My sincere thanks to Caroline for introducing me to a glorious walk today, new to me, and for the great company. The light was wonderful, the air pure, the breeze fresh and the scenery, from distant vistas to hedgerows a few steps away, were a delight. The larks were singing beautifully on the top of the hill, and we witnessed a bird of prey, no more than 15ft away from us, capturing a rabbit or something equally substantial. The spring lambs were tiny, leggy, ridiculously endearing. On the entire walk we only saw two other people, a couple who had come up for the day from Shrewsbury. Here are a few photographs to celebrate a super day, and what a sublimely great feeling it is to feel that winter may be, at long last, in slow albeit intermittent retreat. Click on any of the photographs to see the full-sized image.
I have just realized that this post from August 2019, last year, was still in Draft status, so I’ve hit the Publish button. A lovely day, a superb walk, part of the Wales Coast Path and it seemed a shame to waste it. Also, given that it’s early March right now, it’s a really rather nice reminder that the summer will eventually return :-).
To enjoy the Panorama Walk using Aberdovey as a starting point, turn into Chapel Square, go straight up Copper Hill Street, take the second turn on the right, which takes you into Mynydd Isaf. At the top of the road turn left and follow the road to a junction, and turn right, following the Wales Coast Path signs. From there follow the single track lane all the way. You can walk or drive. The path is clearly marked. You will cross several cattle grids, and if you are driving you will need to stop to open a gate at one point. If you are driving you will need to keep an eye open for passing places and when you reach the end of the metalled road you can either park and do the walk to Bearded Lake, or turn around and go back. You can also start from a Snowdonia National Park car park in Happy Valley, but it’s a steeper climb. Look out for wild flowers and insects in the hedges and verges.
Video: the solitary harebell at the end is amazing. It is unimaginable how anything so delicate on such a fragile stem can stand up to the wind buffeting it around like that. The camcorder work on the rest of it is a bit wobbly. It was a very breezy day in exposed parts of the walk, and I haven’t got the hang of taking a tripod around with me. Holding the camcorder level in a strong breeze, particularly when panning, is something of a challenge, but the video combines quite a nice contrast to the still shots above.
Ynyslas carries with it the novelty of parking on the beach. There is a nominal fee when the visitor centre is open (from Easter to the end of September), but it is free in the winter months when the visitor centre is closed. The drive to Ynyslas from Aberdovey takes about 40 minutes via Machynlleth, and of course you are driving in a loop around the Dyfi estuary because Ynyslas is immediately opposite Aberdovey. There used to be a passenger ferry between the two, which had been operated for centuries, but eventually became redundant when the railway was built and the roads improved to handle the growing number of cars.
Ynyslas is a nature reserve, properly entitled the Dyfi National Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre and as well as the sand dunes and the beach, includes the Cors Fochno raised peat bog, which is of international importance. I have only been to Ynyslas once before, and then only very briefly when it was an exploratory mission tacked on to a visit to the terrific mill at Furnace (covered on a previous post). The visitor centre was open then, and had stacks of books on tables for visitors to consult, information boards, and a good collection of relevant books, greetings cards and small toys to buy, as well as a coffee and tea machine. Considerate to out of season visitors there is a big board outside, by the entrance, showing the layout of the nature reserve, with the paths clearly marked.
Out of season Ynyslas is virtually empty of bodies, just a few dog walkers in the dunes and rather more on the beach. I decided to do the circular walk that leads through the dunes, out on to a stretch of beach, and then back along the mouth of the estuary to the car. The dunes are of particular interest because they demonstrate all the stages of dune formation and growth, and there are multiple types including both fixed and mobile dunes. There was not a lot to see other than marran grass at this time of year, but come the spring there will be all sorts of flowering plants and insects to see including wild orchids, mosses, liverworts, fungi, insects and spiders.
Where the path tips you out on the beach there is a big ribbon of huge rounded grey pebbles that lies between you and the vast, eternal vistas of sand. You need to be a bit careful as they shift constantly underfoot. Once safely installed on the beach there is tons to see, and it is quite different from the stretch between Tywyn and Aberdovey. For one thing, there is a sense that you can see forever down the beach along Cardigan Bay. It is a very wide, open stretch of beach, with the waves chasing each other up the sand in long white-topped lines for as far as the eye can see.
Before the beach reaches the estuary, the sand is largely uninterrupted by the mass of small cockle, razor clam and tellin shells that scrunch underfoot on the stretches on the north side of the estuary. Instead, there are occasional shells of a completely different character, and even the usual species like cockles are generally much larger. Gigantic Icelandic cyprine and common otter shells are dotted around, big common whelks are a frequent sight and the pod razor clams reach their maximum lengths along this section of beach. Of the smaller species the limpets were a pleasant surprise, as were needle whelks and acorn barnacles. Some of the shells contained keelworm tubes (spirobranchus). In the sand itself there were dozen upon dozen of sandhopper burrows. I was surprised at how many articulated bivalves I found, both halves still connected, including well preserved cockles
The Icelandic cyprine (Artica islandica, also known as the ocean quahog) is particularly fascinating. It has a dark brown periostratacum (outer skin of a shell) and lives so long that it is amongst the longest living of any animal – up to 500 years. Amazing to think that an Icelandic cyprine shell could have contained a creature that was alive when Shakespeare was writing. The oldest known, its age determined by counting growth rings, was 507, and was nicknamed Hafrún (c. 1499–2006) . This example is 10cm (4 inches) from top to bottom.
Dog whelks (Nucella lapillus), which are lovely to look at and beautifully constructed along a spiral axis, are actually somewhat stomach-churning in their feeding habits. Like all gastropods, whelks have a toothed tongue called a radula. They use it to drill through the shells of other gastropod, and produce a chemical to help with the process. Once the shell has been pierced, they inject other chemicals into the shell cavity to paralyze and liquefy their prey before extracting it through the hold in the shell. You can spot the holes in shells on the strandline.
One of the whelks had keelworm (Spirobranchus) tubes. These calcareous tubes are made by the keel worm with an open and closed end. The open end allows it to put out tentacles with which it feeds on organic detritus, whilst safely armoured in its shell. Like keelworm tubes, barnacle shells are also found on shells of other organisms. There were several examples of acorn barnacles at Ynyslas, like the dog whelk in the above photograph, all in clusters because barnacles form colonies.
Sandhoppers (Talitrus salafor) are interesting too. At around 20mm in length, they look rather like fleas, with their backs arched. They live in burrows at depths up to 30cm and emerge at night to feed on the strandlines. Although they live on the strandline they are terrestrial and cannot survive in the water so when the tide comes in they dive into their burrows, backfilling with sand to plug the passage and protect themselves. They are targeted by some species of wading birds.
