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Images of Wales                          Back to Webpage Archive

The feature below was first shown on my website on 17 May 2004

John Ball

Images of Wales

18th and 19th Century Prints of South and West Wales

Scanned from John Ball's collection of prints and engravings


Over the years I acquired a large collection of 18th and 19th century prints of various Welsh scenes. Some of the illustrations in my collection are from the antiquarian books listed below, while others were purchased individually from second-hand bookshops such as Hay Castle Books (no longer operating) or specialist dealers such as Forwood's - Antique maps & Prints (trading on-line as in Hay-on-Wye, Breconshire.
The 45 images of south and west Wales featured on these four webpages are arranged alphabetically by county. Supplementary text is extracted from the sources listed below.


  • Black (1869) Black's Picturesque Guide to South Wales, Adam and Charles Black, Edinburgh; Catherall and Pritchard, Chester.
  • Donovan, E. (1805) Excursions Through South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1804, C. and J. Rivington, London.
  • Morris, Rev. F. O. (c. 1880) A Series of Picturesque Views of Seats of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, William Mackenzie, London.
  • Rees, Thomas (1815) The Beauties of England and Wales: or Original Delineations , Topographical, Historical, and Descriptive (Vol. XVIII -- South Wales), London.
Use the links below to go directly to a specific county, or examine the illustrations sequentially, page by page.

Breconshire       Cardiganshire       Carmarthenshire       Glamorgan       Monmouthshire       Pembrokeshire

Page 2                   Page 3                   Page 4


Drawn by Mrs. Lathbury, engraved by J. Smith 1813, in Rees (1815)
Above: Bridge, Castle, etc., Brecon.

Among the remains of antiquity which this place [Brecon] affords, the castle demands the first notice, from priority of origin. Bernard Newmarch, the Norman leader, erected, about the year 1094, the Castle of Brecknock, which became afterwards the residence of his successors. To this period the origin of the town of Brecknock is also to be ascribed. The castle occupied the brow of an abrupt hill on a point of land formed by the rivers Usk and Honddu, and on the western side of the latter stream. The present remains are inconsiderable. (Rees, 1815)

Christ Chapel, Brecon
Drawn by Mrs. Lathbury, engraved by S. Rawle 1813, in Rees (1815)
Above: Collegiate Chapel, Brecon.

Christ Church College is situated in the suburb of St David's, on the banks of the Usk, at a short distance from the bridge. The history of the original foundation at this place is not known. It is ascertained to have been a monastery of Black Friars, with an apportionment church dedicated to St Nicholas. The present college church is only sixty-three feet in length by twenty-four in breadth, and comprises merely the choir and chancel of the original edifice. (Rees, 1815)

Drawn by J. P. Neale, engraved by T. Bonnor, in Rees (1815)
Above: Falls at Cilhepste, Ystradfellte.

A short distance above the confluence of the streams Mellte and Hespte, in a deep and almost inaccessible valley, this river is precipitated with great force in one wide and unbroken sheet, from a level rock nearly fifty feet in height, into a deep stone basin, which, from the constant agitation of its waters, exhibits the appearance of an immense boiling cauldron. The most remarkable circumstance belonging to this fall is, that the only path from one side of the valley to the other, lies behind the cataract, and between it and the rock. Just above the level of the pool a step or natural ledge of about three feet in width, which constitutes the road, runs across the channel, and connects the opposite banks. Over this, the water throws itself in a curvilinear direction, presenting a natural roof capable of affording to the traveller a temporary shelter from the rain. (Rees, 1815)

Glanusk Park
Drawn by Alexander Francis Lydon, wood engraving by Benjamin Fawcett, in Morris (c. 1880)
Above: Glanusk Park, near Crickhowell.

   Glanusk Park, in South Wales, was at one time the property of Lord Orford, and was afterwards owned by Mr. John Keppel, from whom it passed in the present century into the hands of Joseph Bailey, Esq., M.P. for the city of Worcester.
   The present imposing mansion was built by Mr. Bailey, on the existing site, the previous house being thought to be too close to the so-called Glanusk Water, in consequence of which it was taken down.
   The park, which is well stocked with deer, comprises between seven and eight hundred acres of ground, exceedingly beautiful from its undulations, and is surrounded by mountains.
   The River Usk, whereof Glanusk forms a part, runs for several miles through the estate, affording abundance of salmon and trout to the fishermen, as well as adding not a little to the beauty of the landscape which, from the mixture of wood, dale, rock, and meadow, presents a most romantic picture.
   Within the park are some ancient Druidical remains, which have, as may be supposed, given ground for a variety of speculations to the learned in antiquities, but these would be unsuited to the pages of a work like the present.
(Morris, c. 1880)

Tretower Castle
Engraving based on original illustration by Samuel and Nathanial Black (1741)
Above: Tretower Castle, near Crickhowell.

This building is to be ascribed to an early period of the Norman occupation of the country, when the new settlers were obliged to trust their security to stone walls. It seems never to have held any considerable rank as a fortress, and is rather to be regarded as a castellated mansion. An opulent and powerful family of the Vaughans of this country take their name from this place, and were long its possessors. At present it is the property of the duke of Beaufort. (Rees, 1815)

Tretower Castle
Unknown artist (circa 1800)
Above: Tretower Castle.


Llanbadarn Fawr
Unknown artist (circa 1800)
Above: Llanbadarn Fawr, near Aberystwyth.

The name [Llanbadarn Fawr] signifies the great church of Badarn, or Padarn, and is derived from St Paternus or Padarn, a distinguished saint of the primitive British church, who, in the 6th century, founded here a monastery, which was converted into an episcopal see, with a large diocese and revenue, and afterwards united to St David's. The building was greatly injured by the Danes in 988, and again in 1038, but portions of it are thought to be included in the present edifice. This was probably erected soon after the Norman Conquest, as the plain pointed arch prevails throughout. (Black, 1869)

Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn
Drawn by H. Gastineau, engraved by C. Mottram (circa 1800)
Above: Llanfihangel Genau'r Glyn.

Devil's Bridge
Unknown artist, in Black (1869)
Above: Devil's Bridge, Vale of Rheidol.

The so-called "Devil's Bridge" consists of two arches, placed one above the other, forming, irrespectively of the Falls, a curiosity worthy of inspection. The lower arch is supposed to have been erected in the reign of William Rufus, by the monks of Strata Florida Abbey, and this in particular bears the name of his Satanic majesty—none other but he, according to the legend of popular ignorance, having the power to construct such a piece of masonry in such a position. (Black, 1869)

Strata Florida Abbey
Unknown artist, in Rees (1815)
Above: Remains of Strata Florida Abbey.

The only remains of the once beautiful sanctuary are—a portion of a wall which was at the west side of the church, a small pointed window, and a round-headed Norman arch, which appears to have been the northern entrance. This arch, which is complete, is unique, and remarkably beautiful. It has six simple flutings, exquisitely wrought, forming so many co-ordinate recessed arches, and over the centre is a finely sculptured stone. (Black, 1869)

Continues on Page 2

Images of Wales                          Back to Webpage Archive

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