Llanddewi Brefi

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Llanddewi Brefi (approximate pronunciation: cland-dewi brevi), pop 523, is one of Wales's most scenic villages. It is situated in the central county of Ceredigion in west Wales and has recently achieved planning protection from urban blight owing to its national importance and outstanding architectural beauty.[1]

Llanddewi Brefi is one of the largest parishes in Wales. It has a history that can be traced to pre-Christian times. The Romans, Celts and Normans have all left their mark here.

A collection of ancient grave markers, many inscribed simply with the names of those whose burials they marked, underlines the antiquity of the human settlement here. Symbols and words carved on these markers confirm the Christian nature of the burials. This hard evidence shows Christianity was here even before the time of St. David: this is one of the oldest definite Christian sites in the British Isles.[2]

Although homosexuality is tolerated in Llanddewi Brefi the fact that there is only one known gay in the village has resulted in National Lottery funding.[3]


In the 6th century Saint David (Dewi Sant), the Patron Saint of Wales, held the Synod of Brefi in 519 AD. It was the site of one of St David's most famous miracles. At a church meeting held near the Roman fort of Bremia to discuss the Pelagian heresy, David was unable to make himself heard in debate. He placed a cloth on the ground, which miraculously rose to form a mound from which he could speak.[4] An alternative version says that the ground rose under his feet elevating him above the crowd and his voice was as a trumpet and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove came and sat on his shoulder.[5] Either way the mound in question is said to be the one on which the church was built, though it actually dates from almost seven centuries later. It has been altered a number of times, and at some stage in the past must have been considerably larger than it is now.[6] The central tower of the church dates from the end of the 12th Century. Many features within this church bear witness to it having been an important centre for Christian worship during the 7th-10th centuries.

Llanddewi Brefi was a crucial test case in the Enclosure Act Legislation of 1750, (amended 1801). When the legislation was enacted in Ceredigion, a number of parishes, led by Llanddewi Brefi objected to the proposals. The dispute continued for the next 44 years during which time the other contesting villages had managed to resolve their disputes; Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn in 1813 and Llangynfelyn in 1824. In 1845, with Llanddewi Brefi still holding out, a new body called the Enclosure Commissioners was set up specifically to deal with the Llanddewi Brefi case. Despite this, the legal arguments continued for another 39 years, with the descendants (in some cases the great grandchildren) of the original parishioners still holding out. In 1883 the matter was finally resolved[7] but the case of Llanddewi Brefi still stands as one of the most costly (inflation adjusted) and long-running cases in British legal history.

It achieved such notoriety in Victorian England that it undoubtedly was the inspiration for one of the minor cases that the lawyer Tulkinghorne is pursuing within Charles Dickens' novel Bleak House, the central theme of which is an equally long-running legal case called Jarndyce & Jarndyce


Llanddewi Brefi is one of the premier sites for Welsh Trotting or harness racing. Trotting (Welsh: troddin) has been held in Llanddewi Brefi since the early twentieth century. However, it suffered a serious decline when most of the horses were conscripted during World War I and never returned. The sport was resurrected following the relaxation of meat rationing in 1952[8] and the Llanddewi Brefi track held its golden jubilee in 2002.[9] Welsh Trotting differs from the American version by being held on a grass track.


Llanddewi Brefi is home to one of the country's leading stick makers, Dafydd Davies. He makes a range of sticks from shepherds crooks to carved animal and birds heads, through to walking sticks and thumb sticks. Every stick is an individual work of art made with skill and craftsmanship. Ranging from simple elegant Shaker style sticks with a silver ferrules to more intricate items with a leaping trout or a sheepdog crouched for his next command. These sticks are owned by such eminent personages as the Prince of Wales himself, or the Supreme Champion of an International Sheepdog Society and the Champions of the One Man and His Dog competition.


Llanddewi Brefi is represented by Plaid Cymru (the Party of Wales) in the Welsh Assembly and the local community council. Dai Evans, who represents Llanddewi Brefi, has proposed the auctioning of the village signs on eBay to raise funds for the Asian tsunami appeal.[10]

Notes & References

  1. [1] The Lampeter & Llanddewi Brefi Church Group
  2. [2] Pre-Norman Stone Crosses In The British Isles
  3. Daily Mail: Lottery money to help 'the only gays in the village'
  4. [3] The Cistercian Way
  5. [4] Brynheulog B & B
  6. [5] Pre-Norman Stone Crosses
  7. [6] Ceredigion Archives: Cardiganshire Enclosure Acts Collection
  8. [7] Ceredigion Archives
  9. [8] Wales and Border Counties Harness Racing: Llanddewi Brefi
  10. [9] BBC News: Little Welsh village seeks help