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Our Story

Within the Village History section you will find a replication of the  website  this has been done with the knowledge and permission of Mr David Wlliams.  It may take some time to complete so please have patience

The Story of Pennant

I am adding to this story as I find out more but this is how far I have gone to date.  If, as has been suggested, the wall around the church is indeed  a henge then the land about Pennant has been occupied since the Late Neolithic Period some time between 3200 and 1600 B.C. There is, however, doubt about this.

In 1988 Mr Dykes of Bronwydd found a perforated axe-hammer in his garden. The hammer has been tentatively dated to the Bronze Age (2200-800 BC). Sadly, has been stolen according to the curator, Michael Freeman. He said thieves broke the Perspex case in the museum gallery some time ago and took the hammer head only, nothing else. It was unusual in that it was part-worked and would probably have gone into a private collection somewhere. Police were informed and carried out an investigation without result.

This was when farming commenced in the area. It was mixed farming - cereals, cattle and sheep.

In Roman times Pennant lay in the lands of the Ordovices a ferocious tribe who were eventually subjugated, after much slaughter, by Julius Agricola between A.D, 78 and 84. Caradog ( Caratacus ) was a prince of this tribe. Despite the defeat, the only Roman remains in the area are part of Sarn Helen the road that went from Carmarthen to Chester. Three forts some distance away at Pennal, Trawsgoed and Llanio seem to indicate that the Roman presence was never an easy one and were built to keep the native Celts in their own area. It had previously been thought that by 130 AD there was no longer a Roman presence in Ceredigion. However, the confirmation of the existence of a villa producing finds dating from the 4th century Trawsgoed, near Aberystwyth, have left all previous assumptions in disarray.

The Romans left behind a number of words which were assimulated into Welsh - pont, mur, ffenestr, coginio, cawl, cegin, pysgod, coes and braich to mention a few.

It is after the Romans left that Ceredigion first got its name. The story goes that about 440 A.D. the Irish had invaded and settled in North and West Wales. Cunedda and his sons, Ceredig among them, came from Southern Scotland, which was then British, and drove out the Irish. The land now called Ceredigion was given to Ceredig.

The Annales Cambriae 447-954 (The Annals of Wales) record that in -

807 Arthen king of Ceredigion dies. Solar eclipse.

and in -

894 Anarawd came with the Angles and laid waste Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi.

No doubt the people and farms of Pennant suffered as a result.

During the 10th century the coast line was often ravaged by marauding Vikings. In 908 A.D. a battle was fought near Pennant when the Vikings were soundly beaten but they returned to the coast again and again.

As if the Vikings were not enough in 954 Iago and Ieuaf, the sons of Idwal the Bald came from the north and laid waste the area.

In 988 the Vikings were back. They plundered Llanbadarn, near Aberystwyth, as well as St Dogmael's, Llancarfan and Llantwit Major and in 989 Maredudd ab Owain raised a poll tax to bribe them to stay away.

Wales at this time was divided into Cantrefi. These were administrative units of land made up of roughly a hundred holdings or agricultural estates. By the 11th or 12th century these cantrefi were divided into two commotes and in Ceredigion these commotes were the only form of local government.
At this time Pennant lay in the commote of Anhuniog. This was the land bounded by the four points of Llanrhystyd, Llyn Eiddwen, Llanllyr and Henfynywr.

With the death of Rhys ap Tewdwr in 1093 the Norman expansion into Cardigan began. Three times the Normans took possession of Ceredigion first between 1093 and 1102, then between 1110 and 1135 and next between 1158 and 1164. First it was the Montgomery's and later the Clares. With them they brought Saxon and Flemish farmers and Norman knights who divided the land into fees based on the commotes. This was made easier according to the Brut y Tywysogion because the land was empty and devastated; the people plundered and slaughtered.

During all this time the intruding Normans were being resisted by members of the old Welsh royal family and their supporters in Ceredigion. It was a bad timefor the people in the area because the armies that beseiged Dinierth, whether Norman or Welsh, lived off the land and the inhabitants suffered as a consequence - this was the background to the short history of Dinierth Castle.

