Brecon
Brecon
Powys LD3 7AA
Mid Wales
 
 
 
 
The picturesque old market town of Brecon lies north of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, and is just within the Brecon Beacons National Park. Whilst still an important military town, these days it is better known as a thriving tourist centre.
 
The town marks the confluence of three rivers – the Hondu, the Usk and the Tarell. Before the building of the medieval bridge over the Usk, Brecon was one of the few places where the river could be forded.
 
Brecon first became a military town when the Romans invaded Britain .they chose it as a good place to establish a cavalry base for the conquest of Roman Wales. After the Romans abandoned Britain the next invaders to recognise Brecon’s defensive potential were the Normans.
 
Brecon Castle
In the late 11th century Bernard de Neufmarche built the castle, remains of which overlook the town. Meanwhile, the inhabitants were getting quite a reputation as fearless warriors and in 1188 Gerald of Wales arrived on a recruiting drive for men to go to the Crusades.
 
Town walls
The walls were constructed by Humphrey de Bohun after 1240 and were built of cobble with 4 gatehouses protected by 10 semi-circular bastions. The walls were strengthened in 1404 in response to a threatened attack by the rebellious Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr. By the time of the 17th century English Civil Wars, a royalist town was seen as a threat to the victorious Parliamentarians and the city walls were largely destroyed.
 
Today only fragments including some earthworks and parts of one of the gatehouses survive.
 
Modern Military Establishment
The east end of town has two military establishments:
 
- Dering Lines, home to the Infantry Battle School (formerly Infantry Training Centre Wales), where infantry officers and Other Ranks are trained; and
 
- The Barracks, Brecon, home to 160th (Wales) Brigade and base for the Gurkha Company (Mandalay).
 
Approximately 9 miles (14 km) to the west of Brecon is Sennybridge Training Area, an important training facility for the British Army.
 
Religious Buildings
This small town has a surprising number of interesting religious buildings including a medieval cathedral.
 
Brecon Cathedral, about 270 yards (250 metres) north of the castle was built on the site of a former Priory. Originally a parish church, it did not achieve cathedral status until 1923. Although a fairly modest building by most cathedral standards, it is crammed full with historical items linked to the great Anglo-French Battle of Agincourt fought in France in 1415.
 
History records that the skilled longbow men of King Henry V’s army won the battle for him. The majority of these archers came from Brecon and copies of their contracts and one of the sharpening stones for honing their arrow heads can be seen in the cathedral. It is said that the two-finger V-salute offered as an insult these days actually comes from King Henry’s longbow men who boasted of their prowess by showing the two fingers they used to draw back an arrow.
 
St. Mary the Virgin Brecon 
St. Mary the Virgin Brecon is Brecon’s parish church. This medieval building started life as a chapel of ease to the Priory but most of it dates to later medieval times. The West Tower, some 90 feet (27 metres) high, was built in 1510 by Edward, Duke of Buckingham. It has eight bells which have been rung since 1750, the heaviest of which weighs 16 long hundredweight (810 kg).
 
A band of bell ringers regularly travels between the Diocesan churches and the cathedral keeping the ancient art of bell ringing alive and the bells in use. There is nothing more glorious than the sound of a peal of bells being rung by humans rather than electronics.
 
Plough Lane Chapel
Plough Lane Chapel also known as Plough United Reformed Church, is well worth visiting. This 19th century Non-Conformist chapel can be found in Lion Street and is reputed to have one of the finest interiors in Wales. Not to be missed is the beautiful woodwork of the gallery fronts and pulpit, and the splendid “Minister’s toilet” with its lavishly decorated porcelain toilet pan.
 
Education and religion (even the radical non-conformist type) seem to go together and Brecon is well supplied with schools and colleges. The town is home to Christ College, said to be the oldest school in Wales.
 
Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal
One of the reasons Brecon is such a well-liked holiday destination is because of its canal. The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal (MBC) is a delightful 35 mile (56 km) waterway running mostly through the Brecon Beacons National Park, following the line of the lovely, wooded Usk Valley.
 
There are a number of facilities at the Brecon Basin including toilets and a ‘Pay & Display’ car park, making it the ideal spot for a towpath walk, bike ride or canal cruise. During the summer months, electric boats, canoes and kayaks can be hired from a couple of companies on the canal.
 
Culture
The canal basin is also home to Brecon’s modern Theatre (Theatr Brycheiniog) and Community Arts Centre. The town has several museums including the particularly interesting Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery in the old Shire Hall. The Museum and Gallery is currently closed to visitors but will be re-opening in late 2018 following the Shire Hall’s restoration and the addition of a Museum Shop and Cafe.
 
The Brecon area holds a number of popular national and international events including Brecon Jazz Festival. 
 
Getting There
- By Car
Brecon and its surrounding area has a lot to offer the visitor. It is located near where the east-west A40 (Monmouth-Carmarthen-Fishguard) road meets the north-south A470 (Cardiff-Merthyr Tydfil-Llandudno) road.
 
Google Maps - Brecon