Historic Landscape Characterisation

Llŷn - Area 15 Llanbedrog, Bachellaeth, Madryn and Ceidio PRN 33495

Vicinity of Carneddol

Madryn gatehouse


Llanbedrog, single-storey cottages

Historic background

There is a record of an urn cremation on rising ground on the north-east side of Llanbedrog, in an area where early prehistoric activity is concentrated. A cremation cemetery has been recorded at the Bwlch between Mynydd Tirycwmwd and Nant Castell. To the north of this character area there is a standing stone above Nant y Gledrydd, on rising ground near Madryn.

There is a possible hillfort on a low spur overlooking Cors Geirch at Tyddyn Bychan, south-west of Rhyd-y-Clafdy and a promontory fort of the later prehistoric period at Wyddgrug, north of Madryn.

During the middle ages, three free townships extended across the northern part of this character area. In the north lay Ceidio, a slightly elevated tract of land at 50-60m OD which projects into the marsh of Cors Geirch near Garn Boduan and which is constricted in its southern part by the bogs south of Edern and by Cors Geirch near Mochras. Ceidio had a detached hamlet in the upland cow pastures near Gwynus at Rhoswyniasa which, by the fourteenth century had come into the hand of Thomas Brereley. Ceidio had no mill of its own and milled at Kirgh (Ceirch). The hamlet of Rhoswyniasa milled at Gwynus. Ceidio had a church in the thirteenth century. The upper portion and west gable have been rebuilt but the fifteenth-sixteenth-century trusses have survived.

To the south lay Bachellaeth and the three gwelyau of the grandchildren of Rhys, Einion and Reon. The Gwely Wyrion Einion milled at the lord’s mill of Ceirch. The gwelyau Wyrion Rhys and Wyrion Reon shared their own mill at Bachellaeth. Eleven tenants (of substantial means) are identified across the three gwelyau in the late thirteenth century. They had 68 cattle but only 6 horses between them, and eleven draught animals. There were also 47 sheep but most of them (20 sheep) were in the hand of one individual, Gwyn ap Ririt, who also had the most cattle.

Llanfihangel Bachellaeth church, at the foot of Carn Saethon on the north-east side, is recorded in the thirteenth century but the present structure is of the nineteenth century, perhaps on the core of an known eighteenth-century church. The present location is not certainly that of the earlier church and a tradition records a possible site, with the name ‘Cae Hen Fynwent’, 2km to the north-west.

At the southern end of the character area we encounter the bond township of Wystnin, with the hamlet of Bachellyn extending into the marsh and to the south, the small community of Bodwrog, with only two tenant families in the late thirteenth century.

Madryn and Llanbedrog
It would appear that Madryn, and its two hamlets, with its own two mills, Madryn and Fochras, was once a freehold in the hands of the gwelyau Wyrion Ririt and Wyrion Heilin but which escheated to the Crown.

Llanbedrog was a medieval township in the tenure of the Bishop of Bangor. The community comprised two gwelyau occupied by 27 families working around 60 acres of arable quillets as shareland. The focus of the community must have been St. Pedrog’s church at the foot of the rising ground where the village now stands, and in the shadow of the common land of Mynydd Tirycwmwd. The church was in existence in the thirteenth century and was extended at the eastern end in the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The walls have been repaired and rebuilt extensively and the windows have been replaced. Nevertheless, the earlier work is still identifiable. A restoration took place in 1865 and a south-western tower was added at that time.

The Madryn dynasty has a long history, claiming roots in the eleventh century in the person of Collwyn ap Tangno, Lord of Eifionydd. The pedigree is clear enough, from the late fourteenth century, to locate Ifan ap Rhys, at Madryn, in the early fifteenth century. The range of Madryn’s associations are wide, marrying into the Castellmarch, Bryn Euryn in Creuddyn, Bodfel, Plas Du families and the Wynns at Conwy and so on. Thomas Madryn, High Sheriff of Caernarfon in 1586-7, was one of the eight men from Llyn, along with Hugh Gwyn Bodfel, who were held in the Tower of London in opposition to Dudley, Earl of Leicester’s, schemes in respect of the Forest of Snowdon. Thomas’ great-grandfather Colonel Thomas Madryn, a royalist at heart during the Civil War but judiciously taking the Parliamentary side, managed to survive, despite there being found cases of pistols secreted at his home (he was not the only one) after the conclusion of hostilities. His second son, William, succeeded to the estate after his brother Thomas died without heirs, and sold it to the wealthy solicitor Owen Hughes of Beaumaris.

