The area is steeped in history - here are some items of historic interest
BLOG; CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST UPDATES ON www.penmon.org

Other PENMON links
on this site

PENMON PEOPLE YEARS AGO 
Meet the families who lived in this small,
but beautiful corner of Wales over a century ago.

PENMON NOSTALGIA. 
This is a page for interesting letters, memories or photographs relating to the Penmon area.

PENMON LIFEBOAT RESCUES. 
This information is supplied courtesy of the Beaumaris Lifeboat webpage. It records details of great acts of bravery between 1831 and 1915.

MENAI LIGHTHOUSE & PILOT FAMILIES 
Here we record the families who ensured that the light never went out for those approaching the Menai Straits by sea. 

 

CONTENTS


PENMON - WRITTEN IN 1849

PENMON QUARRIES

SAINT SEIRIOL

ANGLO SAXONS

DEVASTATION AT PENMON

ST. SEIRIOL'S CHURCH

ST. SEIRIOL'S WELL

PENMON PRIORY

CASTELL LLEINIOG
and TRE'R CASTELL

ROTHSAY CASTLE SHIPWRECK
1831
Tragedy off Penmon Point

PENMON SEMAPHORE TELEGRAPH

PUFFIN  ISLAND

CHARLES DICKENS
REPORTED ON THE
ROYAL CHARTER SHIPWRECK

 PENMON GRAVESTONES
JOHN PUGH and JOHN LEWIS



PENMON - WRITTEN IN 1849


PENMON (PEN-MON), a parish, in the poorlaw union of Bangor and Beaumaris, hundred of Tyndaethwy, county of Anglesey, North Wales, 4 miles (N. E. by N.) from the town of Beaumaris; containing, with Puffin Island, 228 inhabitants.


 Photo courtesy of Warren Kovach
                                          
The name of this place, signifying "the head of Mona," is derived from its situation in the eastern end of the Isle of Anglesey (anciently called Mona), on a promontory boldly projecting into the Irish Sea, at the northern entrance to the Menai strait, and having at its extremity the small island of Priestholme.

This and the surrounding country were desolated by the Danes, in 969, and again shortly afterwards, in common with the whole of Anglesey. The parish is not of very great extent, but comprises nearly equal portions of arable and pasture land, in a tolerable state of cultivation; the houses are widely scattered. Its scenery is not remarkable for features of rural beauty; and the views, though comprising some objects of romantic character, derive their chief interest from the expanse of waters in the Irish Sea and the Menai strait.

The only metallic mineral found is pyrites of iron; but the parish abounds with beautiful grey-coloured marble, clouded with an almost endless variety of shades, and susceptible of a high polish. This marble has been long in estimation for ornamental purposes, and for the construction of mantel-pieces, tablets, &c., but its excellent qualities as a solid and durable material for buildings of superior strength and importance were only recently brought into notice, by its being selected for the construction of the piers and buttresses of the grand suspension bridge over the Menai strait.

Some harbour works at Holyhead, the piers of the Conway suspension bridge, Penrhyn Castle, and many other public and private buildings, have been constructed of marble from the quarries here; and the town-hall of Birmingham, for the erection of which upon a magnificent scale the proprietor generously gave a sufficient quantity of marble, was built with this valuable material.

PENMON QUARRIES


The quarries, which are very extensive, have been worked for a considerable period with great success, and their favourable situation on the shores of the Menai strait on the east, and of the Irish Sea on the north and north-east, greatly facilitates the conveyance of their produce to its destination.

A number of men are constantly employed in them (1947 above); vessels can come in and load at all times of the tide, and several are regularly engaged in transporting the marble to various parts of the kingdom. Part of the parish is included within the limits of the borough of Beaumaris.

 

Above are quarrymen from the Becyn Quarry 

Below are quarrymen from the Sychnant Quarry around 1928  

 

 Above are pictured quarrymen who worked at the Helsby Quarry in 1940.

 Below is the Black Marble Quarry.



SAINT SEIRIOL

St. Seiriol Gwyn (born c.494)
(Latin-Serialanus, English-Serial)

St. Seiriol the Fair was a younger brother of Kings Cynlas of Rhos and Einion Frenin, of Lleyn, who was the cousin of Maelgwn Gwynedd, whose great grandfather was Cynedda Wledig, the Brythonic Prince, whose sons invaded North Wales in the 5th century, and from whom sprang the ruling line of the Princes of North Wales.

