Friday, October 17, 2008

Visiting a Hospitium

Over 600 years ago, the Knights Hospitallers built the Llanwddyn Hospitium. These Knights Hospitallers were a fighting order of monks, a military monastic order of St John of Jerusalem. They were established in the 12th century to care for the sick and poor, and their first base in Britain was established at Clerkenwell, Nr London in 1140. When the Knights Templar were suppressed in the 14th century, they spread across the land and eventually reached mid Wales. The Lanwddyn Hospitium was closely linked to another at Gwanas, near Dolgellau. Two of my favourite views in all the world are Lake Vyrvwy (from the Hotel) and Gwanas (as emerging from the A470 pass immediately to the South). Both fell within the lands of hospitiums. These Hospitallers would have made good estate agents. They realised that location is all, when it comes to property.

You may wonder why this blog has veered so far from its normal track. Its because I have been up to visit the Lanwddyn Hospitium today, where hooligans driving 4x4s are also veering from the proper track. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is threatened by these hooligans driving around in an irresponsible way. There are only ruins there now, but there is a superb little bridge which may well have been there since the 15th century. Today the whole area is owned by Severn Trent Water Authority, having passed through the hands of the Liverpool Corporation (which built Lake Vyrnwy, various Earls of Powis, and a few other private owners.

I can almost hear you ask "What is a hospitium". Well, even though they were sometimes hospitals, the name actually derives from their being hospices, the original meaning of which was 'places of refuge'. There were quite a few of us there today, 400 metres up, on top of a mountain. Its a bleak place, but a wondrous place. I do hope that we can find a way of persuading the trespassers to go elsewhere for their fun.

1 comment:

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