Llansawel Hall Heritage Entranceway

In 2010 Llansawel Hall Committee made a plan to refurbish the hall, adding an extension  and a mezzanine floor, to increase the variety of uses to which the hall could be put.   Planning permission and building regulations approval were obtained.  Before proceeding with the development, the hall’s grounds first had to be made safe.  One of two private gateway in the side boundary wall was blocked up and it was agreed to replace the other with a completely new entranceway design which would improve safety and appearance.

A separate planning permission and funding for the new entranceway were obtained in 2013.

 

detail from an aerial photograph from 1975, showing the village hall with both entrance walls intact.

detail from an aerial photograph from 1975, showing the village hall with both entrance walls intact.

The Old Gateway
Llansawel Hall was built in 1957, with a small gate to the highway, only ten feet across, between brick pillars, and with a rendered brick wall on either side forming a funnel for incoming traffic.  In 1988, the wall toward the Marlais bridge was demolished to allow large stones to be brought in to reinforce the riverbank and build a new weir.   A post-and-chain system was installed to replace the wall when this work was done.  However, because the gap made a more convenient entrance than the gate, this eventually fell into disuse.  The entranceway had therefore become unsightly and made poor use of the available space.

The hall frontage just before the new project began  The vertical timber in the foreground is an inconveniently positioned telegraph pole.

The hall frontage just before the new project began The vertical timber in the foreground is an inconveniently positioned telegraph pole.

 

The New Design
The advice of Highways Planning was for maximum visibility, because of the hump back bridge on the left and the bulging facade of Marlais View on the right.  This led to the project favouring railings over a wall.

The search for funding quickly led to the Carmarthenshire  Landscape and Heritage Grant Fund and the idea of making the railing and gates commemorate the parish’s heritage and the past history of the hall’s land as a livestock market..

Part of the King's Licence to hold a market in Llansawel.  Obtained by Sir Rice Williams in 1688.

Part of the King’s Licence to hold a market in Llansawel. Obtained by Sir Rice Williams in 1688.

Carmarthenshire County Archives holds a licence dated 1688 granted to Sir Rice Williams, then Lord of Edwinsford, to  hold a market in Llansawel.  As the Church dates back to the 13th century, it is likely that there were markets long before 1688, but this is the earliest evidence so far recovered.

 

 

The New Entranceway’s Commemorative and local craft features

  • The railing and gates were made by Eirian Morgan, farrier and blacksmith, of Ffarmers
  • The black inset decorations, which are cut from heavy plate steel, denote a drover and his animals, namely a sheep, a pig, a horse and a bull.
  • The vehicular gates feature two clumps of daffodils and the words “Neuadd Llansawel”
  • The pedestrian gate, beside the telephone kiosk, depicts an African elephant.  In1888 a travelling-menagerie elephant died whilst in the village and its remains were buried here.  For the full known details, please see The Elephant Story, elsewhere on this website.
  • Stone from the old market boundary was used for the masonry under, and to the village side of, the railings.
  • All of the stone used in the little garden beside Number 1 Marlais View, including the boulders, came from Dinas Quarry, now disused, the rocky crown of the hill overlooking Llansawel.  All photographs of the valley dating from the thirties or earlier show a smooth topped slightly higher hill.  The quarry is now owned by Tarmac plc.  We record their generosity in allowing the project to take stone gratis.
  • The boulders were chosen by John Jones, Monumental Mason, Alltymynydd, Llanybydder, who also prepared the large boulder for the plaque.
  • The gates and railings were installed by Dai Morgans, builder, The Old Courthouse, Llansawel, who also carried out all of the stonework..
  • The historical element of this web site was also created as part of the same grant project and launched in Autumn 2013.
The new entranceway, put in place September-October 2013

The new entranceway, put in place September-October 2013

The following extract from Fred S Price’s History of Llansawel (1898) describes the days of the drovers, which were already numbered when he was writing.   In Victorian times a railway was planned linking Swansea with Aberystwyth which, had it materialised, would have passed through Talley.  Llansawel might then have grown into another Lampeter or Llandovery.  Conversely (and ironically), it was the coming of the railway that ended long distance droving as a way of life, as the animals were then taken relatively short distances to the nearest railway station and loaded into trucks.

It should be noted that the expression “town” used by Mr Price meant any collection of dwellings, however small, and not a town as we know it.  Llansawel has never been larger than it is now and in Mr Price’s day was considerably more compact.

“Llansawel was once a market town and the central station connecting the whole industrial pursuits of the surrounding parishes, and part of Cardiganshire, with the outside world. Through it passed all the cattle, sheep, horses, and pigs: cart-loads of pigs killed for the Brecon, Merthyr, and Aberdare markets were often seen on its roads. Through it also passed the Cardiganshire farmers for lime and coal. Again it was the farmers’ and cattle dealers’ place for shoeing the cattle on their way to the famous Barnet and other markets; and for many days in those times, the fields around were crowded with cattle and sheep. During the winter the ringing anvils at the smithy were busy preparing the iron “cûs” and nails for thousands of the “ da wâr.” The cûs were two small iron plates under each foot, the outer plate having four holes and the inner one three. Here the cattle were shoed, and one can guess that Llansawel must have been a lively place, not dead nor unknown. Here many of the old characters – drovers – spent some pleasant days, but the race of drovers are gradually lessening in number, and they have found, like Othello, that their occupation is gone.
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