The Worm’s Head Hotel, Rhossili
This building grew in stages from a row of cottages, which can still be distinguished. They became guest accommodation, then the Worm’s Head Cottage Hotel in the 20th century. In 1893, Mrs Richards of Worm’s Head Cottage advertised seaside lodgings with eight bedrooms. Guests in August 1897 included a Miss Stürm of London, the Rev and Mrs R Dixon of Newport, and families from Swansea and Chepstow.
In December 1910, William Richards of Worm’s Head Cottage took in the captain of a French schooner called Leonie, wrecked near Rhossili while carrying pit props. After ordering his crew (all of whom survived) to make for the shore, Captain Layec had stayed on board until he was washed into the sea, clutching 80 francs and the ship’s papers in vain. He was battered by wreckage and pit props before reaching the shore, where a farmer found him unconscious. He was “carefully nursed” at the cottage until fit to leave for Swansea, a week after the wreck.
Another local shipwreck gives the hotel’s Bar Helvetia its name. The Norwegian barque Helvetia, built in 1855, was carrying timber from Canada when it ran aground at Rhossili in 1887. Parts of the ship’s wooden hull still project upwards from the sand on the beach.
Worm’s Head is the limestone semi-island (you can walk to it at low tide) visible through the hotel’s windows. There are three distinct sections, and some say it’s two or three islands in a row.
The name was written as Wormeshed in 1400 and Wormyshede in 1478. This comes from the Old English wyrm, meaning “snake”. One theory is that the narrow island, ending in a jutting crag, resembled a Viking longboat. The equivalent Welsh name Ynysweryn could be almost as old as, or older than, Worm’s Head and combines Ynys (island) with Gweryn (a word for “snake” not used today).
Rhossili should be spelt Rhosili, although the former is commonly used in English. The name means "the moorland on a promontory belonging to a person called Sulien", or a similar name. It was recorded as rosulgen in the 12th century.
With thanks to Prof Hywel Wyn Owen, of the Welsh Place-Name Society
Postcode: SA3 1PP
Other SHIPWRECK HiPoints in this region:
Tenby lifeboat – rescued crews of two ketches at the same time in 1906
Port Eynon lifeboat – helped to rescue over 400 cruise passengers in 1981 from beached Prince Ivanhoe