Abergwenlais

Abergwenlais  ‘mouth of (the river) Gwenlais’, aber, r.n. Gwenlais

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Abergwenlais is described in Pevsner as, ‘a big square late 19thc farmhouse, full height back and front without the older outshuts or more usual late 19th c rear wings.’ 1The Prices of Abergwenlais, were established in the area from the late 17th c and were closely connected with the Prices of Bwlch Trebannau and Erryd. According to Francis Jones they were reputed to have descended from Brychan Brecheiniog.  Bidgood depicts the house thus, ‘Abergwenlais, solid, comely, traditional, with its nearby mill stands on low lying ground fructified by the Towy and its tributary the Gwenlais’ 2

Abergwenlais appears in early 17th c deeds, when it was owned by a cadet branch of the Williams family of Edwinsford. Rees Price of Abergwenlais in his will of 1760 gives his Llanwrtyd properties to Rees Price his eldest son. His second son Daniel is to receive his estates in Conwil Gaio and all other messuages and lands. His widowed daughter Elinor gets £100. His granddaughter, also Elinor (from Daniel) £80 when she is 21 or married whichever comes first. His nephew Rees Davies late of Dublin (Divlin) 50s and finally, ‘The poor of the parish of Kilycombe’ are to be given £3.3 Rees and his wife Anne left the farming at Bwlchtrebannau to their son Rees to live with their second son Daniel at Abergwenlais as they perhaps became less active with age. Daniel’s second wife Joan Jones was the ‘aunt’ of William Davys who acquired Neuadd fawr in her will. By the mid 19th c the Prices had left Abergwenlais, bwlch Trebannau and Erryd. The Abergwenlais estate was sold in 1856 and was mostly bought up by Neuadd fawr.

Abergwenlas was advertised to let in 1786 and was described thus as, ‘a commodious Dwelling-House , called, ABERGWENLAS, together with a good Four-stall Stable, and other suitable Out-houses, situate at the distance of three miles only of the market-town of Llandovery, in the said county (being a cheap market-town), and thirty from Carmarthen aforesaid. – The House consists of a good kitchen, brewing-kitchen, pantry, cellar, dairy, two parlours and an office, on the ground floor; the chamber-story consists of six good bed-chambers, and a large garret; a pump, by the kitchen door, which never was known to be dry; an exceeding good garden, all in compleat repair – the proprietor having lately been at a considerable expence.  With the above conveniences may be had, about 60 acres of land, all flat ground, 1-4th of which is a lawn under the house; and with a small expence, so more may be added.  The proprietor will also accomodate with fifteen couples of good harriers, and which are kept at a very small expence.  There is also, at the distance of two miles only, a very large manor, well stocked with game; and the river Towy, which is well known for the salmon, suin, & it produces, is only at the distance of half a mile; the river Cothy, which is remarkable for trout, is at the distance of three miles; and the noted river Tivy, of twelve or thereabouts.  Woodcocks are also in abundance, as also hares, partridges, &etc. For further particulars apply to Mr Daniel Price, of Abergwenlas, aforesaid, Attorney, near Llandovery in the said county.’ 4

When Abergwenlas was advertised to let in 1786, the six-bedroom house was was described as having ‘a good kitchen, brewing-kitchen, pantry, cellar, dairy, two parlours and an office, on the ground floor… a large garret; a pump, by the kitchen door, which never was known to be dry; an exceeding good garden …  about 60 acres of land, all flat ground, 1-4th of which is a lawn under the house … The proprietor will also accomodate with fifteen couples of good harriers, and which are kept at a very small expence.  There is also, at the distance of two miles only, a very large manor, well stocked with game.’ 4

Abergwenles belonged to the Rev Daniel Prytherch Price in the tithe of 1843 but its 131acres were farmed by Evan Evans.

Mair Cavenagh has been told that a field that juts into Abergwenlais land but no longer belongs to it, was called The Golden Acre as it was land given in lieu of gold, in a cockfighting bet., ‘Cockfighting was enjoyed for centuries in Wales, by all social classes. Unruly crowds flocked to their local pits to witness gory encounters where specially bred cocks fought each other to the death’.5

In 1902 there was a pigeon shooting match at Abergwenlais, ‘The field had been kindly lent by Mr. Peters, of Abergwenlais, the chairman of committee. At the conclusion of the match, a large number sat down to an excellent dinner at the Neuadd Arms Hotel, the catering of Host Roderick being all that could be desired.’ 6

In March 1906, ‘the annual Cilycwm hedging match, horse show and races took place on Thursday on Abergwenlais Farm…..The promoters were most unfortunate in the weather, heavy rain falling incessantly during the proceedings. The competitors braved the elements pluckily, and the hedging work was good considering the disadvantages…. they had to contend with. Some good horses were exhibited, and the races were of an exciting and interesting character. ‘ the, ‘Timekeeper, Mr. J. Evans, School House. Chairman ot Committee, Mr. Jas. Peters. Abergwenlais. Treasurer, Mr.Wilfred Davies, Dugoedydd. Secretary,Mr Tom E. Williams Eryd. At the close of the contests a capital dinner was provided at the Neuaddtfawr Anns, prepared by Host and Hostess Roderick, of which a large number partook.’ 7

In March 1906, the annual Cil-y-cwm hedging match, horse show and races were held at Abergwenlais.  Despite incessant heavy rain, it was reported that the standard of the hedging and horses was good and ‘the races were of an exciting and interesting character … Timekeeper, Mr. J. Evans, School House. Chairman ot Committee, Mr. Jas. Peters. Abergwenlais. Treasurer, Mr.Wilfred Davies, Dugoedydd. Secretary,Mr Tom E. Williams Eryd. At the close of the contests a capital dinner was provided at the Neuaddtfawr Anns, prepared by Host and Hostess Roderick, of which a large number partook.’ 7

Interesting field names:

Dole-y-Delin (Dôl y Delyn) pasture, ‘harp meadow’ dôl, y, telyn

Worddol ‘hay meadow’ (y), gweirglodd

Cae Saith Covers ‘seven-acre-field’, cae, saith, cyfer

Bank Ithonog ‘gorse bank’, banc, eithinog

Cae Glas and cae uchaf Glan Raven

Interesting field-names / Enwau caeau diddorol:

(Field names taken from Sale Catalogue, Abergwenlais Estate / George Goode. 1856. 347 Carmarthenshire NLW)

Sources:

1. Pevsner

2. The Prices of Abergwenlais, Bwlch Triban(n)au and Erryd, Cilycwm : Ruth Bidgood.In Carmarthenshire antiquary, Vol. 43 (2007), p. 51-64. (WlAbNL)004431358

3. Rees Price will 1760. In St. David’s Probate Records, 1556-1858 (WlAbNL) 3650004 Price, Rees, Abergwenlais, Cil-y-cwm, Carmarthen, Gent

4. Hereford Journal Tuesday 8th June 1786

5.http://web.archive.org/web/20080515060954/http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/wfha2000/walespic/050123.htm

6. Cambrian 23 May 1902

7. Cambrian 9 March 1906

Mair Cavenagh

abergwenlais