Information provided by Marsia Thompson
This essay attempts to show the present (1957) social geography of a village near the North Cardiganshire coast which has always been regarded as something of a frontier between North and South Wales. The basis of the essay has been the preparation of detailed tables of the houses population occupation and social characteristics etc. Some of this information has been converted to map form while in the text an analysis is made of statistical information. The collection of information was carried out mainly by the writer in January 1957, supplemented by family information and one or two older residents of the village with a lifelong interest in the history of the village. Special thanks to Mr E. T. Price.
The historical information is largely oral tradition but I have consulted the Tithe map of 1845 and varying Ordnance Survey editions of the local sheet. The location of the post 1945 buildings was filled in by myself (Marsia Thompson).
• Physical Background
• Historical Background
• House Types
Analysis of the Present Community
• Population and Age Groups
Language Education and Social Features
• Social Features
The area studied has been confined to the village of Llanrhystud itself as the settlement lies across the boundaries of two parishes in North Cardiganshire. This boundary is the river Wyre a stream about 10 miles long which follows East North East to West South West, immediately south of the 400 foot coastal plateau, extending from immediately south of Aberystwyth to the well known stretch of coastal lowland that lies between Llanrhystud and Morfa Mawr.
The village itself is located between the fifty and one hundred foot contour in a sheltered situation about three quarters of a mile from the sea where there is a break of slope which occurs in the river bed (the weir below the village bridge) It is built above flood level on an alluvial plain which grades gently on to the excellent soils of the coastal lowland. This has obviously been levelled by marine action at some period and subsequently uplifted and consists of fairly light glacial clays and sands. There is some degree of coastal erosion but this is not as rapid as in the case of Llanon beach two miles to the south. The beach near Llanrhystud is more of the storm beach type and resembles that of Borth but on a smaller scale.
The village in its physical location resembles Llanbadarn near Aberystwyth to some extent and the historical evidence considered later supports this view.
The village really consists of a series of dwellings mainly terraced but with some detached and semidetached houses extending along three roads from the village center near the bridge with its small square flanked by two Inns. The three streets are Aberystwyth road the Llanon road and the Cross Inn road. The church which is nineteenth century built is on the site of a much older foundation about one hundred yards from the bridge with a small street of houses approaching it.
All the houses considered in this essay are within four hundred yards of the bridge over the Wyre with the exception of the two former mansions Which were the houses of the estate owners of the district. Two closest towns. Aberystwyth is nine miles to the north and Aberaeron eight miles to the south.
Although this essay is concerned with the present day social geography of the area it is necessary to consider briefly the historical Background which has resulted in the growth of a settlement of fairly considerable size (299 persons) This represents a pattern not generally characteristic of rural Wales even though there are several villages of considerable size in North Cardiganshire.
It has not been possible in a study of this size to examine original documents However Professor E. G. Bowen in his book “ The Settlements of Celtic Saints in Wales” states on page 92 that Saint Rhystud to whom the parish church is dedicated was one of the followers of Saint Cadfan the leader of the Peregrini who are thought to have moved from Brittany to Wales during the dark ages. The outstanding feature of this movement was that the saints who established these churches in Wales arrived by sea. Another ecclesiastical settlement in the area associated with the Cadfan movement is Llanilar. The Llan in a place name has the basic meaning of a clearing or an open space as kept in the word Llanerch ( a green glade) originally in forested country eg as in Llanerchaeron. In this instance it means land consecrated either to or by a Saint Rhystud. Llan at the present time has come to be used in its secondary meaning signifying the church and also as the settlement
The physical location of the settlement already described is somewhat paralleled by these of Llanilar and Llanafan also located on alluvial plains.
