MACHYNLLETH

Grid Ref: SH 744 014
Dates: 25 September 2016

Machynlleth
Machynlleth
Main Street
Main shopping street
Parish Church
St. Peter's Church


Tower spacer Town House
Clock Tower   Town House

Machynlleth is a market town in Powys, and within the old county of Montgomeryshire. The town has a long history with evidence of copper mining in the Bronze Age about 2,750 year ago. The Romans settled in the area and built a fort at Pennal (Cefn Caer) four miles west of Machynlleth and another fort, called Maglona, at Machynlleth. One of the earliest written references to Machynlleth is the Royal charter granted in 1291 by Edward I to Owen de la Pole, Lord of Powys. This gave him the right to hold "a market at Machynlleth every Wednesday for ever and two fairs every year". The Wednesday market is still a busy and popular day in Machynlleth 700 years later even during the pandemic. The town was the seat of Owain Glyndŵr's Welsh Parliament in 1404, where he was accepted the crown and as such claims to be the "ancient capital of Wales". However, it has never held any official recognition as a capital. However, the building where Owain's parliament met is still to be seen although much restored. It is used as a public institute.

Rowland Pugh was the Lord of Meirionedd, and lived at Mathafarn about two miles east of Machynlleth. Pugh supported the Royalist side in the English Civil War. On 2 November 1644, Sir Thomas Myddleton of Chirk Castle was marching on Machynlleth with a force of the Parliamentarian army, when he was ambushed by a force organised by Pugh. In retaliation for the attack, Myddleton burned down Mathafarn on 29 November 1644, along with a number of houses in Machynlleth.

Mary Cornelia Edwards, the daughter of local landowner Sir John Edwards married Viscount Seaham, the second son of the third Marquess of Londonderry, in 1846 and they set up home in Plas Machynlleth. Sir John became Earl Vane on the death of his father and the fifth Marquess on the death of his half-brother. To celebrate the 21st birthday of their eldest son, Viscount Castlereagh, the townspeople subscribed to the erection (at the town's main road intersection) of the clock tower, which has become widely known as the symbol of Machynlleth. The tower, which stands on the site of the old town hall, is the first thing many visitors will notice. The foundation stone was laid on 15 July 1874 amid great festivities. The house of Plas Machynllet was given to the townspeople in December 1948 under the stewardship of the then Machynlleth Urban District Council. It adapted the house for use as council offices. In 1995, after a £3 million refurbishment, funded by Montgomeryshire District Council and the European Union, the building became the "Celtica" heritage centre. It also had space to support conferences. For several years the centre was successful in attracting tourist and educational visits and conferences. The mansion was taken over by the new unitary authority, Powys County Council. With little investment by the Council and declining visitor numbers, the Council decided to close the centre in 2006. It cited a loss of £1.1 million between 1998 and its closure. The Plas is now used as a community and meetings venue.

St Peter’s Church is situated in the centre of the town. A mediaeval Church on the site is mentioned in records of 1253 and 1291, there is evidence, especially from the air, of a circular boundary which is typical of medieval churches. The medieval church was a cruciform building which was lost during the considerable rebuilding in 1827. The Lady Chapel was dedicated to Mary Cornelia, Marchioness of Londonderry, in 1933. Her father, Sir John Edwards Bart (1770-1850) was buried beneath the Lady Chapel; his uncle, Dr Robert Edwards, was the rector of the parish until his death in 1789.

 

Sources

Wikipedia article on Machynlleth and some of its links. St. Peter's website

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