Brecon: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°56′48″N 3°23′27″W / 51.94677°N 3.39086°W / 51.94677; -3.39086

Welsh: Aberhonddu
Brecon, with St. Mary's church
Brecon is located in Wales2

 Brecon shown within Wales
Population 7,901 (2001)
OS grid reference SO045285
Community Brecon
Principal area Powys
Ceremonial county Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BRECON
Postcode district LD3
Dialling code 01874
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Brecon & Radnorshire
Welsh Assembly Brecon & Radnorshire
List of places: UK • Wales • Powys

Brecon (Welsh: Aberhonddu) is a long-established market town and community in southern Powys, Mid Wales, with a population of 7,901.[1] It was the county town of the historic county of Brecknockshire; although its role as such was eclipsed with the formation of Powys, it remains an important local centre. Brecon is the third largest town in Powys.


Early history

In Roman Britain Y Gaer, Brecon (Cicucium) was established as a Roman cavalry base for the conquest of Roman Wales and Brecon was first established as a military base.

After the Dark Ages the original Welsh name of the kingdom in whose territory Brecon stands was (in modern orthography) "Brycheiniog", which later became Anglicised to Brecknockshire or Breconshire, and probably derives from the personal name of the Irish Brychan, the eponymous founder of the kingdom. The English name of Brecon town may also be derived from Brychan.

The Welsh name, Aberhonddu, means "mouth of the Honddu". It is derived from the River Honddu, which meets the River Usk near the town centre, a short distance away from the River Tarrell which enters the Usk a few hundred yards upstream.

Before the building of the bridge over the Usk, Brecon was one of the few places where the river could be forded.

Coming of the Normans

The confluence of the Honddu and the River Usk made for a valuable defensive position for the Norman castle [2] which overlooks the town, built by Bernard de Neufmarche in the late 11th century.[3]

Priory and cathedral

Less than a mile from the castle stands Brecon Cathedral, a fairly modest building compared to many cathedrals. The role of cathedral is a fairly recent one, and was bestowed upon the church in 1923 with the formation of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon from what was previously the archdeaconry of Brecon - a part of the Diocese of St David's.

Present-day Brecon

Today Brecon is a thriving community and is popular as a holiday destination, being on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, affording among the best views of the Brecon Beacons themselves, a range of hills, including Pen-y-Fan, the highest point in southern Britain at 2,907 feet (886m).

August sees an annual Brecon Jazz Festival. Concerts are held in both open air and indoor venues, including the town's market hall and the recently opened 400-seat Theatr Brycheiniog.

Military town

The east end of town also has two military establishments:

Eight miles to the west of Brecon is Sennybridge Training Area, an important training facility for the British Army.[5]

Cattle market

The west end of Brecon has a small industrial area, and recent years have seen the cattle market moved from the centre of the town to this area, with markets held several times a week.


Brecon has many primary schools, with a secondary school and further education college (Coleg Powys) on the northern edge of the town. Due to Brecon being a rural area, bus trips of over an hour are not uncommon for pupils making their way to school. The town is also home to Christ College, a private boarding and day school with a strong academic, sporting and musical tradition.


Brecon is located near where the east-west A40 (Monmouth-Carmarthen-Fishguard) meets the north-south A470 (Cardiff-Merthyr Tydfil-Llandudno). The nearest airport is Cardiff Airport.


Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal basin at Brecon, the northern starting point of the Taff Trail.

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal runs for 35 miles between Brecon and Pontnewydd, Cwmbran. It then continues to Newport, the towing path being the line of communication and the canal being disjointed by obstructions and road crossings. The canal was built between 1797 and 1812 to link Brecon with Newport and the Severn Estuary.

The canal in Brecon was redeveloped in the 1990s and is now the site of two mooring basins and the Theatr Brycheiniog.

Former railways

The Neath and Brecon Railway reached Brecon in 1867, terminating at Free Street. By this point, Brecon already had two other railway stations:

Through services from the Midlands ceased in 1930, while services to Neath ended in October, 1962.

Town twinning

Points of interest

Notable residents


Additional photographs


  • Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 9780708319536. 


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Brecon is a market town and the county town of Brecknockshire.


Brecon is a market town in Mid- Wales. The city is small and typical of a Welsh town. The scenery near Brecon is quite stunning, including the Brecon Beacons National Park, which surrounds the town.

Get in

By Train

Nearest stations are Abergavenny, Merthyr Tydfil and Llandovery. A bus meets incoming trains at Merthyr. Travel from Cardiff to Becon takes about an hour and fifteen minutes.

By bus

There are direct bus links to Swansea and Cardiff

By car

A470 from near Cardiff, A4067 from near Swansea

Get around

The town can easily be explored on foot, which is part of the charm.


