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DWYGYFYLCHI, CAPELULO OR ST. GWYNIN’S
The erection of two road direction signs a few years ago on the A55, one at the Gasworks and the other at the bottom of Glanrafon Road, pointing to a Dwygyfylchi has caused confusion amongst the inhabitants of that area around the Parish Church, Many have thought that because of the church they lived in St. Gwynan’s (or is it Gwynin?); others because of the nearness of the primary school have thought they lived in Capelulo and now they are told by an official concerned with road signs that they live in Dwygyfylchi!
It is hoped that the following article will help unravel the tangle and perhaps determine boundaries for these local names.
Dwygyfylchi is a very old name and describes the area extending between the headlands of Penmaen Mawr and Penmaen Bach. When the country was divided into parishes early in the middle ages it was the name Dwygyfylchi that was adopted. We are still living in the parish of Dwygyfylchi; the church in Wales still uses the name, their three churches of Sant Gwynin, Sant Seiriol and Dewi Sant are in the parish of Dwygyfylchi. This is the name you see on the early maps of Wales although the spelling as you can imagine, varies quite a bit. Richard Blore’s map of 1673 spelt it thus - Dowye Govuichy. At one time the parish was called “Gwelche otherwise Dwygyfylchi”. *1 I cannot explain Gwelche *2 unless it is a gross miss-spelling or pronunciation of the parish name.
So far no confusion until 1772 when the Caernarvonshire Turnpike Trust built a new road from Conwy to Bangor as part of the general improvement to roads in the county in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Trust chose a route through the Sychnant Pass, thus avoiding the precipitous Penmaenbach. This was a tortuous journey for man and beast and both needed refreshment and rest before or after negotiating the steep Pass. Therefore, a small village developed at the foot of the Sychnant to provide for the needs of the travellers. Soon, three inns, the Red Lion, the Cross Keys and the Horseshoe were built, plus a smithy and a number of cottages in which tradesmen and others serving the travellers lived.
* 1. Terrier. 1746
*2. Gwelche is very similar to Gyfylchi. This latter is the name seen on Humphrey Lloyd's map of Wales 1573.
Here was a new road, the first collection of houses in the parish which you call a nucleated settlement in the parish of Dwygyfylchi and they called it Capelulo! Why? There was probably already there by that name before the village developed but it is not mentioned until 1777 in the Bishop’s Transcripts which are kept in the National Library of Wales. The early spelling is interesting - Capel Lillo (1777), Cappelilli (1816 Burial Register) and Capelulo (1828 Burial Register). But why was the village not called Dwygyfylchi? I do not know, but it is not unusual to find in Wales the older parish names being ignored when the new villages and towns developed in the last century during the industrial revolution; for instance, Bethesda in the parishes of Lalndegai and Llanllechid and more recently Llandudno Junction in the parish of Llangwstenin. However, those living in the ‘new’ village of Capelulo were still registered as living in the parish of Dwygyfylchi when baptised, married or buried.
In the 1830s the quarries on the slopes of Penmaen Mawr mountain began operating. The first workers were housed in cottages immediately below the first workings and so was born another village within the parish -- Penmaenan, a village that was to grow rapidly in the next twenty years while Capelulo was to remain unchanged. Again, the inhabitants of Penmaenan, like those of the older village, were to be ‘registered’ as members of the ecclesiatic division of Dwygyfylchi. So now we have two villages within the parish of Dwygyfylchi, but after 1850 the confusion really begins.
In 1848 the railway came through the parish but it was not until 1850/51 that a station was constructed here. The railway company, The Chester-Holyhead Railway Company, decided to call the new station, Penmaenmawr! They called the station at Conwy - Conwy, they called the station at Llanfairfechan - Llanfairfechan, but the station at Dwygyfylchi they called Penmaenmawr. Why?
Surely the length of the name was not the problem; was it the pronunciation? I suspect it was but the mountain, Penmaen Mawr, was already well known to many through its frequent reference in early guide books on North Wales. Much had been written on the horror of crossing the face of the headland along its narrow roads; the massive hill fort on the summit was known to antiquarians as were the ferns and flowers that grew on its treacherous slopes.
