A TOUR THROUGH MONMOUTHSHIRE AND WALES Made in the Months of JUNE, and JULY, 1774.
And in the Months of JUNE children, JULY, and AUGUST, 1777 By HENRY PENRUDDOCKE WYNDHAM
SECOND EDITION MM. DCC. LXXXI
the first chapter - pages 1 to 32
T O U R
M O N M O U T H S H I R E
W A L E S,
THE passage of the Severn from Aust to Beachly is about two miles over, and the road from thence to Chepstow leads through an agreeable neck of land, washed on each side, either by the tide of the Severn or the Wye.
THE shores of the Wye are bold, rocky and woody; towards that river, the prospect principally enlarges itself; but on the approach to Chepstow, the castle commands all our attention, which is founded, on a high, perpendicular cliff of white stone, rising
immediately from the shore, and so extended along its edge, that the castle walls and the rocks seem to form but one precipice.
CHEPSTOW CASTLE occupied several acres, and its ruins are still very considerable. The chief gateway has a venerable aspect, and though the most antient part of the whole structure and of Norman origin, is nearly perfect. Several Roman bricks are intermixed with other materials; and particularly, in the outward wall of the north west angle of the chapel, five or six courses of them appear between the facings of the stone; these were probably bought from Caerwent.
WITHIN the chaple are twelve largest niches with semicircular arches over them, formed in the walls. Their seats were chair high above the floor of the room; the use of them is not very apparent, unless we might be permitted to imagine, that they were intended for the twelve Norman adventurers, my probably do their first services in this castle, for the lands which they had newly conquered in Glamorganshire.
THIS castle was considered of the greatest importance to both parties in the civil dissensions of the last century; for the authority of the king or parliament prevailed in these western parts, according as one, or the other was in possession of it. A garrison was continued in it even after the Restoration, and Henry Martin
one of the kings judges, died a prisoner here, after a close confinement for many years.
THE town of Chepstow is large and populous. Leland supposes that it began to flourish upon the decay of Caerwent; the situation in the latter being by no means comparable to the former, either in beauty or convenience. The beauties indeed are so uncommonly excellent, that the most exact critic in landscape would scarcely wish to alter a single position in the assemblage of woods, cliffs, ruins and water, which formed the various prospects around Chepstow.
PART of the old Priory church still serves as the parish church to Chepstow; the circular arches of the nave, supported by square massive pillars, remain entire within the Church; but those of the ancient choir and of the cross ile, are only to be traced by their foundations on the outside of it. The entrance of the west front is by a large and finally proportional arch of Norman architecture, which is profusely decorated with the receding pillars, and various mouldings, peculiar to that people, and which remains in singular preservation.
TINTERN ABBEY is situated on the banks of the Wye, a few miles above Chepstow. No monastic ruin in Great Britain presents a more beautiful perspective on the inside of the abbey church. The four large arches, which supported the tower, and the stonea
a frame work of the great window of the west entrance, are entire. The present remains are carefully preserved from further destruction, while the fallen ornaments of its once vaulted roof, and the broken monuments of ancient abbots and benefactors, are so disposed in moderate piles, that all their sculpture, which is remarkably sharp, and well executed, may be inspected with the utmost facility.
THE body of the church is in its original level, and though the pavement has long since been removed, I scarcely lamented the loss of it, as the substituted turf, clean entirely free from weeds and briars, produces perhaps a better effect. The length of the nave is two hundred and thirty feet, and the breadth of it thirty-three; the cross are now is one hundred and sixty feet long.
THIS Abbey was founded in the year 1131; but I should imagine, that the present church was begun several years posterior to the foundation, as it is an elegant specimen of the pure and chaste Gothic, constructed upon one plan and in one stile. The form of the pillars at the east end of the nave, which are cut to appear like four round columns clustered together, and which had, originally, light intermediate shafts, a little detached from their apparent junction, and the turn of the arches, are not unlike those in the cathedral of Salisbury, which was not founded 'till the year 1217, nor finished till 1256. At the west end of
the nave, the shafts are in reality part of the main pillars, (tho' they appear detached) and consequently still remain.