 It is said that Seiriol received the island from Einion, who also established the religious community on Bardsey Island and founded the church of Llaneinion-frenin or Llanengan in Lleyn.  

There appears to be some difference of opinion whether Seiriol came first to Penmon or to Puffin Island. In favour of the former, we have the fact that the Holy well of St Seiriol is situated close to Penmon Priory, and the vaulted building enclosin it may have formed part of the original sanctuary where he lived and baptised his converts to Christianity, while in favour of the latter we have the discovery  under the floor of the sanctuary on Puffin Island of a grave containing a human skelton which may well have been that of the saint himself.

The early missionaries sought first of all seclusion and often chose islands in which to build their sanctuaries, because of the added peace and security which isolation gave. 

As the fame of the holy man grew the number of his adherents would increase until the island became overcrowded and a brother colony would be formed on the nearest mainland.Further, the earliest known charter, that of Edward I, pictured left, in 1238, refers to the canons of the Isle of Glannauch, a former name of the island.

The ancient building which formed the later church of the monastery of St Seiriol on the island and the tower which rose so conspicuously from the ruins, are of Norman style and probably   early 12th century in date. The tower with its peculiar pyramidal roof is almost unique, for there are but two others like it, namely those at Penmon and Llanelian. 

His two ruling brothers later decided this humble residence was far too lowly for their Royal brother and founded an important monastery around his cell. Thus, Seiriol became the first Abbot of Penmon Priory. His hermitage and holy-well can still be seen there today.

Seiriol became a great friend of St Cybi who lived at Caer-Gybi on Ynys Cybi (Holy Island) on the far side of Ynys Mon (Anglesey). The two would often walk several miles to meet up for prayers at the Clorach Wells in Llandyfrydog in the centre of the island. This journey with his back to the sun allowed St. Seiriol's complexion to remain so fair that he was given the epithet of "Gwyn".

In old age, Seiriol retired to Ynys Lannog (Priestholm), just off the coast from Penmon. It became known as Ynys Seiriol in his honour, though it is now better known as Puffin Island, above.

ANGLO SAXONS

 In 962 Edgar, who succeeded Alfred the Great as King of the Anglo Saxons in 959, came to North Wales and tried to colonise Anglesey.

The following account provides evidence of the existence of wolves in North Wales in those days;

"Edgar proceeded to North Wales and summoned to him Iago, son of Idwal, and instead of tribute which was in accordance with an old law, he exacted of him three hundred wolves' heads yearly, allowing him the liberty of killing them wherever he might, in all the isle of Britain. Then there was peace in North Wales; and that tax was paid in North Wales for five hundred and forty years, that is, as long as any wolf could be found in all the British Isles. After that, the English King changed the tribute into gold and silver and cattle, as of old."


 

DEVASTATION AT PENMON

"In AD 968 Macht ab Harold came to Anglesey and devastated Penmon which before was the fairest spot in all the Isle of Mona. And immediately after came  Gotffrid ab Harold against Anglesey, and laid it too waste. Edgar gave permission to Gotffrid's men to abide in Anglesey and these united themselves into one tyranny with the men of Edwin. They never departed thnce, nor ever after that could treachery be eradicated from the island."

Prince Gwen Gwynedd re-founded Penmon in the 12th century as an Augustinian priory. Prince Llywelyn is mentioned in the Charter of Inspeximus of Edward I "confirming to the Canons of the Isle of Glannauch the donation of the Lord Llywelyn concerning the land of Penmon. Dated at Kemays on the first Sunday of Lent in the year of the Incarnation of Our Lord, 1283".

 


ST. SEIRIOL'S CHURCH


In 1849 the living was a perpetual curacy, annexed to that of Llanvaes, and endowed with £400 private benefaction, £800 royal bounty, and £600 parliamentary grant.

The church, dedicated to St. Seiriol, and originally the church of a priory situated here, was a regular cruciform structure, the northern transept of which has disappeared, at what period cannot now be determined. At present the building consists of a nave and chancel, with a tower standing between them; a small chapel, or transept, on the south side; and some traces of the transept on the northern side. The nave and south transept, with the tower, are of a very early period, but there has been a difference of opinion as to their exact date.


