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Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire

Historical Description

Kidwelly, a small market-town, a municipal borough, and a parish in Carmarthenshire, 10 miles S of Carmarthen. The town stands on the Gwendraeth river, near its influx to Carmarthen Bay. It has a station on the South Wales branch of the G.W.R. and a post, money order, and telegraph office. The old town was formerly surrounded by a strong wall, and it contains a number of houses which appear to be as old as the times of Edward I. and Edward III. The town dates from at least the time of King John; had then a castle built by a descendant of one of Fitzhamon's paladins; was burned (1231) by Llewellyn; received a charter from Henry VI.; became, for some time, a noted seat of cloth manufacture, and also a seat of considerable commerce, and suffered much decay from the sanding up of its harbour. It was incorporated in 1885, and is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. The castle was built, before 1113, by William de Londres; was taken by Griffith ap Rhys, and again, in 1190, by Rhys ap Griffith; was rebuilt by Griffith, son of Llewellyn; passed to the Duchy of Lancaster; was given by Henry VIL to Sir Rhys ap Thomas; passed to the Vauglians, belongs now to the Earl of Cawdor, and though a ruin is still tolerably complete. A deep moat encircles it, the river passes the E side; a narrow court, within a curved curtain-wall, goes round the other three sides; a grand gate-house, opening on the site of a barbican, is on the S; a smaller gateway is on the N, three mural towers are on the curtain wall; a quadrangle, with four curtains and four round towers, formed the main building, but one of the towers has fallen; the great hall and the chapel still present interesting features, and the entire pile has many attractions for antiquaries and artists. The church belonged to a Benedictine priory, founded here in 1130 by Bishop Roger, as a cell to Sherborne Abbey; was rebuilt in the Decorated period, is cruciform, with unusually large nave, has a tower and spire 165 feet high, went into a state of much neglect and mutilation, but was partly restored, and contains a carved piscina and some mutilated effigies. There are Baptist, Congregational, Wesleyan, and Calvinistic Methodist chapels. The town-hall was erected in 1877, and includes a market-place, a reading-room, and police cells. A weekly market is held on Friday, and fairs on 3 and 4 Aug., 29 and 30 Oct., and first Monday in Dec. There are large tin-works, brickworks, collieries, and limeworks. Population of the borough, 2732; acreage of the parish, 5504; population, 3002. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of St David's. Net value, £140. Patron, the Lord Chancellor.

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 districtLlanelly1837 - 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 Kidwelly from 1837 to 1974 you should search for the Llanelly Registration District.

Land and Property

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

Newspapers and Periodicals

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