Llandovery is a little market town in Carmarthenshire, South West Wales. It may seem like another passing point, but Llandovery has a fascinating history. The town takes its name, which means 'church amongst the waters', from its location between the river Towy and the river Bran. The Towy is the longest river to flow entirely through Wales, rising in the Cambrian Mountains before flowing into the sea at Carmarthen Bay, a distance of 75 miles.
Famous people from Llandovery include Rhys Pritchard, better known as Vicar Pritchard, or The Old Vicar. One night he was sitting in one of the inns in the town and a goat approached him. Pritchard gave the goat some of his beer and found it amusing when the animal became drunk. The next night he went back to the inn, but this time the goat would not approach him. Pritchard realised that unlike him, the goat wouldn't get drunk for a second time. This struck something in the vicar, and he never drank again.
Instead, he devoted himself to religion. He published a book called 'Cannwyll y Cymry' (The Welshman's Candle) which contained verses on religion and morality, and stories from the Bible. The book was not only famous in Pritchard's time, but continues to have an impact on religion in Wales today.
Llandovery has another claim to fame, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Fychan. Hundreds of years ago, he led King Henry IV's army through this part of Wales pretending that he was leading them to a secret camp. Henry IV was furious and had Llywelyn half hanged, disembowelled whilst still conscious, beheaded and quartered. His quarters were then put on public display in various Welsh towns. A manificent 16ft statue of Llywelyn now stands in the town.
The castle at Llandovery was built in 1116 by the Norman Richard Fitz Pons, and became known as “the castle of Cantref Bychan.” It wasn't long after its construction that it was attacked and seized by Gruffydd ap Rhys. In 1158, it was back in the hands of the Normans when it was seized by Walter Clifford. Over the next few years, the castle passed back on forth between the Welsh, the English and sometimes the Normans. Finally in 1277, it passed into the hands of King Edward I. Llywelyn the Last captured the castle for a short time in 1282, before it returned to the hands of the monarchy.
For the next two centuries little happened to Llandovery Castle, apart from being refortified in stone after Llywelyn's death, in order to keep it safe from attacks. However, this did little to stop invasions, as it was targeted by Owain Glyndwr in the 1400s. Some time after, it was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair.