Sketches of England

Name of traveller

Felician Myrbach (1853-1940) and Paul Villars

Reason for travel

  • holidaying

Date of travel

September 1886

In Llangollen the only approach to national peculiarity in dress is that the women nearly all wear men's hats over their linen caps. This is peculiar but not pretty. (Myrbach and Villars 161)


  • agriculture:
    • black cattle in north Wales similar to cattle in Brittany
    • notes the use of horses instead of oxen for ploughing or carting
  • architecture:
    • impressed by the well-built cottages of the slate miners around Llanberis
    • description of a "salmon ladder" in use near Betws-y-Coed
    • detailed descriptions of Plas Newydd and Valle Crucis in Llangollen
    • description of the wooden bridge across the Mawddach estuary
  • art:
    • pencil and coloured pencil illustrations by Felician Myrbach with great attention to faithful reproduction of geographic details
    • frequently meet other travelling artists, some of them from continental Europe, working in the open air, particularly around Snowdonia
    • Capel Curig described as a hot-spot for male and female artists
    • Betws-y-Coed described as the headquarters for an army of artists
  • clothing:
    • a number of references to and description of hiking equipment and apparel used by themselves and many other tourists
    • Welsh costume is no longer worn by women in north Wales, but they continue to wear men's hats on top of their caps
  • customs:
    • note closing of all shops and no train service in Wales on Sundays
    • description of a triple harp used by a harpist playing Welsh tunes in a hotel in Llangollen during meal times
    • description of the celebrations on the last day of the National Eisteddfod in Caernarfon
    • description of a slate cutting competition as part of the National Eisteddfod
  • diet: meals served in Welsh hotels described as particularly bad
  • history: many notes on medieval Welsh history in relation to visited ruins of castles or churches
  • industry:
    • importance of slate-mining in north Wales, particularly the Penrhyn quarries
    • recognises inevitable demise of industrial mining in the future
    • description of work processes in slate quarries
  • language:
    • frequent references to encounters with Welsh, but being unable to speak or understand the language themselves
    • struggle of pronouncing Welsh placenames
  • literature:
    • compare with similar account by Marie-Anne de Bovet (1860-19??)
    • notes significance of a Welsh ode about Owain Goch's (c. 1330-1378) imprisonment in Dolbadarn Castle
    • references to French literature as means for humouristic commentary
  • people:
    • contains a great number of humorous character sketches of local people and travellers met during the journey
    • reference to landscape painter David Cox (1783-1859) who painted the sign of the Royal Oak Hotel in Betws-y-Coed during one of his stays
    • pay a visit to the tomb of the Ladies of Llangollen, Eleanor Charlotte Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831); biographical notes
  • recreation:
    • ascent of Snowdon in with the help of a local guide and in company with other tourists; Villars rents a pony, Myrbach walks
    • description of the huts on the summit of Snowdon offering their sub-standard and overpriced services to tourists
    • tourists have to pay for admission to Fairy Glen
    • notice only few French names in visitors' books at each inn and hotel they visit and conclude that only few tourist from France travel to Wales
    • reference to loudly complainging English tourists in Welsh hotels
    • rapid expansion of Llandudno as sea-side resort for affluent English tourists, also during winter
    • town authorities encourage separate bathing for male and female tourists at Llandudno beaches by setting up public notice boards
    • quality of Welsh hotels described as generally bad
  • terrain:
    • reject any attempts at drawing comparisons between Snowdonia and Switzerland or the Pyrenees owing to lack of similarities and because Wales is beautiful in its own way
    • sublime character of landscape around Llyn Peris
    • description of wild, imposing quality of the mountains around Snowdon and their sparce vegetation
    • detailed description of town layout of Llandudno and comparison with American town patterns
    • complaints about the unreliability of the weather
  • transport:
    • modes of travel: fly carriage; horseback; on foot; pleasure boat; train
    • good quality road across the Pass of Llanberis
    • travel by train has replaced travelling by coach
    • Llandudno town councillers have banned the use of bicycles and velocipedes on the promenade as dangers to pedestrians
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Nationality of traveller

Austrian and French

Language of publication


Gender of traveller


Type of publication

illustrated travelogue


Myrbach, [Felician] and P[aul] Villars. Sketches of England. London: The "Art Journal" Office, 1891. 133-80. Print.