THE roads between Chepstow and Tintern are very indifferent, but, exclusive of this, the water passage ought in every respect to be preferred. The views from the Wye are exceedingly magnificent; the rocks on each side seem to be from 300 to 600 feet high; they are sometimes perpendicular and wholly naked, and sometimes the very precipices are covered with woods, from the river's brink to their summits, for continued miles. These views are only once interrupted by the beautiful peninsula of Llancot, which projects, and seems, as it were, to be tied by a narrow isthmus to the mountains on the Gloucestershire side of the river. The Wye almost surrounds the spot, and the encircling hills cast their constant and gloomy shadow over some part or other of it. The whole is about two miles in circumference, and consists of such a pleasing variety of coppices and meadows, interspersed with large timber trees, and orchards of the stire apple, that it has more the appearance of a ferme orneè, than of a common rented estate.
ON the top of one of these mantled mountains, and immediately overlooking the parish of Llancot, are the well known gardens of Persfield; among the many awful prospects from which, the views of the Wye are the most sublime.
IN the garden walls of Moinscourt, are to be seen many of the inscribed stones mentioned by Camden, which were brought from Caerleon by Godwin, Bishop of Llandaff, in the year 1602, to his palace at Matherne, (now a ruin in this neighbourhood;) but the most curious inscriptions have lately been removed, and are now preserved in the house of Moinscourt, which belongs to Mr. Owen
LLANFAIR CASTLE is so entirely overgrown with ivy, but not a stone of it is visible from the road which we passed, in our way to the small remnants of the, once famous, castle of Strighil. The original foundation of this ruin, situated on the lofty brow of the forest of Wentwood, is as ancient as the Norman conquest, and was formally the residence of the Clares, earls of Pembroke, who were also commonly styled earls of Strighil. Richard Strongbow, to whom King Henry the second was endeavoured for the conquest of Ireland, was the last earl of this family.
IN our ride back to Chepstow, we descended into the circular shady dale of the Mounton; a brook glides through this small verdant meadow, washing the side of a little chapel, and is closely surrounding with craggy declivities, feathered in every spot with trees.
AT Caldecot is the shell of a large castle built by the Normans;
but as there is nothing picturesque either in its situation or in its remains, I shall pass on to Caerwent.
THIS was a considerable station in the time of the Romans; it stands on a gentle elevation, and was fortified by that people with a strong wall, inclosing a large square. At present it is a miserable village, and had nothing, till lately, to manifest its former greatness, excepting here and there some long fragments of the ancient walls. The great turnpike road to Caerdiff passes through the centre of it.
WHILE I was making my second journey, the following curious discovery was produced at Caerwent.
THE servants of Mr. Lewis of Chepstow, on planting an orchard within the south west angle of the old walls, in the month of July 1777, were, accidentally, interrupted in their work by their tools striking on the platform of a Mosaic pavement, which lay about two feet below the present surface of the soil.
THE proprietor, Mr. Lewis, with a laudable spirit immediately ordered the whole of it to be cleared, and erected a stone building over the pavement, as a security against the savage and plundering curiosity of the common people. By these means all the parts are in the utmost preservation, and, which neglected, the curious
might, probably, have heard of the discovery of this singular remain, and of its destruction, at one and the same instant of time.
THIS pavement is in length 21 feet six inches, and in breadth 18 feet 4 inches. A border, aged with the Greek scroll and fret, surrounds the whole; but on the north side, this border is considerably wider (being upwards of three feet) than on the others. This was designed for the purpose of reducing and confining the circles within a regular square. These circles are about three feet in diameter; they are enriched with various and elegant ornaments, and are separated from each other by equal intervals.
THE pieces of which the pavement is composed, are nearly square; the breadth of them is about the size of common and die; they consist of the following colours, blue, white, yellow, and red; the first and second half stone, the other two are of terra cotta.
BY a judicious mixture of these several colours, the whole pattern is as strongly marked, as it could have been on canvas with oil colours.
THE original level is perfectly preserved, and scarcely a stone is missing from it. If we consider this and common preservation, added to the exactness and elegance of the composition, I shall not be afraid to assert, that this antiquity need not yield the palm to
any tesselated work, that has been discovered either on this, or on the other side of the Alpes. In my own opinion, it is equal to those beautiful pavements, which are so carefully preserved in the palace of the king of Naples at Portici.
