Gazetteers - Holyhead


The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

National Gazetteer (1868)

"HOLYHEAD, a parish, market town, seaport, and parliamentary borough, on Holy Island, in the hundreds of Llyfon and Tal-y-Bolion, county Anglesey, 24 miles W. by N. of Beaumaris, and 260 from London by road, or 264¼ by the London and North-Western and the Chester and Holyhead railways, which latter has an extensive terminus here. The distance from the station to the pier is about a mile, although the rails are carried, for the convenience of the mails and through traffic for Ireland, to the very end of the pier, near the side of the harbour, where the Dublin Company's mail steamers lie, which leave Holyhead twice, and sometimes oftener, every day for Kingston, doing the distance of 63 miles in less than four hours, and thus reducing the time between London and Dublin to eleven hours by the mail train.

The town, which appears to have been an important post from the earliest times, as being the nearest spot of English ground to Ireland, appears to have been a Roman station from the discovery of numerous Roman coins and relics in the island at different times. The most remarkable of these remains is probably the Roman wall surrounding the churchyard, which appears to have been a portion of an ancient fortification. The Hamlet copper mine was also worked by this people. It is the Caer Gybi of the Welsh historians, and was occupied for a time by some Irish pirates in the 5th century. It has been the chief mail packet station for Ireland since the time of William III., but it is only of late years that its admirable site has been made the most of as a postal station and harbour of refuge.

The great Holyhead road was laid out by Telford in 1815 as durably as a Roman way, and the first steamer, the Talbot, of 129 tons, with Napier's engines, went to Dublin in 1818. The old harbour was formed by Rennie at the cost of £142,000. The island and pier are connected with the main land of Holy Island by an iron bridge, across which the road and railway are carried. At the pierhead is a lighthouse displaying a white light, and on the land side is an arch of Mona marble, to commemorate the landing of George IV. on his way to Ireland in 1821. On the opposite rock side of the estuary is an obelisk to Captain Skinner, commander of one of the Dublin mail steamers, who was washed overboard in 1833, off the North Stack rocks.

In the bay outside the harbour are the Platters, Peibio, Stag, and Nimrod rocks, and at the western extremity of the island are the South Stack rocks and lighthouse, which last is connected with the main island by a suspension bridge. Outside the harbour is Holyhead Bay, which since the construction of the new harbour is never used. It has the Skerries light on the N. Within the bay is a colossal breakwater, running from Soldier's Point N.E. by E., then E.S.E., and then E.N.E. It was originally intended to be of the form of a crescent, but was subsequently enlarged, having been first undertaken by government in 1848, under the superintendence of Mr. Rendel. The grants already made for it by government amount to nearly £2,000,000. The greater portion of its length has been formed in seven and eight fathoms of water. It affords partial shelter to a roadstead of 350 acres, and complete protection to a harbour of 260 acres. It is 1½ mile long, and has almost attained its intended length. Notwithstanding the Cyclopean character of these works, a great portion of the end of the wood scaffolding was carried away in the gale of October, 1859, the same in which the Royal Charter was wrecked.

A ship telegraph formerly communicated the arrival of vessels in the offing to Liverpool in three minutes, but it has latterly been superseded by the electric telegraph wires, which are carried along the turnpike road, to the South Stack Lighthouse. The greater part of the town is built immediately adjoining the harbour, and presents a peculiar appearance from the steepness of the streets, which run somewhat abruptly up from the water's edge. The long rows of new built houses between the town and harbour of refuge are extremely ugly, but the ancient part of the town, adjoining the old church, has a primitive and even picturesque appearance. It contains a custom-house, two banks, savings-bank, hotels, landing pier, and graving docks. The only manufactures carried on are shipbuilding and ropemaking, but on a very small scale. The population has of late years rapidly increased, chiefly owing to the influx of engineers, mechanics, labourers, and others employed upon the harbour works, so that it has nearly quadrupled since the beginning of the century, when it was a little over 2,000; in 1851 the parliamentary borough contained 6,622, which had increased at the census of 1861 to 6,193. The permanent population are chiefly engaged in the coasting and shipping trade, and as fishermen or pilots. It unites with Amlwch, Beaumaris, and Llangefni, in returning one member to the imperial parliament, and is a polling place for the county of Anglesey.

