On Saturday 15th October, 2005, a large group of us met at St Michael's Church under the leadership of Mr Thomas Lloyd. He drew attention to its elegant interior, double nave, massive supporting pillars, whitewashed walls, the wooden bowed ceiling with curved struts painted black, the numerous wall memorials (including that of Williams of Llwynywormwood), the undecorated Tudor window with three arched lights behind the altar, the small window at top right near what was once the rood loft, the Font and the Dolhywel stoup in the porch. Buried inside the church is a 17th century Bishop of Llandaff who lived at Lasallt and who was a Royalist.

A 19th century memorial placed over a whitewashed medieval wall painting, uncovered during restoration

Most notably, this pretty village was the home of the Physicians of Myddfai, two of whom are commemorated outside the church door; their fame lasted for 500 years, ending in the 18th century. Over the centuries a great deal of care and attention has been devoted to the maintenance of this church.

Our group then moved on to Llwynywormwood, a ruined mansion and a largely forgotten Carmarthenshire estate overlooking a picturesque country park laid out in the 1820s,m complete with small bridges over the River Ydw, lodged, varied clumps of trees planted on the undulating land and curving driveways affording ever-changing views: in total an estate of about 3,000 acres.

Out with the Antiquarians on a glorious day: approaching the ruined mansion at Llwynywormwood

Llwynywormwood was the home of the wealthy Williams family. He was a a lawyer at Green Post, King Street, Carmarthen and a friend of the Prince Regent. Through marriage, the family later became known as Griffis-Williams. Later he became a baronet. In 1913 the estate was sold first to the Rogers family of Blaencwm and afterwards to the Morris Isaac family after which it gave way to tenant farms for nearly 100 years.

The present owner, Mr John Hegarty, spoke to us in the courtyard of the Home Farm, unoccupied for most of the 20th century. His dwelling was once the carthouse and alongside this were the smithy, dairy, stable as well as an impressive double door barn, unusually large for West Carmarthenshire. He has also restored the walled garden and the 17th century bakehouse near the ruined mansion.

Llwynywormwood, converted out of the old carthouse

Part of the unusually large barn

One of the pair of massive double doors of the barn

After this we drove to Cilgwyn Mansion, now a nursing home, so we concentrated on the exterior. The house is substantial and dates from the 18th century. The original 17th century house is behind it, on the site of the Home Farm. It was owned by the Price family, who later married into the Holford family (of Westonbirt fame) and later still into the Gwynnes. Situated in a hollow with the river running underneath the house (an advantage for 18th century sanitation) with a water park on the upper side and a miniature version of Dolauhirion Bridge. Cilgwyn, Llwynybrain and Glansevin have similar exterior features.

Tom Lloyd addressing the Antiquarians outside Cilgwyn

To end a memorable day we travelled to Coedweddus Farm, now part of Mandinam Farm, where the owner, Mr Lampard, showed us a good example of a traditional Welsh longhouse, situated on a downward slope to ensure drainage, with its pink-washed walls and corrugated roof. Inside we were able to see the scarfed cruck construction and walk over the cobbled floor and flagstones to stand on the hearth to see the wall oven and the iron oven installed by a Walter Lewis of Llangadog.

Mr Lampard and Tom Lloyd at the entrance to Coedweddus.
The later extension can clearly be seen on the left.

Thomas Lloyd's parting words were: "There are lots of Cilgwyns but only a few surviving longhouses in Wales."

Caroline Thomas