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Llandyf‚n, Glynhir and the River Loughor 

Across the valley from Carreg Cennen Castle is an interesting feature known as Llygad Llwchwr or Eye of the River Loughor. From a cave in a small valley on the mountain gushes the River Loughor as a stream. While the Loughor and Cennen rivers are very close at source, the Cennen flows towards Llandeilo where it joins the Towy and the Loughor flows through a deep ravine to Llandybie and on to Ammanford where it is joined by the River Aman and goes on to Pontardulais and Loughor.

 

Llygad Llwchwr

The cave gives access to a series of caves and chambers popular with cave divers who have to contend with strong currents, poor visibility and large amounts of gravel wash.

 

The Loughor at Llandyf‚n and as it passes through a deep valley, the Glynhir Falls

Glynhir Mansion

Today Glynhir Mansion is a hotel. It is a grade II listed building The building was originally a 17"1 century farmhouse. It was enlarged to form the mansion house of the Powell family before its sale to Peter Du Buisson in 1770 when the house was enlarged and further extended during the 19lh century.

The Du Buissons were Huguenots who had escaped persecution in France around 1685 but maintained links with family members who remained in France . While travelling to Ireland in 1770, Peter Du Buisson was delayed by bad weather and decided to explore the area. He was so taken with Glynhir that he bought it at auction held at the Turnpike House Inn Llandeilo on the 8" 1 May 1770 at a price of £33,000.

In the early 19lh century, the estate had its own brewery, laundry, slaughter house, smithy, carpenter's shop, mill and dovecote. Peter Du Buisson also set up a knife factory on the estate, between the house and the mill. An example of its output can be seen at the Carmarthen County Museum . Local legend had it that the works were staffed by Frenchmen, though this may have been associated with the rumours that the factory was used to produce arms for theFrench during the Napoleonic Wars. It is possible that knife production at Glynhir was the result of Du Buisson's friendship with James Henckell who spent some time at Glynhir, dying there in 1823 at the age of 84. The Heckell family were engaged in the iron industry at Wandsworth in London . The Henckells were of Dutch extraction and Caroline Henckell married William Du Buisson, Peter's son.

In 1808 Peter Du Buisson acquired the Llandyfan Forge, four years before his death in 1812.

Richard Fenton on his 1809 tour of Carmarthenshire wrote- "Hence to Clynhii the Seat of Mr. Du Buisson, who came into this country concerned in an Iron Work, which was carried on by the River Lochor, which passes through the farm of Clynhir, now made by great perseverance and profound agricultural knowledge, from cold mountain ground, as good land as any in the County. Here the Gardens, by being well sheltered, are productive of most excellent fruit. To the South of the House, passing the Gardens, you descend into a deep and beautifully wooded Valley, at least a Mile in length, and crossing a wooden bridge over a deep rocky channel, through which the River takes its course, you turn to the left on the other side, and after crossing a little gulley in the Hill, down which a most picturesque torrent constantly pours, as may be seen by the attrition of the rocky channel it frets its way through, you walk down by the margin of the whole River, which, just above you, is precipitated down a steep [sic] high, forming the most graceful and elegant fall I ever saw. with the finest possible accompaniment of Wood."

In 1814 two cousins of the Du Buissons were staying at Glynhir when news came of Napoleon's escape from Elba . They returned to France taking with them two homing pigeons from Glynhir. News of Wellington 's victory at Waterloo reached Glynhir by pigeon before anywhere else in Britain . Caroline Du Buisson immediately set out for London on horseback and bought large amounts of Government stock before the news from Waterloo reached London and succeeded in making a large amount of money that she later used to establish a girls' school locally and finance the building of the church at Llandyfan. It is believed that the Henckells and Du Buissons were friends of the Rothschilds and that she had trvelled to london to inform them. Certainly the Rothschilds had news of the victory at Waterloo before the British Government.