The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of Bangor, value £287, in the patronage of Jesus College, Oxford. The church, dedicated to St. Gybi, stands in a camp or fort 221 feet by 130, surrounded by Roman walls. It was made collegiate by Hwfa-ap-Cyuddelw about 1140, and having been rebuilt is now a fine cruciform structure of the time of Edward III. Others assert that St. Gybi founded a small monastery here about the year A.D. 380; and Maclgwyn Gwynedd built a college at the close of the 6th century. The head of the college was called Penclas or Pencolas, and was one of the spiritual lords of Anglesey, the archdeacon of the isle being another, and the Abbot of Penmon the other; the number of prebendaries was at least twelve. The exterior of the church is remarkable for its sculpture, a good deal of which has nearly mouldered away, except on the S. transept, which has an embattled parapet, and under the S. porch, which contains a figure of St. Gybi under a canopy. Besides the parish church, there is a new church recently erected at a cost of nearly £5,000. The Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, Independents, and Baptists have chapels. There are National and British schools, with accommodation for 1000 children, the former having been rebuilt in 1860 at an expense of £2,000. The charities produce about £75 per annum, including the endowment of Wynne's school and almshouses.

In the vicinity are many remains of antiquity. On the summit of the Holyhead mountain, or Caer Gybi, 790 feet high, are traces of early fortifications, together with a rudely built circular tower, supposed to have answered the purpose of a pharos or watch tower., On Caer Twr Hill are remains of a camp, and at Towyn-y-Capel is a mound, supposed to have been the site of an ancient church. At a little distance are two cromlechs; and at various places coins of Constantine, spearheads, bronze rings, &c., have been found. At the telegraph station is a magnificent panorama, embracing, towards the W., the Irish coast and the Wicklow mountains, to the S. the whole of Holyhead island and a large part of Anglesey, with the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance, while to the N.E. are the Skerries islands, with a lighthouse 117 feet above high water. Market day is Saturday. "

"PENRHOS, the seat of Lord Stanley of Alderley, in the parish of Holyhead, county Anglesey, 2 miles S.E. of Holyhead."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales
Samuel Lewis, 1833

HOLYHEAD, a sea-port, borough, market town, and parish, partly in the hundred of TALYBOLION, but chiefly in that of LLYVON, county of ANGLESEY, NORTH WALES, 24 miles (W. by N.) from Beaumaris, and 260 (N. W. by W.) from London, containing 4282 inhabitants. This place, which is of very remote antiquity, derives its Welsh name, Caer Gybi, implying " the fortified place, or city, of Cybi," from its situation in a small island at the Western extremity of Anglesey, called Ynys Gybi, from its having been for many years the residence of a British saint of that name, who, according to Cressy's Church History, was the son of Solomon, Duke of Cornwall. Upon the authority of the same historian, St. Cybi, who was also surnamed Corineus, having travelled for the prosecution of his studies into Gaul, where he greatly distinguished himself by his able refutation of the Arian heresy, returned to his native country about the close of the fourth century, and passed the remainder of his days in devotional retirement at this sequestered place, which, from the sanctity of his life and the veneration in which he was held, obtained its present English appellation of " Holyhead," as forming a projecting headland of the island, which also from the same circumstance received the name of the "Holy Island." This place appears to have been known to the Romans, who, accordiug to Tacitus, carried on a considerable trade with Ireland during the time of Agricola, though they may not have had any fixed or permanent settlement in that country. The extensive remains of Roman architecture which are found in this parish, more especially in the churchyard, and which in their construction exhibit every peculiarity of style observable in other ruins of the buildings of that people in Britain, afford an almost conclusive demonstration that they had a station or fortress here for the protection of their commerce with Ireland. About the middle of the fifth century, the Irish-Scots, under a leader named Sirigi, or " the Rover," made a descent upon the coast of Mona, now Anglesey, and, having massacred many of the inhabitants, at a place in the vicinity of this town, which is still called Careg y Gwyddyl, or " the Irish-man's rock," laid up their fleet at this place, and took up a fortified station in the vicinity. To oppose these invaders, Einion Urdd, at that time sovereign of West Britain, sent his eldest son, Caswallon Law-Hir, or Caswallon the Long-handed, who, having succeeded in drawing them into a general engagement, amply retaliated for the slaughter of his countrymen, and drove them from the island with prodigious loss, having slain their leader with his own hand. After this battle, which was fought on the site of the present town, this place is supposed, by some antiquaries, to have been fortified, with a view to prevent the recurrence of similar attempts ; but no particulars of this work are recorded, nor has any thing of historical importance connected with the town occurred since that period, with the exception of the loss of the Charlemont packet belonging to Parkgate, on December 18th, 1790, which was wrecked on Salt Island, at the mouth of Holyhead harbour, when one hundred and ten persons perished.

