Lampeter (Llan-Bedr) Pontstephen - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
LAMPETER (LLAN-BEDR) PONTSTEPHEN, a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, partly in the Upper division of the hundred of Troedyraur, but chiefly in that of the hundred of Moythen, county of Cardigan, South Wales, 27 miles (E.) from Cardigan, and 203 (W. by N.) from London; containing, with the hamlet of Trêvycoed, 1507 inhabitants. The name signifies "the church of St. Peter," the distinguishing appellation of Pont-Stephen having been added from a bridge over the river Teivy, at the distance of about half a mile, erected, as has been vaguely conjectured, by King Stephen, in one of his inroads into Wales. That monarch is also said to have encamped in a meadow near the river, thence called "The King's Meadow;" and in an adjoining field was formerly a subterraneous apartment, called "The King's Cellar," to which led a curious flight of stone steps, removed some time ago by a farmer, for the sake of the materials. But from ancient Welsh pedigrees, the bridge appears to have been the work of an inferior manorial proprietor in this neighbourhood, called Stephen, whose name was used to designate this useful erection, and thus became conjoined with that of the adjacent town and parish.
This seems to have been formerly a place of greater extent and importance than it is at present, "the men of Llan-Bedr" being repeatedly mentioned in terms of distinction in the Welsh Chronicle. To the south-west of the town is a plot of ground still called Mynwent Twmas, "St. Thomas' churchyard," where fragments of leaden coffins have been frequently dug up; the street leading towards it is also called St. Thomas' street, and tradition reports the ruins of the edifice to have been visible about 200 years ago. The ancient lords of the place are represented to have been men of great wealth: their mansion was delightfully situated on the declivity of an eminence to the west of the town; and some remains yet exist of a causeway which, according to tradition, led from it to the western door of the church. The castle of Lampeter is stated to have been demolished, towards the middle of the twelfth century, by Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, in an expedition against the Normans and Flemings in Cardiganshire and the parts adjacent; it is supposed to have stood in a meadow on the right of the road leading to Aberystwith, the site being marked by a lofty artificial mound, surrounded by an intrenchment. In 1188, Baldwin, Archbishop of Canterbury, Giraldus Cambrensis, John, abbot of Whitland, and Sisillus, abbot of the monastery of Strata-Florida, here successively exerted their eloquence in preaching the crusades.
The town, which is small, has been much improved by the erection of many good houses on leases granted by J. S. Harford, Esq., of Peterwell, who is lord of the manor. It is pleasantly situated in the beautiful Vale of Teivy, on the northern bank of that river, which here forms the boundary between the counties of Cardigan and Carmarthen, and in a cultivated tract of small extent, surrounded on every side by mountains of considerable elevation. The town is amply supplied with water from the river, and also from springs in the neighbourhood. Its principal architectural ornament is the College of St. David, the establishment of which has greatly tended to promote the prosperity of the place. A new bridge has been built across the Teivy, and an act of parliament was obtained some years ago for the construction of a new line of road from the town to Llandovery. The inhabitants procure grocery and various other articles of domestic consumption from Bristol, which are brought by sea to Aberaëron, and thence by land carriage a distance of thirteen miles; coal of a bituminous quality from Newport and Llanelly, which is brought to the same port; and stone-coal and culm by land from Llandebie and Llandyvaen, a distance of about thirty miles. An agricultural society is supported. The market is on Saturday: three principal fairs, in addition to others of inferior note, are held annually on the Wednesday in Whitsun-week, July 10th, and October 19th. The parish comprises an area of 5200 acres.
The earliest charter of incorporation of which there is a copy extant, is that of Henry VI., whose grant, however, recites others as far back as the reign of Edward II. That under which the borough is now governed was granted by George III., in the 54th year of his reign. It recites that Lampeter was a very ancient borough, in possession, as well by prescription and custom as by grants and charters, of numerous liberties, which it had enjoyed from time beyond memory; and that, as the records and early documents of the place had been for the greater part lost, it was necessary to confirm to the burgesses all their fairs, markets, and other immunities. This the charter accordingly did, re-constituting the corporation under the title of "The Burgesses of the borough of Llampeter-Pont-Stephen," and enacting various regulations for the due election of officers, and the proper management of the affairs of the town. The members of the corporation are a portreeve, town-clerk, beadle or bailiff, and an indefinite number of burgesses. Two courts leet are held for the borough on days appointed by the steward of the lord of the manor, the one at Michaelmas, and the other at Easter; at the former of which the jury, who are selected by the steward, present to him a portreeve and beadle from among the burgesses: the office of town-clerk is generally filled by the steward. The portreeve, by virtue of his office, acts as a magistrate for the borough, concurrently with the justices of the peace for the county. The town-clerk is entitled to a fee of half-a-crown on the admission of a freeman; and the privileges of the burgesses include the right of common on certain waste lands comprising about twenty acres, and freedom from the tolls within the borough, which belong to the owner of the Peterwell estates. In order to become a burgess, it is necessary to be presented by the jury to the steward.