IT may require some difficulty to ascertain the building, to which this tesselated floor could belong. There were no walls, nor foundation of walls around it. The only visible piece of wall is at the south west angle which breaks into the pavement, and extends itself about 8 feet, along the south side.* This is 3 feet wide, and had so much the appearance of a bank or steps to a bath, that I should have concluded it to have been so, if traces of any other foundations could have supported the conjecture. In might possibly have been the floor of a temple, as we may, reasonably consider it too costly an ornament for a private building.
WE may, with less difficulty, perhaps, determine the æra in which this pavement was formed, than they use for which it was formed.
AGRICOLA, according to Tacitus, was the first Roman general, who endeavoured to soften the manners of the Britains, by the introduction
* THIS wall was, perhaps, erected some centuries after the pavement lay concealed in rubbish, and the builder of it might not have had the curiosity of pursuing the tesselated work, part of which he destroyed, in digging the foundations for it.
of baths, temples, porticos, and other luxurious elegances, and he probably gained more by these arts, over the minds of our rude ancestors, than by his sword. *
AGRICOLA commanded in Britain during the reign of the Emperor Titus, and about five or six years, during that of Domitian. In that period the polite arts were in their flourishing state, and as we cannot conceive that this antiquity could take its rise, at a time when those arts became degenerated, we may naturally concluded, that the age of it may be dated from between the years of Christ, 79 and 86.†
THE country around Caerwent is presently enclosed, and towards Caerleon the views are extensive and fine.
* Jam vero Principum filios liberalibus artibus crudire et ingenia Brittanorum studiis Gallorum anteferre, ut qui modo linguam Romanam abnuebant, eloquentiam concupiscerent inde etiam habitus nostra honor et fequens toga: paulatimque dicessum ad delinementa vitiorum, Porticus et Balnea, et conviviorum elegatiam: idque apud imperitos Humanitas vocabatur, cùm pars Servitutis effet.
TACITI AGRICOLÆ VITA
† Several pavements have at different periods been discovered at Caerwent, and a representation of part of one, something similar to that, just described, is given in the fifth volume of the Archaeologia, page 58.
GIRALDUS CAMBRENSIS gives the following account of Caerleon; and as I should have frequent occasion to mention the name of Giraldus, who was my principal guide through the principality, it may not be amiss to premise, that he accompanied Baldwin, archbishop of Canterbury, in his Itinerary through Wales, in the 1188, who undertook this troublesome and difficult enterprize, not, as is generally understood, to convert the Welsh to Christianity, for that religion was very early established in Wales; but to preach the crusade for the recovery of the holy land, which, by the dissensions of the Christian princes, had lately been asked.*
I am aware that Giraldus is commonly considered as a mere fabulous Writer; and I grant, that he has soiled many pages of his Itinerary with legendary tales, and the most absurd miracles; but, notwithstanding this, I found him a very useful, faithful, and agreeable companion, in his history of the Welsh buildings, and in his descriptions of that country. But to proceed,
"IT is called Caerleon, the city of the Legions; for Caer, in the British language, signifies city or castle, and because the
Roman legions, which were sent into this island, were accustomed to winter in this place, it acquired the name of Caerleon.
*ANNO ab incarnation Domini 1188, quo Saladinus tam Ægyptiorum quàm Damascenorum Princeps, occulto Dei judicio, sed nunquam injusto, publico belli certamine victoria potitus Hierosolymorum regnum obtinuit, Cantuariorum Arcipræsul Baldvinus ab Anglia Walliam intravit.
GIR. pa. 64-
THIS city is of great fame and antiquity, and was strongly fortified by the Romans with walls of brick. Many remains of its ancient magnificence are still extant; such as splendid palaces, which once emulated, with their gilded roofs, the grandeur of Rome; for it was originally built by the Emperors, and adorned with stately edifices: immense baths; the ruins of temples; and the theatre, the walls of which are still standing. Here we still admire both within and without the walls, the subterraneous buildings, aqueducts and vaulted caverns; and what appeared to me most remarkable, stoves so excellently contrived, as to diffuse their heat through secret and imperceivable pores. The city is finely situated on the banks of the navigable Uske, and is surrounded with a pleasant variety of woods and pasture".
GREAT credit is due to this description, and I have no doubt, but that it is an accurate representation of the state of Caerleon in the 12th century.
