Llanbister is rich in local history, with its origins dating back as far as the early medieval period, when St Cynllo set up the village’s first church in the 6th century. Although that church no longer stands, the village and its surrounding areas still boast an array of churches originating from the middle ages, including the 13th century St Cynllo’s Church, the 14th century St Padarn’s and St David’s churches, and Llananno Church, with its famous late 15th century rood screen.
The nearby village of Abbeycwmhir, with its 12th century abbey ruins and Victorian gothic hall, is also worth a visit for guests who are interested in local history.
The Lion Hotel itself is an important village landmark. It was built at the end of the 19th century, during the late Victorian period, although it is likely a Lion pub existed in the village prior to that in acknowledgement of the area’s medieval ruler. During the 11th century, Llanbister was part of the Maelienydd kingdom, ruled by Elystan Glodrydd, whose heraldic logo was a lion, which is used on the Lion Hotel’s logo to this day.
The Lion Hotel is run by Janet and Ray Thomas, who have been at the helm of the country pub and Mid Wales bed and breakfast for 20 years. The hotel still retains some traces of its Victorian origin, giving the property a distinct period feel. The doors to the three guest rooms are adorned with Victorian style name plates, and the rooms are named Maelienydd, after the kingdom Llanbister belonged to, Elystan, after its ruler and Dorddu, after a 14th century Llanbister landowner and descendant of Elystan Glodrydd. Janet Thomas is also a descendant of Elystan Glodrydd. For more details of Elystan you can visit www.elystan.co.uk
Ray is a local history enthusiast, and has a wealth of knowledge about the area’s past that he loves to share with guests. He is willing to take guests on walking tours around the village, during which time he will tell tales of the past and answer any questions guests might have. He is also able to take small groups of guests out in a four-wheel drive vehicle for a historical tour of the surrounding area.
Another local point of interest is Castell Tinboeth, the ruins of a medieval castle in Llananno, near Llanbister. The castle ruins are set on a hillfort, which was thought to have been used by Elystan and his descendants until the late 13th century, when the Mortimer family are thought to have taken over the hillfort and built the castle. Although there little stonework remains at the site, there is an impressive earthwork.