to farm to inquire for work, and whilst employed
was given meat, drink, and lodging.
One day she called at Castell Coch for this pur-
pose, and was received by the steward and his wife,
who set before her a heap of material that would
occupy her some days to spin.
The earl and family were at that time away in
When bed-time arrived two or three of the ser-
vants, each with a lighted candle, conducted the
woman to her bedroom, which was on the ground
floor, and handsomely furnished. They gave her a
good fire, and left a candle alight on the table, and
then wished her good night.
She was somewhat surprised at so many servants
attending her, as also at being accorded so grand a
room. Before retiring to bed, she pulled out of her
pocket a Welsh Bible, and began to read a chapter.
Whilst thus engaged she heard the room door open,
and turning her head, saw a gentleman enter in a
gold-laced hat and waistcoat ; he walked to one of
the windows, and resting his elbow on the sill, stood
in a leaning posture with his head in his palm.
Not knowing what to make of this, she watched
the apparition for some time, and then kneeling said
her prayers. Presently the figure turned and left
After the lapse of a short time, he again appeared
and walked across the room. Then the woman said,
" Pray, sir, who are you, and what do you want ? "
He raised his finger and said, " Follow me." She
at once took the candle and obeyed. He led her
through a long panelled passage to the door of a
chamber, which he opened and entered.
"As the room was small, and I believed him to be a
spirit," she said, " I halted at the door. He turned and
said, ' Walk in ; I will not hurt you.' So I walked in. He
said, ' Observe what I do.' I said, ' I will.' He stooped
and tore up one of the boards of the floor, and there
appeared under it a box with an iron handle in the lid.
'Do you see that box?' I said, 'Yes, I do.' He then
stepped to one side of the room and showed me a crevice
in the wall, where, said he, a key was hid that would open it.
He said, ' This box and key must be taken out, and sent
to the Earl in London. Will you see it done?' I said,
' I will do my best to get it done.' He said, ' Do, and I will
trouble this house no more.' He then walked out of the room
and left me. I stepped to the door and set up a shout. The
steward and his wife and the other servants came in to me
immediately, all clung together, with a number of lights in
their hands. They asked me what was the matter. I told
them the foregoing circumstances, and showed them the
box. The steward durst not meddle with it, but his wife
had more courage, and with the help of the other servants
lugged it out, and found the key."
The box was afterwards forwarded to the earl in
London, and he sent down orders to his steward to
inform the hemp-spinner that he would provide for
her during the rest of her days. And Mr. Hampson
said it was a well-known fact that she had been so
provided for, and was still so at the time she gave
him the account.
The country around Welshpool is marvellously
rich and is splendidly timbered, and the black-and-
white old mansions and farms nestling among the
foliage are most picturesque. But one wonders,
among the gentlemen's seats adjoining one another,
where is room for farmers and cottiers to come in ?
Guilsfield, or Cegidfa, the Hemlock field, is situated
in a basin, rich and fertile, and on the way to it the
delightful timber-and -plaster house of Old Garth
is passed on the right.
The church dedicated to S. Aelhaiarn is Decorated,
with a Perpendicular east window, and a fine carved
ceiling in the chancel. The modern pitch-pine roof-
ing of the nave and aisles is mean and out of charac-
ter with the old work, as is also the modern screen,
which is not only coarse in design, but has been
carried half-way up the doorway that gave access
to the ancient loft.
In the churchyard are some fine yews. By one is
a tombstone with the inscription : —
" Under this yew tree
Buried would he be,
For his father and he
Planted this yew tree,"
and the monument is to Richard Jones, who died,
aged ninety years, on December ioth, 1707.
The font has on it some curious carving, and in
the porch is an oak chest hewn out of a single trunk.
A holy well a mile and a half distant is in a pretty
dingle ; it is frequented on Trinity Sunday, when its
water is drunk with sugar, and is still regarded as
possessing curative properties.
A more interesting holy well is at Llanerfyl.
Under a grand old yew tree in the churchyard,
said to be the staff of the saint which rooted itself
there, is the only Romano-British inscribed stone
in the county. Some fragments of the saint's shrine
The well, Pistyll y Cefn, Bedwog, lies in a field
a quarter of a mile distant from the village. It is
in fair preservation, built up and covered with large
granite slabs, but the water has been drained away.
