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Friday, September 10, 2010


SOUTH WALES consists of substantially the larger half of the Principality, and comprises six counties, viz.: - Brecon, Cardigan, Carmarthen, Glamorgan, Pembroke and Radnor; which have the following areas and population:

  Acres Administrative Co. Population 1911 Males Females
Brecon 469,281 59,287 30,660 28,921
Cardigan 443,189 59,879 26,918 32,961
Carmarthen 588,472 100,406 80,045 80,361
Glamorgan 518,865 1,120,910 582,180 538,730
Pembroke 393,003 89,960 43,462 46,498
Radnor 301,165 22,590 11,340 11,250

Only two of these counties are inland, Radnor and Brecon, or Brecknock; all the others reach the sea, and present a coast line, fairly regular on the north-west, but very irregular on the west and south, owing to the existence of several large bays and many indentations. Cardiganshire, the north-western county, preserves an almost unbroken sea-front, from the estuary of the Dovey to that of the Teifi, the only interruption being at New Quay, where there is a small bay and a bold headland. Pembrokeshire, which follows, is a broad peninsula, with several small bays on the north, and the promontory called Strumble Head; on the east is the broad expanse of St. Bride's Bay, closely shut in on the north and south, St. David's Head and Ramsey Island forming the point of the northern horn, and the islands of Skomer and Skokholm lying at the opposite extremity: further south are St. Ann's Head, Milford Haven, Freshwater Bay and St. Gowan's Head, and eastwards, Caldy Island, which is nearly opposite Tenby. The Carmarthenshire coast is comparatively unimportant, but gives its name to a long open bay, including the estuaries of the Taf and Towy, and the Llwchwr or Burry river inlet on the east. Glamorganshire includes the Gower peninsula, which is about 15 miles long by 8 in extreme breadth, and is bounded on the north by the Barry inlet; on the east is Ehosily Bay, with Worms Head; on the south, Port Eynon Bay, Oxwich Bay, lying between Oxwich point, and Pwll-du Head; and to the east, Swansea Bay, on which that town stands, and which is sheltered on the south by the Oystermouch or Mumbles promontory. The rest of this coast stretches out with a boldly convex outline into the Bristol Channel, and includes Cardiff, where is the outlet of the river Taff.

The physical features of South Wales are much varied, and present strong contrasts, the hilly, and in parts mountainous regions being largely moorland, but often thickly wooded, and alternating with deep and secluded gorges, expanding into open valleys, traversed by foaming and rushing torrents, which at length become wide rivers, flowing placidly through beautiful and diversified scenery of hill, wood and valley, to the sea. The mountains are of considerable, though not overpowering height, and arrange themselves in several groups, or divisions: one great range begins at St. David's Head, and is continued in a north-easterly direction through Cardiganshire into Radnor, it includes the Preceley mountains (1,754 feet) and peaks south of Rhayader, rising to 2,120 feet. From Mid Wales to the north-east runs another range, including the heights of Cilycwm Forest and Cefn Llwydlo, near Llandovery, and east of it the Mynydd Bwlch y Groes, and Mynydd Epynt, continued past Builth by the Aberedw Hills, to Radnor Forest (2,163 ft.). In Carmarthen and Brecknock shires are the Black Mountains, or Great Forest, extending eastwards from Llandilo Fawr, with a maximum height of 2,596 ft. and continued by the Brecon Beacons, of which the loftiest peak is Pen-y-Fan(2,910 ft.). In the northern part of Glamorganshire, enclosing the Vale of Neath on the south, is another range, stretching from Neath to beyond Aberdare, the highest peak being Craig-y-Llyn (1,971 ft.) nearly opposite Glyn-Neath. But the scenery of South Wales derives its greatest strength and beauty from the exquisite picturesqueness of its streams and rivers; and though, in many cases, the smaller rivers and valleys have been defiled and their attractions destroyed by the nature of the industries pursued beside and around them, the larger ones, for the most part, still remain fair and unpolluted, and present to the visitor an ever varying succession of delightful prospects. On the western side, the chief rivers are the Rheidol and Ystwyth, both of which debouch at Aberystwyth; the Ayron, falling into the sea at Aberayron, and the Teifi, whose outlet is at Cardigan: flowing south into wide adjacent estuaries below Carmarthen, there are the Taf and Towy; the Neath discharges itself at Neath; the Taff and Rumney at Cardiff, and the Sirhowy and Usk at Newport. The eastern side is traversed, somewhat circuitously, by the famous Wye, which, between Llangurig and Hay, displays some of its finest scenery, unmarred by the later ebb of tidal water.

