Llanfan Fawr is a large (12097 acres), picturesque, mountainous parish, which is situated 5 miles north-west of the town of Builth Wells in Powys (formerly Breconshire). Within it is the hamlet of Llysdinam, where the Princes of Brycheiniog once had a seat. The population of Llanafan Fawr in 1901 was 457.
The history of the area can be traced back a long way. There is evidence of an Iron Age settlement behind the “Red Lion,” which itself is one of the oldest public houses in Britain, dating back to 1472. Evidence has also been found of Roman occupation. Within the churchyard, there is an ancient yew tree which has been scientifically dates to 2200-2300 years.
The church in Llanafan Fawr is dedicated to Afan, a bishop and martyr, who was reputedly a first cousin of Saint David. (Poole, 1878) The tombstone of St. Afan can be seen in the churchyard, as can one with the following inscription “John Price who was murdered on Darren Hill in this Parish by R. Lewis April 21 1826.” Rees Lewis, the murderer who was hanged at Brecon Gaol, was part of the Lewis/Simonite family which once dominated the areal. His cousin, Lewis Lewis, was also hanged at Brecon Goal for the murder of Thomas Price, in Llanafan Fawr, in 1789. Other Lewis relations were transported to Australia for sheep and turkey theft.
The parish also contains Troedrhiwdalar Chapel, which was founded in 1590 and is famous for its associations with the Reverend David Williams, 1779-1874. The chapel was originally built on ground given by the Jones family who lived at Cribarth. Theophilus Jones (1909), the County Historian also referred to the small Capel-y-Rhos.
Courtesy of the Powys Archives, we can reproduce two documents relating to members of the community:
- Settlement Order for Rees Prothero and his family to be removed from the parish of Gwenddwr and legally settled in Llanafanfawr.
- A writ for the Arrest of John Davies of Llanafanfawr dated 18th November 1811.
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