I am very grateful to Dave Williamson for the following information. KD

I recently discovered the website of the Gwynedd Family History Society http://www.gwyneddfhs.org/
Through it I was able to purchase a booklet which I think your readers will find invaluable.
It contains lots of info about the graves at St Seiriol.
On the Menu on the left, click on 'Publications'.
Now in the list of Memorial Inscriptions, click on 'Anglesey',
Scroll down to reference M175 - Penmon, St Seiriol.
This document is brilliant, as it contains a layout of the graveyard at St Seiriol, with each grave numbered, details of the inscription on each grave, various indexes, such as names, places, occupations.
It also has a translation of many Welsh names and terms.
I bought a copy (£4.50, incl postage) last week and found it so useful.

I'm sure many other Penmon family history researchers will want to get a copy.
 


PENMON CHURCH PHOTOS
Copyright and courtesy of Sian Roberts

 

 


Photos copyright and courtesy of Sian Roberts

 The chancel is of the 15th century, and of larger proportions than the rest of the building; it is not improbable that it was enlarged by the monks for the accommodation of their tenants, and thus it may have served as a parochial church even before the Dissolution. In the southern wall of the nave is a curious round-headed doorway, supposed to be of the earlier part of the 13th century, and no doubt inserted, like the northern doorway, subsequently to the first erection of the edifice, which, with the exception of the chancel, may be referred to a very ancient date.


Penmon Priory in the snow.

Priory view from the rear.
Both photos courtesy of Max Pemberton.

Received the following enquiry from Jini Foster. KD June 2012,

I am trying to find out about the flowers in the window at Penmon Priory. I know it is a new window, but the flowers must have been chosen for a reason?  I had such a pleasant visit there-especially the Holy well area….

I f you can assist Jini with her enquiry about the beautiful windows, she can be contacted via    mail@penmon.org

Jini Foster, who enquires about the flowers in the stained glass window in Penmon Church, has a very keen eye for such things.

Her interests include making landscapes in felted wool.
I am very grateful to Jini for granting me permission
to display some of her remarkable work here. KD
.


Mitchell's Stone, Shropshire

Garden Scene

Sunset in North Cornwall

Bronte's Tree

ST. SEIRIOL'S WELL

                                             Photo courtesy of Warren Kovach
Penmon today has a range of interesting buildings. The oldest is most likely St. Seiriol's Well. Early Celtic churches were usually associated with a holy well. They were thought to have healing powers and were often visited by pilgrims. Baptisms also took place there. The belief in the power of the wells is probably carried over from the old pre-Christian Celtic religions.

St. Seiriol's Well is reached by walking up a path past a fish pond built by the monks. The well is enclosed within a small building, most of which is brick representing reconstruction in the 18th century; the flooring and lower parts of the wall are probably older. The foundations of another small building may be seen just next to the well (in the lower left of the picture above). This is popularly thought to be the remains of St. Seiriol's cell, where he would have lived, but there is no evidence to support this and its shape is not like other 6th century hermitages.


PENMON PRIORY




There is little doubt that the western and central portions of this priory church may be classed among the earliest medieval monuments which Anglesey still possesses. Here are places of worship for Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists. The parish is entitled to receive every alternate year a sum of £3. 13. for apprenticing a boy, arising from the charity of William Wynne in the parish of Llangoed, and charged on the lands of Friddodd, in Bethgelart; and the interest of a benefaction of £17. 10. by Richard Owen, at a period unknown, is distributed in small sums among the poor at Christmas. A gift of £10 by Hugh Davis has been lost.

The priory, according to some historians, was originally founded in the sixth century, by Maelgwyn Gwynedd, and subsequently enlarged by Grufydd ab Cynan, who appointed his son Idwal prior, in 1140. Llewelyn ab Iorwerth, in 1220, made considerable additions to its revenue, and placed in it monks of the Benedictine order, in whose possession it remained till the Dissolution, at which time its revenue was estimated at £49. 12. 2.

In the early days of the college of monks the devotees would have lived in huts or small dwellings grouped round the sanctuary and it would not be until the 12th century that monastic buildings were erected at Penmon.

The site, with the park and other appurtenances, was granted, in the 6th century by Elizabeth, to John Moore, Esq. The principal remains of this ancient establishment besides the present church are, the refectory, the dormitory above it, and, at the eastern end of the refectory, several apartments the ancient use of which is not exactly known, but which are commonly called the kitchens, and are now used as stables. 



Photo copyright and courtesy of Sian Roberts

Circular steps inside the dove cote

A little to the east stands a square pigeon-house, with a domical roof, vaulted from the square, and surmounted by a cupola: it is uncertain whether it was erected before the Dissolution, but the style might possibly be referred as far back as the reign of Henry VIII. A building which occupies the place of what was once the prior's lodgings, joins on at the southern extremity of the transept, and reaches as far as the refectory; it is now occupied as a farmhouse, and does not appear older in character than the end of the 17th century.

The refectory is of the 13th century. One of the most valuable remains connected with the priory is an ancient cross (above), said to have been removed from a spot near the conventual buildings, perhaps from the churchyard, and now standing in the upper part of the Deer Park, on the hill above the church. It is covered with zigzag and interlacing ornaments on all its sides: at the bottom of one side may be observed a stag drinking; at the bottom of another is a figure seated on an animal, conducted apparently by another figure, and in a compartment over this, on the same side, is the mocking of Our Saviour by the soldiers, who are represented with beasts' heads. Among the Plâs Gwyn manuscripts is preserved the grant of a free pardon to Robert ab Johns, with a fragment of the seal of the priory, bearing the upper part of figures of the Virgin and Child, with the legend PENMONA + SIG.

Dove Cote in winter. Photo courtesy of Max Pemberton

Penmon Priory

Mark Buxton has been in touch:
Heres a painting of the Priory given to me by Ron Higgins. Please feel free to publish if you like it.

 

Hope I'll be able to exchange some info as I'm researching the Priory at the moment.

 

 

CASTELL LLEINIOG
and TRE'R CASTELL

The Afon Lleiniog, a small stream, enters the Menai Strait about two miles southwestward from Penmon. On the left bank of the stream, about a third of a mile from its mouth, rises the wooded artificial motte which stands the castle of Aber Lleiniog, or Castell Aber Llienawg as it is sometimes written.

The first castle, which was constructed of timber, was built about the year 1090 by Hugh, Earl of Chester. Communication with the shore was made by means of a sunken way which has now disappeared. A low mound, situated on the north side of the mouth of the stream, may have been the site of an outwork intended to guard the landing. The stream was probably navigable by small craft in the 11th century.

The castle was besieged and captured by the Welsh in 1094 but retaken later. About this time, when Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, and Hugh the Proud, Earl of Shrewsbury, were encamped there, the castle was attacked by Magnus, King of Norway, and in a fierce battle on the shore, one of his bowmen shot Hugh of Shrewsbury in th eye, whereupon Magnus, seeing him in his death agony, cried "Liet loup! Let him dance! A punishment merited for the cruelties committed by him on the poor inhabitants."

Among the cruelties referred to was the execution (c 1098) of prisoners taken by the Earls of Chester and Shrewsbury when they suppressed the insurrection of the Welsh in Anglesey. Cae Crogi, or Marian Crogwydd, a field situated about three quaters of a mile westward from Penmon Priory, is believed to be the site of this execution, and two holes sunk in the limestone rock, still visible until recently, were the slots made to hold the gallows.

The stone fort of Aber Lleiniog, with its simple four-sided plan and round towers at the angles, the ruins of which are now to be seen surmounting the ancient motte, is of a later mediaeval date. During the Civil War, the castle was garrisoned and held by Sir Thomas Cheadle, but was surrendered to Colonel Robinson in 1645. It was known as Lady Cheadle's Fort, and was dismantled in the following year.             
(Taken from ANGLESEY and NORTH WALES COAST)  

Remains of Aberlleiniog Castle. Photo courtesy of Phil Evans

It forms one of the earliest specimens of military architecture extant in Anglesey; the mound on which it stands is thickly grown over with trees and underwood, and, with the ruined building, constitutes one of the sweetest and most picturesque spots of a highly beautiful neighbourhood.

A little to the south-east of Castell Lleiniog is the farmhouse of Tre'r Castell, a small part of which may probably be referred to the time of Edward I.; the main building was of the 16th century, and was rebuilt in 1848 with the old materials. Sir Tudur ab Gronwy was owner of the mansion of Tre'r Castell in the reign of Edward.


On the estate of Trôs yr Afon, above , in the parish, is a copious spring, the water of which holds in solution a sulphate of lime, and contains a considerable portion of fixed air: it is much resorted to, and held in high estimation for its efficacy in chronic diseases.

 From: 'Penmark - Pentir', A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1849), pp. 308-318.

To read more about Castell Aberlleiniog, please visit; http://www.anglesey.info/Ancient-monuments-page-5.htm#castell%20aberlleiniog

See also links to other websites
.