Sometime after 1164, when the Abbey at Strata Florida was founded, an hospitium, or guest house, to the Abbey was built where Mynachdy now stands. The fishponds of the hospitium can still be seen on the shore between Aberarth and Aberaeron.

In 1216 the commote of Anhuniog was granted to Rhys ap Gruffydd. During 1284 John Pecham, Archbishop of Canterbury, visited Wales to investigate the religious institutions. From this visit came the division of each diocese into parishes and this work was complete by 1300. We can say, therefore, that the Parish of Llanbadarn Trefeglwys came into being between theses two dates.

By March 1349 the Black Death had reached Carmarthen. Not long after it must have come to Pennant. This disease killed an estimated half of the population of Europe before it ran its course.

The road through Pennant would have been busy at this time. Apart from the usual merchants and travellers, the fear of the plague brought pilgrims making for St David's all of whom would have stayed overnight at the hospitium of Stratas Florida ( now Mynachty ). Two pilgrimages to St David's was equivalent to one to Rome and they hoped to save themselves, little knowing that they were helping to spread the disease.( When they got to St David's they would find that the priests were all dead and that trainee priests were conducting the services. )

The lands of the free tribesmen were taken by lords or neighbours who had survived the plague and a society emerged which was based not on blood relationships but on the ownership of land. This in turn helped the emancipation of the villein as the open fields on the lowland manors were divided into farms cultivated by tenants.

In the middle of August 1485 Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII, landed at Milford Haven and marched unopposed through west and mid Wales. Local tradition has it that on his way to Bosworth Field he spent a night at Wern Ddu. Sadly this is not true. He actually spent the night at Wern Newydd, Llanarth and they have the bed to prove it.

Wales was granted 26 Members of Parliament in 1536 but the were not summoned to take their seats until 1542 thus missing the parliaments of 1536 and 1539.

The Abbey of Strata Florida was dissolved in 1539 and it was then that Mynachdy passed into private hands. First to Richard Devereux and then to the Steadmans

John Vaughan bought the commote of Anhuniog from the trustees of the Earl of Essex in 1630.
At this time a labourer earned sixpence a day but many of them had a small holding of 2 to 5 acres.

It took 10 days to travel from West Wales to London in the 17th century.

Llanbadarn Tref Eglwys is shown on John Speed's map of Cardiganshire in 1676

Margaret Holmes tells me that she has the Will of Morgan Evan. He married Sarah Evans on June 2nd 1732. They had 6 children, David Morgan who inherited Tyr Ddu ( Tirdu in his will), John Morgan who married Elizabeth David of Llanbadarn Fawr and went to live there and was left out of the Will, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary and Margaret. These females are mentioned in the will as are their husbands, John David, Hugh Lloyd of Brynmaenne/ Bryn wenne? Richard Jones and ? Abraham. There were grandchildren  Timothy Evans who inherited Penylon(sic) Evan and David Evans and Sarah and Ann Evans, David Hugh son of David Hugh and Sarah his sister. The writing is difficult but another seems to be called Morgan Evan Morgan Hatter . Other properties mentioned are Ty Llwyd, Penylon is also called Ty Hugh Matthew. There is mention of Ty Lloyd, Gallty Cafneu, Aberbinant or Claeny Tirdu, Cnwceyn Aur(not sure of that one) and Tir Evan Rees James. The Will was written in 1788 but he died in 1792. His wife is Executrix so must have died later. I found some of these properties in the Tithe records of 1836.

In 1734 Griffith Jones set up his circulating schools with the aim of bringing religious education to the illiterate. One of these was in Pennant. Lewis Gwynne of Mynachty wrote that the school had 137 pupils and so a second teacher was provided. These schools came to an end in 1779.

By the 18th century the Church of England had grown remote from the people. The backlash came with the Methodist Revival which swept the country in a religious fervour. To Pennant came, among others, Hywel Harris who was evangelising in the Aeron valley in 1737. He preached at Ty Llwyd and the Ship Inn. Later, in 1768 the Methodist chapel was built across the road from the inn. At this time, of course, Methodism was still a sect within the Church of England and it was not until 1811 that it broke away and became a denomination in its own right.