Lampeter is contributory with Cardigan, Aberystwith, and Atpar, in the return of a member to parliament. The right of election was formerly in the burgesses at large; it is now, by the act of 1832, for "Amending the Representation of the People," vested in the old resident burgesses only, if duly registered according to the provisions of the act, and in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner, or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises in the borough of the annual value of £10 and upwards, provided he be capable of registering as the act directs: the number of tenements of the annual value of not less than £10 is about fifty, and the total number of voters about 150. This is one of the polling-places in the election of a knight for the shire. The powers of the county debt-court of Lampeter, established in 1847, extend over the registration-districts of Lampeter and Trêgaron. The town-hall is a commodious edifice, erected in 1818, at the expense of Richard Hart Davis, Esq., lord of the manor: the lower part is appropriated to the market.
The foundation of St. David's College, at this place, is to be attributed to the benevolent and indefatigable exertions of the late Dr. Burgess, Bishop of Salisbury, whose pious exertions for a period of upwards of twenty years as Bishop of St. David's, were at length crowned with complete success by the erection of this noble college, and by securing for it a respectable endowment. Having represented to His Majesty George IV. the necessity that existed for such a foundation, as many of the persons intended and best qualified for the ministry in Wales could not incur the expenses of a suitable education at Oxford or Cambridge, he induced that monarch to enter heartily into the project, by aiding it with his purse, by bestowing on it several advowsons, and by granting it a charter, which secured to the college numerous advantages. The foundation-stone was laid by the bishop on the 12th of August, 1822, and the building was completed and opened for the reception of students in 1827, at the expense of about £20,000. Of this amount, £6000 were contributed by the government, £1000 by the king, and the remainder was produced from collections made by the bishop among the clergy of his diocese and the public during many preceding years. The site of the edifice, containing nearly three acres, was purchased for £100; to this above four and a half acres were subsequently added, at a cost of £400, and the whole area, with the exception of the ground occupied by the college itself and the house of the viceprincipal, is laid out in pleasure-grounds and walks. The building, which was erected from a design by Mr. C. R. Cockerell, is a handsome quadrangular structure, containing a house for the principal, apartments for the visiter and four professors, rooms for above seventy students, a chapel, hall, and library, with the usual collegiate offices; the vice-principal occupying a detached residence. The library already presents a collection of 18,000 volumes, of which half were the gift of the bishop, and is always accessible to the students under very moderate restrictions.
