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Brecon, with St. Mary's Church
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Brecon ( // ; Welsh : Aberhonddupronounced [ˌabɛrˈhɔnðɪ] ), archaically known as Brecknock, is a market and minster town in Powys, mid-Wales. In 1841, it had a population of 5,701. The population in 2001 was 7,901, increasing to 8,250 at the 2011 census. Historically it was the county town of Brecknockshire (Breconshire); although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of the County of Powys, it remains an important local centre. Brecon is the third-largest town in Powys, after Newtown and Ystradgynlais. It lies north of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, but is just within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The Welsh name, Aberhonddu, means "mouth of the Honddu". It is derived from the River Honddu, which meets the River Usk near the town centre, a short distance away from the River Tarell which enters the Usk a few hundred metres upstream. After the Dark Ages the original Welsh name of the kingdom in whose territory Brecon stands was (in modern orthography) "Brycheiniog", which was later anglicised to Brecknock or Brecon, and probably derives from Brychan, the eponymous founder of the kingdom.
Before the building of the bridge over the Usk, Brecon was one of the few places where the river could be forded. In Roman Britain Y Gaer, Brecon (Cicucium) was established as a Roman cavalry base for the conquest of Roman Wales and Brecon was first established as a military base.
The confluence of the Honddu and the River Usk made for a valuable defensive position for the Norman castle which overlooks the town, built by Bernard de Neufmarche in the late 11th century. 80 Gerald of Wales came and made some speeches in 1188 to recruit men to go to the Crusades.:
Brecon's town walls were constructed by Humphrey de Bohun after 1240. 8 The walls were built of cobble, with four gatehouses and was protected by ten semi-circular bastions. :9 In 1400 the Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr rose in rebellion against English rule, and in response in 1404 100 marks was spent by the royal government improving the fortifications to protect Brecon in the event of a Welsh attack. Brecon's walls were largely destroyed during the English Civil War. Today only fragments survive, including some earthworks and parts of one of the gatehouses; these are protected as scheduled monuments.:
In Shakespeare's play King Richard III , the Duke of Buckingham is suspected of supporting the Welsh pretender Richmond (the future Henry VII), and declares:
O, let me think on Hastings and be gone
To Brecknock, while my fearful head is on!
A Priory was dissolved in 1538, and Brecon's Dominican Friary of St Nicholas was suppressed in August of the same year. 250 m (270 yd) north of the castle stands Brecon Cathedral, a fairly modest building compared to many cathedrals. The role of cathedral is a fairly recent one, and was bestowed upon the church in 1923 with the formation of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon from what was previously the archdeaconry of Brecon — a part of the Diocese of St David's.About
Saint Mary's church began as a chapel of ease to the priory but most of the building is dated to later medieval times. The West Tower, some 27 m (90 ft) high, was built in 1510 by Edward, Duke of Buckingham at a cost of £2,000. The tower has eight bells which have been rung since 1750, the heaviest of which weighs 810 kg (16 long hundredweight). In March 2007 the bells were removed from the church tower for refurbishment. The church is a Grade II* listed building.
The Church of St. David, referred to locally as Llanfaes Church, was probably founded in the early sixteenth century. The first Parish Priest, Maurice Thomas, was installed there by John Blaxton, Archdeacon of Brecon in 1555. The name is derived from the Welsh – Llandewi yn y Maes – which translates as St. David's in the Field. It is probable that the site and the name of the present Church were chosen because of the close proximity of a fresh water well called Ffynnon Dewi (David's Well) which was situated approximately 150 metres south of the church.
Plough Lane Chapel, also known as Plough United Reformed Church, is a Grade II* listed building. The present building dates back to 1841 and was re-modelled by Owen Morris Roberts and is considered to be one of the finest chapel interiors in Wales.
After the Reformation, some Breconshire families such as the Havards, the Gunters and the Powells persisted with Catholicism despite its suppression. In the 18th Century a Catholic Mass house in Watergate was active, and Rev John Williams was the local Catholic priest from 1788 to 1815. The Watergate house was sold in 1805, becoming the current Watergate Baptist Chapel, and property purchased as the priest's residence and a chapel between Wheat Street and the current St Michael Street, including the “Three Cocks Inn”; about this time Catholic parish records began again. The normal round of bishop's visitations and confirmations resumed in the 1830s. In 1832 most civil liberties were restored to Catholics and they became able to practise their faith more openly. A simple Gothic Church, dedicated to St Michael and designed by Charles Hansom, was built in 1851 at a cost of £1,000.
