A Cistercian abbey founded in 1143. Most writers follow Leland in attributing the foundation to Cadwallon ap Madoc (d.1179) [but Haslam, Buildings of Wales: Powys ascribes it to Maredudd son of Madoc ap Idwerth (sic) and says it was refounded in 1176 with monks from Whitland in Carmarthenshire by his brothers Cadwallon and Einion Clud; and Davies, Age of Conquest, gives the date as 1176, "possibly a refoundation"]. In 1199 Cymmer Abbey in Merioneth was founded by monks from Cwm-hir.
During his campaign of 1231 Llywelyn ab Iorwerth won a skirmish near Hay with the aid "of a trick played upon the English by a monk of Cwm Hir": in reprisal for which Henry III burned one of the abbey's granges and fined the abbot 300 marks. After the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd in December 1282 near Builth, tradition has it that the monks of Cwm-hir took his body for burial at the abbey; but there is now no indication of where the prince was laid.
The abbey was destroyed by Glyndŵr in 1402 (or possibly 1401, but the following year ties in well with the campaign which included the battle of Pilleth, 22 June 1402).
At the time of General Ecclesiastical Survey of 1534 to investigate the wealth of monasteries Abbey Cwm-hir yielded an annual revenue of £24-19-4d. When it was dissolved two years later in 1536 there were just three resident monks. In 1538 the possessions of the former monastery went to John Turner, gent, who had previously been the king's minister in attending to them. [G.R.]
[Haslam, R.R. Davies, Lloyd]
The ruins of the abbey in a victorian photograph
Aberedw: air crash
24 June 1987 Sepecat Jaguar GR.1 XZ386 low-flying, crashed at Pantau Farm, Aberedw. Pilot killed.
Aberedw: Church of St Cewydd
Along with the parish church at Diserth these are only churches in Wales dedicated to St Cewydd although there is a St Cewydd's church just over the border from Hay at Cusop. Aberedw church is said to have been founded by the saint himself in the 6th century though the oldest parts of the present building date from the 14th century. The screen and porch date from the late medieval period and the walls of the chancel from the 16th century. There is evidence of some rebuilding in the Tudor period. The church was substantially rebuilt in 1888 by Stephen William Williams.
[Haslam; CPAT website]
Abergwesyn: air crash
4 October 1942. Two Miles Masters W8773 and DL750 were flying in formation, the crew of W8773 carrying out the navigation in bad weather. The pilot attempted to break below the cloud and hit the hill top near Abergwesyn. DL750 followed and also crashed. The first crew were killed, the second crew survived.
[Doylerush pp33, 92]
Abergwesyn: Llwynderw Hall
Grade II listed house on the banks of the River Irfon dating back to the 18C. The estate is said to have been created from Cistercian lands at the dissolution of the monastery at Strata Florida. Owned at time of sale in 1991 by J C H Rhys-Burgess and the Llwynderw Estate Co.
[Based on newspaper cutting from Western Mail]
Abermule: railway disaster
On the 26th January 1921 the express train from Aberystwyth collided head on with the down train from Bromsgrove one mile south-east of Abermule station on a single track line. The subsequent enquiry found the relief station manager had issued the wrong tablet giving access to the line to the down train. The crew of the train failed to inspect it and the tragedy ensued. 17 people were killed including Lord Herbert Vane-Tempest of Plas Machynlleth (brother of the 6th Marquess of Londonderry) and a further 36 injured.
[Press cutting; Official report]
Abery, Percy Benzie 'P.B.' (c. 1876-1948)
Photographer, Builth Wells. Originally from Sandgate, Folkestone, he moved to Builth in 1898 (aged 22) and bought a small photography business. He ran this business in two smaller premises until moving to the West End Studio in 1911. He also had premises in Brecon for a while. In the summer he photographed large groups at the Park Wells and Glanne Wells at Builth where visitors congregated to take the waters. These photos were shown outside the shop the following morning and people gathered round looking for pictures of themselves.
