LlandoveryLlandovery Castle

West End Cafe is located in Llandovery on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

The main A40 London to Fishguard road runs through the middle of this historic market town and is on the old drovers route. Situated in the bueatiful Towy valley Llandovery has lots to offer the visitor.

A large car park opposite West End Cafe is a perfect starting point to explorer the area. Visit the tourist information centre in Llandovery before a snack or lunch in the cafe.

The picturesque market town of Llandovery, (derived from the welsh Llan ym Ddy fri - Church among the Water) is situated in Carmarthenshire, 24 miles north-east of Carmarthen. The town stands on the river Bran, near its junction with the Towy, in a lovely valley, surrounded by wooded hills. Overlooking the river, are the remains of C12 Llandovery Castle, archeological excavations show earlier settlements including the remains of Roman occupation. Llandovery is an excellent choice for exploring the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains. In the distance you can spot the splendid mountain peaks of North Wales. Llandovery has a proud cultural and commercial history : The 19th Century saw the founding of Llandovery College, which has made a vast contribution to the intellectual and sporting life of Wales also the Tonn Press was established here and in 1799 David Jones, a Drover, founded the Black Ox Bank, (Banc Yr Eidon Du.) which matured into the 20th Century Lloyd’s Bank. Every year Llandovery hosts the Around Wales Car Rally and the Small Nations Music Festival is held locally. Besides the usual pursuits of rambling, fishing, bird watching and canoeing, the area is well suited for mountain biking, boarding, and go-karting.

Local area

Llandovery is an ancient market town situated on the west bank of the upper reaches of the river Towy. The name itself is an anglicised form of the welsh, Llanymddyfri, which means ‘Church amongst the Waters’. The town is, indeed, surrounded by rivers: the Towy to the north; the Bran and Gwydderig to the east and the Bawddwr which runs under the town but in the early 19th Century was an open sewer, hence Bawddwr, ‘dirty water’. Furthermore, the inhabitants of the town who were born in the town, are called’cyw bawddwr’, a ‘Bawddwr chick ‘.

It is a town rich in history. Overlooking the town stands Llanfair Hill where the Roman camp of alabum once stood. The archaeologists who have studied the area seem to think that the fort may date from AD 50s or early 60s. It was strategically sited to control the upper Towy valley. A number of Roman roads meet at the fort in particular the road running west to Carmarthen and north to the Roman Goldmines at Dolaucothi and south east to Brecon.

On the same site as the fort, the Normans built the church Llanfair ar y Bryn, the Church of Mary on the Hill. The church consists of a chancel and nave, without structural division, and a west tower. There was a small chapel,called the Llwynhowel chapel, on the south side but this was demolished in the 18th Century. Fragments of Roman brick or tile can be seen in the walls. The famous preacher and hymn writer William Williams, Pantycelyn, is buried in the churchyard.

On the western edge of the town stands the parish church of Llandingat. The name is derived from Dingat, on of the Celtic saints living in the 5th Century. It is highly likely that it stands where once stood a Celtic church. The church consists of a chancel with a south chapel, which is now used as a vestry and organ chamber; a nave with a north porch and south aisle and a west tower. The north wall of the nave and the west end of the north wall of the chancel are said to be the oldest parts of the existing building.

In the middle of the town, stands the remains of a Norman castle first mentioned in 1116. The castle itself was captured by the legendary Lord Rhys in 1179 and remained in Welsh hands until 1282 when recaptured by Edward I. Henry IV stayed at the castle during the Owain Glyndwr struggle for Welsh independence. He actually witnessed the hanging, drawing and quartering of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan, a Welsh patriot who is remembered by the imposing monument to him on the castle mound.

The Privy Seal warrant authorising the granting of a charter to the town was given in January 1485. It was granted by Richard III but not only did he give the town it’s charter he also gave ten marks to the beadle of the town in aid of the fabric of both churches. With the granting of the charter, Llandovery became a Corporation governed by a bailiff presiding over a Council of Burgesses. This title of Bailiff was to remain in use until 1836 when it was, superseded by that of Mayor.

The Town Hall was built under the express provision of the Charter of 1485. The original was built of timber and John Leland writing half a century later comments on it’s considerable state of disrepair. It has been suggested that the second building consisted mainly of the stones from the castle, which had been burnt in 1532. The present Town Hall is the fourth and was built in 1857.

Two of Llandovery’s most famous sons are undoubtedly, Rev. Rhys Prichard, author of Canwyll y Cymru, the Welshman’s candle, who was born in the town in 1579 and spent most of his life as Vicar of the town until his death in 1644. And William Williams, Pantycelyn, the poet, and hymn writer. The house where Vicar Prichard was born, Y Neuadd, still stands but the magnificent house, which he built for himself was demolished after the second World War.

William William’s descendants still live at Pantycelyn Farm where one can see the long case clock, which was at the house during his life.

In 1799 David Jones, a Drover, founded the Black Ox Bank, Banc Yr Eidon Du. At the beginning of the 20th Century it became Lloyd’s Bank.

The 19th Century saw the founding of the Independent Public School, Llandovery College, by Thomas Phillips, a school, which over the years has made a vast contribution to the cultural and sporting life of Wales. It was during this time that the Tonn Press flourished. Founded by David and William Rees the press, printed books, such as Meddygon Myddfai, and Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion for the Welsh Manuscript Society. William Rees was also responsible for bringing the railway to Llandovery.

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