The town is situated on the north-eastern side of Holy Island, on the shore of the Irish sea, near its junction with St. George's channel, and is separated from the main land of Anglesey by a narrow strait, in some parts fordable at low water, over which the great Holyhead road is continued by an embankment about three-quarters of a mile in length, having in the centre an arch nineteen feet in the span. The small island on which it stands comprises the parishes of Holyhead in the north, and Rhoscolyn in the south, and consists chiefly of barren rocks and dreary sands; but, from its being that part of Britain which is nearest to Ireland, it has always been a place of great resort for persons visiting the capital of that country. Owing to the very extensive intercourse which now subsists between the two kingdoms, the town has, within the last few years, rapidly increased in extent and improved in appearance, being now large and well-built, and affording ample accommodation of every kind for the numerous passengers who embark at the port. From its advantageous situation it has been selected as the principal station of the post-office packets for conveying the mails to Dublin ; and, among other improvements, a new line of road has been constructed under the walls of the town, upon the shore of the traeth, or sandy aestuary, which forms the harbour, extending more than a mile along a lofty artificial embankment, from the entrance of the town to the commencement of the pier. At the extremity of the town a handsome swivel bridge over what is called the sound connects the pier with the main land ; and beyond this bridge are, the engineer's house, the custom-house, the harbour-master's offices, and the depot for the post-office stores : further on is the grand triumphal arch, built by subscription of the gentry of the county of Anglesey, to commemorate the circumstance of the royal squadron having anchored in Holyhead bay on the night of the 6th of August, 1821, and the landing of His Majesty George IV. on the following day : the king proceeded to Plas Newydd, the seat of the Marquis of Anglesey, where he slept that night, and on the following day returned and embarked on board the Royal George, then lying at anchor outside the harbour, intending to sail next morning for Dublin ; but in the course of the night a gale of wind came on. At an early hour warps were procured, and the yacht hove within the pier : at the same time the signal was given for the squadron to get under weigh, and take an offing. The weather continuing boisterous until the morning of the 12th, one of the post-office steam-packets, afterwards called the Royal Sovereign, was hauled alongside the Royal George, to receive His Majesty on board, and immediately proceeded on her passage to Dublin; at the same time the whole of the royal squadron got under weigh, and sailed also for the same destination. At first, it was not the intention of His Majesty to land on his way to Ireland ; though it was arranged that the squadron should rendezvous in the bay until its approach could be made known in Dublin. But, receiving such demonstrations of loyalty and attachment from the inhabitants, who had made considerable preparations on the pier, in anticipation of his landing, the king altered his intention, and on the seventh at noon announced his determination to land : the royal yacht, with His Majesty on board, was placed under the care of the harbour master, as pilot, from the time she anchored in the bay until her departure. This arch, which was opened in August 1824, is a chaste and elegant structure of Mona marble, brought from the Red Wharf quarry, and consists of a central carriage-way, separated on each side, by two handsome pillars of the Doric order, from a footway, enclosed exteriorly by a wall ornamented at the extremities With antae of corresponding character, the whole twenty feet high, and supporting a boldly projecting cornice, surmounted by three diminishing tiers of masonry, forming a platform : over the carriage-way, on each side, is a large entablature, respectively bearing inscriptions in Welsh and Latin, commemorative of the event. In the vicinity of the town are several respectable mansions.