Geoffrey Pary of Rhydolion, in Neigwl, was a contemporary of Colonel Thomas Madryn and, in contrast, a stanch Puritan. Parry married Margaret Hughes who brought with her the inheritance of Cefn Llanfair and Wern Fawr, two important properties close to each other on reclaimed land of Cors Geirch. Geoffrey’s Puritan sympathies caused him to name his son Love-God Parry and the name stuck. Love-God and his son Love Parry occupied Wern Fawr for a while. However, Love-God’s second wife brought Penarth into the Parry family. Love Parry the third, who lived at Penarth, Married Sidney, daughter of the Revd. Robert Lewis, Chancellor of Bangor. Sidney was the great grand-daughter of Jane, sister to Owen Hughes of Beaumaris who bought the Madryn estate at the end of the seventeenth century. Love Parry acquired Madryn through his wife’s inheritance and removed to Madryn. His daughter Margaret was to inherit and not only Madryn but Cefn Llanfair, Wern Fawr and Rhydolion. She married her first cousin Thomas Parry Jones (his father was John Jones of Llwyn On, Denbigh), who added Parry to his name – Thomas Parry Jones Parry. His introduction brought new life to the running of the estate at a time when ‘improvement’ was all the rage.

One of the initiatives of T P J Parry was the erection of several new cottages in a hamlet called Pig Street, in the wake of the adjacent proposals for the enclosure of the common at Mynytho. Hyde Hall calculated that sixteen new houses had been built in the vicinity, between 1800 and 1810, although lamenting that thatch was prevalent in an area that should be taking advantage of the seaborne importation of slate.

Nevertheless the Pig Street development was to become the core of the village which began to grow on the spur overlooking the earlier focus at St. Pedrog’s church, near the shore, during the nineteenth century (see Historic Landscape Character, below). Llanbedrog was to blossom as a tourist destination during the early twentieth century.

Key historic landscape characteristic

•A rolling landscape transacted by streams draining towards Cors Geirch with a dramatic backdrop of igneous hills on the west side.

•Substantial and well-established farmhouses near the edge of Cors Geirch having associations with gentry families of the seventeenth century.

•Development of Llanbedrog from a fishing community to a village based on stone quarrying in the later nineteenth century and tourism in the twentieth century; retaining several features of the transition including late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century single storey cottages and two-storey houses.

•The development of Llanbedrog as a tourist resort, focussed on the shoreline around Plas Glyn y Weddw and its associations with nearby Pwllheli.

•The Madryn estate of ancient origin and its association with the development of Llanbedrog in the early nineteenth century.

This character area is bounded by the steeper slopes of the igneous intrusion from Carn Fadryn to Saethon. Carneddol, Foel Fawr and Mynydd Tirycwmwd on the west and south-west sides, by the low marshy ground of Cors Geirch on the east side, and Edern and Morfa Nefyn on the north side. The land slopes from south-west to north-east, dropping from 100/150m to 30m OD at Cors Geirch. Several streams drain from the higher ground towards the marsh creating an undulating landscape.

The land falls from the higher ground in the west of the area to the marshland of Cors Geirch in the east. The surface is undulating and is transacted by numerous streams which drain in that direction. On occasion, where outcrops of harder rock occur, gorges are formed as at Nant y Gledrydd at Madryn. The profiles of Carn Fadryn, Carn Bach, Carn Saethon, Carneddol and Foel Fawr contribute a dramatic backdrop to the character area.

Fields are generally large and boundaries are frequently regular, except in the areas in the immediate vicinity of the scattered farms which dot the landscape, and in areas of wet marshy ground where their intractable nature retain the boundaries of smaller irregular plots of an earlier period. Fields near the village of Llanbedrog are also small and irregular and some retain the sinuous patterns of earlier arable quillets.

Field boundaries in this area are almost universally clawdd banks except in the immediate vicinity of the hard rock outcrops, as at Garn Bach, where dry-stone walls can be seen to cap earlier cloddiau. The clawdd banks are often capped with gorse or fenced with modern posts and pig-wire.