 


ROTHSAY CASTLE SHIPWRECK
1831
Tragedy off Penmon Point

As you explore our island coastline you will hear of numerous shipwrecks over the years. One such incident involved the old steamer, the Rothsay Castle, on its regular passage between Liverpool and the Menai Straits. It says something about the advance of technology when a steamer can be described as "old" in 1831. This ship left Liverpool with 150 passengers aboard and soon ran into very difficult sea conditions beyond the Mersey Bar.

So fierce was the headwind that the ferry had not even reached the halfway point of her journey after 4 hours. According to passenger accounts, the Captain refused their request to turn back to Liverpool.

HOW IT WAS REPORTED


The Rothsay Castle had left the Mersey at 11 a.m and it was now midnight, yet still she had not reached her destination.


At about 1 a.m she struck the Dutchman Bank, bounced off and continued without much control along the channel. A further series of collisions with the sand banks finally resulted in her nemesis.

 

 

She began to break up in the appalling sea conditions. Survivors recount how there was total chaos on deck. The funnel broke off and pushed the Captain and his officer overboard. In all the mayhem that ensued no fewer than 130 people lost their lives.


There were only 20 survivors who were resuced by the Beaumaris Lifeboat, supported by a pilot boat from Penmon. What a tragedy!  

Survivors claim the Captain had stubbornly refused to even consider the extreme sea conditions. This incident took place on 17 August 1831. Might this have happened had there been a lighthouse at Trwyn Du at the time? And did this incident contribute to the decision to build the lighthouse six years later (1837)?
Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No. 1846, Sunday, August 21, 1831.

ANOTHER REPORT


We have received the following melancholy announcement from Liverpool:-
             "Telegraph Office, Liverpool, Aug.18.
  "We have received the melancholy intelligence of the total loss of the steamer Rothsay Castle, from hence to Beaumaris. She struck on the Dutchman's Bank, off Puffin Island, at 12 o'clock on Wednesday night, in a heavy gale of wind, at about N. N. W. Upwards of 120 persons must have been on board, including the crew, and many female passengers. Our first accounts state that nine passengers only, and three of the crew, were saved; but subsequent communications say twenty.
  "We may still hope that more may have been saved; but the loss of life must have been dreadful indeed. Owing to the very heavy sea, the signal-man at the island has been, during the day, unable to reach the main land to obtain further intelligence.
  "The above is the only authentic account hitherto received in Liverpool.
                    "Barnard L. Watson,
                      "Superintendent of Telegraph."

  Another account, dated Thursday evening, says, "At twelve o'clock this morning it was announced by the telegraph that the Rothsay Castle steam-vessel was lost last night on the Dutch Sands, near Puffin Island, Beaumaris; she sailed from Liverpool yesterday for Beaumaris, full of passengers. The books of the agent give 120, but as many never entered their names, it is probable that there were 150 at least. Of these, I grieve to say, seventeen only have been saved, in addition to three of the crew. The vessel struck between twelve and one last night, but as no accounts have arrived except by the telegraph, the particulars are not known. The principal and melancholy fact, however, is undoubted."

  The subjoined are the names (from the agent to Lloyd's) of those who have been rescued by means of the life and other boats which could get to the assistance of the sufferers. The vessel, it is said, became a perfect wreck about one hour and a half after she struck :-Mr. Marsden, Leeds; Messrs. Tinny, James Martin, and James Hammond, Liverpool; Mr. Wilson, Manchester; Mrs. Whittaker; Mr. John Nuttall, ditto; Mr. Owen Morris, Liverpool; Mr. Broadhurst, Sheffield; Messrs. Lawrence and Duckworth, Bury; Mr. Jones, Liverpool, pilot; Mr. Rutland, one of the band; Jones. fireman; and Hughes and son, and Evans, sailors, belonging to the crew; and four others, names unknown. Eighteen bodies found, and brought to Beaumaris, except two.

Names of those found, as far as at present ascertained:-
Mrs. Wilson, Manchester; Mrs. Hammond, Leeds; Rev. S. M'Carthy; Mr. Paine, Manchester; Jones, the steward, and his wife.

Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1858, Sunday, November 13, 1831

WILL OF A DECEASED PASSENGER


Mr. Selwyn, of the War Office, with his lady, perished in the Rothsay Castle, in which they happened to be passengers. By his will he appointed Mrs. Selwyn his executrix, and in case she should die in his life-time, other executors were appointed. The circumstances of their death raised the question whether the contingency provided for in the will had or had not occurred; and whether the wife's representatives or the executors named in the event of her prior death were to take administration.
 

