Rhoscolyn has a fascinating history, with its patron saint, Gwenfaen, first making her home and church here in 630 AD. Some say that the druids’ last stand against the Romans, who invaded Mona (Anglesey) in 60 or 61 AD, was at Cymyran, the inland sea between Mona and Holy Island and the open sea, south of Four Mile Bridge.
Rhoscolyn memories – Neil Dixon
The Dixon family had reached three generations holidaying in Trearddur Bay. When my older brother Johnny and I went to the prep school there my parents decided that we wouldn’t want to go on holiday in the same place and bought a 16′ touring caravan with a view to travelling Europe. They were wrong. The caravan was towed to Porth-y-Post and never moved again – total mileage 85. It was also a bit tight having to accommodate Johnny, my younger sister Heather, our parents and me. By 1959 they’d given up arguing and bought Bryn Siriol, in the lane beside St Gwenfaen’s and just before the Old Rectory. My only prior knowledge of Rhoscolyn was cycling from school and coming across the very welcome sight of the water pump on the last uphill stretch before St.Gwenfaen’s, almost opposite Llwarch.
We were furious. We wanted to race our boats and see our pals in Trearddur. I was 12 at the time and firstly cycled back to the bay, then mopeded then drove. It was years later, when children came along, that we looked the other way and learned the enormous pleasures of Rhoscolyn and gradually went native. Now we visit Trearddur only to see friends, normally after dark, when you don’t notice the thousands of white boxes.
Bryn Siriol, painted by Flossie Dixon; Neil and her son, Bertie is in the foreground, aged 10 (28 years ago)
So that’s the background. We bought Bryn Siriol from Miss Editha Bleckly who, I think, had been there since the twenties, initially with her sister, and susequently with her companion Miss Price from the Old Post Office (now Bryn Mor) on the corner leading to the White Eagle. The story goes that Bryn Siriol was built in 1905 on the direct sight line from the Old Rectory to Rhoscolyn bay, by the then senior Verney, because he didn’t like the rector. He then installed the local ratcatcher as a tenant to cement his feelings.
Away from racing we loved exploring Rhoscolyn and meeting a whole crowd of different people. Rough bathing in Silver Bay, picnicking at Shell Bay. A favourite spot was the haunted farmhouse (Hirfron) and walking the cliff edge on windy days . At that time the beacon was painted in broad red and white horizontal stripes. We often met Revd Banks*, with his dog, Bunty. He had been our scripture master at Trearddur House, and was a fountain of knowledge on the weather. He owned a large black Austin 16, SMX 616, and with the dog beside him we were never entirely sure who was driving!
In those days Tom Jones (Tan Rallt ) looked after the garden, and made sure the two engines were in working order (Petrol Petter for the well water and Lister Diesel for the electricity). The milk initially came from Evan Evans at Bryn Golau in his green Austin Devon van (BEY240) and subsequently from Elwyn and Jenny Lloyd at Hendy. When Tom retired, my father invested in a half share of a rotary mower with Denis Taylor at Glan Gors and it always stayed where it was last used, so had to be repatriated before mowing began. Bob Thomas (Lan don) then became the go-to man for absolutely everything. Father was a wonderful man but not the most practical, and was more often to be seen in a wicker chair with a gin and french and a long cigarette, than tinkering in the garden. Bob was invaluable at this time.
When we first arrived in Rhoscolyn, and for many years, our neighbours were the Biscuits at The Old Rectory (actually Bicket , but they were such a lovely family we thought they deserved a better name ), the Burtons at Plas Bach and the Saynors at Ty Wrideen.
Later on Dick Terras (Miss Bleckly’s nephew ) excercised his right to build a Colt house below us which took its name from the old green hut it replaced, St. Gwenfaen’s Cottage.
I recall as teenagers bringing two girls, Penel Mather and Jill Ingram, from Trearddur, to a seance which Adam Craig and his sister Tess had organised at Plas. Just the house for it, and by the early hours of the morning we were all petrified. The girls refused to budge, let alone go out into the dark to go home. Soon after dawn we persuaded them and as we drew level with St Ffraid’s we saw Penel’s dad driving the other way in his blue Ford Corsair (520 KM ) wearing his dressing gown and a foul expression. We were not popular.
Later Adam taught me how to windsurf in the bay. We were at Rugby together and in the 70s both lived in Fulham. He was a good pal. His loss was very sad for many especially Chrissie and the three children.
Father passed the house on to my sister and I – Johnny had by then retrograded to Trearddur Bay – when he became too old to look after it. We kept it for about 10 years, but it was hard to look after from 250 miles away so we sold it to Mike Radcliffe. He susequently sold it to Suzanna Hart, who owns it now, but it does mean we know everyone who has lived there since it was built. Probably not that unusual in Rhoscolyn.
*See the sidebar for a bit more about the Revd Banks and his dogs.