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Cardigan, Cardiganshire

Historical Description

Cardigan, a market and seaport town, a municipal borough, the capital of the county, the head of a county court district, and a parish in Cardiganshire. It stands on the river Teifi, 3 miles from its mouth, 10 WNW of Newcastle-Emlyn, 235 from London, at the terminus of the Whitland and Cardigan branch of the G.W.R. The Welsh call it Aberteifi. A castle was built at it in 1160 by Gilbert de Clare, sustained many assaults by alternately the Welsh and the English, changed owners at least a dozen times before 1240, when it was rebuilt by Gilbert Marshal], and was garrisoned by the Royalists in the wars of Charles I., sustained then a regular siege, and surrendered to the Parliamentarian forces. Remains of it stand on a low cliff at the foot of the ancient bridge, consist of little more than two bastions and part of a curtain-wall, and are hidden within the enclosure of a modern mansion. A Benedictine priory, a cell to Chertsey, stood in the vicinity of the church, and was converted into a dwelling-house after the dissolution. A modern mansion now occupies the site.

The town stands on a gentle eminence, is well built, contains some good houses, and is well supplied with water. A handsome stone bridge of seven arches crosses the Teifi here, and connects the counties of Cardigan and Pembroke; there is a considerable suburb on the Pembrokeshire side. The town at one time was walled, but the walls have disappeared. A suite of buildings of picturesque appearance, comprising town-hall or guild-hall, mechanics' institute, grammar school, and public markets, was erected in 1860 at a cost of about £5000. The previous town-hall, now used as the shire-hall for the sitting of the county courts, county sessions, &c., was built in 1764. The county jail was erected in 1793 by Nash. A portion of it has been pulled down and the site built on, and the remainder is used as a police station. The barracks were constructed in 1847. The church is chiefly Perpendicular English. It consists of spacious nave, chancel, porch, and western square tower, and contains a good canopied piscina. The nave was rebuilt in 1702, and the tower in 1745. There are Congregational, Baptist (Welsh and English), and Calvinistic Methodist chapels. A cemetery was formed in 1876, and is under the control of a Burial Board. There is a literary and scientific institution, with a reading-room. Two weekly newspapers are published. The town has a head post office and three banks. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and fairs on 13 Feb., 5 April, 8 Sept., 10 Nov., and 19 Dec., together with monthly markets on the Monday preceding the last Tuesday in each month.

A good herring fishery and a very productive salmon fishery are carried on. Commerce is much cramped by a dangerous bar in the river, where the depth of wlater at low tides is sometimes so little as 6 feet, and in the average of neaps 11 feet, spring tides 16 feet. Vessels of 400 tons occasionally come up to the bridge, but vessels of from 20 to 100 tons are chiefly employed. The number of vessels registered at. The port in 1893 was 38 (1600 tons). The entries and clearances each average 550 (20,000 tons) per annum. The borough was incorporated by Edward I., is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors. The borough has a commission of the peace; and is the seat of petty sessions and the county court. Population of the municipal borough, 3449. The town gives the title of Earl to the family of Brudenell.

The parish comprises 2484 acres of land and 157 of tidal water and foreshore; population, 2612. The living of St Mary's, Cardigan, is a vicarage in the diocese of St David's; gross value, £157. 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 districtCardigan1933 - 1935
Registration districtCardiganshire South1936 - 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 Cardiganshire is online.

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


Online maps of Cardigan are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

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