It does not appear at what time Holyhead was first selected as a station for the post-office packets to Dublin; but, in the reign of William III., packets are known to have sailed from this port, and in the month of January, 1696, the mail boat from Holyhead was wrecked in the bay of Dublin, when the bags were lost, and the passengers and crew perished. Since that time it has been a regular station, and great improvements have been made in the port and harbour, which were previously inadequate either to the security of the vessels, or to the regularity of their departure and arrival. The packets were frequently damaged by the heavy swell running into the harbour, and their time of sailing was uncertain, being frequently aground for eight hours out of the twelve. During fresh gales from the east, which are favourable for their departure, the packets could not warp out, and were frequently detained for two or three days in the harbour, with a wind which, had they been at sea, would have carried them to their destination. The difficulty of entering the harbour was equally great during the prevalence of gales from the westward, which were perfectly favour-able to their arrival, and the landing of passengers was attended with great personal hazard. To remedy these inconveniences, an act was obtained in the 50th of George III., for improving the harbour, under the provisions of which a noble pier was constructed, and at its eastern extremity one of the finest lighthouses in the kingdom was erected. The pier extends from the small island called Ynys Halen, or " Salt Island," in an east-south-easterly direction into the sea, and from the triumphal arch before noticed is three hundred and sixty yards in length : it is connected with the main land by a handsome iron bridge of one arch, dividing in the centre, and each part turning on a swivel, to afford a passage on either side. On the south side this pier is faced with a perpendicular wall of hewn stone, and near the east end is a projection at right angles, twenty yards in length, affording shelter from the easterly winds. The wall is continued in a curve from the triumphal arch to the bridge, and from the bridge round the custom-house. On the eastern side the pier is open to the basin, and on the western its summit is protected by a lofty stone wall, along the top of which is a fine promenade of great breadth, affording one of the most interesting marine views imaginable. The side of the pier next the sea forms an inclined plane from the top of this parapet, composed of large rough stones placed edgewise, as close together as possible, and wedged with smaller ones. The lighthouse is built entirely of hewn stone, and without any other timber than what was necessary for the door-cases and window-frames : the foundation is an inverted arch, and the substratum of the pier being sand, the building has sunk considerably, but has, notwithstanding, preserved its perpendicular position. It consists of three stories, the ceilings of which are groined, and the floors are of smooth stone : its base is six feet above the level of high water mark, and is protected from the sea by a strong glacis. The tower, which is circular, is thirty-three feet in height, to the gallery, and the lantern, which is ten feet higher, is lighted with twenty brilliant lights of oil gas, having reflectors plated with silver, and displaying a strong white light, which, being at an elevation of fifty feet above the level of the sea, affords a safe guide to vessels approaching the harbour. Gas-works have been constructed on Salt Island, for the supply of the lighthouse, and for lighting the pier and harbour up to the Royal Hotel ; but, in case of any accident, oil lamps are constantly in readiness to be put up. The whole of these works were completed at an expense of about £ 130,000; and a graving dock was constructed at an additional expense of £ 12,000.

