Historic Landscape Characterisation

Bala and Llyn Tegid - Area 8 Llanuwchllyn (PRN 24708)



Historic background

The first Nonconformist place of worship here was built in 1743 by the Independents on the site of the building then known as Hen Gapel. The Calvinist Methodists built their first chapel in 1802 at Pandy, now a dwelling, and its successor, known as Capel Glan Aber, in 1872 (Hughes, c.1900).

Llanuwchllyn is shown on the tithe map of 1849 (DRO), when much of the parish was owned by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 6th baronet, of Denbighshire. Few buildings are shown, even in the main settlement, and these include the church (one of the four medieval churches in the study area - see above, section 6.6), Ty’n Llan (to the north-west), Plasdeon (to the south-east, over the river) and on opposite sides of the road (modern B4403), also to the east, ‘Plasdeon homestead’ and ‘Factory homestead’, both of which were owned by a certain John Jones. The road layout as shown on the map in and around the village remains the same as that of today.

Llanuwchllyn was the birthplace of two prominent Welshmen, whose statues stand at the entrance to the village: the background of the Edwards monument symbolises the youth of Wales tending the culture of Wales, and is characteristic of the Bala region. Sir O M Edwards, educator and writer, was born at Coed-y-pry, Llanuwchllyn, Merioneth, on 26 December 1858. (For a brief summary of his life, see Bowen, 1972, 161.) He attended the old schoolhouse built by Sir Watkin W Wynn in 1841 (which stands about 100 yards from the statues, by an old cast iron water pump made to celebrate the birth of one of the Williams Wynns), where he was regularly punished for speaking Welsh. He went on to the University College of Wales and Oxford University. He wrote or edited 90 books, and after serving a time as MP for Merioneth, he devoted the last 15 years of his life to the community of Llanuwchllyn, as chairman of the parish council and Sunday school teacher, before dying in Llanuwchllyn in 1920.

His son, Sir Ifan ab Owen Edwards (1895-1970), founded the Urdd Gobaith Cymru (the Welsh League of Youth), and Glanllyn, a nearby 19th-century mansion (area 14), ironically built by Sir Watkin Williams Wynn as a shooting lodge, is now used by the Urdd as a centre for its activities.

The prodigious flood of 1781 (see area 14) swept away the greater part of the village, and the replacement houses and a large meeting house were built of stones brought down by the flood, after they had been blasted and broken. The lake (area 01) was covered by the debris of the earlier village which took 3 years to clear away.

The 1947 RAF vertical aerial photographs (CPE UK1492/4100) show Llanuwchllyn as a very small ribbon settlement, with a concentration at the north-west end and a few more houses just along the road to the south-east, with a small cluster to the north of this.

Key historic landscape characteristics

Semi-nucleated settlement, 18th - and 19th -century architecture

Llanuwchllyn has the appearance of a mid-19th-century workers' settlement, dominated by terraced rows. Unlike Llanfor, the majority of the tightly-packed housing is located on the main street that runs roughly north-south through the centre of the village, and reflects a tradition of planned development of non-agricultural dwellings during that period. Otherwise, the only other main concentrations are an irregular but tight cluster around the church and a later one around the station to the south-east.

The stone building style is, in the main, quite traditional, and in the vernacular tradition: some buildings have windows and doors which retain an aura of the Gothic, and some have yellow brick lintels which are particularly distinctive. The surrounding village landscape consists of large, detached dwellings (some almost with the appearance of villas), dating to the later 19th- and 20th-centuries and including some significant properties, belonging to the tail-end of the gentry tradition, although there are also many modern houses. Little of the sub-medieval character suggested by the tithe map (centred both on the church and to the south of the river) remains in the village today. The small estates with attached plantations are no longer evident.

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