Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Aberystwith

Aberystwith, a town, a chapelry, a subdistrict, and a district on the coast of Cardigan. The town is in the parish of Llanbadarn-Fawr; stands on both banks of the river Rheidol, and on the Welsh coast railway system, 39 miles NE of Cardigan; and is a fashionable watering-place, a head-seaport, and a borough. The part of it on the right bank of the Rheidol sometimes bears the name of Aberrheidol; and the part on the left bank is called Trefechan. The Rheidol is crossed by a five-arched bridge, forms a sort of inner harbour, is joined there by the Ystwith, and then scours the outer harbour to the sea. The town chiefly occupies a gentle eminence, declining all round from the centre, and commands extensive superb views of sea and coast and lofty mountains. The streets are uneven and steep; but some are broad and well-edificed; and the Marine-terrace forms a fine crescent, with about 60 elegant dwellings. Two heights, at the end of the terrace, are pleasantly laid out in public walks. The remains of a castle, consisting of a gateway and fragments of towers and walls, crown the south western-height, overlooking the sea. The original castle was built in the time of Henry I. by Gilbert de Strongbow, and destroyed by Owen Gwynedd; and the present castle was built by Edward I., as a means of securing his conquest of Wales, and dismantled by the Parliamentarians after the defeat of Charles I. The Castle House, at the end of the terrace, below the castle, is an edifice of fantastic design, in mixed Gothic and Italian, built by Nash for the late Sir Uvedale Price, Bart. An ancient church stood in front of the site of the Castle House, and was overwhelmed about the year 1650 by the sea. The present church stands near the castle ruins; and is a plain, quasi-cruciform edifice, built in 1830, at a cost of nearly £4,000. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Calvinistic-Methodists, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics. The court-house, built in 1860, is a handsome edifice with a tetrastyle Ionic portico. The assembly-rooms, built in 1820, have Grecian features, and contain a ball-room 45 feet by 20, card, billiard, and reading rooms. Other public buildings are the grammar school, the market houses, the infirmary, the poor-house, and the prison.

The town was incorporated by Edward I., but has no charter. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors; it was designed, at the building of the courthouse, to be made a seat of quarter sessions and of assizes; and it joins with Cardigan, Lampeter, and Adbar, in sending a member to parliament. The borough boundaries include all Aberystwith chapelry and parts of Issayndre and Lower Vainov townships. The port has jurisdiction northward to the Diswyning river, and southward to Llan-St. Fraid. The vessels registered at it in 1867 were 86 small ones of aggregately 2,984 tons, and 296 large ones of aggregately 37,995 tons. The vessels which entered from British colonies or foreign countries were 23, of aggregately 4,633 tons; and those which entered coastwise were 409 sailing vessels of 17,225 tons, and 71 steam vessels of 6,675 tons. The amount of customs, in that year, was £87. The exports include lead ore and other minerals, timber, bark, and corn; and the imports include all kinds of goods from Liverpool, Bristol, and London. The harbour was much obstructed by a bar, but has been greatly improved by artificial cuttings of the river, by a new pier 260 yards long, and by other works. The town has a head post office,‡ a r. station with telegraph, two banking offices, three hotels, markets on Monday and Saturday, and fairs on the Monday before 5 Jan., Palm-Monday, Whit Monday, and the Monday after 13 Nov. About two thousand temporary residents, and several thousands of casual visitors frequent the town as a watering-place in antumn. The bathing beaches are excellent; bathing machines are plentiful; hot saltwater baths are at hand: a chalybeate spring, of similar qualities to the water of Tunbridge, is on a neighbouring common; recreations in variety, are abundant; and the walks and drives in the vicinity are charming. Races are held on two days in September at Gogerddan, 3 miles distant. Cornelians, jaspers, agates, moccos, and other precious pebbles are often picked up by loungers on the beach. Public coaches used to run to distant towns, east, south, and north; railway trains have now superseded them; and steamers ply to Bristol and Liverpool. Plâs-crug, a ruined castellated edifice, in the environs, on the banks of the Rheidol is said to have been the residence of Owen Glendower. The grave of the poet Taliesin, who flourished in the 6th century, is 8 miles distant. Pop. of the town in 1851, 5,231, in 1861, 5,641. Houses, 1,089. A system of railway, called the Aberystwith and Welsh Coast, ramify ing northward and eastward from Aberystwith, to an aggregate length of 86 miles, was authorized in 1861; underwent extensions and alterations under acts of 1862-1867; became amalgamated with the Cambrian system; and connects, at Aberystwith, with a Line southward to the South Wales system at Carmarthen.

The chapelry comprises 559 acres of land and 175 of water. Pop., 5,561. Houses, 1,068. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St. David's. Value, not reported. Patron, the Bishop of St. David's.-The subdistrict comprises Llanychaiarn parish and part of Llanbedarn-Fawr. Acres, 15,440. Pop., 8,772. Houses, 1,720. The district comprehends also the subdistrict of Llanrhystyd, containing the parishes of Llanrhystyd, Llanddeinol, Llangrwyddon, Llanilar, and Rhostie; the subdistrict of Geneur-Glynn, containing the parish of Llancynfelin, and parts of the parishes of Llanbadarn-Fawr and Llanfihangel-Geneur-Glynn; and the subdistrict of Rheidol, containing the parishes of Llanafan and Llanfihangel-y-Croyddin, and part of the parish of Llanbadarn-Fawr. Acres, 132,592. Poor-rates in 1866, £9,025. Pop. in 1841, 22,242; in 1861, 25,464. Houses, 5,083. Marriages in 1866, 244; births, 916,-of which 70 were illegitimate; deaths, 529,-of which 143 were at ages under 5 years, and 22 at ages upwards of 85. Mar riages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,938; births, 7,458; deaths, 4,697. The places of worship in 1851 were 20 of the Church of England, with 5,951 sittings; 11 of In dependents, with 1,996 s.; 27 of Calvinistic-Methodists, with 7,227 s.; 10 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 2,519 s.; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 212 s.; 1 of the Wesleyan Association, with 258 s.; and 9 of Baptists, with 2,095 s. The schools in 1851 were 20 public day-schools, with 1,409 scholars; 27 private day-schools, with 732 s.; and 67 Sunday schools, with 9,835 s.


(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a chapelry, a subdistrict, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Aberystwyth AP/CP/Ch       Aberystwith RegD/PLU       Cardiganshire AncC
Place: Aberystwyth

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