The east end of town has two military establishments:
Approximately 9 miles (14 km) to the west of Brecon is Sennybridge Training Area, an important training facility for the British Army.
The west end of Brecon has a small industrial area, and recent years have seen the cattle market moved from the centre of the town to this area, with markets held several times a week.
Brecon has primary schools, with a secondary school and further education college (Brecon Beacons College) on the northern edge of the town. The secondary school, known as Brecon High School, was formed from separate boys' and girls' grammar schools ('county schools') and Brecon Secondary Modern School, after comprehensive education was introduced into Breconshire in the early 1970s. The town is home to a famous independent school, Christ College, which was founded in 1541.
Brecon is located near where the east-west A40 (Monmouth-Carmarthen-Fishguard) meets the north-south A470 (Cardiff-Merthyr Tydfil-Llandudno). The nearest airport is Cardiff Airport.
The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal runs for 35 miles (56 km) between Brecon and Pontnewydd, Cwmbran. It then continues to Newport, the towpath being the line of communication and the canal being disjointed by obstructions and road crossings. The canal was built between 1797 and 1812 to link Brecon with Newport and the Severn Estuary. The canalside in Brecon was redeveloped in the 1990s and is now the site of two mooring basins and Theatr Brycheiniog.
The bridge carries the B4601 across the River Usk. A plaque on a house wall adjacent to the eastern end of the bridge records that the present bridge was built in 1563 to replace a medieval bridge destroyed by floods in 1535. It was repaired in 1772 and widened in 1794 by Thomas Edwards, the son of William Edwards of Eglwysilan. It had stone parapets until the 1970s when the present deck was superimposed on the old structure. The bridge was painted by J.M.W. Turner c.1769.
The Neath and Brecon Railway reached Brecon in 1867, terminating at Free Street. By this point, Brecon already had two other railway stations:
The Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway was opened gradually from Hereford towards Brecon. The first section opened in 1862, with passenger services on the complete line starting on 21 September 1864.The Midland Railway Company (MR) took over the HH&BR from 1 October 1869, leasing the line by an Act of 30 July 1874 and absorbing the HH&BR in 1876. The MR was absorbed into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR) on 1 January 1923.
Passenger services to Merthyr ended in 1958, Neath in October 1962 and Newport in December 1962. In 1962 the important line to Hereford closed. Therefore, Brecon lost all its train services before the 1963 Reshaping of British Railways report (often referred to as the Beeching Axe) was implemented.
Brecon Town Council represents the town at the local level, with up to fifteen councillors elected from four wards: St David's, St Mary's, St John's East and St John's West.The town elects a mayor annually. In May 2018 it elected its first mixed race mayor, local hotelier Emmanuel (Manny) Trailor, who is a town councillor for St John's West.
There are three county council electoral wards in the town (St David Within, St John and St Mary) which each elect a county councillor to Powys County Council. All three are represented by Labour Party councillors, the St Mary ward being gained from the Conservatives in a November 2019 by-election.
In 2018 a Review of Electoral Arrangements proposed that all three Brecon county wards be merged into a single, three councillor ward. If accepted, the proposal would take effect from the 2022 election.
Brecon hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1889.
August sees the annual Brecon Jazz Festival. Concerts are held in both open air and indoor venues, including the town's market hall and the 400-seat Theatr Brycheiniog, which opened in 1997.
October sees the annual 4-day weekend Brecon Baroque Music Festival, organised by leading violinist Rachel Podger.
Hay-on-Wye, often abbreviated to just "Hay" is a small market town and community in the historic county of Brecknockshire (Breconshire) in Wales, currently administered as part of the unitary authority of Powys. With over twenty bookshops, it is often described as "the town of books", and is both the National Book Town of Wales and the site of the annual Hay Festival.
Brecknockshire, also known as the County of Brecknock, Breconshire, or the County of Brecon is one of thirteen historic counties of Wales, and a former administrative county. Named after its county town of Brecon, the county is mountainous and primarily rural.
Builth Wells is a market town and community in the county of Powys and historic county of Brecknockshire (Breconshire), mid Wales, lying at the confluence of rivers Wye and Irfon, in the Welsh part of the Wye Valley. It has a population of 2,568.
Crickhowell is a small town and community in southeastern Powys, Wales, near Abergavenny, and was in the historic county of Brecknockshire.
