The Journey of Sir Richard Colt Hoare through Wales and England

(Edited by M.W. Thompson)


Apart from a brief return home, he spent the next six years or so away. He came back to England when the French Revolutionary War made it difficult for travellers, and he never went abroad again. He developed a particular fondness for Wales, and he spent long summer periods, between 1793 and 1813, touring the country. Among his published works was a translation from Latin of the ‘Itinerary of Archbishop Baldwin through Wales’ and ‘Description of Wales by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerallt Gymro)’


Some travel-writers such as George Borrow walked through Wales, while others journeyed on horse back. Not so Sir Richard ; he was a very wealthy man, and would either hire or have his own chaise and driver [3], that is, whenever the roads permitted. Sometimes, for short day excursions, he would ride, but whatever his mode of transport, he always had a servant with him.


He had one permanent base in Wales – a fishing-lodge overlooking Bala Lake, where he spent two or three weeks each summer.

Sir Richards’s diaries make no specific reference to Pontrhydfendigaid, but he does give a short account of his visit to Strata Florida. This is worth including :


Tregaron, is a small village on the River Tivy, famous for good trout fishing, and affording tolerable accommodation (The Red Lion) for a fisherman (but no wine). Having refreshed myself and the horses I pursued the road to Strata Florida . . . a situation admirably adapted to the severe and recluse order of Cistercians; surrounded on three sides by mountains many of which still retain their sylvan clothing, open only to the west. The relic of this once-celebrated abbey are now trifling, but time has, fortunately for the lovers of antiquity, spared a most beautiful specimen of its architecture: a very rich Saxon doorway differing in its patterns from any I have ever met with. It is in the most perfect preservation, but being shut up within a garden is seen to great disadvantage.

Having sketched the doorway, Sir Richard continued his ride :

. . . over a most dreary tract of hills, through Rhosefair (Ffair Rhos) to Spitty (Ysbytty Ystwyth). On descending from this place the rich groves of Havod begin to make some compensation for the many tedious miles I had this day crept along over rough and dirty roads . . . Leaving Havod I had another sad interval of barren moors before I reached my quarters at Devil’s Bridge . . . I found Havod Arms improved in one respect : that of keeping chaises and post-horses.

The arch at Strata Florida drawn by

Sir Richard Colt Hoare

Notes


1. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

2. The Dictionary of Welsh Biography

3. The Journey of Sir Richard Colt Hoare through Wales and England 1793-1810, edited by M.W.Tompson, Alan Sutton, 1983

4. A light open two-wheeled carriage for one or more people, usually hooded and drawn by one horse.

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SIR RICHARD COLT HOARE (1759-1838)

Sir Richard Colt Hoare [1,2,3] was an eminent, early nineteenth century English historian and antiquary. Following his wife’s death in 1785 (only two years after they were married), Sir Richard embarked on a tour of the Continent to ‘detach my mind from melancholy’.

Pontrhydfendigaid

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About Sir Richard