WB Yeats once wrote that, 'There are no such strangers here; only friends you haven't met yet.' Well, if that is true of anywhere then it is certainly true of the New Three Mariners Inn in Laugharne.
Laugharne & Browns Hotel
Laugharne has always had a timeless quality. Stand on the foreshore and look out across the estuary. See the heron, the egrets and the curlews; a place for birdwatchers, anglers and walkers, as well as those who want to simply gaze across the water at Sir John’s Hill and Llanybri; then further on to the mouth of the Towy and the silken beach at Cefn Sidan; then further still to the mysterious headlands of the Gower Peninsula. This is an astonishing and ancient view, one that has captivated artists and writers for generations. Everyone knows about Dylan Thomas, but did you know that Coleridge wrote about Laugharne? As did the great WW1 poet, Edward Thomas, who lived briefly on Victoria Street, just up from the Inn. Richard Hughes lived and wrote at Castle House. Kingsley Amis wrote The Old Devils here. Turner painted its magical coastline. And even today fascinating characters are still drawn to the township by the annual Laugharne Weekend – a literature and music festival held every April – where recent performers have included Patti Smith, Graeme Garden and Cerys Matthews.
Laugharne has a fascinating history too. It was a major port in Tudor times and its location on the estuary means it has always had a military importance. The fine castle, ‘brown as owls’, pays testimony to that. It is a corporation and has a portreeve, an ancient burgess roll and a grand jury which meets in the Town Hall once a fortnight. The portreeve has a similar role to a mayor and gets to wear a chain of gold cockle shells. The town seems to delight in mixing the ancient with the modern; the profound with the quirky.
Laugharne has a variety of interesting places to visit too. There’s the Dylan Thomas Boathouse, the castle and the Tin Shed Experience – a military museum housed, yes, in a tin shed! You can take Dylan’s Birthday Walk and actually ‘walk’ a poem up Sir John’s Hill from the starting point at the other side of the car-park on the foreshore. Then there are cafes, restaurants, lively bars and gifts shops; indeed, whilst the town certainly has a calming quality this isn’t some sleepy backwater but a fully functioning spirited town with its own theatre company, regatta and rugby team.
And then there is The Brown's – standing proudly on Laugharne’s main street – which has been at the hub of Laugharne society since it opened in 1752, and is famously Dylan Thomas’ favourite drinking haunt. This iconic listed building has recently undergone a complete restoration and reopened as a 'bar with rooms' in July 2012. The interior has been carefully designed to be evocative of the 1950s and offers 4-star accommodation. The bar has also been faithfully restored. Yes, Dylan liked a drink, but it was the conviviality of pubs he liked more, and a stroll into the bar where he spent his evenings drinking halves of bitter whilst listening to stories and gossip and playing cards in his favoured window-seat, is a ‘must’ for any visitor to the town.
Dylan was famously verbose, so we’ll leave the last word to the legend who rejoiced in his adopted home – the strange wonderful town of Laugharne – describing it as...