The Court said that, in other similar cases, it had been held that, as both parties might be supposed to have perished together, the wife could not have survived her husband; but in this case the words were, "in case she should die in my life-time." The presumption was, that the husband, as the strongest of the two, survived the longest; and as it was the clear intention of the testator that the representative of the wife should not take the administration, and as there was no attempt on the part of those representatives to establish an intestacy, the Court decreed probate to the executors.



PENMON SEMAPHORE TELEGRAPH


The  18th and early 19th centuries saw a tremendous increase in the trade of the Port of Liverpool, and merchants and shipowners of the port, feeling urgent need of obtaining early news of the arrival of their ships in the offing, cast about for some method by which the desired information could be transmitted in as short a space of time as possible.

As a result, the first Signal House was erected on Bidston Hill in 1763 by an order of the Liverpool Town Council. Ships would often arrive in the offing and be unable at once to enter the River Mersey, and from Bidston Hill the number of vessels in sight was signalled to Liverpool.

Flag poles were also set up, from which the house flags of the ships sighted would be flown. At one time there were over a hundred of these poles extending in a line on either side of the Signal House.

It was later decided to ectend this method of signalling the approach of vessels, and Semaphore Stations were erected in commanding positions  in a number points along the coast of North Wales. In 1827 through communication was established between Liverpool and Holyhead, a distance of seventy miles.

The Semaphore Station farthest away from the base was erected on the northern slope of Holyhead Mountain, left, halfway between the summit and North Stack.

The next station in the line was on a low hilltop at Caeglwyd, near Llanfaethlu, presumably a subsidiary station, used when visiblity was poor, intermediate between Holyhead and the more important station at Cefn Du. The latter station was situated on the south-eastern slope of Mynydd-y-Garn, near Llanrhyddlad village.

A stone tablet, let into the wall of the farmhouse of Craig-y-Gwint, bears this inscription;  

Cefn Du Telegraph. Built in 1841 by the Trustees of Liverpool Docks.

1841 gives  the date when, having proved the efficiency and popularity of each semaphore system, the Trustees added a substantial house to each station for the accommodation of the signalmen and their families.

Some ten miles eastward from the Cefn Du Station, a fourth station was established on the seaward slope of Mynydd Eilian, above Point Lynas, and beyond this again on the north-east point of Puffin Island, right.

 The next link in the chain was situated on Pen Gogarth, the precipitous northern brow of the Great Ormes Head, and the next on the high crag of Llysfaen, beween Old Colwyn and Abergele.

Twelve miles eastwards rises the Voel Nant, behind the Point of Air, on whose seaward slope another station was erected, while a subsidiary station was placed at the Foryd near Rhyl. Stations at the Hilbre Island and on Bidston Hill formed the two remaining links in the chain before finally, the base was reached. At Liverpool the station was situated on top of Duncan's Warehouse in Chapel Street, but it was moved later to the summit of the Old Tower in the churchyard. Thus there were in all twelve stations.  

The most up to date type of semaphore in use at the stations consisted of two masts, each fitted with four arms, two on each side of the mast, and operated from a room below the deck upon which the masts were raised. The alphabet was represented by numbers, and the points of the compass could be given by the use of a further thirty two numbers.

The men in charge of these stations became such expert signallers that a shipowner in Liverpool would often receive the information that his vessel was off Holyhead in less than a minute from the time of her number being ascertained, while the speed of the transmission was such that the first part of the message would reach Liverpool  before the last part had left Holyhead.

In a special test of the efficiency of this semaphore system held in 1830 a message was sent out from Liverpool to Holyhead, and a reply received back in Liverpool in the astonishingly short time of twenty three seconds!

From 1860 onwards, the old semaphore system was gradually superseded by electrical transmission between Woodside (Birkenhead), Bidston Hill, Great Ormes Head, Point Lynas and Holyhead, and intermediate stations were closed down, while several of the stations, including that on Mynydd Eilian (Point Lynas), exchanged their hillside semaphore apparatus for a signal staff by the adjacent lighthouse.

 


PUFFIN  ISLAND


The island has had many names in the past;

Ynys Seiriol, Seiriol's Island, from the saintly hermit who first inhabited it.

Ynys Glanawg, Glanawg's Island, after Glanawg the father of Helig, Prince of Morfa Rhianedd.

Insular Glannauch, Glanawg's island.

Preistholme, Priest's Island, a name given to the island by the Viking rovers of the 10th century.

