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IIIN LOVELY WALES..I

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I IN LOVELY WALES. V.—LLANGOLLEN AND THE VALLEY OF THE DEE. AMONG the charming valleys in Wales there is none that possesses more fascinating beauty than the Valley of the Dee, otherwise called the Vale of Llangollen, that well known town being situated near the centre of it. This valley runs from Chirk, in the east, to Corwen, on the west, LLANGOLLEN. along the north side of the Berwyn range, whilst Another range of lofty hills guards it on the side Opposite. The slopes on both sides are covered with trees and foliage of great variety and exquisite colour, and the almost innumerable curves and promontories afford fresh points of ¡Ie.w and most agreeable surprises constantly. t is not so open as the Valley of the Mawddach, are the great mountains continually before eyes of the pedestrian as they are when he walks from Barmouth to Dolgelley. But for the °ne who loves sylvan beauty and delights in j^bling along river banks or along shaded lanes ^.ere is nothing anywhere to surpass the beautiful aje of Llangollen. John Ruskin knew it well, ^nd writing in Fors Clavigira" in September, 76, he says that he journeyed here past some the loveliest brook and glen scenery in the orld." Another great English poet and lover art, Sir Theodore Martin, and his distinguished e> Helen Faucit, fell so much in love with the ace that they made it their home many years §°> and Bryntysilio has become known to °usands of reiders and pilgrims. No wonder set S° many tired brains come year after year to k repose and renewal of energy in this garden nature. History seems to have entered into an alliance with nature to make Llangollen a place of absorbing interest. Who has not heard of the Ladies of Plasnewydd ? They "were two queer old souls who, when they were young, vowed, as violently attached ladies do vow, for celibacy and a cottage. They were Irish, and fled from matrimony as from a pestilence, and found in Llangollen a haven of rest, where they lived for more than half a century, and where their remains now repose in the churchyard. Their names were Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby." This is how Mathews the elder describes them as he saw them in the Oswestry Theatre: —As they are seated there is not one point to dis- tinguish them from men the dressing and powdering of the hair their well-starched neck-cloths; the upper parts of their habits, which they always wear, even at a dinner party, made precisely like men's coats; and regular beaver black hats. They looked exactly like two re- spectable superannuated old clergymen." Both lived to a good old age, Lady Butler dying in 1829 at the age of 99, and Miss POllsonby two years later at the age of 76. Plasnewydd since then has been converted into a museum of curiosities. About half a mile from the town stand the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran," asso- ciated with which are so many traditions. Why will the English persist in calling it "Crow's Castle"? It is true, the bran is the Welsh for crow, but it is also true that there was an old Welsh prince of the name of Bran, and the castle was his. The correct English rendering would be the Castle of the City of Bran." It stands between 1,000 and 1,100 feet above the sea, and 700 to 800 feet above Llan- gollen. It is impossible to decide how old it is, but it was inhabited in the 13th century by Gruffydd ap Madog Maelor, son of Madog ap Gruffydd Maelor, who founded Valle Crucis Abbey, where both father and son are buried. Its destruction took place sometime before the middle of the 16th century. The most famous inhabitant of Castell Dinas Bran, however, was Myfanwy Vychan-the Lady of Llangollen par excellence-who dwelt there in the 14th century. Myfanwy was beloved by a poet, Hywel ap Einion Hygliw, but, like the majority of poets, he was poor, and the course of their true love did not run too smooth. Ceiriog has made the courtship of Hywel and Myfanwy the subject of a love poem that will live as long as Welsh literature exists. About two miles from the town, but in another direction, stands the ruin of the renowned Abbey mentioned above, "Mvnachlog Glyn y Groes." It is situated in a lovely and sequestered glen- the "Glen of the Cross" probably taking that name from a very ancient'inscribed cross, the remains of which stand in a field close by. The Abbey is reckoned to have been built about the year 1200, and consequently is amongst the earliest spe imens of pure Gothic to be found in Britain. The foundation was well endowed, and the monks managed to get possession of the livings of Chi k, Ruabon, and other paces in addition. Those monks seem to have possessed the good things of th:s world in fa;r abundance, for a bard of the 14th century eulogises two of them because they had four courses a day, served on bright silver dishes, and they drank claret." But evil days came before long. Henry the Eighth routed the monks of Glyn y Groes out of their fat repose. Many inscribed stones VALLE CRUCIS ABBEY. I