosure of a farmyard.  Two pointed arches are
still entire, and an effigy in alto relievo, but much effaced, occupies a
niche in one of the walls.  An eminence, called Twt Hill, rises between
the castle and the site of the old abbey.  It appears to have been
originally fortified and surrounded by a deep fosse, which embraced the
abbey in its circuit.  There is a tradition that it was from this mount
the castle was battered.

     [Picture: Rhuddlan Castle; Mostyn; St. Winifred’s Well.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

The castle of Rhuddlan, its sole surviving monument of grandeur, stands
on a rock overhanging the river Clwyd, and within a short distance of an
ancient British fortress, built by Llewellyn ap Sitsylt, who chose this
as his chief place of residence, at the commencement of the eleventh
century.  In the year 1063, when Gryffydd ap Llewellyn was Prince of
North Wales, this fortress was attacked and burned by Harold (afterwards
King of England), son of Godwin, Earl of Kent, in retaliation for
injuries committed by the Welsh upon some of the Saxon borderers.  The
Britons soon repaired a hold of so much consequence; it was their asylum
whenever they desired to avoid a conflict with the Saxons, and the
depository of spoils probably courageously, but not honourably, carried
off from the borders.  Robert, sirnamed De Rhuddlan from the event, the
nephew and lieutenant of Hugh, Earl of Chester, unable to endure any
longer the incursions of the Rhuddlan men, took a signal vengeance upon
them, and even wrested the fortress out of their hands.  He enlarged,
strengthened, and garrisoned the old castle; and having made this his
principal quarters, here received the solicitations and importunities of
Gryffydd ap Cynan for aid against some of his own countrymen.  Robert
granted Gryffydd’s request, but learned too late that the interference of
the stranger in allaying domestic quarrels is not only thankless, but
often even multiplies the number of our enemies.  The Welsh, who had just
before been at variance with each other, combining all their efforts,
directed their united power against Robert, burned his castle to the
ground, slew numbers of his men, and compelled him to consult his safety
by flight.

The great fortress of Rhuddlan, which still exhibits the powerful
resources of the founder, was erected by Henry the Second, from the very
foundation, and is completely Norman in its character.  It is built of
red stone, in a quadrangular form: the curtain walls are flanked by six
enormous rounders, the walls of which are nine feet in thickness, having
but few loops or arrow slits.  One of these, distinguished by the name of
the king’s tower, is still entire, as well as three of the others.  In
fact, such is the amazing strength and thickness of the walls, the
tenacity of the mortar with which they are cemented so great, the freedom
from doors, windows, or any weakening aperture so complete, that the
ruins will not probably present a farther appearance of decay for
centuries to come.  It is even a matter of uncertainty where the
principal entrance was situated, the aperture between the two
north-western turrets resembling, at this day, an accidental breach of
small extent, more than the entrance of so vast a pile.  Security alone
appears to have been consulted by the founder; a sortie from the castle
was impracticable; the intromission of light was even jealously
permitted, and the design seems to express a great prison erected to
immure some royal captive for the residue of his life.

Hugh Beauchamp was either grantee or governor, in the year 1169, when
Owen Gwynedd and his brother Cadwalader, assisted by Rhys ap Gryffydd,
sat down before the walls, and after a close blockade of two months
continuance, compelled the famished garrison to surrender.  It reverted
again in some peaceful moment to the English; but the Welsh having driven
King John almost wholly from the principality, compelled this, his last
fortress in their country, to give way to the vigorous assaults of
Llewellyn ap Jorwerth in the year 1214.

From the expulsion of King John the Welsh continued in quiet possession
of this border castle, until Llewellyn ap Gryffydd, declining to do
homage to Edward the First at Chester, called down the vengeance of that
great king upon his fellow countrymen.  Edward, at the head of a powerful
army immediately directed a march into Wales, when he laid the country
waste, and seizing Rhuddlan, amongst other places of strength, placed a
strong garrison within it.  Here Edward resided for some time, and during
his sojourn taught the too credulous Welsh that candour is not always a
quality inseparable from the character of princes.  He here again
performed the conjurer who was to call up a prince of British birth,
their fellow countryman, to preside over the Welsh.  Here he enacted his
politic statute, and here his queen gave birth to a princess, the second
of the royal race then born in Wales. {104}  The possession of Rhuddlan
was included in the grant extorted from Richard the Second by the
faithless Percy, who detained the injured monarch here to dine, while he
was conveying him to Flint to deliver to his rival.

In the civil wars Rhuddlan held out for the king with that zeal which
characterized the loyalty of the ancient Britons, through all that
unnatural and bloody conflict.  And the Cromwelians, as a further
security to their usurpation, dismantled every castle that had rendered
itself conspicuous in the royal cause.  In this general devastation the
castle of Rhuddlan shared, being dismantled in the month of December,

Morfa Rhuddlan, or Rhuddlan Marsh, is an extensive tract lying between
the town and the sea, and possessing a melancholy notoriety in the
history of Wales.  Here a most desperate and bloody battle was fought
between the ancient Britons, headed by Caradoc, and the Saxons under
Offa, King of Mercia, in which the former were defeated with frightful
loss, and their king and general slain upon the field.  The Saxons gave
no quarter to those that fell into their hands after the battle, and even
carried their barbarous revenge still farther, by the cowardly
assassination of all the children of their enemies who were so
unfortunate as to become their captives.  There is a pathetic air,
preserved in the relics of Welsh poetry, which was composed by the bards
upon the death of the brave Caradoc.  It possesses a remarkable
solemnity, simplicity, and plaintive harmony.  The custom of celebrating
the fame of heroes, who fell in defence of their country, is of very
ancient date in other nations as well as in Cambria.  “Celtæ Hymnorum
suorum argumentum faciunt, viros qui in præliis fortiter pugnantes
occubuerunt.”  Ælian.


A VERY ancient seat belonging to the Honourable Edward Mostyn Lloyd
Mostyn, eldest son of the Right Honourable the Lord Mostyn, of Pengwern.
It is situated near the sea-shore, in the parish of Whiteford and county
of Flint.  How long the Mostyn (formerly written Moston) family have been
seated here is uncertain, and the date of the first ancestorial chivalry
at this place is involved in equal doubt.  To the exertions of the
accomplished and ingenious Thomas Pennant, of Downing, the nearest
neighbour of Mostyn, the public are indebted for the interesting little
history of this curious mansion, which is every year removing farther
from its primitive character by repairs or annexations.  The principal
approach to Mostyn is from the hamlet of Rhewl, through a long vista of
venerable forest trees.  A sudden right-angled turn, into a shorter
avenue, discloses a view of the oldest part of the hall.  The grounds
around the house undulate gracefully, and are beautifully broken.  Noble
oaks are scattered every where; magnificent beeches, clothed to the
ground, adorn the verdant slopes, that fall gently towards the sea in a
north-easterly direction.  It is somewhat singular that in such an aspect
vegetation should be found so luxuriant; yet here, close to the water’s
edge, trees of various sorts possess an appearance of the greatest

The front,

    “If front it might be call’d, that shape has none

consists of the most ancient part of the hall.  A lesser building is
attached, designed as a symposium for the servants and retainers; and on
the outside, again, is annexed, in an irregular manner, the ancient
chapel, now desecrated into sleeping apartments.  The porch appears to
have been rebuilt in 1623, and is ornamented with the arms of four great
alliances of the family, rudely cut in stone, and copied from the
heraldic designs over the chimney-piece in the great hall.  The most
ancient part of the house is certainly earlier than Henry the Sixth’s
reign, for Bolton Hall, in Yorkshire (the most antique seat we know of),
is a mansion on a less scale, but exactly similar to this, and in that
house, it is well known, the unfortunate prince concealed himself for a
length of time.

The great banqueting hall of the interior is a solemn gloomy apartment,
furnished with a dais or elevated stage at the upper end, with its long
table for the lord and his jovial company, and another on one side, where
the more humble participators of the good cheer were seated.  The upper
servants took their dinner on the dais, but the inferior at the
side-table.  The roof is lofty, and crossed by long beams.  The _nen
bren_, or top beam, was a frequent toast when the master’s health was
intended to be given, and “_Jached y nen bren y Ty_” {108} was the
cordial phrase.  The spacious chimney-piece is adorned with the arms of
the family and its alliances, properly emblazoned.  The first coat
belongs to Jeuan Vychan, of Llys Pengwern, in Llangollen, who espoused
Angharad, daughter and sole heiress of Howel ap Tudor, of Mostyn, in the
reign of Richard the Second.  It appears that Jeuan had farmed the estate
of Mostyn, and wisely determined to turn his lease into a perpetuity, by
gaining the affections of the heiress.

    Connubio junxit stabili, propriamque dicavit.

The arms of the Lady Angharad, who was directly descended from the Lords
of Tegengle, occupy the next shield.  The third is filled with the arms
of Gloddaeth, adopted on the marriage of Howel ap Evan Vychan with the
daughter of Gryffydd, of Cryddyn.  Gryffydd Lloyd’s arms are emblazoned
on a fourth.  The walls are decorated in a style suitable to the manners
and customs of the age.  Guns, swords, pikes, helmets, and breastplates
are disposed in the military quarter; spoils of the chase and funeral
achievements in their allotted places.  Against the wall at the upper end
is nailed a falcon, having two bells, a greater and a less, suspended
from its feet.  On two of the silver rings are inscribed the name of the
owner, Mc. Kinloch, of Kulrie, in the county of Angus, in Scotland.  With
these incumbrances it flew from home on the morning of the 21st of
September, 1772, and was killed at Mostyn on the morning of the 26th.  As
the precise time when it reached Wales is unknown, the exact velocity of
its flight cannot be ascertained.  Sir Thomas Brown, in his Miscellaneous
Tracts, mentions two instances, of a somewhat dubious kind, of a hawk
that flew thirty miles an hour in pursuit of a woodcock, and a second
that passed from Westphalia into Prussia in one day.

The magnitude and proportions of the kitchen are in every way
correspondent to the hospitality that reigns in the hall.  A gallery,
crossing the side wall, leads to the apartments of the lady of the house,
and affords an opportunity of overlooking the culinary arrangements
whenever she passes to her dressing-room or chamber.

