The Rhydspence Inn has an interesting history, some of which the proprietor told us whilst we were chatting to him in the bar. The Inn’s website provides a detailed overview of Rhydespence over the years.

The Rhydspence was probably built to have been a hostelry. The building dates from 1380 with extensions built in the 17th and 20th centuries. We are fairly certain that the inn was built to provide comfort for travellers and pilgrims from Abbey Cwmhir to Hereford Cathedral. The land between Rhydspence and Pencesty was called ‘La Speys’ and was attached to Abbey Cwmhir, which was located about 5 miles north of Llandrindod Wells.

By comparison with similar buildings with known provenance we think that the inn was built by the Vaughn family of Hergist; of whom the best known for his infamous deeds is Thomas, The Black Vaughn. He is said to haunt Kington Church by riding his Charger down the Nave dressed in Full Armour. The house is of a ‘Hall House’ design, being two-story at one end and a large open barn area with central open fire, it had a thatched roof. Changes have taken place and it is now two stories throughout with a stone tile roof.

After the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1590 the tenant was Thomas Watkins and it is likely that at this time the Ecclesiastical Hostelry became a stopover for the Welsh and Irish cowboys or drovers. The Rhydspence became the main assembly point for cattle on the ‘Black Ox Trail’ (the origins of Lloyds Bank) with beasts coming from Southern Ireland, South and Central Wales.

Attached to the inn were some 140 acres of land and it is probable that from this time that the inn gained the name Rhydspence. Rhyd means ‘River Crossing’, not necessarily a bridge, in this case a Ford as the inn is located near to a point where the River Wye can easily be forded, furthest East along the river and free from Toll. Spence is possibly a corruption of ‘Pence’ as the land was split into Penny, Half Penny and Farthing Fields; these were let to the drovers to rest and revitalise the Cows, Sheep and Geese before forming Herds for the Drive to the English cities and markets as far as London.

There are many stories about the Drovers and they are all probably true; because the period covered is three to four hundred years. Experiments with Shoeing Cattle, Leather Boots for Sheep and Bitumen on the feet of Geese are often mentioned. Initially a ‘Herd’ would have been about 12 cattle every day to London because only 12 cattle were required at Spitalfields. Similarly herds would be dispatched daily to Oxford, Gloucester, Worcester and the like. A small herd was not likely to be entirely lost to Highwaymen and no cash was carried. Hence the reference to Lloyds Bank as monies could be transferred along the Trail ‘On The Hoof’ with minimum risk and this was the origin of Lloyds Bank (formerly The Bank of the Black Ox but now known as the Bank of the Black Horse). In later years the herds became bigger and eventually a Railhead with Stockyards was built in Kington and the Rhydspence was no longer needed by the cattle trade.

Buskin Shirley and William Colley were the Owner/Innkeeper from 1783. A Ten Shilling Licence for The Purveying of Liquor was issued in 1830 to John Morris, Proprietor, and John Watkins, Owner.

Sarah Ann Clark, the Landlady and wife of Philip Clark was murdered in 1880. Her Ghost is said to haunt the inn; allegedly she is very friendly and only appears when there are young children staying at the inn.

The Rhydspence continued into the 1950’s as an Inn and Farm when the land was sold off and the Inn progressed from an Alehouse into a very comfortable Hotel.The Drovers are gone but Travellers are still made welcome, tales are still exchanged across the Bar. The Rhydspence now offers luxury accommodation for visitors to the area and a chance to relax in historic surroundings. There are plenty of quiet nooks for private individuals who wish to remain as such and Sarah is free to come and go as she pleases.

Rhydspence View



Rhydspence View

8 Comments CherryPie on Jun 11th 2015

8 Responses to “Rhydspence”

  1. A swallow and a plane, fortunately caught. The old and the new ways to soar.

  2. ....peter:) says:

    it is a grand old Inn Cherie… but it looks like it may have been built it Droitwich… where very few old buildings are plumb:)

  3. Ginnie says:

    So idyllic, Cherry…especially with the swallow you caught in that last image. :)

  4. Did you mention Gloucester? I was ther early last month. ;)
    I personally kind of prefer Cheltenham though.