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Hay, Breconshire

Historical Description

Hay, a small market-town, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a parish in Brecknockshire. The town stands on the river Wye, on the borders of Brecknockshire, Radnorshire, and Herefordshire, 17 miles NE of Brecon, 20 miles W of Hereford, and 164¼ from London. It has a station on the Swansea, Brecon, and Hereford branch of the M.R., and on the Golden Valley railway. It is known to the Welsh as Tregelli, and it got its name of Hay from the Norman-French " haier," signifying " to enclose." The manor was granted by Bernard Newmarch to Sir Philip Wal-wyn, passed to the De Breos family, and has a strong castle with encompassing walls. The castle was built by William de Breos, razed to the ground by Henry II., rebuilt by Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford; taken in 1265 by Prince Edward, destroyed in 1403 by Owen Glendower, and is now represented by a gateway, remains of the keep and a portion of the enclosing wall, on an eminence overhanging the town. An ivy-covered manor house occupies the castle's site. The environs are picturesque, and have a number of gentlemen's seats. The town consists of a High Street and various cross streets. The town-hall, with corn market-house, is a small modern building. The market-house was erected in 1833. The church was erected in 1834, on the site of an ancient edifice; consists of nave and chancel, with a tower; contains an ancient silver chalice, inscribed " Our Ladie Paris of the Haia " (meaning, without doubt," St Mary's (church) parish of the Hay"), and stands on a gentle elevation at the Wye, separated by a deep ravine from remains of an ancient fortification. The Wye is crossed by an iron bridge connecting the counties of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire. There are Baptist, Congregational, Calvinistic Primitive Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels, a cemetery, three sets of almshouses, and a workhouse. The town has a post, money order, and telegraph omce (R.S.O.), a volunteers' institute with drill hall and reading-rooms, and two banks. It is governed by a local board of nine members. A woollen manufacture was formerly carried on, but the trade is now entirely agricultural. A weekly market is held on Thursday, and fairs are held on the Thursday before 2 Feb., the Monday before Easter, 17 and 18 May, the second Monday of June, the last Thursday in June, 12 Aug., the third Thursday in Sept, 10 Oct., and Thursday after 17 Nov. The parish comprises 2931 acres; population, 2027. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St David's; net value, —E150t

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Registration districtHay1837 - 1974

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Breconshire is online.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online: