In a previous blog post, I wrote about Pendine Sands in Wales where land speed records were challenged and broken and moving on from there just a short distance up the River Taf estuary to the north is the town of Laugharne.
Laugharne was originally called Abercorran but the name was changed after the Civil War in honour of Rowland Laugharne, a Major General in the army and whose family came from the region.
Laugharne or Talacharn as it is called in Welsh is probably best known as being the place where the renowned Welsh poet Dylan Thomas lived from 1949 until his premature death at the age of thirty-eight while visiting New York in 1953. Probably his two most well known poems are the villanelle, Do not Go Gentle into that Good Night and Fern Hill.
It is thought that Laugharne was the inspiration for the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub in his famous play for voices Under Milk Wood. The name Llareuggub, which though resembles a Welsh name, is in fact bugger all spelt backwards. The double G doesn’t actually exist in Welsh.
There are the ruins of a castle in Laugharne that was originally known as Abercorran Castle and which dates back to before the Norman Conquest and belonged to the princes of South Wales. The ownership of the castle changed hands various times and was eventually burnt and left in ruins by Oliver Cromwell around 1644. You can see many pictures of the castle here that will possibly tempt you to visit if you are in the area.
Back in February of this year I wrote a blog post titled, Ghosts, Premonitions and the 17th Century Bristol Channel Severn Estuary Flood, and it is interesting to note that Laugharne was affected by that flood.
An amusing custom associated with the Laugharne Corporation is the Common Walk, also known as the Beating of the Bounds that takes place every three years. On the day of the Common Walk the local pubs open their doors at 5 AM and following a liquid (alcoholic) breakfast the group of local people and visitors to the area walk approximately twenty-five miles around the boundaries of the Corporation lands. At certain historical landmarks, somebody from the group of walkers is asked to name of the location. If they cannot they are held upside down and beaten three times on their backside.
In the past fishing and cockle farming were important industries in Laugharne though they have since declined. There are some excellent examples of Georgian Townhouses in Laugharne such as castle House that was described by Dylan Thomas as, “the best of houses in the best of places.” The town hall is also worth visiting as is the castle. Since 2007, Laugharne has held a three-day arts festival that takes place in spring at various venues throughout the town.
If you are in the area, Laugharne is well worth including in your itinerary.
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