Brecon's strategic position was important in the turbulent years before the Civil War, and King Charles visited the town in quest of support in 1645. Staying overnight at Priory House, he wrote the letter to his eldest son, advising that he should, in ultimate necessity, convey himself into France. The cobbled King's Steps in The Struet mark his route of exit to Gwernyfed. By the end of the war, the Town's defence walls had been partially dismantled by the citizens.
By the early 18th century, Brecon was developing into one of the leading towns in Wales, ranking with Carmarthen and Caernarvon. Together with its long ecclesiastical and military influence, it was now an important administrative centre. It was an Assize town, the location for Quarter Sessions and twice-yearly Grant Sessions, then held at the Guildhall. Brecon, as the county town and Parliamentary Borough, was an evolving social organism. The first direct commercial
coach route from London into Wales was announced in September 1756. The terminus of this 44 hour journey via Oxford, Gloucester and Monmouth was the Golden Lion Inn at Brecon, the site of the present Bethel Square. Other inns such as The George, The Bell and later The Castle provided accommodation for the early stages of tourism.
Fine Georgian-style houses in the High Street, Glamorgan Street, Lion Street and the Bulwark, The Struet and The Watton are evidence of prosperity to which a military presence and commercial interests contributed. A covered market building and a busy canal encouraged trade. Both today are visitor attractions, but little trace remains now of the network of railway development. The gentry, whose fine houses ringed the town, regarded Brecon as a social centre for balls, play-going, and latterly, horse racing.
Some evidence for the 19th century phase of fine Chapel buildings is still clear today, particularly in Lion Street and Kensington, though Bethel Chapel and the Dr Coke Methodist Chapel in Lion Street have been converted for commercial purposes.
This outline gives a view of Brecon's varied and interesting past.