Meivod - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
MEIVOD, a parish, in the union of Llanvyllin, partly in the Lower division of the hundred of Llanvyllin, partly in the Upper division of that of Deythur, and partly in the hundred of Pool, county of Montgomery, North Wales, 5 miles (N. E. by N.) from Llanvair; containing 1974 inhabitants. The name of this very extensive parish, implying a "lowland champaign dwelling," is obviously derived from its situation in a vast tract of fine open country, in the north-eastern part of the county. Though evidently of great antiquity, and forming a portion of Powys Wenwynwyn, or the moiety allotted by Meredydd ab Bleddyn to his grandson, Owain Cyveiliog, it appears to have been remarkable only as the place of sepulture of several of the Princes of Powys; and, until of late years, the village consisted only of a few thatched cottages, thinly scattered, and of very mean appearance. By some historians the place has been identified with the Roman "Mediolanum," but the difficulty of ascertaining the exact site of that station is in no degree diminished by fixing it here, and the hypothesis has accordingly been abandoned by the most distinguished antiquaries.
The parish extends for nine miles in length and four in breadth, and is situated on the river Vyrnwy. This stream is formed by the junction here of the Banwy and Avon Llanwddyn, and, on the junction, first begins to expand its waters, which, previously to their entering the Vale of Meivod, were confined by the depths of the banks and the rapidity of the current: from this circumstance it derived its original name Evyrnwy, or "the spreading river," now written Vyrnwy. Two other streams intersect the parish, the Brogan and the Colwyn, and finally join that river. The lands were partially inclosed under the provisions of an act of parliament obtained in 1787, and portions of several townships have been subsequently inclosed by the unanimous consent of the different proprietors. The scenery is pleasingly varied, three parts being bounded by low hills well wooded, whilst at the other end the views extend over a tract of level country distinguished chiefly for its rural beauty, which is terminated by the Breiddyn hills. The soil, though various, is generally fertile, especially on the banks of the Vyrnwy. Lead-ore was thought to exist in the parish, and some attempts were made to procure it, by sinking shafts and driving levels, in the township of Main; but the undertaking was not attended with success, and the works were consequently abandoned. Some fine veins of potter's earth have been discovered, and the rocks abound with barytes and other minerals.
The village, which is situated on the turnpike-road leading from Aberystwith, by Cann-Office and Llanvair, to Oswestry, has of late years become a place of some little importance, and may be regarded as one of the handsomest of the smaller towns in the principality. The houses are of stone, roofed with slate, and neatly and well built; and the place has a highly interesting and prepossessing appearance. It enjoys considerable traffic from its being on the great thoroughfare by which the western parts of the country are supplied with lime and coal. A postoffice, subordinate to that of Oswestry, has been some time established; and fairs are held in the village on the first Friday in February, the last Tuesday in April, the first Tuesday in August, and on September 21st. Courts leet also occur in the spring.
This parish is said to have formerly composed the archdeaconry of Powysland. The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £15. 14. 2., and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. Asaph. The rectorial tithes, which anciently belonged to the abbey of Strata Marcella, or Ystrad Marchell, near Welshpool, are appropriated to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford. For the whole tithes of the parish a commutation has been entered into amounting to £1110. 15. 11., of which £551. 17. 8. are payable to the Dean and Chapter, and £558 to the vicar, who has also a glebe of four acres, valued at £11 per annum, and a glebe-house. The history of the church is involved in considerable perplexity. According to some accounts, it would appear that, exclusively of the present edifice, there were two others, the ruins of which Mr. Pryce, of Llanvyllin, in a letter to Mr. Babington, dated April 12th, 1701, acknowledges to have seen; but, from their contiguous situation, an opinion has been entertained that they were probably only different portions, or a subsequent enlargement, of the original building, dedicated respectively to their several founders, and forming distinct chapels in the same church. The first church was in honour of St. Gwyddvarch, an anchorite who lived on the brow of a hill in the parish, still called Gallt yr Ancr, and from whose warning voice, directing the workmen where to build the sacred edifice, for which they had chosen an improper site, said to have been repeatedly heard in the valley at midnight, uttering the words "Yma i vod," some etymologists have derived the name of the parish. The second, which was contiguous to the first, was dedicated to Tysilio, an eminent saint, who flourished towards the middle of the seventh century, and is said to have been the second son of Brochwell Ysgythrog, whose palace was at Shrewsbury. The exact time when, and the person by whom, this church was built, are not known; but from the chronicles of Caradoc of Llancarvan it appears, that Madoc ab Meredydd, Prince of Powys, was interred "yn Eglwys Tysilio yn Meivod," in the year 1159; and subsequent writers state that Grufydd Maelor, eldest son of Madoc, and lord of the lower moiety of Powys, was also buried here, in 1190. St. Mary's church, the only one now remaining, is supposed to have been founded by Madoc ab Meredydd, against which opinion it is objected that he was buried in the church of St. Tysilio, four years after the consecration of this, which ceremony took place in the year 1155; but that may be easily accounted for, as the church of Tysilio had been the general place of sepulture not only of his ancestors, but also of most of the princes of the races of Mervyn and Convyn.
