First off, what of Llanwnnen…
This being Wales it’s inevitable that there’s going to be a story. Just part of that story is an ‘of its time’ description of the village written in 1833 by Samuel Lewis:
“Llanwnnen, a parish in the upper division of the Hundred of Moythen, county of Cardigan, three and a quarter miles from Lampeter, containing 328 inhabitants. This parish is bounded on the south by the river Teivy, and is intersected by the Granell, which flows into the Vale of Teivy, and on the turnpike road from Lampeter to Cardigan. The surrounding scenery is beautifully picturesque, and the views of the adjacent country comprehend many objects of interest and features of pleasing character. On the bank of the Granell is a moated mound, called Castell Dû which was probably crowned with a fort for defending the river and the pass of the vale, but which now serves only to give name to the farm on which it is situated; and there is also a small encampment on the hill. In a field attached to a farm, called Cevn Llew Trêv, some curious silver coins were dug up a few years since. About a mile from the turnpike road, is Llwyn y Groes, the deserted seat of the family of Jones of Neuadd, in the adjoining parish. The mansion, which is spacious and handsome, is finely situated in the midst of flourishing plantations, and the grounds comprehend much beautiful scenery. A fair is held on December 13th. The living is a discharged vicarage, with which that of Silian is consolidated, in the archdeaconry of Cardigan, and diocese of St. David’s, rated in the king’s books at £3.4.9½ endowed with £400 royal bounty, and £400 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop, to whom two-thirds of the tithes are appropriated, the other third belonging to the vicar. The church, dedicated to St. Gwynin, is a small edifice, without either tower or spire, and possessing no architectural details of importance. There is a place of worship for Unitarians. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £159.”
What Samuel didn’t know about the church is that the arms on the shield above windows at the base of the tower are of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, who was the chief Welsh supporter of Henry Tudor. Henry was crowned King Henry VII on the battlefield at Bosworth on 22 August 1485 after a fatal blow had been dealt to King Richard III by Rhys ap Thomas, which ended the Wars of the Roses and saw Rhys knighted – just what was Sir Rhys’ connection to Llanwnnen?
If you’re looking for Celtic pedigree, according to the 2011 Census, Llanwnnen is one of the more Welsh communities in Ceredigion with around 70% of the 490-strong population having some form of Welsh identity.
The Grannell Hotel – its part in the history
Surprisingly, given Lanwnnen’s allegiance to Sir Rhys ap Thomas, instead of Wales’ ubiquitous Red Dragon, the Grannell Hotel was originally the Red Lion Inn. Our research has dated it back to evidence of the village pub in 1846 with Licensee James George. A fireplace stone is carved with the date 1816 – which could well be have been its year of opening. The census records stretching back over two centuries of life in rural Ceredigion are somewhat lacking in detail! Adding to the likelihood of origins stretching back to 1816 are the hollows worn into the local slate flags of the floor. In a very human touch here’s where generations of village men trudged to sup at the end of long days in the fields, mills and mines – leaving a legacy of their hobnail boot tread from the original front door and along the former line of the bar.
Fast forward through who knows how many licensees, two world wars and an evolving history to 1974. The Red Lion Inn, during a refurbishment, took the name of the close-running river and became the Grannell Hotel. Now, there are over 600 Red Lions in the UK and about six in Ceredigion – maybe a ‘new’ Grannell Hotel would stand out from the crowd!
After a recent further refurbishment, it’s certain that the Grannell will continue its status as the popular hub of the village. As for standing out from the crowd, with Licensee Jo Eveleigh at the helm, credentials are everything. Who else in 2020 would have the vision to re-emerge a country hotel from a worldwide pandemic? For Jo, customer service comes above all and the Grannell compliments her other successes in the Sales and Hospitality business.