Archive:History of Radnorshire

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Jonathan Williams, The history of Radnorshire (Rhayader, Wales: S.A. Collard, 1999).

244                        HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.

£197 ls.4 0 1/2d. raised at 1s. in the pound. Its population consisted in the year
1801 of 164 individuals.
     The benefice of Bettws-Clyro is a Chapelry, not in charge, annexed to the
vicarage of Clyro, of no certified value and consolidated with the benefice of Clyro,
under the same institution and induction.


     It is unversally allowed that the etymology of this name is composed of Bach,
a hook, and rhedeg, to flow; signifying that the river Wye does in this place, a
little below the ford, form a most beautiful bend or curve, in shape resembling a
hook. This parish is situated on the left bank of the Wye and is bounded by the
parish of Clasbury on the east by Llanddewifach on the north, by Llanstephan
on the west, and on the south by the river Wye. It contains on an average about
1,000 acres of inclosed and cultivated land, and nearly 500 acres uninclosed and
     This parish has passed through the hands of divers proprietors. In the year
1140 it was the property of Eiueon Clyd the younger brother of Cadwallon, Lord
of Moelynaidd, who was murdered on his return from Cardiganshire, as before
related. The possession of it was then seized by the Norman usurpers; and, pur-
suant to a new division of the spoils it devolved upon the Bishop of Hereford,
who had the generosity to restore it to the rightful heir, Walter Fychan, son of
Eineon. A part of the wall of the old Castle of Boughrood, in which Eineon and
his descendants for several generations resided was standing a short time since
and the moat with which it was surrounded remains to this day. This castle,
together with the lordship of Trewern Boughrood, constituted a part of the property
of Sir Richard Chace, whose only daughter and heir was the third wife of John
Price, Esq., of Knighton, in this county, the grandfather of Richard Price, Esq.,
the present representative of the borough of Radnor in Parliament. Their issue
was two son, viz., Chace Price, Esq., member of Parliament, first, for the borough
of Leominster, in the county of Hereford and afterwards for the county of Radnor;
and Richard Price, Esq., late of the borough of Knighton. The former gentleman,
being a bon-vivant, died in embarassed circumstances and had contracted a large
debt to Government. An extent was issue or recovery of this debt, and the
Boughrood estate was sold to discharge it.
     It is said that this estate and manor were purchased in the first instance by
a Mr. Walsh, and secondly by the late Francis Fowkes, Esq., whose son and heir
erected upon the site of the old Castle of Boughrood a very elegant mansion in
the castellated form.
     An estate called the Noyadd, in this parish, remained for centuries in the
possession of the Whitney family, obtained originally by the marriage of Hugh
Whitney, Esq., of Whitney Court, in the county of Hereford, with Catherine
daughter of William Vaughan, Esq., of Maeslough in the parish of Clasbury. It
______________________________________________________________________________ __
   * The church of Boughrood is to be seen on the right hand of the railway travelling from Brecon to Builth,
close to Boughrood Railway station on the Cambrian Railway. It is dedicated to St. Cynog, and was restored
and partly re-built between 1850 and 1860 in memory of a former vicar, the Rev. Walter de Winton, who lies
buried there. The building is one of stone having a chancel, nave, one aisle, south porch, and a tower with
spire containing three bells. There are two stained glass windows; and the registers go back to 1689. The
present vicar is the Rev. Prebendary Jackson Taylor, M.A., who has held it since 1882; the living is valued at
£150, a residence, and 4 1/2 acres of glebe, and the Bishop of St. David's is the patron. The area of the parish
is 1712 acres and the population in 1901 was 200. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel there. There
are nine freeholders, of whom 3 reside outside the parish.

                          HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.                             245

was sold about twenty years ago by John Whitney, Esq., to John Macnamara,
Esq., the proprietor of Llangoed. This estate is a most desirable and valuable one,
being well stored with timber.
     The Manor of Boughrood is a very compact property and abounds with game.
Francis Fowke, Esq., the lord, sold both it and the castle to Walter Wilkins, Esq.
A stone bridge thrown across the Wye connecting the two counties of Brecknock
and Radnor was carried away by the inundations which happened in the year
1795. The piers of the present bridge are constructed of stone, and the upper part
consists of timber, and it is kept in repair at the expense of the county of Radnor
     According to the return made in the year 1801, the resident population of this
parish consisted of 285 individuals. The parochial assessments for the service of
the year 1803 amounted to the sum of £226 14s. 6d., assessed at 1s. 6d. in the

                          ECCLESIASTICAL ACCOUNT.

