“Wanderings through Wales” (1837)
Thomas Roscoe was born in Liverpool where his father was a lawyer and MP. He was a translator and travel-
(by Hugh Hughes)
. . . a small neat building, erected out of the ruins of its grand predecessor . . . it stands . . . in a burying-
Red Lion today
The sign still swings and creeks
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His visit to Strata Florida described in his book :
Dictionary of National Biography
John Leland visited Ystrad Fflur around the time when Cistercian religious life in Wales was about to end (around 1536). According to Leland there were 39 yew trees in the cemetery at that time, and were an imposing feature of the place.
Thomas Roscoe must have passed through Pontrhyfendigaid around the year 1837, Travelling from Aberystwyth, he visited Pwll Caradog at Tyngraig before going on :
. . . over many streams whose course crossed the road having no other bridge than a tree and a rail for passengers. I passed the village of Pont Rhydvendigaid, Anglicè, the Blessed or Holy ford, so called by the good monks of the olden time ; a substantial bridge is now the commodious substitute for the ancient ford, and overit is passed the Teivy, in which river, as Fluellyn would say ‘there would be good salmons’. Ystrad Fflur is an extensive valley of excellent meadow land, very retiredly situated . . .
I’m not aware of ‘many’ streams between Tyngraig and Pontrhydfendigaid, but Thomas Roscoe could have taken a route that would see him turning left at Ystrad Meurig and then on to Ysbyty Ystwyth and Ffair Rhos, before reaching Pontrhydfendigaid. He took great pleasure from his visit to Strata Florida and wrote extensively about the Abbey. He also referred to the church and the cemetery :
. . . I halted at the small hostelry, where a rampant red lion swings and creeks its invitation to man and beast. Ushered into the inn’s “best parlour”, I amused myself by observing the multifarious decorations of this state apartment. Around the walls hung various Scripture subjects, most woefully caricatured by the artist. The mantle-
I like the dress of the bonny Welsh lassies, and trust they will be long in yielding to the insipid innovations of modern millinery. They would resign their piquant black hats with no little reluctance, did they know how flat and unbecoming the flippant silk bonnets, displayed by some of them, look in comparison. The hat is not worn by the peasantry alone, for I have seen not a few spruce beavers accompanied by rich silk dresses, fashionable kerchiefs, and silk stocking. While sojourning at Aberystwyth, I greatly enjoyed seeing the farmers’ comely wives and pretty daughters riding to market with their sacks of corn over the saddle, for here the women sell small quantities of grain at market, and with the produce purchase the various articles required for domestic use, which are stowed in the corn-
Most travel writers would regard the above as fringe information and not of interest to a true tourist. Not so Roscoe, and this is what makes his book on Wales such interesting reading. Perhaps, the above anecdote also says something about the author himself; he seems to have an eye for beautiful women and especially ‘Welsh belles’.
On returning from Strata Florida to Pontrhydfendigaid :
THOMAS ROSCOE (1791-