Llanegwad’s Churches

The Churches of Holy Trinity, Pontargothi, Llanegwad, St John’s Felingwm and Llanfihangel uwch Gwili are locked during the week, except for the provision of regular worship and Church services. Access is available by phoning the vicar, who will be pleased to show visitors around.

Although Hernin`s was the first dedication, it was Egwad – son of Cynydd ab Gildas – who became patron of the parish, and it was Egwad who founded Llan Egwad Fawr and Llan Egwad-ar-y mynydd (Llanfynydd). He is reputed to have lived his life in seclusion as a hermit at Eisteddfa Egwad.

        There were several monasteries and religious cells in the parish but only the church of St Egwad remains. The first church was built in a field close to the site of the present church but it is unknown as to how long it remained. Two hundred and fifty years ago it was reported that part of the building had been turned into a dwelling house. The current structure was started in the 10th or early 11th century.

        In the 11th and 12th centuries many members of the Ynyswen family were buried in its circular churchyard. The site of the church with its circular churchyard suggests that it may have been erected on a pagan site. Some of the huge foundation stones may be seen in the boilerhouse.

        Over the centuries many changes to the fabric have taken place, not least those carried out during the restoration undertaken in the early part of the 19th century. However older parts of the building can still be seen. Manuscripts confirm that the present building conforms to the original plan of the church.

        Records are in the charge of the Vicar and go back to 1700 but other manuscripts also exist tracing its history to the 13th century. These are held by the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth. Brunker’s Llanegwad is regarded as the definitive work on the parish.

        During the reign of Henry VIII, a valuation of all the “ecclesiasticall preforments in England and Wales” was made. The church, in the Deanery of “Llandeilo and Llangadoc”, was valued at £8 13s. 4d.

        The sphere of influence of the parish extended into parts of the old Welsh divisions of Elvet and Cathinog, and embraced the eight “maenors” (or hamlets) of Hernin, Egwad, Mynachdy, Ystad, Llechgrin, Llechfraith Llethergele and Meiros. (The Hamlet of Meiros is mentioned in census returns of the mid-1800s.) Elvet and Cathinog were represented by one churchwarden each, plus one chosen by the vicar. These three, along with the vicar were responsible for the whole of the parochial affairs.

        Llanegwad has available a complete history of its churchwardens back to 1700, with odd references going back a further 30 years. In 1712 the vicar was the Rev Richard Pritchard (b. 1661 at Llangadock) and his curate was David Davies who succeeded him. Richard Pritchard was also vicar of Carmarthen and preached at Llanegwad once a month unless “hindered” by other duties. The annual stipend of the curate was £15.

        A presentement of 1717 states

“Richard Pritchard is vicar . . . and:

            “2. Our Steeple, if it may be so called is in good order according to the form it was first built: the Ivy were all lately taken down.

            3. We have a font with a cover, a communion table with a covering of White Linen (no carpet). A fair silver chalice with a cover also a Pewter Flagon and our Communion Table is rail`d in.

            4. Our Reading Pew is now taken down that it might not be spoiled by the rain, (the roof as was said before being open) . . . “

. . . and so it goes on.

        There are several mentions of damage to the church, but it is apparent from records in the Vestry Accounts showing small amounts for minor repairs that by the first two decades of the 18th century the fabric of the building was in a bad state of repair.

The following appears:                                                   £     s.     d.

     1711 For a new post to the Dyall                                          6     0

         For a new Dyall                                                           6     0

     1713 For fastening and putting a new iron about the bell        3     6

     1714 For pointing of the Chancel

                and part of the church at 2d. a yard                       10   0

     1717 To John Lewis for making 4 new couples, 

                and his part of 7 more laying the leads

                and proping                                                   21    3    0

          For alert raising of the couples                                     6    0

A presentement dated October 19 1719 says “Our Church being for some years past out of Reparation and being the Roof now to be put up: the walls want to be plaistered with white limed and the windows to be glass`d which we shall be done before Christmas”.

The work was carried out in 1719 since the Vestry Accounts show:

     1719 Paid to the Undertakers for rebuilding the roof 

          of the North Ile of the Church                        £58     6s.     0d.

        To Morgan the Tiler  for tiling part of the Chancel      12s.     0d.