DICITUR Caerleon urbs Legionum. Caer enim Brittanicè Urbs vel Castrum dicitur. Solent quippe legiones à Romanis in insulum transmisæ ibi Hyamare, et inde urbs legionum dicta est. Erat autem hæc Urbs antiqua et authentica, et à Romanis olim coctilibus muris egregiè constructa. Videas hic multa pristinæ nobilitatis adhuc vestigial: palatial immense, auries olim tectorum fastidiis Romanos fastus imitantia, es quod à Romanis Principibus primò constructata, et Ædificiis egregiis illustrata fussent. Turrim gigantiam: thermas infignes;templorum reliquias et laca theatralia muris egregriis partim adhuc exitantibus, omnia clausa. Reperies ubique tam intra murorum ambitum, quam extra, ædificiasubterranea: aquarum ductus hypogeosque meatus. Et quod inter alia notabile censui, stuphas undique videasmiro artificio consertas, lateralibus quibusdam à præangustis viis occultè calorem exhalantibus. Situs urbis egregious super Oscæ flumen, navigio mari influente idoneum. Sylvis et Parcis Urbs illustrata est.
Pa. 107 Edit. 1585.
VARIOUS antiquities have, in different ages, been discovered among the ruins of this city. Camden, and his continuator have preserved a considerable catalogue of them; and even at this time, the fund is not exhausted.
THE Roman walls are still visible, but the facings have long since been removed for private uses. Near the centre of a field, adjoining to the west wall of the town, is the theatre (or more properly the amphitheatre) mentioned by Giraldus. The form of it, which is oval, now only remains, all traces of its walls being lost; the damage of the area is very large, and is bounded with an intrenchment of earth which surrounds it.
THERE is very little extant of the Castle, which is of the Norman times; the keep is remarkably lofty, and on climbing up
[Latin footnote on page 12 was spread over here]
the steep captivity of it, I had the fortune to meet with the following curious piece of Roman antiquity.
IT is part of a circular stone,* flat on one side, and convex on the other, 27 inches in diameter; on the flat surface, is represented, in bas relief, a female figure sitting: one hand inclines downwards, and a small dolphin is sporting in the palm of the other, which is extended. A broad foliage surrounds the edge of the stone, which, resembling a myrtle leaf, serves as a border to it.
ON the convex side are some circular mouldings, but the centre, which is about ten inches in diameter, is plain and unworked; this might possibly have been originally fixed to a pedestal, and the stone might have been used as an altar, or it might have been the covering of some large vases.
THE figure is indisputably designed for a Venus, and the execution of it, when perfect, far surpassed, in my opinion, the general specimens of sculpture, which the Romans left in Britain.
IN my second journey, I purchased a piece of terracotta, which had been cast in the mould, and on which was represented a similar figure sitting between two dolphins; the leaf of the myrtle tree likewise surrounded it. The shape is a half oval and if I might
See the plate I. No. 1.
be permitted to form a conjecture about its use, I should imagine that it is appertained to the same temple, as the stone, before described; and that it served as an ornament to the frize of it*.
I cannot recollect to have ever seen Venus described with a dolphin in her hand, as in this figure. Cupid indeed has frequently been thus represented, according to the two lines, quoted by Augustinus, in his explanation of ancient Gems:
"Non frustra manibus tenet Delphinem et Florem,
"Hic enim terram, ille vero Maro habet."
MANY of the Roman bricks, mentioned in the Britannia, are scattered about the town; Leg. II. AVG. is strongly imprinted on them in relievo; and on one I observed LECLAVG, which possibly, might be intended for the same characters, though I was inclined to think the last meant the Legio Claudii Augustii.
In the house of a shoemaker, we were shown a large brick tile, twenty inches in length, and seventeen broad; it was quite perfect, of a bright red complection, and had the latter inscription imprinted on it. I took notice in the first edition of my tour, that this tile must have been part of an aqueduct, as the sides of it, being raised about three inches, seemed the calculated for the purpose of conveying water. But this tile so precisely agrees with a discovery, made near York in the year 1768, and which is
*See Plate I. No. 2.
noticed in the second volume of the Archæologia, published by the Antiquarian society, that I am now persuaded it was part of a covering to a sepulchre. The dimensions and brightness of the tile corresponds exactly with the description published in No 26 of that volume, and with the plate engraven of it.
MR. NORMAN, of Caerleon, is in possession of a Roman ring, which was discovered in the town a few years since; it is a small intact intaglio, finally engraven, and represents Hercules combating with the lion. It still remains in its original setting of gold.*
THE present Caerleon is a melancholy contrast to the ancient, and scarcely a decent house is now to be seen in its streets.
PONTYPOOL and Uske is situated among the hills, in an enclosed and woody country - they are both disagreeable towns; the former was well known for its japanning manufactory, which is now in a decline; and the other for the ruins of a large and ancient castle. The road leads into this latter town over a well built stone bridge.
NEWPORT is a considerable town and thoroughfare, it was formerly strengthened with a small Castle, situated on the river's brink, the shell of which is almost entire.
*A just representation of this ring is given in the fifth volume of the Archaeologia, page 58.
THE bridges over the Uske, both at Caerleon and Newport, and over the Wye the at Chepstow, a built upon exceeding high piles of wood: they are all floored with boards, which are always loose, but presented from slipping, by small tennons fixed at their ends: the precaution of having the boards unfast’ned is not unnecessary, as the tides in these rivers sometimes rise to the stupendous height of sixty feet and upwards, and would otherwise blow up the bridges.
WE followed, from hence, and the Caerdiff road for about three miles, and turning to the right hand traversed a pleasant valley, (through which there is now a good turnpike road) at the foot of high hills, generally cultivated to their summits. This brought us to the parish of Machen, when the river Rhymny became our guide to Bedways bridge, which carried out into Glamorganshire.
THE town of Caerphyli consists of a few straggling cottages, and is surrounded with mountains, rising at some distance from it, which are much ruder, and less cultivated than those we have hitherto seen.
IT may be necessary apprize the English traveller, (lest from the appearance of the inn at Caerphyli he might be discouraged from prosecuting his journey) that he will very rarely meet, in his whole tour, with such indifferent accommodations as are to be found at Caerphyli.
IT requires something more than common curiosity, to excite a stranger to submit to the inconveniences both of bad eating and lodging. Poultry abound here, but they were living, and ranging the common, at each time of my arrival. We were shown to our bedchamber, through an apartment, not five feet high, with six beds in it; beds were its only furniture, nor was the space left for any other.
IT is observable, that, tho’ Caerphyli is at the distance only of two miles from Monmouthshire, and separated from it by a simple brook; yet the buildings, manners, and rest of the inhabitants are as strictly Welsh, as those of Merionethshire. The English language is as little understood here, as among the mountains of Caernarvon, and the landlord of our hovel was the only person in the town, who could speak it, and even he, not fluently.
WE must, however, consider, that Caerphyli lies in no public road, and, for that reason, as little communication in England. A traveller, in following the common beaten track throughout the whole country, will seldom find any differently in making himself understood, as the Welsh language is sensibly declining in every place, where the connection with England is made easy. This has been sufficiently obvious to me, even within my own knowledge of the principality: and, possibly, within a century, a
traveller may meet as much difficultly, in his researches after the remains of the Welsh language, along the coasts and marches of Wales, as Mr. Barrington did in his tour through Cornwall, in pursuit of the Cornish, where he found but one old woman, near 90 years of age, who could speak it, and but two other old women, who could understand her.
IT is certainly remarkable, that the church service being sometimes used in the Welsh language, has by no means facilitated the preservation, as was at first imagined, of the Welsh tongue: but, on the contrary, it is generally allowed, that the congregations of the Welsh liturgy have yearly diminished, and those of the English have proportionally increased.
A compulsion to attend the English church would, probably, have had an opposite effect, and would have increased that obstinacy of opinion, so peculiar to this nation.
THE Castle of Caerphyli, including the outworks, is of an immense size; part of the present building was constructed in the year 1221, the ancient castle having been razed in 1217: This part, which is included within the inner moat, is a noble ruin; the grand hall in it is, excepting the roof, perfect; its beautiful proportion strikes the spectator with astonishment; it is nearly a double cube 35 ½ feet: the length is 73 feet, and the height
was 35 feet from the original level of the floor, which is now considerably higher than formerly, from the quantity of rubble which covers it. The fine form of its gothic windows, and of the clustered flying pillars, which project from different sides of the room, and from which sprang the vaulted arch of its roof, give an uncommon charm to the justness of proportion.
THE fashion of the windows seems to strengthen the opinion of Mr. Barrington, that this part of the castle, or, at least, that the hall was rebuilt by Edward I. for they resemble those of his reign, and it is well known, that such a form was not in the use so early as the year 1221.
*GIBSON'S laboured account of this hall is not consistent with his usual accuracy; for nothing can be more absurd in his idea of beams resting on the capitals of the clustered pillars, and of the windows being divided, for the purpose of enlightening two chambers, one above the other.
IF this were true, the whole symmetry of the room would effectually be destroyed; its height would be in no more than 17 feet, and the elegance of the gothic windows would appear only on the outside. The roof was indisputably vaulted diagonally, and the arches sprang from the pillars, which gave a proportionable elevation to the whole.
* See Gibson's Addition of Camden's Britannia.
THE hanging tower, in this part of the building, projects about eleven feet beyond its base. The remainder of his castle has been added and very different times.
IT is remarkable, that the long east wall, on the south side of the principal entrance, is concave between large upright buttresses: these buttresses resemble towers, and had battlements on their tops from which the intermediate wall might be protected.
THE more modern fortifications are extended to a greater distance, and particularly on the north west side of the old moat; for here, we see a high Pentagon entrenchment of earth, the angles of which have a circular kind of bastion; and still farther north west, and only divided by another moat, is a large triangular field, encompassed with a deep ditch, and guarded with a circular mound at each corner.
THE vestiges of a draw-bridge appear on the west side of the original castle, which connected it with a large piece of high level ground, strongly embanked, the walls of which embankment are still visible, as are the remains of a round tower on the far side of it.
IN all probability, these great outworks were added by the younger Spenser, who held this castle in the name of king Edward II. and who was besieged in it, by the Queen's and Baron's forces in the year 1326.
ACCORDING to Camden, Spenser defended it so manfully, that his enemies were compelled to raise the siege.
THERE is a good road from Caerphyli to the Pont y Prîdd but as we were to return to it by a large part of it in our way to Cardiff, we took a guide, to conductors over the mountain of age roof really and, which Parry stands on nearly the summit; the prospects from the mountain of very extensive, but they scarcely compensated for the disagreeable descent towards the bridge.
THE Pont y Prîdd, or the new bridge, as it is commonly called, consists of one arch, from bank to bank, over the rapid Taafe, were flooded torrent frequently drives everything before it, which dares to offer resistance; and which two stone bridges in this very spot, have, within least 40 years, fatally experienced.
THIS answer is perhaps in the loudest of stolen in the world,*as I think, little credit is now given to Theatres description of the
*MONTFAUCON in the 4th. Volume of his Antiquities, Part II. Chapter 5th. gives an elevation and view of a bridge, built by the Romans at Brioude in Auvergne, in France. It consists of one arch only, which is semicircular, over the river Allier. The crown of the arch is 84 feet high above the water level, and the chord of it is 195 feet, being 55 feet wider than this at the Pont y Prîdd. But I have never been able myself to ascertain this fact, or whether the bridge may not have been ruined since the time of Montfaucon.
flying bridge in China, I had the curiosity to measure it, and had the satisfaction to find my account nearly agree with a plan, which I afterwards saw in Cardiff. It is a segment of a circle; the chord of it is 140 feet in breadth, and the height of the key stone from the spring of the arch, is 34 feet.
THIS bridge was undertaken, at the expense of the county, by William Edward, a common mason of Glamorganshire, who contracted to ensure its standing for a certain number of years. He first erected a bridge with three arches, but this was soon hurried away by the impetuosity of the river. He then conceived the noble design of raising a single arch over this ungovernable stream, which he accordingly completed: but the crown of the arch, being very light and thin, was quickly forced upwards by the heavy pressure of the butments, which were necessarily loaded with an immense quantity of earth, that the ascent of the bridge might be practicable.
