The sea wall at Cwm yr Eglwys was built to protect the graveyard after the great storm of 1859 had destroyed the Church and the sea threatened to encroach further and further inland with gruesome and distressing consequences. The Rev. Jones (writing as ‘Gwynrug’ in the local paper) described the scene.
Torn coffins, with human remains protruding from them, were hanging in the bank above the beach. Pieces of coffin and human skeletons were strewn all over the shore. The sight was harrowing and ghastly!
This unacceptable situation was taken in hand by Capt David Harries of Soar Hill in 1881 and within a year he had raised £180. The building contract was awarded to William Davies and Sons from Lower Town Fishguard and they completed the job within seven months, reburying the dispersed human remains behind the sea wall. The sea defences were solidly built, measuring 17 feet high, 12 feet thick at the base and 4 feet wide at the top.
The completion of the wall was celebrated by a large crowd. Entertainment was provided by the Newport Brass Band, Capt David Harries reminded everyone of the history of the project and the local dignitaries graced the occasion by making a speech and laying the commemorative stone.
But who was Katharine Lady Lloyd of Bronwydd whose name is recorded on this slate which can still be seen above the slipway on the way down to the beach? Daughter of a Glaswegian shipping magnate and developer, she married Sir Marteine Owen Mowbray Lloyd, 2nd Baronet, in 1878, a year after he had inherited a fairy-tale castle and £100,000 of debt. The castle, near Newcastle Emlyn, had been remodelled by the baronet’s father from an C18th house in the 1850s, and incorporated turrets, stone carvings, a tower, polychrome roof tiles, stained glass and a wealth of interior decoration.
Katharine Lloyd and her husband, who made some progress in paying off the enormous debt, had four children, three daughters and a son. In an attempt to avoid the taxes that would have made the inheritance unmanageable, the house was unwisely passed to their son, Marteine Kemes Arundel Lloyd. He was a captain in the grenadier guards and after being wounded at Ypres he was killed on the Somme in September 1916. Death duties were charged.
The family moved from the house. When Katharine Lloyd died in 1937 Bronwydd was sold. During the second world war it housed a school that had been evacuated from Brighton but then it was stripped of its decoration and abandoned. Very little of it is left today.
I’m pleased to see that Katharine Lloyd’s name lives on in the hamlet of Cwm yr Eglwys long after her grand house has mostly collapsed into its cellars.