The newly built railway brought in the tourists. A new hotel was built above the station today it is called the Grand, but its original name ‘The Penmanemawr Hotel’ - after the station, of course. Boarding houses and shops developed above the station in the area called Panyrafon and a promenade was laid out below the station.
So now we have Penmaenan in the West, Capelulo to the East and Penmaenmawr /Panyrafon in the middle. In passing it is interesting to note that the postal address for the district in these early days was “Dwygyfylchi, near Conwy”!
In 1863/5 the quarrying and tourist industry had developed so rapidly that the leading inhabitants came together, and the Local Health Board, the equivalent of a town council, came into existence and they called themselves the “Dwygyfylchi Health Board”. Their early meetings were held in the Penmaenmawr Hotel!
Towards the end of the century the name Dwygyfylchi slowly but surely went out of fashion. It was Penmaenmawr that now ruled. Because of the station name, guide books called the area Penmaenmawr and so did the Post Office.
In 1890 a member of the Local Board gave notice that at the next meeting he would move that the name of the Board be changed from Dwygyfylchi to the Penmaenmawr Local Board under Section 311 of the Public Health Act 1875. It is perhaps significant that he made his proposal at a meeting held on April 1st!
Here is the motion in full. It reflects the mood of the citizens and the rapid development of the ‘town’ of Penmaenmawr.
that under Section 311 of the Public Health Act 1875 and subject to the approval of the Local Government Board the name of this Local Board be changed from Dwygyfylchi to the Penmaenmawr Local Board for the reasons that since the formation of the Board, Penmaenmawr has become an important watering place. that the village of Dwygyfylchi only comprises about 50 cottages, is distanced about 2 miles from the Railway Station and is at the extreme end of the district, that no building operations have taken place there for years, whereas Penmaenmawr has a population estimated at 3,000 and a summer population of 8,000 to 10,000. The offices of the Local Board are at Penmaenmawr, also the Railway Station and other Public Offices such as the Post Office and Bank, that the name Dwygyfylchi is never used in describing the place and letters are always addressed to Penmaenmawr. The inhabitants when addressing the Local Board describe the Board as the Penmaenmawr Local Board and that name of Dwygyfylchi being practically a dead letter as far us the name of the place is concerned.”
To these Victorial gentlemen
‘Penmaenmawr’ was synonymous with progress, ‘Dwygyfylchi’ with none. A few years
later, in 1895, the Board were to become the Penmaenmawr Urban District Council.
One of their first “acts” was to change the name of the ‘Dwygyfylchi Electoral
Ward’ to Capelulo Ward!!
The motion referred to Dwygyfylchi village. Was it referring to Capelulo Village specifically or the whole area from east of Trwyn yr Wylfa? Certainly there were not fifty cottages in Capelulo. The confusion really begins. Guide books at this time referred to Capelulo village as Dwygyfylchi village yet the Post Office allowed a cancelling stamp - ‘Capelulo’; letters were actually cancelled at the officially known Capelulo Post Office, a concession not given to the postmaster at Penmaenan.
But why did the guide books insist on Dwygyfylchi village? Probably it was because of the renovated hotel which had previously been called the Horse Shoe Tavern (‘Bedol’ to the locals). The name had been changed to the Dwygyfylchi Hotel about the 1880s. The reason for the change was tourism. In the 1870s the Sychnant Pass excursion had become popular with visitors from Colwyn Bay and Llandudno. The word, Dwygyfylchi, long and difficult had, perhaps, the same attraction as Llanfairpwll etc.
The guide books of the time were thoroughly confused; the “Gossiping Guide to Wales 1899” states:
at Dwygyfylchi or Capel Lulo, as the hamlet is more properly called;” yet in the 1916 edition we read:
“Dwygyfylchi is an attractive hamlet The name, originally that of the parish, is now specially applied to the hamlet which was formerly called Capel Lulo, or Ulo
But if the guide book compilers were confusing the issue the inhabitants of ‘yr hen bentre’ (the old village) as it was being affectionately called, and still is, were quite clear in their minds as to the correct name. In 1907 it was suggested at a Council Meeting that Capelulo Post Office be changed to Dwygyfylchi Post Office, but Dr. Picton of Caerlyr and twenty eight residents protested against the change and none was made.