The Welsh coal fields extend southwards from some isolated districts near Shrewsbury, and occupy, generally, the whole of South Wales, but narrowing towards the west, their greatest breadth, between Merthyr and Cardiff, being rather over 20 miles; and there are other coal districts stretching across Pembrokeshire. The presence of these great coal fields maintains not only a very widely spread mining industry, but also important and extensive iron works, and others devoted to the smelting of copper and tin. Lead mines are worked in Carmarthen and Cardigan shires, and silver is also found im small quantities. To facilitate the traffic created by these various industries, a large number of railways have been constructed, especially in Glamorganshire, where they form a perfect network of inter-communicating lines, mostly leading in the direction of Cardiff and Newport. The principal lines of railway are the Great Western, whose system extends from Hereford, and from Bristol (via Severn Tunnel), throughout the sea-bound counties as far as Cardigan, Fishguard and Haverfordwest. From Carmarthen on the main line is a branch to Aberystwyth.

The London and North Western runs south from Shrewsbury through Builth and Llanwrtyd Wells to Llandovery and Llandilo, and also has some local sections west of Merthyr, and in Pembrokeshire.

The Midland enters Brecknockshire through Hay and Brecon to Swansea.

The Mid Wales line, a continuation of the Cambrian system, runs from Llanidloes to Three Cocks Junction on the Midland railway.

The Taff Vale railway is confined to Glamorganshire, and has its chief terminus at Cardiff, but includes branches from Pontypool to Merthyr, Aberdare and Treherbert. There are also several canals.

The Agriculture, like the climate, is necessarily much affected by local physical conditions, and but little of the soil, comparatively speaking, is under cultivation; much of the land on the banks of the greater rivers is meadow and pasture, and it is along the valleys of these rivers that the soil is most fertile, and the crops accordingly most abundant. At the same time, the hills and mountain sides, though unproductive, are largely used as grazing land for cattle, ponies, and flocks of diminutive sheep, which are allowed to roam about at will, and are only collected for the winter or periodically Flannel of excellent quality is manufactured in Wales generally, and in many cases this industry is carried on by cottagers in their homes. The commerce of South Wales may be most comprehensively understood by a reference to the accounts given under its principal centres, viz. : Cardiff, Swansea, Port Talbot and Barry.

In the 6th century, the country we now call Wales was merely a district of South Britain, inhabited, in turn, by pre-Aryan and Celtic tribes, until they were overpowered by the Romans, who introduced the elements of civilization and a settled form of government, but on their retirement in A.D. 410, the tribal system was resumed, and the country reduced to a state of anarchy. It was then invaded by the Irish Danes and the Saxons of Wessex and Mercia, and Offa, in 779, built the famous Dyke; from the Dee to the Wye to mark off his dominions, and protect them against Welsh incursions. In the meanwhile the country was divided into a number of petty states, each jealous of the other, and constantly engaged in paltry and purposeless feuds and sanguinary conflicts, until at length, Bhodri Mawr (Roderick the Great), King of Gwynedd (A.D. 843), having, by some means, largely added to his original patrimony, apparently became ruler over nearly the whole of Wales. He died in A.D. 877 and left three sons, to whom he is said to have allotted Gwynedd or North Wales, Powys-land, and South Wales or Dynevor respectively. Howel Dha his grandson, and second Prince of South Wales, was famous chieftain, and attempted, but failed, to create a spirit of national unity, and after submitting himself with other Welsh Princes to Alfred the Great, died in A.D- 948, and the Saxon power being unable to maintain order, the country again fell into confusion. In 1015 Llewelyn ap Sitsylt or Cecil, fifth Prince of South Wales, acquired a leading position, and his son, Gryffydd, who became King of Gwynedd in 1039, in 1044 was master of all Wales, but two years later did fealty to England, and was eventually slain by his own subjects in 1064. Wales, which had during the rule of this Prince been overrun in 1063-4 by Harold and Tostig, was invaded in 1081 by William the Conqueror, and the subjection of South Wales was ensured in 1090 by the defeat and death of Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr, 11th Prince of this line; several other Princes succeeded in turn to the sovereignty, the last, according to Dr. Heylin, being Meredydd ap Owain, i7th in order, who died in 1235, and the barons of South Wales finally submitted themselves to Edwd. I. in 1277. The territories conquered by William I. and his barons and knights, became known as the "Lordship Marches," and had all the rights of Palatine Earldoms: the Lords Marchers, one hundred and forty-two in number, held regal power within the limits of their respective districts, owing allegiance only to the King, to whom also internal disputes had to be referred; nevertheless, the King's writ was inoperative on the Marches, and all offences were said to be against the peace, not of the King but of the Lord. Yet, although their power individually was great, they were collectively weak, being as much divided as the Welsh chieftains themselves. The latter, who in Mid and North Wales still maintained a bold front, and displayed much activity, constantly opposed the invaders, and up to the time of his death in 1240, Llewelyn ap Iorwerth. Prince of Gwynedd, made unceasing attacks upon the Lords Marchers and even succeeded in wresting from them some part of their conquered territory. By the Act 28 Edw. I. c. 2 (1354) these regal Lords were made dependents of the Crown, and Hen. VIII. by an Act in the 27th year of his reign (1536), incorporated Wales with England, and thus restrained their powers. and they are said to have been finally suppressed by the Act I Wm. and Mary, c. 27 (1689), but this is not, even up to the present day, fully acknowledged, there being still several gentlemen of estate who claim for themselves the title of "Lord Marcher."