I found two nursehound eggcases, which I dutifully reported to the Shark Trust. One of them was partially covered with what look like tiny shells, as well as some keelworm tubes. I thought at first that the shells might the blue-rayed limpet (Patella pellucidum) but quite apart from the fact that they are the wrong shape, I cannot see any of the radiating blue lines that ought to be present if this identification were correct. Perhaps they are very early on in the growth cycle.
The limpets are common in some areas, but I have never seen one at Aberdovey. There were plenty on the beach at Ynyslas. Like dog whelks they have a toothed radula, but they infinitely more friendly to other species. They feed on algal spores left behind when the tide recedes, and in clearing patches of seaweed they create opportunities for other species to colonize rocks, increasing biodiversity along the seashore.
As I returned towards the car I thought I could hear oyster catchers, but all I could see were ducks. If you are a refugee from an urban environment, like me, you might associate ducks with the coarse quacking of mallards, but these sounded more like oyster catchers, with a a high-pitched peeping noise as you can hear in the video. They were feeding in the marsh grasses in the muddy zone at the edge of the estuary waters.
The views from Ynyslas towards Aberdovey, as you round the corner from the open sea into the estuary, are breathtaking, particularly on a gloriously sunny day. Beyond the town you can see down the Dyfi, a long peaceful arc of water flanked by low hills.
The BBC website has a good suggested walk beginning at Ynyslas, which goes further than I did and can take up to three hours. The Natural Resources Wales website gives more information about what to see at Ynyslas, and it offers a number of suggested walks of different durations. I plan to return to do the Cors Fochno walk, and to do another dune walk when there will be plants in flower.
I drove past the golf course into Borth for a quick stroll along the seafront, overlooking the pebble beach and rolling waves. Now a seaside town, it used to be the main source of sailors for the local shipping trade in the 19th Century.
Cadair Idris, the Chair of Idris, the local giant, is a dominant feature of the area. I’ve walked to the summit a number of times on the Minffordd Path, but that was many years ago and I’ve no idea where those photographs are now. When spring arrives it will certainly be time to do it again. The first photograph (Valentine’s AG105), which is unused, superbly captures the solid mass of Cadair Idris, its massive presence. The sharp outcrop in the foreground is both a great piece of photographic composition and a reminder of the enormous geological forces that lifted up the Welsh hill ranges. Below it, a well-used track carves a route well into the distance.
Cadair Idris was a popular destination from at least the late 1700s, when tourists were first attracted to Llyn Cau, the glacial cwym lake. Llyn Cau has attracted tourists ever since, and it became a popular destination throughout the 19th Century. Richard Wilson painted Llyn Cau in the late 1700s, and early 19th Century artists continued to produce various interpretations of Cadair Idris, including Edward Pugh (1816), John Skinner Prout (1830), Samuel Jackson (1833) and Sidney Richard Percy (1874). A painting by Compton is shown here on the left, and some other examples can be seen on the Campaign for National Parks website. A few brave souls reached the summit, like Thomas Compton who painted it in the early 19th Century. At 2927 feet the summit and highest point of of Cadair Idris is called Pen Y Caer.
What is remarkable about the summit postcard to the right is that the women reached the summit in those long skirts! What a nightmare, even if they took one of the easier routes. All were sensibly armed with sticks, but their footwear is hidden from sight. They look as though they are heading out for a shoot. That photograph (Valentine’s 32025), was postmarked1918. The message on the back, sent to Derby, says that the writer hopes to climb it one night! The mind boggles, quite frankly.
Amongst all the recent postcards, this is one of my favourites, mainly because it is so relentlessly prosaic. Straying out of Aberdovey, but not too far, it’s a peaceful view of cattle in the Dysynni valley with Bird Rock unmistakeable in the background, seen from the west near the coast. Numbered 36502, and dating to 1895 (courtesy of the Francis Frith Collection website for the date) it is characteristic of Francis Frith photographs, offering a slightly unusual take on the usual subject matter. Unlike other contemporary views of scenery which focus on the romantic this shot is particularly evocotive of the the landscape as I have seen it so often, with Bird Rock looking rather intimidating, and the lugubrious cattle waiting patiently for whatever weather is about to emerge from the clouds. Cattle stand in water to cool themselves down on hot days (in some states in America where summer temperatures are usually high, cooling ponds are often provided) so although the sky looks rather overcast, it was probably a hot, sunny day. There is a real sense of timelessness about this photograph.
In a part of the Dysynni valley to further to the east (with Bird Rock this time to the west) and below Castell-y-Bere are fields along the river Dysynni that are still used for pasturing cattle, as well as sheep. There are some lovely walks along the Dysynni valley, which is well worth exploring.
The card was completely unused. I like the “Post Card” font, which has panache. I instantly liked the little saying at the top of the reverse side, below, “T.N.T. – Today, Not Tomorrow!” At first it amused me because it could have been written for me, as procrastionation is probably my worst sin, and I could often do with a bit of explosive to move me in the right direction :-). But when I looked into it, it turns out to be a wartime slogan introduced by British Minister of Production, Captain Oliver Lyttleton, during September 1942, the thrust of which was that there was a new urgency to the production of war supplies. It gives one pause for thought. What is interesting here is that, as above, the photograph is listed in the Francis Frith archive as dating to 1895, but it is clear that the early photograph was re-used later for post-1902 postcard production (see below) and in at least one of its more modern iterations carried a 1942 slogan.
Francis Frith is probably the best name, amongst non-specialists of early postcard production. There is a lot about Frith and his photography business on the Francis Frith Collection website, which is a going concern and preserves an archive of his work. It is a really fascinating story. Frith was born into a Quaker family in 1822 in Derbyshire. He built up a thriving grocery business in Liverpool, which he sold in the 1850s, making him financially independent, in today’s terms a multi-millionaire. A founder member of the Liverpool Photographic Society, only 14 years after the invention of photography, be began to pursue his hobby on a full-time basis, travelling to the Middle East for fourteen years between 1856 and 1860. I was very familiar with his Egyptian photographs, having a particular interest in this field, but the Francis Frith Collection website gives a real insight into the scope of Frith’s intersets and abilities. Marketed by Negretti and Zambra of London, he became rich on the sale of his images as prints and steroscopic views. After he married and settled down in England, he opened his company F. Frith and Co to “create accurate and unromantic photographs of as many cities, towns and villages of the British Isles as possible and sell copies of the photographs to the public, who were travelling in ever greater numbers and looking for souvenirs of their travels.” He eventually retired and left the company to his sons, dying in 1898. His sons built on their father’s legacy, and when in 1902 the Post Office agreed the design for the postcard, with a picture on one side and a divided plain side on the other for message and addresss, the Frith brothers jumped on the bandwagon and became one of the market leaders in postcard production and distribution in the first half of the 20th Century, using the extensive archive of existing photographs.