By an act obtained in the 4th of George IV., the harbours of Holyhead and Howth were united, and the whole lines of road from London to Holyhead, and from Howth to Dublin, were placed under the same regulations, by means of which a considerable portion of time is saved in performing the journey between the capitals of the two kingdoms. So late as 1784, the mail-coach from London was forty-eight hours in arriving at Holy-head, a distance which is now travelled in twenty-seven hours and a half. Since the construction of the pier, and the erection of the lighthouse, the harbour has afforded proper facility of entrance and security of shelter to the packets : in all states of the weather vessels pass in a few minutes from the open bay to the quay, on which are cranes and other necessary apparatus for landing horses and carriages, and the mail and passengers are landed with expedition, and with perfect safety. The post-office establishment at this place consists of six steam-packets, of two hundred and thirty tons' burden, which sail regularly twice every day, at stated hours, from this port, and from Howth, keeping up a constant intercourse between the two kingdoms. They are substantial, well-built vessels, affording every accommodation for passengers, and are propelled by steam-engines of one hundred horse power, generally performing in six hours the passage from Holyhead to Howth, a distance of sixty miles, which, previously to their introduction, was often not accomplished in less than twenty hours, and frequently, in unfavourable weather, attended with a delay of several days. The local advantages of Holyhead have made it also a favourite place of embarkation for Ireland, in preference to Liverpool, Parkgate, and other places, the passage from which is attended with considerable hazard from the rocks by which the Welsh coast is lined ; and consequently, independently of its being a government station, it derives from that circumstance a considerable degree of traffic, although the recent establishment of packets between Liverpool and Dublin has much diminished the number of passengers by this route. The adjacent promontory called the Head, which is a bold and lofty projection, is easily recognized at sea ; and the entrance to this port being free from rocks and shoals, and having a channel light-house on each side of the bay, and a third at the extremity of the pier, vessels can at all times come up in safety to their moorings in the harbour ; and in clearing outwards, within half an hour after leaving the pier, they are in a position having fifteen leagues of offing in nearly all directions, owing to the central situation of the Head in St. George's channel. The harbour affords a secure asylum for vessels in strong gales : during the last ten years above one thousand sail of ships have taken refuge in it each year, averaging a burden of above seventy-eight thousand tons annually, exclusively of the government packets, which average an additional tonnage of one hundred and sixty-seven thousand nine hundred, making in the aggregate two hundred and forty-five thousand nine hundred tons entering the harbour annually, and sailing therefrom. Owing to several vessels having been lost in endeavouring to enter the harbour, a plan is at present under contemplation for its extension. In the year ending January 5th, 1831, exclusively of the government packets, two hundred and twenty-five vessels (including different arrivals of the same) entered inwards, and eighty-six (reckoning as above) cleared outwards at this port, which is a creek to that of Beaumaris. On the summit of the adjacent mountain, about two miles from the harbour, is a double signal station, one portion belonging to government packets, and the other to the merchants of Liverpool: the merchants' station communicates with the latter port by a chain of nine signal posts, conveying intelligence of inward or outward bound vessels from the agents at Holyhead to Carreglwyd, and thence to the port, an overland distance of sixty miles, in the space of ten minutes. These stations were established and first brought into operation in the year 1826, and have been found highly beneficial to the interests of commerce.