At one end of the gallery is an apartment in which the Earl of Richmond
was concealed, when engaged in planning with his Welsh friends the
overthrow of the house of York.  While he lodged at Mostyn, a party
attached to the usurper arrived there to apprehend him.  He was just
sitting down to dinner when the alarm was given, and had barely time to
leap through a back window, to this day called King Henry’s, and make his

The library contains a valuable collection; the most rare works are those
comprehending the Medallic History.  Amongst the antiques and curiosities
are a torques, found at Harlech, in Merionethshire, and a silver harp,
which has been for time immemorial in the possession of this ancient
family.  This badge of honour is five inches in length, and furnished
with strings equal in number to the Muses.  The Mostyn family have for
ages exercised the privilege of presenting this harp to the most skilful
bard at the Eisteddfoddau, formerly held by a royal commission in North
Wales.  (See Denbigh Castle.)

Richard ap Howel, then Lord of Mostyn, joined Henry in Bosworth field,
and after the battle was presented, by the grateful monarch, with the
belt and sword he wore that day.  To King Henry’s invitation to follow
him to court, the Welshman modestly replied, “Sire, I dwell among mine
own people.”

The square tower is part of the most ancient hall; it is still in
preservation, but its battlements are concealed beneath an unsightly,
awkward dome.  From a little summer-house in the garden there is a most
satisfactory view of the original plan, as well as of the additions
subsequently made from the necessities of an increased establishment.  In
1631 Sir Roger annexed a handsome addition, containing, besides many
chambers, a withdrawing and a dining-room.  In the latter apartment are
the arms of the Wynnes and D’Arcies emblazoned on glass.  Sir Roger
married Mary, daughter of the famous Sir John Wynne, of Gwydyr, and the
D’Arcie arms came from D’Arcie Savage, of Leighton, in Cheshire.


HOLYWELL, the largest and most prosperous town in Flintshire, occupies
the brow and summit of an eminence near the coast of the Chester channel,
or estuary of the Dee.  It is a respectable, busy place, possessing some
commercial importance, and has been made contributory with Flint, and the
other ancient boroughs, in returning one member to the imperial
parliament.  Its manufactures consist in the smelting and forging of ores
and metals raised in the mineral districts of the county; and very
extensive works are conducted here of copper, lead, brass, and
calamine,—to which have lately been annexed factories of cotton and silk.
The parish church is situated at the foot of the steep hill on which the
principal streets are erected, and so overhung, that the toll of a bell,
if suspended in the tower, would be inaudible in the town.  This singular
and accidental inconvenience is remedied in the following manner:—A
person employed for the purpose carries a good heavy bell, suspended by a
strap passing across his shoulders, and falling against a cushion that
covers over one of his knees.  At every advance of the cushioned knee the
bell tolls, and in this way the parishioners are noticed, the length of
the bell-toller’s tour being equal to the usual time allowed for
summoning a congregation in the accustomed manner.

The English name Holywell, and the Welsh “Tre-ffynnon,” are derived from
the celebrated well of Winifred, a saint and martyr, who flourished some
time in the seventh century.  The fabulous biography of this religious
person is extremely singular, and entirely identified with the history of
the well.  Like the hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, or the mythology of
ancient Greece and Rome, the story of St. Winifred undoubtedly possesses
some more rational interpretation; but it is a labyrinth from which a
clue is yet wanting to enable those involved to effect their escape.

The legendary history assures us that Winifred was the daughter of
Thewith, a powerful lord of this country in the seventh century, and
niece to the pious St. Beuno.  Her uncle having obtained permission from
her father to build a church here, took Winifred, who is represented as
“devout, young, and beautiful,” under his protection, to assist him in
his religious exercises.  In this district there lived at the same period
Cradocus, the son of King Alen, who, becoming enamoured of the charms of
this beautiful young lady, determined to obtain her hand in marriage.  It
was on a Sunday morning that the young prince first declared the ardour
of his affection to Winifred, while her father and his retinue were
attending church; but the lady, making a modest excuse for her abrupt
retirement, escaped from his presence and ran towards the church.
Cradocus, enraged at the rejection of his suit, pursued her to the brow
of the bill, and there, drawing his sword, severed her head from her
body.  The head immediately rolled down the hill, and up to the altar in
the church around which her father and her relatives were assembled; and
from the spot where it rested a clear and rapid fountain instantly gushed
up.  St. Beuno hastily caught up the bleeding head, and placing it upon
the body they forthwith reunited, no trace of separation remaining but a
little white line encircling the neck.  As for the assassin, he instantly
dropped down dead upon the spot; but the legend does not decide whether
the earth swallowed him up, or his Satanic majesty bore his impious
corpse away.  The waters of the spring, notwithstanding the reunion of
the head and trunk, continued to issue with unabated rapidity; the sides
of the well became clothed with a delicious scented moss, and the pebbles
at the bottom were tinctured with a few drops of the martyr’s blood.
Winifred survived her decapitation fifteen years, and retiring to the
monastery of Gwytherin, in Denbighshire, there accepted the veil from the
hands of St. Elerius, and died abbess of that religious house.
Ecclesiastic historians acknowledge that she was interred there; and four
upright stones, forming a continued right line, on one of which the name
Winifred is graven in ancient characters, are still shown in the
churchyard at Gwytherin as the grave of this celebrated virgin martyr.
According to Dugdale, a sober author, the bones of St. Winifred were
exhumed and translated from Gwytherin to the abbey of Shrewsbury in 1136,
by Robertus Salopiensis, who was abbot there, and who wrote an account of
her life and miracles.

The well, as it now appears, is enclosed in a polygonal basin.  It is
covered by a temple, built by Margaret, the mother of Henry the Seventh,
in that profuse style of ornament which prevailed amongst the
ecclesiastic edifices of that age.  The roof is of stone, richly carved
and groined, the legend of the saint being represented in the different
compartments between the ribs.  From the angles of the curb-stone,
enclosing the water, light clustered columns rise, supporting a beautiful
canopy adorned with tracery, suspended exactly over the well.  The arms
of the Stanleys, and of other noble families allied to them, were
inserted in different panels, but all these devices are now indistinct,
though the little temple itself is in excellent preservation.  An image
of the Virgin Mary occupied a niche opposite the side entrance, but this
has long since disappeared.  The water appears to gush up with all the
rapidity the legend would insinuate, and to possess all the transparency
there implied.  The sweet scented moss is called by botanists jungermania
asplenoides, and the drops of blood upon the pebbles below are also a
vegetable production, called byssus jolithus.  To every visiter who
enters, the water certainly presents an appearance of great freshness, as
if the fountain had only just gushed forth that moment; and the rapidity
of its ebullition must necessarily be extraordinary, one hundred tons of
water being ejected every minute.  The overflow passes through an arch,
beneath the front wall of the temple, into an oblong bath, surrounded by
an ambulatory, and protected by an iron balustrade.  Here pilgrims were
formerly suffered to immerse themselves, in expectation of miraculous
results; and, that credulity has some sincere votaries, is testified by
the barrows of the impotent and the crutches of the lame, which hang as
votive offerings from the temple’s roof.  In a second story is a small
chapel, now desecrated into a poor school.  This part of the building has
been decided, by a decree in chancery, to be private property, but the
well and its interesting enclosures are free to the public.

The benefits derived by the infirm pilgrims, who formerly visited this
holy well, may be problematical; but the commercial advantages conferred
upon the town and neighbourhood by their proximity to the fountain are
certain and distinct.  The quantity of water which issues at the moment
of its escape from the enclosure, is found sufficient to set in motion
the wheel of a corn mill: immediately after, four cotton factories are
erected on its stream, followed in quick succession by a copper smelting
house and brass foundry, coppersmithy, wire mill, a calamine calcinary,
and other factories: all established on the current of this useful river,
whose course does not exceed a mile in length from the fountain to the
sea, and whose only supply is the holy well of St. Winifred.


HAWARDEN, commonly pronounced Harden, is a small manufacturing town,
seated near the estuary of the river Dee, and on the mail coach road from
Chester to Holyhead.  Tiles and coarse earthen wares are made here, and
manufactories are established of Glauber’s salts, sal ammoniac, and ivory
black, besides which it possesses an extensive iron foundery.  A rail
road extending to the water’s edge enables the manufacturer to export his
goods with facility.  In the legendary history of this place its
inhabitants are styled “Harden Jews,” the origin of which epithet is
explained by the following curious tale.  In the year 946, Cynan ap Ellis
ap Anarawd, being king of Gwynedd or North Wales, there stood a christian
temple here, to which a rood-loft was attached, containing an image of
the Virgin bearing a large cross in the hands and called the Holy Rood.
The summer of this year proving unaccountably hot and dry, the Hardeners
prayed to the Holy Rood for rain, and Lady Trawst, the wife of Sytsylt,
governor of the castle, was one of the most constant in her supplications
to the image.  One day, when this devout lady was on her knees before the
figure, the large cross fell down, and killed her on the spot.  The
Hardeners, previously chagrined at the indifference of the Holy Rood to
their fervent entreaties, the weather continuing as warm as before,
determined to bring the image to trial for the murder of the unfortunate
Lady Trawst.  This ceremony was solemnly performed, and the criminal
being brought in guilty, was, by the majority, sentenced to be _hanged_.
Spar of Mancot, one of the jurymen, thought _drowning_ would be the most
suitable mode of destruction, as their prayers were offered on a watery
subject.  Another, Corbin, suggested that it would be sufficient to lay
the image down upon the beach and leave the rest to fate.  The latter
suggestion was embraced, and the Holy Rood being placed upon the sands
was carried, by the flow of the tide, gently up to the walls of Chester,
as the legend has it, _drowned_ and dead.  The citizens of Chester
immediately took it up, interred it on the spot, and set up a monument
with this inscription:

    The Jews their God did crucify,
    The Hardeners theirs did drown,
    Because their wants she’d not supply,
    And lies under this cold stone.

A farther honour was paid to the insulted image by the inhabitants of
Chester, whose river, formerly called the Usk, was henceforward
denominated Rood Die, or Dee.

 [Picture: Hawarden Castle; Aberglasslynn; St. Asaph.  London.  Published
              by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

Harden Castle was occupied by Fitzvarlin, a Norman adventurer, soon after
the conquest; it was next the seat of the Barons Mont-Alt, stewards of
the palatinate of Chester; and, upon the extinction of that title in
1237, was resumed by the crown.  In the year 1267 it was restored to the
Mont-Alt family by Llewellyn, Prince of Wales, with an injunction
restraining them from erecting a fortress here for the space of thirty
years.  David, the brother of Llewellyn, violating that allegiance which
he had so often sworn, surprised and took the castle, upon Palm Sunday,
in the year 1281, and cruelly butchered the brave little garrison.  From
the death of David the Mont-Alt family retained the possession for
upwards of fifty years, when Robert, the last baron, conveyed it to
Isabella, the queen of Edward the Second, and upon her disgrace it again
became crown property.

In 1336 it was granted, by Edward the Third to Montacute, Earl of
Salisbury, in which noble house it continued till 1400, when John, making
an insurrectionary movement in favour of his deposed master Richard the
Second, was beheaded by the townspeople of Leicester.  The crown once
more resumed possession of this fortress upon John of Salisbury’s

Thomas, Duke of Clarence, who fell at the battle of Baugy in 1420, had a
grant of Harden Castle, and was succeeded in the tenure by Sir Thomas
Stanley, who held it until the year 1420, when it was again resumed by
the crown, and granted to Edward, Prince of Wales.

About this time also an inquisition was held, when it was found that
John, Earl of Salisbury, having alienated this estate previous to his
attainder, his surviving feoffee was legally entitled to enter, and
repossess the same.  A few years after the Stanley family appear to have
been the proprietors, and it was also at one time the property of
Margaret, mother of Henry the Seventh.  Upon the execution of the Earl of
Derby in 1601, this, together with his other possessions were
sequestrated, and sold by the agents of the sequestration to Mr. Serjeant
Glynn, in whose family it still continues.  The ruins of the castle are
inconsiderable, it was dismantled in the general destruction of
fortresses by the Parliamentarians, and was further dilapidated by one of
its proprietors.  The present owner allows it the enjoyment of that
respect which is generally felt towards a venerable ruin, and is himself
a constant resident in a stately family mansion erected at a little
distance from the remnants of the ancient castle.  The family of Maude
take the title of viscounts from this parish.


THE pass of Aberglaslyn {119} is one of the most romantic mountain scenes
in Wales.  It is a subject of inexpressible grandeur, and quite unique in
character.  Those who have crossed the mountains of St. Gothard may form
an idea of its sublime character by calling to mind the passage of the
_Pont du Diable_.  The mountains embracing the little valley of
Beddgelert, approaching still nearer to each other at the south of the
vale, contract the space below so much, as to afford room for nothing
more than the river and a narrow road, while the rocks on each side rise
with such perpendicularity, that the interval between their summits
scarce exceeds the distance of their bases.  Here the traveller finds
himself immured within a chasm of rifted rocks for a length of about a
mile, the waters of the Glaslyn tumbling and foaming over ledges of
broken rock, and forming a succession of cascades which make a final
plunge beneath the Devil’s Bridge, and swell the waters of the great dark
pool beyond it.  This is just a landscape suited to the pencil of
Salvator, it is incomplete without a group of banditti, and the
imagination of the spectator can scarce avoid conjuring up, in the mind’s
eye, a band of robbers lurking under shelter of some projecting rock, or
concealed in one of the dark caverns that yawn over the roadway.  It is a
scene adapted to the perpetration of some great or desperate deed, just
such a pass as our Wellington would choose to display his Spartan
bravery.  Here the few could obstruct the many; here, in the language of
the Wellington, of ancient Rome, “Mons altissimus impendebat, ut facilè
perpauci transitum prohibere possent.”  Pont Aberglaslyn has been
confounded with another Devil’s Bridge in Cardiganshire.  This connects
the counties of Caernarvon and Merioneth, and is thrown from rock to
rock, over a narrow passage of the river, and from its battlements enjoys
a majestic view of the dark and broken cliffs that tower over the pass,
as well as of the waters falling in numerous cataracts, the nearest to
the bridge being of such a height as to cause a temporary obstruction to
the passage of the salmon.  There was anciently a royal wear, in the
reign of Henry the Fourth, erected here by Robert ap Meredydd.  Near the
Bridge is shown a stone, called “the chair of Rhys gôch o Eryri,” a
celebrated bard, in which he is believed to have sat while composing some
of his national poems.


The city of St. Asaph stands on the declivity of a hill on the western
bank of the river Elwy, whence its ancient name “Llan Elwy,” and one mile
above the confluence of that river with the Clwyd.  It consists of one
cheerful looking avenue climbing the brow of the hill, and is perhaps the
smallest city in Great Britain.  The landscape of which it forms a part,
though not exactly suited to the pencil, is gratifying and beautiful.
Embowered in woods of luxuriant growth, adorning a pastoral scene of
exquisite beauty, the city peeps forth beneath the massive tower of its
sacred temple.  At the foot of the little eminence the Elwy rolls its
crystal waters over a broad and pebbly bed, and passing beneath a bridge
of five elliptic arches, hastens to its union with the Clwyd and the sea.
The background is composed of lofty, undulating hills, broken by wooded
glens, and forming a beautiful termination to this happy, healthy,
arcadian prospect.

Centigern, Bishop of Glasgow and Primate of Scotland, being driven from
his home by persecution, fled into Wales, and obtained the protection of
Prince Cadwallon, who assigned Llan Elwy to him as a place of residence.
Here he built a monastery, and established an episcopal seat, which he
was the first to occupy, about the year 560.  Soon after, being recalled
to Scotland, he appointed Asaph, or Asa, to succeed him, from whom the
church and city have derived their present names.  Asaph was eminent for
his piety and learning, nine hundred monks were at one period congregated
in his college here, and his reputation for sanctity led to the invention
of those fabulous tales of miracles and cures, said to have been
performed by him.

Until within very few years a black stone was shown in the pavement of
the street, bearing the impression of a horse’s shoe.  The indenture was
gravely said to have been caused by the hoof of St. Asaph’s horse when he
leaped, with his pious master on his back, from Onen-Assa {122} to this
spot, the moderate distance of two miles.  In the year 1247 the Bishop of
St. Asaph was driven from his see, and supported by benevolent
contributions.  The cathedral was consumed by fire after this period,
and, being rebuilt, was again destroyed in 1404, by Owain Glandwr.  For
seventy years it continued a heap of ruins until restored by the zeal and
activity of Bishop Redman.  During the protectorate the puritans
dispossessed the bishop, and the post-office was kept in the episcopal
palace, while the baptismal font in the cathedral was desecrated into a
watering trough, and calves were fed in the pulpit by the _sacrilegious_
postmaster.  The cathedral consists of a choir, two lateral aisles, and a
transept.  The great eastern window possesses much architectural beauty,
and the design of it was borrowed from the great window of Tintern Abbey.
It is now adorned with stained glass, executed by Eggington, the expense
of which was defrayed by Bishop Bagot and several gentlemen of the
principality, whose arms are emblazoned thereon.  The same amiable
prelate re-edified the palace, and rendered it suitable to the opulence
of this antient see.  In the cemetery, adjacent to the west door, is a
marble monument to the memory of Bishop Isaac Barrow, who died in 1680.
Few prelates have been more eminent for piety or conspicuous by good
works.  When bishop of the Isle of Man he bought up all the
impropriations, and bestowed them on the church.  He expended large sums
in educating the youth of that island, and founded three scholarships for
them in the university of Dublin.  When translated to St. Asaph’s he
repaired the cathedral and the mill, founded almshouses for eight poor
widows, and performed many other works of benevolence and liberality.
Perhaps it was neither his least public service or least fortunate
exertion, to have been the instructor of Dr. Isaac Barrow, a man who had
he lived in any other age but that of Newton, his own pupil, would have
been honoured as the most solid mathematician, sound divine, and profound
general scholar, that had ever adorned the literature of his country, and
now decidedly occupies the next pedestal to his immortal scholar, in all
the great galleries of intellectual men throughout the civilized world.
Dr. William Beveridge, a learned and amiable prelate, was consecrated to
this see in the year 1704.

 [Picture: South Stack Lighthouse (Holyhead); Corwen; Barmouth.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]


HOLYHEAD has been rendered a tolerably safe asylum for shipping at a vast
expenditure of money and great exertion of scientific men.  It possesses
few natural advantages for a packet station or floating dock, the
convenience of its position with regard to Dublin excepted; and for this
pure reason it must continue an important position, until some other on
the Welsh coast, possessing superior claims, be discovered and adopted by
the legislature.  Amongst the auxiliaries which art has contributed to
give interest to Holyhead, the most picturesque and not the least
important is the lighthouse, erected upon the South Stack.  This singular
Pharos stands upon a rocky island, the surface of which is elevated one
hundred and twenty feet above the sea.  It is separated from the mainland
by a deep chasm, across which a chain suspension foot-bridge is thrown,
from the mural cliff on the land side to the island.  The descent from
the top of the cliff to the bridge is effected by many flights of steps,
cut in the front of the rock.  The transit of the bridge is rather a
nervous ceremony, and the fine craggs of serpentine rock, which overhang
the gulf, are unequalled in the mineral kingdom, for variety of pattern
and brilliancy of colouring.  Beneath the island is a dark cave,
excavated by the waves which dash into the narrow chasm with the utmost
violence, and used in the milder seasons as a boat-house.  On the highest
point of the islet stands the lighthouse, a lofty hollow shaft surmounted
by a lantern placed at a height of about two hundred feet above the sea,
and exhibiting a bright revolving light, which bears upon the Skerries
light south-west, half west nearly, eight miles.  The light is produced
by Argand lamps placed in the foci of metallic reflectors ground to the
parabolic form.  The sea cliffs of Holyhead mountain, presented to the
South Stack Island, are beautifully bold, precipitous, and finely tinted
with a variety of colours.  Here innumerable sea birds, trusting to the
dizzy and dangerous position of their dwellings for protection against
human invasion, build their nests.  But the ingenuity of man is only to
be equalled by his courage, an assertion very fully substantiated by the
trade of nest hunting pursued along these dangerous cliffs.