        For laths and nails                                                       9s.   10d.

        For carrying the said laths and nails

            in a coregle over Towy                                                     6d.

      1720 Paid Mr Cartwright for adorning the church     £10     3s.    0d.

        Church records prior to 1754 were written in Latin, then from October of that year Welsh took over until 1778 when English followed.

        During the Curacy of David Richards, the church was white limed both inside and out. The cost of this is given as 14s. in 1775 and 5s. 10d. in 1782. In 1776 the roof was repaired as was also the gallery, the latter being demolished some 150 years ago, leaving no trace as to its position. A Welsh Bible was purchased in 1790 at a cost of £2 2s. 0d. In the early 1800s further repairs to the roof and guttering were necessary and part of the church wall was rebuilt. In 1805 the church was “patched and mended” and the lime house was removed for hygienic reasons.

        One of the few incumbents to be buried in the churchyard was the Revd David Nicholl and his wife, both buried on the same day. He was succeeded by the Revd Eleazor Evans, then by his son Thomas Beynon Nicholl. There was severe fabric deterioration during their occupancy. Thomas Beynon Nicholl`s memory is perpetuated by the Altar window and he was remembered as being a liberal and dutiful vicar. He left diaries and details of the parish during his term but died during a fever outbreak in 1882 whilst still a young man.

        Several memorial tablets can be seen inside the church and perhaps the most poignant is that of Leoline Jones. Unpretentious, it hides a tragic tale. Leoline Jones had two daughters, one dying aged less than a week old, and the other succumbing at the age of 2. His younger brother died aged 26 in 1820, his elder sister died sometime before 1822, leaving a husband and young daughter. A younger sister, Letitia Alicia died in 1815. He himself died in 1822 aged 32. His wife moved to Abergwili and died there in 1831 aged 41. Her body was carried back to Llanegwad, a distance of around 4 miles, and she was buried in her husband’s tomb. Certainly a man of some means, he married into a wealthy family and became a surgeon but fate played its cruel hand and virtually the whole family was wiped out in a few short years. So far as is known at present his only surviving family were his niece and another sister who was alive in 1802. A tragic tale indeed.

Laugharne Castle

Carmarthenshire

One of many Norman coastal strongholds built to consolidate their hold over west Wales, the castle overlooks the Taf Estuary and was probably founded in the early 12th century as an earth and timber fort.

It was  rebuilt in stone in the 13th and 14th centuries and became the home of  the de Brian family. Much of the structure survives, including the large round towers and the gatehouse.

 It was granted to Sir John Perrot in 1584 and he transformed it into a fine mansion

During the Civil War the castle saw active service after which it declined into a romantic ruin and became the subject of a dramatic water colour by J M W Turner.

Extensive restorations include a Georgian and Victorian garden and a Gazebo in which Dylan Thomas used to write. Robert Hughes, author of the book ‘A High Wind in Jamaica’ also wrote here.

Location: SN 303107, on the A4066 from St Clears

Further Information:

Telephone 01994 427906

Limited summer opening

Disabled access

Admission charge

In the care of Cadw

Weobley

Gower Peninsular

Set on the low-lying northern coast of the Gower Peninsular, the castle overlooks a bleak expanse of saltings and marshland.

Weobley was built by the de la Bere family and dates from the late 13th and 14th centuries. Although called a castle it was more of a fortified manor house than a fortress.

The site is well preserved and reveals plenty of evidence of the owners’ desire for creature comforts. Domestic necessities such as a fine hall and fireplace, private rooms, sizeable guest chamber and ‘gardrobes’ or toilets along with decorative windows demonstrate de la Bere’s regard for elegance and craftsmanship along with convenience.

Sir Rhys ap Thomas, an ally of Henry VII, acquired it in the late 15th century and improved the entrance to the hall and private apartments with the addition of a two-storey back porch block.

Visitors today can but admire one of the few surviving manor houses in Wales and visit an exhibition on its history and other ancient monuments also on the Peninsular.

