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Bed and breakfast availability
Llanidloes b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation

Llanidloes in Powys

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Visit Llanidloes and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast accommodation:

Llanidloes, Powys, lies on the Severn a little over 15 miles from Newtown. The reaches of the river here run from a narrow valley out of the Plynlimon hills, and the way West to Machynlleth takes you at once over the empty spaces and wide outlook of the moorland. Southwards the road will lead to Rhayader and the drowned valleys by Elan Village whose waters form the Birmingham reservoirs, lying under hills still largely unchanged since the days when peoples now forgotten raised their tumuli and cairns upon them. By the rocky escarpments of Cerrig Gwalch (Falcon Crags), the way will lead to Newbridge on Wye and the hills about Llandrindod Wells. But Llanidloes is still very much shut in and somewhat isolated. The centre of the town is distinguished by one of the pleasantest examples of a market cross, or timbered meeting-place for market, anywhere in Wales; this one was built in 1609. The lower part is an arcaded space for stalls; the upper, a set of council chambers. Proposals for its removal as an obstruction to traffic were bitterly opposed before the Second World War.

Its most serious intervention in history occurred in 1839. This was the time of Chartism, the demand for reforms that would bring Parliament more directly under the control of the people, and introduce a system of economic justice more favourable to the factory worker and more generous to the poor. Llanidloes was then a considerable centre for the weaving of wool; and close by was Newtown, where Robert Owen, the philosopher and originator of the Co-operative Societies, was born and where he returned to die in 1858. The wool-weavers, working in loom-sheds transformed from cottages already old, in Llanidloes as throughout this area of Central Wales, were particularly discontented with their conditions of labour and their wages; the privations of the poor in the district were extreme. The local Press reported several instances of lonely old women found dead, eaten by rats.

In the 1830s the expectation of revolution, such as had occurred on the Continent, was acute in Britain. Plans for a concerted march on London from all over the country alarmed the authorities sufficiently to arm the constabularies with cut-lasses and hold the militia in constant readiness. An address was published from Newtown and displayed in Caersws and Llanidloes: “Helots of England! Toiling husbandmen and despised mechanics! Be firm. Boldly demand your long-forgotten rights. . . . Once divided, you must inevitably fall a sacrifice to the merciless foe!” It concluded, all the same, with an appeal for peace, law, and order.

The reaction was a panic summoning of militia and hasty swearing-in of special constables all over the Severn valley. But the reaction at Caersws was chiefly from the Methodist interests that were dominant in these parts. The populace was adjured not to desert their places of worship on the Sunday for which the revolution was fixed, and reminded that the agitators were men who lived by the tongue rather than by toil and were seekers after power at the expense of the multitude. Neither Caersws nor Newtown answered the call to revolt. In Llanidloes, however, some who were found carrying guns were arrested and imprisoned, in spite of their protests that they were bent only on a mild afternoon's sport in the hills. Llanidloes weavers were noted for discussing political affairs as if they were Members of Parliament; and their drilling and marching in the streets of the town had for some time been anxiously watched. Clumsy intervention by constables and militia resulted in a short but damaging scuffle in the centre of the town, when railings were torn up and fences broken, and the Mayor distinguished himself by emerging, long after the fight was over, from underneath his bed.

The incident was provoked by the introduction of London police, a precaution that illustrates how serious the authorities considered the threat from the “mad mobs” who might set the Severn valley ablaze. It began with the arrest without warrant, by a London policeman of a native, one Abraham Owen, who was walking through the main street with a spade over his shoulder. The weapon was by no means proof of revolutionary intent; but official alarm is shown by the fact that troops had been landed at Aberystwyth from Ireland to march upon the place. The riot ended at Montgomery Assizes and gaol, the strongest evidence against the forty accused being an appeal by the local Chartist lodge that headquarters should send them a speaker to explain the purpose of the movement. But as drilling and marching in unauthorized groups was a penal offence, some of the condemned were sentenced to fifteen years in Van Diemen's Land, Australia.

The church here dates partly from the 13th century. Its North arcade is notable, and the hammer-beam roof is said to have come from Cwmhir Abbey, when it was demolished at the Dissolution.

Nearby towns: Aberystwyth, Llandrindod Wells, Machynlleth, Newtown, Presteigne

Nearby villages: Abbey-Cwmhir, Aberhafesp, Caersws, Carno, Dylife, Llananno, Llanbadarn Fynydd, Llanbister, Llanbrynmair, Llandinam, Llangurig, Llanwnog, Mochdre, Pant-y-Dwr, Penegoes, Pennant, Rhayader, Saint Harmon, Staylittle, Talerddig, Trefeglwys, Tregynon, Y Fan

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