Two hardy and adventurous persons set out together on this perilous
occupation.  One remains on the top to provide for the secure tenure of a
strong stake driven deep into the ground at a little distance from the
edge of the precipice; the other, fastening round his waist a rope, which
has previously been wound round the stake, with the remainder of the coil
upon his arm, literally throws himself over the edge of the cliff,
setting his feet against its front, to preserve and regulate a free
descent, and lowers himself until he arrives at the habitations of the
objects of his pursuit.  In this manner be spoliates all the nests within
his range, carrying the eggs in a basket suspended from his shoulders.
The havoc being completed, he raises himself, by the same system of
machinery, to the verge of the precipice, when his partner, laying
himself flat upon the ground, assists him to double over the edge of the
cliff, the most perilous part of this desperate undertaking, and one
which could not be effected, without aid.  The species of birds that
build their aeries in these steep rocks are various,—wild pigeons, gulls,
razor-bills, guillemots, cormorants, and herons.  The pregrine falcon was
formerly found lurking here, and the estimation in which its eggs were
held, encouraged the prosecution of this adventurous trade.


A MARITIME county of North Wales, extending thirty-five miles in length
by thirty-four in breadth, and spreading over an area of four hundred and
thirty thousand acres.  This was the Roman Mervinia, and derives its name
from Merion, a British prince and distinguished general, who expelled the
Irish from this district, some time in the fifth century.  A Roman
occupancy of Merioneth, and one of some duration, is abundantly evident
from the encampments and roads still remaining, as well as from the coins
and medals frequently dug up here.  The surface of the country is a
continuation of the mountain chain which rises on the coast of
Caernarvonshire, and traversing the principality dips into the Bristol
Channel.  The loftiest of the Merioneth hills “Cader Idris,” or the Chair
of Idris, is elevated two thousand nine hundred and fourteen feet above
the sea, a height inferior to that of Snowdon; but its position as a
natural observatory, a purpose to which tradition states it was applied
by Idris the astronomer, is infinitely superior to that of the monarch of
the Caernarvon hills.  The beauty of the scenery of mountain, valley,
lake, and river, is not exceeded by those of similar and rival character
in the adjoining counties, and its seclusion and primitiveness are less
interrupted and more complete.  In cataracts and delicious passages of
river scenery it is superior to any other shire in Wales.  To the want of
roads may be traced the retirement in which the inhabitants live, to many
possibly this may be a subject of envy rather than regret.  The
population are engaged chiefly in agriculture, that is in the rearing of
sheep, black cattle, and the care of wool; the slate quarries also
contributing a large revenue towards their more easy and comfortable
subsistence.  Bark and oak timber, next to the trade in slates,
constitute their most important articles of commerce.


THIS picturesque village is situated upon the great road from Shrewsbury
to Holyhead, and about a quarter of a mile from the banks of the river
Dee, in the county of Merioneth.  It is seated art the base of a bold
rock, a projection of the Berwyn mountains, against which the white tower
of its church is well relieved, and forms an imposing feature in the
beautiful landscape which the valley of the Dee presents at this place.
It is an inland town, possessing the advantages of a market and good inn,
but without any trade or manufacture; it has grown up into its present
neat and cheerful aspect since the construction of the noble road which
passes through it, and the traveller has here the gratification of
observing, that whatever portion of his viaticum is expended at Corwen,
is carefully husbanded and judiciously employed by its inhabitants.  The
church, a conspicuous feature in the distant view, is on a large scale in
proportion to the extent of the town.  In the cemetery surrounding it is
the shaft of an ancient cross of excellent workmanship; and at the
farther side stands a range of buildings two stories in height, called
the College of Corwen.  The following inscription, graven on a tablet
placed over the entrance, explains its benevolent object:

    “Corwen College for Six Widows of Clergymen of the Church of England,
    who died possessed of cure of souls, in the county of Merioneth, A.D.
    M.D.CCL.  By the legacy of William Eyton, Esq. of Plas Warren.”

Corwen is the country of Owen Glandwr.  The head inn is adorned by his
gigantic portrait: in the church wall is shown the private doorway,
through which he entered his pew whenever he attended worship, and in the
rock impending over the church yard is a recess, called “his chair.”
From this rude seat Glandwr is said to have thrown a dagger with such
strength that it left an impression of its form in a hard stone below,
full half an inch in depth, which stone now forms the lintel of the
doorway leading to his pew within the church.

On the sloping brow of a lofty hill, having a western aspect, is a
circular enclosure, formed by loose stones but arranged in a systematic
way, and measuring rather more than half a mile in circumference.  Some
scattered heaps within it are supposed to have been habitations, but
nothing now appears to justify the notion.  This curious circus is called
Caer Drewyn, and Owen Gwynedd is said to have been encamped within it
while the army of Henry the Second lay on the opposite side of the vale.
A situation so commanding could not have escaped the notice of the
prudent Glandwr, who frequently took shelter within this rude fortress,
from which he had a free and uninterrupted view of his native vale of
Glan-Dwrdwy.  About one mile from Corwen is Rûg, the beautiful seat of
Colonel Vaughan.


A SEAPORT town in the county of Merioneth, is situated at the embouchure
of the river Maw or Mawddach, which is obstructed at its entrance by a
bar, and hence the origin of the Welsh name Abermaw, and the English
Barmouth.  The old town almost hangs over the sands, being built in
parallel rows along the front of a steep rock, and upon so inconvenient a
plan that the windows of all the houses, except those in the lowest
street, are annoyed by the smoke ascending from the chimneys of those
below.  This formal arrangement has occasioned its comparison by tourists
to the rock of Gibraltar, and seen from the sea it certainly does present
a warlike front.  The new town stands upon the sands at the base of the
rock, and though free from the smoky imputation which blackens the
character of its elder brother, is scarcely safe from the attacks of
Neptune, who is only kept at a respectful distance by the intervention of
a few mounts of sand shifting with every storm.  The beach is level,
hard, and smooth; a great convenience to those whose health requires the
stimulus of cold immersion, and an agreeable ride for the fashionable
visiters who come hither in the summer season for sociability and
recreation.  The panorama around the estuary is inconceivably grand; the
river, expanding into a bay, is embraced by mountains assuming all forms
as they aspire above each other, shooting into denuded cliffs that hang
over the water, or clothed with forests retiring into deep glens, whither
fancy alone can pursue them.

Barmouth has become now a very popular place, arising from various
causes, its established character for courtesy and hospitality to
strangers, the beauty of the surrounding scenery, and the excellence of
the avenues communicating with the most fascinating landscapes in the
principality.  All the various modes of amusement and recreation provided
at fashionable watering places are supplied here.  The morning may be
passed in riding over the sands, or exploring the wonders of the
mountains and the beauty of the vales.  Dancing, cards, billiards, and
social meetings, occupy the evenings, at which the lyre of old Cambria is
often heard pouring forth its plaintive melody.  There are no public
buildings of any architectural claims here.  Baths, lodging-houses,
spacious inns, and assembly rooms, are well adapted to their various
ends, but present nothing interesting in the exterior.  The new church,
erected close to the water’s edge, is a very agreeable object, happily
designed and creditably executed.

The Friar’s Island stands precisely in the mouth of the river, and
ferries are established at the channels on each side; these once passed,
a ride of one mile over the firm sands reaches the road to Towyn, which
is carried along the front of a bold headland hanging over the sea, less
beautiful, but equally bold as the old road round the brow of Penmaen

 [Picture: Tre Madoc; Harlech Castle; Castel Goch or Welch Pool.  London.
         Published by T. T. & J. Tegg, Cheapside, Oct. 1st 1832]

There was a military station on the summit of Dinas Gortin, and close to
the town stood a tower, in which the Earl of Richmond used to conceal
himself, upon his visits to his confederates in this part of Wales.  Its
strength is celebrated in a poem, written at that period, in which it is
also compared with Reinault’s tower near Mold.


A VILLAGE on the western side of the estuary called the Traeth Mawr, in
the promontory of Llyn and county of Caernarvon.  It stands on a surface
three feet lower than the level of the sea, from the invasion of which it
is protected by a substantial embankment.  A handsome church ornamented
with a tower and spire, and approached through an arched way of exquisite
workmanship; a spacious market-house, with assembly rooms in the upper
story; a large inn and several good houses, all placed in well chosen and
regular positions, indicate the taste of the founder, and excite a
feeling of regret that his well directed exertions in excluding the sea
were not ultimately better rewarded.  The place derives its name from the
late W. A. Madocks, Esq., a man of the most courtly, popular manners, and
possessed of a penetrating and clear discernment.  His first design of
enclosing the ground on which the town is built proving successful, led
him on to the greater but less happy attempt, that of embanking some
thousand acres of the Traeth Mawr, by a sea wall from Caernarvon to
Merionethshire.  To secure, and place the validity of his title beyond
future question, he obtained a grant from the crown in 1807 of all the
sands from Pont Aberglaslyn to the point of Gêst.  Across the sea-end of
this space, and where the breadth was about one mile, he carried an
embankment, in deep water, having a breadth of one hundred feet at the
base and of thirty at the top.  The material of which it is formed is
rubble stone, formerly imbedded in loose earth, which was readily
detached by the water and entirely carried away, leaving innumerable
apertures for the ebb and flow of the tide.  This unfortunate error might
have been corrected by puddling or some other means; but the breadth of
the embankment is still too trifling for the depth and force of the sea.
The tide pours in rapidly through every part of this expensive work,
presenting a calamitous picture of the projector’s losses, while the dam
that secures the town will probably see generations rise and fall on one
side, like the fluctuation of the waters from which it protects them on
the other.

The idea of rescuing the Traeth Mawr from the sea is as old as the days
of Sir John Wynne, of Gwydyr, A.D. 1625.  This busy, pompous, but clever
man, perceived the practicability of reclaiming both traeths, and
solicited the assistance of his ingenious countryman, Sir Hugh Myddleton,
but this eminent person declined the invitation, being then engaged in
the vast scheme of leading the New River to London.  What events are
concealed in the arcana of fate!  Sir Hugh died nearly broken-hearted, at
the apparent failure of a scheme which subsequently proved eminently
successful.  Mr. Madocks’ life was embittered by the termination of a
speculation which was at first apparently successful, then suddenly fell
to hopelessness.