Formerly people assembled there on Whit Sunday
and Trinity Sunday to drink sugar and water at
Meifod, in the valley of the Vyrnwy, is also in
a fertile neighbourhood. Above the village rises the
mountain called the Hill of the Anchorite, with a
bald head, blushing with heather, and crowned with
Meifod was the summer residence of the kings
of Powys, but was given by Brochwel to his son
Tyssilio when he entered religion, and he founded
here an abbey which became important.
His mother was Arddun, daughter of Pabo Post
Prydain, whose monument we have seen in Anglesey.
He was great-grandson of Cadell Deyrnllwg, who
founded the dynasty of the kings of Powys after
the expulsion of Benlli by S. Germanus.
The first Abbot of Meifod was Gwyddfarch.
Tyssilio found the old man one day full of the
project of going to Rome. But he was too advanced
in age for such a journey, and Tyssilio said to him,
" I know what this journey to Rome means ; you
want to see the palaces and churches there. Dream
of them instead of going." Then he took the abbot
a long mountain trudge, till he was thoroughly ex-
hausted and declared that he could go no further.
So Tyssilio bade him lie down on a grassy bank and
rest. And there Gwyddfarch fell asleep.
When he awoke, Tyssilio asked how he could
endure a journey to Rome if such a country stroll
tired him. And then the abbot informed him that
he had dreamed of seeing a magnificent city, and that
Some time after this Gwyddfarch died, and Tyssilio
succeeded him as abbot.
On the death of Brochwel this prince was succeeded
by a son, who, however, died two years later without
issue. This son's widow was a strong and determined
character, and after consulting with the chief men
of Powys, resolved on withdrawing Tyssilio from his
monastery, marrying him, and making him king of
The times were full of peril, and a strong and able
man was necessary for the post. But Tyssilio was
not the right person for the occasion ; he hated war,
knew nothing of its practice, and, above all, objected
to marrying his deceased brother's wife, and she such
a masterful woman. So he refused. His sister-in-law
took this as a personal affront. She was incapable
of understanding that Tyssilio had a vocation for
the monastic life, could not believe that he was
intellectually and morally unfit for a life of war,
and assumed that his refusal was due to personal
dislike of herself. Therefore, as an offended woman,
she did all in her power to injure and annoy the
monks of Meifod.
The position of Tyssilio, close to Mathrafal, where
the slighted widow resided, became intolerable. She
seized the revenues of the abbey ; and Tyssilio, to
free his monks from persecution, fled with a few
attached to his person and left Wales, crossed the
sea, and entered the estuary of the Ranee, near
where now stands S. Malo. The river forms a
broad estuary of blue glittering water, up which the
mighty tides heave gently, the waves broken and
torn by a natural breakwater. Ascending this
river for four miles, he found a point of high land
ABBOT TYSSILIO 263
with a long creek on the north, making of it a
narrow peninsula. On this point of land Tyssilio
drew up his boat, and there resolved on settling.
Tyssilio, like a prudent man, had not left Wales
without taking his chef de cuisine with him, and this
master of the kitchen, monk though he was, had an
amour with a girl on the opposite side of the Ranee.
He was wont, Leander-like, to swim across and visit
her. On one occasion as he was crossing, a mon-
strous conger eel curled itself about him, and the poor
cook was in dire alarm. He invoked all the saints
to come to his aid — Samson, Malo, his own master
Tyssilio — none could deliver him till he thought on
Maglorius of Sark, and called on him for assistance.
At the same moment it occurred to him that he had
his knife attached to his girdle, and unsheathing that,
he hacked and sliced at the conger till it relaxed its
hold, and so the poor fellow got across alive, and
vowed he would never again go a-courting.
Whilst Tyssilio was in Brittany, news reached him
that his sister-in-law was dead, and his monks wished
him to return to Meifod. However, he was content
to remain where he was, and he declined the invita-
tion. The name by which he is known in Brittany is
Suliau, or Suliac. His statue is over the high altar
of his church on the Ranee, and represents him as a
monk in a white habit, a bald head, and holding his
staff. It is a popular belief that as the staff is turned
so is changed the direction of the wind. The old
woman who cleans the church informed me that her
husband, a fisherman, was returning, but could not
enter the harbour owing to contrary winds. She
turned the crozier in the hand of the saint, and at
once the wind shifted, and the boat arrived with full
sails in the harbour. Tyssilio's ring is preserved in
About three miles up the valley above the junction
of the Banw and Vyrnwy, but on the former, are the
mounds that mark the site of Mathrafal, the former
palace of the kings of Powys after they were driven
from Shrewsbury. They form a quadrangle with a
tump at one angle immediately above the river, and
tyssilio's ring at saint-suliac
there are indications of more extended earthworks
cut through by the road and mostly levelled.