Ynys Lenach, Priest's Island.

Ynys y Llygod, Island of Mice, after an old legend.

Puffin Island in modern times, from the seabirds of that species that nest on the island.

 

 
Saint Seiriol landed on the island in the 6th century, c AD 540, and there he built his sanctuary. Saint Seiriol's details appear earlier on this page.  

 

Historical interest centred around Puffin Island when, in 632, the Northumbrian King, Edwin, in his attack on Mona, cornered the Welsh chieftain Cadwallon ap Cadfan, great great grandson of Maelgwn Gwynedd, in the island and blockaded him there.

 

 A 12th century historian, referring to Puffin Island, gives the following account;

There is a small island almost adjoining Anglesey, which is inhabited by hermits, living by manual labour and serving God. It is remarkable that when, by the influence of human passions, any discord arises among them, all their provisions are devoured and infected by a species of small mice, with which the island abounds, but when the discord ceases they are no longer molested.   

Nor is it to be wondered at if the servants of God sometimes disagreed, for these are the temptations of human infirmity, and faith is increased by tribulations. This island is called in Welsh, Ynys Lenach, or Priest's Island, because many bodies of saintsare deposited there, and no woman is suffered to enter it.

THE MIDDLE AGES

 In the Middle Ages a remarkable practice grew up amongst the monks with regard to the efficacy of images of the saints in helping them to procure food and other products of the countryside. The monks used to carry little images about with them, and in this way they would perhaps exchange an image of Saint Seiriol with nine cheeses in his arms for wood or flour. The image was supposed to bring the farmer prosperity.

At one time, the inhabitants of the island used to catch young puffins, pickle them in barrels twelve inches long, and send them to England to be sold at three or four shillings a barrel. Penmon oysters too were pickled and exported in casks.

RUINS

 

 The only building on Puffin Island besides the ruined monastery of Saint Seiriol is the ruined Semaphore Telegraph Station, situated at the north eastern extremity of the island. This was a link in the long chain of signalling stations that extend from Holyhead to Liverpool in the 19th century. After the signal station had fallen into disuse, it was converted to a biological station, but has been in ruins since the beginning of the 20th century.

I am very grateful to Warren Kovach for permission to use photos from his website. Further photos and more history about the wonderful Isle of Anglesey can be found by visiting his excellent site at; http://www.anglesey-history.co.uk/

 

 

CHARLES DICKENS
REPORTED ON THE
ROYAL CHARTER SHIPWRECK

I am grateful to Rhiannon Williams for the following piece of fascinating information. KD

Charles Dickens visited Anglesey to report on the wreck of the Royal Charter which was returning from Australia carrying £350,000 in gold and 490 people.  It was wrecked near Moelfre with the loss of about 450 souls.  I have seen a copy of a letter from Dickens to the Vicar of Llanallgo in admiration of the heroic efforts of Rev. Stephen Roose Hughes in trying to identify the bodies which were being washed ashore for weeks afterwards.
 
This article, which describes in graphic detail the scene at the church. Rev Hughes working for hours "surrounded by eyes that could not see him and lips that could not speak, examining tattered clothing, cutting off buttons, hair, marks on linen, studing faces, looking for a scar, a bent finger, a crooked toe, comparing letters sent to him with the ruin that lay about him".
 
Rev. S R Hughes is buried in the churchyard at Llanallgo along with many of those who perished in the disaster. 
 
Dickens wrote prolifically for many periodicals, and this article was subsequently included in his book The Uncommercial Traveller(1860)
 
The Royal Charter was launched at Sandycroft, Flintshire in 1855, witnessed by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Letter sent by Charles Dickens to Rev Stephen Rhoose Hughes.

Office of All the Year Round
A weekly Journal conducted by Charles Dickens 

No.11 Wellington Street, North Strand, London WC
Tuesday tenth January 1860 

Dear Mr. Hughes,
You will receive from my printer's office by this same post a proof of the little article I have written on the subject of my last visit. I am under the necessity of asking you to send it back to Mr Wills here by return of post. For although a fortnight will elapse before it is published the mechanical necessities of this Journal and its simultaneous publication in England and America render its going to press at once imperative.

I doubt whether I am quite right respecting the number of the Drowned buried in your churchyard and the greatest number that lay in the church at one time.

Will you do me the favour to correct me on those points? And if you should observe any similar inaccuracy will you do me the additional kindness to mark it?