Connected with the harbour, and materially contributing to facilitate its access, is the South Stack lighthouse, erected upon the summit of an isolated rock on the coast, about five miles westward from Holy-head, and separated from the main land by a chasm ninety feet in width. This splendid structure was raised by the Corporation of the Trinity House, under the immediate superintendence of Captain Evans, in the year 1808. The elevation of the summit of the rock on which it is erected is one hundred and forty feet above the level of the sea at high water mark ; the height of the tower from the base to the gallery is sixty feet; and the lantern is twelve feet high from the gallery; making the total elevation of the light two hundred and twelve feet above the level of high water mark. The light consists of twenty-one brilliant lamps with powerful reflectors, placed on a revolving triangular frame, displaying a fullfaced light every two minutes, which in clear weather is distinctly visible at the distance of ten leagues. From the rough sea caused by the strong tides about the Head, a communication by boat was found to be very precarious. Mr. Evans first contrived to cross in a box or cradle running upon two strong ropes, with two others at the top, to keep it steady, and hauling lines at each end : this mode served for five years, subsequently to which a bridge of ropes, which was used for fifteen years, was constructed, and during the whole of both these periods not a single accident occurred; but, from the continual wear of the ropes, it was always attended with a degree of danger, and, on a subsequent inspection of the place, the committee of the Elder Brethren of the Trinity House ordered a suspension chain bridge to be thrown over the sound, which was accomplished in 1827. This bridge is of one hundred and ten feet span : the chains are firmly bolted into the rock on both sides of the sound, and carried over two massive pillars of stone from the Moelvre quarries, erected for the purpose, and capped with single stones weighing nearly four tons each : the chains support a platform of timber, five feet in breadth, and seventy feet above the level of the sea at high water mark. The erection of the South Stack lighthouse has been of the most extensive benefit to the navigation on this whole line of coast, which was previously dangerous from the numerous rocks and shoals which are scattered around in various directions. Before its erection scarcely a winter passed without some vessels being wrecked off it : during the forty years previous to 1808, no fewer than seventy-three vessels are recorded to have been totally lost here ; while, during the twenty-four years that have elapsed since the erection of this lighthouse, only four vessels have been wrecked, having run on shore at the back of the Head during the night in very hazy weather : it has been found of essential benefit to the government packets in particular, which could not, without its aid, have navigated these seas with safety. There is now a moveable light placed at the South Stack, principally for the use of the government packets, which approach the Head with the London mail about half past nine o'clock, P. M., which is lighted in hazy weather : it is a red light, running upon an inclined plane, with a crab winch at the top, and having three lamps and reflectors. In a thick state of the atmosphere the margin of the coast is frequently seen, about thirty or forty feet above the sea, when more elevated objects are completely obscured. Two men, with their families, constantly reside on the island, to attend to the lights, occupying two very neat cottages, also built by the Corporation of the Trinity House, and each receiving a salary of £ 65 per annum : from the time of the erection of the lighthouse until 1823, every ship that passed paid a halfpenny per ton, but since the latter period this charge has been reduced to a farthing per ton. The scenery around the point on which the lighthouse is built is strikingly bold and romantic, and the structure itself forms one of the most prominent and interesting features in the scenery of this part of North Wales.

No manufactures are carried on at this place : several attempts have been made, at considerable expense, to explore the mineral treasures with which the parish was supposed to abound, but nothing of importance has yet been discovered, except some veins of the Mona marble, called "verd antique," which have been worked to some extent. In these quarries are frequently found fine specimens of steatite, which is also found in the parishes of Amlwch and Llanvechell: this mineral has attracted more attention since it has been ascertained that chromate of iron, a valuable pigment, belongs to the same formation. The trade consists principally in the building of coasting vessels, the repairing of all the post-office steam-packets belonging to the several ports of England and Wales, and the making of ropes and cables. For these purposes there are very extensive premises, consisting of wet and dry docks, smithies, and other works, in which numerous workmen are constantly employed. In the works belonging to the post-office department alone more than four hundred men are generally employed, under the superintendence of a resident engineer appointed by the commissioners of the general post-office.