EDWARD, not discouraged by this repeated ill success, boldly dared to improve on his second plan, and executed the present surprising arch; in which he has lessened the weight of the buttresses, by making three circular tunnels through each of them; these tunnels not only effectually answer that purpose, but give a lightness and elegance to the structure, which now safely bids defiance to the most violent floods, that can possibly arise in the river
HAD the remains of such an arch been discovered among the ruins of Greece or Rome, what pains would be taken by the learned antiquarians, to discover the architect, and fix the period of time, in which it was raised! But, "virtutem incolumen odimus"-
IT may be some satisfaction to the reader, as it was to me, to hear, that the county has nobly indemnified, and even rewarded the heroic perseverance of their Cambrian architect.
AFTER this encomium on the bridge, I am sorry to add, that its beauty is shamefully disfigured with a slight ragged parapet of rough stones mixed with pebbles. But this blemish may possibly soon be corrected, as a new parapet already appears necessary; for, in my second journey, many parts of the coping, which is a thin stone laid on the wall with common mortar only, had been pushed into the torrent, and even some parts of the wall were nearly reduced to a level with the arch. The stone on which was engraven the name of William Edward 1750, was even dislodged with the others.
ABOUT half a mile above this bridge is a natural fall of the Taafe: we saw it in a quiet season, but the tho' the fall is not of a considerable depth, yet the broken rocks in the river, the craggy precipices from which it descends, and the sylvan ride towards it form a pleasing picture.
FEW scenes are more agreeable than the ride from Pont y Prîdd towards Caerdiff. The road passes along the shady bank of the raising Taafe for six or seven miles: here many and aged oaks stands tottering on the edge of the flood-worn shore, from whence
- - The antique route peep out
Upon the brook that brawls along the wood.
As you like it,
THE country is finally diversified with the inequality of the mountains, on each side of the torrent; two of them, richly cloathed with trees, seem almost to close together; between these, under the small ruins of Castle Coch, we passed into the veil of Glamorgan. Several iron furnaces are erected near the opening of this valley, from whence under the thick smoke towering aloft in black columns, and the burning line‑kilns which are scattered about the sides of the hills, greatly contribute to the gloom and grandeur of the prospects.
CAERDIFF is a large, handsome, and populous town; its situation is on an extensive flat, near the month of the Taafe.
THE high tower of the church is a beautiful edifice; it was built, as I was informed, at the latter end of the reign of the first Edward; if so, it will be a further confirmation of what I advanced
concerning the hall at Caerphyli, for the form of the doors in this tower and of their mouldings, is similar to that in the door and windows of the hall at Caerphyli.
THE old walls which surround Cardiff are very extensive, and in the remains of them are still considerable. They were probably erected, as well as the large polygon tower on the keep of the castle, by the first Norman invaders.
THE most remarkable occurrence in the history of this castle, is, that Robert, eldest son of William the Conqueror, and the right heir of his father to both England and Normandy, was, after undergoing various vicissitudes of fortune, at length confined in it, by King Henry I. and here, he languished, deprived of his fight, for the term of twenty-six years, when death released him from the unnatural cruelties of his brother.
LORD CARDIFF has ordered several improvements to be made in the old gothic house within the walls of the castle, and the different courts of the castle to be formed into one garden. We have been told, that he had intended to construct a new room with similar proportions, and ornamented it in every other respect like the hall at Caerphyli. Every person of taste must have applauded this noble design. But upon further inquiry we learnt, that the polygon tower was to be roofed and repaired, and that the windows
of it were to be formed after that model of those in Caerphyli. This may have a good effect, tho', in my opinion, the tower had better remain as a ruin. We crossed the river at Caerdiff over a handsome stone bridge of four circular arches, and quickly arrived at Llandaff, which is pleasantly situated on a gentle elevation, but tho' a bishopric, is in reality in a beggarly village.
THE remains of the old cathedral are very beautiful; the door cases are all of Norman work and richly moulded; the windows of the west front, and the arches, which divide the aisles from the nave, are of an elegant gothic architecture, tho' they were constructed so early as the year 1120, and offer, perhaps, the oldest specimens of that style in this island.
LLANDAFF CHURCH has no cross iles: about a third part of it, at the west end, remains as a ruin; the rest has been, within these few years, repaired at a large expense, and is now the present cathedral. The principal entrance is still through the western front, within which, the roofless arches rising like a magnificent open colonnade, front to that part which has been repaired.
