Originally published in London 1903 by MacMillan & Co., Ltd., this 1914 reprint of the Highways and Byways in South Wales, is republished here in fully-searchable digital format. Macmillan began publishing the Highways & Byways series in 1899 and by 1909 had completed almost twenty publications in the series, which extended across the length and breadth of England, Scotland and Wales, with one publication on Normandy and and another on Ireland. This highly popular series continued until the beginning of the Second World War. In May 2009 Pan Macmillan reissued a one-volume collection of the best of the Highways and Byways series offering a glimpse of the very best of Britain.
The Highways and Byways in South Wales contains more than 400 printed pages, including a map of the route taken by the author, Arthur Grenville Bradley, who undertook an almost circular tour of south Wales beginning at Radnor, and includes almost 100 pen and ink illustrations by Frederick L. Griggs, providing as with all of the Highways and Byways series a wonderful mix of topography, local history and folklore, which perhaps more than ever allows the reader to rediscover parts of Britain that have long disappeared under a morass of concrete, motorways and bypasses.
Arthur Bradley undertook only thirteen 'tours' on which he reported in the Highways and Byways in South Wales, reviewed in the chapters of this publication, although in reality the divisions are only created by the major stops in Bradley's tour, such as Radford; Builth;Lampeter; Cardigan; Fishguard; St. Davids; Pembroke; Kidwelly; Llandeilofawr and Brecknock.
Much of the charm a vigour of the Highways and Byways series, which has stood the test of time is down to the travellers and in the case of South Wales this is no exception. Arthur Granville Bradley (1850-1943) was a renowned English 'traveller' in the Victorian sense of the word as well as well-published author, with popular works such as The Fight with France for North Africa, Sketches of Old Virginia, a History of Marlborough College as well as a biography of Captain John Smith to his credit. The Highways and Byways in South Wales is replete with more than 100 pen and ink sketches by by Frederick Landseer Griggs (1876-1938). A native of Hertfordshire, this was one of thirteen books illustrated by Griggs in the Highways and Byways series. An architectural draughtsman, illustrator, early conservationist, associate of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds, Griggs was the most distinguished etcher of his age and the first etcher to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy. His illustrations from this period 'capture a vanishing England of a brooding spiritual intensity, harking back to an idyll of vanished dreams' and as such fit very well with the general themes of the Highways and Byways series, that of a vanished or forgotten heritage. The presence of so many of Griggs' sketches in one place is sufficient reason to purchase any of the series in which he was the illustrator.
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Roots and Branches is described as "a genealogy of some of the older families of the parishes of Llanddeusant and Llywel". These neighbouring Welsh parishes are actually in different counties .. in Carmarthenshire and Breconshire respectively. Inspection of the sparse surviving Bishops Transcripts for Llanddeusant suggests that either the writer was economical with the actualite, or the vicar was rarely there, or that nobody liked him and went to another church for several months each year, or everybody in the parish really did have the same name .. although generally even in the days of patronymics, there were a few variations. This means that this work by Tom Evans, may be one of the only records of the families of that time ... as an unindexed book with hundreds of names, it is supremely valuable ... as a CD with a search capability, it's value is very much enhanced .. an absolute must for those with LLanddesusant or Llywel ancestry - or those who may have.
Published in 1909 in four huge volumes this is a superb account of the history of Brecknock. It also contains lots of wonderful illustrations, maps and photographs of the area. It is also much more than just a dry history book, though. This is from the title page:
'A History of the County of Brecknock containing the chorography, general history, religion, laws, customs, manners, language, system of agriculture, antiquities, sepulchral monuments and inscriptions, natural curiosities, variations of the soil, stratification, mineralogy, list of rare and other plants and birds, Parliamentary history, names and biographies of sheriffs and mayors of Brecknock, also the genealogies and arms of the principal families properly emblazoned, together with the history of every parish, and the names of the patrons and incumbents of all livings.
All in all a superb general reference book, with real people's names and family histories thrown in for good measure.
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