Llanidloes (Llan-Idloes) - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
LLANIDLOES (LLAN-IDLOES), a borough, market-town, and parish, and, jointly with Newtown, the head of a poor-law union, in the Upper division of the hundred of Llanidloes, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 26½ miles (S. W.) from Welshpool, 22 (W. S. W.) from Montgomery, and 193 (W. N. W.) from London; containing 4261 inhabitants, of whom 2742 are in the borough. This parish, which is of considerable extent, derives its name from the dedication of its church to St. Idloes, an eminent British saint, who flourished about the middle of the sixth century. The town is situated in a fertile vale, watered by the river Severn, which has its source within the parish, and almost surrounded by hills of moderate elevation, some of them crowned with thriving plantations, and others richly cultivated. The scenery of the vale is beautifully picturesque, and the banks of the river are enlivened with some pleasant villas and handsome residences: the hills that surround the town form a striking contrast to the barren heights seen in the distance, among which the great mountain of Plinlimmon, partly within the limits of the parish, forms a conspicuous and interesting feature. Llanidloes occupies a favourable site on the southern bank of the Severn, and on the turnpike-road from Shrewsbury through Newtown to Aberystwith. It consists principally of two spacious streets, intersecting each other nearly at right angles, and has been improved and enlarged by the erection of several respectable houses. On the western side, and in a picturesque situation near the vicarage-house, is a stone bridge of one arch over the river; and another handsome stone bridge of three arches has been erected, at an expense of £3000, over the same river, near the place where it receives the tributary stream of the Clywedog, which, after flowing some distance through the parish, falls into the Severn. The inhabitants are amply supplied with water.
The approaches to the town are remarkably fine, especially that from Aberystwith, and the environs abound with features of rural simplicity and romantic beauty. On the road leading from Aberystwith, having passed over a bridge about two miles from Llanidloes, is a genteel house, called Glandulas, the grounds belonging to which are planted with a variety of fir, lime, elm, chestnut, beech, and other trees; a beautiful trout-stream flowing close to the house. Upon the south side is Maenol, a very handsome large house, erected in the Elizabethan style, and forming an ornamental feature in the scenery; and immediately bordering on the town is Glandwr, a beautiful residence, having grounds disposed with great taste, and planted with trees, flowering-shrubs, and annuals. Dôl Llŷs, in the parish, commands a delightful view of the Vale of Severn, with the windings of the river and the rich and finely varied scenery on its banks, terminated by the high mountains in the distance. Mount Severn, an elevated and truly romantic spot, overlooking the river, which winds beautifully below the house, commands an interesting view of the picturesque cottage of Nant-y-Brace, embosomed in the trees that crown the opposite bank. There are some pleasing views to the south-east, and in many parts of the neighbourhood are fine prospects over the adjacent country, which is richly diversified. Besides the Severn, the Clywedog and the Dulas water the parish; and about two miles from the town, on the road to Trêveglwys, is a spacious pool called Llyn Ebyr, extending over a surface of about fifty acres, and abounding with pike, eels, and perch; it is frequented by wild fowl, and during the summer season is the resort of parties of pleasure, for whose accommodation several boats, belonging to gentlemen in the vicinity, are kept upon the pool.
The manufacture of flannel has been established from a very early period in this town, which sixty years ago was the only place in the county where that material was made, the produce being conveyed by packhorses to the market of Welshpool for sale. Since that period, however, it has been outrivalled by Newtown, which, within the last five and forty years, has obtained great eminence in the production of flannel of a finer texture, though probably less durable, than that of Llanidloes. The manufacture here has, notwithstanding, continued to increase, and there are at present six carding-mills within the limits of the parish, and eighteen fulling-mills, and nearly 35,000 spindles constantly in operation in the town and neighbourhood, affording employment to considerably more than 2000 hands. All the spinning and weaving were formerly carried on in private houses and cottages, but of late years eight or nine factories have been erected, in which most of the same kind of work is now done, and three of which are very superior buildings. About 300 pieces of flannel, averaging in length 150 yards each, are manufactured here, and sent every fortnight to the market at Newtown, held every alternate Thursday. There are several malt-houses and kilns in the town and its vicinity, as well as tanneries and corn-mills. The market is held on Saturday, and is abundantly supplied with wool, grain, and provisions of every kind. The market-house, or town-hall, an ancient edifice of timber and plaster, is situated in the centre of the town; but it is little used at present, in consequence of a very spacious hall having been built, near the Trewythen Arms hotel, in the second story of which the wool-market is kept, whilst below are the shambles, butter-market, &c. Fairs take place annually on the second Saturday in February, the first Saturday in April, on May 11th, the Saturday next preceding the 24th of June, on July 17th, the second Saturday in September, the first Friday in October, the 28th of that month, and the Saturday before December 16th. Sheep-fairs are also held every Thursday from the 26th of May to the 26th of June inclusive, which are attended by shepherds of both North and South Wales.