Digitization of the Frith collection, consisting of over 300,000 images, is ongoing on the other website, with a searchable archive, where 21 other views of Dysynni (and 105 of Aberdovey) can be found.
I have been fascinated by Afon Leri ever since I first visited Aberdovey some twenty years ago. From my living room window it is an unwavering slender scar on the flat landscape to the east of Ynyslas. From up on the hill its opening is clearly perpendicular to the banks of the Dyfi estuary, and one can see the bridges that carry the road and railway over the river towards Ynyslas, next to a small boatyard. The river’s course across this topmost corner of Ceredigion is obviously canalized, an engineered artifice, but why? What was its purpose?
The Leri rises at Llyn Craig-y-Pistyll below Pumlimon and passes through Talybont, (on the main road between Machynlleth and Aberystwyth) where it meets the Afon Ceulan before flowing behind Borth. The canalized section is 3.35km long and c.35m wide and runs from Ynysfergi in the south to Pont Leri in the north, crossing the low-lying Cors Fochno. Cors Fochno is a Special Area of Conservation and one of the largest remaining examples of a raised peat bog in Britain, which started to form from c.5500BC. Afon Leri now opens out into the Dyfi estuary at Pont Dyfi in Ynyslas. Work on the canalized section had begun by 1790 when the above map was created by T. Lewis, marked as the Pil Newydd.
In the early 19th Century local landowners and neighbours Pryse Pryse of Gogerddan and Mathew Davies of Cwmcynfelin were incentivized by the General Enclosure Act of 1801 to reclaim land from the bog in order to develop it for pastoral agrarian use. Land reclamation would require the waterlogged land to be drained. There was little recorded opposition from parishioners, and royal assent was granted on June 22nd 1813. The land surveyor Charles Hassall saw the advantages of enclosing the 5106 acres but warned the landowners against contractors who were either duplicitous or ignorant of the task ahead. His words were almost premonitionary as successive problems plagued the project. Disagreements between land owners, contractors and commissioners, together with serious and ongoing financial problems, caused major delays.
Charles Hassall’s plan was to divert a number of streams that entered the bog to drain away spring floodwaters and build embankments along the Dyfi estuary to prevent salt-water transgressions. He recommended an experienced contractor called Anthony Bower, who was employed in 1815. Bower suggested that using the river Leri to drain water from the land was the most viable solution, but there were problems. The course of the Leri ran along the far western edge of Cors Fochno and emptied a little further up the coast at Aberlery into Cardigan Bay. It was insufficiently deep and fast-moving to serve as a drain for the bog, so Bower suggested that the best solution was to deepen, widen and straighten the river. As Professor Moore-Colyer describes it: “A sluice was to be constructed at the river mouth from which a main drain would run through the centre of the bog. This would be accompanied by a catchwater drain which would follow the course of the Lerry to the foot of the hills and then along the south-eastern boundary of the bog to join the River Cletwr. By this means, Bower believed, water from the hills would be prevented from entering the bog while an embankment on the southern side of the Dyfi would preclude the entry of salt-water.” Sluices and catchwater drains would be employed to control water levels.
In 1815, an alternative proposal was put forward by Griffith Parry of Penmorfa, and which carried an estimated cost of £10,000. Griffith Parry had trained under the great engineer Andrew Rennie on the construction of the London Docks. He also favoured diverting the Leri, but from the west end of Ynys Fergi in a straight line to Pont Afon Leri, and he too believed that deepening, widening and straightening the river was the solution, which he thought should be embanked with clay. In addition, he suggested deepening, widening and embanking surrounding ditches and streams to improve the drainage potential offered by canalizing the Leri.
Hassall died in 1816 and was replaced by co-commissioners Robert Williams of Bangor and David Joel Jenkins of Lampeter. Williams was staggered by the estimated total cost of £30,000 proposed by Bowers which, with the widening and deepening of other existing drains, would absorb over 1000 acres, and would create a total landmass with a value of only £20,000. Bower and Williams fell out over both this and more personal reasons. For the next two years the parties vied for position, with Jenkins supporting Bower and Williams supporting Parry. Parry’s plan eventually won out. Contractors, to be paid £2500.00 in instalments, were appointed. A final payment of £250.00 was to be withheld until two years after the project was completed, to provide insurance against post-completion problems. Additional costs, including raw materials, were provided by the Aberystwyth Bank after Pryse Pryse of Gogerddan provided security of £6000.00 for the loan, the balance of the cash was raised by selling land on the peripheries of the marsh for over £2340.00 initially. However, financial problems and disputes plagued the drainage scheme, particularly in respect of the contractors not building various elements to specification. Williams resigned and in 1822 Richard Griffiths of Bishop’s Castle, with three successful enclosures under his belt, was appointed in his stead. After the change in commissioner, the appointment of the surveyor Charles Mickleburgh of Montgomery, a new Act of Parliament in 1824, the chaos of further financial difficulties, escalating debts and a court case, the project was eventually completed by 1847, and a small harbour was provided for the local shipbuilding industry. It is difficult to see how the project could ever have seen a return on its investment.
The above map from the 1790s, the Google map to the left and the Ordnance Survey map below show the former and present courses of the river.
A road bridge, Pont Afon Leri, carries the B4353 over the river at Ynys Tachwedd, connecting Ynyslas with the A487. A small boatyard is located on the western side of the road bridge. The Cambrian Coast Line crosses just to its south on a 7-pier railway bridge that was built in 1863. The river is tidal along the length of the cut, and a footbridge over the Leri where the river meets the Wales Coast Path marks the boundary between the tidal cut and the non-tidal river.