Peter Du Buisson was a magistrate and Receiver General in charge of the taxes for Carmarthenshire, Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire. His son William was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of Carmarthenshire in 1815 and High Sheriff in 1826. He died aged 47 in 1828 in Wandsworth, In turn, his son ,also William was High Sheriff in 1870-71. he died in 1894 at the age of 76.

The Du Buissons sold the estate in 1921.

Cwrt Beirdd ar y Bryn (Bard's Hill Court )

On the hill across the Cennen opposite Carreg Carreg Cennen Castle stands one of the oldest houses in the area. We know that in 1485 it was the home of Hugh Fychan, the founder of the Vaughan family of Golden Grove, but its origins are believed to be 14th century. This raises a problem, because the house was substantial and unfortified, built shortly after Carreg Cennen Castle had being heavily fortified. It has been conjectured that it may have been thecountry mansion or outlying grange of a religious house, or the more comfortable residence of the occupants of the castle who could take refuge in the castle at times of trouble.

This latter explanation may have given rise to the legend that there was a tunnel connecting the house to the castle. Fenton visiting the castle in 1809 writes "There appeared to have been an Adit, or rather sinking, at the extremity of this last Chamber, for it widens here, now stopped up, which. Tradition says, communicated with a passage or Tunnel under the River Kennan to Bryn y Beirdd."

The name Cwrt denotes that it was a rented property while Beirdd y Bryn refers to the hill rather than the house. In 1857, the Ordnance Survey map referred to it as Cwrt Pen y Bane, though that adds nothing of significance.

The buildings are arranged round the sides of an irregular yard with the house positioned on the west and north sides. On the south west is a barn that is thought to have been the great hall and kitchen. There is no evidence of a chapel ever having been part of the house.

In its survey of 1857, Archeologia Cambrensis records:- "The situation is highly picturesque, the views from it delightful; within half a mile over the southern ridge of the hill is the mystic cave whence rushes the river Llwchwr; north-east frowns Caste// Carreg Cennen; beneath brawls the Cennen itself; above the house rises the Mynydd du, bleak and stony; while down in the far west opens the Vale of Towy, with the slopes of Golden Grove, the stately oaks and the ancient towers ofDynevor."

Llandyf‚n Church and Holy Well

           

Not far from Carreg Cennen Castle and the village of Trap lies Llandyf‚n with its church and spring. .

The history of church and spring are revealing of religion in Wales over the centuries. Known as Ffynnon Gwyddfaen the spring had been regarded as a holy well in the 16th century but its history goes back much further. It was also known as Teilo's Well, St Teilo having died at Llandeilo in the 6th Century and is shown on some old maps as the Welsh Bath at Llanduvaen. The name Llandyf‚n denotes the Church of Dyf‚n but as to who Dyf‚n was is unknown.

Pilgrimages had been banned as an anti-catholic measure in the reign of Elizabeth I. In 1592 a large number of people were apprehended at Ffynnon Gwyddfaen and brought before the magistrate, Morgan Jones of Tregib. He dismissed the charges saying that they were poor sickly persons who had visited the well to bathe in the restorative waters. Morgan Jones was subsequently charged before the Star Chamber in 1594 with failing to prevent pilgrimages.

 

Tradition has it that the spring water had restorative properties when drunk from a human skull.

Richard Fenton on his 1809 tour of Carmarthenshire visited Llandyvaen:

"Descend the hill and then ascend on the other side to see the Spring at Llandyvaen-called by E. Llwyd Gwyddfaen- of great resort in former days, many medicinal properties being ascribed to it. It is inclosed in a square building with steps going down to it, uncovered. The Water has a waddyish unctious appearance, like the Well at Towyn. Near is a small chapel served once a month. It is under Llandeilo."

A chapel had been erected next to the spring and in the 18th century was used by Methodist preachers then by Baptists who used the spring for immersion baptism and were followed by Independents. It became known as the chapel of Mixtures and things deteriorated as the Baptists split into two denominations and the Unitarians joined. The situation eased as the congregations built their own chapels and only the Unitarians remained. In 1838 a new minister arrived but was so extreme in his preaching that the church authorities in Llandeilo expelled the Unitarians and the Chapel reverted to the Anglicans.