The market is on Saturday. The parish comprises about six thousand acres, of which one thousand are common and uncultivated : the soil, though rocky, is in many places very productive. Holyhead was made, by the late act for amending the representation of the people, a borough contributory, with the newly created boroughs of Amlwch and Llangevni, to Beaumaris, in the election of a member to serve in parliament : the right of election is vested in every male person of full age occupying, either as owner or as tenant under the same landlord, a house or other premises of the yearly value of not less than ten pounds, provided he be capable of registering as the act demands : the present number of tenements of this value within the limits of the borough, which are described in the Appendix to this work, is one hundred and twenty. It is now also a polling-place in the election of a member for the county.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Anglesey, and diocese of Bangor, endowed with £ 300 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Principal and Fellows of Jesus' College, Oxford, who, in 1820, augmented the income of the curate with an additional stipend of £ 20 per annum. The church, dedicated to St. Cybi, is by some historians said to have been originally founded by that recluse, during his retirement in this remote part of the principality, about the close of the fourth century ; but by others its foundation is attributed to Maelgwyn Gwynedd, whose arms are placed over the principal entrance, and who, soon after its erection, is said to have endowed it with lands in this county and in that of Carnarvon, and to have made it collegiate for a provost and twelve prebendaries, sometimes styled the rector and brethren. This collegiate establishment, however, is stated on better authority to have been founded by Hwva ab Cynddelw, lord of Llys Llivon, in the reign of Owain Gwynedd, who ascended the throne of North Wales in the year 1137: it continued to flourish till the dissolution, at which time its revenue was £ 32. 12. 6., of which sum, £ 8. 12. 6 was received by the provost, and £24 by the prebendaries. This revenue remained in the possession of the crown till the time of James I., who granted it to Francis Morris, from whom it passed through several hands into the possession of Rice Wynne, Esq., who, in 1640, gave the whole of the great tithes of this parish, together with those of the parishes of Bodedern, Bodwrog, and Llandrygarn, which were originally chapelries in the parish of Holyhead, to the Principal and Fellows of Jesus College, Oxford, for the maintenance of two fellows and two scholars ; and directed that the advowson should remain with that body, so long as they should appoint the officiating minister from amongst the said scholars. The present church is a spacious cruciform structure, principally in the decorated style of English architecture, consisting of a nave and aisles, a chancel and north and south transepts, with a very curious and ancient southern porch : its tower, originally rising from the intersection of the nave and transepts, has been rebuilt at the western end, at a comparatively modern period. The exterior of the south transept, and the porch, are curiously ornamented with rude sculpture, representing boars, bears, and other animals, among which is the dragon, supposed to bear some allusion to the reputed founder, Maelgwyn, who was called Draco Insularis. The exterior of the church is embattled, and on one of the walls is the Latin inscription " Sancte Kubi, ora pro nobis." The nave is separated from the aisles by ranges of pillars and pointed arches, of which those on the south side are more lofty than those on the north. The chancel, which, as well as the tower, is of comparatively recent date, is greatly inferior in its character to the nave and transepts, which are much more elegant in the tracery of the windows and other architectural details. The columns which supported the original tower, with their highly enriched capitals, and the springs of the arches, are still remaining at the point of intersection; and the modern tower, which is square and embattled, but of very inferior character, is surmounted by a low pyramidal roof. There were formerly various other churches, or chapels, in this parish, which, as before observed, was anciently of greater importance and extent than at present; but they have long since been in ruins, and the only remains are those of Capel Lochwyd, Capel y Gorllys, Capel St. Fraed, Capel Gwyngenau, and Towyn y Capel : the last of these, situated on the sea-shore, near the old road, occupied the summit of a mound or tumulus, in which a vast number of human bones has been exposed to the view by the action of the waves which wash its base. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists.

Dr. Edward Wynne, in 1748, built a school-house in the churchyard, and endowed it with £120, the interest of which he appropriated to the payment of a master for teaching six poor boys of this parish. A National school was founded, and a school- room was built by subscription in 1818, at an expense of £ 320, for the gratuitous instruction of children the building is capable of accommodating three hundred and sixty, and there are at present one hundred and five boys and. one hundred and eighty girls, exclusively of the six boys under Dr. Wynne's endowment, who are gratuitously instructed by the same master, to whom the interest of the £120 is paid. Catherine Roberts, in 1756, bequeathed £ 250 in trust to the minister and churchwardens of this parish; the interest of £125 to be divided annually among four distressed housekeepers, and the interest of the remainder to be distributed among the poor generally. Arthur Griffith bequeathed small portions of land; John Prichard in 1745, bequeathed £ 40, with preference to his poor relations ; Margaret Owen bequeathed a small portion of land ; and there are also some other charitable donations and bequests, the proceeds of which are distributed among the poor. There are two unendowed almshouses, which are appropriated as residences for the poor, and called respectively the old and new poor houses.

