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Lampeter, Ceredigion. This name should properly be Llanbedr, to which is added Pont Steffan, since for the village of St Peter some builder set a bridge across the Teifi. He was certainly an early worker, since Gerald de Barn in 1188 preferred to mention Lampeter under that title alone. When he describes how he made his way to it from Cilgerran, he mentions that he had on his left side the Crug Mawr (Great Hill). There in 1134, shortly before his own time, Gruffydd, son of the powerful Rhys ap Tewdwr, had signally defeated an English army that had already lost its leader, Richard de Clare. With the delight in local legends he always showed, Gerald speaks of the tumulus on top of the hill: a relic of Celtic times, which was supposed to adapt itself to the measure of any man who slept on it but had the less convenient habit of breaking his armour to pieces.

At Lampeter Gerald was met by the Abbot of Strata Florida, and Lampeter seems always to have had this character of being a place mainly preoccupied with ecclesiastical affairs. Although wars and alarms occurred all about it, the nearest it got to involvement in them was when, after the Civil Wars, its local troop was assembled in the market-place for disbandment and pay-off. Although its name is now generally known in English as Lampeter, the careful Daniel Paterson, in his Direct and Principal Cross Roads of 1811, refers to it still as Llanbeder, spelling the other Llanbedr in Merioneth with an i to make the difference clear. He had nothing to say of the place, though Saxton's l7th century maps mark it as a point of importance on the border between Cardigan and Carmarthen. Had he published his book eleven years later, he would have noted that Bishop Burgess of St David's had just founded in Lampeter the College of St David for training students to holy orders. It was and is an institution very much on its own, devoted to the Church as the Church of England defines it. The college preceded by a long time the foundation of the University College of Wales, with its Methodist outlook, and does not now form part of the Welsh University system. It is modelled on the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, and indeed is affiliated to each of them. It is not so much a Welsh college as a college in Wales. But, against the background of the Teifi river and the wooded hills of the fertile valley, it inevitably recalls the Backs, which Cambridge men know so well.

Lampeter was famous for its annual horse market every May Fair day. It is still a principal market centre, and some may find this its greatest attraction, for the area of South Cardigan is still a place of harvest and sheep-raising and of haystacks that catch the eye. For you do not see the sloping-roofed structures familiar in England before machinery substituted hay-bricks of straw. Here the round, beehive type is perpetuated, of the kind that recalls the earliest architecture of Celtic tribesmen. They are striking and of beautiful craftsmanship, and one can only hope they will never die out. But the wool-weaving of Lampeter and Cardiganshire generally has largely vanished, it calls for revival.

The even course of Lampeter's history has been marked by one happening of blood. In contrast with the story of medieval warfare belonging to its neighbours, this event, of the 17th century, does not spring from the curiously decorous nature of the First or Second Civil War in these parts. Then, Lampeter was a very small town looking across the river at the stately home of the Lloyds of Maesyfelin. Beyond the hills lay Llandovery, where Vicar Rhys Prichard was born in 1579, and to which he returned first as incumbent of Llandingad and Llanfair-ar-y-bryn and then in 1613 as Chaplain to the nephew of the knightly Devereux of that place, the Earl of Essex. While at Llandovery, Prichard had a son. The Lloyds of Maesyfelin had a daughter. The young man rode by, and the young woman watched him from her window. Before long, she began to flutter a kerchief from the window and he began to look for it. When he saw it, he knew her brothers were away and he might enter. One day, the brothers returned unexpectedly and found nothing to recommend the behaviour of the Vicar's son. They tied him head downwards on his horse and lashed it into fury. It galloped headlong over the hill-road to Llandovery and came into the town carrying a dead man. It is said the brothers followed him all the way and at Llandovery threw his body into the river. The Vicar prayed a curse upon the house of Maesyfelin; and now it is not even a ruin, for its stones have been taken for building elsewhere.

At Castell Hywel, about 9 miles West of Lampeter, was founded in 1775, and continued till 1827, one of the most influential Nonconformist teaching academies in Wales. With the academy at Neuaddlwyd, founded in 1810, it had a profound effect on overseas missionary effort and even contrived to have certain of its students ordained at St David's.

Nearby towns: Aberaeron, Aberystwyth, Llandeilo, Llandovery, Llandysul, Llanybydder, Newcastle Emlyn, Tregaron

Nearby villages: Abermeurig, Capel Bettws Lleucu, Cellan, Cilcennin, Ciliau-Aeron, Cribyn, Cwmann, Cwrtnewydd, Dihewyd, Ffaldybrenin, Gartheli, Henfynyw, Llanbydder, Llanddewi Brefi, Llanerchaeron, Llanfair Clydogau, Llanfihangel-ar-Arth, Llangeitho, Llangybi, Llanllwni, Llansawel, Llanwenog, Llanwnen, Llanycrwys, Mydroilin, Pencarreg, Pumsaint, Rhydcymerau, Silian, Talsarn, Temple Bar, Trefilan, Ystradmeurig

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