The Feathers History

Feathers Inn (Feathers Royal Hotel)

In 1815, the year of Waterloo, the Feathers Inn was opened on the only
stretch of Llanerchaeron land bordering the then main road in Aberayron.
On 8th July 1815, in its first year of operation, the following advertisement
was placed in the Cambrian Paper.

Feathers-Inn, Aberayron, Cardiganshire, Charles Mitchell

BEGS leave most respectfully to inform the public, that he has entered on the above Inn for their accommodation; and hopes, by assiduous attention to those who honour him with support, to merit a continuance of their favours. Every care has been taken to select the best Wines and Spirits; and the Stabling, Hay, and Corn, will uniformly be objects of his particular care.

It was a popular meeting place. It was here that the Petty Sessions frequently had their meetings as well as the autumn meetings of the County Agricultural Society.
The meeting to establish the first school in Aberayron took place under its roof and it was the venue for sales of properties, land and timber. According to J M Howell in his The Birth and Growth of Aberayron; commercial travellers to
the area made sure that they ended their week in Aberayron for: the fare and cheer were the talk of ten counties. The china, silver and attendance would not lower the standard of a lord’s house.
A report in the Carmarthen Journal, 22 May, 1840, under the heading Aberayron,
shows the progressive nature of the Feathers:

There are three good Inns viz. Feathers Hotel, the proprietor of which has a bathing machine,
the Monachty Arms and the White Lion

It was still as progressive in 1880, as the Cambrian News reported:

Mr Evans Jones new landlord of the Feathers has erected a handsome full sized billiard table
in a comodious room. This is the first billiard table in Aberaeron.

There was excitement in 1841 when on the night of 9th June two people entered the Feathers, via the larder, and stole a traveller’s driving box containing clothing, a silver lever watch, and articles of jewellery, belonging to a Mr Hobson of Birmingham, as well as items owned by a Mr Williams of Bristol and Mr Jenkins of Cardigan, the Deputy High Sherrif of the County. They also helped themselves to six or seven
shillings in coppers, together with the landlords coat and boots and bizarrely left in exchange their own worn shoes and coat. They forced open all the drawers in the bar except the one that housed the silver. When chased to Llanachaeron woods one
managed to escape but William David was captured. At the Cardiganshire Summer Assizes of 17th July 1841 the Judge deemed him unfit to remain in this Country.
Therefore, he was sentenced to be transported: beyond the seas for the term of 10years. He was transported on 1st December when he sailed on the John Brewer to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

In the latter part of the nineteenth century the Feathers Hotel, which had started life as the Feathers Inn, became the Feathers Royal. In 1858 and 1859 it was listed in Slaters’ Trade Directories as the Feathers Hotel but by their trade directory of 1868 it was The Feathers Royal family and commercial hotel [sic]. We have failed in the task of finding the provenance of the Royal, the following only perhaps adding to
the puzzle.

One of the authors has in her possession three note books. Below is the notation on the inside cover of the third notebook. Interestingly the books, which are all written in Welsh, spells the town as Aberaeron throughout except for Aberayron on the notation.
The forty-first in this collection of local names refers to the Feathers and is copied below.
41 Feathers Hotel. This is the largest hotel in Aberaeron. The son of our gracious Queen paid a visit at one time to the town and he called at this hotel which was the reason for it to be known as the Royal Hotel.

We can find nothing that corroborates this. However from this we can deduce that by 1884 it was a locally accepted fact that this was the reason for the Royal having been added. Searches of local papers and the Times newspaper failed to find any reference of any of the four sons of Queen Victoria visiting the town, nor indeed any other member of the British royal family.

However, William Griffith. The local chemist, who wrote in his Journal on 27 September 1855:

Sept.27th – Had the honour again of having Prince Napoleon in the shop and serving – he is now
returning from his tour thro north Wales, he resembles his uncle Napoleon the Great, very much.
Smooth face without moustach or whisker – rather tall abt. 5ft 9 or10 and dark completion,
roman nose and eagle eyes, dark and piercing – he remained for dinner at the Feathers and
left afterwards for Lampeter. He was accompanied with a Welsh clergyman and his lady,
whom he had met with somewhere in the North and was instructing him in the Welsh language.

This is the only evidence we can find of any ‘prince’ visiting the Feathers – a French one.
However it was eleven years later in1866 that the magistrates responsible for issuing
licences first recorded the name as the Feathers Royal Hotel. If Royal was added because
of prince Napoleon’s visit why did it take eleven years to change? The puzzle continues.

We are given some further information from William Griffith’s Journal, this time about
the proprietor of the Feathers, Mrs Evans.

Jan 3rd 1856 – There was a grand wedding today. Mrs. Evans married to a Mr. Harrison formerly
an Excise Officer here. He is many years her junior. All was conducted with good stile [sic].
The breakfast was a grand affair. They left about 10 o’clock in a carriage of four for Carmarthen
and go on to Gloucester tonight.

He was 24 and she was 45! Two years later Mrs Harrison had been buried at
Llanarth Aeron Church.

Harrison Bill 1859 002

Harrison Bill 1859 002
Extracts of ‘The Ins and Outs of the Inns of Aberayron’
by kind permission of the authors – Mair Lloyd Evans and Mair Harrison
The Story of Aberaeron
This unique little harbour town at the mouth of the river Aeron is surely the jewel of the
Cardigan Bay coast. Conceived in 1807 and built largely as a single development,
Aberaeron recently celebrated its bicentenary year.

The founder was the eccentric Revd Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne, “Lord of the Manor of
Abereyron”, who, with architect Edward Haycock, turned a small fishing village into a
thriving sea port, mainly for the wool trade. Aberaeron soon became a busy hub for
farmers’ markets and commercial traffic of all kinds.

Many of the brightly painted houses, so typical of the Regency period, belonged to
local sea-captains and are named after their far-flung destinations. Within a hundred
years of its founding, however, trade died out thanks to the coming of the railways,
which carried British goods to deeper-water ports like Liverpool and Cardiff.

More information from: Aberaeron History