Thursday 5th May 2022, a guided walk of Llangwm exploring its history and traditions with Graham Stephens.

Graham Stephens points out the site of the former Llangwm ferry. Photo by Andrew Weaver

We met on a lovely sunny morning in the car park of The Cottage Inn.Before starting our walk Graham gave a detailed overview of how the name Llangwm evolved and its correct pronunciation, the many prehistoric links that have been found in the area including flints from the Mesolithic period (8000 -6000 BC),the Neolithic Hanging Stone Cromlech at Sardis (3000 BC)and the amazing Late Iron Age chariot found near by in 2018.Many foreign invaders also came into the area, The Norsemen in the 9th century, The Normans in the 11th century and The Flemings in the 12th century who had a major influence locally. Welsh was not really spoken in Llangwm and villagers developed their own dialect some examples being lake for stream, drang for passage and cluck for broody.

Leaving the car park we made our way down the narrow Main Street passing “The Screw “ .Here water was drawn up from a well using the Archimedes screw principle.There were several businesses in the village including butchers, bakers and a Bank all now closed. Four public houses flourished but were shut due to the influence of the Temperance Movement.Fenton in his book about his travels in 1811 describes Llangwm as “This miserable village consists of several low, straggling houses interspersed with trees, amidst mountains of oyster shells ….” The village now has a shop , post office and Inn

Our next stop was on the village green, in many ways the centre of the village with the large Wesleyan Chapel built in 1897 but now closed ,the Rugby club which was previously the site of The Llangwm Institute and St Jerome’s Church which houses effigies of the De La Roche family and the Llangwm Tapestry depicting its history which was embroidered by local people in 2016. Mill Street leads off the green named because of the grist mill found there.

Continuing down hill we walked over Guildford Bridge and ahead was the new Galilee Baptist Chapel built in 1904 the original having been on the site of the now chapel car park .Turning left we walked along Williamson Terrace which local legend says was lost in a bet !

Tragedy occurred in Llangwm more than once . Graham recounted the sad story of Sam and Mary John who both drowned when their boat got stuck in the mud at Carew Reach while they were on a fishing trip on 28th July 1930. Another drowning documented is that of Edwin Davies on 1st April 1970 when the boat he was in which was full of herring,sank when swamped by water.

Our walk continued up hill and then across a field where the Mesolithic flints were found . Descending down a narrow footpath we arrived at the bottom of Port Lion. A ferry service ran from near here to Coedcanlas . The charge was 1 pence for a person or horse . It was often used by the famous fisherwomen of Llangwm who then walked in their traditional Welsh costumes to sell their wares of oysters, prawns and mussels as far afield as Pembroke, Tenby and even Carmarthen! William Pickens was one of the ferrymen employed by the Williamson Estate but died in 1867 of Cholera which was rife in Llangwm in the mid 1800s with many villagers losing their lives.The last ferryman was William “Darky” Llewelyn with the ferry formally ending in the early 1930s.

We made our way carefully along the foreshore which is designated a SSSI with abundant salt marsh flora , varied bird life and where otters are sometimes seen . We reached Guilford Pill and saw swans nesting on the far shore. Let’s hope the eggs all hatch and the cygnets develop well. From here we returned to our cars via the village green and Main Street .

Graham was thanked for his most interesting and informative talk which everyone enjoyed and we look forward to another visit to Llangwm to continue it’s story .

Report by Pat Morgan (walk organiser) and Graham Stephens (our guide).

Guilford Pill. Photo by Myles Huthwaite