Meifod Church stands in an extensive yard, planted
with avenues of fine trees. It has been much altered
by rebuilding, but on the south side are round-headed
arches, very rude, of early Norman work. The east
window of the south aisle is Decorated, but that of
the chancel is Perpendicular. Within the church is
a richly carved late Celtic pillar with figures on it.
The screen has been removed ; it was late in character,
and is now stuck as a decoration against the wall of
the chancel, and portions are worked into a partition
shutting off the vestry from the church. This vestry
occupies the site of the original church of S. Tyssilio.
Here is buried Madog, eldest son of Meredydd ab
Bleddyn, prince of Powys, from whom is named one
of the two divisions of Powys — Powys Fadog. He
is not a man for whom one can feel any respect.
He sided with Henry II. against his own country-
men, and took the command of the English fleet in
the invasion of Anglesey, and was defeated with
great loss. His second wife was Matilda Verdun,
an Englishwoman ; she had a temper, and he was
of an amorous complexion, and they led a cat-and-
dog life. At last he deserted her. She appealed to
the English king, who ordered each party to appear
at Winchester before him, and it was stipulated
that each should have as retinue no more than
twenty-four horses. Madog arrived with his horses
and one man on each, but the lady with twenty-four
horses and two men riding on each horse. The result
was that she overbore him, and he was ordered to
entail the lordships of Oswestry upon her and her
heirs male, by whomsoever begotten ; and he was
thrown into prison, where he was murdered at her
instigation. Thereupon she married John Fitz-
Alan, Earl of Arundel, and carried the lordship of
Oswestry to the English house. Madog died in 1 161.
His body was transported to Meifod.
Meifod is the parish whence came Charles Lloyd,
the founder of Lloyd's Bank. He was born in 1637,
and was a member of a very ancient family that
was estated at Meifod, and his father was a count}'
magistrate. Whilst a student at Oxford he took up
with the new notions promulgated by George Fox,
and became a Ouaker. In 1662 he was arrested
and required to take the oath of allegiance. As
he refused, the oppressive laws against sectaries
were enforced against him with the utmost rigour.
For ten years he was detained in prison at Welsh-
pool, his possessions were placed under praemunire,
his cattle sold, and the family mansion of Dolobran
allowed to go to wreck and ruin. He was confined
in "a little smoky room, and did lie upon a little
straw himself for a considerable time." His wife, who
had been tenderly nurtured, " was made willing to
lie upon straw with her dear and tender husband."
When released he made over the family property
to his son, and removed to Birmingham, where he
became an ironmaster, realised much money, and
founded Lloyd's Bank.
William Penn is thought to have visited him at
Dolobran, and portions of the panels of oak have been
removed as relics and carried to America.
A contemporary thus describes Charles Lloyd : —
"He was a comely man in person, of an amiable coun-
tenance, quick of understanding, of a sound mind, and
would not be moved about on any account to act contrary
to his conscience, very merciful and tender, apt to forgive
and forget injuries (even to such as were his enemies), and
did good for evil, hated nothing but Satan, Sin, and Self."
He died in 1698.
His brother Thomas accompanied William Penn
to Pennsylvania ; another brother, John, was the
ancestor of that very staunch Churchman, Bishop
Lloyd, of Oxford, who is regarded as the initiator of
the Oxford or Tractarian Movement.
Dolobran is still in the possession of the Lloyd
LAKE VYRNWY 267
At Llangynyw, in the church, is a screen in posi-
tion ; there is no loft. The old oak porch is fine.
The adjoining parish is Llanfair Caereinion, the
scene of the burning of Iorwerth by his nephew
The upper waters of the Vyrnwy have been
dammed and converted into a lake to supply Liver-
pool with water. Now it fell out that when the dam
was in course of construction there was a stone in
the river called Carreg yr Ysbryd, or the Ghost Rock,
and it had to be removed. This was supposed to
cover an evil spirit that had been laid and banned
beneath it. The Welsh labourers engaged on the
works would have nothing to do with shifting the
block ; but the English navvies had no scruples, and
they blasted the rock, and with crowbars heaved out
of place the fragments that remained.
Then was revealed a cavity with water in it ; and,
lo ! the surface was agitated, and something rose out
of it. The Taffies took to their heels. Then an old
toad emerged, hopped on to a stone, yawned, and
passed its paws over its eyes, as though rousing itself
after a long sleep.
" It's nobbut a frog," said the Yorkshire navvies.
" It's Cynon himself," retorted the Welshmen. " Look
how he gapes and rubs his face. You may see by
that he has been in prison."
After that, whenever a Taffy was observed to
yawn, " Ah, ha ! " said his mates ; " clearly you have
but recently come out of prison."
Lake Vyrnwy is nearly four miles long, and is fed
not only by the river that gives its name to the
reservoir, but also by many torrents that dance down
the mountain-sides, forming pretty waterfalls. The
work of impounding this sheet of water was com-
menced in 1 88 1, and the water was stopped by
closing the valves on November 28th, 1888. It has
all the appearance of a natural lake, except from the
lower end, where shows the magnificent dam, 161 feet
high, but with 60 feet below of foundation.
Llanfyllin is the nearest station to Lake Vyrnwy.
Near this is Llanfihangel yn Nghwnfa, where was
born and lived one of the sweetest hymn-composers of
Wales, Anne Griffiths. She first saw light at Dolwar
Fechan, a farmhouse in this parish, in 1776, and was
the youngest daughter of Mr. John Thomas, a farmer.
She received such education as was to be obtained
in a country school at that period, and acquired a
smattering of English, some arithmetic, and a know-
ledge of reading and writing Welsh. She grew up
to be a fresh-faced, comely, dark-eyed, and dark-
haired young woman, and was fond of dancing and
other innocent pleasures.
When aged about twenty she joined the Calvinistic
Methodist sect, and thenceforth her life was dis-
tinguished for its devotional character and deep piety.
In October, 1804, she married a Thomas Griffiths,
of Cefn-du, Guilsfield, who came to live with her at
Dolwar. In July, 1808, she gave birth to a child,
that lived but a fortnight, and she survived it but
another fortnight, dying at the age of thirty.
" Thus living and dying in the seclusion and obscurity
of a lonely mountain farmhouse, Anne Griffiths composed
some of the sweetest and most precious hymns in the
ANNE GRIFFITHS 269
Welsh language, if not, indeed, in any language. They
are not numerous — all that have been preserved being
only about seventy-five verses — and they are too often
marred by faults of composition and the transgression of
the simplest rules of prosody, yet many of them are so
rich in poetic fancy, sublime imagery, holy sentiment, and
seraphic fervour, that they can never be forgotten so long
as hymns are sung in the Welsh language. Mothers teach
their babes to lisp them, and many a pious Christian has
been heard faintly to whisper them in the hour of death." *
None of them were published during her life, and,
indeed, it did not occur to her that they would ever
appear in print, or would be esteemed beyond the
circle of her own most intimate friends. She com-
mitted very few of them to writing, but she recited
them to Ruth Hughes, a farm-servant with her, who
treasured them in her memory ; and they were taken
down from Ruth's repetition some time after the
death of Anne Griffiths. They were first published
at Bala in 1806. They have recently been translated
into English, but they do not bear rendering out of
the Welsh in which they were composed.
In the churchyard of Welshpool is a stone — the
Maen Llog. It is shapeless, and is said formerly to
have stood in the abbey of Strata Marcella, and on
it the abbots were installed. After the Dissolution
it was brought to S. Mary's Church, and those who
had to do penance were required to stand on it in
a white sheet with a candle in one hand. During the
Commonwealth the Puritan Vavasour Powell turned
it out of the church, as an object of superstition ; but
' Williams (R.), Montgomeryshire Worthies, p. 79. Newtown, 1894.
in the graveyard it continued to be regarded with
some respect, and was in request as a Wishing Stone.
Those very ardently desiring something mounted it,
and turning thrice sunways framed their wish ; and
so, before quitting Welshpool, I took care to mount
it, turned the right way about, and wished prosperity
to this cheerful little town and to its Powysland Club.