The area is characterised by a number of substantial farmhouses. Bodgadle is recorded as early as the fifteenth century. The present house, of uncoursed rubble on two storeys has an early seventeenth-century core with a winding stone stair, adjacent to the fireplace, in the thickness of the west gable wall. Ty’n y Coed, a two-storied house of the eighteenth century, stands on the edge of the marsh, north-west of Bodgadle. Again, this house is of rubble, roughly coursed, on boulder footings. Meillionen, south-east of Ceidio Church is another substantial farmhouse with seventeenth-century features. Penhyddgan, in Ceidio, stands close to the edge of the marsh in the shadow of Garn Boduan. This is an important house of roughly coursed boulders, and large quoins, on two storeys, of late sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century date. There is a projecting stair tower on the east side and a door in the south wall providing access to both storeys. The chimney flues at each gable end are within the thickness of the walls, surmounted by tall brick stacks. Wern Fawr, to the north of Llanbedrog, and on land reclaimed from the marshy environment, is included within the character area of Cors Geirch. The two-storied house has several sixteenth-century features. This and the other house referred to are all on the fringe of the marshy tract of fenland at Cors Geirch.

The Madryn estate was as well established as any in this area. The ancient house no longer exists and its character is unknown. A seventeenth-century gatehouse survived when the old house was cleared to make way for a mock-baronial, neo-gothic pile, built sometime after the arrival of T P Jones Parry at Madryn and called Madryn castle. In the 1960s the castle was demolished. The somewhat ruinous gatehouse still stands. The jambs and mullions of the windows have quarter-round mouldings and drip-moulds.

Llanbedrog is the only village in the character area. At the turn of the twenty-first century the village presents itself as a tourist resort, particularly with regard to its sheltered beach and opportunities for sailing, fishing and outdoor pursuits. There are numerous camping, caravan and chalet accommodation available locally. Llanbedrog, however, has several facets to its character, each visible in the present landscape.

By 1840 Jones Parry’s Pig Street development had grown to about thirty buildings; houses and two chapels on the south side of the uphill road to Mynytho. Over the next forty years this upper part of Llanbedrog grew slowly. By the 1880s terraced houses had been built at the west end of Pedrog Street, on the north side of the road; the Calvinistic Methodist chapel (Peniel) was rebuilt in 1866, together with a substantial chapel house adjacent and was joined in an elevated position on the rock of Pen-y-Bryn by the Wesleyan chapel, Reheboth, in 1871 and by the Independent Capel Seion, in 1883 a little further down the road. All three chapels had earlier manifestations, although not necessarily on the same site. The Calvinist Methodists’ first chapel at Llanbedrog was established exceptionally early in 1791; the Wesleyans in 1832 and the Independents before 1840.

The Bachellyn Arms public house and the Ship Inn stood at the western end of Pedrog Street, near the old windmill, by then out of use. Apart from the relatively new development of 18 houses at Madryn Terrace on the north side of the road and a small enclave of chapel, chapel house and four terraced houses at Capel Seion there were no other buildings on the north side before the small row of single-storey cottages which stood at the road junction leading down the hill past Bryn y Gro to Llanbedrog church. The Old Smithy stood at that junction.

At this time the principal occupation across the parish continued to be farming, labouring and the provision of domestic service, on the farms and in people’s homes. However, a stone-quarry and sett-making industry had developed, taking hard rock from the headland of Mynydd Tirycwmwd. A significant proportion of the population of the village were occupied in the stone quarries including incomers from Nefyn and Penmaenmawr, who brought their experience and expertise with them.

Plas Glyn y Weddw was built by the Bangor architect, Henry Kennedy, as a dower house for Lady Elizabeth Love Jones Parry in the 1850s. The style, externally and internally is Victorian Gothic. The walls are of irregularly coursed, squared, brown quarried stone with sandstone quoins, window frames and mullions. The hallway is open to a cantilevered hammer-beam roof. A first-floor gallery is approached by a large Jacobean central staircase. The building was designed to display works of art and in 1896 the hall was sold to a Cardiff entrepreneur, Solomon Andrews, who maintained it as a venue for cultural events including art. It continues to be accessible as a gallery and lends considerable character to the context of St. Pedrog’s church, the picturesque ‘Foxhole’ single storey fishermen’s cottages and the ‘Cottage’, an eighteenth-century building added to and developed in the early nineteenth century; all within the restricted landscape between the shore and the neck of the Mynydd Tirycwmwd headland. By the 1920s, little had changed in the upper part of Llanbedrog. Additional development took place at the road junction at the foot of the hill where the Glyn y Weddw Arms public house stands.