Barbara Cooper has told me that her ancestors were Evan James and his wife Gwenllian who were married in 1755. Gwenllian died in 1817 at Brysig Mawr farm and was buried at Llanbadarn Trefeglwys. Of their numerous children, their son William James married Elizabeth Jones at Llanbadarn T. in 1798. William and Elizabeth James are both buried in the churchyard at Pennant, together with their sons David and John. Although the family was probably living at Brysig Mawr in 1823 (John James
died there in that year) the family of William James had moved to the farm of Penralltwen in the Aeron valley by 1826. Penralltwen was on the Llanerchaeron estate.

In 1820 on the road to Llanon, just past the entrance to Tir Du, there stood a house called Pantmawr. The house is now gone but the garden can still be seen on the other side of the road.In this house, at that time, lived Hugh Mattew (77), his wife Catherine (66) and a servant girl.On the 15th November 1821 they had retired for the night when Will Llaw Wan broke into the house with an axe. The servant girl fled and the old people were in terror of their lives. Will stole two pocket books worth 5 shillings, one pair of scales worth 5 shillings, a Sovereign and 46 promissory notes to the vale of £101. He then made his escape but was later captured and was hanged on the 15th October 1821.

A labourer in 1831 earned a shilling a day.

We get a snapshot of the parish as it was in 1833 from Samuel Lewis's A Topographical Dictionary of Wales 1833 -

"LLANBADARN - TRÊVEGLWYS (LLAN - BADARN-TRÊV-EGLWYS), a parish in the lower division of the hundred of ILAR, county of CARDIGAN, SOUTH WALES, 12 miles (S. by W.) from Aberystwith, containing 982 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the river Arth, formerly constituted one of the prebends in the collegiate church of Llandewy-Brevi, and was rated in the king's books at £12. The living is a discharged vicarage, with that of Kilkennin annexed, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St. David's, rated in the king's books at £6, endowed with one-third of the tithes, and with £1200 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's. The church is dedicated to St. Padarn, or Paternus. There is a place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £ 170.2."

In 1834 there was a murder in the village. After drinking home brewed beer in Blaencwm. John Morris, aged 32 and another man quarrelled and Morris was killed on the Pennant - Llanon road near Brysig Mawr. He was buried in Llanbadarn Trefeglwys churchyard on the 30th September 1834. This story, however, is at variance with that printed in The Cambrian on the 11th October 1834 where he is reported to have been a victim of the old custom of the Ceffyl Pren.

In 1839 and again between 1842 and 1843 there was a general reaction against tithes, rates and toll gates, culminating in the Rebecca Riots. A name was taken from Genesis xxiv, 60 " Let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them."Many young tenant farmers dressed as women and destroyed the toll gates. Isaac Jones, Frongoy told me that his grandfather, as a young man, had been one of these rioters. There was a riot at the gate in Llanon in September 1843.Another toll gate was on the outskirts of Aberaeron and the house is still there. Eventually the rioters were put down by the military. Their name was taken from Genesis xxiv, 60 " Let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them."

David J.W. Davies and his wife, of Cefngwrthafan Uchaf emigrated to Pittsburgh in the USA in 1841 and later moved to Gallia County in Ohio.

From 1841 on, when the Census began, we can get a clear picture of life in the village. For the most part the inhabitants were engaged in the various occupations that provided the necessities of life.
There was always at least one inn, The Ship, and at one time there were three. In addition, there were the ale houses, which did not need a license, where home brewed beer was sold. At the end of the nineteenth century there were nine of these. The Black Lion ( now Eryl ) was built in 1896 and closed as an inn in 1942.

The inn and the village shop (and sometimes there was more than one of each) are obvious but there were others that have now gone.

The chief of these were the dressmakers, tailors and their ancillary trades such as weavers, lace makers, milliners and knitting women. This was a time when, in country districts, ready made clothes were seldom, if ever, bought from a shop. Clothes were made at home or bought locally. It must also be remembered that the boats plying from Aberarth and Llanon brought back patterns of the latest fashions together with bolts of silk and satin. Then there was the schoolmaster and, down by the Arth, the miller. There was a baker and a blacksmith, a butcher and a carpenter, carriers, coachmen, grocers, masons and others. This state of providing services for the surrounding area lasted up to the 1940s.
Orphan children seemed to have been taken in by local families either fostered or as servants. Whether these families were relations it is not possible to say.

