"Caernarvonshire in 1810"

by

Edmund Hyde Hall

Rhiw,

This parish is bounded on the north by Llangean and Llandegwnin, on the east by Llanengan, on the west by Llanfaelries and on the south by the sea. Towards the east its surface is somewhat level, but to the south Creigia ffort 3.jpg (90736 bytes)and west it swells into hill and mountain cragg. The headland Penmynnyd within it forms in fact the western horn of Hellís Mouth, which beats with fury against its dark and scarped base. From Mynnyd Graig behind this rise two conical hills which are known by the name of the Sugar Loaves, and are far discernable in the prospect. Upon these eminences lie many masses of detached rocks accumulated into heaps, and of these it may be noticed as remarkable that most of them have one of their faces perfectly smooth. Upon many of them also is found a lichen, which is now sought for and gathered in considerable quantities in order to extract from them a grey dye.

 

Rock is in fact the predominant characteristic of the parish, in which little wood is seen except about Plas in Rhiw, a small house, the property of William Williams, of Plas Hen, Esqr. The situation of this place is admirable. It stands upon the lofty ground to the west of Hellís Mouth, over which the view stretches to the opposite promontory of Penrhyn Du, to the mountains of Meirionethshire and beyond them all to the coast of South West Wales.

The chief proprietors here are R Edwards Esqr, in right of Bwdwithog ( an ancient residence once belonging to a family of The Wynnes) and Sir Robert Vaughn. Much of the ground within the parish is walled off into what are called paddocks for the summer grazing of cattle. Upon the property of Sir Robert Vaughn among this walling was pointed, one a piece which for its construction by the tenant had obtained a premium from the Agricultural Society. The utility of such establishments is very markedly shown in their effects upon the exertions of a district where the stimuli afforded by them come with all the additional recommendations which novelty can give them. Besides these paddocks, which are all, I understand, under rent, there is some extent of common, which is in general of a very good soil.

Mills

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The springs within the parish are numerous and highly pellucid. In one place they have been collected into a volume sufficient to work a corn mill close upon the beach some way under the church.

The Church.

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"St Aelrhiw was rebuilt in 1860"

The church is a small dark mean building without even a pulpit, and in no respect well kept. Near it stands the parsonage, a very wretched building also, meanly thatched, quite unprotected, and forming altogether a very dreary abode. The rates are said to increase, and the number of houses built since eighteen hundred are nine, of which the greater number are encroachments upon the common.

Antiquities.

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Upon Mynnyd Graig may be discerned an ancient post with its entrenchments; besides which the parish has to boast of three cromlechs within it, one of which, however, has now fallen down. Rude and massive as the architecture of these monuments may be, it is still wonderful that they have for so many centuries been able to resist the action of time, as well as to escape the attacks of violence.

Much of the cliff within the parish is of clay, and this from the constant action of the land springs, is perpetually slipping down, leaving or making as it descends a variety of fantastic forms upon the surface of the surviving pile. Not long before my visit a piece of ground with all its trees and a wall of some extent subsided in so quiet and orderly a manner, and the former retained their posture and the perpendicular of the latter was not at all disturbed. By this succession of falls the coastline must in course continue to be destroyed until the destruction be at length stopped by the barrier of rock, of which we may suppose much to be concealed from the vast masses of it which we see exhibited. In the meantime, however, a considerable portion of the parish may be lost not only by the inroads of the sea but by the more mischievous operation of the land springs.

Llanfaelries.

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The Church.

This building is small and neatly kept, but contains nothing deserving of description unless the font may be noticed as being of freestone, a material found in no part of the county. The situation is very much exposed, and is close upon the sea, which in the progress of improvement may, I trust, at no distant time have its opportunities so used here and along the rest of the coast as to excite in the whole neighbourhood all the advantages which at present lie dormant within its possible capacities.

This parish is bounded on the north and north east by Rhiw, on the east and south by the sea, and on the west by Aberdaron. The ground is generally level except where a deep ravine from north to south collects and carries off the waters into Porth Cadlan. Few or no trees are to be seen, and the hedges are but indifferent; but there are apparent several marks of improvement. Among other instances I remarked, upon a farm of Col Edwardís a new road, spacious and well made, done by the tenant himself for facilitating the interior business of his farm. An attempt of this sort is so rare in this part of the world, that the person making it deserves every applause and encouragement; nor can it be doubted but that both will be bestowed by a landlord who is himself so spirited an improver. The buildings also were of a better description than are usually seen in the neighbourhood, and upon the whole I was satisfied that the soil which is in general very good, has been allotted to no unthrifty hands. Richard Edwards Esqr has already been just mentioned as a proprietor here, and Sir Robert Vaughn also has in right of the Meillionydd estate property within the parish.

The mansion of Meillionydd is a roomy building now in occupation of a tenant . It stands bare and forlorn in the prospect, shorn of all its honours, and adds one to the melancholy list of houses thus deserted through a change of families, fluctuation of property, or indifference of manners. In one of the rooms is seen a date of the year 1616, but it is unaccompanied by any explanatory characters.

Agriculture.

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Here as well as in some of the neighbouring parishes are cultivated hemp and flax for domestic purposes. The seeds are of native growth, and the plants are in course not pulled until these be gathered; nor is the practice considered here as detrimental to the manufacture. The spinning, whether for sackcloth or household linen, is done at home; but for the weaving recourse is had to the numerous looms scattered about the country in the cottages, where this manufacture is added to or taken from the field of labour of their occupants.

Thanks to Mrs G Hughes, www.cimwch.com  for her help with this article.

 

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