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Welsh: Crug Hywel
Crickhowell streetscape by JScheppers.jpg
Crickhowell streets
Crickhowell is located in Powys
 Crickhowell shown within Powys
Population 2,063 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SO217186
Principal area Powys
Ceremonial county Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NP8
Dialling code 01873
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Brecon & Radnorshire
List of places

Coordinates: 51°51′35″N 3°08′14″W / 51.8597°N 3.1372°W / 51.8597; -3.1372

Crickhowell (Crug Hywel, Crughywel, or Crucywel in Welsh) is a small town in southeastern Powys, Wales. It lies on the A40 between Abergavenny and Brecon. The town is notable for being the first British settlement to use the same tax avoidance tactics used by big businesses to avoid paying taxes themselves, in protest of how large corporations are allowed to use legal loopholes to avoid paying any UK tax.[2]


The name Crickhowell is taken from that of the nearby Iron Age hill fort of Crug Hywel above the town, the Welsh language name being anglicised by map-makers and local English-speaking people. The town lies on the River Usk, on the southern edge of the Black Mountains and in the eastern part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Significant parts of the surrounding countryside, over 20,000 acres (80 km²) form part of the Glanusk Park estate. The town has a population of around 2,800 people.

The town[edit]

General view of the town, ca. 1860
Porthmawr Gate from 1898
Porthmawr Gate c. 1800

Many public services in Crickhowell are provided by Powys County Council and to a lesser extent by Crickhowell Town Council. Planning matters fall to the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. There are two schools – primary and secondary – which act as a central point for a large catchment area. There is some light industry on the outskirts of Crickhowell at the Elvicta Industrial Estate. The town centre [1] includes a variety of traditional businesses, many of which are family owned. Other facilities in Crickhowell include a library, two play areas, public toilets and the CRiC building, which houses a tourist information centre, an internet cafe, an art gallery and a local history archive. There are a number of pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels.

One of seven churches in Crickhowell
Detail of the bridge

There are also several churches in Crickhowell including St Edmund's Church which holds a service every Sunday, a baptist church, an evangelical church[3] and a Catholic church.

Crickhowell & Penmyarth Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1897 and played on a course at Glanusk Park. The club and course disappeared in the late 1960s.[4]


An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward includes The Vale of Grwyney community and has a total population of 2,801 as taken at the 2011 census.[5]


Today, Crickhowell is a popular tourist destination. In 2005 a Tourist Information centre was built in the centre of town and during summer the town is notably busier. Most people visit Crickhowell to see the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons, and maybe enjoy some mountain-biking, camping, hillwalking, rock climbing, fly-fishing, hang-gliding, caravanning or simply tour the area by car staying at Bed-and-breakfasts. The Green Man Festival takes place annually in mid-August at nearby Glanusk Park.

Notable buildings[edit]

Notable features in Crickhowell include the seventeenth-century stone bridge over the River Usk with its odd arches (twelve on one side, thirteen on the other) and its seat built into the walls, the 14th-century parish church of St Edmund, and the ruins of Crickhowell Castle on the green "tump" beside the A40 Brecon to Abergavenny road.

Crickhowell Castle[edit]

Crickhowell Castle was initially a motte and bailey castle built from 1121, probably by Robert Turberville of the family of Norman Lords, at this time a tenant of Bernard de Neufmarche, Hugh Turberville holding the castle from 1273 not as tenant-in-chief but as mesne lord. Hugh Turberville was Seneschal of Gascony whose services were called upon by King Edward I to train Welsh men-at-arms and transform the royal levy into a disciplined medieval army capable of conquering Wales. Hugh led both cavalry and 6,000 infantry recruited in the Welsh Marches for King Edward's forces. He was later a Deputy Constable and later Constable of Castell y Bere in Merionethshire. He fought against Rhys ap Maredudd during his rising from 1287 to 1291. He died in 1293 the last of the family in the direct line.

The castle was refortified in stone from 1242 when Sybil Turberville a Turberville heiress married Sir Grimbold Pauncefote or Paunceforte. It was walled with substantial stone towers and a large bailey, a home castle befitting an important Royal ally in Wales. The castle was in the hands of the powerful Mortimer family dynasty of Marcher Lords and in the 14th century and declined as a smaller holding within a large portfolio of lands, titles and larger castles.

On the Royal command of new King King Henry IV in 1400, it was again refortified, this time by Sir John Pauncefote, great grandson of Sir Grimbold, in advance of the uprising led by Owain Glyndŵr to 1412. The castle was largely destroyed in the early 15th century by Owain Glyndŵr's forces[6] who also attacked and burned Abergavenny town and other settlements in the area. The ruined stone double tower still stands on the Castle Green.


Crickhowell High School is a secondary school with approximately 700 pupils. In 2000, it was ranked 77th in Wales in terms of its GCSE results (based on 5 GCSEs, grades A-C). Since then, the school's exam results have improved dramatically and according to the latest inspection report by Estyn the pass rate has risen to 72%, which means the school is now ranked in equal 19th place, or in the top 10% in Wales behind St Albans RC high school in Pontypool. It is also the best performing secondary school in Powys (2014 GCSE results). In a recent school standings by the Welsh Government Crickhowell High School was placed in the green category the highest category. This making it one of the best schools in Wales.

Notable people[edit]

Crickhowell’s most famous son was the surveyor Sir George Everest (1798–1866) who was born at Gwernvale Manor near Crickhowell (this is now a hotel, known simply as 'The Manor'[7]). He was a Surveyor-General of India, after whom Mount Everest was named. There is also a street in Crickhowell named after him (Everest Drive).The current Lord and Lady of the Manor of Gwernvale are Stephen and Ruth Berrow who still reside in the town of Crickhowell

Admiral John Gell died here in 1806 after serving over 30 years in the Royal Navy.[8]

The Glanusk Park estate was the childhood home of the former royal nanny Tiggy Legge-Bourke, who still lives near the town as proprietor of Ty'r Chanter bed and breakfast lodgings.

 Crickhowell Castle. From a Survey in the beginning of the 6th Cent by James Basire 1730–1802
Crickhowel Castle. From a Survey in the beginning of the 6th Cent by James Basire 1730–1802
See also Category:People from Crickhowell

Surrounding villages[edit]

Also nearby is Cwrt-y-Gollen, a British Army training base.


  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Crickhowell: Welsh town moves 'offshore' to avoid tax on local business
  3. ^ "Crickhowell Evangelical Church". 
  4. ^ "Crickhowell & Penmyarth Golf Club, Glanusk Park, Powys". Golf’s Missing Links. 
  5. ^ "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Picture of the castle
  7. ^ "The Manor". 
  8. ^ The Literary Panorama. Cox, Son and Baylis. 1807. p. 1385. Retrieved 27 January 2016. 

External links[edit]