Llansawel is set in the broad Cothi Valley, flanked with plenty of good grazing land for sheep and dairy cattle. The Cothi plays a particularly big part in village life, not least because of the Raft Race which takes place every year over a five-mile stretch. The inventiveness of the rafts is matched only by the prowess of the crews – and their willingness to get wet. The Cothi is also a noted salmon river.
Llansawel has two public houses. In the picture, the Angel Inn is the nearest building on the right, just by the junction sign, while the white building in the middle right (with the red van outside) is the Black Lion. The unpainted stone building which separates them was once the Court house!
It is by the Angel that the three bus services, to Lampeter, Llandeilo and Carmarthen, officially stop for passengers, although in practice the drivers are very obliging and can usually be flagged down all along their route. The Angel also hosts the Senior Citizens’ weekly lunches, while the Black Lion is the favourite watering place of the rugby club. Both pubs are great sources of public spirit and many of the events for charity which take place in and around the village had their beginnings as an idea shared over a pint there.
Four good roads leave the village, toward Llandovery, Lampeter, Llandeilo, Llanybydder and Carmarthen. Although small, Llansawel has a long and quite important history in the area. In past times, its four roads made it a favourite market place where cattle and sheep changed hands before being walked to big markets such as Hereford and Kent. Today, Llansawel is a quiet village with a good community spirit, a place where people look out for each other and where a surprising number of charity events each year generate considerable sums for charitable causes. These have included cycle rides, but perhaps the most popular is the annual Bed-Push through the village.
The church, with its fifteenth century tower is dedicated to St Sawyl, can be found behind the old courthouse in the centre of the village. It is the oldest of the three places of worship in the parish and may even be the oldest building in the village. The original church was restored in 1886 when the gallery was removed, the windows enlarged, the roof replaced and the pews and pulpit that exist today were installed. Further restoration work was undertaken in 1906 and 2001. The disused vestry (a separate building in the church yard) was used as the village school room.
More information about the village can be found on the Llansawel community website, www.llansawel.org.uk