In W. J. Lewis’s Ceredigion: Atlas Hanesyddol Three castles are shown in and around Llanrhystud Two being named Castell Bach and Castell Mawr, a house situated behind a mound is still named Castell Bach. (mound was removed to allow for road widening opp Memorial Hall ). The Wyre valley has a number of earth works. By the Middle Ages it was apparent that a distinct boundary existed in this area between North and South
A monograph has been published by Mr Beynon Davies Ardwyn Grammer School in the Bulletin of the board of Celtic Studies (volume 14 part 4 May 1952). It noted that dialect and customs in Llanrhystud had far more in common with the vale of Aeron than Llanon 2 miles down the road. This may be due to the route way built as a turnpike road in 1770 and still used by motorists as a shortcut to Lampeter. The tradition of this difference is a long standing one with rivalry between the villages of Llanrhystud and Llanon still evident.
Llanrhystud appears to be of little significance during the late Middle Ages but during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it had a new lease on life as a ship building center constructing small wooden craft.It is to this period that the village owes its existence in its present form.
The list of approximate dates of construction of many of the houses listed in the appendix shows a that many of the present buildings though now much changed were built during this period. The apparent location of the yard was to the south of the village not far from the lime kilns called Craig Las
Ships of from a hundred to a hundred and fifty tons were built here with timber being sourced from as far afield as Llandovery. The Cardiganshire coast was well known during this period for its construction of small wooden barques but the industry declined towards the end of the nineteenth century due to the introduction of larger steam ships. The Craiglas shipyard ceased to build ships after 1902 when the barque Martha Jane was wrecked when it was unable to gain access to the open sea during a rising gale.
Llanrhystud had also enjoyed some coastal trade particularly in the movement of lime, for which carts came from Mynydd Bach and Tregaron. This coastal trade was ruined by the advent of the railway to Tregaron and Aberystwyth in 1867*. Other local industries included an eighteenth century wooden mill, whose machinery is now preserved at The National Museum of Wales. There was also a Pandy or Fulling Mill, and of the three corn mills one is still worked. The turnpike road from Aberystwyth to Aberaeron was opened in 1770 and the Mynydd Bach route to Temple Bar is also shown as being opened in the same year.*
The decline of shipbuilding and other local trades has changed part of the character of Llanrhystud during the present century. The village might have suffered a serious decline were it not for the development of modern road transport.
- W. J. Lewis “Ceredigion: Atlas Hanesyddol”. Page 42
The Vale of Aeron light rail from Lampeter to Aberaeron was not opened until 1911 It completely destroyed the remaining coastal trade of Aberaeron in turn the railway was discontinued in 1951. Interesting to note that the railway station in Llanfarian was called Llanrhystud Road
There is a variety of house types in the Llanrhystud village. A number of houses are believed to date to the 1600 period*, ( this is the considered view of local Antiquarians. The village of Llanrhystud with its Church is shown on Speeds map of Cardiganshire 1610 reproducedin W. J. Lewis’s op cat page 24) but in every case the buildings have been changed or re built to such an extent that they would be unrecognisable by their original occupants. In their present form they owe much to nineteenth century styles, with rather primitive stone dressings. Examples of these re-built styles are found in Church Street and also the Red Lion.
The Black Lion was originally built in 1759. The Black and Red Lion are the 2 survivors of several Inns which existed up to 1900 the time that the shipyard ceased. Both Inns have retained a reasonably attractive appearance characteristic of buildings rebuilt during the Victorian era Photo No 6 shows a detached house which has been rebuilt This building is single story and was formerly the cowsheds of a farm house. It is characterised by very thick walls ( 3 feet) and there is still thatch under the corrugated roof.
The present church of St Rhystud was built in 1852 around the older foundation there is a sketch in W. J. Lewis op, cit, page 26. Re building was a common practice in west wales at this time the best known example being Llanbadarn Church.
The second main group consists of nineteenth century houses mainly of the terraced type (Moelivor Terrace) Until recently this row of houses housed various craftsmen eg a Sadler, and blacksmith. In style they are stone built houses of typically Victorian appearance.
A more exotic type of dwelling built in the late nineteenth century were built by sea captains. These houses were large with several rooms but without the superficial verandas which characterised the sea captains houses built in nearby Llanon and Aberarth An example would be Candor. Since 1950 one still active sea captain has built a house in the village but this is of modern style.
There are two former Mansion Houses belonging to the two estates which owned the land in and around Llanrhystud. Mabws Hall in its present form is dated at 1765* (by a local Antiquary also shown in W. J. Lewis op cit as a gentleman’s house of the Tudor Period Page 22) is now occupied by a farmer. It does not have any special architectural features and is not as pleasant in appearance as some of the late eighteenth century houses in Aberystwyth.
Alltlwyd Mansion was built in 1828 and is now used as a guest house. It has an attractive outlook on to the main Llanon road and the sea. It is the sort of country house seen all over Wales.
Private building during 1930 – 1950 consisted of one house. Two groups of council houses one of the Airey type and the other of a more traditional type of construction Both sets were built after 1945 government policy encouraging the building of houses for agricultural workers but the rents were too high for most Agricultural workers Some houses were occupied under the national assistance rental scheme.
The council houses have added considerably to the population of the village It is noted that only one is occupied by an agricultural worker.
Though little private building has taken place in recent years this not due to lack of demand but due to the reluctance of farmers to sell land Dior building. Now the land of the Black Lion Farm owned by Roberts Brewery is to be sold as building plots which will see an increase in the building of private dwellings in the future.
Analysis of the Present Community
Population and Age Groups
The present population of the village of Llanrhystud when this summary was revised in April 1957 was 299 (150 males and 149 females) This shows a remarkable balance between the sexes which is not generally a characteristic of North Cardiganshire villages
An outstanding feature of the Llanrhystud community is its general youthful character as compared with most Cardiganshire villages. The largest age group is that under 20 years with 97 persons (56 between 0-10 and 41 between 10-20) This reflects the young families in the Rural District Council Houses and it is significant that there is another large group between 20-40 (67 persons) This group is more widely distributed throughout the village.
There are comparatively few persons in the 40-60 age group (77persons) With (58persons) in the over 60 age group.
Comparison is made between Llanrhystud and Llanon in a Population of 448 persons in the 60 – 80 age group there were 146 persons 97 women and 49 men.
The occupations of Llanrhystud people are now very varied. It is not easy to group these occupations together. The largest single group is that connected with agriculture, with 33 persons who are either owners of small holdings situated in the village or owners of farms very near the village or as farm labourers who live in the village and travel to work by bicycle. ( The outward movement of farm workers is more characteristic of English villages than the dispersed settlements of Rural Wales. In part it reflects the importance of small holdings and arable farming on the lowland coastal strip which on a small scale parallels the farming practices of the vale of Glamorgan which is the major center of neucleated arable villages in Wales.)
It is noticeable that the two Inns of the village both have their own small holdings in the village and one market garden. The small holdings (which range from 5 – 25 acres) support a few cows sheep a pig and a few chickens. Together with growing of some fodder crops mainly root crops. The market garden produces flowers as well as vegetables and the owner has a shop and van for local distribution. The growing number of visitors who stay in the village or belong to the rapidly growing number of campers provide a seasonal market for the vegetable crops and local milk supplies.
The larger farms (100 – 150 acres) in the neighbourhood are mixed in character with an emphasis on Dairying but the excellent quality of the lowland soil means that there is an emphasis on arable crops than is generally typical of North Cardiganshire. There is hardly any rough grazing and the arable crops consist of hay (sown grasses) roots and corn. (Corn is the name given to mixed cereal crops in west Wales The fields are usually a mixture of wheat oats and barley but in the district there are one or two fields of pure wheat which is grown most years).