The main reason to visit Brecon is as a base for visiting the national park. In town, however, there are worthwhile diversions:

  • Brecon Cathederal [1]Brecon Cathedral is a small church, but is however interesting and worth a visit. Started as a fortification built by the half brother of William the Conqueror after he captured the town in 1094, the church is now a delightful place to visit. Three hundred years after its foundation, the church becaome Priory Church of St John the Evangelist, which has been described as 'half Church of God and half castle against the Welsh.'Inside the encircling walls survive the most unique group of monastic buildings in Wales.
  • River walk Follow the trail beside the cathedral for a pleasant walk along the River Usk. Can become a bit steep for the unfit.
  • Christ College Founded in 1541 when King Henry VIII disolved the monasteries, there are several lovely buildings to visit.
  • Brecon Jazz Festival [2] - August
  • Horse riding, Gilfach Farm, Sennybridge. Tel:+44 7899 892-582 / 636-818 [3] Hacking and instruction on well schooled horses
  • Brecon Leisure Centre - Good for rainy days, indoor pool, ten pin bowling and climbing wall.
  • Cantre Selyf, 5 Lion Street. Tel:+44 1874 622-904. [5] A wonderful guest house in the center of the town. It has a homely feel but without the doilies. Double rooms are about £70 per night, including a substantial breakfast.
  • Wellington Hotel, The Bulwark. Tel:+44 1874 625-225 - probably the best hotel in the centre of town. There are 19 rooms costing from £70 for a double including breakfast, and also free wireless internet access.
  • Penrhos B&B, Libanus. Tel: +44 1874 623-337. [6]. Located on a peaceful smallholding in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park (grid SN978244), this 4 star B&B is within easy reach of Brecon along the A470.
  • Craig Y Nos Castle [7] Stunning castle near Brecon. Rooms starting at £89.
  • Brecon Beacons National Park [8] Many things to do, including a climb to the top of Pen Y Fan (pronounced pen Ur van), the highest mountain in South Wales.
  • Llandovery. A picturesque market town about a forty minute drive from Brecon.
  • Swansea. Superb beaches, leisure facilities and cultural events. Swansea is about a one hour drive to the south west.
  • Cardiff. Wales' capital offers great shopping and museums. Cardiff is about an hour's drive to the south east.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BRECON, or Brecknock, a market town and municipal borough, the capital of Breconshire, Wales, 183 m. from London by rail, picturesquely situated nearly in the centre of the county, at the confluence of the Honddu with the Usk. Half a mile higher up the Tarell also falls into the Usk from the south. The ecclesiastical parish of Brecon consists of the two civil parishes of St John the Evangelist and St Mary, both on the left bank of the Usk, while St David's ih Llanfaes is on the other side of the river, and was wholly outside the town walls. Pop. (1901) 5875. There is only one line of railway, over which several companies, however, have running powers, so that the town may be reached by the Brecon & Merthyr railway from Merthyr, Cardiff and Newport, by the Cambrian from Builth Wells, or by the Midland from Hereford and Swansea respectively. The Great Western railway has also a service of road motors between Abergavenny and Brecon. A canal running past Abergavenny connects Brecon with Merthyr.

The Priory church of St John, a massive cruciform building, originally Norman with Early English and Decorated additions, is the finest parish church in Wales, and even taking into account the cathedrals it is according to E. A. Freeman "indisputably the third church not in a state of ruin in the principality," its choir furnishing "one of the choicest examples of the Early English style." Previous to the dissolution, a rood-screen bearing a gigantic rood, the object of many pilgrimages, stood to the west of the tower. The church was restored under Sir Gilbert Scott between 1861 and 1875. St Mary's, in the centre of the town, and St David's, beyond the Usk, are now mainly modern, though the former has some of the Norman arches of the original church. There is also a Roman Catholic church (St Michael's) opened in 1851, and chapels belonging to the Baptists, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, and to the Congregationalists. In Llanfaes there was formerly a Dominican priory, but in 1542 Henry VIII. granted it with all its possessions to a collegiate church, which was transferred thither from Abergwili, and was given the name of Christ College. Many of the bishops of St David's during the 17th century occasionally resided here, and several are also buried here. A small part of the revenues went to the maintenance of a grammar-school, but in 1841 the collegiate body was dissolved, and its revenues, then amounting to about £8000 a year, were transferred to the ecclesiastical commissioners. In 1853 Henry VIII.'s charter was repealed, and under a chancery scheme adopted two years later, D1200 a year was appropriated for the school. New school buildings were erected at a cost of about Lio,000 in 1862, and these were enlarged at a cost of about 5000 in 1880. The chancel of the old Dominican chapel, dating from the 13th century, was restored in 1864, and is now the school chapel. There is also a Congregationalist theological college, built in 1869 at a cost of £12,000, and now affiliated with the university of Wales. The other chief buildings of the town are the shire hall built in 1842 in the Doric style from designs by T. H. Wyatt; the Guildhall; the barracks, which are the headquarters of two battalions of the South Wales Borderers; the county infirmary founded in 1832; and the prison (in Llanfaes) for the counties of Brecon and Radnor. There is a bronze statue of the duke of Wellington (erected in 1854) by John Evan Thomas, a native of the town. The town commands a magnificent view of the Brecknock Beacons, and is noted for its promenades on the banks of the Usk, and in the priory groves. Brecon is favourably known as a fishing centre, and there is also boating on the Usk and the canal. There are several houses of interest, notably the Priory and Dr Awbrey's residence (now called Buckingham House), both built about the middle of the 16th century, but the finest specimen is Newton (about a mile out, near Llanfaes) built in 1582 by Sir John Games (a descendant of Sir David Gam), but now a farmhouse. The "Shoulder of Mutton" Inn, now known as the "Siddons Wine Vaults," was the birthplace in 1755 of Mrs Siddons.

