"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Friday 22 September 2023

Herefordshire 2023 (12) - Part 2: Hay on Wye


Wednesday was a lovely day and I suggested visiting Hay on Wye a place I have always longed to visit so it was a bit of a "book pilgrimage" for me!  Hay is just under an hour way and most of the journey is on A Roads.

Hay has been called the first book town in the world and is famous for all its second hand and antiquarian bookshops founded by a Mr Richard Booth in 1961.   He  had bought Hay Castle and I'll write more about him in the post on Hay Castle. Hay in Powys,Wales, is the National Book Town of Wales and also famous for the Annual Hay Literary Festival.

The name Hay is an English form of an old Roman-French name "La Haie" meaning "a fenced or hedged enclosure".  The Welsh name for the town is YGelli Gandryll which means "the grove".

Francis Kilvert, the Victorian diarist lived nearby in the village of Clyro where he was vicar for many years. In fact we passed the turn to Clyro and I would so loved to have visited - one day I hope I will.  

In Kilvert's time the town was called Hay and the name was changed to add "on Wye" in 1946.

The C17th Jacobean mansion at Hay castle was home in Kilvert's time to the Vicar of Hay, the Reverend William Latham Bevan. His friend Francis visited many times for afternoon tea and to play croquet on the lawn.

Hay on Wye is on the edge of the Black Mountains and there are lovely views from the car park.

A weather vane with a witch - it was so hard to get a decent photo and D had left his camera at home.  He always gets better pictures than me of things like this.

St John's Well was one of the wells serving the town of Hay and supplying baptismal water to St John's Chapel.

Salem Baptist Chapel established 1649 and rebuilt in 1878 It is the second oldest Non Conformist chapel in Wales.

The Town Hall whch was built on the site of an older one constructed in the reign of James I. The present building dates from 1840 and the lower part was onced used as the cheese market.  The town hall is by the market square used for the weekly market. (I had deliberately avoided market day as I thought it would be packed as it was the town was heaving with people!!!!). It was like Ludlow on a bad day :(

On the wall of the Town Hall is a sculptured figure of Henry VII (Henry Tudor 1485 - 1509). It is the work of Edward Folklard and was installed in March 1995.

Hay Castle - the keep and to the right the Jacobean mansion. I'll write about the history of Hay Castle in the next post including the tragic tale of Matilda de Braose and the eccentricities of Richard Booth.

Market Square - plenty of room to park but time was limited to two hours so we had used the large car park round the corner.

The Clock Tower by J C Hadden and erected in 1884 at a cost of £600.

Richard Booth's bookshop - there are some lovely tiles on the beautiful frontage.  We did go inside - it is huge and there is a massive selection of old and new books.

We had a look round a lovely shop full of hand made items - there were some lovely things but it was expensive as were a lot of the bookshops!

The Butter Market

There are quite a few antique shops in Hay too.

The Clock Tower bookshop was my favourite - a good selection of books old and new including a lot of tempting New Naturalist books. I somehow avoided temptation although D did make a purchase.

Kilvert's Hotel

Sadly, with the visit to the Castle we ran out of time to explore as well as I would have liked. I certainly missed the motte and bailey which I was and truly miffed about and the almshouses and bridge and river. There is nothing for it we shall have to go back - the tickets for Hay Castle are also valid for a whole year :)

I didn't realise but on the way we had gone over Whitney on Wye bridge where you have to pay a toll. It only became apparent on the way back! The bridge was built in the 1770's and is now a privately owned toll bridge. Sorry only the one photo as I couldn't get out and take more as there were several cars behind us.

Blogger Problems - I don't know if anyone can help solve the problem but I have found myself unable to edit "My Blog List" in layout.  I can edit it as such but it won't save the changes. I've had the problem for a few months and been unable to add some recent blogs I follow.  Now a blog has suddenly apppeared in the list where the blogger hadn't blogged for years and I suspect the account has been hacked as its suddenly posting every day and the blog title is not in English and looks very suspicious!  Needless to say I haven't clicked on it!  I have tried several times to remove it from my blog list in case anyone clicks on it but yet again blogger does the change but won't let me save it. 

All photos taken by me with the Pansonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera.(I don't particularly rate my photos but if anyone wishes to use one I would be grateful for an email first - thanks).


