Llanrwst from bridge over Afon Conwy
Llanrwst shown within Conwy
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Llanrwst (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬanˈruːst]) is a small town and community on the A470 road and the River Conwy in Conwy County Borough, Wales. It takes its name from the 5th- to 6th-century Saint Grwst, and the original parish church in Cae Llan was replaced by the 12th-century church.[clarification needed]
Llanrwst developed around the wool trade, but also became renowned for harp and clock manufacture. Today, lying as it does in Snowdonia, its main industry—aside that of being a market town—is tourism.
Notable buildings in Llanrwst include the almshouses, two 17th-century chapels and the Parish Church of St Grwst, which holds the stone coffin of Llywelyn the Great. Pont Fawr, a narrow three-arch stone bridge that is said to have been designed by Inigo Jones, was built in 1636 by Sir John Wynn of Gwydir Castle. The bridge connects the town with Gwydir, a manor house dating from 1492, the 15th-century courthouse known as Tu Hwnt i'r Bont and also with the road from nearby Trefriw.
In the 2011 census the population of the town was 3,323.
Llanrwst developed around the wool trade, and for a long time the price of wool for the whole of Britain was set here. The growth of the town in the 13th century was considerably aided by an edict by Edward I of England (who built Conwy Castle) prohibiting any Welshman from trading within 10 miles (16 km) of that town. Llanrwst, located some 13 miles (21 km) from Conwy, was strategically placed to benefit from this.
In 1276 Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales, also known as Llywelyn the Last, seized the town, declaring it a "free borough" independent from the diocese of Llanelwy. Although the bishop went as far as to seek the help of the Pope to overturn this, his attempts failed, Llywelyn pleading a close family tie to the place as a reason for safeguarding it.
After the death of Llywelyn in 1282, every further attempt by the bishop of Llanelwy failed: the Cistercian monks of Aberconwy Abbey (where Llywelyn the Great, Llywelyn's grandfather, had died in 1240) insisted that it be allowed to keep the independence that had belonged to it for 29 years, and ripped down any banners related to the Bishopric or to Edward I. A century later, the monastery was moved 8 miles (13 km) upriver to Maenan Abbey, near Llanrwst. The town consequently has its own coat of arms and flag, and this is the origin of the old local motto "Cymru, Lloegr a Llanrwst" (Wales, England and Llanrwst). This motto, a testament to this apparent independence, has now become synonymous with the song of that title, by local band Y Cyrff.
In 1610 Sir John Wynn of Gwydir constructed the historic Llanrwst Almshouses to house poor people of the parish. The buildings closed in 1976, but were restored in 1996 with the aid of Heritage Lottery funding, reopening as a museum of local history and a community focal point. The museum currently holds a collection of over a hundred items relating largely to the rural Conwy valley, and a number of items are associated with the renowned Llanrwst Bards of the late 19th century.
In 1947, Llanrwst town council made an unsuccessful submission to the United Nations for a seat on the security council, stating that Llanrwst was an independent state within Wales. The chairman and secretary of the Llanrwst Historical Society have obtained proof of this from the UN in New York. The Llanrwst Almshouses & Museum Trust recently returned the above-mentioned Llanrwst flag to the community. Dating from the 12th century, this emblem was central to the town's belief that it was independent of the United Kingdom.
Llanrwst hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1951 and 1989.
Llanrwst is sited between 10 and 50 metres (33 and 160 ft) above sea level on the eastern bank of the River Conwy. The A470 trunk route between north and south Wales runs through the town, where it is joined by the A548 main road from Rhyl, Prestatyn and Chester. To the southwest of the town is the Gwydir Forest. On the hills above the town is the Moel Maelogan wind farm; the electricity generated by these turbines is sent to the sub-station in the town.
In the 2011 census the population of the town was 3,323 and many of the population are Welsh speakers. At one time Llanrwst was the eighth-largest town in Wales, its population being greater than that of Cardiff. The change in the population of the town in the 19th and 20th centuries is shown in the chart below.
Llanrwst is served by two railway stations, Llanrwst and North Llanrwst, on the Conwy Valley Line (which once terminated here, before being extended to Betws-y-Coed in 1867 and Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1879). It was originally envisaged that the railway would pass closer to the river (on the site of today's Central Garage), and the Victoria Hotel was built opposite the bridge in anticipation of this. Had the railway line been built on the west bank of the River Conwy, as originally planned (to serve the inland port of Trefriw, located across the river from Llanrwst), it is unlikely that Llanrwst would ever have achieved its present status.
Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy previously Llanrwst Grammar School, is a bilingual, secondary school with approximately 790 pupils. According to the latest inspection report by Estyn, the school has a GCSE pass rate of 71% (based on 5 GCSEs, grades A–C). This means the school is in equal 24th place in Wales, or just outside the top 10% of secondary schools in Wales. It is also the second best performing secondary school in Conwy, behind Eirias High School in Colwyn Bay. There is also a Christian-based youth club in Seion Chapel called Clwb Cyfeillion.
Llanrwst is home to Llanrwst United FC, which has two senior teams. The first team play in the Welsh Alliance League and the Reserve team play in the Clwyd League Division 2. The club also has a Junior section, "Llanrwst United Juniors", who have 8 teams and play in the Aberconwy and Colwyn League. Llanrwst Cricket Club plays in the North Wales Premier Cricket League.
- Kai Owen, Welsh actor most notable for his role in Torchwood as Rhys Williams
- Mark Roberts of Catatonia.
- "Area: Llanrwst (Parish), Key Figures for 2011 Census: Key Statistics". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
- BBC - Gogledd Orllewin - hanes
- Talk of the town BBC News, 28 April 2006
Media related to Llanrwst at Wikimedia Commons
- A Vision of Britain Through Time
- British Listed Buildings
- Clwyd Churches
- Office for National Statistics