SUCH a heterogeneous mixture of architecture prevails within the modern cathedral, that, notwithstanding the church is kept in the utmost neatness, it is by no means agreeable to the eye. Among other absurdities, the christian alter is raised under the
portico of a heathen temple, the whole of which projects into the choir usurping a large part of it.
SEVERAL ancient monuments are to be seen in this cathedral, and among others of a later date, are two of the Matthews's family in polished alabaster, which have uncommon merit for the age in which they were done. The head-dress, and hair of a female figure, the necklace of different strings hanging on her breast, and other minute parts, are touched with a delicacy of execution, which would do honour to a modern artist. It appears, from Mr. Walpole’s Anecdotes, and from the life of Benvenuto Cellini, within the reign of that sumptuous tyrant, Henry VIII. several Italian sculptors were encouraged, and employed in England. These monuments, which were erected about that time, were probably executed by some of them.
COWBRIDGE consists of one broad and handsome street: at the inn here, I observed printed articles, formed, by a society, for the encouragement of agriculture, proposing suitable premiums to induce the farmers to adopt new modes of conservation. This scheme is supported with ample subscriptions, and in the end will, undoubtedly largely repay the subscribers for their present public spirit.
A STRANGER might imagine from the appearance of the lands on each side of the turnpike road, to this county and Monmouthshire,
that there can be no necessity for such a society; for here, both the arable lands and the pasture, seem as clean and as well manured, as in any spot of the island.
HE would naturally conclude, that such profitable care should gradually extend itself through the whole country, but the case is far otherwise, and the inland parts still produce melancholy instances of that obstinacy and ignorance, so difficult to be eradicated from the heart of a farmer.
IT was in this town, that we've first met with the fish, called Sewen, which seems to be of the salmon kind, but the flavour of it, in my opinion, is much superior. It reminded me more of the Berwick trout, so much esteemed in London. The southern and western parts of Wales, abound with this delicious fish in such plenty, that it is frequently sold for three half-pence or two-pence a pound. It was almost a constant dish at our table.
THE neighbourhood Cowbridge is remarkable for its number of castles, that which indeed it may afford more amusement to the painter, then to the common traveller.
AMONG these, the most conspicuous is that of St Donat's, which, rising from an eminence, commands an extensive view of the Severn. The magnitude of the building the demands some respect, but there is such a confusion in the parts of it, connected together
and the various times, that the eye does not know where to repose itself.
THIS castle owes its origin to the first Norman adventurers, when, this part of the country falling to the lot of William Esterling or Stradling, one of the twelve knights, it was built by him. The castle remained in his family, by whom it was constantly inhabited, for nearly seven centuries, the name of which was not extinct till within these fifty years.
THE violence of the rains prevented me from inspecting the Caverns near Dunraven house, but as they are elegantly described in Mr. Grose's Antiquities, (Glamorganshire,) I shall entertain the reader with an account of one of them from that curious work. They are called the cave and the wind hole. "The Cave is a passage worn through a projecting stack of rocks in a direction parallel to the shore. Something like a kind of rude piazza, large masses of rock, representing the columns, support the roof. One entrance faces the east; but the grand opening is towards the south, and exhibits a most noble and solemn appearance."
TWO gateways and parts of the walls are still extant of Whennye Priory; the church is perfect, and from the solidity of its structure, time has scarcely made the smallest impression on it. This
church is, indisputably, of greater antiquity than any other perfect building in Wales. It was finished before the year 1100, and founded by one of the Norman knights, upon the first conquest of this country. The arches are all circular, the columns short, round, and massive. The tower is of a moderate height, and supported by four fine arches, upwards of twenty feet in the chord from their respective springs. The roof of the east end, or choir is original and entire; not a diagonal, but formed of one stone arch from wall to wall, with a kind of plain fascia or bandage of stone, at regular distances, crossing and strengthening the arch.
UNDER this roof and against the North Wall lies an ancient monument of stone, with an ornamented cross, (raised on it) extending from one end to the other. This tomb has suffered no injury, nor has the inscription surrounding it, which is deeply engraven in the following characters. [snall plate to br scanned]
See extra plate page 31
IT is manifest from the beginning of this inscription, that it was the sepulchre of Morice de Londres, great grandson of the first founder, William. This Morice added the priory, as a cell, to the abbey of Gloucester in the year 1141. The remainder of the words appeared not so explicable, at least to me, particularly
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