Rowen is a village on the western slopes of the Conwy valley in the former County of Caernarvonshire in Wales. It lies off the B5106 road, between Tal y Bont and The Groes Inn. Buildings of Gwynedd 2009 refers to the River Roe probably following the Roman route from Caerhun to Abergwyngregyn. Rowen is several times winner of tidiest village awards.
In recent times the name of the village has been variously spelt as "Y Wy- Wen" ( white river ), "Rowen", "Ro-wen" and "Roewen". Although the Religious Census of 1851 records the name "Ro-wen", most early 20th-century maps simply use the name "Y Ro", Welsh for "gravel" or "pebbles". Wen means "white", or could mean "holy".
In the book Crwydro Arfon (1959, by Alun Llewelyn-Williams), Rowen is described as .. one of the loveliest villages in Wales ( p.77).
The following poem, called Voice of Afon Ro, was written by G. Gerallt Davies in 1945 -
- Llais Afon, Ro
- Hi ddaw'n deg o Dyddyn Du — yn unswydd
- I ddawnsio a chanu,
- Ac ugain craig yn gwgu,
- Ar wen hon ag oerni hy.
(by G. Gerallt Davies, Ro wen, 1945)
The village has a shop, an hotel " Tir y Coed ", a pub, Y Tŷ Gwyn, and a village hall, but the small primary school closed in 2011. There is a youth hostel on the slope a mile to the west of the village. Social housing came to the village in the 1970s - Lanerch Estate.
In the past, however, the village had a greater significance; it had three mills, and several ale houses and inns. It also had a pandy or fulling mill, so woollen cloth must have been made nearby. The village is identified in the Caerhun common enclosure award maps. The award map refers to the creation of the White Hart Road on the mountain above Fotty Gwyn and the Roman bridge, possibly related to the old royal mail coaching days (Masters of the Post by Duncan Campbell-Smith, 2011, p.74). There are past associations with cattle droving and fairs. Bulkley Mill (completed 1684) is one of the notable old mills of the village. One historic source refers to a mountain cloud burst happening above the village with properties being lost (probably mid-1800s).
Part of the A Family at War series (Granada TV) was filmed in this village.
Rowen Young Farmers - 75yrs - 1938 to 2013.
Interesting local buildings
- Pen-y-Bont 'By the Bridge' (pictured) - 16th century, river stone cottage. Possibly the oldest building in the village.
- Seion Methodist Chapel and Vestry - 1841
- Former Seion Chapel - 1819
- Llannerch y Felin - Elizabethan Snowdonia-type house
- Bodafon and Fronfa - houses adjacent to the former post office
- Llais Afon - large village house with original sash windows and former carpenters workshop
- Coed Mawr Hall - Probably mid-19th century
- Rock House - Large house above Coed Mawr Hall
- Tan yr Onnen cottage with dated gate stone (post card view from 1960s at Francis Frith collection)
- Glyn Isa - 17th-century country house
- Gilfach - with lovely gardens
- Y Swan - Old village inn, now a house.
- The old cobbler's shop facing the road (near Ty Gwyn)
- Pandy - the manor (historically, Pandy was Lord of the Manorial common)
Some of the people connected with the village
- Ioan ap Ioan - John Jones - Tailor of Bodawen, Groesffordd - Country Bard. " Telyn Rhyddid ".
- A.T. Johnson the inter-war writer on woodland gardening (A Garden in Wales; A Woodland Garden; The Hardy Heaths; and The Garden Today)
- Mr J. Caton - Pandy.
- H. & P. Baker - Family connections 1880s.
- Huw T. Edwards, the 1st WW Soldier, politician, union organiser and writer (Tros y Tresi; It was my Privilege; Tros f'Ysgwydd). See stone plaque in village
- John ( Jack) and Harriet Evans - Tan yr Onnen, Rowen -1938. From Llannefydd/Llangernyw. Dated gate stone.
- Catherine Anne - Glan Aber
- Tommy Steele - has family connections
- Mr and Mrs Bielby Owned Ty Hir
- Owen Gaianydd Williams - a preacher, author, historian and researcher ( 1826 -1928). (His diaries of Caerhun Parish are at Archives Wales)
- Rev. Huw Llewelyn Williams (from Y Valley, Ynys Mon) - Poet
- G. Gerallt Davies - Author and Poet - Yn Ieuenctid y Dydd (1941); Y Dwyrain a Cherddi Eraill (1942-1945);Gwilym Cowlyd; Yr Ysgub Olaf.
- Jess Yates and Paula Yates lived in the village. Paula attended the primary school
- Gwen Moffat - guide, climber and a prolific Author, who was warden of the Youth Hostel for a time
- Eric Blackburn - watercolour artist
- Isoline Gee - for Gilfach and its garden
- O.M. Roberts - Educator and worker for UGC. Past Ind. Caernarvonshire and Gwynedd Councillor. Author of Oddeutur Tan.
- K. Mortimer-Hart - Chartered Town Planner and author of The Conwy Valley & The Lands of History
- Lord Roberts of Conwy (of Tal Y Fan) -d. Dec. 2013. Secured the A55 Conwy Submerged Tube Road Tunnel Bill & Welsh Language Act. Poet. Right from the Start
- Dafydd Parri - author of the Welsh children's books series
- Kyffin Roberts - formerly of Y Wern, buried in Llangelynin Churchyard
- Margaret Lacey - dancer and actress. BBC TV - included Dr Finlays Casebook. Was in 30 films between 1957–85, including I'm all Right Jack and Diamonds are Forever.
- Fred & Reg Martin - Llangelynin
- Mr & Mrs Tierney - They ran the Willow Cafe in the 60s-70s and made visitors welcome.
- Richard & Morris Roberts - Bont Ddu, Rowen. Dick was a postman and Lay Methodist Preacher.
- Katie Brookes - The old Rowen Post Office, 1970s
- Ms Parry - Rowen primary school teacher 1950s/early 1960s
- It is understood that Meg Ellis, the writer, has family connections with Llangelynin and the village (S4C documentary).
- Edward Doylerush - aviation writer and astronomer (No Landing Place 1&2; Rock In The Clouds; Fallen Eagles; The Legend of Llandwrog).
Those who fell in the Great War 1914-18 were: Edgar Hughes - Tyr Ysgol, John Jones - Rhiw, Ifor Jones - Groesffordd, William Jones - Penparc, Lewis Owen- Llican, William Roberts - Cottage, Evan Thomas - Mount Pleasant, and John Elias Williams - Manchester House.
Jack Swann - 1853 - sent to the gallows at caernarfon for murder of local man over a watch.