HARLECH, now a poor village, deriving its only tenure in the memory of
travellers from a noble castle, was formerly the capital of the county,
and erected into a free borough by King Edward the First.  But the great
sessions have been removed to Dolgelly and Bala, and the privilege of
sending a burgess to parliament was forfeited by neglect.  The
corporation consisted of a mayor, recorder, bailiffs, and burgesses, and
their register is now in possession of a blacksmith in the village.  The
charter was stolen by the captain of a merchant vessel, who desired to
see the authority upon which he was required to pay toll at Gêst Point;
when the ancient deed was put into his hand, he dishonestly and
villanously refused to return it, and put out to sea.  Ormsby Gore, of
Porkington, Esq. the representative of the house of Cleneny, has restored
the little county hall, in which the member for Merionethshire continues
to be elected, and at other times it is appropriated to the charitable
purpose of a poor school.  A few years back even tourists were content
with the history of Harlech, particularly if it happened to be
accompanied by an illustration of the fine castle.  The singular
ruggedness of the way, and the wretchedness of the lodgings, threw a damp
on the ardour of even the most inquisitive.  These objections are happily
no longer applicable, a new road is formed between Maes y Neuadd and
Glyn, and Sir Robert Vaughan has erected a spacious and handsome inn at
Harlech, where admirable accommodations are afforded upon singularly
moderate terms.

The great attraction of Harlech is the magnificent castle,—formerly
remarkable for its strength, now only celebrated for its beauty,—once the
terror, but now the pride of the scene.  It stands on the summit of a
bold perpendicular rock, projecting from a range of hills which stretches
along the coast, and frowning over an extensive marsh, which is scarcely
higher than the level of the sea that skirts it.  On the side next the
sea it must originally have been utterly inaccessible, the castle walls
being scarce distinguishable from the rock on which they rest, but rather
resembling a continued surface of dark gray masonry.  The other sides
were protected by a fosse of great breadth and depth, cut in the solid
rock.  The only entrance was beneath a barbacan, within which a
drawbridge fell across the fosse, and opened within a ballium which
enveloped the citadel.  The plan resembles a square, each angle of which
is strengthened by a large circular tower, the entrance being also
protected by two noble flankers.  On the entrance side of the inner court
are the chief apartments; and a beautiful elevation, of three stories in
height, with cut stone architraves to each window, the whole terminated
by graceful circular pavilions, rising far above the ballium, and
commanding one of the grandest imaginable prospects, is still entire.  It
resembles in style and position the council hall in the castle of
Beaumaris.  The banqueting hall is on the opposite side, and its windows
look, from a dizzy height, down upon the green waters of the sea.  On the
right of the court may be traced the ruins of a small chapel, the pointed
window of which is still entire.

    No more the banners o’er the ramparts wave,
       Or lead their chieftains onward to the fight,
    Where die the vanquish’d, or exult the brave,
       For victory, basking in its worship’d light.
    The Cambrian chiefs of Rheinog Fawr
       Are mingled in the dust with common clay.

No view, in the northern shires, is superior in grandeur to the prospect
from the light turrets of Harlech Castle.  The Marsh and Traeth are seen
spread out at a frightful depth, and from the margin of their wide level
stupendous rocks and cliffs suddenly start up, tufted and embossed with
wood.  A great mass of air seems to float in the void behind this scene,
separating a world of mountains, the grandeur of whose features the
pencil only can express.  A stupendous vista of broken bills forms a
noble perspective, crossed by ranges that open to farther glimpses—summit
succeeds to summit in endless train, leading the fancy into regions of
solitary obscurity.

Bronwen, the fair necked, sister to Bren ap Lyr, Duke of Cornwall, and
afterwards King of England, had a castle on this rock called “Twr y
Bronwen.”  She flourished in the third century, and was married to
Matholwch, an Irish chieftain.  The highest turret of the present
fortress is still called, by the Welsh, after the name of the
fair-bosomed princess, who once kept her court at Harlech.  Colwyn ap
Tango, Lord of Effionydd and Ardudwy, repaired and fortified the castle
of Bronwen, and changed its name to Caer Collwyn.  Upon the ruins of the
British castle King Edward the First raised the beautiful and impregnable
fortress of Harlech (the fair rock), and the union of the old and new
masonry is still distinguishable in the walls.  Owen Glandwr seized this
fortress in the year 1404, but resigned it shortly after upon the
approach of Henry’s army.  Here the wretched Margaret of Anjou took
refuge after the defeat of her friends at Northampton, but being pursued
and discovered, she fled from Harlech also, leaving her jewels and
baggage behind, which were afterwards seized by the Lord Stanley.  Dafydd
ap Ivan ap Einion, an adherent of the house of Lancaster held out, in
Harlech Castle, for nine years after the accession of Edward the Fourth
to the throne of England.  His determined obstinacy, a quality for which
his countrymen have always been remarkable in war, compelled the king to
send a powerful army to dislodge him, under the leadership of William,
Earl of Pembroke.  After a march, both tedious and difficult, across an
Alpine country, Pembroke sat down before the castle walls, and summoned
the brave Welshman to surrender, but only received from him this singular
answer: “Some years ago I held a castle in France against its besiegers
so long, that all the old women in Wales talked of me; tell your
commander that I intend to defend this Welsh castle now, until all the
old women in France shall hear of it.”  Sir Richard Herbert, who had the
immediate conduct of the siege, finding the impregnable nature of the
castle, and stubborn quality of its governor, accepted the surrender upon
conditions honourable to Dafydd, guaranteeing to him and to his
followers, fifty in number, their lives and estates.  Being all persons
of consideration, they were at first committed to the Tower, the king
designing to put them all to death, notwithstanding the conditions of the
surrender.  Against Edward’s cruel and dishonourable conduct Sir Richard
remonstrated, urging, that the Welsh hero might have held the castle
longer for any thing the king’s army could have done to expel him; but
the king still continuing in his base resolve, “then, sire,” said Sir
Richard, “you may take my life, if you please, instead of that of the
Welsh captain; for, if you do not, I shall most assuredly replace him in
his castle, and your highness may send whom you please to take him out.”
The king was too sensible of Sir Richard’s utility to persevere in his
iniquitous determination, so yielded to expediency, and pardoned the
captives; but he never became sensible of the value of honour, and
dismissed his own brave general without farther reward.

In the civil wars of Charles the First’s time this was the last fortress
in Wales held for the king.  William Owen, the governor, with about
twenty followers, surrendered to General Mytton on the 9th of March,


THIS is an extensive, fertile, and manufacturing county.  It partakes
both of Welsh and English in its soil and inhabitants; presenting the
most sublime and sequestered scenes, as well as the most primitive and
distinct race of people, in the recesses of the mountains; while rich
pastoral landscapes, adorned with waving woods, shelter the assembled
dwellings of a manufacturing population that occupy the campaign country.
The great Plinlimmon, fruitful in springs, the parent of the Severn, the
Wye, and the Rheidol, hangs over the southern boundary, and aspires to
the height of two thousand four hundred and sixty-three feet.  The Berwyn
hills rise between this county and Merioneth, and the central district is
varied and adorned with the pleasing forms of the Breddyn hills.
Montgomeryshire extends about thirty miles in length, by the same in
breadth, and occupies a surface of four hundred and ninety-one thousand
acres.  The counties of Denbigh and Merioneth form a northern boundary;
Shropshire joins it on the east; Radnor and Cardiganshires bound it on
the south; and it touches both Cardigan and Merionethshires on the west.
In this county the manufacture of Welsh flannel is established on a
permanent basis and extensive scale.  Valuable minerals abound in the
interior regions; and traffic in these, as well as in agricultural
produce, is greatly promoted by a line of inland navigation, which
carried through the country.

Montgomery, the capital and assizes town, is by no means the largest or
most prosperous.  It is a place of no trade, possess no advantages from
position, and is totally eclipsed by Newtown, the Leeds of Wales, and by
Welsh Pool, a large, flourishing, and handsome town.


THE town of Welsh Pool, the ancient Trellwng, is situated in a rich, open
country, near to a small black pool, from whence it is supposed to derive
its name.  This “Llyn-dû” is included within the spacious demesne of Lord
Powys, and is of such a contemptible area, that it seems a
dissatisfactory origin of the name of the adjacent town.  There is an old
prophecy that it will at some period overflow and inundate the
settlement; but for this no reason is assigned, and its distance, as well
as the great elevation of some of the streets above its surface, render
the prediction stupid and uninteresting.  The town consists of a spacious
avenue, commencing at the bridge which spans the canal, and ascending to
the crown of a gentle eminence nearly one mile removed.  The county
court, market house, and flannel hall stand in the main street, and the
church, a handsome gothic structure, is in one of the bystreets, at the
foot of a steep bank, which nearly obscures the light on that side, and
forms a most inconvenient place of burial.  There is a chalice of pure
gold, preserved in the plate chest of this parish, capable of holding one
quart, and valued at one hundred and seventy pounds.  It was presented to
the church by Thomas Davies, governor of our African colonies, in
grateful thankfulness to the Almighty for his safe return from that early
grave of Europeans.  The inscription sets forth the name and object of
the donor, adding, that the gold was brought from Guinea.  The houses are
mostly built of brick, and the streets present a neat and respectable
appearance.  The long established trade in flannels has given this place
the means of making an opulent display, which does not frequently fall to
the lot of the inland towns of Wales.  This was an ancient borough,
contributory with Montgomery in choosing a representative, but was
deprived of its franchise in the year 1728.  The government is committed
to two bailiffs, a recorder, and town clerk.  The first are magistrates,
whose jurisdiction extends over parts of several adjacent parishes.

Powys Castle, or the Castle of Powisland, was first chosen as a military
position, and an appropriate site for the palace of a chieftain, by
Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, a prince of British extraction, who signalised
himself in the reign of Henry the First.  He commenced his castle here
about the year 1110, but being assassinated by his own kinsman, left his
design unfinished.  It is rather probable that the assassin took
possession of the place, and completed the building of the castle; for in
the year 1191, various depredations being committed in the marshes,
Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the absence of Richard the First,
who was engaged in the Crusades, marched into Wales at the head of a
powerful force, and laid siege to the castle, which was then in a state
of defence and occupied by the Welsh.  It was now fortified anew, and a
garrison placed in it, which was very soon after dispossessed by
Gwenwynwyn, whose name the fortress then bore.  Llewellyn ap Jorwerth
next reduced this apparently untenable position, in the year 1223, when
it received the newer title of Castell Gôch, or Red Castle, from the
colour of the stone in the outer walls.  The grandson of Gwenwynwyn
continued in possession, and left it to his only daughter, Hawys Gadarn,
or Hawys the Hardy.  Her uncles being disposed to question the legality
of her father’s will, she wisely attached herself to Edward the Second,
who bestowed her in marriage on John de Charlton, of Wellington, in
Shropshire, in 1268.  By the marriage of Sir John Grey, of
Northumberland, with Jane, eldest daughter of Lord Powys, the barony and
castle passed into that family, and continued with the Greys until the
reign of Henry the Eighth, when the title became extinct.  Sir William
Herbert, second son of the Earl of Pembroke, appears the next occupant,
his title being derived by a purchase, effected some time in the reign of
Queen Elisabeth.  This person was ancestor to the Marquises of Powys.  In
the year 1644 the castle was taken by Sir Thomas Myddleton, who suffered
it to be plundered, and compelled Lord Powys to compound with parliament
for his estates.  The title became extinct, by failure of issue, in the
year 1800, and was revived in the person of Edward, Lord Clive, now Earl
of Powys, brother-in-law to the last earl of the former line.

