The history of the twin towns

Thanks to Dr. John Davies and to André Bozec to allow the use of their works

History of Llandysul a’r Fro

from a paper prepared by Dr John Davies, a local historian

The history of Llandysul a’r Fro is very interesting and although some events have only local significance others are of national importance.

* Vortigern, who first invited the Saxons to settle in Britain in the 5th century, was driven westward by Germanus, who came here about the year 440 AD. Vortigern was cornered in the hill-fort Craig Gwrtheyrn, which has ever since been named after him. It is the conical hill across the river Teifi in the parish of Llanfihangel-ar-Arth. It is said that Germanus fasted for three days and three nights and in the middle of the third night fire descended from heaven and burnt the fortress, killing Vortigern and all his wives.

This is a typical folk tale of Wales , but this one is very, very old because it was written down by one of the earliest British historians - Nennius - in the 8th century.

* The fine old church of Llandysul – Saint Tysul - is the oldest building in the village. It dates from the 13th century but stands on an ancient foundation founded by Saint Tysul in the 6th century. Saint Tysul was the son of Corun, the son of Ceredig, who gave his name to the kingdom, now the county of Ceredigion .

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Llandysul ’s Church

Ceredig had another son Sant, who was the father of our Patron Saint Dewi. Thus Tysul and Dewi Sant were first cousins. Ceredig himself was the son of Cunedda, king of Edinburgh, who came south to drive Irish settlers out of Gwynedd, and thus founded the royal dynasty of North Wales .

In the Choir vestry of the Church there is an early Christian inscribed stones, the ‘Velfor Stone’, commemorating “Velvoria, daughter of Brohomaglus”.

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Velvor Stone

This stone has a bilingual inscription, in Latin and Ogham - the ancient Irish language- and thus gives evidence of the Irish population settled here at the time.

* Owain Glyndwr was chosen Prince of Wales because his father, Gruffydd Fychan, was prince of Powys (mid-Wales), and his mother, Elen, was princess of Deheubarth ( South Wales ). Elen, her sister and two brothers, were directly descended from Rhys ap Tewdwr, the last king of all South Wales . The men of Llandysul were the first to join Owain in war in 1400, and thus Henry IV, at the end of the revolt, confiscated Owain Glyndwr’s lands around Llandysul.

Elen and Gruffydd Fychan had been lords of Llandysul when Elen’s brother Owain ap Thomas ap Llywelyn, and uncle Owain ap Llywelyn died. These men had been joint patrons of the church of Llandysul and held courts in the town. There is thus reason to think that amongst the older buildings of Llandysul may be the Court of Owain Glyndwr and his ancestors.

* During the English Civil war, by 1644, the Royalist army was defending Ceredigion against the Parliamentary army, who had overrun Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.

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The old bridge at Llandysul had three arches and the Royalists pulled down the one on the Pont-Tyweli side of the river to prevent the Parliamentarians crossing into Ceredigion. * From earliest times New Year’s Day was celebrated by a game of Cnapan – a form of football - played between the communities of Llanwenog and Llandysul, the goals being the church porch. By the beginning of the 19th century it was becoming rougher and one man was killed and many injured during the event. When the new Gregorian calendar changed the date of the New Year in 1752, the people of the area continued to hold the football game on the old New Year, which thus became the 12th January.

The toll of death and mutilations was not considered to matter too much, but by 1833, the Vicar of Llandysul decided that it was no longer suitable for the game to be played between the two churches. He decided to establish a scripture competition between the local parishes, in which teams representing each parish in the area compete in recitations from memory. This competition, which continues to this day on 12th January, is unique in Wales on that date.

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Loom of the museum in Drefach-Felindre

* At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the Welsh Woollen Industry was important in the area especially thanks to the proximity of rivers and sheep farms. The majority of the people were employed by the textile industry, by working in mills, weaving or making (?) of clothes. In 1871, there were 104 specialized weavers in the district, the most prosperous employing one or two weavers. The arrival of the railway in the second part of the 19th century made it easier to reach the industrial valley of South Wales .