The second major group is concerned with travelling to Aberystwyth. The individual occupations vary considerably from shop assistant to a number of craftsmen mainly associated with the building trade. Several of these travel by lorry or van but 17 persons travel daily which runs every hour. This reflects the importance of public transport to these villages where opportunities of local employment are limited. All secondary school children also travel by bus either to Aberystwyth or Aberaeron.
The influence of Llanrhystud as a centre on the main coast road but serving a local hinterland is reflected in the number of postmen living in the village 6 persons. They work part time as postmen/ women and also assist on delivery of meat and bread as well as assisting on the local farms at harvest time. This is a well known feature of the North Cardiganshire countryside.
Llanrhystud has had like Llanon a considerable tradition of seafaring. However for a number of reasons this is on the decline and only four men living locally are still at sea and in each case are over 40 years of age. Three are merchant navy sea captains and the other is an engineering officer with the Cunard line. There are two retired captains living in the village.
It is interesting to note that most of the girls who attend Ardwyn grammer school go away to train mainly as nurses or teachers.
Language Education and Social Features
The everyday language in the village is Welsh. Out of the 96 families listed 72 are welsh speaking.It is noted that most of the English speaking families comprise mothers who are welsh speaking and local and English speaking fathers who have settled in the area and who live mainly in the Council Houses. Seven families have come from London, some during the Second World War. Others are the adult children of local people who went to London at the beginning of the 20th century and have returned to the village. Other families have come from Llanilar and Llangwyryfon in recent years as Council houses are available to residents from Rural districts rather than parishes.
It is noted regarding the language that even though English is spoken at home welsh is still the “play” language and for general conversation Subjects in school are taught in English.
Llanrhystud had a circulating school for a short period in the Eighteenth century subsequently a “ Church National School “ was built near the church. The present
Village school was also a National School and now serves Llanrhystud and Llanddeiniol
The school is now a busy one because of the increasing number of children in the 0 – 10 age group. Children over eleven years of age attend either the Grammarn or Modern school in Aberystwyth or the Bilateral School In Aberaeron. At present it is possible for children to choose which town they would prefer before sitting the entrance exam.
The customary division between church and chapel reflects the traditional influence of the Local landowning families. The Hughes family of Alltlwyd and the Phillips family of Mabws refused in the nineteenth century to sell any land for the building of a nonconformist chapel.
The present Methodist chapel is situated nearly a mile from the village on the hill leading to Cross Inn and Lampeter. The majority of villagers attend Church services although somewhat irregularly. Most of the services are held in Welsh. By contrast the Welsh Methodist Chapel drawes most of its congregation from the surrounding country side and only 17 families from the village attend this Chapel. The small Welsh Baptist Chapel is supported by 10 families most coming from other districts.
Llanrhystud partly because of its youthful age structure has a vigorous community social life. The most active organisation being the Women’s Institute It is noticeable that even in such a Welsh speaking village as Llanrhystud most of the lectures are given in English. Otherwise most of the villages social business is conducted in Welsh. Eg Parish Council. Meetings. The young farmers club is now defunct due to the absence of a suitable leader rather than lack of interest. Extra mural classes are well attended Concerts (mainly in Welsh) are frequent .
Llanrhystud having the advantage of a village hall unlike Llanon.
The general impression is that the village Inns play a large part in the social life of the village than is normally the case in Rural Cardiganshire. This may be due to a geographical and historical reasons
- As previously noted Llanrhystud is a church rather than a Methodist village with different conventional ideas. It is noticeable that the Inns are visited by young men from the neighbouring parishes of Llanddeiniol and Llangwyryfon which are more strongly Methodist
- It has already been mentioned that Llanrhystud has something of the character of an English agricultural village with several farm workers living in the village rather than on isolated farms
Apart from local entertainment the young people of Llanrhystud look to Aberystwyth for other entertainment eg cinemas. Most of the young people will travel by bus to Aberystwyth on Saturday evenings the good local bus service has already been noted.
On the occasions when there is local entertainment in the village hall there is a considerable influx of older people into the village from the surrounding countyside.
