Three generations of the Lloyds and Coopers have run Cnapan since 1984. Michael & Judith Cooper and staff will give you the warmest of welcomes on your arrival at Cnapan. The photo-film below will give you a sense of Cnapan and what is important to the Team here.
The ancient game of Cnapan was the rural forerunner of rugby union football. It was widely played in Tudor times throughout North Pembrokeshire and in the Teifi Valley, and we know a great deal about it from a wonderful description written in 1603 by the eccentric local squire George Owen.
Cnapan was a ball game played with a hard wooden ball between opposing teams of hundreds of players. In the Newport area the game was played every Shrove Tuesday between the men of Newport and the men of the adjoining parish of Nevern. This match would start on Traeth Mawr (Big Beach) and play would range far and wide between the two “goals” of the gates of the respective parish churches of Newport and Nevern. Play would disregard such natural obstacles as streams, hedges roads and fields.
Such matches were great social occasions since play went on all day long. There were minstrels, dancers, craftsmen and sellers of food and drink in attendance to add to the festive atmosphere. The game itself was very rough and injuries were common on the field of play - which is not surprising since horsemen with staves and cudgels were allowed amongst the foot players!
The description of the old game showed that it had many of the characteristics of the modern game of rugby (and American football). Players were divided up into forwards (the “sturdy gamesmen”) and the backs the “scouts” or “forerunners”). Some of the backs were detailed to be “borderers” responsible for blocking or tackling in case of breakouts from the main throng of play. The ball could not be kicked, but it could be passed either backwards or forwards. Because the ball was small and relatively light passes of 50 or 60 yards were not uncommon and the focus of play could be shifted very rapidly over a distance of half a mile or more. The skills of elusive running, tackling and passing were greatly admired, and the best players were closely marked or blocked. Because of its close association with Cnapan, Newport has a good claim to be the real home of rugby football.
A recent re-enactment of Cnapan was organised by Griff Rhys Jones on Traeth Mawr, as part of his programme on the old pilgrim route from Aberystwyth to St Davids. For further reading please see "The Ancient Game of Cnapan" by the well known local author Brian John.
History Of Newport
The town was founded by the NormanWilliam FitzMartin (c.1155-1209) in about 1197. He was a son-in-law of the Lord Rhys, who nevertheless expelled him from his former base at nearby Nevern, which had been established by his father Robert fitz Martin. William founded Newport as the new capital of the Marcher Lordship of Cemais and it was a busy port founded primarily on the growing medievalwool trade. Despite seizure from the native Welsh, it remained within the FitzMartin family until the death of William, the 2nd Lord Martin, who died without male heir in 1326. Newport is a marcherborough. Owen, in 1603, described it as one of five Pembrokeshire boroughs overseen by a portreeve. It retains some of the borough customs such as electing a mayor, who beats the bounds on horseback every August.
The castle built by FitzMartin is situated on a spur of Carn Ingli which overlooks Newport and much of the surrounding countryside. Though in ruins since at least the 17th century, it is impressive due to its site, and a converted house incorporating the castle walls which faces west over the town, the bay and the Irish Sea is still inhabited.