When the Birmingham Water Works at the Elan Valley were under construction, "P.B." (as he was known locally) was the official photographer and he regularly visited the site, travelling up from Rhayader on the train. The bulk of his early work was studio portraits. This reached a peak during the years of the First World War when families wanted pictures of their soldier relatives. With the decline of this work Abery concentrated on developing and printing.
It was Abery who, on the 19th August 1929 at Caebach pool on the Ithon, photographed the removal of the ancient log boat from the river bank. These were displayed in Llandrindod Wells museum for a number of years. Among the many other local events he recorded was the mass nocturnal salmon poaching on the Wye. He worked widely throughout Mid-Wales and the border as a press photographer, his work appearing in both local and national publications.
He was a churchwarden of St Mary's, Builth Wells and a Mason. He died on the 20th January 1948. A collection of his work is held by the National Library of Wales.
Possibly originally built by Norman knight Bernard fitz Uspac or one of his Walbeof ancestors who were major barons of the Brecon lordship. Built opposite the old roman fort at Aberyscir, the motte-and-bailey castle controlled access along the Usk valley. It was a stone built construction originally though the standing masonry does appear to have altered over the recent centuries. The castle was probably destroyed in the 13th century.
Act of Union
A slightly misleading but convenient term to describe the legislation which brought about the assimilation of administration of England and Wales.
By the time of Henry VIII's reign the king was by far the greatest Marcher lord. Edward IV had already possessed the Mortimer estates by inheritance and his accession to the throne in 1461 after winning the battle of Towton brought him the lands of the duchy of Lancaster and the Pembroke earldom of Jasper Tudor, as well as all lands in the Principality. Only the Welsh estates of the dukes of Buckingham (which included the lordship of Brecon) and of Warwick "the king-maker" (the lordships of Glamorgan and Abergavenny) remained outside his control. When Edward regained his throne after the abortive Readeption of Henry VI in 1470-71 in which Warwick was killed he was able to confiscate Glamorgan and Abergavenny. Finally, the execution of Edward Stafford, third duke of Buckingham, for treason in 1521 brought the last of the great Marcher lordships under royal control. Henry VIII could pretty much do as he liked with Wales, as he now controlled virtually all of it.
Interestingly, the first proposal to "shire" the Marches had come in 1531. It was proposed by Dr. James Denton, chancellor to the Council in the Marches; Henry VIII was sympathetic, but with his marriage dispute still unresolved was reluctant to embark on something so controversial at that time.
The first Act (usually called the Act of Union) was actually called An Act for Laws and Justice to be ministered in Wales in Like Form as it is in this Realm (27 Henry VIII, c.26) and received royal assent on 14 April 1536. The Act swept away the Marcher lordships and created the new shires of Monmouth, Brecon, Radnor, Montgomery and Denbigh; a Chancery and Exchequer were established in Brecon and Denbigh; the Welsh practice of partibility in inheritance was replaced by English primogeniture; Oswestry and Ewyas Lacy were made part of England; English became the official language.
For the first time each Welsh shire gained an M.P. and another for its ancient boroughs, and in 1542 the Welsh elected their first M.P.s to a Tudor parliament. A commission was to be set up to determine the division of the counties into hundreds on the English model (the commission was extended until 1542 because the administration was too busy to deal with its recommendations!).
The second Act filled in the details, and was called An Act for Certain Ordinances in the King's Dominion and Principality of Wales (34 and 35 Henry VIII, c.26); it was passed in 1543. This Act confirmed the creation of shires and hundreds; it put the Council in the Marches on a statutory footing; it set up the Court of the Great Sessions in Wales (akin to the English Assizes): the counties were grouped into circuits each with their own seal, with Flint, Denbigh and Montgomery in one and Glamorgan, Brecon and Radnor in another (the Justice was to hold sessions in each twice a year for a week); the Courts of Quarter Sessions were established, with the Lord Chancellor appointing eight justices for each county; and a sheriff was to be appointed for each county, to serve for one year only.
For the first time the territorial boundaries of Wales were defined; for the first time there was a unity of jurisdiction and administration; Welsh citizens were equal in law with English subjects; and Wales now had a coherent governance in law, justice and administration (albeit in the English language). [G.R.]
[Statutes at Large, Williams G.]