Beaumaris (/bjuːˈmærɪs/ bew-MAR-is; Welsh: Biwmares [bɪuˈmɑːrɛs]) is a town and community on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales, of which it is the former county town of Anglesey. It is located at the eastern entrance to the Menai Strait, the tidal waterway separating Anglesey from the coast of North Wales. At the 2021 census, its population was 1,121.[1] The community includes Llanfaes.

Beaumaris is located in Wales
Location within Wales
Population1,121 (2021)
OS grid referenceSH6076
  • Beaumaris
Principal area
  • Anglesey
Preserved county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtLL58
Dialling code01248
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
53°16′01″N 4°05′35″W / 53.267°N 4.093°W / 53.267; -4.093

History edit

Beaumaris in 1610
Beaumaris from the sea in the 1840s

Beaumaris was originally a Viking settlement known as Porth y Wygyr ("Port of the Vikings"),[2] but the town itself began its development in 1295 when Edward I of England, having conquered Wales, commissioned the building of Beaumaris Castle as part of a chain of fortifications around the North Wales coast (others include Conwy, Caernarfon and Harlech).[3]

The castle was built on a marsh and that is where it found its name; the Norman-French builders called it beaux marais, which translates as "fair marsh".[4]

The castle in 1852

The ancient village of Llanfaes, a mile to the north of Beaumaris, had been occupied by Anglo-Saxons in 818[citation needed] but had been regained by Merfyn Frych, King of Gwynedd, and remained a vital strategic settlement. To counter further Welsh uprisings, and to ensure control of the Menai Strait, Edward I chose the flat coastal plain as the place to build Beaumaris Castle. The castle was designed by the Savoyard mason Master James of Saint George[5] and is considered the most perfect example of a concentric castle. The 'troublesome' residents of Llanfaes were removed en bloc to Rhosyr in the west of Anglesey, a new settlement King Edward entitled "Newborough".[6]

Beaumaris was awarded a royal charter by Edward I,[7] which was drawn up on similar terms to the charters of his other castle towns in North Wales and intended to invest only the English and Norman-French residents with civic rights. Native Welsh residents of Beaumaris were largely disqualified from holding any civic office, carrying any weapon, and holding assemblies; and were not allowed to buy houses or land within the borough. The charter also specifically prohibited Jews (who had been largely expelled from most English towns) from living in Beaumaris.[8]

From 1562 until the Reform Act 1832, Beaumaris was a Rotten Borough with the member of parliament elected by the Corporation of the town which was in the control of the Bulkeley family.[9][10]

Beaumaris was the port of registration for all vessels in North West Wales, covering every harbour on Anglesey and all the ports from Conwy to Pwllheli. Shipbuilding was a major industry in Beaumaris. This was centred on Gallows Point – a nearby spit of land extending into the Menai Strait about a mile west of the town. Gallows Point had originally been called "Osmund's Eyre" but was renamed when the town gallows was erected there – along with a "Dead House" for the corpses of criminals dispatched in public executions.[11] Later, hangings were carried out at the town gaol and the bodies buried in a lime-pit within the curtilage of the gaol. One of the last prisoners to hang at Beaumaris issued a curse before he died – decreeing that if he was innocent the four faces of the church clock would never show the same time.[12]

According to historian Hywel Teifi Edwards, when the "Provincial Eisteddfod" was held at Beaumaris in 1832, a young Princess Victoria and her mother were in attendance.[13]

Beaumaris has never had a railway station built to the town, although the nearby village of Pentraeth had a station on the former Red Wharf Bay branch line which ran off the Anglesey Central Railway. It was roughly six miles west of the town by road. This station closed in 1930.[14]