John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Some years ago I was a walks leader for HF Holidays and we used to finish a walk in Hay. We didn't usually have much time to kill and the cafes and ice-cream sellers became more familiar than the bookshops and sights of the town. I have the same problem with blogger; apart from deleting the whole lot and starting again (which I haven't tried yet) I can think of no other possible solution.

Ragged Robin said...

John "By Stargoose and Hanglands" - Thanks so much. We did have an icecream! I didn't go in as many bookshops as I would have liked - tbh so many of them it all got a bit overwhelming!!! Thanks for letting me know I am not alone with blogger problem - it must be a glitch!! I may have to delete and start again if that suspcious looking blog doesn't stop posting! I could perhaps just add the blogs that are active to my reading list so I know when they are updated and just get rid of the list as so many never blog anymore. Thanks for the suggestion.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

First, let me say who knows what goes on in the mind of blogger. You know the list of problems I've been having. Yours are very different although I have lost my sidebar of blogs I follow completely. Try as I might, I cannot restore it. So I just have to work off my private reading list. I know many have. left blogger in favour of Wordpress, but I didn't get on with that.

On to Hay on Wye. I could not agree more. It is in a beautiful setting. It is a lovely old town as well. But if I am completely honest, I find it overwhelming. The few times I have been there, I have not known which way to turn. I always came away with a few books, but always wondering if there was something else I should have looked at.
I was particularly taken with that lovely window display of antique lace and what appeared to be sewing accoutrements. That is something I would have loved to have seen in person.
I saw Timothy popping up. I bet he had a wonderful time that day. I hope when you return to see the castle, he will behave himself. Mischief and skulduggery does tend to follow small bears, doesn't it?

Ragged Robin said...

Rustic Pumpkin - Thanks so much Debbie and I recall the problems you have had with blogger recently. Goodness only knows what is wrong with it. I did I think years ago open a blog in Wordpress but like you did not get on with it.

I found Hay all a bit much and overhwelming too! In my naivety I had thought mid week out of school holidays there will be no-one there - how wrong could I be!!!

Timothy was here there and everywhere. I got some very strange looks from a meeter and greeter at Hay Castle! :) Will write about the castle in the next post early next week. It was good though to finally visit the town as I have read so much about it and the castle and read a couple of books on Matilda de Braose including Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine!! But the crowds did put me off!!!

Billy Blue Eyes said...

Hay is not far from were my caravan is at Builth and both my wife & I have always wanted to visit the place.One of these days I hope we will get a chance

Ragged Robin said...

Billy Blue Eyes - Thanks so much and I hope you get chance to vist. It is certainly an experience! and I really loved the castle. I hope we visit again and I can have a better look at bookshops and see the motte and bailey.

Bovey Belle said...

We know Hay very well of course. If I'd known you were going there, we could have met up (if you had wanted). We know the book shops very well and which ones have our sort of books. The Buttermarket is where we used to sell our wares at the Wee Flea in there. Such happy times.

Oh, you were only ONE MILE from Clyro. You could have gone home via there as it's on the Hereford road (and the Leominster one is connected to the Hereford road heading West). I hope you will be able to go there in future.

Billy - make it happen. It's not that far and a lovely place to wander round/have lunch.

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thanks so much and I've always loved your posts on Hay.

I would have loved to meet you but to be honest we went on the spur of the moment - I suggested it to B in the morning and surprisingly he agreed to go - normally he is not keen on anywhere more than 40 minutes away! If we go again and I have more notice I will let you know.

Clyro is a must BB - hopefully even if I have to wait until next year) I will go. I thought we would go through it but the sat nav sent us another way :(

Rosie said...

Lovely post. I loved Hay-on-Wye and seem to remember a toll bridge. It rained all the time during our visit but we stil enjoyed being there. I've tried to put one or two new blogs in my sidebar but they stay at the bottom of the list with those who haven't written a post for a while and don't pop up with new posts as all the others do. I'm not sure if I'm not saving them properly or if blogger won't allow any more links. All very strange:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thanks so much. No idea what is wrong with blogger but several of us seem to be having problem adding or deleting to our blog lists and other people have other problems. I've had the problemm with my list for several months now :( Hope you enjoyed your break.

CherryPie said...

I always love a visit to Hay. I need to go back now that I know the castle is open.

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you. They have done a super job at the castle.