The West Wharf boatyard at Pont Afon Leri has a history dating back to the 19th Century. Here’s the description from the Coflein website:
Remains of timber-fronted quay on the west side of the entrance of the river Leri constructed by the railway company. The northern end of the quay frontage is degraded and the quay material has been washed out from behind the piling. The section in front of the boatyard has been repaired and remodelled to accommodate a modern boat lift. Sales particulars dating to 1862 reveal that short section of wharf already existed close the road before the coming of the Welsh Coast Railway. The wharf was part of the land holdings belonging to Issac Ll. Williams Esq under the Geneur’rglyn Inclosure Act. The railway company subsequently undertook the development of the wharf to act as a landing point for a new steamer working the Aberdovey ferry. The paddle steamer ELIZABETH started service on 24 October 1863, the day that the railway line between Aberdovey and Llanwyngwril opened on the northern side of the opened. The vessel was to operate every hour and to charge 6d per head for the crossing. Maintaining the service was extremely difficult as the ELIZABTH was frequently stuck fast on the Dyfi sandbanks. On 5 July 1867, George Owen, the Cambrian railway engineer reported that if the railway line to the north side of the Dyfi could not be fully opened soon, then the wharf would need to be piled. The line subsequently opened in August 1867. The ferry’s use of the West Wharf might have ended then, but the railway inspectors required more work to be undertaken on the tunnels. Whilst passengers were taken round by road, goods continued to be shipped across the Dyfi by the tug JAMES CONLEY. The use of the ELIZABETH on the route was abandoned and the vessel sold in 1869. In 1893, it was proposed that that the barges transhipping slate from the Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway would be charged for using the railway company’s West Wharf. Two years later, in May 1895, Mr I Hughes Jones, owner of the East Wharf sawmill proposed the transfer of the business to the other side of the Leri. This was accomplished soon after April 1896 when a new railway siding was opened to service the transferred sawmill. Also in 1896, is appears that the Hafan Sett Quarry (Plynlimon and Hafan Tramway) were still proposing to use the wharf, as they contacted the railway company with regard to installing a level crossing for the tramway. It is likely that the piling for the wharf was extended around this time to facilitate these new developments. The saw mill continued to occupy the wharfside through to the First World War.
Today the boatyard is still a functioning business, offering boat storage, slipway launching and repairs and has a 16-ton slipway hoist.
The Ceredigion Coast Path follows part of the course of the canalized section of the river, and intersects with the Wales Coast Path just east of Borth where the canalized stretch of the river begins, as shown on the above map. The Ceredigion Coast Path website has more details, and for those wanting to walk the Leri, there’s a good outline of how it can be approached by Ben Fothergill on the UKRGB website. An official walk across Cors Fochno can be found on the Natural Resources Wales website.
Main source for this post and a lot more information, particularly about the financial problems, land sold for financing the drainage, and allotments of land to the poor, with my thanks:
- Plwyf Llangynfelyn, THE ENCLOSURE AND DRAINAGE OF CORS FOCHNO (BORTH BOG), 1813-47 by Professor Moore-Colyer: http://www.llangynfelyn.org/dogfennau/cors_fochno_enclosure.html
Any research into the Tywyn and Aberdovey areas in the 18th and 19th Centuries runs into the landowning Corbets and the Ynysymaengwyn Estate, one of the top eight estates of Merionnydd in its heyday. The Ynysymaengwyn Estate owned much of the land in and around both Tywyn and Aberdovey well into the Twentieth Century.
The few material remains of the Ynysymaengwyn Estate are located 1 mile from Tywyn on the road to Bryncrug. The name of the estate (pronounced Inis mine gwin) means island or river meadow (of) the white rock. In 1949 the piece of land that retained the last echoes of the estate was bequeathed to the people of Tywyn by Mary Corbett. Although it is now dominated by a mobile home park and campsite, parts of the former estate now contain woodland walks and some of the original features of the estate survive, although the house and most of the accompanying buildings were dismantled in the late 1960s. These remnants are discussed at the end of the post.
The Ynysymaengwyn estate included both highland and lowland areas, and extends down to the south bank of the river Dysynni, stretching along a portion of its valley. The Dysynni has silted up considerably and it is thought that it may have provided a natural shelter for small boats. One of the earliest buildings in the area is St Cadfan’s Church in Tywyn, parts of which date to the 12th Century probably developed out of the clas (a semi monastic church) that was founded near the shoreline. There was also a small settlement at Bryncrug, where most of the land belonged to Ynysymaengwyn. Llanegryn church is listed in the 1253 Taxatio, so must have been the centre for a small settlement before that time. The core buildings of the Medieval Ynysymaengwyn estate would have been much nearer the sea than today. A second estate that was present in the Medieval period was Peniarth, also on the Dysynni. Gwynedd Archaeological Trust observes that “these two houses and their associated parks, together with the villages of Bryncrug and Llanegryn and the town of Tywyn emerges as focal points of this area in late Medieval and Modern times.” There were also a number of early freehold properties such as Dolau Gwyn and Caer Berllan.
The history of the Estate can be traced back to the reign of Elizabeth I. It passed through a number of families. Like all these family histories, it is a bewildering succession of names that are quite meaningless to anyone not trying to trace their ancestry, and a substantial amount of this family history is captured in a well researched Wikipedia page dedicated to the Ynysymaengwyn Estate and and the Dictionary of Welsh Biography and will not be reproduced here, although some details are unavoidable. The first name linked with certainty to Ynysymaengwyn was was Gruffydd ab Adda in the early 14th Century. He was bailiff (legal custodian) in 1330 and 1334 of the Ystumanner cymwd (anglified as commote, an organizational division of an area into about 50 villages for the purposes of defence and justice). His daughter Nêst married Llywelyn ap Cyunrig ab Osbwrn Wyddel, and from there the estate passed through the male line for over 200 years.
The family were noted patrons of Welsh poets. Hywel, the great great grandson of Llywelyn was the subject of an elegy by Hywel ap Rheinallt when he died of the plague, and Hywel’s son Hwmffre ap Hywel ap Siencyn was in turn the subject of a famous cywydd (poem with a particular metrical form, in rhyming couplets) by Tudur Aled. In the poem Tudur Aled (c.1465–1525) takes on the role of a conciliator between kinsmen. Glanmor Williams describes the genre as follows: “Quite apart from any disputes kindled by faction and war, there might be serious splits between kinsmen in ordinary circumstances. Such quarrels could be more than usually bloodthirsty, ‘deadly feuds’ more dangerous than civil war . . . It was the intensity of such divisions that led poets to attach key importance to the role, which they shard with the priests, of being conciliators between kinsfolk.” He says that the most celebrated of all the poems of this kind was Tudur Aled’s cywydd to reconcile Hwmffre with his kinsmen “by urging them to remember the tragic futilities of past internecine differences, from which only the English had benefited at Welsh expense (p.109). I have been unable to find a translation of the poem, so please let me know if you have access to one. Hywel ap Siencyn’s grandson Arthur ap Huw became vicar of St Cadfan’s Church in Tywyn between 1555 and 1570, and was another patron of Welsh poets. He also translated Counter-Reformation literature into Welsh.