In June of 1845 there was a great cloudburst. The Arth rose and the torrent swept away the bridge near the Ship and swirling down destroyed the mill in Aberarth. A new bridge was completed in 1851 and still stands today.

The Welsh Gazette brought the news to Pennant. This was taken over on the 10th October 1860 by the Merioneth Herald which first published in Bala. On the 9th of January 1869 it became the Cambrian News & Merioneth Standard. It is now the Aberystwyth & Cambrian News.

Mr Bill Morris has provided me with information about his ancestors who lived in Croesty Bach -

As you will quickly check from my surname these are my ancestors and we still have in our possession a old map showing the position of Croesty Bach.

As best we understand it one of the sons of John Morris (47 in 1861) - David (I think also the one referred to John in the 1861 census as they have the same birth year) was indentured as an apprentice - we have the 
original document - and went to sea. We have correspondence from David to his father and a couple of interesting journals of early sea voyages that my brother has sent to the National Maritime Museum.

David achieved his captains certificate and enjoyed what would appear to be a reasonably prosperous career. He died in his mid 50's in 1903 (we think). During his coastal shipping days he met his future wife at the small port of Glasson dock on the coast of Northern Lancashire - at the mouth of the river Lune approx 15 miles from Lancaster.

He married Mary Alice (not yet sure when but likely around 1875) and kept a house in Aberarth for his family whilst he was at sea. In 1881 they had their first son David Percy who listed his place of birth in letters as being at Croesty Bach - and much later - when living Lancaster - named his house as Croesty. 
David Percy Morris was my grandfather. He died in 1935 long before I was born (1951) as had most of his brothers and sisters (he was one of 7). What makes the story a little bit more interesting, and why I am 
doing a little research is that my eldest son was born in 1981, which is exactly 100 years to the day that his great-grandfather (David Percy) was born in Wales.

If anyone has information on these Morrises they can contact Bill here

The school was built in 1870 as a result of the Education Act of that year.
Prior to the Act of 1870 elementary education for the poorer classes had been provided by the Anglican church or by the Nonconformists. The Act provided basic skills for the children of the lower classes and continued until the child was thirteen.
It was not primary education as we know it today. There was no intention of the children going on to higher education.

In 1879 conditions on the land were so bad that a group from Pennant joined forces with others from Cross Inn ( a village about four miles further inland ) and decided to try their luck in America. They went down to the coastal town of Aberaeron and there built their own ship and sailed it across the Atlantic.
Eventually they settled in Ohio. After the Second World War some of their descendants returned on a visit and took back with them the sign from the Ship Inn.

Mr Jack Jones, Brynteg has been kind enough to lend me some photographs showing Pennant at the end of the nineteenth century.

the lower village.jpg

The Lower Village

The Black Lion (Eryl).jpg

The Black Lion (Eryl)


The Black Lion (Eryl)

The Black Lion. Standing in the doorway is Mrs Mary Jane Williams and, next to her,

The Black Lion. Standing in the doorway is Mrs Mary Jane Williams and, next to her, her

In 1918 the vote was given to women over the age of thirty and in 1928 this was reduced to twenty one.
In 1931 the Budget increased the price of petrol to 0ne Shilling and Four Pence Halfpenny ( 7p).





The two photographs above are taken from postcards with a post mark of 1931. I am grateful to Mr Isaac Evans,

Ty Coch for allowing me to use them.

In 1937 water was piped to seven points in the village. They were opposite Llain, between Cartrefle and Mount Pleasant, opposite the entrance to Tirdu, at Chapel House, across the road from Gwyfryn, across the road from Tyheter and outside Penbronpren. When this had been done the roads were tarred for the first time.

pump opposite Llain.jpg

This is the pump opposite Llain which is the last remaining one.