The approach to the castle is through a barbacan, advanced some distance
from the citadel, but connected with it by long curtain walls.  There is
less of the castle than the palace in the character of the defensive
works.  On the left of the great court is a detached building, of later
date than the castle, containing a picture gallery one hundred and
seventeen feet in length, hung with choice paintings by the ancient
masters, a painting in fresco, found in the ruins of Pompeii, and a
portrait of Lord Clive, Governor General of India, executed by Dance.  In
an adjoining apartment there is a model of an elephant, wearing a coat of
mail, and supporting two Indians on its back.  This curious piece of
workmanship was brought from the East Indies by Lord Clive.  The
principal apartments are entered by a doorway, communicating with an
inner court.  The grand staircase is adorned with allegorical paintings,
complimentary to Queen Anne, by Lanscroon.  The rooms in general possess
an air of gloom and heaviness, which is increased by the great thickness
of the masonry, by the painted railings; and the tapestried walls.  A
gallery of statuary and antiques runs through the second story, and is
furnished also with some family portraits.  The state bedroom is only
remarkable for the royal fashion here illustrated of enclosing the
bedstead by a railing, which could be opened at pleasure, and admit the
courtiers to a conversation.  It was considered a mark of great respect
paid by Louis the Fourteenth to the Earl of Portland, our ambassador,
that he was admitted to an audience not only in the king’s chamber, but
within the railing.

Amongst the portraits of remarkable persons suspended here, is one of
Roger Palmer, Earl of Castlemain, who obtained his peerage in Charles the
Second’s reign, through the influence of his wife, the notorious Duchess
of Cleveland.  This extraordinary person was sent to Rome, by King James
the Second, to procure a pardon for heresy, and a reconciliation between
the dissevered churches.  But his holiness, knowing the futility of such
an attempt, whenever the ambassador approached was always seized with a
violent fit of coughing.  Palmer at length grew weary of delay, and
threatening to take his departure, his holiness observed, “that, since he
had come to the resolution of travelling, he would recommend him to set
out early in the morning, lest, by over fatigue and the effects of heat,
he might endanger his health.”  In an allegorical painting on one of the
ceilings the daughters of William, second Marquis of Powys, are
represented, one as Truth, a second as Virtue, and the third as Wisdom.
This picture would not be worth selection from amongst so many works of
conspicuous merit, if it were not for the portrait of Lady Mary, who
appears as Minerva, or the Goddess of Wisdom.  Few females have acted
more singular parts on the great arena of life, for some centuries, than
this noble lady.  At first she engaged deeply in the Mississippi
speculation: a marriage with the Pretender was next the object of her
ambition: and lastly, she passed into Asturias in search of gold,
accompanied by another nobly born adventurer.

The gardens consist of parallel terraces, ranged one below the other for
a considerable depth, connected by broad flights of steps, and protected
by balustrades decorated with vases and statues.  The water-works and
some other antiquated embellishments, copied from St. Germain en Large,
have been totally obliterated.  The library and the terraces of the
hanging gardens command an extensive and delightful prospect,—the valley
of Pool, a rich country watered by the Severn, is spread out in front,
stretching away to the beautiful chain of the Breiddyn hills, where the
last remnant of British liberty was rent asunder by the surrender of the
brave Caractacus.

The summit of the same hill is now adorned by an obelisk, commemorative
of the glorious victory of Admiral Rodney over the French fleet in the
West Indies, on the 12th day of April, 1782.

Since the visit of Mr. Pennant to the demesne of Welsh Pool, the castle
has not only been put into a habitable condition, but even revived with
all that reverence for antiquity which the amiable nationality of that
elegant scholar and antiquary could desire.  The park, now furnished with
many and full grown forest trees, sweeps down the verdant brow of the
fine hill below the castle, to the very suburbs of the town; and from the
highest apex of the hill, at a spot marked out by an index, that is
screened by embowering woods in the approach, a scene commensurate to the
greatness of the whole is unfolded to the eye, comprehending distant
views of Snowdon, Cader-Idris, and the huge Plinlimmon.


ANCIENT manners are less obliterated by time and the varying modes of
life in North Wales, than in most of the other provinces of Britain.  In
this age of communication and intelligence, few will be credulously eager
to imagine that the inhabitants of any one part of our island are
materially distinguished in their characters from those of another: yet
none can immerge themselves in this romantic country, without being
struck by the superior modesty and simplicity of its inhabitants.
Removed from active scenes of commercial life, and from corrupting
examples of selfish splendour, their minds seem sufficiently occupied in
the limited transactions of their own little world, without experiencing
interruption from any envious feeling at the triumphs of the greater or
more wealthy.  It is from the peasantry, the national character of an
agricultural district is naturally to be deduced; and those of Cambria
undoubtedly present an illustration of the happiest description.  The
poverty of the soil, scantiness of population, and great distance from
populous towns, render Wales a residence unsuited to the agricultural
capitalist.  The land is subdivided into small portions, and amongst a
considerable number of yeomen.  Hence it arises, that the children of
poverty are not frowned on by contempt, and the humbler classes do not
acquire those envious and disreputable habits, by which, in other
countries, they are too often tempted to resist the ostentations of the
rich.  Their manners are obliging without servility, and plain without
rusticity; their familiarity springs from kindness, not from disrespect;
and they exhibit an independence the more to be admired in proportion to
its obviously natural growth.

Our earliest annals inform us that the Cambrians “were a people light and
active, and more fierce than strong:” all classes, from the prince to the
peasant, were devoted to arms, and prepared to give a ready service at
the first summons of the trumpet.  Their military spirit was unconfined,
and love of their country boundless.  The profession of arms was held in
so much estimation, that to die in one’s bed was deemed disgraceful, and
the field of battle held to be the only honourable grave.

    “Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country’s cause.”

                                                                ILIAD xii.

Their armour consisted of a short coat of mail, a light shield, and iron
greaves: sometimes only of those desiring to be free from all unnecessary
incumbrances in accomplishing forced marches through trackless deserts.
Their only defensive weapons were the sword, the spear, and the arrow.
Their bows were sometimes formed of interwoven twigs, and though of
slight materials, and rude workmanship, when bent by a sinewy arm dealt a
deadly wound.  The men of North Wales were more dexterous in the
management of the spear, with which they pierced the closest iron mail:
their brethren of South Wales more conspicuous for their great skill in

The dress in time of peace was simple and uncostly.  The men wore a
woollen garment or _cota_ around the body, kept their hair cut short over
the ears and eyes, and rounded every where so as not to obstruct their
agile movements in the woods and thickets.  It is not improbable that
they retained a thick covering of hair on the top of the head, like the
glibe of the ancient Irish, as a protection against weather.  The beard
was shaven off, a mustachio on the upper lip only being preserved.  The
women wore a turban folded round the head, and rising in a coronul or
tuft.  Both sexes paid little respect to the protection of the feet,
being seldom supplied with slippers or buskins, the men only in the field
of battle.  The shoes, worn on these occasions were made of the dried
skins of animals of the chase, with the hair turned inward, and
subsequently of half-tanned leather, attached to the foot by a thong or
latchet of the same material, after the manner of a sandal.  Both sexes
are represented as paying a singular regard to the beauty and whiteness
of their teeth, which they cleaned by the application of the leaves and
bark of the hazel, and afterwards rubbed with a woollen cloth.

Many of these customs belong to the military character of the ancient
inhabitants, and disappeared with the extinction of the feudal system;
white others may still be distinctly traced in the existing state of
society.  The flannel cota (_crys gwlanen_) is worn by miners during
working hours, and by the peasantry of the high districts in the rainy
seasons.  The females retain the ancient cap, which they now surmount
with a hat, in a manner both pleasing and peculiar.  Their principal
garment consists of a short bed-gown, fastened round the waist with a
girdle, in a smart and rather graceful style; and their stockings are
after the olden fashion, that is, without feet, and held down by a loop
that passes round one of the toes; these however are only worn on working
days; entire hose of excellent manufacture succeed them upon holidays and
occasions of dress.  The _tout ensemble_ of a Welsh peasant girl, while
it conveys an idea of primitiveness, and appears wisely calculated to
resist a cold and fickle climate, is neat, pleasing, and picturesque,
resembling much the costume of the female peasants of the Tyrol.

Hospitality has always been classed amongst the characteristics of an
ancient Briton, and its genius is acknowledged to hold uninterrupted
possession to the present day.  Here young Fleance found a secure asylum
from the murderous designs of the usurper Macbeth, and here his son, born
of a Cambrian princess, dwelt, until a desire to visit the land of his
fathers led him to the Scottish court, where he attained the highest
tank, and became the ancestor of the royal line of Stuart.

The Earl of Richmond (afterwards Henry the Seventh) found a chair at
every festive board, and a couch in every hall in Wales, while he was a
wanderer, and a fugitive; nor did these kindnesses originate in any
inordinate prospect of honour or of gain, most of the gentlemen from
Wales, who subsequently fought under his banner, having declined the
grateful monarch’s offers of reward.  This domestic virtue is still
fondly cherished here, and practised with all its pristine beauty.  There
is less peculiarity in the mode of living than in other circumstances
connected with the national character.  The peasant seldom partakes of
animal food, cattle being reared for the landlord’s benefit exclusively.
Oaten bread, milk, cheese, cords, and butter constitute the principal
diet of the working classes.

