Thursday, 8 April 2010

Castle Ely Info from Elizabeth Wilson

 I had this lovely response to a request for information on the Castle Ely area:-

Glad you are looking at the Castle Ely area as it was always considered part of Crunwere although in Cyffig parish.
I don't have much information on the area but I'll let you have what I know.

Castle Ely is considered to be one of the lost settlements of West Carmarthenshire, along with Cyffig and Eglwyscummin. In 1307 there were "28 tenants working 6 carucates of land" - a carucate was roughly 120 acres of land.

 Before the A477 was built in the 1830's the road from Tavernspite crossed Coldwell coming up the lane at the side of the house, went up the lane to Upper Castle Ely and on to Castle Ely. Here it branched off down Castle Ely lane to Castle Ely Mill, crossed the stream to Crunwere Farm, and on past Crunwere Church to Llanteg village. From Castle Ely the road carried on straight over Marros Mountain to Marros. This track is still visable in Fronhaul. I will enclose a copy of the map. It is clear from this map that there are a lot of buildings around Castle Ely.

The map also explains why Crunwere Church seems to be in the middle of nowhere - it was the road that moved!!

Castle Ely and Castle Ely Mill were both part of the Llanmiloe (Pendine) Estate from at least the time of Charles 1st, until the estate was sold in 1913.

All I know about Castle Ely house is from personal memory. Parts of the original house were very old. The oldest part of the house was at the back with 4 separate rooms with thick walls and big flagstone floors. The furthest back were 2 long, narrow rooms shaped like an L. The room at the foot of the L was partly underground and reached by 3 flagstone steps, the windows level with the ground. It ran the length of the house. It was lined with large metal pans for salting the meat and was always cold - facing north. The living room was next to these rooms, again separate, and also had these large flagstones floor. Next to this was the pantry, flagstones, and slate slab shelves, no windows, again always cold.

The front of the house, facing Crunwere Church, was, I think, a Victorian addition. There was a hallway between the old part and the new part which was a large sitting room and a parlour both with timber floors. Upstairs there were 3 large bedrooms, but over the old part of the house were 2 dark store rooms, especially the back one which was down a step and windowless. I used to be afraid to go into these rooms!

I am attaching the map and an old photo of the front of Castle Ely house. Hope this will be of some interest to you,

Albert and Annie Wilson (nee Saer). They were my Uncle and Aunt on both sides (2 brothers married 2 sisters), and I used to visit them a lot when I was a child. The Shanklin's lived in Upper Castle Ely which is only about a field away from Castle Ely.

There used to be lime kilns in one of the fields between Milton and Castle Ely but I never did find the ruins - I think they must have been cleared. The field is still called "kiln field" The quarry was on the lane leading in to Castle Ely but it just looks like a hole. The division between the limestone belt of Marros,and the red sandstone runs through Fronhaul and Castle Ely fields and there are many holes in the fields where the ground has given way. It carries on through Crafty and there are holes there as well.

There was an old water wheel in the barn at Castle Ely (mill), and there is any amount of water around there. There used to be the ruins of an old building in the garden at Castle Ely. Just the walls and roof, but this enormous chimney - the sort you could stand inside and look up through. I'm not sure if it was a house or an industrial building of some sort. It was all knocked down years ago.

Hi Ruth,

The water wheel was at the end of the barn in Castle Ely - this is the large building that you can see from the road. it was at the end nearest the road.

I was brought up in the Moors, Llanteg, but my parents lived at Castle Ely with their brother and sister for a while before they moved to the Griggs, and then the Moors.

Not sure how old Fronhaul is. I think the house was built after the council bought up the land and created smallholdings, that would be after 1913.

The Health club is both Fronhaul and Castle Ely buildings. The buildings form a square and were split in half, 1 half to Castle Ely, and the other half to Fronhaul ie creating 2 farms out of one. The barn ran the length of both and was spit in half.

The well at Coldwell is a spring which is pumped up to a storage tank and gravity fed back to the farm.

Upper Castle Ely is up the lane by Coldwell.

Castle Ely Farm is now Waterwynch, Castle Ely House is the farmhouse renovated and is the large white house you can see from the road.

Castle Ely Mill was a farm in its own right, besides the mill which has been disused for very many years. I can never remember it being used. The house is on the side of the old road by the lane going up to Castle Ely. The mill I suppose is in the old farm buildings with the original miller's house next to it. I don't suppose there's much of the original left.

The Morse's used to live in Fronhaul, Kathleen lives in St Clears now. The Jenkins used to live in Castle Ely Mill but I think they are all gone.

I am attaching some photos of Fronhaul and Castle Ely. The photo with the sheep isn't very good but it shows the barn with Castle Ely chimneys behind, and in the right background is Upper Castle Ely house in the trees. It was taken from the Marros side looking towards Red Roses direction. The 2nd shows Fronhaul house back and some of Castle Ely buildings. This is taken in the opposite direction looking towards Marros, the last one shows Fronhaul house front view.


  1. Ruth -what is the date and source/surveyor of the map please
    Many thanks Tony Bevan (3 wells)

    1. Hi - not sure offhand - its earlier than the OS maps as the main road (A477) hadn't been built. Shall have to dig out our old paperwork and see if there is a reference on the map copy.

    2. That was quicker to find than I thought! Looks like its from the older either 1809 or 1819 OS map - I have a copy of each and not sure if they are one and the same or not. Very early anyway and very interesting. The 1819 one states its sheet 41.

    3. As a matter of interest were there/are there, three wells at Three Wells?

  2. Hi Ruth There were 3 springs rising in Three Wells .The centre Spring fed a Watermill pond The other two could be dammed so water ran through drains to feed the Pond. There was a pug in the bottom of the pond ( just like a bath) about 9 inches wide. I know because as Children a friend and I were playing there and came across an old chain. Being both curious and inventive we rigged up a wooden lever to pull it up . Blimey you can guess our surprise when the pond started a whirlpool and a loud gush of water was heard flowing towards the old waterwheel.

    1. Thank you - thats very interesting.