     The church of Boughrood consists of a nave and chancel, divided by a timber
partition, a tower containing three bells, a porch having a lavacrum on the right
of the entrance. The interior is dark, irregularly pewed, and contains nothing
remarkable. It is dedicated to St. Cynog.
     The benefice of Boughrood is a discharged vicarage, estimated in Liber Regis
at £12 6s. 8d.
     The prebend of Boughrood, in the Collegiate Church of Brecknock, to which
is annexed the perpetual curacy of Llanbedr, Pain's Castle, is estimated in Liber
Regis to be worth annually 13s. 4d.
     LIST OF INCUMBENTS: 1739 John Williams, A.M. 1750 Thomas Owen. 1778
Benjamin Howell. 1778 Benjamin Howell, recollated.

                           CHARITABLE DONATIONS.

     In the year 1686 the Rev. Mr. Powell bequeathed by deed the annual sum
of £5, charged upon certain lands, and vested in trustees, viz., Sir Edward Williams,
Bart., Hon. and Rev. John Harley, D.D., John Morgan, Esq., Walter Wilkins, Esq.,
M.P., Charles Powell, Philip Williams, Walter Jeffreys, Samuel Hughes, John Bullock
Lloyd, Eqrs., Rev. John Williams, clerk, for binding out poor children of this parish
     William John bequeathed by will, and vested in the parishioners, a rent-charge
of L1 4s., secured upon land, to be distributed yearly among twelve poor parishioners
of this parish.


     Although the river Wye is in general the separating boundary of the two
counties of Radnor and Brecknock, yet this parish violates this arrangement, and
   * The village known as Glasbury is situated in the two counties of Radnor and Brecknock. The Midland
Railway Company's system passes through the county above the village, which is scattered on both sides of
the river Wye. The castellated mansion of Walter de Winton, Esq., J.P., is a conspicuous object for many miles
round. It was erected in 1820 by an ancestor of the present owner, and in 1874 another wing was added on
the north side. The house stands in the midst of a noble park well stocked with ornamental trees and fine
timber trees. Another beautifully situated residence is that of the Nott family, the head of which, John Nott,
Esq., J.P., recently died. Amongst many other respectable country residences may be noted that erected some
few years ago near to the railway station, in the occupation of Mr. George Butcher. There are two
churches. The parish church of St. Peter is a stone building in the Norman style, restored and re-seated and
a new organ provided in 1881; and in 1882 the Vaughan-Morgan family of London, well-known merchants, whose
ancestors were of the parish, gave a fine wrought-iron screen. The children of the late Mrs. Wood, of
Gwernyfed, erected to her memory, in 1894, a reredos of mosaic and opus sectile; and there are also several

                            HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.                         249

     Mrs. Seagood devised the sum of L4, being the yearly interest of the sum of
L100 in money, vested by will in Lord Viscount Hereford, for the use and benefit
of the poor of this parish.
     In the year 1612 Sir David Williams, Bart., of Gwernyfed, devised the annual
sum of L3 5s. 5d., arising from tithes, partly to purchase bread for the poor, and
partly for the preaching of an annual sermon in the church of Clasbury, vested in
the parishioners of Gendwr by will.