The present church, built in 1864-5, was designed by R K Penson, the architect of Newton House, Llandeilo the home of the Dynevor family and Llandyfeisant church in the grounds of the Dynevor estate. Penson also designed a battery of lime kilns at Llandybie in an ornate ecclesiastical fashion as well as churches throughout Wales and the Grosvenor Hotel Chester. The building was funded by Lady Dynevor and Mrs Du Buisson of Glynhir.

The church has a three sided apse with a south porch. It is built of red sandstone with a stone tiled roof. Of particular interest is the unusual double pyramid spirelet. Inside the church has whitewashed walls. Of interest are the three apse two light windows with a pattern of circles by Hardmans, the Midlands based stained glass makers who also produced the stained glass for the Houses of Parliament, St Chad 's Cathedral Birmingham, St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney and the Chapel of St Andrew's University.

The spring, the source of the River Gwyddf‚n, was renovated and in 1897 Llandeilo Town was allowed to pipe water from it to the town. Today  the steps lead down to the immersion tank but the mechanism to fill it is badly rusted.

One of the more interesting Baptist ministers at Llandyf‚n was Zorobabel Davies of Hendy Farm. He had been teaching and preaching in Carmarthenshire before emigrating to the Goldfields of Victoria Australia in 1852. He settled at Pleasant Creek, now Stawell, and not only profited from the gold digging but became headmaster of Pleasant Creek School and a noted lay preacher.

Llandyfan Forge

Llandyfan was the centre of an early iron industry. Ironworks depended on a plentiful supply of timber for charcoal to heat the furnaces, water power to drive the bellows and hammers, limestone and iron ore to produce the iron. All were in abundance at Llandyfan or nearby on the Black Mountain .

The Forge was built about half a mile to the East of Llandyfan, on the banks of the River Loughor where it is joined by the Nant Gwythwch, near Forge Mill Farm. What remains of the forge is now overgrown, though the walls of the dam can be made out.

According to legend, Sir Henry Vaughan of Derwydd, the uncle of Richard Vaughan, Earl of Carbery, supplied Charles I with cannonballs from Llandyfan in the English Civil War, but the first documentary evidence of a forge at Llandyfan was not until 1669 on a rental agreement when an added reference to Iscennen Forge was made.

The first tenant was William Davies of Dryslwyn, who leased property from the Vaughan 's of Golden Grove in Pembrey and at Dryslwyn and was tenant of Kidwelly Forge. He appears to have acted as an agent for the Golden Grove estates. His rent for Llandyfan forge was £60 and one ton of iron annually.

Mr Davies appears to have neglected the forge for its next tenant, William Spencer of Carmarthen was allowed £30 for repairs and paid a rental of £33 per annum from 1700. The lease included the Forge and Forge Mill, on what is now part of Llwyndewi Farm.

Ownership of the forge changed hands on a number of occasions during the 18th century, with a Mr Parsons, owner of an iron works at Ynyscedwyn that made only crude iron, hired the forge at Llandyfan together with six mules and transported pig iron over the Black Mountain until he set up a new forge at Clydach around 1789 when he gave up Llandyfan Forge. Close to the forge was Glan Quay Inn, the quay apparently being used for loading the mules.

Production at the Forge was on a relatively small scale, around 100 tons per annum. Pig iron would have been brought from the furnace and alternatively heated and hammered, with the large hammer and bellows powered by water wheel.

A second forge was built in 1780, called the New Forge. The old Forge continued until 1807. In 1808, the New Forge was acquired by the Du Buissonfamily of Glynhir who used the iron for their knife works. The New Forge closed in the 1830s and was converted into a woollen mill in the 1840s.

The introduction of the steam engine at the end of the 18th century produced a shift to areas where there was plentiful coal. Coal eventually became the primary source of heat.

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