I trust that there is nothing in the article that you, or your household, will find displeasing. I have written it out of the honest convictions of my heart and in the hope that it will at least soften the distress of many people from whom you have not yet heard. It says for me all that I should otherwise have attempted to say to you in this note, and merely strives to express what any visitor to you must surely feel.

My daughters have taken a great interest in all I have told them, and particularly in Mrs Hughes's idea of coming to London in the summer. They earnestly beg me to assure her and you that they hope to know you both very well, and that it will be an uncommon gratification to them if you will come and see us, down at my Kentish house on the top of Shakespeare's Gad's Hill, which is little more than and hour's railway ride from town.

I beg to present my true regard to the ladies of your house and to your brother and to assure you of the hearty esteem and respect with which I am.
Very faithfully yours
Charles Dickens

The same post will also bring you the documents you have lent me, returned with thanks.
The Rev. Stephen Roose Hughes 

 PENMON GRAVESTONES

I am very grateful to Valerie Powls and Mary Buckels for kindly supplying these fascinating family links and stories. 

 

JOHN  PUGH

The dormitary of
JOHN PUGH who was
drowned near Beaumaris
August 15th 1845
aged 18 years.
Consider man well weigh thy frame
The King, the beggar is the same
Dust form'd us all, each breathes this day
Then sinks into his native clay.

From waves and tempests of the deep
I'm safe in harbour laid to sleep

The above gravestone in Penmon Churchyard commemorates John Pugh aged 18 who was drowned in the Menai in August 1845 ,when his small sailing boat was run down by the sloop Diligence of Bangor. His body was found near Penmon and he was buried there although he was from Caernarfon. He was the son of Capt. Hugh Pugh of the "Fflat Hugh Pugh " song.

Click here to visit www.rhiw.com and read about Captain Hugh Pugh.
You will also hear the melody of 'Fflat Hugh Pugh'

John Pugh's niece, Mary Pugh , our grandmother, married John Evans of Cerrig Duon, Llangoed, born 1865, whose mother Margaret Parry was born in Tyddyn Crwn, Penmon in 1829 and whose family had lived in Penmon from the end of the sixteenth century.

JOHN LEWIS

One of  Mary Pugh's ancestors, John Lewis has a monument now peeping out from under the carpet inside Penmon Church.

It is inscribed thus, "Here lieth the body of John Lewis Late Keeper of Lord Buckeley's Deer park who dyed the X1 day of January Anno Domini MDCCV111 aged43. My now Lord Bulkeley in token of his faithful service in his Lordship's estate sixteen years myself was granted the charge of this to his memory 1708"



PENMON WAR DEAD
1914 - 18


I am very grateful to Clive Hughes for all his assistance and advice with those who died in the service of their King and Country. Can you help him with his research, details of which appear below? KD

I  found your Penmon website and was interested to see the various aspects covered.

I hail from Bangor originally, and. my own main interest is the War Dead from Anglesey, 1914-18 and I have been carrying out research on them for many years past.

I don't think that Penmon had its own dedicated war memorial, though a panel listing the basic names can be found on the North Wales Heroes' Memorial Arch at Bangor.

Penmon does, however, share a joint memorial -  in the Neuadd Goffa at Llangoed are brass plaques recording the losses from Penmon, Llangoed, Llaniestyn and Llanfihangel Din Silwy for the First and Second World Wars.  More than that, there's a large framed glazed Roll of Honour there for the 1914-18 men who served but weren't killed.  Neither of these is organised by parish, so you'd have to know which addresses fitted which place in order to sort them out! 

There will inevitably be some overlap.

Lieut. Bertram Lester Holme MA, who also appears on Llangoed's War Memorial, died of wounds following the action at Sannayiat, Mesopotamia with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and is buried at the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.

Capt. Roderick Mathafarn Williams' address "Lleiniog, Penmon" in one source - he was RWF attached Royal Flying Corps and was seemingly shot down in 1917, no known grave.

Owen Lewis of Caim died with the 1/6th RWF in Egypt in 1915 and is buried at the Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria.

John Henry Parry RWF of Coedwig Terrace died in the UK and has a war grave in Penmon Churchyard.

Henry Pritchard came from Trwyn Du.

H.Williams (of Gorad, or Cae Mawr?)

Gunner J.Williams of Penmon Priory

Clive would be very interested to hear from anyone with information relating to any of these brave soldiers, particularly Henry Pritchard, H. Williams and Gunner J. Williams. Clive can be contacted via mail@penmon.org