The political history of Wales may be said to date from the reign of Hen. VIII. who made the whole country "shire-ground," i.e. divided it into counties, and by the above and subsequent Acts gave it a form of local government and parliamentary representation, but no parliamentary returns for Wales now appear to exist until the Parliament of 33 Hen. VIII. (1541-2), in which all the counties of South Wales (except Cardigan) and most of the principal boroughs are represented; for the next parliament, 37 Hen. VIII. (1545) no returns have been found; but in those of I Edw. VI. (1547) the county and borough of Cardigan both appear, Brecon and Radnor being omitted, and there is no full parliamentary return of all the 12 Welsh counties and boroughs until 7 Edw. VI. (1552-3). South Wales now returns 18 members, of whom n represent Counties, 3 Parliamentary districts, and 4 the towns of Swansea, ardiff and Merthyr.

Municipal institutions had their rise during the Norman and later periods, and over 30 towns in South Wales either are, or have been, municipal boroughs; of these, 10 claim prescriptive rights. Some of the earliest charters of incorporation were granted by the territorial lords, and the later royal charters principally by the Plantagenet and Tudor monarchs, but in one or two cases of existing corporations, their existence is little more than nominal, and the Mayor, in one instance at least, is appointed by the lord of the manor; independently of this gentleman, there now appear to be in South Wales 16 actual Municipal Corporations.

The Welsh system of Judicature originated in the establishment by Edward IV. in 1479 of the " Court of the President and Council of Wales." This court held its sittings at Ludlow, and under its auspices a special Court of Justice, known as " The King's Great Sessions in Wales," was held twice a year, and this arrangement was continued until, in 1822, the Common Laws Commissioners, as the result of an enquiry, reported that its maintenance was not desirable, and by an Act of Parliament passed in 1830, the Special Great Sessions were abolished, and new Circuits created, which are now served by the ordinary judges of the High Court.

The Ancient Courts of Probate and Depositories of Wills have of late years been consolidated and re-settled, and as regards South Wales, are now located as follows:- the Consistorial Episcopal Court of Carmarthen and that of the Archdeaconries of Cardigan and St. David's are both at Carmarthen; in the former, which retains many testaments from other parts of the diocese, the wills date from 1600; in the latter, only from 1746; the Consistory Court of the Archdeacomy of Brecon is at Hereford, and besides the counties of Brecon and Radnor, it includes the parishes of Kerry and Mochtre in Montgomery, Cwmyoy and Oldcastle in Monmonth, and 8 parishes in Herefordshire, and its wills date from 1625; the Consistorial Court of Llandaff remains there, and has wills from 1590; the Palmers' Guild at Ludlow, once the chief seat of the Welsh Judiciary, also had testamentary jurisdiction, and wills proved under this authority from 1304 to 1499, are now in the custody of the Town Clerk.


Comprising the Counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen, including the town of Carmarthen, and Pembroke, including the town of Haverfordwest, with the deaneries of East and West Gower in the county of Glamorgan.
Registrar, Herbert Murray Fraser, King st. Carmarthen


Comprising the County of Glamorgan (with the exception of the deaneries of East and West Gower) and Monmouth.
Registrar Raymond Allen, 6 Thr Avenue. Llandaff


Comprising the Counties of Radnor, Brecknock and Hereford.
Registrar, Henry Cecil M. Nolan, 27 Castle st. Hereford

Christianity is said to have been introduced into Wales in the 2nd century, and according to Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, through Lleurwg, Lucius or Lud, King of the Britons, who is affirmed to have sent an embassy to Eleutherus, bishop of Rome (177-92), desiring to be instructed in the Christian faith: for this purpose "two most religions doctors," by name Dwyvan and Fagan, were sent to Britain, and having baptized Lucius and his people, preached to them the Gospel of Christ. Subsequently an Archbishopric was founded at Caerleon-on-Usk, for the government, of the Church in Wales, and transferred, c. 519, to Sti. David's, although that see and monastery was probably not fully established till A.D. 600; it remained archiepiscopal or quasi-archiepiscopal until 1115, -since which date the occupants of this see have held the status only of bishops. It now includes the entire counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke, Brecon, except the parishes of Beaufort and Hirwain, and, saving three entire and parts of three parishes, in Radnor, besides the deaneries of East and West Gower in Glamorgan, and it contains 418 benefices.