Manufacture of cloth and flannel — Fine screen and ugly modern
church — Sir John Pryce — Aberhafesp Church — S. Mark's Eve —
Bed of an ancient lake — Caersws — Legend of Swsan — Obligations
of a chieftain — How a tribe would increase — How to reduce the
difficulty of providing land — Llanwnog — S. Gwynnog — Conse-
quences to his family of the publication of the letter of Gildas —
View from Llanwnog — Llanidloes Church — Richard Gwynn —
Chartist riots — Poetical description of them — Robert Owen —
Henry Williams — Richard Davies.
NEWTOWN is new in every particular except
in its manufacture, and that of cloth and
flannel was old enough in Wales, if we may judge
by the spindle-whorls and shuttles found in camp
and cairn ; but the business once spread over the
Principality is now concentrated at Newtown.
The ugly white brick church has taken the place
of one that was old, and contained a magnificent
screen. This has not been destroyed, but is preserved
in a barn at the rectory. There is some talk of
placing it once more in the church, where it would be
like the proverbial jewel of gold in a swine's snout.
Sir John Pryce, fifth baronet, of Newtown Hall,
was born in 1698, and succeeded to the title and
estates on the death of his father in 1720. He
married first his first cousin Elizabeth, daughter of
Sir Thomas Powell. She died in 1731.
One day Sir John was overtaken by a storm of
rain whilst out shooting, and took refuge under a
tree, and to the same shelter ran a girl, Mary,
daughter of a small farmer of Berriew, named John
Morris. As the rain continued to fall, Sir John Pryce
was given plenty of time to make the girl's acquaint-
ance, to fall in love with her, and to propose. This
led to a second marriage.
But the humble origin of Lady Pryce led to much
spiteful comment, and some people would assert that
she had not been married to Sir John. This was abso-
lutely untrue, but falsehood is believed if venomous.
Whether it were this, or that she could not accommo-
date herself to her new situation, or the fact that
the first Lady Pryce was kept, embalmed, by the
bedside, or perhaps all together combined to weigh
on her spirits, and she died of despondency after two
years of married life. This was in 1739.
In July, 1 74 1, the Rev. W. Felton, curate of New-
town, was dying, when, two days before his death, he
received a long letter from Sir John Pryce, from
which a few passages may be extracted : —
" Dear Mr. Felton, — I waited an opportunity yesterday
of conferring with you in private ; but, not finding the
room in which you sat clear a minute, I am forced to
communicate this way my thoughts. I have abundant
reason to believe that you will immediately enter upon a
happier state when you make an exchange, and I desire
that you will do me the favour to acquaint my two Dear
Wives, that I retain the same tender Affections and the
SIR JOHN PRYCE 273
same Honour and Esteem for their Memories which I ever
did for their persons, and to tell the latter, that I earnestly
desire, if she can obtain the Divine permission, that she
will appear to me, to discover the persons who have wronged
her, and put me into a proper method of vindicating those
wrongs which robbed her of her life and me of all my
happiness in this world.
" I heartily wish you the Divine protection and assist-
ance, and am
" Your Friend and Humble Servant,
"P.S. — I have sent you a Bottle of Mint Water, which,
if you find too strong, you may dilute with Spring Water
to what size you please."
Sir John wrote an elegy of a thousand lines on his
second wife, in which he affirmed that with his latest
breath he would " lisp Maria's name."
Ere long, however, he fell in love again, and this
time with a widow, Eleanor Jones, and married her.
But when the lady found the bodies of his two
preceding wives embalmed, one on each side of the
matrimonial bed, she absolutely refused to enter it,
and ordered their burial " before she would supply
She also died, in 1748. Immediately Sir John
wrote off to one Bridget Bostock, " the Cheshire
Pythoness," who pretended to heal the sick by the
faith-cure and with her " fasting spittle," which she
supplied in corked and sealed bottles : —
" Madam, — Being very well informed by very creditable
people that you have done several wonderful cures, even
when Physicians have failed . . . why may not God enable
you to raise the Dead as well as to heal the Sick, give sight
to the Blind and hearing to the Deaf? Now I have lost a
wife whom I most dearly loved, and I entreat you for God
Almighty's sake that you would be so good as to come here,
if your actual presence is absolutely requisite, to raise up
my dear wife, Dame Eleanor Pryce, from the Dead. . . .
Pray let me know by return of the Post, that I may send
you a Coach and Six and Servants to attend you here, with
orders to defray your expenses in a manner most suitable