Llandeilo lies just on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Carmarthenshire West Wales. This charming Georgian / Victorian-style town that sits on the banks of the River Tywi, has much to offer the visitor to Wales. Explore the 12th century Dinefwr Castle, built by the Princes of Deheubarth and later captured by Edward Longshanks, the English King Edward 1. Alternatively, visit Newton House and Dinefwr Park, a National Trust property that invites exploration.
Llandeilo is a beautiful little market town and fortunately the people of Llandeilo know it and appreciate it. The town has thankfully retained much of its Georgian and Victorian character and architecture, and this is what makes the centre so delightful and welcoming. In days gone by the streets would be alive with traders jostling with farmers and drovers bringing their sheep and cattle to market. The streets were lined with public houses and rather surprisingly a good number of banks. Sadly, most of the pubs have given way to delicatessens, shops and cafes, although giving you plenty of places to eat, drink and shop.
In keeping with its heritage, Llandeilo has retained many small independent shops. Big name high street stores may be few and far between, but there is a wide choice of businesses: kitchenware, ladies' fashion, hardware, dressmaking, jewellers, florists, art galleries and antiques.
There's an outdoor market every Friday, and once a month, you'll find an Antiques Fair and auction.
Llandeilo takes its name from Saint Teilo who had many followers during the 6th century, and worked closely with the patron saint of Wales, Saint David. It is strongly believed that Saint Teilo was buried in Llandeilo, as he spent much of his time in and around the area. By the early 12th century Llandeilo came under the patronage of the Bishopric of St David's, an ecclesiastic borough which became responsible for the affairs of the town including its development as an important medieval market centre to an extensive agricultural hinterland. During the middle ages, it suffered at the hands of many Welshmen. Llandeilo was razed to the ground in 1213, 1316 and later during the Glyndwr Rebellion in 1403. Until the middle of the 20th century, St Teilo's Fair, authorised initially by Edward I in 1290, was held annually in the churchyard.
Saint Teilo's Church: As mentioned previously, Llandeilo sprouted from its Christian roots and was one of the places from which Christianity spread far and wide across Wales. The discovery of fragments of two large Celtic crosses provide further testimony to Llandeilo's importance and indeed prestige as an early ecclesiastical centre. The church was founded during Saint Teilo's time in the 6th Century, although nothing remains of the original building. The church tower, which is of a Norman style of architecture, was actually built in the 16th century and was the only surviving part when the church was demolished in 1850. It was rebuilt and designed by the famous Victorian architect George Gilbert Scott.
Castles and Forts
Dinefwr Castle: Lying just east of the town centre, it is a striking monument settled into the South Wales countryside. Dinefwr Castle has been the seat of Lord Dinefwr since his family first acquired the site through Roderick the Great in the 9th century. Today a picturesque 18th-century landscaped park surrounds Newton House, which was 17th-century but now has a Victorian Gothic facade. Dinefwr Park is home to more than 100 fallow deer and a small herd of White Park Cattle. It also has a number of scenic walks including a wooded boardwalk. A 12th century castle, it was originally in the hands of Rhys ap Gruffydd, who managed to maintain leadership over the castle when the Anglo-Saxons attempted to seize it during this century. Rhys succeeded in showing his strength and success by capturing Cardigan castle and rebuilding those of Nevern, Llandovery, and Rhayader. Following his death, there were much bitter feuds between his two sons Rhys Ieuanc ap Gruffydd and Owain ap Gruffydd, and the castle changed from hand to hand during the period following Rhys's death in 1197. It was finally seized by Edward Longshanks, King Edward I in 1277, in his campaign to subjugate the Welsh. Close to the castle, Edward founded the "Newe Towne.”
Parts of the castle were renovated during the 17th century, including the Keep that was transformed into a summerhouse. CADW have recently restored the castle and today its romantic ruins still stand overlooking Dinefwr Park and the river Tywi.
