What was in PenCambria: Issue 40 Spring 2019

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 40 Spring 2019 

Dear PenCambrians

Do you ever feel that some divine harvest is being gathered? Firstly, two friends and a close family member, yes the Celtic triplet, all intimately associated with PenCambria, have departed this life in the last half year. Diana Brown left us last August, Jim French slipped quietly away in the New Year and Pedro, the dog whose exploits were integral to the life of the retired lady and gentleman from Llawr-y-glyn in the long running series Put Out To Grass also hung up his lead earlier this year.  Added to these, one of our greatest supporters Lady Shirley Hooson passed away just under a year ago and two of us said good bye to our husbands in the past four months: another Celtic trio, this time of our supporters. Empty, shell-shocked, these hardly describe feeling at the moment. However, in the general run of things, nature abhors a vacuum, so when a space becomes vacant, we can usually hope for it to be filled sooner or later and, while this issue is full of familiar faces, there are glimmers on the horizon of new writers, and hence new and different interests to come. Tributes to both Jim and Pedro appear in the pages of this issue.

In the meantime, we begin this edition with the first part of a biographical sketch of the First Lord Davies of Llandinam. This is part of the booklet A Biographical Sketch of David Davies (Topsawyer) 1818-1890 and his Grandson David Davies (1st Baron Davies) 1880–1944 by Peter Lewis, part one of which detailing the life of David Davies, Top Sawyer, appeared in the last edition of PenCambria.

Building on the initiative by the RCAHMW and Jim French’s article in the last PenCambria, Norma Allen has been investigating place names in the Llandinam area. This is project in which we could all take part, so if you feel like finding out about the place names and history or any stories behind them, do please get in touch and let us know what you have found. The RCAHMW are also very keen to know what has been found in you area too, so if you want to get in touch with them, contact details can be found further on in this magazine.

Brian Poole has been tackling the Caersws Smithfield and has come up with some very interesting information as well as some wonderful archive photographs. Andrew Dakin describes the long march of his family back to Llanidloes. Lawrence Johnson is back on the uplands of Plylumon among the remnants of lost communities there.

Glove making was one of those essential trades in centuries gone by that, apart from gardening gloves and woolly mitts for the winter, we scarcely consider these days. Jim French’s final article, which amazingly he made sure he completed before his death, is a search for the glove makers of Llanidloes and fascinating reading it makes too. Bruce Mawdesley in one of his exquisitely written pen portraits, remembers Old Morty. Her memory jogged by the tribute to her friend Lady Shirley Hooson, Gwyneth Garner relates a few of her own war-time memories, hopefully the first of many such recollections. In Andrew Dakin’s article Tales From the Footplate: Tylwch in PC37, he mentioned a tragic accident that happened in 1883. Derek Savage sent me the newspaper article detailing this accident, which I have reprinted here and I do hope you will forgive me including the gory details.

Wales is above all a land of thwarted ambitions and especially so after the death of Llywelyn ab Gruffudd, the only native Welsh declared Prince Of Wales, who was assassinated in 1282. Two other princes followed in his footsteps in the following century: Owain Glyndwr at the end of the 14th century but 30 years before that came Owain of Wales, also known as Owain Lawgoch, and it is his story, facts, myths and legends that I have included in this issue.

Michael Apichela, as part of his love affair with Wales provides an insight into the mining connections between Wales and Pennsylvania.

The renovation of the barn in Wales Arts starts the year with a new, more intimate space for exhibition, workshops and performances. Last year the RCAHMW highlighted a monument on Moel y Golfa in north Montgomeryshire, commemorating the Romani Chell, or leader, Ernest Burton, and there is also an update on their project regarding the place names in Wales.

Lots of goodies in the Dragon’s Crypt. Diana Ashworth turns her talent to fiction this time with a tale all about the dangers of tunnelling, with enchanting illustration by Wendy Wigley; Julia R Francis has a poem all about the first day; Norma Allen whets our appetite with Apple Crumble and Custard and Chris Barrett, also in a lighter frame of mind, has some entertaining thoughts on  life in general. Good Reading to you all  Gay Roberts.

CONTENTS OF PENCAMBRIA 40

First Lord Davies of Llandinam, Part one Peter Lewis

Musings on some Welsh Place Names in the Llandinam Area Norma Allen

The Caersws Smithfield Brian Poole

Tumbled Worlds Lawrence Johnson

A Long March Home Andrew Dakin

Was there ever a Glove Making Industry in Llanidloes? Jim French

Old Morty Bruce Mawdesley

Accident at Tylwch – report from the Montgomeryshire Express

The Prince of Wales over the Water Gay Roberts

Love in Wales Michael Apichela

The Master of his Fate – Jim French 1946-2019 Gay Roberts

R.I.P. Pedro Diana Ashworth

Mid Wales Arts – news

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales – updates

In the Dragons Crypt

Where The Wild Garlic Grows Diana Ashworth

Day One – poem by Julia R. Francis

Apple Crumble and Custard Norma Allen

Comedies : some reflections on life Chris Barrett

Time is Running Out for the Pangolin Zoe Spencer

SELECTED ARTICLE:

MUSINGS ON SOME WELSH PLACE NAMES IN THE LLANDINAM AREA by Norma Allen

Although I was born and brought up in Wales, I am not a Welsh speaker and I take note of the warning published by the Ordnance Survey in their ‘Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain’:-

            ‘There are many pitfalls for the unwary, attempting to understand place names and indulging in the indiscriminate, uninformed and naïve interpretation of elements on the basis of the place names as they appear today.’