Llanrhystud presents as a picture of a main road community with deep roots in Agriculture but whose size is more related to the local industries of the past. The buildings in their present form show the period at which the village emerged. It has ha a new infusion of life with the construction of the council houses with consequent effect on the age structure of the community. Many of the local people are dependent on transport to get to their work in other areas as there is not enough locally to support the population. The village remains characteristically Welsh in language despite some “foreign” invasions in recent years. Some of the social geographical features have been seen to be more English than Welsh.
By Marsia Thompson
|Language||Family origin||Occupation||Mode of Transport||Religion|
|Clarence||1895||3||1. 60 – 70||1. 80+||Welsh||Local||Retired farmers||Private car||C of E|
|1. 30 – 40|
|Nyth||1550||2||1. 50 – 60||1. 50 – 60||Welsh||London||Plumber||Bus||C of E|
|Gadlys||1550||6||1. 40 – 50||1. 80+||Welsh||Local||Farmer||Bicycle||C of E|
|1. 40 -50||Butcher|
|1. 10 – 20||Part time postman|
|2. 0 – 10|
|Brooklands||1820||7||1. 30 – 40||1. 80+||Bilingual||Glasgow||Baker||Van||–|
|1. 10 – 20||1. 30 – 40|
|1. 0 – 10||1. 10 – 20|
|1. 0 – 10|
|Angorfa||1820||5||1. 40 – 50||1. 30 – 40||Welsh||Treorchy||1. Sea captain||Bus||C of E|
|1. 30 – 40||1. 30 – 40||1. Mkt Gardner|
|1. 10 – 20|
|Tegfan||1600||2||1. 80+||1. 80+||Welsh||Local||Retired roadman||Bus||C of E|
|Neuadd||1820||5||1. 90+||1. 40 – 50||Welsh||Llangeitho||Plasterer||–||–|
|1. 40 – 50||1. 10 – 20|
|1. 10 – 20|
|Danybontbren||1600||3||1. 60 – 70||1. 50 – 60||Welsh||Llanon||Sea Captain||Bus||C of E|
|1. 10 – 20|
|Arnant||1820||3||1. 10 – 20||1. 40 – 50||Welsh||Local||–||Bus||C of E|
|1. 10 – 20|
|1 Glanrafon Tce||1850||3||1. 60 – 70||1. 40 – 50||Welsh||Local||Flour mill worker||Bus||Methodist|
|1. 10 – 20||Agri worker|
|No 2||1850||1||1. 40 – 50||Welsh||Local||–||Car||C of E|
|No 3||1850||2||1. 20- 30||1. 20 – 30||Welsh||Llagwyryfon||Agri worker||Bus||C of E|
|No 4||1850||4||1. 70 – 80||1. 60 – 70||Welsh||Local||Retired Ag worker||Bus||C of E|
|2. 20 – 30||Sales assistant|
|Dol Werdd||1956||3||1. 40 – 50||1. 40 – 50||Welsh||Local||Builders clark||Firms van||Baptist|
|1. 10 – 20|
|Tanfoel||1600||2||1. 60 – 70||Bilingual||London||Smallholding||Bus||Baptist|
|1. 50 – 60||Pennant|
|Ystradteilo||1885||3||1. 60 – 70||1. 60 – 70||Welsh||Local||Farmer||Bus||C of E|
|1. 60 – 70||Farm labourer|
|Felindre||1890||5||1. 50 – 60||1. 40 -50||Bilingual||Llanilar||Poultry farmer||Car / Bus||C of E|
|3 10 – 20||PBS assistant|
|Felin Ganol||1600||3||1. 80+||1. 80+||Welsh||Local||Retired tea merchant||Car / Bus||Baptist|
|1. 20 – 30||Flour millers|
|Glennydd||1870||1||1. 40 – 50||Bilingual||London||Dress maker||Bus||C of E|