The town received its first charter of incorporation from John de Charlton, lord of Powys, in the 18th year of the reign of Edward III., and obtained other successive charters, the last of which was granted by John Tiptoft, lord of Powys, in the 26th year of Henry VI. Under these charters, which have been lost, or destroyed by accident, the government was vested in a mayor, recorder, and an indefinite number of aldermen and burgesses, assisted by a coroner, two serjeants-at-mace, and other officers. The mayor was elected by the burgesses annually at the court leet of the lord of the manor, in the first week after Michaelmas, and might, if he chose to qualify, act as a magistrate within the borough, but was not ex officio a justice of the peace: the recorder was appointed by the lord of the manor, and held his office for life. By the act 5th and 6th of Wm. IV., c. 76, the corporation is styled the "Mayor, Aldermen, and Burgesses," and consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors, together forming the council of the borough, of which the municipal and parliamentary boundaries are identical. The council elect the mayor annually on November 9th out of the aldermen or councillors; and the aldermen triennially out of the councillors, or persons qualified as such, one-half going out of office every three years, but being re-eligible: the councillors are chosen by and out of the enrolled burgesses annually on November 1st, one-third going out of office every year. Aldermen and councillors must have each a property qualification of £500, or be rated at £15 annual value. The burgesses consist of the occupiers of houses and shops, who have been rated for three years to the relief of the poor. Two auditors and two assessors are elected annually on March 1st, by and from among the burgesses; and the council appoint a townclerk, treasurer, and other officers on Nov. 9th.
The elective franchise was granted in the 27th of Henry VIII., when Llanidloes was constituted a contributory borough to Montgomery; and it exercised that privilege till the year 1728, when, together with Llanvyllin and Welshpool, it was disfranchised by a vote of the House of Commons, which restricted the right of election to the burgesses of Montgomery alone. This resolution being directly at variance with a previous one in 1680, by which the right had been confirmed, the burgesses, by the statute of the 28th of George III., were granted the power of asserting their claim to vote for a member for Montgomery before any future committee of the House, and of making any appeal, within twelve calendar months, against any subsequent decision. The act for "Amending the Representation of the People," in 1832, restored the franchise to the borough, in common with others in the county which had been deprived of it; and it is now one of the five that contribute with Montgomery in the return of a representative to parliament. The right of voting is vested in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises in the borough of the annual value of not less than £10, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs: the present number of tenements of this value within the limits of the borough, which were somewhat confined by the Boundary Act, and are minutely detailed in the Appendix to this work, is 113. Llanidloes is also a polling-place in the election of a parliamentary representative for the shire. The county magistrates and county coroner exercise jurisdiction within the town, and the former hold a petty-session for the hundred on the first Monday in every month. The powers of the county debtcourt of Llanidloes, established in 1847, extend over the parishes of Llanidloes, Llangurig, and Trêveglwys. A court baron for the manor of Arustley, the jurisdiction of which extends over the hundred, takes place every third Monday, for the recovery of debts and determining of actions under the amount of £2, by process similar to that of the supreme courts at Westminster.
