Castle Turn and aqueduct, near Llanellen

button-theme-canalCastle Turn and aqueduct, near Llanellen

Castle Turn and the next two bridges over the canal to the north are all named after a castle which never existed!

Here the canal makes a short detour eastwards and turns 180 degrees, crossing a stream on an aqueduct. On the opposite side of the canal from the towpath there’s a feeder channel, bringing water from the stream to top up the canal.

About 300 metres up the slope from the aqueduct, on the north-west side, stands Castell Prydydd Farm. The farmhouse was built c.1690, probably reusing parts of an earlier building. Prydydd means “poet” but is rarely used in modern Welsh. It’s thought the property was named Castell Prydydd in the 19th century because it had belonged to the poet Sir Charles Hanbury Williams (1708-1759).

He came from the wealthy Hanbury family of Pontypool and was schooled at Eton. His godfather was Charles Williams of Caerleon. Charles Williams had fled Britain after killing his cousin in a duel, subsequently making his fortune in Turkey. His godson inherited much of his wealth. Having added “Williams” to his name, the godson became well known as a diplomat and satirical poet.

Some of the Castell Prydydd farm buildings were given castellated tops for decoration in the 18th century, but there’s no evidence the property was ever a true castle. In 2008 archaeologists observed the site during building works but no objects from medieval times were revealed.

A Baptist service was held on Sundays at “Castell-y-Prydydd” in the mid-19th century. Attendance by 70 worshippers was recorded in 1850.

Farmer’s son Howell Jones, of Castell Prydydd, took 20 sheep to Pontypool market in October 1883 but refused to pay the toll for animals sold there. He was later fined £5 (over £600 in today’s money) for assaulting the assistant toll collector, who had tried to seize one sheep in lieu of payment.

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