Ivy Bush Royal Hotel, Carmarthen

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Ivy Bush Royal Hotel, 11 Spilman Street, Carmarthen

In 1819 this hotel, then a coaching inn, hosted an event which connected the Gorsedd of Bards to an eisteddfod for the first time.

The Gorsedd (“throne”) was first convened in London in 1792 by Edward Williams, better known by his bardic name “Iolo Morgannwg”. A poet and political radical, he was addicted to a drug called laudanum. He forged documents to convince people that figments of his imagination, including the Gorsedd, stemmed from the history of ancient Celtic druids.

The eisteddfod already had centuries of genuine tradition, initially as a gathering of bards to formalise poetic rules and raise literary standards. Thomas Burgess, Bishop of St Davids, instigated the provincial eisteddfod which was held at the Ivy Bush Hotel in 1819. In the hotel’s grounds, Iolo set out a miniature druidic stone circle and held a Gorsedd ceremony. Members of the Gorsedd wore armbands of different colours.

Since then, the Gorsedd has been closely linked to eisteddfodau, particularly the National Eisteddfod of Wales which is held at a different place each August. Gorsedd members still dress in colour-coded druidic robes for ceremonies such as the chairing of the bard. Past Gorsedd ceremonies have left behind full-size stone circles in many Welsh towns, including central Cardiff, but since 2005 transportable plastic replica stones have been used to save on the cost of erecting permanent stone circles.

From 1794 the Ivy Bush was run by Charles Nott. His son, General Sir William Nott, had a distinguished military career in the British Empire and is celebrated with a statue in Nott Square, Carmarthen. In 1806 Mrs Nott of the Ivy Bush advertised for a “middle-aged woman” to be her housekeeper and lady’s maid. In 1809 Mr Nott sought a “handsome modern-built post-chaise with a barouche box” (a four-wheeled carriage).

In the mid-19th century the proprietors were Valentine and Letitia Rees. Their grandsons, brought up in Tenby, won the Grand National in 1921 and 1922.

Organisations which met in Victorian times at the Royal Ivy Bush (as it was then known) included the Pembrokeshire & Carmarthenshire Otter Hounds and the Carmarthenshire Conservative Association.

In April 1909 the monthly Carmarthen County Court was held here. The main case was brought by Thomas Morley of Llandybie, who claimed that his “motor bus” had been damaged by a horse and cart belonging to Llanarthney butcher Samuel Jones.

Postcode: SA31 1LG    View Location Map

Website of the Ivy Bush Royal Hotel