Location:

B4721 or B4295 to Llanrhidian Village, then minor road

Further Information:

Telephone: 01792 390012

Admission charge

No dogs

In the care of Cadw: Telephone 029 20 500200

Glyncoch

Felingwm

Glyncoch was originally a single storey labourer’s cottage, and formed part of Blaencwmbychan (once known as Heven). The labourer presumably worked at Blaencwmbychan. The house lies high the upper slopes of the Cothi valley, at Felingwm Uchaf, between the adjacent properties of Cilgattw and Gwyddfagatw

Blaencwmbychan was one of the estates owned by the Revd. Lewis Jones of Pantyrewig and Meiros Hill. The Wills of both the Revd Jones and his son Leoline [note: Leoline is another form of Lewis] are in the NLW but little is known about them. Leoline and his family lived at Meiros Hill, a farm on the other side of the valley from Glyncoch, but all died at a young age and the line seems to have come to an end..

The ground floor walls of Glyncoch are stone and quite thick, whilst the added upper storey is of modern block construction, the whole being rendered.

In 1881 the UK Census shows that John Williams, a farm labourer, aged 37 (born at Kiffick, Carmarthen) lived there with his 34 year old wife Mary (born Laugharne) and their children, Anne aged 10 (born Laugharne) and Margaret 8, Sarah 6, Elizabeth 4 and Martha Jane aged 2, all born in Llanegwad.

The Parish Records show that Rees Williams, another child, was baptised on December 6 1881, and Dan Williams was born in 1882 and baptised on October 20 of that year.

The next record of occupants in the Parish Records is dated May 4 1937, when Arthur Henry Gee, aged 30, a farm labourer from Llanfihangel Rhosycorn, married Elizabeth Mary England aged 26, a domestic servant living at Glyncoch.

On August 7 1937, Sara Margaretta Evans, aged 34, spinster of Glyncoch married John David Evans, aged 36, a widower and farmer of Cwmcoch, a nearby farm. John’s father was alive at the time of the wedding but Sara’s was not.

On March 1 1949, Benjamin Ronald Evans of Glyncoch, aged 24, a store assistant and son of a forestry worker, married Jennie Williams a 17 year old nurse from Cefn Meiros, a farm adjacent to Meiros Hill.

Glyncoch eventually came into the ownership of Samuel John Kenneth Lewis. On 7 November 1997 Samuel Lewis passed away and his son inherited Glyncoch. The property has since been extensively renovated.

Samuel John Lewis is buried at St John’s, Felingwm, alongside his first wife Ceinwen.. He was always called ‘Jack’ – but that was not his real name – everyone knew him as that. One of his hobbies was wine making and visitors to Glyncoch were tempted with a glass or two and rarely remembered how they got home, such was the strength of his brew!

Shortly after his passing a bundle of household bills dating back to 1941 were found in an understairs cupboard. Some documents had crumbled away, but those that remain provide us with an insight into domestic life over several decades.

Many relate to Towy Works [a builder’s merchant of long standing] in Carmarthen, the Co-operative Wholesale Society and an invoice from the long gone garage at Felingwm Uchaf.

Wealthy families living in large houses tended to keep all their paperwork but it was certainly not the norm for working class families. As far as can be ascertained it was Jack’s wife, Mary Ceinwen, who began keeping everything and for some time after her death he continued the practice.

When Glyncoch was cleared the loft gave up its secrets in the shape of baby clothes and fragments of pottery, each wrapped separately. The former had unfortunately rotted and fell apart when touched and the latter – although in excellent condition – of no practical use. Why such items were retained for so long is open to speculation.

One document relates to Bryndeilo, Nantgaredig, a previous property owned by Jack.

Items from the Towy Works material have been given to the company for their archives and the remainder has been donated to Carmarthen’s Museum at Abergwilly.

Memorial to Mary and “Jack” Lewis at St John’s, Felingwm

Holy Trinity

The Baths of Alltyferin

Henry James Bath was the son of Henry Bath of Longlands (b. 15 August 1797, d. 13 October 1864 at Falmouth) and his first wife Susan Madge (b. 2 September 1798, d. 12. January, 1861.

He was born on 17 December 1821 (one of eleven children) and was educated at the Friend’s School, Didcot, and at the age of eighteen joined his father in the business of Henry Bath & Son and prospered.

He married Margaret, eldest daughter of Charles Lambert of Coquimbo, Chile, whose family lived in Alsace and were deputes and judges de Payes through the reign of Louis Philipe.