The parish is bounded on the north by that of Trêveglwys; on the south by the parishes of Llangurig and St. Harmon, the latter of which is in Radnorshire; on the east by that of Llandinam; and on the west by Llanbadarn-Vawr, in the county of Cardigan. It comprises by admeasurement 17,278 acres, of which 4078 are sheep-walks, and the remainder inclosed land, consisting of arable and pasture. The surface being hilly, and in some parts mountainous, the soil is various, though generally fertile, producing wheat, oats, and barley; the lower grounds, which are tolerably well wooded with oak, fir, and other trees, are in a good state of cultivation, and the declivities of the hills afford pasturage to numerous flocks of sheep. In 1816 an act of parliament called the "Arustley Inclosure Act" was obtained for improving the common and waste in the vicinity, under the provisions of which considerable portions of land in this parish have been inclosed, and are now under cultivation. Lead-ore has been found, and some mines were formerly worked, but not with sufficient advantage to remunerate the adventurers, and they were consequently discontinued: the hills abound with coarse slate, and in the vicinity are some quarries of stone of good quality for building.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £4. 3. 4.; present net income, £151, with a glebe-house; patron, the Bishop of Bangor; impropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Bangor, Sir W. W. Wynn, Bart., and the Vicar of Llangurig. The church, dedicated to St. Idloes, was originally founded towards the close of the fifth, or at the beginning of the sixth century. The present structure consists of a nave and aisle, with a tower more ancient than either. The aisle was built about 200 years since, and is separated from the nave by clustered columns, the capitals of which are decorated with palm leaves, and by finely pointed arches; the roof of the nave is of carved oak, ornamented with figures of cherubim holding shields charged with armorial bearings, exquisitely carved. According to tradition, these were brought hither from the abbey of Cwm Hîr, in the county of Radnor, and the date upon one of the shields (1542) corresponds with the time of the dissolution of that establishment. An elegant screen from the same monastery formerly separated the chancel from the nave, but it was removed in 1816, when the chancel and south wall were rebuilt, and has not been restored; at the same time the church was new-pewed, the expense of both amounting to £1600: a new set of bells was hung in the tower, in 1825, at a cost of £200. The area is very spacious, and there is a small gallery; the sittings will accommodate 550 or 600 persons. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists; a National day and Sunday school, for boys and girls; and fourteen Sunday schools for children and adults, supported by the dissenters. The Rev. Dr. David Lloyd bequeathed a rent-charge of £2. 12., to be apportioned out in bread on Sundays to the poor. Catherine Lloyd left £100, with which, and its accumulated interest, two properties, called Tŷ'n-y-Vron, and Crowlwm, were purchased; the one containing twenty-nine acres and a quarter, to which an inclosure allotment of twenty-one acres was subsequently added, and the other ten and a half acres, afterwards increased by an allotment of eleven acres and threequarters; the whole now producing a rent of £33. 15., which is appropriated towards the support of the National school. A rent-charge of £14 by the Rev. Dr. Jenkin Bowen, of Welford, Gloucestershire, and another of £2. 10. by Evan Glynne, of Glynne, are distributed among the poor.
Within the limits of the parish is partly included the lofty mountain of Plinlimmon, or, more properly, Pumlumon, "the five-peaked mountain," which is the highest in the several chains of which it forms the centre; and from this place the ascent to its summit is usually made. The sides and summit are, like the adjacent hills, entirely destitute of wood, and present a barren and gloomy aspect: the summit is formed of two small heads, on each of which is a carnedd, that on the higher peak being pyramidal, and perhaps intended as a beacon. Scattered around are patches of coarse grass, intermixed with heaps of loose stones and fragments of rock in the wildest confusion. From the highest points, which are frequented by numerous birds, such as herons, cranes, snipes, ravens, and plovers, is obtained a prospect of vast extent, comprehending on the south the hills of Cardiganshire and Radnorshire, on the west Cardigan bay and St. George's Channel, on the north Cader Idris, and part of the Snowdon range of mountains, separating the counties of Carnarvon and Merioneth; on the north-east the Breiddyn hills in Montgomeryshire, and on the east part of the counties of Hereford and Salop. This mountain derives a considerable degree of interest from its giving rise to the rivers Severn, Wye, Rheidiol, and Llyvnant, of which the first is secondary only to the Thames in commercial importance, while the Wye and the Rheidiol surpass all other rivers in Britain for the beauty of their scenery. The Severn, here called by its ancient British name of Havren, rises on the northern side of the mountain, in a strong chalybeate spring, and is quickly joined and increased by numerous other springs rising near its source, and by several mountain torrents, before it reaches the town of Llanidloes. The Wye rises from two powerful springs on the south-eastern side of the mountain, and, after a long circuitous course, falls into the Severn below Chepstow. The Rheidiol has its source in the pool of Llygad Rheidiol, and falls into the Irish Sea at Aberystwith; the Llyvnant issues from a pool called Glâs Lyn. The height of the mountain is 2463 feet. At Melin Velindre, on the route to Plinlimmon, is a romantic cataract; and near the sheep-farm of Blaen Havren the Severn rolls its waters over a lofty ledge of slate rocks, in which they have formed gullies of various picturesque shapes.