The ancient Welsh castles have been spoken of elsewhere, and a few
mansions of the days gone by described; it remains still to say something
of the cottages of the humble.  Less architectural externally than those
in England, but superior to the hut of the Irish labourer, the cottages
of the poor are inferior to none in internal neatness and comfort.  They
are supplied with a variety of furniture, amongst which a clock, oak
dresser, and _settle_ (settee), or pannelled sofa, are always to be
found.  The spinning wheel has disappeared since the introduction of
machinery into the little woollen factories erected on the rills amidst
the mountains; and the brass pan for brewing “cwrw ddâ,” presents its
broad bright disk beneath the dresser of every respectable farm-house.

The Welsh are remarkable for an extreme sagacity, shrewdness, and cunning
in their little commercial transactions.  They actually estimate genius
by the number of successful efforts to overreach, and esteem the
individual who exhibits the greatest dexterity in this way, to be what
the world usually term “a man of ability.”  This property does not extend
to the middle or higher classes, who are no longer distinguished from the
inhabitants of the adjacent counties by any peculiarity, but is a quality
usually belonging to the peasantry of all remote and separated societies.
In the early ages of Welsh history many singular instances occurred of
the quick and acute repartee of chieftains, and distinguished men, both
in the camp and at the court.

At the battle of Agincourt Dafydd Gam, the brother-in-law of Owen
Glandwr, was despatched by King Henry to reconnoitre and ascertain the
probable number of the enemy previous to the action.  Upon his return,
the king inquired whether these were not so many?  “Sire,” replied Gam,
“there are enough to kill, enough to be taken prisoners, and enough to
run away.”  The graceful rejection of a peerage (an honour recently
conferred upon his descendants), by the loyal ancestor of the house of
Mostyn, the reader will find introduced in the description of the
venerable hall of that ancient family.  There is yet another brave
Cambrian, whose humour and intrepidity in the eleventh hour, saved his
life.  Sir John Owen, of Cleneny, together with the Lords Goring,
Loughborough, Capel, and Holland, being condemned to exile by the
parliament, were shut up at first in Windsor Castle; but, after the
execution of their royal master, sanguinary measures were resolved upon.
Holland, Capel, Goring, and Sir John being again put upon their trial,
the brave loyalist evinced a courage worthy of his country.  He told his
judges “that he was a plain gentleman of Wales, who had been always
taught to obey the king; that he had served him honestly during the war,
and finding many honest men endeavour to raise forces, whereby they might
get him out of prison, he did the like;” and concluded by signifying
“that he did not care much what they resolved concerning him.”
Ultimately he was condemned to lose his head: for which, with much humour
and singular boldness, he made the court a low reverence, and gave it his
humble thanks.  Being asked the meaning of such acknowledgement, he
replied, in a loud voice, “that he considered it a great honour to a poor
gentleman in Wales to _loss his head_ in company with such noble lords;
for,” said he, with an oath, “I was afraid they would have _hanged_ me.”
This extraordinary and dauntless reply procured for the brave loyalist
the continuance of his head in its original position, until it reclined
on its last pillow in an honourable old age; for, Ireton forthwith became
his advocate with the parliament, saying, “that there was one person for
whom no one spoke a word; and therefore requested that he might be saved
by the sole motive and goodness of the house.”  Mercy was, in
consequence, extended to him, and after a few months imprisonment, he was
restored to that liberty of which he had proved himself so deserving.

Cambrensis represents his countrymen as persons of acute and subtle
genius.  In every species of litigation they exerted all their powers of
rhetoric, and in these their talents for invention were conspicuously
displayed.  This spirit is still too widely diffused through the
principality, it unhappily calls the worst feelings into operation, and
opens a door to vice, at which some are found unblushingly to enter.  But
the Roman character is not to be impeached because the nation produced a
Catiline, his fellows are to be found in every clime.  The same
historian, who regrets the consequences of a litigious disposition, adds,
that “as there were not any baser than the worst of his countrymen, so
neither were there any better than the best.”

The genius of the Welsh was at an early period directed into a rational
channel.  The most eminent for natural ability were induced to adopt the
profession of bard or poetic historian, and this order of men exercised
an influence over the destinies of the nation for many ages.  Their
talents were employed in preserving the genealogies of illustrious
families, celebrating the praises of heroes, and recording remarkable and
glorious events.

The institution of bardism is coeval with the origin of poetry.  The
Greek, Roman, and Celtic nations had their poets and troubadours, and the
Scandinavians imported into Europe a species of bard called Scalds, or
polishers of language.  These were held in the highest estimation in all
countries: they received liberal rewards for their poetic compositions,
attended the festivals of heroic chieftains, accompanied them to the
field of battle, and sang their victorious praises, or mourned over their
untimely fall.  The British bards were originally a constitutional
appendage of the Druidical hierarchy, and upon the extinction of that
detestable worship, were preserved, in a new and civil form, from the
love of poetry and music then prevailing; predilections increased,
probably, by an intercourse with the Scandinavian scalds.

Welsh poetry abounds in alliteration, which is also a characteristic of
Icelandic song, and obviously insinuates a northern origin.  The person
of a bard was held sacred, and the laws of Howel Dda enacted, “that
whoever even slightly injured a bard was to pay an eric or fine of six
cows, and one hundred and twenty pence.  The murderer of a bard was to
pay one hundred and twenty-six cows.”  These bardic laws resembled those
relating to a similar class of persons in Ireland, where it was deemed an
act of sacrilege to seize on the estate of a bard, even for the public
service, and in times of national distress.  The officers of the royal
household, both in Wales and Ireland, at this period, consisted of a
_bard_, musician, smith, physician, and huntsman.  To an intercourse with
the Irish nation is traceable the introduction of the harp into Cambria.
The Welsh, so late as in the eleventh century, were accustomed to pass
over into that kingdom, and there receive instruction in the bardic
profession.  Gryffydd ap Cynan, king of Wales, in 1078, “brought over
from Ireland divers cunning musicians into Wales, from whom is derived in
a manner all the instrumental music that is now there used; as appeareth
as well by the bookes written of the same, as also by the names of the
tunes and measures used among them to this daie.”

An election of bards took place annually, at an assembly of the princes
and chieftains of the nation.  Precedence, emolument, and honours,
suitable to their respective merits were then assigned to each.  The most
meritorious was solemnly crowned on the Bardic throne, and presented, as
a token of his preeminent genius, with a silver chair.  This congress was
usually held at one of the three royal residences of the princes of
Wales, the sovereign himself presiding on the occasion.

Upon the introduction of the harp, Gryffydd determined to restrain the
inordinate vanity of the bards, and to remodel the order.  He enacted
laws for their future government, the severity of which is a sufficient
indication of the necessity of their institution.  Amongst the penalties
was one of much apparent hardship,—“If a minstrel offended in any of the
recited instances, ‘_every man_’ was appointed an officer of justice, in
such case, with liberty to arrest and inflict discretional punishment,
and authority to seize upon whatever property the offender had about his
person.”  Under these regulations, and the auspices of an enlightened
prince, respect for the order was reestablished, and eminent minstrels
again flourished both in North and South Wales.

In the year 1176 the merits and genius of the bards of North and South
Wales were displayed in the Hall of Rhys ap Gryffydd, a prince of South
Wales, at the castle of Aberteivi.  This hospitable lord held a Christmas
revel here in this year, to which he invited some hundred persons,
including the Norman and Saxon nobility.  These he entertained with much
honour and courtesy, and amused by feats of arms, field sports, and other
diversions suited to the magnificence of the occasion.  To these was
added a contest between the bards from all parts of ancient Britain.  The
guests being assembled in the great Hall, and the bards being introduced,
the prince directed them to give proof of their skill by answering each
other in extemporaneous rhythmic effusions, proposing rich rewards to
such as should be adjudged deserving of them by the noble assemblage of
judges.  In this contest the bards of North Wales obtained the victory,
with the applause of all: and amongst the harpers or musicians, between
whom a similar contention took place, the prince’s own retainers were
acknowledged the most skilful.

The fascinating occupations of bard and minstrel continued in the highest
admiration with their countrymen, soothing their wild spirit in days of
peace, and awaking their ardour in moments of danger.  One of the wisest
of the ancient Greeks thought that poetry effeminated the state, and
advised the expulsion of its votaries; King Edward on the other hand
believed that it aroused and inspired a love of liberty, and adopted, in
consequence, the cruel policy of cutting off its professors.  The
tradition current in Wales is that he ordered every bard who fell into
his power to be immediately assassinated, an event, whether true or
false, now immortalized in the exquisite ode by Gray commencing with
these bold Pindaric lines:

    “Ruin seize thee, ruthless king,
    Confusion on thy banners wait.”

Whether the bards were actually assassinated in this cold blooded manner,
or only suppressed with circumstances of aggravated cruelty, the order
appears to have been totally dissolved, and the muse of Cambria to have
taken shelter in the mountain caves for ages subsequent.  During the
successful insurrection of Glandwr poetry once more descended from the
hills and basked in the few sunny rays that for a short while beamed upon
freedom.  Amongst the minstrels who sang in the halls of Glandurdwy was
Iolo Gôch, who celebrated in lofty strains the prudence and patriotism of
his master.  The storm that excited a martial spirit in the followers of
the houses of York and Lancaster, laid the genius of Cambrian poetry.  If
at any time its voice was heard, it was either in sorrow at the miseries
of the present, or in obscure prophecy of what was yet to come.

The reign of Henry the Seventh, as might naturally have been expected,
was one of brighter hopes and more unrestricted freedom, than any Wales
had witnessed since the extinction of her native princes.  A new
description of bard now arose, less venerated, less connected with that
mysterious origin to which their predecessors were referred, and
undistinguished, except by their effusions, from other classes of
society.  Of this new class of minstrels, the days of chivalry over, the
chief duties were to celebrate the hospitality and private virtues of
their patrons, in whose halls they were maintained, and upon whose
decease it became their melancholy task to compose a funeral song, to be
recited in the presence of the surviving relatives by a _Datceiniad_.

Regular bardic assemblies, convened by royal authority, were discontinued
after the reign of Elizabeth.  This illustrious queen issued a precept
for holding a royal Eisteddfod on the 26th May, 1568.  The document is
still preserved in the family of Mostyn, whose ancestors are named
therein, with other gentlemen of rank and property in the principality.
The objects of such meetings, as well as the distinctive character
attached to the bardic order, may be easily collected from the following
passage extracted from the royal commission.