The charter is dated the 6th of February, 1829, and after reciting the motives under which the college was founded, grants to the establishment, in pursuance of an act previously passed, the advowsons of the rectories of Llangoedmore in the county of Cardigan, and Llanedy in the county of Carmarthen, the vicarage of St. Peter's in the town of Carmarthen, and the sinecure rectories of Llangeler in the same county, and Llandewi-Velvrey in Pembrokeshire, together with all the rights belonging to them. It declares the college shall be perpetual, for the education of persons destined for holy orders, and shall consist of a principal, two or more tutors, and the same number of professors. It appoints the Lord Bishop of St. David's for the time being, visiter, and declares that the principal, &c., and their successors, shall be a body corporate, under the name of the "Principal, Tutors, and Professors of St. David's College in the county of Cardigan and principality of Wales," having a common seal, with license to hold the above advowsons, and to purchase lands and advowsons for the use of the college, so that the value of the further advowsons and lands thus held in mortmain shall not exceed £4000 annually above all charges; also to possess charitable bequests and benefactions, and other contributions and gifts; and to sue and be sued under the said name. The charter next grants the advowsons to the heads of the college and their successors, upon trust, to present to the livings as they shall become vacant, such persons, being members of the college, as the visiter shall appoint. It also ordains that the principal, &c., shall act according to statutes, rules, and ordinances framed by the visiter for the good government of the college, with power to the latter to alter the same so far as the changes shall be in accordance with the charter, and the laws of the realm. The charter recites that His Majesty had appointed the Rev. L. Lewellin, of Jesus' College, Oxford, to be the first principal, and other persons named, as first tutors and professors; and declares that on the first vacancy in the headship, the Regius professor of Divinity, the Margaret professor of Divinity, and the Greek Professor, in the university of Oxford, shall nominate two masters of arts either of Oxford or Cambridge, whom they deem fit to supply the office, and that the visiter shall select one of them as the principal; that, on the succeeding vacancy, the like duties shall be exercised by the same professors in the university of Cambridge, and so on alternately on every vacancy; and on their neglect, that the visiter shall appoint a qualified person. No statutes have been yet drawn up according to the charter, but provisional regulations, comprising general principles, have been framed preparatory to the others. The visiter attends annually either in person or by his sub-visiters, of whom he has the appointment, and who report to him the state and condition of the college. The establishment at present consists of a principal, who is also treasurer, professor of Greek, and senior professor of theology, with a salary and emoluments amounting to £850; a vice-principal, who is professor of Hebrew and junior professor of theology, and has a salary and emoluments amounting to £650; a professor of Welsh, with salary, &c., £250; a professor of mathematics, and a professor of natural philosophy. The two last professorships are merely honorary, or sinecures, the funds not admitting at present of any salaries. The number of students is about fifty.
Several scholarships have been founded by friends of the institution. During the lifetime of Dr. Burgess, he paid £40 per annum for the support of four scholarships of £10 each, chiefly derived from funds supplied by individuals who selected the bishop as the channel of their bounty. The principal source of these was, a bequest of £100 and a share in the Regent's canal, by Francis Burton, Esq., and £179 bequeathed to the bishop by Mrs. Martha More, for "his charities in Wales;" the remainder was supplied from his own purse. At his decease, Dr. Burgess left £3000 three per cent. consols., of the interest of which, £40 were to be allotted to the continued maintenance of the four scholarships above-mentioned, and, after Mrs. Burgess's death, the residue to be applied in the endowment of new scholarships, or for such other purposes as the visiter should think proper. Of these four scholarships, the bishop directed that two should be named the Eldon, out of compliment to the peer of that name, who at the bishop's request had obtained the benefices connected with the college, from the crown; that the third should be called the Burton, and be adjudged, like the two first, to students natives of the principality, who should pass the best examination in Hebrew, the classics, the Welsh language, and the evidences of Christianity; and that the fourth should be called Mrs. Martha More's, and be open to all the members of the college for the best examination in the history and contents of the Bible, and in the evidences of Christianity. The Van Mildert is an open scholarship, arising from a grant of £500 by the late Bishop of Durham, now vested in £545. 14. three per cent. consols., and producing £16 per annum. Another open one of £10, called the Harford scholarship, proceeds from an annual grant of that sum, by John S. Harford, Esq. A further one of similar amount, named the Derry Ormond scholarship, is the result of a bequest of £333. 6. 8. three per cent. consols., by the late John Jones, Esq., of Derry Ormond, in 1832; and another has been founded bearing the name of the benefactress, from a bequest of £400 three per cent. consols., by Mrs. Hannah More, in 1830. The Butler scholarships, of £20 each, arose from a bequest of £2000 three per cent. reduced, by the Rev. Robert Butler, the interest to be applied to the general use of the college. The heads of the college have likewise founded another scholarship, named the Coity, after the parish in Glamorganshire containing an estate yielding £23 per annum for the scholarship, purchased for £621, a portion of a larger amount of £1403, the total of various sums placed at the disposal of the college. From the same fund a college scholarship has been formed of £10 per annum, the interest of a sum of £200 lent on the bond of two individuals, to be adjudged to such student as exhibits most proficiency. There is a premium for the best essay in Welsh on any proposed doctrine of the Gospel, named the "Creaton Essay," arising from a gift of £200 by the Rev. Thomas Jones, of Creaton, Northampton; and recently, some scholarships have been founded by Thomas Phillips, Esq., of Brunswick-square, London, to whom the college is also indebted for part of its library.
