BEAUMARIS

The Anglesey Riviera


Beaumaris - Bulkeley Hotel



A WELSH RIVIERA TOWN


I have always regarded the length of Menai Straits between Beaumaris and Menai Bridge as the Welsh Riviera with its lush woodland canopy falling down to overhang the seashore.

Set against a blue sky and the Straits, the coastline seems to hang suspended below Heaven.

Beaumaris itself serves as an absolutely wonderful asset to Anglesey tourism industry.

Though advertised far and wide it is the descriptions shared by happy visitors that entice even more welcome visitors.

This is another beautiful stretch of Anglesey coastline.




Beaumaris is an absolutely lovely little town rich in character.


Anglesey BeaumarisIf you’re in a hurry then you could walk around the town in about half an hour.

You’ll need to keep your eyes shut though, because there is plenty in Beaumaris to grab your notice.

Enhance your enjoyment of place by taking time to Stand Still For A While.




PAGE CONTENTS


HIGH TIME FOR HIGH TEA IN THE HIGH STREET

ARRIVING IN THE TOWN

A SWINGING TOWN

A NORMAN, GEORGIAN AND VICTORIA MISCELLANY

EDWARD'S CASTLE

"THE BELL TOLLS FOR THEE."

BRING YOUR HAND TO THE BUTTERY BAR

WHAT SIN A NAME

MENAI STRAITS FERRIES

ROYAL ANGLESEY YACHT CLUB

BOAT LAUNCHING

CONTACT ME







Beaumaris Regatta



HIGH TIME FOR HIGH TEA IN THE HIGH STREET

Walking down Castle Street for the first time becomes a staggered event, from one fascinating piece of architecture to the next. You will inevitably end up conversing with a stranger about the pleasant beauty of this ancient town.

You may not even make it down the street in one attempt because there are some lovely little cafes along your way that call out for your presence and your custom.

Can you hear them? Heed those voices.


Rest and reflect on the history of the town or pootle along the promenade of an evening and gaze in distinct pleasure at the mountains lit golden by the setting Sun.

When the tide is high then you’ll find that Beaumaris has two little shingle beaches where families settle down on warm Summer days. Many visitors seem to gather close to the Victorian pier because smart people always stay close to the ice-cream.

There they just lean back, pat their bellies and sigh indulgently.

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Anglesey 
Beaumaris






ARRIVING IN BEAUMARIS


There can be no more glorious a drive than that from Menai Bridge to Beaumaris on a fine Spring day.

From beneath the woven canopy of the sycamore trees the Menai Straits sparkles a reassuring blue with the port of Bangor on your right and Snowdonia rising gently beyond. I don’t think that there has been a single journey along this road – from earliest childhood memory – that I haven’t enjoyed.

Look back sixty-five years and you would have encountered double-decker buses travelling along this road taking workers to the Lairds Boatyard on the other side of Beaumaris. This is where sea-planes were constructed and launched onto the Straits.

There have been proposals from local politicians that a new road should be built to facilitate ease of access to the town. I think that they are looking out with myopic eyes that fail to see that this road is one of their best assets.

It is one of the best approaches to any town I know of.

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Anglesey 
Beaumaris



A SWINGING TOWN

As you leave the sheltering canopy behind the road opens out with Gallows Point on your right and a staggeringly beautiful view of Snowdonia.

It is here, just in front of Gallows Point that the Beaumaris Marina was to be located. Ironically, that project has now been suspended awaiting an opportunity that may present itself with a proposed change in legislation.

Guess why Gallows Point bears this striking name. Yep! They used to hang people here! I believe that the local Chamber of Commerce would like to see a few High Court judges swinging in the morning breeze.

Beaumaris used to be the administrative centre for Anglesey and its Courthouse served the Island from 1619. The cruel and notorious ‘Hanging Judge’ Jeffreys used to conduct his assizes here and many is the poor person who received a ‘suspended’ sentence at his whim.

Remember, that during the 17th Century theft of anything valued greater than a shilling was a hanging offence. During the 18th Century people were sentenced to transportation to the colonies for stealing sixpence. The assizes were frequently no more than a legalised Press Gang.

The commoners were hanged in public; however, if you had some money and did not wish to be 'harangued-as-you-hanged' by the plebians you could pay for a private hanging on the Straits near Menai Bridge.

The wealthy always seem to get the better deal.

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Beaumaris in Bloom



A NORMAN, GEORGIAN AND VICTORIA MISCELLANY


The Georgian and Victorian architecture dominates your first view of Beaumaris town and a pier that stretches out into the Menai Straits centre channel.

Because the pier reaches far into the Straits it is a magnet for many fishermen and fathers who come to catch crabs by dangling their fat balls over the side.

The mixture of architecture reaching back over more than 800 years lends a deeply engaging character to the main street.

The mediaeval buildings that intersperse the Georgian and Victorian buildings draw your gaze from one side then to the other and back and back and back ... until you finally reach Edward I's masterpiece castle.



Anglesey 
Beaumaris


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BEAUMARIS CASTLE


Welcome to this World Heritage Site. I must go back and count the number of toilet chutes. They say an army marches on its stomach but this one seems to have have sat with abandon.

Though designed in 1283 it was not until the Welsh became dangerously rebellious under Madog ap Llywelyn that its construction was commenced in 1295.


As Windsor Davies said in 'Grand Slam', "Remember we're all ambassadors for Wales. So if it's one in then it's all in."


Anglesey BeaumarisBeaumaris Castle is Britain’s most perfectly designed and constructed castle.

You can spend hours wandering around and inside this example of Edwardian architectural excellence castle.

It really is like the Tardis, because from the outside it gives no real indication of its grand internal size.



I like the castle but not the reason it was built. Anglesey was regarded as the breadbasket of Wales in the 13th Century.

By building formidable castles at both ends of the Menai Straits, here and at Caernarfon, Edward Longshanks effectively cut off the rest of rebellious Wales from a major food resource.

As you cross the drawbridge you'll notice the old dock on your right.

At the high tide the sea would unite the Straits with the mote and supply ships would tie up at the dock to unload directly into the castle.



Anglesey BeaumarisDuring my last visit I heard foreign voices echo shouts to each other from inside the internal passageways, their echoes rebounding from the high intimidating walls.

I passed one of these most welcome visitors who was standing entranced by the view out of the arrow slits. I asked him if he was just loitering or invading.


Too clever for my own good, but I was rewarded with a gentle smile.

I’ve discovered that good manners really do reach further than any slings and arrows.

To Look at the Castle Please CLICK HERE

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Beaumaris - It's So Beautiful Here But Where's Me Bike?






BEAUMARIS GAOL - "THE BELL TOLLS FOR THEE."


This is not the bell that rings out to notify all prisoners that luncheon is about to be served.

Neither is to call the faithful to their prayers.

It has a rather gruesome significance and only ever tolled twice as the noose pulled tight with a heavy, nasty, vicious jerk.


Anglesey 
BeaumarisThe first to take a step into oblivion off a plank extended out over the eager crowd was William Griffiths.

Sentenced to death for attempted murder, Mr Griffiths declined to 'go gently into that good night' and put up one heck of a fight.

He barricaded hiself in the Condemned Cell and was dragged bodily to his doom.

Too late by then to regret not moving further up North Coast for a solicitor.

Like all condemned men he was buried inside the walls of the gaol inside a lime-lined pit.



These days imprisonment is the punishment. In 1829, when the prison was built, you were sent to prison to be punished.

The loss of freedom was the least of your concerns because if you weren't breaking stones then you could find yourself on the treadmill in the yard.

Considering that it existed in the 19th Century the barbarity of prison life was essentially mediaeval. There is a stretching rack, there are chains and whippings were not infrequent sadistic occurrences.



Anglesey 
BeaumarisIts use as a prison came to an end in 1878.

After being used as a police station among other uses it ended up as storage for the County Council.

I remember visiting the gaol as a kid around 1971 with a family friend and it was nowhere near as polished and retro-pretty as it is now.


I also remember a massive pile of Second World Gasmasks in one of the cells and, being a bad little boy, I pilfered one.

Take me back into the 17th Century then it would have been a hanging offence. But there again, they didn't have any gasmasks then and anyway, what was I doing in prison in the first place.

As Mr Thomas walked me along the high corridor my skin began to creep as he described the last moments of the condemned.

The SNAP! of the neck, the tolling of the bell and the cheers and tears of those gathered below the rotating and swinging corpse.

Blinkin' Flip! but that caused far too many imaginative and disturbing flashbacks.

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BRING YOUR HAND TO THE BUTTERY BAR


You will find so many excellent places to eat in Beaumaris. I don’t think that there’s a single caff in the entire town.

Anglesey BeaumarisThe Bulls Head is an award-winning hotel and fabulous restaurant.

It is expensive but worth saving up for.

Then there’s the Bishopgate that received a glowing report from Anglesey visitor Esther from Crouch End. CLICK HERE

Okay, so you’ve also got the Liverpool Arms and the lovely mediaeval Beau's Tea Rooms for cream teas and a nice meal. Bring a crash helmet – the ceiling is just above bellybutton height.


The Red Boat ice-cream parlour is a journey into profound indecision. Which ice-cream? Which one!

The Italian Ice-cream University trained owners just don't make it easy for you. Heck! You can always come back again ... and AGAIN.


You’ll find a lovely little shop right on the pier entrance selling ice-creams and also a tidy little cafe just opposite where you can either sit inside or out.

Anglesey BeaumarisThe Neptune Café nearby is also an ally.

Just follow your nose and the smell of vinegar rising from steaming chips.

If it’s a tea or a drink or two then there’s always the Bulkeley Hotel, which is the photograph at the top of this page. They hold regular Charity Tea Dances at the Bulkeley.

For More Facilities Please CLICK HERE

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WHAT SIN A NAME?


Indeed, what’s in a name? In fact, “ A rose by any other name ... and all that.

So welcome to Porth Wygyr, Bonover Marsh, Beau Marais, Bi-Maris or even, BIWMARES (which is an irritating spelling even to us Welsh speakers).

If you consider the name of Anglesey itself it indicates the Viking influence, ’Ongle’s Sey. ’SEY’ being ‘ISLE’ (as in ‘Berd Sey’ – Bardsey – Island of the Bards). It is, therefore, only reasonable to have expected the Vikings to have names for their landing points – both good and bad.

It is believed that PORTH WYGYR was one of its original names derived from the Viking name Port of the Vikings. It is inevitable that Anglesey would be known to the Vikings as it was known as the ‘Breadbasket of Wales’.

In modern Welsh this translates to MÔN MAN CYMRU – ‘Anglesey the Mother of Wales’.



’Wygyr’ is also the name of the chip shop on the High Street in Cemaes Bay. Go visit for a sit down chippy meal. It really is a good little seaside café. Fish, Chips & Mushy Peas, Bread & Butter and Pot of Tea. A well-balanced meal you can get away with once a fortnight.



The Green as it is called is where you can park your wagon and have your breath stolen away by the imposing large view of Snowdonia. The Green is ‘Beau Marais’ or ‘Beautiful Marsh', with its name being attributed to the Normans.

From Llandudno’s Great Orme on your far left, the mouth of the Conwy River, Abergwyngregyn (many of you will remember the forestry cross above this tiny village), then to Bangor, which dominates the near view.

The mountains continue majestically to the south west to sink gracefully into the sea on the Lleyn Peninsula as a thin finger pointing to the ancient home of Saints and Bards on Bardsey Island.


The least likely of the etymology of the name Beaumaris is Bi-Maris. This means TWO SEAS and is probably a bit of intellectualisation that discards the strong Norman influence on that era.

