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A brief history of the town and the house

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Originally thought to have been established in the 5th century by Saint Teilo around the church that bears his name, recent excavations have shown two Roman forts were built here in the 1st/2nd century AD together with a small vicus or township outside the gates.

By the middle ages a further two towns were established nearby, one outside Dinefwr Castle and one in Newton Park, both of which have now long disappeared.

Llandeilo was once an important centre for ecclesiastical teaching and the repository of the St Teilo Gospel, a 9th century illuminated book containing the earliest example of Welsh writing in its margin. Swapped in 1000AD for a horse, it found its way to Litchfield Cathedral where it now remains and renamed St Chad's Gospel. An electronic copy of the Gospels can be seen in the church, Tuesdays to Saturdays.

The area featured several times during the turbulent period of strife between the Welsh Kingdoms and the later Welsh Wars of Independence. The poets and chronicles recall the battle of Ystrad Rwnws at the junction of the Tywi and Cothi rivers where in 1116 Owain ap Cadwgan, from the neighbouring Kingdom of Powys, was killed in revenge for the abduction of Princess Nest. In 1213 Rhys Grug, having been defeated in battle near Talley, set fire to the town to prevent it falling into the hands of an invading army. An English force from Carmarthen was routed in 1257 at the running battle between Coed Lathen and Cymerau and again in 1282. Newton and Llandeilo were set to the torch in July 1403 during Owain Glyndwr's march through the Tywi Valley.

Belle Vue House is located in an area of town once known as Bank and formed part of the estate of David Jones Gwynne (died 1775) of Taliaris. He was a direct descendant of Sir Rhys ap Thomas (died 1525) who assisted Henry Tudor at Bosworth Field. Sir Rhys lived at Crug just outside the town and it is supposed that he slew Richard III.

Our Welch tradition says that Rhys ap Thomas slew Richard manfully fighting with him hand to hand; and we have one strong argument in defence of our tradition, to prove that he was the man who, in all likelihood, had done the deede, for from that time forward, the Earle of Richmond as long as he lived did even honour him with the title of Father Rhys….

In 1802 the house was bought by William Paxton as his town house. William Paxton made his fortune in India during the 18th century. He also owned Middleton Hall now part of the National Botanic Garden of Wales. It was from an upstairs window of the house that Paxton threw money at the electorate as a bribe during the Lecsiwn Fawr of 1802. It is recorded that he spent over 15,000 on food and drink for his supporters during the 15 day poll which took place in the churchyard. The bribery was to no avail and he narrowly lost the vote.

It is said that because of this snub he had the folly Paxton's Tower built instead of the promised replacement bridge over the river Tywi.

The poet William Wordsworth is alleged to have stayed in Belle Vue House during one of his visits to Wales.

The house was sold in 1823 to Richard Bowen Williams, Land Agent to the Earl of Cawdor.

In later years the house became a girls private school. The Carmarthen Journal dated 7 November 1846 stated 'Inspector visits Belle Vue School, LLandilo. The room intended for only 9 pupils is commodious and in excellent repair, the governess is an tntelligent young lady; all the pupils read exceedingly well'.

A few years later it was the residence of David Lewis, owner of the South Wales Brewery which was located in the town.

On 1st August 1870 there was a terrific thunderstorm over the town. Thomas Jenkins wrote in his diary that ' the electric fluid struck the east chimney of Bellevue House, followed angle on outside to end window, broke glass in do. and loosened all the iron cross bars, then down rainpipe, crossed yard to sink-trap in drain and loosened same, throwing up the drain brickwork.'



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