St Mary's and St Nicholas's Church

Architecture edit

Beaumaris Town Hall
Beaumaris Pier
Houses on the foreshore

Notable buildings in the town include the castle, a courthouse built in 1614, the 14th-century St Mary's and St Nicholas's Church, Beaumaris Gaol,[15] the 14th-century Tudor Rose (one of the oldest original timber-framed buildings in Britain) and the Bulls Head Inn, built in 1472, which General Thomas Mytton made his headquarters during the "Siege of Beaumaris" during the second English Civil War in 1648.[16]

A native of Anglesey, David Hughes, founded Beaumaris Grammar School in 1603. It became a non-selective school in 1952 when Anglesey County Council became the first authority in Britain to adopt comprehensive secondary education. The school was eventually moved to Menai Bridge and only the ancient hall of the original school building now remains.[17] Beaumaris Town Hall was completed in 1785.[18]

Beaumaris Pier, opened in 1846, was designed by Frederick Foster and is a masonry jetty on wooden and concrete pilings. The pier was rebuilt and extended to 570 feet (170 m) after storm damage in 1872, and a large pavilion containing a cafe was built at the end. It was once the landing stage for steamships of the Liverpool and North Wales Shipping Company, including the Snowdon, La Marguerite, St. Elvies and St. Trillo, although the larger vessels in its fleet – the St. Seriol and St. Tudno – were too large for the pier and landed their passengers at Menai Bridge. In the 1960s, through lack of maintenance, the pier became unsafe and was threatened with demolition, but local yachtswoman and lifeboat secretary Miss Mary Burton made a large private donation to ensure the pier was saved for the town. A further reconstruction was carried out between 2010 and 2012.[19]

The Old Courthouse

The Saunders Roe company set up a factory at Fryars (the site of the old Franciscan friary to the east) when it was feared that the company's main base on the Isle of Wight would be a target for World War II Luftwaffe bombers. The factory converted American-built PBY Catalina flying boats.[20] After the war, the company focused on their ship building produced at the site with fast patrol boats, minesweepers and an experimental Austin Float Plane.[21] They also produced buses for London Transport (RT Double deckers) and single deck buses for Cuba.[21]

Lifeboat edit

The first recorded rescue of people in difficulty at sea was in 1830 when 375 people were rescued from a foundered emigrant ship. A lifeboat station was established in 1891 and closed four years later when a neighbouring station was provided with a more powerful lifeboat. The station was reopened in 1914 and is operated by the RNLI.[22]

Education edit

Beaumaris is served by one primary school. Its 300-year-old grammar school moved to nearby Menai Bridge in 1963 and became the comprehensive Ysgol David Hughes.[23]

Demographics edit

Languages edit

According to the United Kingdom Census 2021, 36.8 per cent of all usual residents aged 3+ in Beaumaris can speak Welsh.[24] 56.3 per cent of the population noted that they could speak, read, write or understand Welsh.[25]

The 2011 census noted 39.5 per cent of all usual residents aged 3 years and older in the town could speak Welsh.[26] The 2011 census also noted that 58.7 per cent of all usual residents aged 3+ who were born in Wales could speak Welsh.[27] In 2001, 39.7 per cent of all usual residents aged 3+ in Beaumaris could speak Welsh. In 1981, 39.9 per cent of the population could speak Welsh; 10 people were monoglot Welsh speakers.[28]

Events edit

The Beaumaris Food Festival is an annual food festival that has been held since 2013 in the town and castle grounds.[29]

Notable residents edit

Memorial to Hugh Davies in St Mary's Church, Beaumaris

Namesakes edit

In popular culture edit

In 2018, Netflix used Beaumaris as the fictional seaside town (and in particular the pier) for the series Free Rein.[35][36]