The present edifice is of spacious dimensions, in the Norman style of architecture, comprising a double-roofed nave, and an aisle on the north side, with a low square tower. It seems to have been once much larger than it now is; on the north side are evident traces of the foundations of a transept, which may have been the church of Tysilio, or the portion of the original building in honour of that saint. Near the font is an old tombstone without any inscription, rudely adorned with sculpture, in basso-relievo, of a Catherine wheel, surmounted by a sword, and embellished with knots and other rude ornaments. In the chancel window, until of late years, was a legend in ancient characters, commemorating the two saints of the churches that have disappeared, and perhaps preserved out of their ruins, and, with other portions of stained glass, inserted in this window by John Roger, rector of the parish at a period unknown. There are places of worship for Independents, and Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. A National school is partly supported by an endowment of £12 per annum; another school, open to children of all denominations, is held in the Meivod place of worship for Calvinistic Methodists; and there is a school at Main, partly supported by an endowment of £7. 15. a year, being the rents of certain dwellings devised in trust, for the education of twenty children, under the will of John Griffiths, of Keel, who died in 1843. Each of these schools is aided by school-pence; the National school, by subscription also; and the school held in the meetinghouse, by a contribution of £10 per annum from the congregation. Of eleven Sunday schools, ten belong to the dissenters.
There are four almshouses in Pentre Parroc, in the parish, the inmates of which, though they have no exclusive endowment, partake of certain benefactions, the produce of which is annually distributed among the poor. The principal of these is a bequest by the Rev. Richard Derwas, in 1722, of a tenement and eighteen acres of land, four acres of which are plantation, the whole now let at £20 per annum, besides the interest of a fund raised from the sale of timber: the interest is paid to the master of the National school, making, with a sum from other charities, the endowment of £12 above mentioned; the rental of the land is applied partly in providing clothing for two aged men and two women, the residue being distributed in money and flannel during the winter. Disposed of in nearly a similar manner are the following rent-charges and bequests; a charge of £9 by William Pugh, in 1714; another of £5 by Bridget Mytton, in 1722; one of 15s. by Thomas Jones, to the poor of the township of Keel; one of £5. 4. by Magdalen Cade, in 1669; one of £1. 6. by Edward Lloyd; (the two last to be distributed in bread on Sundays;) and a bequest of £100 by William Wynn, in 1789, the interest to be divided among poor housekeepers in small sums.
On the summit of Gallt yr Ancr, or "the anchorite's hill," on the brow of which St. Gwyddvarch had his cell, are some traces of a British fortification, the history of which is not known; and on the side of the same hill is Bedd y Cawr, or "the grave of the giant." A dyke, which in some places was double, formerly extended from Gallt-y-Main to Ceunant Mawr, in the parish, for the defence of the pass into the Vale of Llanvyllin, by Bwlch-y-Cibau. Some vestiges of British fortifications and encampments may be seen on Hên Allt, in Trêv-Nannau, at a place named the Gaer, and near Clawdd Llesg. There are several springs in the parish, some of which are impregnated with medicinal properties. In the township of Teirtrêv is Fynnon Darogan, or "the well of divination," protected by a cupola, which has stood for many years; the water, though very salubrious, has no medicinal qualities. In the same township is Fynnon y Groftydd, the water of which is strongly sulphureous, and has been found highly efficacious in the cure of cutaneous diseases. In the township of Trêvedryd is Fynnon y Clawdd Llesg, consisting of two springs close to each other, of which one is slightly impregnated with hepatic air, and the other has no appearance of any mineral property whatever; it has been much resorted to in the spring by persons afflicted with scrofula, who have found relief by exposing the affected part to the action of the water on its issuing from the rock. Till of late years, it was customary for the young people of the parish to assemble at this place, on the eighth Sunday after Easter, to drink the water, and afterwards to retire to some green spot, and spend the remainder of the day in dancing. A similar practice prevailed near a fountain of clear rock-water on Gallt-y-Main, at the other extremity of the parish, whence, after drinking the water, the company retired to a fine green fenced on four sides like a Roman camp, and called Bryny-Bowliau, where they spent the rest of the day in athletic exercises. The origin of these customs is altogether unknown, and the practice has for some time been totally discontinued. Cynddelw, a poet laureate of the twelfth century, and a native of the parish, in a poem in honour of St. Tysilio, published in the Archæologia, notices the church of this place, which he describes as situated adjoining to that of St. Gwyddvarch; he eulogizes Caradoc, whom he calls archdeacon of the church, as a munificent patron, and celebrates the churchyard as the cemetery of princes.