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Laugharne, Carmarthenshire. The name of this ancient borough one of the most charming small towns in Wales is pronounced “Lam”; its Welsh name is Talycharn. It stands at the mouth of the River Taf, at the point where it widens to join the estuary of the Towy. Southwards are the distant sand-dunes of Ginst Point, where the united rivers meet the sea. Across the water rise the green hills of the Llanstephan peninsula. Laugharne, for years. has lived happily out of the modern world. It still carries out the provisions of the original charter granted to the borough by Sir Guy de Brian in 1307.

Laugharne consists of a long street that starts at the northern end with the church, and runs past Georgian houses between a row of pollarded elms to the Town Hall, and on down to Laugharne Castle and its foreshore. This foreshore is of mud and shingle, and can be used only at high tide.

The town stands on the very edge of the “Landsker” that strange, invisible boundary that separated, and still separates, from the rest of Wales those parts of Pembrokeshire and southern Carmarthenshire settled by Normans and Flemings in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Castle may have originally been founded in 1100, but the early buildings suffered the usual fate of border fortifications, and were repeatedly destroyed by the Welsh and recaptured by the Normans. Sir Guy de Brian held it securely at the beginning of the 14th century. The present building was largely reconstructed as a mansion, out of the old castle by Sir John Perrot in the reign of Henry VIII. it was captured by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War. It is a romantic ivy-clad ruin, memorably painted by Turner. The remains are a shell within, though they have a fine view seawards. The Castle is in private hands, but is open to the public on application.

The Town Hall, built in 1746, has a white tower and belfry. The building is still the centre of town life, for Laugharne has a Portreeve, who wears a chain of golden cockle-shells, with attendant halberdiers, mattockmen, flagbearers, and guides. The Corporation guards its traditions, and piously toasts its founder, Sir Guy, at the annual Portreeve's banquet. The Town Hall still has a prisoner's cell, 10 ft sq., with an uncomfortable wooden pillow.

The church stands somewhat apart from the town. It is a cruciform church, dating from the 13th century, but heavily restored in the 19th. The stained glass has received some harsh criticism, but the church makes its effect, standing on the slope of a wooded hill. In the annexe to the churchyard is the unpretentious grave of Dylan Thomas a plain wooden cross bears a brass plate inscribed with the poet's name. It is simple, in accordance with his own wish. Laugharne has always had its attractions for writers. Edward Thomas lived here, and Richard Hughes occupied the Castle house between the wars. Dylan Thomas, however, is now the chief literary attraction of the place. He lived in the Boat House, a Georgian house perched between the hill-side and the river-bank along the narrow Cliff Walk behind the Castle. It is private, but alongside the path you can see the little shed in which so many of the later poems were written, and then look out over the poets “heron-priested shore”. His memory is cherished, not only in his favourite Brown's Hotel in the main street. but in the triennial performance of Under Milk Wood in the town. The poet stoutly maintained that Llareggub was not in any way based on modern Laugharne. St John's Hill, the subject of one of Dylan Thomas's happiest poems, is just South of the little town. There is little to show of Roche Castle at its foot, near the main road westwards to Pendine.

From the open space before Laugharne Castle, a road leads up through the dingle with the ancient name of the Laiques, for just over 1 mile towards the secluded hamlet and church of Llandawke. The church is small, tucked away in a hollow behind a house. Its most interesting features are an Ogham stone, with a Roman inscription and the l4th century effigy of a woman, probably Margaret, sister of Guy de Brian of Laugharne.

Llansadurnen is placed on the hill-side behind the big limestone quarry to the right of the Pendine road out of Laugharne. The limestone bluff contains the Coygan cave, which is noted in the early history of Welsh archaeology for its rich deposit of mammoth, woolly rhinoceros, and other long-extinct animals. The church was rebuilt in 1859. There are fine views out over the cultivated levels of the East Marsh, protected by its sea-bank and sand-dunes, to the Towy estuary and the Gower peninsula beyond. Peter Williams, the Welsh commentator on the Bible and a prominent figure in the Methodist Revival of the 18th century in Wales, was born at West Marsh, Llansadurnen, in 1723.

Nearby towns: Carmarthen, St Clears, Whitland

Nearby villages: Abergwili, Abernant, Amroth, Burry Port, Crunwear, Cwmfelin Boeth, Derwydd, Ferryside, Gelliwen, Henllan Amgoed, Kidwelly, Lampeter Velfrey, Llanboidy, Llandefaelog, Llandowror, Llanfallteg, Llangain, Llangendeirne, Llanglydwen, Llangunnor, Llangynin, Llansadurnen, Llansteffan, Llanteg, Llanwinio, Llanybri, Login, Ludchurch, Marros, Meidrim, Merthyr, Newchurch, Pembrey, Pendine, Rhydargaeau, Saint Ishmael, Talog, Tavernspite, Wisemans Bridge

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