When Hwmffre died in 1545 his son John Wynn and then John’s son Humphrey each inherited the estate in turn. On Humphrey’s death the estate passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Sr James Pryse of Goderddon, who was high sheriff of Merioneth (married in 1601). Both died in 1642 and and their daughter Bridget inherited. Bridget Pryse married Robert Corbet of Moreton Corbet, Shropshire, in about 1612, which was the beginning of the long association of the name Corbet with the Ynysymaengwyn Estate, which endured for the best part of the next two centuries. Robert Corbet was a passionate Royalist. During the English Civil War, to prevent Parliamentarians taking the property, the estate’s mansion was burned down in 1635 and had to be rebuilt. The coat of arms of the Corbets of Moreton, whose name means “little crow” was a black raven, and the name Corbet is itself French, derived from “corbeau,” from the Latin Corvus. It eventually gave The Raven Inn in Aberdovey its name. The family motto was Deus Pascit Corvos, God feeds the ravens.
The estate passed to their great granddaughter Ann Owen (1684-1741), who had married Athelstan Owen. Athelstan Owen clearly contributed new buildings to the estate, one of which is now the the Dovey Inn (formerly the Dovey Hotel and before that The Ship) built by Athelstan Owen in 1729. Above the door is a plaque inscribed “This house was built by Athelstain Owen Esq, Anno Dom 1729.” He died in 1755, leaving Ann with three children. She lived for another 30 years and did not re-marry. She was known locally as Madam Owen, a woman of considerable personality. Anne purchased the Caethle Estate in Tywyn from Richard and Margaret Braithwaite, absorbing it into the Ynysymaengwyn Estate. She also built the central block of buildings on the estate, added the dovecote for 800 birds that still stands and in 1717 donated almshouses for five widows in Tywyn. According to Barbara Middlemass, however, her business methods could be ruthless: “Her favourite method of adding to the estate was to lend money by way of mortgage to needy farmers and then, when she knew they could not pay, call in the mortgage and seize the land to swell the Ynys acreage.”
The two-storey house that Ann built in around 1758 was a built in a classic Eighteenth Century architectural style in local stone with details picked out in Portland stone, including an elegant pediment. It was an unusual sight in Wales. It was flanked by the two existing buildings, the north wing and the south wing, to make an impressive ensemble. The stone-built dovecote has a truncated pyramidal slate roof, a deep segmental arch in the front wall inset with a much smaller flat-headed doorway. She also appears to have been actively involved in building houses in Aberdovey. A house on Copperhill Street bears a plaque reading “Built By Anne Owen Widow AD 1733,” and this was probably Madam Owen. Although there’s a discrepancy on the dates (she could not have been a widow until 1755 if the date of Athelstan’s death is correct), the fanlight window on Anne’s plaque exactly mirrors the fanlights on the Dovey Inn, suggesting a close connection.
Of Anne and Athelstan Owen’s children, Corbet and Richard died childless so their daughter Ann Maurice (married to Pryce Maurice) inherited the estate. To comply with Ann Owen’s wishes, the estate then passed to Henry Arthur Maurice, who was Ann and Pryce Maurice’s younger son, presumably chosen because Ann Owen disapproved of the elder son Edward’s youthful activities, which included fathering at least two illegitimate children. An interesting twist in the tangle of family names is that when the property then passed to a male with a different last name (for example, where a daughter who inherited the estate married) those men were required in the terms of the bequest to change their last name to Corbet, ensuring that the name Corbet was always associated with Ynysymaengwyn. This was the case even when the estate passed out of the Corbet bloodline. Henry Arthur Maurice, grandson of Ann Owen, therefore changed his last name to Corbet. When he died childless in 1782, his elder brother Edward Maurice (1741-1820) inherited the Ynysymaengwyn Estate against his grandmother Ann Owen’s wishes, and Edward also changed his name to Corbet.
Although Ann Owen had disapproved of him in his feckless youth, to the extent of cutting him out of her will, the more mature Edward was not unlike her in terms of his urge to make improvements to the estate and to benefit its dependants. Lewis Lloyd says that he had travelled to London to learn from a physician “to acquire sufficient knowledge to dispense medicine to his tenants and others.” He was a loyal supporter of Britain’s role in the Napoleonic Wars, and was a captain in the local militia. During this period, much of the lowland and upland parts of the estate were enclosed and marshy areas were drained. Edward was noted for breeding horses, cattle and sheep, and beginning in 1788, the drainage of some 260 acres of peat land for conversion to hay fields for use as livestock fodder, eventually producing 500 tons of hay annually. This denied poorer members of the community access to peat cutting (turbary) and communal pasture, and many people left the area, some emigrating to the United States. The upland parts of the estate that Edward enclosed were of potential interest for their mineral content, and he established copper works and searched for coal. His loyalty to the English government and the crown led, at least in part, to his suspicion of Methodism, which he thought radical and borderline seditious, and which was growing fast in Wales. His persecution of Methodists in Aberdovey, for example, resulted in their eviction from their premises with bibles and benches thrown out onto the street, with fines imposed on anyone who gave them shelter for their meetings. Edward Corbet’s obituary records that he “was a cynic and a wit, a man of the world and when he pleased a very polished gentleman. he was by turns petulant and affable, entertaining everyone. With the flashes of his wit and the bitter but often just severity of his satire.”
When Edward died in 1820, the estate passed to Edward’s nephew Athelstan Maurice, son of Edward (Maurice) Corbet and Henry’s brother Price Maurice, and he too changed his name to Corbet. Athelstan continued Edward’s work building enclosures and draining land. His main achievement was to invest in the local road network, which was in very poor condition. He built a new road between Pennal and Aberdovey that opened in 1827 and improved the road from Pennal to Machynlleth. This improved communications and soon stagecoaches began to arrive with passengers, some in the area on business, some visiting as early tourists. Interestingly, when the Wesleyan Methodists were looking for somewhere to build their chapel, it was rented from the Ynysymaengwyn Estate in 1828, suggesting that Athelstan did not share his uncle’s violent dislike of Methodists. The portrait to the right shows Griffith Owen (1750-1833) who fascinatingly combined the roles of butler and harpist to the Corbets before be became the landlord of the Raven Arms in Aberdovey.
In 1829 Athelstan built the Corbet Arms Family Hotel and Post House at the western end of Aberdovey to cater to the needs of visitors. It was right on the edge of the sea before the construction of the sea wall. A bowling green was laid out in the front of hotel, and on the beach bathing huts were installed and donkey rides were available. Writing in 1833, Samuel Lewis described how horse races were held at Ynysymaengwyn every September by the side of the Dysynni, and one can imagine how perfect the wide flat floodplain would have been for this purpose. By the 1840s the estate comprised some 7201 acres, eighth in size of the 21 south Meiryonnydd estates. The nearest estate in size in the immediate area of Tywyn and Aberdovey was the Peniarth estate of 4421 acres.