Talgarth is a market town, community and electoral ward in southern Powys, Mid Wales, about 12 miles (19 km) north of Crickhowell. Notable buildings in the town include its 14th-century parish church and 13th-century Pele Tower, located in the town centre, now home to the Tourist Information and Resource Centre. According to traditional accounts Talgarth was the capital of the early medieval Welsh Kingdom of Brycheiniog. It is in the historic county of Brecknockshire. In 2011 it had a population of 1,724.
The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of three national parks in Wales, and is centred on the Brecon Beacons range of hills in southern Wales. It includes the Black Mountain in the west, Fforest Fawr and the Brecon Beacons in the centre and the Black Mountains in the east.
Talybont-on-Usk is a village and community in Powys, Wales, in the historic county of Brecknockshire (Breconshire). It lies on both the River Caerfanell and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, about 1 mile (1.6 km) from the River Usk. In 2001 it had a population of 743, reducing to 719 at the 2011 Census.
Bronllys is a village and community in Powys, Wales between the nearby towns Brecon and Talgarth. Bronllys is also the name of an electoral ward to Powys County Council. The community includes Llyswen.
Cathedine is a small hamlet that lies between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, in Powys, Wales. It is an approximately 2 miles from Llangorse and 2 miles from Bwlch.
Bernard de Neufmarché, also Bernard of Newmarket or Bernard of Newmarch was the first of the Norman conquerors of Wales. He was a minor Norman lord who rose to power in the Welsh Marches before successfully undertaking the invasion and conquest of the Kingdom of Brycheiniog between 1088 and 1095. Out of the ruins of the Welsh kingdom he created the Anglo-Norman lordship of Brecon.
Glasbury, also known as Glasbury-on-Wye, is a village and community in Powys, Wales. The village lies at an important crossing point on the River Wye, connecting the historic counties of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire, and is located just outside the Brecon Beacons National Park, north of the Black Mountains. The village is split between the communities of Glasbury and Gwernyfed. The nearest town is Hay-on-Wye, some 4 miles (6 km) to the north east. The nearest city is Hereford in England, some 25 miles (40 km) to the east. Glasbury is a popular location for river fishing, canoeing and kayaking. The population of Glasbury community in Radnorshire was 994, in 1841 it was 838.
Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery was a museum managed by Powys County Council in Brecon, the historic county town of Brecknockshire or Breconshire in Mid Wales. Built off Captain's Walk, The Watton in 1824 as a shire hall, the building later functioned as an assize courts until its closure in 1971, re-opening in 1974 as a museum. One of Brecon's most significant pieces of architecture, the building has been Grade II* listed since 1952. The Brecknock Society and Museum Friends are closely associated with the museum.
Theatr Brycheiniog is a modern theatre, arts and community venue in Brecon, the old county town of Brecknockshire and now part of south Powys in Mid Wales, UK.
The River Honddu is a river in the county of Powys, mid Wales. Early recorded versions of the name are of the form Hothenei and hodni which are believed to contain the Welsh adjective 'hawdd', meaning 'pleasant' or 'easy', together with a suffix -ni. Later forms such as Honddey and Honthy have undergone metathesis whereby -ddn- became -ndd-.
Llangattock is a village, community and electoral ward in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Powys, Wales. It lies in the Usk Valley just across the river from the town of Crickhowell. The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal passes through the village en route between Brecon and Pontypool. It is in the historic county of Breconshire.
Merthyr Cynog is a hamlet and a community in the modern county of Powys, Wales, in the historic county of Brecknockshire. The population of the community at the 2011 Census was 245.
Llanfrynach is a village and community in the county of Powys, Wales, and the historic county of Brecknockshire. The population of the community as taken at the 2011 census was 571. It lies just to the southeast of Brecon in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The village sits astride the Nant Menasgin, a right bank tributary of the River Usk. The B4558 passes just to its north and the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal also passes around the village. The Welsh name signifies the 'church of Brynach'. The community includes the hamlets of Llanhamlach and Groesffordd.
Defynnog, also known as Devynock in some historical documents, is a small village in the community of Maescar in the historic county of Brecknockshire, Wales, now lying within the unitary authority area of Powys. It lies immediately south of Sennybridge and about ten miles west of Brecon within the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Trallong is a village and community in Powys, Wales, in the historic county of Brecknockshire.
Penderyn is a rural village in Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales. It is located near Hirwaun. Its origins and expansion begun as an agricultural market village, which supplied the ever growing needs of the nearby local Market Town of Aberdare, situated in the Cynon Valley in the county of Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales.
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