Cernioge Inn

This page was prompted by Kirsty McHugh’s blog on the Curious travellers site. Her work has uncovered more references to the inns at Cernoige. These illustrate just how many references there can be to a building in a remote place. Although many are very brief, in combination they provide a valuable record of the inn and the services provided by the occupants.

The relatively large number of nobility and knights (or at least, in some cases, their wives) who kept a record of a visit to this inn is probably fortuitous but although they, like other travellers, had little choice about where they stayed at the end of a day’s journey, they might have chosen Cernioge after about 1816 because of its excellent stables (which, it was claimed, had space for 69 horses) and there was also room to park many coaches (see Catherine Sinclair’s comments below).

1772
Licence for an inn at Cernioge, said to be known as the Prince Llewelyn Inn (part of which still stands)
Jamie Quartermaine, et. al. Thomas Telford’s Holyhead Road, The A5 in north Wales., (2003), pp. 100, 102

1791
Cernioge Mawr … we were entertained by another blind harper who played to us during and after supper in a style far superior to those we had before heard. It is the custom in this part of the country to have a harper in most of the inns for the entertainment of strangers and we found much enjoyment from it.
A.B., ‘Sketch of a short tour into north Wales in July 1791, by AB and WD’, NLW MS 24019B, p. 33

1795
Some tourists, hearing that the inn kept three chaises and a post-coach, assumed that it had a larder to match, but found ‘not a single article of food that even hungry appetites could relish.’ [Source not quoted, nor found by any other means.]
C. G. Harper, The Holyhead Road: the mail coach road to Dublin, vol. 2, (1902), p. 229

1797
We arrived at [Cernioge inn] at 8 o’clock, a solitary inn, in the midst of a desert, chiefly intended for the accommodation of the coaches which run this road. The larder is in unison with the population of the country: nothing to be had but a leg of mutton, which, it seems, was tripping over the “dark brown earth” about three hours ago. We have ordered it to be roasted, though we doubt whether a very keen appetite, produced by a fasting walk of 26 miles, will render it eatable.
Warner, Richard, Rev (1763-1857) A Walk through Wales in Aug, 1797, p. 158, Letter X, Cernioge, 23.8.1797

27.9.1797
We were not at all sorry to find ourselves at Keniogge [Cernioge] about six o’clock and were lucky to find room as the house is single and not fitted for the accommodation of more than one party. In this particular however, we have been singularly fortunate during our whole tour. Lord A [Lord Arthur Somerset] having been arrived some time we found dinner nearly prepared, and were surprised to hear they had no port wine in the house, being the only place under similar circumstances that we had seen. This being on a high road, the circumstance was the more extraordinary. However, we fared pretty well, and made ourselves comfortable around the side of a good fire, not withstanding we were situated on the top of bleak mountains.
Manners, John Henry, (Fifth Duke of Rutland) 1778-1857, Journal of a tour through north and south Wales, the Isle of Man, [and a small part of Scotland] &c. &c. (1805), p. 321

1801
Change horses at Cernioge, a single house.
Thompson, M. W., The Journeys of Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1983), p. 178

1805
In many places the soil is boggy, and yields turf, of which we had an unpleasant evidence at the inn of Kernioge, where the smell of fuel of this description was ready to suffocate us. Before we reached this very ordinary inn, where there is little attention and less accommodation, we passed several miserable cottages …
Mavor, William Fordyce, A tour in Wales, and through several counties of England : including both the universities ; performed in the summer of 1805 (1806), p. 124

1806
July 31:  Cernioge a miserable inn
Bant, Millicent, [Tour of Wales], Essex Record office D/DFr F2, f. 21v

1810 [about]
Cernioge Inn  ‘notes of melody vibrated on my ear – inquiring the cause, I was informed that the harper of the inn had taken his post in the passage and was giving me a la militaire  some good tunes with fine execution. I cannot express how rejoiced I was to hear this instrument … the Welsh harp is nearly the same shape with ours; but a treble row of strings distinguishes it – The strings are of cat gut and not quite so unequal in thickness as the English. It is likewise dissimilar in the introduction of 6 apertures, which it has on the board. I cannot say with certainty, but I believe it has no pedals. If my ears do not deceive me, it is capable of more modulation; and the Welsh airs are vastly pathetic.’
Anon, Narrative of a Tour through Wales by an anonymous English Gentleman. NLW ms. 18943, ff. 46-47