In his account of Ynysymaengwyn Lewis Lloyd says that from the mid 1850s the history of the estate “was increasingly troubled.” When Athelstan Maurice Corbet died, the estate passed to his sister Henrietta Maurice, who married Charles Decimus Williams with whom she had a daughter also named Henrietta. The younger Henrietta married John Soden of Bath, who duly changed his name to Corbet. In 1862 a Trust was established for running the estate and the trustees were given leave to raise £5000 for harbour improvements. In 1865 the harbour area, including the wharf and jetty, were leased to the Cambrian Railways Company. The Corbet Arms Hotel was rebuilt in 1867 to accommodate the visitors were anticipated would follow in the wake of the opening of the railway in the mid 1860s. The opening of the railway was discussed on a previous post.
Lewis says that most of the stewards of Ynysymaengwyn were local men until the late 1860s, examples being two former ship captains, after which English agents were apparently preferred, but he adds that not much is known about who they were and that this is research yet to be undertaken. In the 1860s the half-yearly rent audit of the estate was held in Tywyn and a dinner was given for the tenants in the Town Hall, and any important local issues were discussed. In 1863 this included the opening of the railway. It is quite clear that there is a lot of information about people who worked on the estate in various records held in the National Library of Wales and National Archives and elsewhere (see for example the results of a National Archives search on Ynysymaengwyn), so a major research project is awaiting someone.
John Soden Corbet died in 1871 and his son Athelstan John Soden Corbet inherited. Athelstan’s majority was celebrated lavishly in both Tywyn and Aberdyfi in July 1871, celebrations that were reported at length in the The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard on 7th July 1871. Reading the account with hindsight, the optimism and happiness with which he was greeted seem rather sad. Some highlights are copied here, but you can see the full account on the National Library of Wales website. The celebration shows just how important the Ynysymaengwyn Estate was to the local communities:
THE MAJORITY OF ATHELSTAN J. SODEN-CORBET, ESQ., YNYSYMAENGWYN. Towyn and Aberdovey were on Thursday the scene of long to be remembered rejoicings in honour of the attainment of the majority of Athelstan J. Soden-Corbet, Esq., of Ynysymaengwyn. The Corbets are one of the best known and oldest families of which the county of Merioneth can boast; their connection with Towvn, Aberdovey, and their neighbour- hood can be traced back for a good many generations, and, upon the whole of the extensive estate connected with the family property, the name of Corbet is never mentioned but with feelings of the greatest respect, for the Corbets have always been identified as liberal, go d-hearted land- lords, who are respected by their tenantry, and held in high esteem throughout the length and breadth of the county. Liberal sums were subscribed both in Towyn and Aberdovey, to celebrate the event in a manner be- fitting the occasion, and the hearty enthusiasm which was evoked cannot but have testified to the young heir the good wishes which his tenantry and numerous friends entertain for him. Towyn was quite en fete on Thursday; the demonstrations were of a varied and pleasurable character in honour of the young heir. The decorations were of the gayest, and bunting was profusely displayed from the residences of the principal inhabitants. Handsome arches spanned the roads and bore flags, banners, and mottoes wishing health, long life, and happiness to Athelstan John Soden Corbet, Esq.
Here’s the account of the venue:
THE BANQUET, or complimentary dinner, given by the Ynys estate, to the friends and tenantry, took place in a large tent erected on the grounds adjoining the Corbet Arms, Towyn. The tent, with the decorations, was supplied by Mr Andrews, of Shrewsbury, and was embellished in a most tasteful manner. The sides were of scarlet, relieved with white and the supports were entwined with pink, blue, and white draperies, and suspended from them were festoons of coloured flowers. Each support bore a banner and armorial bearings of the county families, the principal being the shield of the Corbet family with motto Deus Pascit Corvos.
The food served must have been something to behold:
Soup.-Mock turtle, ox tail, green pea. Fish.-Salmon and lobster sauce, turbot, filleted soles. Entrees.-Yeal Cutlets, sweetbread, patties, steak and oyster pie, stewed pigeons, curried rabbit. Champagne. Removes.-Haunch of venison, roast beef, boiled beef, roast mutton, boiled mutton, lamb, veal and ham, veal and pigeon pies, chicken and tongue, ducklings and green entremets, &c. -Sir Watkin’s pudding, plum pudding, strawberry, currant, and raspberry tarts, cheese cakes, jellies, blancmange, tipsy cake. Cheese and salad. Dessert.-Pine apples, grapes, strawberries, dried fruit. Claret, sherry, port.
Athelstan married Mary Helen Annie Oldfied in 1873. The marriage failed very quickly and divorce followed. He was Justice of the Peace and became High Sheriff in 1875. In spite of all the high hopes of the community, Athelstan Soden Corbet’s poor management of the estate combined with expensive renovations to the house, new furnishings, the costs of the divorce and heavy expenditure by Athelstan and his wife on luxurious lifestyles resulted in serious debts. Lewis concludes that “he did not share the sense of duty and regard for his estate in Wales and its people which his predecessors had demonstrated.” In 1875 he decided to sell the 9347 acre estate, which earned an annual rent of £8241. Athelstan fled his responsibilities by going overseas, living a rich life, but his letters to his agent demonstrate that he was suffering increasing financial stress, and the estate was barely able to support him. Ynysymaengwyn was put up for sale in April 1876. In 1877, still living vastly beyond his means, Athelstan was forced to take out a series of mortgages on the estate, which by 1878 had reached £42,000 (around £2,779,757.40 today, according to the National Archives Currency Converter).
Athelstan Soden Corbet must have been very relieved when John Corbett purchased the property for £51,000, which secured for Corbett the mansion, demesne and pleasure grounds. John Corbett (1817-1901) was, somewhat confusingly, no relation to the Ynysymaengwyn Corbets. He was a wealthy salt merchant who owned the Stoke Prior Salt Works near Droitwich, was the Liberal M.P. for Droitwich between 1874 and 1885 and the Liberal Unionist M.P. for Mid-Worcestershire between 1886-1892. In Droitwich he was known as The Salt King. He remained very involved with Worcestershire throughout his life, and like some of his predecessors did not live at Ynysymaengwyn on a permanent basis, although his wife moved there with their children. His Coat of Arms incorporated the symbol of the raven, an elephant and a castle. It can be seen on the gate posts at the entrance to Ynysymaengwyn and on the porch of the Aberdovey Literary Institute.