     The usual etymology of this name, "Cleiar Wy," that is, "clear water,"
appears to the author objectionable; and thinks it may be more correctly found
in the ancient orthography of the name, viz., "Clidderwy," as it is written in
all old records and manuscripts. Now the signification of "Clidderwy" is the
Wye flowing on a bed or stratum of clay; and Clyro is the first parish in this
county in which the river flows on a stratum of clay; the whole extent of its
course from Plinlimmon hill to this place being upon a bed either of gravel, of
rock, or of both intermixed. Immense rocks having deep holes, some of which,
called Salmon holes, are 30 to 40 feet deep, compose, for the most part, its bottom,
and its sides. It is in the parish of Clyro that it begins to lose this characteristic
feature, and to assume a more tranquil current, as well as a softer couch for repose.
     From a careful inspection of the bands of this rambling river, it appears
very evident that the old course of the Wye, which is yearly shifting, and consequently
the Romans justly characterised its current by the epithet "Vaga," has
in this parish undergone a great change. In former times it certainly ran close
to the foundation of the mansion of Clyro Court, and apparently to the centre of
Clyro ruins, pointing as it were to subterranean passage, from which evident proof
exist that it has been diverted by artificial obstructions. A similar instance occurs
in the parish of Clasbury, where stands a respectable mansion called "Glan-hen-wy,"
late the property and residence of Mr. Sneade, but recently purchased by Walter
Wilkms, Esq., M.P., the walls of which were formally washed by the waters of
the Wye, but are now distant from the present channel of that river more than
half a mile.
     This parish, which, after it had fallen under the power of the Norman Lords
of Brecknock and Buallt, reverted at a subsequent period to Walter Fychan, son
of Eineon Clyd, Lord of Elfael, the original proprietor, remained several centuries
in the possession of his descendants. Roger Vaughan, Esq., of Clyro, who served
the office of high sheriff for the county of Radnor in the year 1580, when ship
money was exacted by the Parliament, belonged to this family; so likewise did
the Vaughans, of Harpton, in the parish of Radnor, and Bugaildu, in this county,
and of Courtfield, in the parish of Goodrich, in the county of Hereford, persons of
affluence and respectability. The family seat in this parish, called the Court of
Clyro, was anciently a venerable mansion, but is now converted into a farm-house.
The ancient embattled gateway and arch which open the approach to the house
still remain entire on the north side. This fine estate was lately sold by a gentleman
of the name of Vaughan, a descendant of the family, residing in the county of
   * Clyro is situated 1 1/2 miles from Hay Railway station. The church was re-built in 1853; is a building
of stone consisting of chancel, nave, transept, south porch, and an embattled tower containing five bells re-cast
and re-hung in 1887. The tower was restored and raised and a dock placed therein in 1894, at the expense of
the late W. T. Mynors Baskerville, Esq., of Clyro Court. The register dates from 1666. The living is in the
gift of the Bishop of St. David's worth L380, with a residence and 30 acres of glebe; present incumbent, the
Rev. T. Macfarlane, M.A. The Baptists and Congregationalists have chapels in the parish, which has an area
of 8,000 acres and a population in 1901 of 686. There are 14 freeholders, 8 residing outside the county.

250                         HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.

Monmouth, on property which anciently belonged to Elystan Glodrydd, to the late
Rev. John Powell, formerly of Aberedw Court, in this county, and now in the
possession of his son, by a former marriage, Mr. Mynors, of Evanjobb.
     Near to the village of Clyro, partly to the south-east of the church, on a
small eminence, containing about two acres of land, are the remains of extensive
buildings, which appear to have once covered the whole area, and were encompassed
with a deep trench or moat. A subterranean arched passage led from the
centre of these ruins towards the river Wye. The summit on which these dilapidated
remains of buildings appear, and which commands a most beautiful and enchanting
prospect of the river, both towards the east and west, and of the adjoining country,
is now called the Castle Bank. It admits of much doubt whether this was the real
site of Clyro Castle; the ruins rather favour the supposition of a monastery, or
of some religious house; and this conjecture is further corroborated by the vicinity
of an extensive and a valuable farm, called "Tir-y-mynaeh," i.e., Monk-land, which
is now let at nearly L600 per annum. Most probably this estate, or farm, constituted
Clyro Grange, a part of the property with which the Abbey of Cwmhir, in
this county, was endowed; and these ruins, if not the remains of a castle, formed
the occasional residence of the abbot, or cells for the habitation of monks, subject
to his visitation.
     About a mile to the north-east of the village, and near to a respectable looking
old farm-house, erected about three centuries ago, called Court Evan Gwynne, stands
a very large tumulus, or barrow, about 40 feet high, and nearly 100 yards in circumference,
and is surrounded by a deep moat and high rampart. It originally
contained a quantity of building, and the foundations of walls are still visible. To
what use this fortification was originally applied, whether for the purpose of repelling
the Roman or Norman invaders of this district, or both, is a matter enveloped
in obscurity. It overlooks the town and castle of Hay, on the opposite side of the
river, and also commands a view of the Gaer encampment, in the parish of Llanfihangel-ar-Arrwy,
or Michaelchurch, in this county, and also of the hills around
Dorston and Peterchurch, in the county of Hereford.
     On the south side of the marsh, called Rh sgoch, so named from its red
appearance, is an extensive farm, called Llys-Ifor, or Ifor's place. This habitation
has been in ancient times encompassed by a deep trench of considerable depth,
and by a high rampart, or vallum. The voice of tradition assigns this property
to have formerly belonged to an inferior chieftain, or Regulus of the name of Ifor.
Who could this second ranked prince have been but Ifor: the father of Cynhyllyn,
of whom descended Elystan Glodrydd, Regulus of Moelynaidd and Fferllys, or perhaps
father Ifor, the son of Idnerth, and younger brother of Madoc, Lord of Moelynaidd and
Elfael, who, by virtue of the law of gavelkind, inherited a certain portion of this
division of Radnorshire? In a military point of view, the site of this ancient fortification
is in no degree imposing, and seems better calculated for the station of an
ambush, which might surprise and annoy an enemy occupied in the siege of Pain's
Castle, distant about two mites and a half towards the west, than a defensive position
to secure the country from incursions. The name only implies that it was the court
or palace of Ifor, guarded in front by the marsh before mentioned.
     At Gwern-fythen House, in this parish, lived Sir William Whitney, Bart., who
inherited this estate, with many others in the neighbourhood, either by marrying
the Welsh heiress, or derived it from his ancestor, Hugh Whitney, Esq., who married
Catherine, daughter and heiress of William Fychan, Esq., of Maeslough, as before
related. Several gentlemen of this family served the office of high sheriff for the
county of Radnor, as Sir Robert Whitney, Bart., in the year 1562; and Sir William

