Menai Bridge of the A545 A Beaumaris Castle A Courthouse

BEAUMARIS 4 miles NE of Menai Bridge of the A545 A Beaumaris Castle A Courthouse B Museum of Childhood Memories B Beaumaris Lifeboat Station A Parish Church of St Mary and St Nicholas A Beaumaris Gaol I Menai Strait Regatta An attractive and elegant town, Beaumaris was granted a charter by Edward I in 1294 and it adopted the Norman name beau marais, which translates as ‘beautiful marsh’. The lawned seafront, now with its elegant Georgian and Victorian terraces, was once a marsh that protected the approaches to Beaumaris Castle. Often cited as the most technically perfect medieval castle in Britain, Beaumaris Castle was the last of Edward I’s “Iron Ring” of fortresses built to stamp his authority on the Welsh. 

Begun in 1295, and designed by the king’s military architect, James of St George, this was to be his largest and most ambitious project. Regarded as a pinnacle of military architecture of the time, with a concentric defence rather than the traditional keep and bailey, the outer walls contained 16 towers, while the inner walls were 43 feet high and up to 16 feet thick in places. It was never actually completed, as the money ran out before the fortifications reached their full planned height. Perhaps a measure of the castle’s success was that, unlike other castles built by Edward I,

 it never experienced military action. Now a World Heritage Site and in the hands of CADW (Welsh Historic Monuments), Beaumaris Castle is still virtually surrounded by its original moat. There was also a tidal dock here for ships coming in through a channel in the marshes – an iron ring where vessels of up to 40 tons once docked still hangs from the wall. The Parish Church of St Mary and St Nicholas dates from the 14th century, and was originally the church for the castle garrison. It has noteworthy 16th-century choir stalls and the stone coffin of Princess Joan, wife of Llywelyn the Great and illegitimate daughter of King John. For many years the coffin was used as a drinking trough for horses.

 The building has four clocks on its tower, and it is said that Richard Rowlands, who was about to be hanged in the old gaol nearby, cursed the clock facing the gaol, saying that it would never tell the same time as the other three. It never did, until it was found out that the prevailing southwest winds were interfering with the hands. This was rectified and the clock has shown the correct time ever since. Although Beaumarais saw little or no military action, the town briefly enjoyed notoriety as a haven for pirates, as well as being a busy trading port. With the advent of steam ships and paddle boats, 

the resort developed during Victorian times as visitors from Liverpool and elsewhere took the sea trip down to the town. It is now a popular place with the yachting fraternity due to its facilities and involvement in the annual Menai Strait Regatta. While having connections with the sea trade and developing as a holiday resort, Beaumaris was at one time also an administrative and legal centre for the island. The Courthouse, dating from 1614 is open to the public during the summer and, although it was renovated in the 19th century, 

much of its original Jacobean interior remains. It was here, in 1773, that Mary Hughes stood in the dock and was sentenced to transportation for seven years after she had been found guilty of stealing a bed gown valued at six pence! Close by is Beaumaris Gaol, which was designed as a model prison by Hansom in 1829. In this monument to Victorian law and order, the last man to hang was Richard Rowlands, who cursed the church clock opposite as he climbed to the scaffold in 1862. Today’s visitors can relive those days of harsh punishment as well as view the cells and the treadwheel and follow the route taken by the condemned men to their rendezvous with the hangman. An equally interesting place for all the family to visit is the Museum of Childhood Memories in Castle Street. It is a treasure house of nostalgia with a collection of over 2,000 items in nine different rooms. Each one has its own theme, such as entertainment, pottery and glass, and clockwork tin-plate toys. Visitors can wander around and see the amazing variety of toys, which illustrate the changing habits of the nation over the past 150 years. LLANFAES 5 miles NE of Menai Bridge off the B5109 A Parish Church of St Catherine Now a quiet and sedate place, Llanfaes was a busy commercial village long before the establishment of Beaumaris as one of the island’s major centres, and travellers from the mainland arrived here after crossing the Menai Strait from Aber and the Lavan Sands. In 1237, 

Llywelyn the Great founded a monastery in the village over the tomb of Joan, his wife and the illegitimate daughter of King John. The tomb can now be seen in St Mary’s Church, Beaumaris, where it was moved at the time of the Dissolution. In 1295, Edward I moved the inhabitants of Llanfaes to Newborough so that he could use the stone in the town to built Beaumaris Castle.

 During World War II, flying boats were built at a factory near the village. The Parish Church of St Catherine dates from 1845, and replaces an earlier church. It is an imposing, steepled building that seems much too large for the village. LLANGOED 6 miles NE of Menai Bridge on the B5109 A Castell Aberlleiniog B Haulfre Stables In Edwardian times, this historic village was a popular resort with the lower middle classes who came here to relax in boarding houses by the sea. Llangoed’s seaside charm is enhanced by its pastoral setting where a walk downstream, alongside the river, leads to Castell Aberlleiniog, found in the midst of some trees. 

This was originally a timber castle, built in around 1090 by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, who, along with Hugh the Proud, Earl of Shrewsbury, exacted great cruelty on the Welsh. Lupus was later killed during an attack on the castle by Magnus, King of Norway, when he was struck in the eye by an arrow. The ruins of the bailey, which was constructed later, are still visible. Close by is the site of a battle where, in AD809, the Saxons were, albeit briefly, victorious over the defending Welsh. Haulfre Stables is a small equestrian museum housed in a historic stable block and containing a collection of Victorian harnesses and saddlery, carts and carriages.

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