The funds of the college are aided by a grant from government of £400 per annum, to continue until the six livings presented to the college shall produce £950, which it was calculated would, with the fees, meet the yearly expenditure of the college: the total annual receipts are about £3000. A sum of £500 has been presented to the college by Mrs. Burgess, the lady of the late bishop, towards the erection of a suitable room, connected with the library, to receive the 9000 volumes bequeathed to it by her husband. Of the funds yet unappropriated, but which it is intended shall form a fund for repairs, are, a sum of £1296 consols., the balance remaining of the buildingfund, after the erection of the college; and a bequest of £500 by the late Lord de Dunstanville, for the use of the institution.
Students may obtain a testimonial after a residence of four years, the first two and a half of which are chiefly devoted to classical learning, logic as read at Oxford, and the six books of Euclid; after this the students undergo an examination, when, if found to have acquired a sufficient proficiency, they are advanced to the divinity class, in which they continue for the remainder of the term, employed in theological reading and the study of Hebrew, but at the same time attending the lectures of the first division to preserve their classical acquirements. Each member of the divinity class is required every week to furnish an analysis of some portion of Bishop Burnett's work on the Articles, and the students from Wales to compose themes in the Welsh language; and all in succession are expected to deliver an essay in English on a subject furnished by the principal, before the whole of the members on Saturdays, in the college hall. The course of chapel service is performed alternately in Welsh and English, by the divinity students in rotation, being limited to a selection from the prayers of the liturgy, and a chapter of the Bible, morning and evening; on Sundays two full services are read, and a sermon preached after each by one of the heads of the college. The time for residence each year embraces between seven and eight months, forming two terms, one commencing on the 1st of March, and the other on the Friday before Michaelmas. The fees for tuition are £12. 12. per annum, for rent £5, and the general annual expense seldom exceeds £48, but each student is expected to make a deposit of £15 at the commencement as caution money; to pay a guinea as a matriculation fee; to provide himself with an academic dress, and to furnish his apartment. The college is open to all who can pass a certain examination, but it is intended to benefit peculiarly the inhabitants of the principality. In connexion with it is a good grammar-school.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at £6. 13. 4.; present net income, £240; patron, the Bishop of St. David's. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rentcharge of £229 a year. The church, dedicated to St. Peter the Apostle, has been entirely rebuilt; it is a very handsome edifice, consisting of a nave and chancel, and when the tower shall be completed it will add greatly to the beauty of the surrounding landscape. In the chancel are some fine old monuments of the Millfield family; and from it is an opening to the vault, where repose several of the Lloyds, of Peterwell. The churchyard commands a fine view of the Vale of Teivy. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and Calvinistic Methodists; and four Sunday schools, one of them in connexion with the Church. The poor-law union of which this town is the head, was formed May 15th, 1837, and comprises the following fourteen parishes and townships; namely Lampeter-PontStephen, Bettws, Cellan, Llangyby, Llanvair-Clydogau, Llanwenog, Llanwnnen, Silian, and Trêvilan, in the county of Cardigan; and Llanybyther, Llanycrwys, Llanllwny, Llanmihangel-Rhôsycorn, and Pencarreg, in the county of Carmarthen. It is under the superintendence of eighteen guardians, and contains a population of 9866.
In the town and its vicinity are numerous remains of military intrenchments, and other works of early date, monuments of the fortitude and persevering opposition which the Welsh displayed in defending their territory from the inroads of invading armies. A little northward of the church is an artificial mound of earth, supposed to be either a sepulchral tumulus, or the site of a fortress; and near Olwen is another artificial elevation, the site of a Roman encampment, where part of a Roman mill was discovered some time ago. Eastward of this, on the summit of a hill called Alltgôch, are the prostrate stones of a Druidical temple, on one side of which is a Roman camp of considerable extent, and on the other a British, or Flemish, encampment, of an oval form, and much larger. There are traces of other fortifications, and also of a Roman road which led from Loventium, at Llanio, to Menevia, at or near St. David's. A house in the town, called the Priory, is supposed to occupy the site of a conventual establishment, of which no record has been preserved; there are some low ruined walls in the garden belonging to it. In the vicinity are some mineral springs, but they are not much resorted to.