Newton House and Dinefwr Park: This splendid mansion, also known as Plas Dinefwr (Dinefwr Mansion), was built by Edward Rice in 1660. The Victorian stonework hides a 17th century Venetian Gothic manor. However, Newton House infuses several different styles, using French architectural styles on its tower. Inside its entrance hall, is a fabulous original 17th century staircase winding its way up to the exhibition room on the first floor of the house. The ceiling and walls display fabulous artwork and portraits of many members of the Rice family. The house is now in the hands of the National Trust, making it accessible to all.
Surrounding the house is Dinefwr Park, home to 100 White Park Cattle. They play a vital role in the history of not only the park but also Wales, as they are the oldest breed of cattle in Britain. Take one of the walks around this park whilst appreciating and admiring these wonderful creatures. Newton House derives its name from the town which Edward I founded following his capture of nearby Dinefwr Castle in 1277. Naming this town Newe Towne, during the middle ages there were three towns in the area: the Welsh town of Dinefwr, Edward I's Newe Towne, and of course, the peaceful little Welsh town of Llandeilo.
National Botanic Gardens: Nestled in the countryside near Llanarthney and just 16 minutes from Llandeilo, the National Botanic Gardens is a fabulous place for you to visit. The gardens were officially opened on 21st July 2000 by HRH the Prince of Wales. With plenty of lush greenery and colourful horticulture, the main attraction is The Glasshouse, a huge glass-domed structure in the heart of the gardens, which houses many plants from warmer environs. It is partly built below ground level and the roof contains 785 panes of glass. Find plants from different regions throughout the world, including Chile, Western Australia, California, Canary Islands, South Africa and the Mediterranean. Explore the gallery and relax with a cup of tea or coffee in the restaurant and café found about the gardens.
Gelli Aur Country Park: Gelli Aur is a Country Park with 60 acres of wooded parkland surrounding a magnificent mansion. Gelli Aur Country Park contains sixty acres of excellent wooded parkland surrounding a magnificent mansion, although the mansion is not open to the public. Take one of the many nature trails around Gelli Aur, exploring parkland, lakes, woodland, and meadow along the way. In warmer months, wood sorrels, bluebells and celandine will provide a beautiful carpet for your feet and in colder months you will be sure to spot a variety of birds, including chiff-chaffs, blue tits and fly catchers. One of the best attractions in Gelli Aur Country Park is the 20 acre deer park, which is home to around 20 fallow deer, all of which you can watch from a close but safe distance. Nature lovers may recognise the Giant Redwoods, Monterey Pine and Fern-Leaved Beech growing throughout the park. The rhododendrons and azaleas are at their best in May. Carmarthenshire County Council has recently carried out planting to ensure the continuity of the park.
Llandeilo Bridge: Designed by William Williams in 1840 and completed by Edward Haycock in 1851, at one point it was one of Britain's largest bridges and one of the many wonders of Wales. Today the bridge remains a fantastic stone monument in the town and is a must see for all visitors to the town.
Llandeilo Banks: Before the new road and bridge were built in the town, Bank Terrace would have been the main road through and into Llandeilo. Several of the buildings along this terrace would have been banks. The Black Ox Bank still stands proudly as testimony to Llandeilo's history as an important Welsh market town. Although today the building is in use as a private business the banking hall has not changed at all and the underground vaults where the money was kept still exists, giving a fascinating insight into Llandeilo's financial history.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
Llandeilo Walks: There are many walks along the beautiful Towy Valley. The Beacons Way National Trail passes some 3 miles from the town offering walks along the lower slopes of the Black Mountain.
Accommodation and Services
There are several hotels, pubs with rooms, and bed and breakfast accommodation in Llandeilo. There is also the option of self-catering in holiday cottages within both the town and the surrounding countryside. Camping sites can be found in the countryside surrounding Llandeilo, both in the Brecon Beacons National Park and along the A45 road, which leads to the M4 towards Swansea.