The first church at Llandaff is said to have been founded by the King Lucius already mentioned, and the earliest known bishop is St. Dubricius, who was con- secrated by St. Germain, died A.D. 612. This see comprises the entire county of Monmouth, Glamorgan, except the deaneries of East and West Gower, parts of two parishes in Brecknock and part of one parish in Hereford, and it contains 375 benefices. All the Welsh sees were made subject to Canterbury by a decree of Innocent III. in 1203.

The Ecclesiastical architecture of South Wales, generally considered, is not particularly interesting, although churches are numerous, but in some cases they are more noticeable on account of the military character of their towers, evidently built for purposes of defence. The grandest examples are. of course, the magnificent Cathedral at St. David's, the elegant and admirably restored Cathedral of Llandaff, and the great cruciform priory Church at Brecon, and there are others which present features of special interest, among which may be named the priory Churches of Llanbadarn Fawr, Llanddew, Haverfordwest, Llantwit, Gumfreston and Carmarthen. During the last half of the 19th century much was done in the restoration or building of churches in Wales.

The formal separation from the Church took place in 1811, and the sects now chiefly represented are the Calvinistic, Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Baptists, and Congregationalists.

Education in Wales has certainly made great strides, and is now pursued with unmistakable enthusiasm by all classes. What may be called " popular education " began with the Rev. Griffith Jones, vicar of Llanddowror, in Carmarthenshire, who, in 1730, established a system of "circulating schools," which, however, had only a local character. On the passing of the " Elementary Education Act, 1870" (33 and 34 Vict. c. 75), School Boards were formed throughout England and Wales. Welsh education received a further impetus by the operation of the " Welsh Intermediate Education Act, 1889" (52 and 53 Vict. c. 40), the purpose of which is " to make further provision for intermediate and technical education."

The University of Wales is a federal University of the three University Colleges of Aberystwyth, Bangor and Cardiff. Under its charter of 1893 and a supplementary charter of 1906 it has power to grant degrees in the faculty of arts, science, law, music, medicine and theology.

There is also the important Theological College of St, David's at Lampeter, also empowered to grant degrees.

The antiquities of South Wales, both pre-historic and mediaeval, are numerous, varied, and of the highest interest. Cromlechs and meini-hirion or longstones are common, and the latter sometimes bear Ogham or other inscriptions; Cromlechs are more prevalent in Pembrokeshire than elsewhere, but are often imperfect, their slabs having frequently been used for fencing and kindred purposes: Camps are met with in almost every locality, and in some parts, the cliffs, immediately above the sea, show traces of having been strongly fortified, and this is especially the case on and about St. David's Head: Offa's Dyke is yet perfect in many places, and some British and Roman roads are still in evidence; there are also many wells or springs, some of which possess medicinal or curative properties, while others, believed to have magical powers, are tenaciously regarded with superstitious veneration. The mediaeval antiquities include, besides a number of monastic churches still in use, the more or less extensive ruins of various abbeys and priories, the chief of which are Neath and Ewenny in Glamorgan, Cwmhir in Radnorshire, Talley or Tallac in Carmarthenshire, Strata Florida in Cardiganshire and Haverfordwest and Monkton in Pembrokeshire: there are also a few ruined chapels, such as St. Govan's near Pembroke, and St. Justinian's and St. Nun's chapels near St. David's, and the chapel of St. Mary's College, also at St. David's. The ruined Castles of South Wales are mostly of a military character, but in some cases, such as Manorbier and Llawhaden, were residential, rather than defensive; those most worthy of note are Caerphilly, Haverfordwest, Kidwelly, Laugharne, Llanstephan and Pembroke.

Among the seaside resorts, Tenby holds the first place. and may be described as a miniature Scarborough, possessing both north and south sands; the town, still encompassed by its ancient walls, is a pleasant one, and has an attractive neighbourhood. Other popular watering places are Saundersfoot, Pendine, Manorbier and Penally, all on Carmarthen bay; Oystermoufch or Mumbles on Swansea bay; Dale, near Milford Haven; Solva, on St. Bride's bay; St. David's; and Fishguard, Newport and Aberaeron, on Cardigan bay. The chief inland resorts are those which attract visitors on account of the medicinal qualities of their wells, or springs, and comprise, Llandrindod in Radnorshire: and Builth, Llangammarch and Llanwrtyd in Breconshire. The waters of Llandrindod and Builth are similar, and include both saline, chalybeate and sulphur springs; those of Llanwrtyd are, in parts, similar, while at Llangammarch is a spring highly charged with chloride of barium. To these places may be added Pont-Neath-Vaughan near Glyn-Neath, which is largely visited on account of the numerous fine cascades created by the rivers Perddyn, Little Neath, Mellte and Hepste in heir tumultuous descent through the rocky and picturesque gorges with which this locality abounds; and there are other splendid waterfalls near Erwood and Resolven, and at Ystradgynlais.