An interesting picture of Pennant during the Second World War has been provided by Mrs Marian Balcomb (nee Jones).
My father was born and brought up in Pennant.
I myself was evacuated there during the Second World War and with my two great-aunts lived in a little cottage called "Park Cottage".This was located along the lane next to "Ty Heter", which was occupied by a Miss Jones. Next door to "Park Cottage" was "Ty Newydd" which was occupied by  a local butcher. I will find out his name for you later, but his brother was another butcher called Lewis Lloyd who had a place down by the river near the "Ship Inn" where he prepared the meat. When he died he left his business to Ianto, his brothers boy and he continued the business for several years, but he then went to work for Mansel, who had converted some of the land owned by his mother, adjacent to "Blaencwm" into a garage and petrol station, which is there to this day. "Blaencwm" was the village shop until Mari, Mansel's mother died.
Another of my great-aunts kept the Chapel House for many years, and her daughter kept another shop, in what is known as "Pennant Isa" opposite the chapel.
My great -grand father and great -grandmother are buried in  the graveyard, as are my great-uncle Evan, who died of pneumonia in the first world war, my father and mother and various other relatives. I can boast that I can stand by my parents grave and be surrounded by graves of those to whom I am connected by either blood or marriage.
I went to the village school during the war, and at that time it was divided into "Ysgol Fawr" and "Ysgol Fach". Both school-mistresses were called Jones. Miss Jones Ysgol Fach and Miss Jones C.M. We wrote on slates and the toilets were out in the yard.

The museum in Aberystwyth has a stuffed dog called Clip that belonged to the family. It was donated to the museum by Jack's brother Arwyn, and my father used to ride on his back from Pant-y-Petris to school at Pennant.

My grandmother used to live in Tal-y-Bont House, on the other side of the river from the chapel, and my aunt Marged-Mary and uncle Johnnie in Talbont Stores across the road from the chapel. Johnny had the only electricity in the village, run by a dynamo run by the water from the water meadows. He also had a big green house where he raised tomatoes and grapes. He was a good carpenter and carved many walking sticks and also made some coffins. He was the commander of the Home Guard in Pennant during the war.

The Second World War 1939 - 1945. Some interesting insights in to life in Pennant and the neighbouring villages of Cilcennin, Cross Inn and Llanon can be found here

During the war Pennant sheltered official evacuees from Liverpool and London besides others who were privately evacuated. These are listed here.

Among these were David Thomas, his brother John and sisters Connie, Mary and Jean.This photograph was taken about 1942 standing in front of Pencwm where they stayed during the war. David is holding their Corgi.


David Thomas, his brother John and his sisters Connie, Mary and Jean

It was not until the nineteen fifties that water was piped into the houses.


Bro Arth

Bro Arth

In 1950 the Council Houses at Bro Arth were built on behalf of Ceredigion Council by Mr Evans ( Ianto Saer ) of Cicennin on land which had been part of Tirdu. They cost £1,000 each to build and were rented at £1 a week. The centre pair of houses had coal fired Raeburns in the kitchen. The other houses had open fires in the front and back.

Electricity came to the village in the early 1960s. Mr Eifion Evans remembers when electricity came to the village, "I was 7, and was keen to “help” the linesmen as they installed the cables on electricity poles – and that seems just like yesterday. I remember Tommy Richards, Afallon, installed the electricity into the house and the first night we switched on the electricity my mum couldn’t cope with the brightness – she could see cobwebs in corners that had hitherto remained in darkness. So she switched off and brought out the old paraffin lamp again."

The houses at Bryn Hyfryd were built in 2004 on Caer Efail opposite Mount Pleasant which was at one time a blacksmith's. Other blacksmiths at various times were at Blaencwm, Cartrefle and Refail Bach which is near Bikerhyde.

On the 20th August 2008 the Nant, after heavy rainfall, overflowed it's banks. The upper and lower villages were both affected. The school, Brynawel,Glasfryn Ilwen, Eryl and the shop in the uper villlage and Felin Cwm, The Ship, the Chapel and Chapel House in the lower village were all flooded.

In June 2010 the village shop and Post Office closed.

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