Henry James purchased lands in Carmarthenshire and built both the mansion called Alltyferin and Holy Trinity Church, Llanegwad. He lived in Carmarthenshire from the time the house was completed in 1868 until his death in 1875. He inherited the family property at Oystermouth and the house called Rose Hill built by his grandfather

He was a member of The Swansea Trust from 1859 to 1872; a Justice of the Peace for both Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan and was High Sheriff of the former county in 1869 when he obtained a grant of Arms to his father and sons of his body, similar to those in use by the family before the disuse of them by reason of such things being contrary to the principles of “Quakers”. He was a member of the Church of England and a great friend to that Church – building the chuch on the Alltyferin estate which today is used for services throughout the year and serves as a Chapel of Ease to the parish church of Llanegwad.

He died childless on 15 September 1875 on his return from a voyage to Chile, having suffered a stroke of paralysis on the home passage; his niece, Margaret Lambert also died on the voyage home and was buried at Llanegwad Church on the same day as was Henry James Bath. His estates passed to his nephew, Edward Henry Bath, the son of his brother Edward.

Henry James was widely known as a friend to the poor, and his widow was given to good works and lived a life of seclusion, devoting herself to the poor and needy, and helping those of her relatives who were in need.

His widow, Margaret, continued to live at Alltyferin until 1885 and died at Oxford in 1902 and the tower of Llanegwad Church was built to her memory.

Excavations at Carmarthen Castle

Since 1994 a large scale enhancement project has been going on at the castle under the direction of Carmarthenshire County Council, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

An archaeological excavation is being carried out by Cambria Archaeology to find out more about the main gatehouse of Carmarthen Castle.

The castle was first built as a motte and bailey castle in 1109-10 and for a time served as the main headquarters of the Norman kings in west Wales. The original castle was refortified in stone during the 12th and 13th centuries, and the gatehouse that you can now see was built in around 1409. Outside the gatehouse are a series of old cellars that belonged to 18th and 19th century houses that once stood in front of the castle walls. These were revealed during earlier excavations on the site. The old cellars incorporate parts of a stone bridge that was used to cross a deep defensive ditch which lay in front of the gatehouse.

Cellars incorporating part of a stone bridge

Good weather during the second week of the excavation meant that progress was fairly quick and the modern tarmac and concrete was soon removed from the two main areas of excavation outside the castle gatehouse.

It was immediately apparent that archaeological features of considerable interest were hidden just below the ground surface. The area that was stripped at the edge of Nott Square revealed evidence of the foundations of a strong stone wall which, it is believed, may be part of the medieval bridge across the defensive ditch leading into the castle. Alternatively, it may be part of the medieval barbican or outer gatehouse that stood in front of the surviving gatehouse.

The second area opened up, closer to the gatehouse wall, has revealed a very complex picture of wall foundations and cobbled floors which mostly seem to date to buildings that have stood here during the last 200 years. However, some of these may be found to date to earlier times as the dig proceeds.

Historical Note

One of the great military and political leaders of Wales in the 12th century was Rhys ap Gruffudd (c. 1133-1197). He was the leader of the royal dynasty of Dinefwr, Prince of Deheubarth. At the heart of Rhys’s domain were the castle strongholds of the Tywi valley, and during the latter half of the 12th century his armies pushed the Anglo-Norman forces out of the southwest and captured the English kings’ own stronghold here at Carmarthen Castle, which stayed in Welsh hands until 1223. Rhys’s reputation was such that Henry II appointed him Chief Justicar of South Wales in recognition of his status and afterwards he was known as The Lord Rhys. Rhys is remembered for holding the first ever Eisteddfod at Cardigan Castle in 1176.

Catherine Zeta Jones and The Zeta

The Welsh actress/film star Catherine Zeta Jones (wife of Hollywood superstar Michael Douglas) is a descendent of a ship’s Captain employed by Henry Bath & Sons and her middle name reflects the name of the vessel.

In the 19th century Henry Bath & Sons operated a number of ships which carried copper ore from Chile to the copperworks of the Lower Swansea Valley. Bath’s ships were well known along the Atlantic trade routes.

Many of the Bath company’s ships were named after the letters of the Greek alphabet, and the Zeta was pride of the fleet for many years.