Of the monastery, said to have been founded here by St. Cybi, towards the close of the fourth century, there are no remains. The walls of the churchyard point out the site of the Roman station supposed to have existed here : they enclose an area in the form of a parallelogram, two hundred and twenty feet in length, and one hundred and thirty feet broad. On one side this area is open to the harbour, having only a parapet along the edge of the precipitous cliffs ; but on the other three sides it is defended by strong walls of masonry, six feet in thickness and seventeen feet high. At the angles were circular bastion towers, a small portion only of one of which is now remaining. The walls are still in good preservation, and are perforated with two rows of circular openings, about four inches in diameter, the insides of which are smoothly plastered, and in every respect resembling those which form so remarkable a feature in the walls of Segontium, adjacent to Carnarvon. The cement, mixed with coarse pebbles, is extremely hard, and in every other respect the work displays strong characteristics of Roman origin.

On the summit of a mountain, about three miles from the town, are the remains of an ancient military post, consisting of a circular tower, and some portions of walls, in some parts eight feet in height, extending in a straight line for a considerable distance. These ruins, which are called Caer Twr, have by some antiquaries also been considered as of Roman origin ; and the mountain on which they are situated is called Pen Caer Gybi, or " the summit of the fortress of Cybi." On the mountain on which the signal station has been established, and not far from the latter, are the remains of an ancient camp, which appears to have been surrounded with a wall of uncemented stones, of which vestiges may still be traced.

In 1825, several gold coins of the Emperor Constantine were found in a high state of preservation on one of the hills near Holyhead : one of these, now in the possession of the Marquis of Anglesey, has on the obverse a fine head of the emperor, and on the reverse a wreath, within which is the legend VOTIS. TSE, in high relief. On a farm called Trevignerth, about a mile to the south-east of Holyhead, is a cromlech nearly perfect.

The promontory called the Head, by which the harbour is sheltered from the westerly winds, presents a singular aspect, its sides towards the sea forming in some parts immense perpendicular precipices, while in others they are worn, by the continued action of the waves, into caverns of magnificent and romantic appearance. Of these, one called the "Parliament House" is accessible only by boats at half ebb tide, and consists of a stately series of receding arches, supported by massive and lofty pillars of rock, displaying an interior of picturesque beauty and sublime grandeur. Some of these caverns afford shelter to gulls, razor-bills, guillemots, ravens, cormorants, herons, and other birds ; and the loftiest crags are frequented by the peregrine falcon. The eggs of these birds are in great request as a delicacy for the table, and some of the hardiest inhabitants of the vicinity are employed in the hazardous task of procuring them for sale. For this purpose, one man is lowered down by a rope fastened round his body, with the other end secured in the ground on the summit of the cliff, where another remains to guard it : after depositing the eggs in a basket slung at his back, he is drawn up to the brow of the rock, and in this perilous situation is assisted over the edge of the precipice, with his booty, by his companion. The adventurers have become so accustomed to this dangerous employment, that accidents rarely occur; although it has occasionally happened that the man on the summit of the cliff, being overpowered by the weight of his companion, while assisting him to land, has been drawn over the brink, and both have perished. The common near this place, called Towyn y Capel, is bounded on the west by some rocks, over which the sea breaks with tremendous violence, and which, being covered at high water, are exceedingly dangerous to mariners incautiously approaching this part of the coast.

William Morris, distinguished as a collector of Welsh manuscripts, and brother of the learned Lewis Morris, a celebrated antiquary and poet, was Comptroller of the Customs at this place, where he died in 1764.

The average annual expendlture for the maintenance of the poor amounts to 910. 2.

(Copied using  the Cd published by Archive Cd Books

These pages are intended for personal use only, so please respect the conditions of use.