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Llandeilo (Welsh pronunciation: [ɬanˈdəiloː]) is a town and community in Carmarthenshire, Wales, situated at the crossing of the River Towy by the A483 on a 19th-century stone bridge. Its population was 1,795 at the 2011 Census. It is adjacent to the westernmost point of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
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Llandeilo is named after one of the better-known Celtic saints of the 6th century, Saint Teilo. The Welsh word llan signified a monastery or a church. Saint Teilo, who was a contemporary of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, established a clas (a small monastic settlement) on the site of the present-day parish church.
Although there is very little factual detail about the life of Saint Teilo, it appears that he was highly respected in his lifetime, and revered after his death: there are 45 places dedicated to him, some as far afield as Brittany.
After Saint Teilo's death, two equally important ecclesiastical centres in Wales, Llandaff Cathedral and St David's Cathedral, laid claim to his body. There is reasonable evidence to suggest, however, that Saint Teilo was buried in Llandeilo. The parish church of Llandeilo Fawr ("Great Llandeilo") is dedicated to Saint Teilo, and until 1880 its churchyard encompassed his baptistery.
The early Christian settlement that developed around the Saint Teilo's Church prospered, and by the early 9th century it had attained considerable ecclesiastical status as the seat of a Bishop-Abbot. The Church of St Teilo soon became a 'mother church' to the surrounding district, acquiring an extensive estate, and possessing one of Wales' most beautiful and finely illustrated manuscripts – the Gospel Book of Saint Teilo. The discovery of fragments of two large Celtic crosses from this period provides further testimony to Llandeilo's importance and indeed prestige as an early ecclesiastical centre.
Towards the end of the 9th century, the importance of Llandeilo as a spiritual centre had started to decline and the Gospel Book of St Teilo was removed to Lichfield Cathedral, where it became commonly known as the Lichfield Gospels or the Book of Saint Chad. The Bishops of Lichfield still use this manuscript to swear allegiance to the Crown.
Dinefwr Castle (anglicized as Dynevor) is a spectacular Welsh castle overlooking the River Tywi near the town. It lies on a ridge on the northern bank of the Tywi, with a steep drop of about 250 feet (76 m) to the river. Dinefwr was the chief seat of the kingdom of Deheubarth.
The foundations of two castra have been discovered on the grounds of the Dinefwr estate, which is in the custody of the National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty. The estate of Golden Grove lies near the town, and further away, the impressive Carreg Cennen Castle, another Welsh stronghold. The remains of Talley Abbey can be seen 6 miles (9.7 km) away to the north of the town. 10 miles (16 km) further north are the remains of the Roman Dolaucothi Gold Mines, another National Trust property.
In the centuries that followed the Norman conquest of England, the Bishop of Llandaff and Bishop of St David's both claimed Llandeilo for their respective diocese. By the early 12th century, Llandeilo came under the patronage of the Bishopric of St David's, an ecclesiastic borough that became responsible for the affairs of the town including its development as an important medieval market centre to an extensive agricultural hinterland. Until the middle of the 20th century, a fair called St. Teilo's Fair, which had been authorised initially by Edward I of England in 1290, was held annually in the churchyard. Some of the agricultural produce and other goods offered for sale are recorded to have been displayed on the tombstones. Today, the fair has been replaced by a small farmers' market, held on the first Saturday of every month in the same place.
The road and railway bridges over the Tywi are of engineering interest. The single-arched Llandeilo Bridge was completed in 1848 and is Grade II* listed. The railway bridge, opened in 1852, is a rare survival of an early lattice truss bridge.
1987 rail disaster
In the Great Storm of 1987, the floods were so severe that the River Tywi (Towy) overwhelmed the railway bridge crossing the river near Llandeilo. Four people, one of them a boy, were drowned when the 05:27 train from Swansea to Shrewsbury plunged off the damaged Glanrhyd Bridge into the river.
An electoral ward in the same name exists. This ward stretches south from the confines of Llandeilo with a total population of 2,971. The community is bordered by the communities of: Manordeilo and Salem; Dyffryn Cennen; Llanfihangel Aberbythych; and Llangathen, all being in Carmarthenshire.
Sports and recreation
The local rugby union team is Llandeilo RFC, which was one of the founding clubs of the Welsh Rugby Union. The town is also home to Llandeilo Town AFC, an association football club currently playing in the Carmarthenshire League.
In 2008 Llandeilo hosted the World Sheepdog Trials.
The town also hosted a celebrity football event that took place between 2015 and 2017 to help raise funds for Ty Hafan children’s hospice. Celebrities who took part in the event included EastEnders actor Matt Lapinskas, Former Blackburn & Scotland defender Colin Hendry, Big Brother runner-up Glyn Wise, former Wales rugby player Mark Taylor, and Everton & Wales legend Neville Southall. The event helped raise over £4,500 for the hospice.
Llandeilo Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1908/9. The club and course disappeared in the late 1960s.
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- Llandeilo was the birthplace of the Tomos Watkin brewery.
- At one time Llandeilo produced its own 'Llandeilo Style' banknotes, and this is recorded on a blue plaque on the wall of the building which used to house Llandovery Bank, also known as The Bank of the Black Ox.
- Llandeilo gave its name to Llandilo, New South Wales.
- Near Llandeilo, at Pant-y-llyn, near the village of Carmel, Carmarthenshire is Great Britain's only known turlough (or ephemeral lake). There is a nature reserve at the site, the Carmel National Nature Reserve.
- Llandeilo is twinned with Le Conquet in Brittany.
- Llandeilo Fawr Festival of Music (Est 2000). Each July Llandeilo hosts an international Classical Music event.
- Llandeilo was named one of the best places to live in Wales in 2017.
Rachel Barrett was born in Llandeilo in 1874. A teacher by profession, she later became a prominent member of the women's suffrage movement and became editor of The Suffragette, the mouthpiece of the Women's Social and Political Union.
- List of National Trust properties in Wales
- List of lattice girder bridges in the United Kingdom
- "Community population 2011". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
- "St Teilo's Church (Priory Church)". Coflein Database Record. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
- "Llandeilo Bridge (including causeways) (partly in Dyffryn Cennen community), Llandeilo". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
- "Ward population 2011". Retrieved 15 April 2015.
- "GALLERY: Celebrities take on locals in Llandeilo charity match". Carmarthen Journal. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
- “Llandeilo Golf Club”, “Golf’s Missing Links”.
- "These towns have been named as the best places to live in Wales". Wales Online.
- Morrell, Caroline. "Rachel Barrett". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/63825. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Llandeilo.|