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* Today, Llandysul is famous thanks to the river Teifi that runs through the village. Many people come from all over Great Britain for the fishing, especially the fishing of sewin and salmon, and the canoeing.

History of Plogonnec

from a paper prepared by Andre Bozec

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menhir of the church

* Before 1204, there is no record of the name of Plogonnec. The few vestiges of Prehistory (tumulus in Kervolzet, menhir of the church, the druidic rock of Kerioret) and the old Roman roads proved that people passed through the territory of Plogonnec , but we have no remains of dwelling places.

* It is an act of donation to Saint Ronan dating from 1204, the 21st of April, which indicates for the first time the existence of Plogonnec. Its name comes from Ploe, meaning parish in Breton (plwyf in Welsh), and Saint-Conec or Saint-Thegonnec. At this time, the responsibility for public order in the parish of Plogonnec was held by the Lord of Nevet.

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St-Pierre Chapel

* At the time of Renaissance, the commerce of linen cloth made Plogonnec prosperous. It was at this time that the majority of chapels of Plogonnec were built as well as the manors of Bonescat, Rubihan, Garland and Seznec. These buildings were erected between the 15th and the 17th centuries. * This prosperity did not protect the parish from the disturbances of the War of Religion (or War of the League) from 1588 to 1598 and the revolt of the Stamped Paper (or of the Red Cap) in 1665. One of the precipitants of this revolt was the creation of new taxes, for example the stamped paper authenticating judicial certificates. The Act of Union (1532) had stated that no taxes could be raised by France in Brittany without the agreement of the State of Brittany . In Plogonnec, the castle of La Motte was attacked and its guard killed before the Rene II of Nevet restored order.

* In 1789, during the French Revolution, the priest of Plogonnec, Jean-Marie Leissègues from Rosaven, was elected second deputy of the low clergy of Cornouaille at the “Etats Généraux”, and then member of the Constituent Assembly. However, he refused to swear to the Republic as One and Indivisible and as a consequence emigrated to Germany in 1792.

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Train station of Pont-Queau

* In the 19th century, the living conditions of the day-labourers were poor and the infant mortality rate was high in Plogonnec. Roads were repaired and constructed and schools constructed. In agriculture, horses replaced oxen for work in the fields. Corn, rye, barley, oats, hemp and potato, which was the main food, were cultivated. At the end of the century, the arrival of railway allowed a new contact with the outside world. * After the separation of Church and State on the 9th December 1905 , an inventory of the Goods of Church had to be made, before being entrusted to cultural associations. In Plogonnec, like everywhere else in Brittany , the inventory had to be made under the protection of the army and police. The population tried to stop it because this law offended people. A hive was thrown at the mounted police, who were preparing to charge the crowd.

* The two World Wars had a profound effect on the population of Plogonnec. During the First World War, 169 people were killed, about 5% of the population, and many were injured. During the Second World War, the German occupation from 1943 and the actions of bands of rubbers tormented the commune.

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At the departure of the German army, Plogonnec escaped terrible reprisals after an attack on a German soldier in the train station of Guengat. The German soldiers assembled the population at the centre of Plogonnec intending to burn them in the Church, but thanks to long negotiations, they renounced this intention and left the village with hostages. * Since the war, there have been many changes. The coming of electricity to the countryside, the advent of the consumers’ society, the regrouping of agricultural properties with the redistribution of lands, the levelling of hedges and the redrawing of roads (remembrement) greatly modified the landscape. More residential houses were built and more people began working in neighbouring towns.

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Community hall

* During the 90’s, many new buildings have been built, including a leisure centre, a new state school, a library, a new post office and more recently a large community hall for meetings and entertainment (socioculturelle). The construction of a new housing estate gives the opportunity for many more people to settle in the commune.

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