Lampeter - Places to go and places to stay in Lampeter
Lampeter is a small market and university town in Ceredigion. Centred in the midst of beautiful Welsh countryside it is close to Snowdonia, Pembrokshire and the Brecon Beacons National Parks.
Although early reference to Lampeter is hard to come by, the remains of forts, standing stones and burial chambers bears witness to the fact there was once human activity in the area. The Romans established a camp at Pont Llanio and mined for gold at nearby Pumpsaint, the site of which is now owned by the National Trust. Visitors to the mine gain first hand knowledge of the conditions gold miners of that era had to endure.
Lampeter was an important gathering place for drovers in the 18th century when huge herds of livestock were walked all the way to the markets of southeast England. Some of Wales's oldest banking systems were established by the drovers all of which were assimilated into the UK banks. Lloyd's bank still maintains its sign of the rearing horse, symbolic of a welsh mountain pony, a reminder of the merchants of long ago.
After the arrival of the railway the horse fair originally held at Dihewyd was transferred to Lampeter. An extremely popular event it is said that buyers for the army were present at the fair of 1812. Vendors were holding back for the higher price when news of Napoleon's defeat came through, causing an immediate drop in the price of the horses. The fair closed in 1939.
Established in 1822 the University of Wales, Lampeter is the oldest degree awarding institution in England and Wales except for Oxford and Cambridge. It is a specialist liberal arts university teaching humanities and social science subjects. With just 1,000 or so students on campus it is also the smallest university which results in a close-knit atmosphere, with staff priding themselves on being friendly and approachable. Visitors are welcome to stroll through the grounds of the university with its magnificent neo-gothic Old Building which was modelled on the quadrangle of Oxford. Designed by C R Cockerell, St. David's Building as it is now known, cost £16,204, 6s and 7d and received its first students in 1827.
In 1801 the population in Lampeter was 669 and by 1901 had increased to 1722. In 1991 there were just under 2,000 residents in the town with the majority being Welsh speaking. Although the smallest town in Wales and the United Kingdom, the student population from all corners of the world give Lampeter a distinctly cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Lampeter originally thrived as an agricultural centre, however, it is education and tourism that drives the local economy today. Despite the decline in agriculture, Lampeter still retains the character of a market town with its cattle mart, antiques auction, horse fair and food festival still being regular attractions.
As well as the historic and picturesque areas in Lampeter it is also the centre of a network of stunning country walks along with many opportunities for outdoor activities which include the splendid angling facilities on the River Teifi.