She was Glasgow-built in 1865 by Alexander Stephen. Her fame is due to the fact that she was the first ship in the port to be fitted with an auxiliary steam engine and was well-known for her fast passages to the South Atlantic.

This small ship was built to withstand the harsh weather in the south Atlantic and the basic facilities of Chilean ports.

Some time before 1872 she had been sold by the Baths and renamed Urmeneta of Valpariso.

Details from Lloyds Register of Shipping 1875-1875

Ship’s Name: Zeta

Type: Barque

Built: 1865 in Glasgow [8 months]

Official Number: 51109

Built by: Alexander Stephens

Built of: Iron

Engine: DA 99 HP

Master: T. Walters

Registered Tonnage: Net: 696; Gross: 734; Under Dock: 640 [P.&F. 77 tons]

Registered Dimensions: Length 191.2; Breadth 28.2; Depth 17.5

Port belonging to: Valpariso

Port of Survey: Swansea

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle

High on a cliff face on the bank of the River Cleddau, overlooking the historic town of Pembroke and its Mill Pond, the castle is an imposing sight. A well preserved fortress dating from the 13th century, it is one of the foremost examples of Norman architecture in Wales, and its five-storey; 75 feet high circular Keep, or Great Tower, is one of the finest of its type in Britain.

It was founded by the Montgomerys in 1093 who established a timber structure on the site of the present castle and Earl William Marshall began building in stone a century later.

In 1454 the castle and Earldom were granted to jasper Tudor, whose nephew Henry VII was born at Pembroke Castle, thus linking Pembroke inextricably with the Tudor dynasty.

At the time of the Civil Wars (1642-49) the castle was held in turn for both Parliament and King and Cromwell arrived in person to start the siege which led to its final surrender.

Certain restoration work was undertaken in the late 19th century and a further extensive plan of restoration was carried out in the 1930’s.

Many unique features make this an unforgettable castle to visit. Apart from the lofty Keep, there is an enormous natural cavern known as the the ‘Wogan’ where flint tools have been found, suggesting its occupation during the Stone Age, long before the castle was built.

Permanent exhibitions and displays give an insight into both county history and national heritage and throughout the year exciting special events take place within the castle walls.

There is a gift shop and snack bar.

Further Information

Pembroke Castle Trust

        Telephone: 01646 681510 / Fax: 01646 622260

Ticket Office

        Telephone 01646 684585

Llanegwad

Llanegwad In 1851

Llanegwad (and most of that part of Carmarthenshire) is today a predominantly agricultural area. It was the same in 1851. Looking at the census of 1851 and contrasting it with the population today reveals just how much farming has changed. Today, thanks to mechanization, even though farms are larger than they were, the agricultural workforce does not extend far beyond each individual farmer, the farmer’s wife and some (by no means all) of the farmer’s family. In 1851, the majority of the area’s population worked on the land.

Here are some 1851 households in Llanegwad, picked at random; all they have in common is that they live next to each other. The contrast between their world and today’s could not be more marked.

Tan-y-Graig

Thomas Lewis and his wife, Phebe, live here with no children. He’s 35, born in the village, a farm laborer; she’s 30 and was born a mile or so away.

Cefn-y-Graig

Daniel Thomas, aged 72, his wife Margaret, 77, and their 15 year old granddaughter, Margaret Williams, who acts as domestic servant. Daniel farms 14 acres – enough to support them then but it wouldn’t do so now. Daniel was a Llanegwad rarity – born outside the county in Cardiganshire.

Pen-y-Graig

William Lewis (Lewis is a common Welsh name), 62 years old, a farmer and never married, lives with his sister Mary, 61, and two servants – remarkable considering he has only 39 acres.

Galtfernie

Elizabeth Griffiths is 63 and widowed. She farms 180 acres – a big farm then but today less than half of the larger one it has been absorbed into – with the help of her son, Richard, 36, and five daughters aged between 22 and 30. Richard isn’t married and neither are four of his five sisters; the exception is Elinor though there’s no sign of a husband. The farm also supports: 2 farm servants; 1 farm laborer; 1 errand boy; 1 dairy maid; 1 kitchen maid; and 1 house maid. All on the proceeds of 180 acres – staggering by today’s standards!