Y Fan

Manledd Isaf (lower) and Manledd Uchaf (upper) farmsteads would have in ancient times formed the nucleus of a Cantref (small township).  Their names may have later defined the larger hamlet and veritable village which developed close to them - Y Fan, or, in English, The Van but it was Manledd which was the original manorial township.  These now small settlements may now pale into general insignificance; however, let us place ourselves at the time just after the Reformation where nearby Trefeglwys was an important religious and adminstrative centre, the Parish Church gave a good living to its priest, and Llanidloes was a distant and busy metropolis visited only on market days, if at all.

For this was the birthplace of the Jermans, the mother-lode.  The farms around Llyn y Fan - Van Pool - below, begot the first Jerman families for whom records begin to emerge in the seventeenth century, with some tantalising glimpses and hints into the sixteenth.  Here, in the lee of the Van hill is where the first two or three families settled, maybe after long journeys from France or Belgium.  Even in the sparsely populated Llanidloes hinterland, this particular area is quite isolated.  

However the Romans had been here before and had found something to keep them; indeed Bronze Age man had also long previously had reason to build a hill fort nearby.  The resourceful and industrious Jermans knew that this particular corner of mid-Wales was destined for them. 


This photo by G.Jones, 2002 looks in a rough west-east direction.  The present-day village of Van is in the right middle-ground, represnted mainly by Van Terrace, a row of terraced miner's cottages erected in the mid nineteenth century.



Photo by G.Jones, Feb 2013. Approaching Y Fan from the west.  This is the original nucleated settlement; the more populous Van Terrace area was built apart, in the mid nineteenth century, to accommodate the mine workers.

Hiriaeth Farmhouse 


                 (demolished), date unknown. This location is about 1km east of Van, 2.5km north of Llanidloes,, at an altitude of c.170m (c.500 feet).

 Mary Lloyd (1810-1864), who married Thomas Jerman of Glangwden in 1834, came from Hiriaeth. This photograph is taken from "Llanidloes Town and Parish" by E. Ronald Morris (St. Idloes Press, 1993). Morris mentions that on a beam over the door was cut 'EGE 1722' and also states that the house features in Thomas Lloyd's 'The Lost Houses of Wales' (1986).


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Councillor Jones' council colleagues do not appear to share his vision of a holiday centre at Y Fan.  JW Jones (third left) was married to Mary Enid Jerman (1908-1997), who were my grandparents.   A staunch member of the Labour Party in Wales, Cllr. Jones may have envisaged, here in 1967, a workers' paradise emerging from the slag and other mess left behind - and not really touched since - by the Van Mine.  The ruddy farmers here may well have scoffed at the suggestion - as JW Jones did often go against the grain - but forty years later, while the Van has not developed such large-scale facilities for the wholesale enjoyment of the people, the current vogue for smaller-scale, environmentally-sensitive leisure provision has seen several initiatives in the immediate vicinity.  See Llanidloes.com for various local accommodation options and activities.

Photograph and article from the Express, and Times Gazette, February 11 1967


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