Between 1896 and 1927 a horse tramway operated to bring visitors from Pwllheli to Llanbedrog. Pwllheli and destinations further south, to Llanbedrog and Abersoch, were experiencing the first ripples of a tourist boom. By the end of the twentieth century new housing estates had colonised Ty’n Pwll and along Lôn Pin, an old road past Henllys and on to Wern Fawr, north-west of Ffordd Pedrog. More housing has been built, north of Ffordd Pedrog, on either side of Capel Seion and in two housing estates in the angle between Ffordd Pedrog and the road leading down to the Glyn y Weddw Arms and the church and, further to the east on a spur beyond Bryn y Gro. There are now around 200 properties at the upper village, north of the Glyn y Weddw Arms and over 100 more on the lower ground near the shore and north-west of the church. Many of the properties are large bungalows with garages attached, others, a little earlier, are two-storey. There is, nevertheless, a very eclectic range of housing stock and, in particular, the old ‘Pig Street’ village retains sufficient character to be both interesting and capable of signposting the sequence of its early development.

Some of the earliest houses in the upper village (Pig Street) are low, single-storey, structures as at Ty’n Refail, the site of the smithy, where four cottages form a terrace, with a fifth added at the east end. The eaves drop to the height of the door, the walls are rendered, with the exception of one where it is clear that they are of random rubble construction. Similar cottages, Gwynant and Gernant, stand 50m back from the road, down a path which crosses a small stream. These, and the group at Ty’n Refail, are likely to have been roofed with thatch (they are slated now). It is here, on seeing these cottages with their thatched roofs, that Hyde Hall lamented the lack of initiative in not importing available slates for the purpose.

Ty Isaf is a substantial two-storey property with fireplace and chimneys in each gable. The long axis is perpendicular to the street and a single-storey building is attached to the south gable, in line with the main house. The roof of the house is slated; the annexe is roofed in corrugated iron. The group may once have been a small, late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century farmhouse. The walls are completely rendered. John Parry, a joiner, aged sixty, lived in this house with his wife and three children in 1861. He was still living there twenty years later.

The Pen y Bryn area is a mini-acropolis of temples. Capel Peniel stands 35m back from the road on rising ground above an open forecourt. The forecourt was originally more enclosed in the late nineteenth century than in the present day, with structures ranged across the north side. The chapel is large and accompanied by a substantial chapel house. The schoolroom on the west is a later addition. Further up the hill, on the rock of Pen y Bryn, stands Rehoboth – Capel Wesla and its chapel house. At the foot of this hill of chapels stands a group of buildings along Ffordd Pedrog and flanking the lane to Pen y Bryn. These properties may very well have been built in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Two large buildings stand two-storeys high. One on the corner has a facetted face where the two side walls meet. Both buildings are rendered and the windows are modern. The lower half of the exterior of the corner property has perpendicular panelled recesses in low relief plasterwork. Buildings in this position are shown on the Llanbedrog tithe survey of the 1830s and may be commercial premises. A row of five two-storey cottages, very much smaller than the properties on the corner, extend eastward along Ffordd Pedrog.

Across the main road and westward lie eighteen two-storied, terraced houses of the later Victorian period with long narrow back plots. Some are rendered of pebble-dashed but where the walls are exposed they can be seen to be of random quarried rubble with brick chimney stacks, sometimes decorated with alternate coloured bricks. The windows and doors are mostly modern. These are workmans’ cottages of the stone-quarrying and sett-making period in Llanbedrog and a number of sett men can be located at these premises. At Number 2 Madryn Terrace, for example, there lived, in 1881, James Ginns and his wife and son, lodging with Robert Humphreys and his wife. James, his son, also names James and Robert all worked in the quarries as sett-makers.

Holton is a product of the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The façade is not imposing despite the symmetrical arrangement of openings, the bay windows and porch and the unusual arched window over the door. The masonry, however, is unusual, in more-or-less coursed, irregular-sized quarried stone and pseudo-snecking, with a nod to Plas Glyn y Weddw. The house is set back 40m from the roadside with an ornamental garden set in front of the house. Holton was occupied by Charles Coldicot, Esq., his wife and two children in 1881.

The early twentieth century brought with it some changes, which reflect the rather sedate form of holiday making Llanbedrog had to offer. The two houses of Bwthyn and Dwyfor were, originally, one premises – the Post Office, with its suitably attractive decorated façade.

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