Beaumaris also featured in the 2021 series of Craig and Bruno's Great British Roadtrips. The series followed Strictly Come Dancing stars Craig Revel Horwood and Bruno Tonioli as they visit various North Wales destinations.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Community/Ward population 2011". Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  2. ^ "Beaumaris".
  3. ^ Taylor, Arnold (2004) [1980], Beaumaris Castle (5th ed.), Cardiff, UK: Cadw, p. 6, ISBN 1-85760-208-0
  4. ^ Cadw. "Beaumaris Castle (5574)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  5. ^ Taylor, A. J. (1950). "Master James of St. George". The English Historical Review. 65 (257): 433–457. doi:10.1093/ehr/LXV.CCLVII.433. ISSN 0013-8266. JSTOR 556225.
  6. ^ "Newborough;new Borough (32992)". Coflein. RCAHMW. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  7. ^ "More about Beaumaris Castle | Cadw". Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Jews' role in Edward I's castles". 15 September 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  9. ^ Jones, Geraint; Jones Robinson, Gwenllian (15 July 2015). Anglesey Towns and Villages. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN 9781445651538.
  10. ^ Temple Bar. Vol. 15. London: Ward Lock and Tyler. November 1865.
  11. ^ "Anglesey's Beaumaris Gaol". Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  12. ^ Winn, Christopher (2007). I never knew that about Wales. Mai Osawa. London. ISBN 978-1-4070-2823-1. OCLC 867134298.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ Edwards (2016), The Eisteddfod, page 17.
  14. ^ "Bygone Lines: the Red Wharf Bay Branch". London and North Western Railway Society. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  15. ^ Harris, Penelope, "The Achievements of Joseph Aloysius Hansom 1803-82), Designer of the Hansom Cab, Birmingham Town Hall and Churches of the Catholic Revival", Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2010, ISBN 0-7734-3851-3, p.13.
  16. ^ "Ye Olde Bulls Head Inn, Beaumaris". Daily Post. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  17. ^ "Old Grammar School, Beaumaris (23146)". Coflein. RCAHMW. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  18. ^ Cadw. "Town Hall (5589)". National Historic Assets of Wales. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Beaumaris Pier". National Piers Society. Archived from the original on 13 January 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  20. ^ "Beaumaris Flying Boat Station; Saunders Roe Factory (270847)". Coflein. RCAHMW. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Beaumaris - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK". Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  22. ^ "RNLI" Beaumaris". Retrieved 16 February 2016.
  23. ^ "Ysgol David Hughes, Porthaethwy, Ynys Mon". Retrieved 17 September 2016.
  24. ^ "Welsh Language Change in the percentage of people aged three years or older able to speak Welsh by LSOA 2011 to 2021 | DataMapWales". Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  25. ^ "Welsh language skills (detailed) - Office for National Statistics". Retrieved 29 December 2022.
  26. ^ "Comisiynydd y Gymraeg - 2011 Census results by Community". Archived from the original on 14 September 2017. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  27. ^ "LC2206WA (Welsh language skills by country of birth by age) - Nomis - Official Labour Market Statistics". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  28. ^ "1981 census - small area statistics - Nomis - Official Census and Labour Market Statistics". Retrieved 2 January 2023.
  29. ^ "Beaumaris Food Festival attracts gourmets". North Wales Chronicle. 31 August 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  30. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Bulkeley, Richard (1533-1621)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 7. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  31. ^ "I owe my entire career to my parents says Wales No1 Wayne Hennessey". Daily Post. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  32. ^ Hendrik Lek Art UK
  33. ^ "Llwyd, Richard" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  34. ^ "The Number Collector with Neil Sloane" (PDF). Numberphile Podcast Transcript. 14 August 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2022.
  35. ^ Dale Spridgeon (2 October 2018). "Netflix kids' show 'Free Rein' filming in Beaumaris". North Wales Chronicle. Retrieved 6 January 2023. The latest series of cult teen drama Free Rein is being filmed in the town in and around the pier area.
  36. ^ Szathmary, Henrietta (19 September 2021). "Where is Free Rein Filmed? (Real Location, Facts & FAQs Answered)". Horsey Hooves. Retrieved 6 January 2023. In real life, most scenes set on the island were filmed in Anglesey, North Wales. The small town of Beaumaris appears as the island's pier on the show.

External links edit