1810
Thomas Telford stayed at the inn, and described it as excellent.
T. Telford, (ed. J Rickman) The Life of Thomas Telford, Civil Engineer (1838)

1811
Cernioge a delightful inn with no particular interesting circumstance…
Anon, A lady, ‘Diary of a driving tour of North Wales in the months of July and August 1811’, Cardiff Central Library, Ms1.405 

1813
Inn – very good
Parke, T.J., and Parke, B., ‘Journal of Tour of North 1813’, Northumberland Record Office ZRI/31/2/7 [Ridley (of Blagdon) papers], p. 15

1813
CERNIOGE is a hamlet consisting of three or four houses, in an elevated situation, remarkable for nothing except a good inn ; but this, in so dreary a country, is a great acquisition, being erected on the London and Holyhead road.
Nicholson, George, The Cambrian Traveller’s Guide: In Every Direction (2nd edition, 1813), p. 353

1815
We meant to have gone on to Oswestry tonight, but arrived too late here owing to a resolute attempt made by the landlord of Cernioge Mawr to make us sleep there, and a more resolute resistance on our part – He swore he had no horses, we swore he did – He swore that what he had were just come in from a journey – We swore he lied again inasmuch as we had [seen] and they had been in above an hour – He swore again we should not have them, we swore that he should not be the better for it as we would sit in the chaise and wait there until our former horses were refreshed which should take us back to Capel Curig where we would go and sleep rather than be bullied by him – This took up an hour and he kept us another hour in the chaise waiting to see if we should be as good as our word. He saw at length that we were sturdy? so gave us horses which brought us at a snail’s pace here.
Letter from Richard Grenville, 1st Duke of] Buckingham and Chandos, of Stowe, Buckinghamshire. NLW Aston Hall Correspondence (2) ms 2596, pp. 3-4

1815
harper playing at Carnagoge—inn almost solitary.
on his return a few days later he wrote: Dined at Cernogy and not being able to procure beds there, the house being filled with shooting parties (grouse season) we take chaise for Ruthin.
Irving, Washington, Tour of Wales, 1815, The Journals of Washington Irving, Volume 1, edited by William Trent and George Hellman, (The Bibliophile Society, Boston, 1919), p. 12

1816
An indisposition with which my travelling companion was seized compelled us at five o’clock in the evening, to remain for the night at the inn of Cernioge Mavvr, and I can truly say that to this accident I owe some of the most agreeable hours I enjoyed during my stay in England [sic]. The interior as well as the exterior of the house were quite calculated to illustrate the meaning of that untranslateable word “comfort,” of which an idea can be formed only in England. The house was of a simple appearance, two stories in height, with only five windows in front, and before it was a level court-yard, laid with gravel, in which peacocks, turkies, pigeons, and other poultry strutted about in rural security. Three fine old maple trees formed a row at one side of the door, and a bench under them invited to repose under their shade. A little grove opposite to the house formed a kind of partition towards the high road. The interior arrangement of the house was altogether such as any private person might wish to imitate. We had our choice of several neat and even elegant bed rooms; and our pleasant and well furnished sitting-room, on the right of the entrance below stairs, afforded me the gratification of feeding the poultry, in the court and on the window-sill, out of my hand. A large dog, who from time to time paid his visits and partook of my supper, likewise occupied his place in this rural picture. But we did not want at the same time for more refined enjoyments. The landlady’s daughter played Welsh airs, the whole evening through on the harp, the favourite instrument of the Welsh, which afforded us a most agreeable entertainment. (note: The Welsh harp is peculiarly constructed. For many octaves it has double and treble strings besides each other.)
Dr. Samuel Heinrich Spiker, (1786-1858.) Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816. : Translated from the German, (1820) vol. 2, pp. 43-44.