“Whereas it is come to the knowledge of the Lorde president and other our
counsell in the Marches of Wales, that vagrant and idle persons naming
themselves minstrels, rithmirs, and barthes, are lately grown to such an
intolerable multitude within the Principality of North Wales, that not
only gentlemen and others, by their shameless disorders, are oftentimes
disquieted in their habitations, but also the expert minstrels and
musicians in town and country thereby much discouraged to travail in the
exercise and practise of their knowledge; and also not a little hindered
in their living and preferments,” &c.  At the assemblage called by
direction of this precept seventeen poetical bards were present and
thirty-eight of their musical brethren; William Llyn was admitted to the
degree of Pencerdd or doctor, and three others to the rank of masters of
the art of poetry.  The prize was awarded to Sion ap William ap Sion.
Caerwys, in Flintshire, was the place chosen for the celebration of
Eisteddfodau in later years, having once been the royal residence of
Llewellyn, but the more ancient bardic assemblies were convened at
Aberffraw, in the palace of the princes of Gwynedd; Dinefawr, the noble
castle of the lords of South Wales; and Mathrafel, the royal palace of
the chiefs of Powisland.

There is reason to believe, that an Eisteddfod was also held between the
years 1569 and 1580, but the place of assemblage and other circumstances
respecting it are unknown.  In South Wales, however, meetings of this
description continued to be called under the auspices of the Earl of
Pembroke and Sir Richard Neville, to which must be added the most
memorable of all at Bewpyr Castle, A.D. 1681, under the patronage of Sir
Richard Bassett.

From these last mentioned dates poetry, music, and every species of
Cambrian literature hastened rapidly to decay, nor were any efforts made
to arrest their decline, and re-string the lyre, until the year 1771.  At
this period societies were formed in London for the restoration of the
Welsh language to its former purity, and the encouragement of Welsh
literature generally.  The Gwyneddigion society extend their patronage to
the inhabitants of North Wales.  The Cymrodorion to Powys, and those of
Dyffed and Gwent to South Wales.  Under this national patronage
Eisteddfodau were again restored on the 18th of July, 1819, at
Caermarthen, when the Bishop of St. David’s presided.  In the following
year a meeting was held at Wrexham under the presidency of Sir W. W.
Wynne, and bardic festivals and literary contests were held at the
respective places of assemblage of the other societies.  These meetings,
however, are inferior in splendour of attractions and public interest to
the triennial assemblies now permanently established in the principality.
The first of these was held at Brecon in 1826, Lord Rodney president; the
second at Denbigh in the year 1828, where Sir B. Mostyn, Bart. presided,
and the third at Beaumaris in 1832, under the auspices of Sir R. B. W.
Bulkley, Bart.

The religion of North Wales is that of the established church, but the
inhabitants manifest a remarkable independence in this respect as well as
in many other, and pursue those views of religious subjects which each
one’s conscience dictates.  The parish church is not deserted, but a
chapel, built by contributors of the humblest class, is found in every
hamlet, and the quick succession of itinerant preachers appears to
attract a more lively attention to the solemn warnings of the pulpit,
than the instruction of any one pastor urged with ever so much ability
and zeal.  The dissenters are divided into many classes, Methodists and
Calvinists are the most numerous; amongst the others the sect called
“Jumpers,” whose peculiar tenets had once too strong a hold on the
feelings of the people, have decreased in numbers, and abandoned those
wild speculations which the rational portion of society are still
incredulous as to their ever having practised.  Laying aside the
consideration of sects, all classes of the Welsh are deeply imbued with a
religious feeling.  Churches and meeting-houses are well attended; every
adult can read his bible in the native tongue, and when a public place of
worship is either wholly wanting, or too remote, prayer meetings are held
with regularity in each other’s cottages, where, after the solemn reading
of the liturgy, the little congregation conclude their act of adoration
with a sacred hymn to God, in which all present, both old and young,
unite their voices.

It is a matter of some surprise that a people of so much sincerity in
religion should still be slaves to superstition.  But probably the
solitude and silence of the glens they dwell in contribute to increase a
feeling which is uniformly found diffused through all remote and
mountainous countries.  Amongst the most interesting of these relics of
ancient times, connected with religion is the remarkable care and
attention paid to the grave-stones and funeral honours of their deceased
connexions.  The cemetery is the public walk of every hamlet, and the
affection borne to a brother when living seems to render even a bright
verdure on his grave a grateful prospect.  In the custom of strewing the
graves of departed friends with flowers and evergreens these is something
which touches the feeling heart.  It is a tribute of affection, a
posthumous recollection of a most impressive character.  To live in the
remembrance of those we loved “when we go hence, and are no more seen,”
is a natural wish; a wish implanted in our souls by that Being, who
willed that we should be social creatures, and gave us all the kind
affections of our nature.  This custom boasts a high antiquity, it is
found among the superstitions of pagan Rome, where, during the month of
February; the _feralia_ or honours paid to the manes of departed souls
were performed.  Scattering of flowers and odoriferous plants constituted
a chief part of the ceremony.  The custom is now confined to a few parts
of Europe, Ireland, Wales, and the Catholic cantons of Switzerland.  In
the last of these an iron cross is placed upright, from which a bowl,
containing holy water, is suspended, with which the passers-by sprinkle
the graves of the deceased on their way to church.

A belief in the existence and mischievous propensities of the fairy tribe
was formerly amongst the chief superstitions.  These troublesome elves
were supposed to milk the cows at night, to check them from yielding milk
at morn, and prevent the butter from forming in the churn.  They changed
the infant left in the cradle, during the sleep or absence of its nurse,
and performed many other acts peevish, envious, and wicked.  But the
exploits of this pigmy race are not peculiar to Wales, nor was their
existence as confidently believed here at any period as it still is in
other countries.  One species peculiarly Welsh, are called _knockers_,
from their continued knocking or hammering under ground.  This noise is
often heard by miners, and is invariably said to discover to the miner a
rich _load_ of ore.  There is also a deep roaring of the sea, which is
believed to be a forewarning of some dire calamity.  The inhabitants of
Llandudno heard this strange noise immediately previous to the melancholy
wreck of the Hornby Castle, and many other instances of remoter dates
could be adduced in support of this superstitious notion.  Sometimes also
a _warning_ light is seen to shine out before a traveller, and conduct
him in the precise direction of his journey, distinguished from
jack-o’-the-lanthorn in this respect, that the latter cruelly “lures us
to our doom.”

However vain and obsolete most of these phantoms may now be considered,
some curious fancies are still entertained by the simpler part of the
population.  A story is often propagated through the parish of a funeral
procession having passed along in a particular direction, without the aid
of horses or bearers.  Carriages, without horses, are said to have been
seen and heard rolling along the road or round the village cross, the
coachman, passengers, and all other circumstances being disposed as
usual; and, many similar tales, obtain a ready credence amongst the
peasantry in several parts of North Wales even at the present period.

In the festivities of the wedding-day much gaiety and mirth prevail.  The
bridegroom having the bridesmaid on his arm, and the bride leaning upon
the bridesman, followed by a number of bidden guests, present themselves
at the church door, where the order of the procession is reversed before
proceeding to the altar.  After the ceremony the whole party, in rank and
file, and headed by the happy pair, _walk_, as it is called, in
procession through the village, until the hour of dinner.  This
entertainment is usually provided at the home of the bride’s family, and
if the parties be sufficiently wealthy, is supplied at their expense,
but, if otherwise, each guest contributes a subscription proportionate to
his means.  A fortnight afterwards an evening party assembles at the
house of some friend of the husband; amongst the poorer peasantry, it is
usual for every neighbour to attend, and upon entering lay down his
contribution on the tea-table.  The night is then prolonged in mirth and
good humour, the merry dance being generally kept up till daylight to the
soft and gentle measures of the national lyre.

Fairs, which are very numerous, are attended by both sexes.  Cattle are
bought and sold in the early part of the day, pedlery, hardware, &c.
continue to be exhibited during the remainder, and in the afternoon every
cottage for miles around sends forth some happy, well dressed votary of
mirth to participate in the festivities of the evening.  The partiality
for attending fairs is very remarkable, even the necessitous postpone the
reception of little sums, to which by labour they have become entitled,
to the succeeding fair-day, contemplating the pleasure of meeting their
friends, from whom they were separated by occupation or inconvenience of
distance.  The frequency of these fairs, so many scenes of cheerful
association—the number of annual, quarterly, and even weekly meetings
amongst the religious of different sects—the amusements enjoyed at
allotted festivals common to other countries—afford such frequent
opportunities of an intercourse tending to alleviate anxiety and care,
as, coupled with the agricultural distribution already adverted to, will
sustain the justice of the conclusion, that the Welsh peasantry may be
esteemed the most comfortable, happy, and independent in the British

                                * * * * *

                                 THE END.

                                * * * * *

                        PRINTED BY C WHITTINGHAM.


{1}  _Sir Ffon_, is the name still applied to this county by the Welsh,
as well in their conversational as in their written communications.

{3}  _Porth-aeth-hwy_, means the passage which had been crossed before.

{34}  Frydd, pronounced frith, means an enclosure gained from a common.

{46}  Llewellyn was married to the Princess Joan, daughter of King John.

{48}  Trifaen signifies the three summits.  Benclog, the head of the
rock,—Braich-ddu, the black arm,—Nant Francôn, the valley of beavers.

{50a}  The bridge of the caldron.

{50b}  The swift river.

{50c}  The station in the wood.

{58a}  The gap of the Irishman.

{58b}  This part of the defile is called “Cwm Glâs,” i.e. the Blue Vale.

{59}  Tent stone.

{66}  The blue well.

{68}  Pronounced Thlangothlan, the church of Saint Collen.

{77}  Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby.

{83}  The glen of the Marten.

{91}  In the introduction, by the Hon. Daines Barrington, to the memoirs
of the Gwydyr family, is the following passage relating to this
foundation:—“In 1610, Sir John Wynne erected at Llanrwst some almshouses
(to which he gave the name of Jesus Hospital) for the reception of twelve
poor men, and drew up regulations for the management of his benefaction.
He also endowed this charity very liberally with the rectorial tithes of
Eglwys Fach, which are now valued at two hundred pounds per annum.”

{93}  See Pont-y-Pair.

{101}  1281 this should have been.

{104}  See Caernarvon Castle.

{108}  A health to the top beam of the house.

{119}  Aber glâs lyn, the mouth or embouchure of the blue lake.

{122}  The ash of St. Asaph.

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