Again in July 1908 a Council minute referring to Capelulo Church Box states:
“It was unanimously resolved that the clerk be requested to seek an interview with the Conway Postmaster as the changing of the name on this letter-box from Capelulo to Llan Box. This was complied with.”
It is not clear who was complaining about this letter box. Was it the few who lived around the Parish Church who did not want to be associated with the villagers of Capelulo or was it the villagers themselves who were jealous of their boundaries and stating that the Church was too far away down the road to be within their special little territory? But whoever it was does not matter for the boundary for Capelulo is set; it is the village that carries the name, the little hamlet clustered between Tai Bach and the Sychnant, the Glyn and the Nant (Fairy Glen). But how were the rest of the inhabitants, few in number at the beginning of this century, going to identify themselves? There was the “Llan”, the traditional name for an area around the Parish Church; there was the name of the Church itself - St. Gwynin or Gwynan; there was also a new development taking place near Trwyn yr Wylfa around the old chapel of Horeb.
But the whole issue was then put in a new state of confusion in 1912.
The County Council, not twenty years old, built a new school just east of Trwyn yr Wylfa, just south of Horeb and not too far west of St. Gwynins and Llan, and called it ‘YSGOL CAPELULO’ (Capelulo School)!!!
About this time also the young
people of Capelulo village seemed to have become confused by naming their
meeting place in a hut on the Fairy Glen Road, as the Dwygyfylchi Lads’ Club.
The members represented the whole of the area east of Trwyn yr Wylfa and
choosing the title Dwygyfylchi underlines the use of the old parish name to
describe the area as suggested by the Board Meeting of 1890. Perhaps the naming
of the new school Dwygyfylchi would have sorted things out once and for all
since it was built to replace the Dwygyfylchi School at Glan’rafon - - now in rapid decay near the Cemetery. But it could not
be called Dwygyfylchi School because another school, the present Pencae Primary
School was already called the Dwygyfylchi Board School!
After the 1914/18 World War the area around the parish church was developed. Groesffordd estate was built by the Urban District Council and private developers built the houses along Mona Drive, Gogarth Avenue and Treforris Road. The houses in Gogarth Avenue sprang up so quickly that the area was called ‘Mushroom Town’, a name recognised by bus drivers and conductors! Crosville Bus Company began running services diverted from the main Conway Road to serve the expanding population who were a good distance from the shopping centre of Pantyrafon. (The village of Capelulo was already being served by a local bus company). Crosville needed a name to identify their ‘stops’ and ‘Route’ and they came up with St. Gwynan’s since the stops were near the Church. “Via St. Gwynan’s” was a label to search for on the bus’ destination panel when returning home and avoiding a walk through the fields or later, Maes y Llan, from the Iron Bridge, Conway Road stop. For the second time, the transporter of people had ignored Dwygyfylchi for an “easier” name. When the area was further developed after the Second World War a new sub Post Office was built and named the St. Gwynan’s Post Office.
It seemed now that the old name of Dwygyfylchi had been finally buried. But wait, the new local branch of the Women’s Institute, meeting at Capelulo School called themselves the Dwygyfylchi Institute and across the road, the Bowling Club adopted the name Dwygyfylchi Bowling Club. And then a revival and added confusion when an authority concerned with placing direction signs on our main roads placed the two Dwygyfylchi signs mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Where do you live then, those of you trapped between the Trwyn yr Wylfa and Penmaenbach hills? Your telephone exchange and postal address if Penmaenmawr; for administration purposes you live in Penmaenmawr. The estate agents prefer you to live in Dwygyfylchi. Crosville wants you in St. Gwynans. Capelulo people do not want to know you; road sign officials say Dwygyfylchi.
The choice is yours. Personally, I like Dwygyfylchi, although it might not be quite correct being, as it is, the Parish name. But the old, beautiful name is retained and that is good enough for me.