In this identification it could be regarded as where the Menai Straits joins the two seas, here and that at Llanddwyn.

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BEAUMARIS FERRIES


Travel a few hundred yards along the road past the Castle and you will come across the Lavan Sands. This is where the early visitors used to land.

Being a significant military town meant that Beaumaris was a commercial centre. Ferries would traverse the Menai Straits from the Mainland and there would be much troop movement.

The Lavan sands have always ben perilous for all except experienced sailors until buoys were placed to mark its limits. Please view my Penmon page for stories that led to the town's Lifeboat Station being established.


Ferries from the mainland carried on from the time of Edward I until the 18th Century.

During the latter years the Royal Mail bound for Ireland would cross the Straits here and carry on toward Holyhead and the Irish Sea Ferries.

This service was transferred to Bangor in 1719 because of the hazardous Lavan Sands.



The postal ferry crossings across the Menai Straits were ended by the construction of Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge.

There were also regular crossings to Anglesey between Beaumaris and Porth Escop (Bishop's Port) in Bangor. Also at Porth Aethwy (Menai Bridge) and the Moel y Don ferry between Portdinorwic and Llanidan (Brynsiencyn).


There used to be the Foel Ferry service between Caernarfon and Brynsiencyn which came to an end in 1954.

My Great Aunt Ann, who was in service as a nanny in the 1920s, used to work for a family that would 'Winter' in Caernarfon.

The house was supplied by Rhuddgaer Farm in Newborough and all fresh goods would be brought by the ferry. The lady of the house knew when it was due and always knew when the farmhand had stopped in a pub before coming to the house.


People constucting their homes in Abergwyngregyn opposite Beaumaris would order the materials from Liverpool. Knowing the due date they would set across the sandbanks with their horse and cart toward the town and whistle across to the pier.

A boat would then bring the materials across and hopefully it would all arrive back in Aber before the tide came in.

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Anglesey Beaumaris


ROYAL ANGLESEY YACHT CLUB


The Beaumaris Club received its Royal Assent in 1885 when it was granted the Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria - God Bless you Ma'am.

Since then it has reflected society in adapting to changing times. From the social isolation of membership of the professional classes to the fluid mobility of our own age.

What was once a stuffy formal atmosphere has been transformed into a family friendly club whose primary focus is attracting those who wish to sail the Menai Straits.

I am delighted to note that its committment to future sailing and vitality of the club is reflected in their Cadets sailors. Not all Anglesey sailing clubs have embraced this essential program that transports an association from one generation to the next.


Anglesey Beaumaris


This end of the Menai Straits is gloriously tricky to sail but enormously satisfying. August 2009 proved to be a bit of a challenge to their Annual Regatta resulting in three races being blown away.

Nevertheless, it continues to make for fishermen's tales of the conditions.

They 'went down to the sea in ships' and the sea came right up to meet them with a fixed dodgy grin.

Some of the images I have used on this page were taken during the 2009 Regatta.

For information about the 2012 MENAI STRAITS REGATTA Please CLICK HERE

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BOAT LAUNCHING AND REGISTRATION


Anglesey Launching feesThe County Council requires you to register powerboats over a certain horse power and also lists the required qualifications.

Considering that the Royal Anglesey Yacht Club it is such a family friendly and welcoming club then you might as well introduce yourself and accept their guidance.


Please CLICK HERE for all the above information and about launching fees on other Anglesey beaches and slipways.

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A BRITTLE BLUE WINTER SKY

Before you wander off to another page, just scroll down a little bit and look at this beautiful image I captured on the Menai Straits at Beaumaris in late January.

There are more lovely blue images to see. Click Here to see them


Beaumaris - Menai Straits






Anglesey 
Beaumaris



CONTACT ME TO SHARE YOUR INFORMATION OR ASK A QUESTION

Do you have important information you want to share?

Because we'd love to hear from you.

Maybe you have questions you want to ask that might enhance your Anglesey visit?

Please feel free to contact me by CLICKING HERE.



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