The name Brecknock is an anglicized form of Brycheiniog, the Welsh name of the territory of Brychan (whence the alternative form of Brecon), a Goidelic chieftain, who gained possession of the Usk valley in the 5th century. The Welsh name of the town, on the other hand, has always been Aber-Honddu (the estuary of the Honddu). There is no evidence of any settlement on the site of the present town prior to about 1092, when Bernard Newmarch, after defeating Bleddin ab Maenarch, built here a castle which he made his residence and the chief stronghold of his new lordship. For this purpose he utilized what remained of the materials of the Roman fort, 3 m. to the west, at Y Gaer, which some identify as Bannium. He subsequently founded, near the castle, the Benedictine priory of St John, which he endowed and constituted a cell of Battle Abbey. In time a town grew up outside the castle, and its inhabitants received a series of charters from the de Bohuns, into which family the castle and lordship passed, the earliest recorded charter being granted by Humphrey, 3rd earl of Hereford. Under the patronage of his great-grandson, the last earl of Hereford (who lived in great splendour at the castle), the town became one of the chief centres of trade in South Wales, and a sixteen days' fair, which he granted, still survives as a hiring fair held in November. Further charters were granted by Henry IV. (who married Hereford's co-heiress), by Henry V., who gave the town two more fairs, and by the Stafford family, to which the castle and lordship were allotted on the partition of the Bohun estates in 1421. Henry Stafford, 2nd duke of Buckingham, resided a good deal at the castle, and Morton, bishop of Ely, whose custody as a prisoner was entrusted to him, plotted with him there for the dethronement of Richard III., for which Stafford was executed in 1483. His son, Edward, the 3rd duke, who was born in the castle in 1478, had the estates restored to him, but, in 1521, suffered a like fate with his father, and the lordship and castle then vested in the crown. Both were acquired in the next century by the ancestors of Viscount Tredegar, to whom they now belong. By a statute of 1535 Brecon was made the county town of the new shire of Brecknock, and was granted the right of electing one burgess to represent it in parliament, a right which it retained till it was merged in the county representation in 1885. A chancery and exchequer for the counties of Brecknock and Radnor were also established at Brecon Castle, and from 1542 till 1830 the great sessions, and since then the assizes, and at all times the quarter sessions for the county, have been held at Brecon. The borough had also a separate court of quarter sessions till 1835. The town was incorporated by a charter granted by Philip and Mary in 1556 and confirmed by Elizabeth in the nineteenth year of her reign. A charter granted by James II. was never acted upon.

The borough was placed under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and until then the town of Llywel, which is io m. off, formed a ward of the borough. There were formerly five trade gilds in the town, the chief industries being cloth and leather manufactures. There are five ancient fairs for stock, and formerly each of them was preceded by a leather fair. The fairs held in May and November were also for hiring, much of the hiring being now done at the Guildhall, and not in the streets as used to be the case.

During the Civil War the greater part of the castle and of the town walls (which with their four gates were until then well preserved) were demolished by the inhabitants in order to prevent the town being either garrisoned or besieged. Charles however, stayed a night at the priory house shortly after the battle of Naseby. The chief ruins of the castle are now enclosed in the grounds of the Castle Hotel, the principal object being Ely tower, where Bishop Morton was imprisoned.

Besides those already mentioned the persons of note born in the town include Henry Stafford, duke of Buckingham; Hugh Price, founder of Jesus College, Oxford; Dr Thomas Coke, the first Wesleyan missionary bishop in America; and Theophilus Jones, the historian of the county. Henry Vaughan, the Silurist, at one time practised here as a doctor of medicine. (D. LL. T.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


  1. A town in Powys, Wales


  • Welsh: Aberhonddu

See also



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