Penlan Fawr Inn, Pwllheli

Link to Welsh translation

Penlan Fawr Inn, Pwllheli

This is Pwllheli’s oldest building. It’s thought to date from the 16th century. The original house has 17th-century additions.

The letters RV were discovered on a porch column during rebuilding works in 2009. These probably refer to a Richard Vaughan (1606-1636) of Corsygedol, in Ardudwy, in which case the porch was completed in the period when he owned the Corsygedol estate, which was 1633 to 1636.

Penlan Fawr is also one of Wales’ oldest inns. A letter exists from before 1622 in which William Vaughan (Richard Vaughan’s father) asks Sir William Maurice, one of the chief Crown administrators in Caernarfonshire, for a licence to sell wine in a Pwllheli building – which was probably Penlan Fawr.

Records from 1784 clearly show that Penlan Fawr was an inn then.

When magistrates transferred the licence to James Cowell in 1892, one of the arguments advanced for not closing the inn was that there was an ancient tradition of playing games in one of its rooms. This had given rise to an old ditty:
Dancing ball yn Mhenlan Fawr,
Crwc o ddwfr ar ganol llawr.

Which translates as:
A dancing ball in Penlan Fawr,
A pail of water in the middle of the floor.

In 1920-21, Penlan Fawr was sold to a brewery. It reverted to local ownership in 2009, when it was acquired by Lle Cyf.

Over the years many activities were held here. In 1802 the Rev John Hughes of Brecon preached here as the first Wesleyan to visit Pwllheli. For a period in the 19th century, Penlan Fawr was a school as well as an inn. The building next door, which was part of the inn for a while, was home to a small theatre upstairs.

With thanks to Iwan Edgar and the Discovering Old Welsh Houses Group

Postcode: LL53 5DE    View Location Map

Website of Penlan Fawr (Facebook)