Journey Around Brecon, Powys. - (Welsh - Aberhonddu- meaning head of River Honddu)
This attractive town is situated midway between Abergavenny and Llandovery and can be reached via the A40 road, it is signposted at junctions B4601 on
A470 and B4602. Brecon is a historic garrison town with its military origins going back to
Sited by the rivers Honddu and Usk it was a place of considerable strategic importance.
With its narrow streets and impressive buildings many of which are of
Jacobean and Georgian construction Brecon is an inviting town to the many visitors who seek its varied attractions.
Hotels, pubs, restaurants, teashops, cafes and shops cater for their needs.
The town has a Cinema and a Theatre amongst things that appeal to the visitor.
Besides these facilities there is a modern leisure centre which has an international standard athletic stadium, tennis and squash courts, two swimming pools a gymnasium and indoor bowling.
Farmers markets are held in and around the town on a regular basis, look out for notices.
An annual Jazz Festival is held in August and attracts Musicians and Jazz lovers from near and far.
A place of particular interest is Brecon Cathedral, whilst the building itself mainly dates from 13th and 14th centuries its status as a Cathedral was not granted until 1923 when the Church of Wales was formed after its separation from the Church of England.
There is evidence of an earlier building, which was that of the Benedictine
Priory of St John the Evangelist dating back to the latter part of the 11th century however very little of this is to be seen.
Within the Cathedral there are many items of historical importance, the
Norman Font is considered to be unique; it is the largest in Britain and has a stone cresset with 30 cups.
The Regimental Chapel of the South Wales Borderers is much visited this is known as the Harvard Chapel, its vaulted choir is greatly admired.
Contained within the chapel are the Queens Colours of the 1st Battalion that commemorate the battle of Isandhlawana in 1879.
It was during the Zulu wars that the Borderers won renown and during the battle of Rorkes Drift 11 Victoria Crosses were won.
A depiction of this battle was shown in the film Zulu and starred Michael
Cain. Also contained in the Cathedral is a rare Breeches Bible.
Outside is a Tithe Barn of the 16th century it is used as a Heritage Centre and craft shop.
A restaurant is also situated in the Cathedral grounds.
St Mary's Church
Sited in the high street St.Mary's was once a chapel of ease to the Priory but assumed its role as the Parish Church in 1923 when St.John's Priory became a Cathedral.
It has a 16th century embattled tower, which houses 8 bells. The main body of the church was restored in the 19th century, new choir stalls and rededos (a screen or decoration behind the altar) were installed in the early 20th century.
The striking East window is an addition of recent years its vibrant colours light up this most pleasant place of worship.
Housed in the old County Hall, which was built in 1842 the museum, has many artefacts connected with local life and history.
South Wales Borderers Museum
There is much military memorabilia to be seen here and is well worth a visit, details of the historic battle of Rorkes Drift is a feature amongst information on the long history of the South Wales Borderers Regiment.
The 11 Victoria Crosses awarded for heroism during this battle include the one awarded to Private Henry Hooke, which is on show at the museum.
Henry Hooke was portrayed in the film Zulu which starred Michael Cain, however the portrayal of Henry Hooke was considered by many to have been very unlike the man, in the film he was shown to be much more outgoing than he really was.
A very brave soldier he showed his bravery defending the wounded and sick at the battle, which he survived and did in fact live until 1905, when he died of pneumonia.
He was buried at St. Andrews church, Churcham near Gloucester his resting place being much visited.
The remains of this castle stand in the grounds of the Castle Hotel.
The Norman built castle was erected by Bernard de Neufmarche who was the half brother of William the Conqueror, it was following the building of the castle that the town walls were built, remnants of the wall are still to be seen.
Situated on the western side of the River Usk, Christ College is another important building in Brecon.
Henry V111 founded this public school, in 1541, and its educational standards have gained international recognition.
It is possible to visit the older parts of the College with prior arrangements with the College authorities.
The Monmouth and Brecon Canal
With its origins dating back to 1797 it linked the town with Newport and was in its day it had commercial importance.
Following major works 37 miles of the canal have been restored and offers leisure facilities.
Outside Brecon at Slwch Tump and Pen-y Crug the remains of Iron Age forts are to be seen.
Visit Y Gaer there to be seen are the remains of a Roman fort which cover some 8 acres, it was built to house a garrison of 500 cavalry, built in about 80AD the size of the site emphasises the importance of the area.
It is possible for visitors to view the remains.
For lovers of the countryside the Brecon Beacons National Park is a must.
With its ancient woodlands, beautiful waterfalls, reservoirs and caves the whole area is a delight.
It has a labyrinth of cycle paths making it ideal for mountain biking and touring.
It is also possible to visit by bus and for those cyclists who feel that they do not wish to make a full journey under their own power there is a bus that runs from Cardiff that has a trailer for the purpose of carrying cycles.
Information about this service can be obtained by telephoning- National Park and Visitors information on numbers - 01874 623156 or 01873 622485
The nearest link to rail services is via Merthyr Tydfil.
Within the Park are the facilities for military training some 29,000 acres have been given over for this purpose.
Provisions have been made for the training of Army & SAS personnel and also for members of the NATO force.
This does have advantages as soldiers have assisted the National Trust with maintenance work during their off duty hours.To reach the park, follow the well signposted route.