The property when he bought it was described in detail in the Book of Sale of 1878, and this has been reproduced by Lewis Lloyd. Anyone wanting to see the full description should see Lloyd’s book, but here are some of the highlights, which also indicate the extent to which Athelstan Soden Corbet was living beyond his means. The mansion was described, in typical estate agent speak, as “a commodious stone-built residence of commanding elevation,” containing “a magnificent Central Hall, 42ft by 26ft, surrounded by the Reception Rooms, over which are the principal Bedrooms and in Two Detached Wings are the Secondary Apartments, Private and Domestic Offices, possessing all the conveniences necessary for a well-ordered establishment.” Athelstan’s renovations “in the most substantial manner and regardless of cost” were “in the purest feeling of the Adams’s time and school.” Furnishings were described as “of mediaeval style, most exquisite in design and unsurpassed in quality and workmanship. It is practically new, having been recently supplied to the owner, and is in admirable order, and in perfect harmony with the elegant surroundings.” A London upholstery firm had been imported to restore the fabrics. Outside it lauded the “gardens and pleasure grounds.” The estate itself was described as “a sporting estate” including pheasant, partridge, duck, widgeon, teal and snipe, and offered fishing in the river Dysynni with salmon, sewin and trout. Further attractions listed include yachting, sea-fishing, the seaside resorts of Aberystwyth, Aberdovey and Barmouth and “the unsurpassed beauty of the Welsh Mountain and River scenery.” Details of the farms attached to the property and the rent they paid were also detailed. The house was home to Belgian refugees during the First World War. The Gwynedd Archaeological Trust says that in 1879 the estate began to be sold off piecemeal, and that this resulted in a period of land-speculation and development. It would be interesting to know more about how this happened and took up the opportunities offered.
When John Corbett arrived at Ynysymaengwyn he made many improvements to the property, including connecting the south wing and the north wing, which housed the kitchens, via stone corridors to the main house, which underwent extensive improvements. Remnants of these walls still remain at the estate. The south wing was gutted and provided with a ballroom, stage, gallery and additional bedrooms. He also invested heavily in the gardens and by the 1880s the gardens were were thought to be amongst the finest in Wales. The estate was expanded by the purchase of additional estates, farms and the Tonfunau granite quarry.
John Corbett became a significant investor in Tywyn’s physical, social and cultural infrastructure. His investments, most of which followed the sale of his salt business in 1888, included the development of Tywyn’s water and sewage system, the construction of the promenade in 1889 (at a cost of £30,000), the Intermediate School in 1894, improvements to the Corbet Arms Hotel (renamed the Corbett Arms Hotel) and the land for and £500 towards building of the new Market Hall as well as £70 towards the price for its clock. In Aberdovey he paid for the charming porch or verandah for the Literary Institute in 1897, topped with his crest showing a raven, an elephant and a castle. He continued to invest in the school, as this short report in the Weekly Mail describes: “A meeting of the local managers of the Towyn Intermediate School was held on Saturday evening, Mr. Haydn Jones, J.P., presiding. Mr. J. Maethlon James announced that Mr. John Corbett, Ynysymaengwyn and Impney, Droitwich, had generously subscribed a sum of £100 per annum for three years towards enabling the managers to secure the services of an additional teacher and to increase the number of John Corbett’s Scholarships. The Chairman remarked that Mr. Corbett had already given over £2,000 in cash, towards the school.” In January 1896 the Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard reported “It is gratifying to find that Mr Corbett of Ynysymaengwyn, after having the matter brought under his notice, has given instructions that local tradesmen are to be allowed to lender for the work of constructing the Corbett Avenue and the Llechlwyd Tramroad. This gives a prospect of plenty of work for the spring and summer.”
Corbett’s convictions was completely consistent with 19th Century beliefs in philanthropy, public education, the promotion of healthy activities and the social obligation for the rich to invest on behalf of the relatively deprived. This tendency was particularly prominent in industrial cities, where manufacturers and merchants like John Corbett conducted business, but as these successful city entrepreneurs became landowners in their own right, many of these philanthropic ideas began to spread into more rural areas. It also did local landowners no harm to invest in infrastructure to improve the local economy and boost their own incomes. John Corbett died 22nd April 1901. The Towyn-on-Sea and Merioneth County Times reported on the funeral, listing estate workers who attended the funeral in Droitwich, stating that all flags in Tywyn were flown at half mast.
In John Corbett’s will, the estate was left to his brother Thomas Corbett, who besides Ynysymaengwyn inherited “Impney Hall and estates in the Droitwich district, brine baths and four hotels,” (Welsh Gazette and West Wales Advertiser). John had been alienated from his wife, from whom he was legally separated in 1884. The will was contested, but although financial compensation was provided for John’s children, Thomas retained the estate. It only passed to John and his divorced wife Anna’s son Roger (1863–1942) on Thomas’s death in 1906, on the fifth anniversary of John Corbett’s death. Roger and Anna moved back to the property in the same year, news received with considerable enthusiasm by the residents of Tywyn, although Roger only used it as a summer residence. Barbara Middlemass says that in 1908 the house and grounds were “maintained by a housekeeper, eight maids, a chauffeur, seen gardeners and two game keepers. Among the activities of the last mentioned were the rearing of 500 pheasants for a single season’s shooting” The Corbett Arms Hotel in Aberdovey, which had been rebuilt in 1867, burned down in 1914, remaining in ruins until it was knocked down to create space for a new primary school in 1968. In 1935 a Roman Catholic chapel dedicated to St David was established in a former Predbyterian Chapel in Brook Street. It has a rather fine stained glass window decorated with the Corbett raven. It only closed in 1989 when it was replaced with a new St David’s.
When Roger died in 1942 the estate passed to his sister Mary Corbett, who remained unmarried, and ended the line of inheritance at the Ynysymaengwyn Estate. During the Second World War the army occupied the Ynysymaengwyn Estate as a Royal Marines’ Camp, although I have not found a date for when they took it over. When the Ministry of Defence handed the estate back to Mary Corbett in 1949 she transferred it in trust to Merioneth County Council, together with £3300, suggesting it might be converted to an agricultural college for the county. The house was in a state of significant disrepair, with extensive dry rot, and there was insufficient income from the estate to pay for repairs, which the council could not afford either, and the theft of lead from the roofs added to the speed of decay. Given the extensive revamps carried out by Athelstan Soden Corbet in the 1870s and John Corbett in the 1880s, it is frightening how fast the property deteriorated. One wonders to what extent the occupation by the army was responsible, but it is also clear that the estate was no longer in any condition to pay for itself, perhaps because of the war, and perhaps because of changing economic and social processes from earlier in the 20th Century.
