A Brief History of Builth Wells

Builth Wells lies on the southern banks of the River Wye, between the Cambrian Mountains to the north-west and the wilderness of the Epynt to the south. Llanfair ym Mualt (St. Mary's in Builth) has always been an important market centre, due to it's central position within this sheep farming region. The church of St. Mary's, after which the settlement was named, is to be found at the western entrance to the town. It houses an effigy of John Lloyd of Towy - the first Sheriff and Justice of the Peace in Wales.

During the fourteenth century an outbreak of plague hit Builth. To prevent further contamination from which was probably a form of typhus fever, provisions had to be brought in from the surrounding areas. These supplies were left at the south-west extremity of the town for collection by the town's folk who paid for their goods by throwing money into a small brook nearby so as to cleanse it by the fast flowing waters. Nant yr arian (Money Brook) as it was to become known can still be found about a mile out of Builth on Hospital Road.

Much of the original settlement of Builth was destroyed in the 'Great Fire' of 1691, with the loss of some forty-one houses. Builth Castle, whilst having commanded views over the settlement and it's surroundings since Norman Times, is no longer found in it's original form. It was razed to the ground by the last Welsh Prince - Llywellyn ap Gruffydd, during the Middle Ages. Rebuilt in a concentric pattern, it was later to become a model for Edward I's castles in North Wales.

Once the therapeutic properties of local natural mineral springs were recognised in the mid -1880's, Builth prospered, to become a bustling Spa Town. Its growth was further aided by the opening of the railway which could bring tourists and traders alike to the town. Due to this increase in popularity, new premises, both commercial and private were required and as a consequence much of the towns architecture dates from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Although both the natural mineral springs were to be found out of town, Builth provided its own recreation area in the form of Groe Green. Situated between the town and the Wye, it was originally an area where the town grazed its animals. A boating pavilion was also erected on the banks of the river in 1900.

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This page was last updated on 15/09/04 10:47