                            HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.                           251
Whitney, Bart., in the years 1608 and 1616. The proprietor of Gwern-fythen estate
had by Anne, his wife, ten sons, all of whom attained the state of manhood: and
to each of whom the father left by will respectable freeholds, equally dividing,
according to the law of gavelling, perhaps at the impulse of his wife, all his landed
estates among them,--all of which have long since passed into other hands.
A Roman road entering the chapelry of Bettws-Clyro, at Pen-yr-heol, intersects
this parish, and by Tu-yn-yr-heol, proceeds through it to the river Wye, and the
town of Hay.
     This parish contains four townships, or hamlets, viz., Clyro, Bettws-Clyro, and
Bronydd, in which the parochial assessments are paid collectively, and for the service
of the year 1803 amounted to the sum of L508 4s. 0 1/2d., raised at 1s. in the pound.
According to the return published in the year 1801, the resident population of this
parish consisted of 602 individuals.
     There is in this parish at a place called Penlan, a spring of mineral water
reported to be an excellent and efficacious opthalmia.
     The petty sessions for the Hundred of Painscastle, and also the meeting of the
subscribers to the Agricultural Society of this county, are occasionally holden in
the village of Clyro, at the Sun. A good turnpike road runs through the village
from east to west; a little above which, on a small eminence, stands a handsome
mansion, erected a few years ago by the Rev. Mr. Powell, commanding a very
beautiful view of the river and of the adjoining country.
     It is sanguinely expected that great benefit will accrue to this district from
its proximity to the railroad leading from Brecknock to the town of Hay, and
from the coal and lime wharf established at Rhydspence, the eastern extremity
of this parish.

                              ECCLESIASTICAL ACCOUNT.

     The church of Clyro consists of a nave, chancel, tower, and porch; the nave
and chancel are separated by a partition of timber work under a pointed stone
arch. The tower contains five bells, has three ranges of lights of the lancet form
in each range. The lavaerum is placed on the right hand immediately after entering
from the porch into the church. The pews are regular. The east window contains
three lights divided by stone mullions supporting trefoil arches and is also separated
by an ornamental stone transom, sustaining two lights in the head of the arch
under trefoil arches. In the chancel on the right side of the Communion table
and against the east wall is the following inscription:-
     "The Rev. Edward Edwards died June 19, 1808. Gifted with strong sense
and a lively imagination, and deeply versed in ancient and modern literature, his
amiable disposition and polished manners made him the delight and ornament of
social life. As a Christian pastor, pure in morals, and incorrupt in doctrine, he
enforced the truths of the Gospel with mild but persuasive eloquence. To perpetuate
the memory of these talents and virtues and to record their own affection
and esteem, this tablet was consecrated by his friends in the year 1817."
     The benefice of Clyro is a discharged vicarage, with the chapel of Bettws annexed.
It is estimated in Liber Regis at L6 per annum. The tithes are divided between the
prebendary of Clyro, who is the impropriator, and the vicar. The clear annual
income of the latter, some years since, was L40. The total amount at present
exceeds L189 per annum. The yearly tenths are 12s.
     The present vicar, the Rev. Dr. Venables, was tempted by the magnitude of
the quantity offered, to accept of a barren and unproductive hill, in exchange for

252                        HISTORY OF RADNORSHIRE.

tithes of every kind prepared and made ready to his hand, without any expense
of his, and increasing in value every year as the value of land and its produce
     The vicarage has a parsonage, garden, and some quantity of land annexed.
The value of the benefice before commutation was only L120 per annum, but
afterwards it rose to about L300.
     The prebend of Clyro, in the Collegiate Church of Brecknock, is valued in Liber
Regis at L7 6s. 8d. per annum, and is in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's.
No church register existed prior to the year 1700.
     LIST OF INCUMBENTS: 1728 William Jones. 1749 William Stephens, L.B. 1764
Edward Edwards, A.M. 1800 Richard Drake Venables, D.D.

                            CHARITABLE DONATIONS.

     In the year 1773 Mrs. Gwynne devised by will the sum of L600, and directed
it to be laid out in the purchase of land, and vested it in Mr. James Price, her
executor, the yearly rent of which to be paid to a schoolmaster, for teaching, clothing
and apprenticing poor children of this parish.


     The cwmwd to which it anciently appertained was denominated Castell-Maen,
i.e., Huntington Castle-manor, in the county of Hereford. It contains about 3000
acres of inclosed and cultivated land, and 2,000 acres of hills uninclosed and uncultivated.
By the return published in the year 1801, the resident population of this
parish then consisted of 277 individuals. The parochial assessments for 1803
amounted to the sum of L221 18s. 8d., raised at 8s. 4d. in the pound.
     A Mr. Griffith is at this time in actual possession of an estate, and resides
in the farm-house, called the Portway, which his ancestors have enjoyed, in a direct
line, for the last four centuries. This, however, is not the only circumstance which
renders this estate an object interesting to the local historian. A superior claim
to notice arises from having a Roman road running through it, as its name indicates,
and assimilates it to others of a like appellation in many counties of England,
particularly Herefordshire. The commencement of this road, in the county of Radnor,
may be traced in the vicinity of the Roman camp called Gaer, in the parish of
Llanfihangel-ar-Arrwy, or Michaelchurch on the Arrow, whence it scuds along the
level summit of Brilley mountain, commanding a most extensive and picturesque
view of the country on both sides, and also of the course of the Arrow, when at
the western extremity of the mountain it descended the brow with a gentle sweep
to a place called Bwlch-ar-heol, i.e., "the defile, or pass on the Roman road,"
where it divides into two branches, the one of which proceeds to the parish of Clascwm-
Llansantfraid, and, finally, to the river Ieithon, in the parish of Llanfihangel Helygen;
the other advances in a straight line to Pen-yr-heol, and Tu-yn-yr-heol, in the
parishes of Bettws Clyro and Clyro, and joins the Roman road leading from the
town of Hay.
     On the south-eastern side of this parish, in the bottom of a valley, is a large
morass, called Rhos-goch, i.e., "the red morass," extending in length one mile
   * Bryngwyn is 5 miles from Whitney-on-Wye station on the Midland Railway, is in the archdeaconry of
Brecon, and diocese of St. David's. The church of St. Michael's, restored at a cost of nearly L1,100 in 1874-77,
is a stone building in the Early English style. consisting of chancel, nave, porch, and a turret with two bells.
The living is a rectory of the net yearly value of L150 eight acres of glebe, and a residence, the Bishop of St.
David's being the patron. The present incumbent is the Rev. W. Thomas, M.A. Population in 1901, 194;
area, 4,487 acres. There are 20 freeholders, of whom nine reside outside the county.

Copyright © 2006, Robert L. Ward and the Whitney Research Group

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