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Conway, Carnarvonshire

Historical Description

Conway, a market-town, a municipal borough, and a parish, the head of a poor-law union and county court district in Carnarvonshire. The town stands on the right side of the river Conway, about a mile above the Conway's mouth, 4¼ miles N of the Roman iConovium (Caerhun), 4 S of Llandudno, 14½ ENE of Bangor, and 225 distant by rail from London. It was built in 581 on the right side of the river, by Maelgwyn Gwynedd, and was called Caer Kyffin. A Cistercian abbey was founded here in 1185 by Llewelyn-ap-Iorwerth, but has long since disappeared. A picturesque castle of oblong form, on the verge of a precipitous rock, was erected in 1283 by Edward I. to check the revolts of the Welsh, was occupied in 1389 by Richard II. when he abdicated; was garrisoned by Archbishop Williams for Charles I.; was taken in 1746 by Myt-ton; and was given by Charles II. to the Earl of Conway, who ruthlessly dismantled it for the sake of its lead, iron, and other saleable materials. The walls of it, of enormous thickness, with four massive round towers on either side, are still standing; the great hall, or Llewelyn's Hal], once a splendid apartment, 130 feet long, 32 feet wide, and upwards of 23 feet high, exists in a state of ruin. Two of the eight arches which supported the roof still remain; it was lighted by 9 windows, and at the east end was a chapel, of which slight traces remain. In the north-east tower, called the Queen's Tower, is a small chapel or oratory. The principal entrance is over a drawbridge, which formerly spanned a deep moat, and through a porticulllsed gateway with flanking turrets. Walls around the town, from 12 to 15 feet thick, were built at the same time as the castle, pierced with three gates, and defended by 21 strong towers, enclosing a triangular space of about 1½ mile in circuit, and they are still standing in good condition. The walls of the town are in the shape of a Welsh harp. The town is chiefly within the walls, and contains some curiously built and ancient houses. The Plas Mawr, in the main street, was a seat of the Wynnes, "built in 1585 by Robert Wynne-ab-Meredith, uncle to the historian Gwydir. It is now the seat of the exhibition of the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art. There is also an old room, now used as a coffee-room, built in 1400, on the corner of High and Castle Streets. The old oak rafters are in a good state of preservation. The parish church sprang from the Cistercian abbey, contains some late Decorated work, a fine rood-loft, screen, and carved chancel stalls, an old font, and several monuments, and has been restored. There areWesleyan, Baptist, Congregational, and Calvinistic Methodist chapels. A suspension bridge across the Conway here, on the line of the Chester and Holyhead highway, was constructed by Telford in 1822-26, hangs on eight chains in two sets over two piers, with adjustment at one end into the rock under the castle, at the other end deep into solid rock, and is 327 feet long, and 18 feet above high water. A tubular bridge adjacent on the line of the Chester and Holy-head branch of the L. &N.W.R. was constructed in 1847-48 by Stephenson, is 412 feet long, increases in height above high water from 22¼ feet at the ends to 25½ feet at the centre, and has two tubes, each 14 feet wide, and about 1300 tons in weight. A new suspension bridge or water conduit was built between the suspension and tubular bridges in 1894. It hangs on steel ropes, and is used to convey the pipes in connection with the Cowlyd water scheme across the river. The total length is 420 feet in three spans, having a clear centre span of 322 feet It is 6 feet wide. The pipes are laid across the bridge in two lines as a precaution against The parish comprises 1009 acres, with 321 of adjacent tidal water and foreshore; population, 2350. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Bangor; net value, £75 with residence.

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 districtConway1837 - 1937
Registration districtConway Valley1937 - 1974

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

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

For births, marriages, and deaths in Conway from 1837 to 1937 you should search for the Conway Registration District.
For births, marriages, and deaths in Conway from 1937 to 1974 you should search for the Conway Valley Registration District.

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Carnarvonshire is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

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