1817
At this inn you meet with the best accommodation in N. Wales & the greatest civility. Kept by a Mr. Weaver, whose wife was lately a servant of Mr Abletts. It stands in high repute on this road & all the travellers from Ireland prefer sleeping here to any other. Excellent beds & the choicest fare. Miss W his daughter, an excellent performer on the harp & sings Welch airs.
Christopher Rawson,  travel journal 1817-1822, WYAS: Calderdale, WYC:1525/6/5/2
Curious Travellers blog by Kirsty McHugh

1818
to Cernioge Mawr, where we slept, & found excellent accommodation
Alderson, Harriet, (Accompanied Lady Fitzherbert of Tissington, Staffs?) Journal of a tour from Aston to Beaumaris in September 1818, Gwynedd Record Office, XM/2600

22.8.1819
Capel Curig. Here and at Cernioge are excellent inns built for the accommodation of Travellers by the late Lord Penrhyn.
Mr and Mrs Woolrych, ‘Journal of a Tour in Wales performed during the summer of 1819’, NLW, 16630B, p. 47
[The attribution to Lord Penrhyn is probably inaccurate, although he was probably responsible for some road improvements in the area.]

22.9.1819
to Cernioge 12 miles almost dark Inn excellent in all respects
Cotton, Lady Philadelphia, Tour through North Wales, Cambridgeshire County Record Office, 588/F48

1821
Holyhead road. The new line from Pont-y-Padock to Kernioge Mawr through Pentrefoelas was opened on the 8th ult. It will save in distance about ¾ mile besides avoiding several steep hills.
The New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, vol. 3, (May 1, 1821), p. 264

6.9.1821
Cernioge magnificent inn, capital breakfast
Morgan, Charles Octavius Swinnerton, (1803-1888), Tredegar, Monmouthshire
‘Journal of a tour through North Wales – 1821’, Society of Antiquaries of London, Octavius Morgan Sal/MS/680, fols. 20v-39v.
Transcription and notes in Dai Morgan Evans, Octavius Morgan : journal of a tour through North Wales in 1821, Archaeologia Cambrensis, vol. 160, (2011), 235-263

1821
Cernioge Inn ‘comfortable’
Llewelyn Meyrick, Journal of a Tour through part of England and Wales in the summer of 1821 by Llewelyn Meyrick Esq, Queen’s College Oxford, British Library, Add. 28802, p. 50

1822
enjoyed a good dinner of trout, mutton chops, and gooseberry tart and cream … purchased a copy of the 2nd edition of Nicholson’s Cambrian Traveller’s guide (1813) from Mr Weaver the landlord for 18 shillings.
Anne Lister’s diary, 1822, WYAS: Calderdale, SH: 7/ML/E/6.
WH Rawson’s advice on Welsh roads sent to A Lister, received 4 July 1822, WYAS: Calderdale, SH: 7/ML/117.
Curious Travellers blog by Kirsty McHugh

1822
Cernioge, Observed a dance at the inn. Poem – ‘Ball at Cernioge’. Coloured sketch of the dance.
Diary in private hands, ff. 2-4

1823
to Cernioge ‘a little Paradise in the Wilderness’
Holland, Mary, (1792-1877), Bessy Holland (1796-1886) and Lucy Holland (1800-1883), all daughters of Peter and Mary Holland, brother to Henry Holland and cousins of Elizabeth Gaskell.
The three sisters visited Barmouth in 1823 and jointly wrote the journals
Journals 1 and 3 (number 2 is missing) in private collection (David C.L. Holland)
‘1st Journal of an (intended) expedition to Barmouth’ starting 6.8.1823 
Chapple, John, Elizabeth Gaskell, The Early Years (1997, 2009), pp. 288-310

1825
To Cernioge inn and Corwen
Anon [same author as Cardiff Central Library, MS 4.349], ‘Journal of a tour of north Wales with engravings, made in the summer vacation of 1825’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 4.350         

1827
Cernioge Mawr (King’s Arms inn)
Biddulph, John, [Presumably 1768-1845, brother of Thomas, and father of John (Junior)], Herefordshire Record Office G2/IV/J/76

15.6.1827
From [Corwen] to Cernioge is flat and bleak, except here and there a good specimen of rock. We found an excellent dinner prepared for us, of which none of our party were at all unwilling to partake; I must add that the Inn is very clean and comfortable.
Bagot, Eleanor (12 years old) ‘Journal on a Visit from Blithfield to North Wales’, National Library of Wales, Bachymbyd collection, Uncatalogued

1830
Cernioge Mawr: a very good and commodious inn … very comfortable accommodation but the country around it is very barren and uninteresting.
Coleman, Thomas, ‘Journal of a Tour into north Wales with Mrs Coleman, 16th August, 1830’, NLW  Minor Deposit 1544, f. 31

1830
Letter: The Marquis of Anglesey to Lord Cloncurry. Uxbridge House, December 15th, 1830.
My dear Lord Cloncurry — I mean to be at Beaudesert during Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, the 20th, I sleep at Kenioge; on Tuesday, at Holyhead; on Wednesday, I cross and sleep on board the yacht at Kingstown; and on Thursday the 23rd, I proceed to Dublin.
Baron Valentine Cloncurry, Personal recollections of the life and times: with extracts from the Correspondence of Valentine Lord Cloncurry, (1849), p. 411

1831
then to Cernioge situated in a bogy flat country without any beauty. A harper, a good dinner. Brought a pair of socks of Welsh wool 10d [10 old pence]
Anon (but probably one of the female members of the Simcoe family).
Notes on a tour of Wales with letter sent to Miss Simcoe of Walford Lodge, Honiton, Devon. Devon Record Office, Exeter, 1038 M/F/1/316, p. 2
There is a story of an old blind woman named Beti Dywyll [at Cernioge] who used to knit stockings. Her practice was to wait for the coach, and as it passed, she would run after it, and jump onto it, and rarely get out again till she had sold her stockings. [undated]
Bezant Lowe, The heart of Northern Wales : as it was and as it is. vol. 2, pp. 487

1831
Cernioge ‘a large and handsome inn in the midst of a wild moorland district. Around the house are some good plantations, intersected with walks, and in the front a lake, on which we noticed some curious foreign geese, which we understood were from South Carolina.
Williams, Hannah, Journey through Shropshire, Wales, Ireland & Lancashire, 1831, Worcestershire Record Office, 899:866/9522

1832
Princess Victoria is said to have stopped at the inn on her journey from Llangollen to Beaumaris and was entertained by a harper to whom she gave £1 but this is not mentioned in the extensive accounts of her stay in north Wales in newspapers and other publications. However, there is, or was, a brass plaque in the former inn building with the inscription: ‘Queen Victoria had tea in this room on her journey from Wynnstay to Beaumaris in the summer of 1832’. The fact that it refers to her as Queen rather than Princess (as she was in 1832) shows that it must have been inscribed sometime after the event.
W. Bezant Lowe, The heart of Northern Wales : as it was and as it is. vol. 2, p. 485

1832-1833
Mr Job Weaver, Inn keeper was found to be of unsound mind
Peregrine Bingham, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Common Pleas, and elsewhere…vol. X, (1834) pp. 520-521

1833
Cernioge, the inn a dashing place with carriage drive, lawns, peacocks etc.
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B, f. 158r

1833
One of the best Hotels in this part of the country is Cernioge … a tolerably good house situated in a neat garden, with considerable piece of water in front. So many travellers were assembled at this place which lies on the great Irish road, that it was quite a favour on the landlord’s part to afford us accommodation. The door was surrounded by a perfect brigade of carriages; and in glancing at the different coats of arms emblazoned on them, we could read the names and connections of some belonging to the family of Howard [could this be a reference to the 12th Duke of Norfolk, 1765-1842?]. … The effect is rather singular of seeing, in large characters, inscribed over every ale-house and spirit-shop along the highroad “By act of Parliament. Licenced to be drunk on the premises.” and whether the people or the spirits are intended, it would be very desirable if this notice occurred rather seldomer.
Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864), Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1833, 1st edition, New York, 1838, p. 95; 2nd Edition, Whyte and Co, Edinburgh, 1839, p. 116

1836
A walk of two or three miles over the same moorland district brought me to the pleasantly situated inn at Cernioge, and having previously heard of the excellence of this house of entertainment, I resolved to rest myself for a day or two. This place had a decidedly English appearance, for in the yard were four large ricks of hay (an extraordinary sight in Wales), extensive and well-built stabling, and the arrivals and departures were so frequent as to keep up the bustling excitement of a high thoroughfare. There is a large pool in the neighbourhood, called Llyn Cwrt, well-stocked with trout and eels, which afford excellent sport to the angler. The land about Cernioge Mawr is the highest between London and Holyhead; and the moors, abounding with grouse, present extensive but unvaried and barren prospects, with only now and then an accidental object to break the dreary scene.
Thomas Roscoe, Wanderings and excursions in North Wales, (1853), p. 116
C. G. Harper, The Holyhead Road: the mail coach road to Dublin, vol. 2, (1902), p. 229

1837
We had a very nicely dressed dinner at Cernioge & did not enjoy it the less for having our ears regaled during the repast by another old Welsh harper, an even better performer than our friend at Llangollen. He played a number of simple & lively airs, & tho’ his instrument could not perhaps boast of a double action, or a London make, it delighted me to a degree of which I shall often think with pleasure.
Bower, Elizabeth, Dorset Record Office, D/BOW:kw 209 / D.I/KW209

1838
Cernioge Mawr. At this hamlet there is a most excellent inn, and here it is that the London and Holyhead road reaches its highest elevation.
Cernioge to Capel Curig, …the view at a few yards before arriving at the 48th milestone from Holyhead, and again immediately at the 48th milestone, is perhaps the most striking.
Bingley, W. R., Excursions in North Wales including Aberystwith and the Devil’s Bridge, intended as a guide to Tourists by the late Rev W Bingley. Third edition of Rev. W. Bingley’s work, with corrections and additions made during Excursions in the year 1838 by his son W.R. Bingley, (1839)
[There are no references to Cernioge in Rev. W Bingley’s earlier editions.]

18.8.1838
Cernioge Inn ‘comfortable’
Parry, John, (Bardd Alaw, 1776-1851) Trip to North Wales containing much information relative to that interesting alpine country; the best mode of viewing its Sublime and Magnificent Scenery; its Mountains, Castles, Lakes and Rivers, together with the distances, names of the principal hotels, conveyances etc. [1839], p. 10

1839
The stage coach service was abandoned and the licence was lost to the Pentrefoelas Arms
Jamie Quartermaine, et. al. Thomas Telford’s Holyhead Road, The A5 in north Wales., (2003), p. 102

1850
At Cernioge (pronounced Kernyoggy), 3m. further on, was a celebrated Inn of great extent—one of the chief halting places on the route from London to Dublin. In the palmy days of the Holyhead road, nine or ten carriages might often be seen here of a night. It is now converted into a farm-house. The road near Cernioge is the highest between London and Holyhead.
Cliffe, C. F., The book of North Wales: scenery, antiquities, highways and byeways, lakes, streams, and railways, (1850), p. 85

1854
I walked on briskly over a flat uninteresting country, and in about an hour’s time came in front of a large stone house. It stood near the road, on the left-hand side, with a pond and pleasant trees before it, and a number of corn-stacks behind. It had something the appearance of an inn, but displayed no sign. As I was standing looking at it, a man with the look of a labourer, and with a dog by his side, came out of the house and advanced towards me.
“What is the name of this place?” said I to him in English as he drew nigh.
“Sir,” said the man, “the name of the house is Ceiniog Mawr.”
“Is it an inn?” said I.
“Not now, sir; but some years ago it was an inn, and a very large one, at which coaches used to stop; at present it is occupied by an amaethwr – that is a farmer, sir.”
George Borrow, Wild Wales: Its people, language and scenery, (1862)

1855
Cerniogau has been one of the largest and most frequented inns in the Principality, and noted for its trout, which were obtained from the neighbouring pool, called Llyn y cwrt. Some desolate ponds and gardens still attest its former prosperity. Cerniogau inn stood on the highest part of the road between Holyhead and London, and it was a stage of importance, when the chief part of the communication with Ireland passed along this road. The name signifies the place of cairns, or tumuli, of which none now exist.
Anon, Notes about the Parish of Pentrefoelas and its vicinity, The Cambrian Journal, Volume 2, (1855), p. 182

1868
Cernioge Inn ‘an excellent inn … it was once a great posting and coach establishment – Its great hotel and all its appurtenances are now converted into Farm houses.’
Anon, Journal of two tours in North Wales by Charles Edward Rawlins (b. c. 1811) of Liverpool, 1866 and 1868, NLW MS 23066C, f. 90

1902
… the place to which the milestones have been insistently directing, since Corwen. [It is] just a farmhouse lying back from the road, with a pond beside  it under the trees, a few outbuildings and an older toll house then the Glasfryn one … yet this was a quite famous inn and posting house.
C. G. Harper, The Holyhead Road: the mail coach road to Dublin, 2nd edition, (1902), pp. 227-8

2003
The Cernige coach house … formerly the Prince Llwelyn Inn . … It lost its licence in 1839 when it was taken up by the Pentrefoelas Arms. … on the north side of the road stands … a stable block
Jamie Quartermaine et. al. Thomas Telford’s Holyhead Road, The A5 in north Wales, (2003), p. 167