Carmarthenshire town unfurls new flag as part of effort to promote its history
Richard Youle, local democracy reporter
A Carmarthenshire town which once had 70 pubs and a beer-drinking goat is reviving and promoting its history to tourists.
Llandovery is the home of vicar and poet Rhys Pritchard, hymn writer William Williams Pantycelyn, while an outlaw called Twm Sion Cati – described by some as a Welsh Robin Hood – used to hide in a cave north of the town.
The town council has just secured listed planning consent to fly the Llandovery crest on the town hall, Market Street.
A statement submitted as part of the flag-flying application said the main consideration was to promote Llandovery – or Llanymddyfri in Welsh – as a tourist venue and gateway town to the Cambrian Mountains.
Stephen Carter, the town council’s clerk, said a flag bearing the coat of arms was made two years ago, just before the Covid pandemic.
“It’s been in my cupboard ever since,” he said.
The flag-flying proposal was advertised in the town as part of a consultation, and the response from the public was positive.
That work is ongoing in other areas. A blue plaque has been installed commemorating William Williams Pantycelyn, whose most famous hymn – Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch (Lord, lead thou through the wilderness) – was translated as Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer. He died in 1791.
Another blue plaque commemorates the Black Ox Bank, or Banc yr Eidion Du, which was founded in 1799 in Llandovery and bought out by Lloyds Bank in 1909.
Llandovery was granted a royal charter in 1485 by Richard III and was a key staging post for the West Wales drovers who used to take their cattle to market in London.
“In the 19th Century there were 70 pubs in Llandovery,” said the mayor of the town, Cllr Handel Davies.
Some of them were visited by clergyman Rhys Pritchard (1579–1644) and his goat.
Cllr Davies said the story goes that the goat drank beer on its first tavern crawl but would not touch it the following evening, which inspired its owner’s poems on leading a virtuous life.
The town council is now keen to attach name plates to houses and buildings in Llandovery – with the owners’ permission – which bear the name of the tavern which once existed there.
And Cllr Davies, who is also a county councillor, said an interpretation board has been installed near the cave at Rhandirmwyn, north of Llandovery, where Thomas Jones – alias Twm Sion Cati – used to hide.
Much has been written about the 16th Century outlaw, farmer and poet, often focusing on his apparent Welsh Robin Hood attributes. But others say he deserves more respect.
A history website, rhandirmwyn.net, said it was possible he hid in the cave to avoid religious persecution rather than the anger of those tricked by him.
It said he “lived many lives” until his death in 1609, but added: “Many of the escapades attributed to him probably flowed from the imagination of various novelists.”
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