Mary died in 1951. In 1957, under the terms of the 1906 Open Spaces Act, Merioneth County Council transferred the property to the Urban District Council of Tywyn “for securing the enjoyment of the said open space.” New trees were planted between 1958 and 1962 and two fields were let out for livestock grazing. Initially the house was converted into a base for training and practice facility for the fire brigade and army, but was demolished in around 1965 (there is some disagreement about exactly when it was taken down). It was set on fire as an exercise by the Fire Service, and was finished off by the Royal Engineers who blew it up during a demolition exercise. It was a sad but far from prosaic end to its life. In 1966, part of the grounds were turned over to 115 static caravans, with an additional 4.5 acres developed as a campsite for tents, caravans, and campervans. This destroyed the mansion’s pleasure garden, of which according to the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust there are now no traces. In 1984 the local government organization of the area was changed, and the following year a dispute erupted between Bryncrug Community Council and Tywyn Town Council regarding the management of Ynysymaengwyn, with the result that Tywyn Town Council took over the Caravan site, with profits being re-invested into the estate for its maintenance. The ballroom wing was demolished in 1989. In 2008 Tywn Town Council, with a £47,000 contribution from Cydcoed (Woods for All) completed the restoration of the woodlands, which had become dominated by conifers and were replanted with broadleaf trees, which are far more friendly to other wildlife, letting in more light and providing good mulch following leaf fall.
The video below shows the remains of the ballroom and the walled ballroom garden, some of the walled kitchen garden, and local scenery that would have been enjoyed by the occupants of Ynysymaengwyn (February 2019 – and sorry it’s a bit jerky, I am still new to a camcorder).
Of the projects that John Corbett initiated in Tywyn and Aberdovey, the Assembly Rooms are still in use as a cinema, the market hall has been divided into three retail properties, the promenade is still going strong, the porch at the Aberdyfi Literary Institute is in excellent condition, but the Corbett Arms Hotel in Tywyn, a Grade 2 listed building, is in an appalling state of disrepair and is empty. I’ll talk about each of these buildings in more detail on future posts.
Finally, there are two puzzling carvings flanking the last surviving remnant of the north wing, its porch, shown in the image below. The one on the right is still well preserved, but although there was also one on the left this is now very difficult to make out. I have seen no suggestions about when they were added or what they were supposed to signify.
A rather depressing adjunct to the story of modern Ynysymaengwyn was reported in the Cambrian News. In 2016 the neighbouring Ysguboriau farm and campsite attempted to claim between five and seven acres of the bequeathed land, having grazed sheep there for sufficient time to attempt to legally sequester the land for themselves, planning to fence it off. As Tywyn town councillor and trustee of Ynysymaengwyn, Cllr John Pughe, said: “the land they are claiming should be for the benefit of everyone.” The dispute was still ongoing in 2018.
If you would like to visit, and I do sincerely recommend it, the surviving portion of the estate is open to the public as a woodland walk, with access to walks along the wonderful Dysynni river. Just drive through the gate posts on the A493 and head down the short lane, watching out for a left turn that will take you into the carpark. In the bottom left hand there’s a map that shows you three woodland routes, the longest of which takes 30 minutes, but you can lengthen this by doing a section of the Dynsynni.
There are a few features of the 19th Century estate still visible, most notably the dovecote, the former vast kitchen garden (now just an enclosed area of grass, the remains of the former ballroom and its garden, the old entrance to the big block of servants quarters with figures carved into the stonework each side of the entrance, and several sections of wall. The snowdrops are splendid in February. Take a bag full of bird seed with you if you like bird life – the wild birds are borderline tame, and all expect to be fed, and yell vociferously if you stand there looking at them and don’t provide sustenance! Here’s the address:
Ynysymaengwyn Caravan & Camping Park
The Lodge, Ynysymaengwyn
See the website for directions:
The starting points for this post, with my thanks, were Lewis Lloyd’s A Real Little Seaport, and the Coflein website, supplemented extensively by other information resources, all listed below.
Anon. 1829. Wanderings in Wales. Cambrian Quarterly Magazine and Celtic Repertory, vol.1, 1829. https://bit.ly/2DujYjq
Eade, S. 2017. Towyn on Sea, Merionethshire. Volume 2. Sara Eade
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust 2007. Ports and Harbours of Gwynedd: Aberdyfi. A Threat Related Assessment. GAT Project No.1824, Report No.671.1, April 2007
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust 2011. Conservation Area Appraisal: Aberdyfi, Gwynedd. GAT Project No.2155, Report No.956, June 2007
Lewis, H.M. 1989. Pages of Time. A Pictorial History of Aberdyfi. Published by the Author.
Lewis, S. 1833. A Topographical Dictionary of Wales. Brython Press
LLoyd, L. 1996. A Real Little Seaport. The Port of Aberdyfi and its People 1565-1920, Volume 1. ISBN-1874786488
Marshall, D. 2009. Local Walks Around Tywyn in the Snowdonia National Park. (Walk 17). Kittiwake Press
Middlemass, B. 2017 (second edition). John Corbett. Pillar of Salt 1817-1901. Saltway Press
Williams, G. 1987. Renewal and Reformation Wales c.1415-1642. Oxford University Press.
Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard. The Majority of Athelstan J. Soden-Corbet, Esq., Ynysymaengwyn. Welsh Newspapers Online – The National Library of Wales.
Coflein. Ynys-y-Maengwyn Estate Cottages. http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/28895/details/ynysmaengwynynys-y-maengwyn-estate-cottages-bryn-crug
Geni.com. Historic Buildings of Merionethshire. https://www.geni.com/projects/Historic-Buildings-of-Merionethshire/25169
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. Dysynni Historical Themes. http://www.heneb.co.uk/hlc/dysynnithemes.html
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust. Tywyn. http://www.heneb.co.uk/hlc/dysynni/dysynni3.html
Jones, A. 2016. We’ll fight to keep land for the town. Cambrian News, 17/11/16. https://bit.ly/2N3dp79
Jones, A. 2017. Fence row erupts in Trust land dispute. Cambrian News, 02/01/17. https://bit.ly/2NJfav8
North Wales Daily Post 2008. New Life Breathed into Old Woods. Daily Post (North Wales) 03/07/08. https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/new-life-breathed-old-woods-2824545
Owen, Athelstan (1676-1731) of RHIWSAESON, LLANBRYN-MAIR, MONT. https://Biography.wales/article/s-OWEN-ATH-1676
Wikipedia. Ynysymaengwyn. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ynysymaengwyn
Wynn, Pryse and Corbet families, Ynysmaengwyn, Mer., and Gwyn And Nanney families, Dalau Gwyn, Mer. https://biography.wales/article/s-WYNN-PRY-1275
The Ynysymaengwyn Papers. Archives Wales. https://archiveswales.llgc.org.uk/anw/get_collection.php?inst_id=38&coll_id=1246&expand=&L=1
Ynysymaengwyn Camping, Caravan and Woodland Park website, history page https://www.ynysy.co.uk/history.html