Therefore, I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies that have come about in my attempt to understand and to reflect on some of the place names in the area.

Many towns and villages in Wales with names beginning with ‘Llan’ are named after the patron saint who founded them –– Llan is generally accepted as meaning church, or the area around the church –– although other interpretations suggest it might mean an enclosure, settlement or even village green. The Llan is followed by the saint’s name, for example, Llanidloes after Saint Idloes and Llangurig after Saint Curig. This is by no means always the case though; Llandrindod Wells, for example, is named after the Trinity (Y Drindod in Welsh). Other towns beginning with Llan have no church connections. Llandaff, despite its cathedral, is named after the River Taff.

Llandinam is also one of the exceptions. The settlement is said to have been founded by the sixth century Saint Llonio, with the parish church being named after him. One might therefore expect the village to be called Llanllonio rather than Llandinam. ‘Dinam’ is often interpreted as meaning ‘without a fault’ but B Bennet Rowlands believes that it more likely to mean ‘the church of the fortress’ as it was partly built of stone obtained from the ruins of the ancient city of Caersws and could be the old name of the iron age hill fort Cefn Carnedd (‘Cefn’, ridge, ‘Carnedd’, heap of stones), the remains of which are found on a hill on the western edge of the village.  He cites the Rev C.K. Hartshorne who stated that in his opinion Cefn Carnedd could well have been the true position of Caractacus’ final battle.

B Bennett Rowlands, who was born in 1836 at Pwllan Farm, Llandinam, recollects that the land by the church tower was raised well above the adjoining ground, suggesting traces of what might have been a fortified camp. Adding weight to the argument are the ruins of a dwelling on a hilltop on the opposite side of the village –– ‘The Gaer’, (a mutation of the word Caer meaning stronghold or fort).

When the present church was substantially re-built in 1865 by Edward Jones of Llanidloes, he discovered two cartloads of human bones that give rise to the conjecture that they were the result of a bloody battle on that spot at sometime in the past. Whatever the truth of the matter, St Llonio’s is built on a hill in a commanding position overlooking the village and surrounding countryside –– access these days is up a steep slope that often causes parishioners to arrive at the church gasping for breath!

Place and house names in most areas are named after the surrounding landscape. My home, Troedyrhiw, is aptly named as it is tucked into the surrounding landscape with a hill rising above it. The literal translation is foot (troed) of the (yr) hill (rhiw) or bottom of the slope.  The houses of Aelybryn are set in a row along the edge (Ael) of a hill (bryn) and in this hilly area there are many houses with ‘Bryn’ in their names.

The Italianate-style mansion, Broneirion, was built on the site of Broneirion Farm for David Davies (Top Sawyer) in 1864. It stands on the side of a steep, wooded valley, with stunning views over the river Severn valley and the village. It is now the home of Girl Guiding Cymru and a Conference Centre.

Finding out the possible meaning of the name Broneirion has proved difficult. ‘Bron’ is breast (of the hill) and it has been suggested that ‘eirion’ may be ‘jewel’ thus making ‘jewel on the breast of the hill’, which would fit well now. However, this theory seems doubtful since Broneirion Farm would probably have been a much more humble dwelling than the present magnificent building. Further down the road are the farms: Lower, Middle and Upper Gwernerin. Does eirion come from erin? Gwern is alder, or place of the alder, eirin in Welsh is plum or berries. Broneirion had an apple orchard on its slopes. Whether this had anything to do with the name is pure conjecture.

One other puzzling name is that of Caetwp Farm. Literally translated Cae is ‘field’ and ‘twp’ is stupid or silly. One wonders how a field could be thought of as stupid. Was it stony, boggy, an awkward shape or did twp mean something different in days gone by? As with all of the above we can only surmise and use what evidence has been found to try to work out the meanings of these Welsh names today.

References:

 ‘Llandinam A Glimpse of the Past’  Jeremy Pryce, Cambrian Press 2002

‘A History of Llandinam and Parish’  B. Bennett Rowlands 1836 -1915 Published by Jeremy Pryce, The Forge, Llandinam SY17 5BY 2011

‘Llandinam Meandering Byways & Pathways to the Past’ Publisher Jeremy Pryce (as above) 2008.

Ordnance Survey Limited (GB) www. ordnancesurvey.co.uk ‘Glossary of Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 39 Winter 2018

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 39 Winter 2018 

Dear PenCambrians

Well I hope you have all managed to cool down after the hottest summer since 1976. I certainly never thought that I would have to be carrying drinking water to the house again, especially for so long. Luckily there is a laundrette in Llanidloes now so I didn’t have to go and stand in the river to do the laundry like I did then.

We have had a sad loss to the PenCambria team this month:  Diana Brown, who was a stalwart of our local history and heritage articles, died quite suddenly in August. We will miss her greatly and you will find an appreciation of her beginning this month’s issue. We have had glimpses of the illustrious career another colleague; Reginald Massey, and earlier this year he received another accolade, the P.D. James Award, for which he receives our hearty congratulations. For centuries, leather and leather goods manufacturing were one of the staple means of income in Llanidloes. Alas most of that has now gone and Diana Ashworth has been talking Llanidloes leatherman, Len Davis, who is the last of his kind, and what an extraordinary career he had, too. Shivering around the coke stove, far from the heat of this summer, Norma Allen remembers her school days in Llandrindod Wells.

Ivor Davies has had a book on 18th century veterinary practices in his family’s possession for many generations and he and Brian Poole have written an article integrating a commentary on that and bilingualism in Aberhafesb over the centuries. The Davies family of Llandinam are well known for their philanthropic support for so many projects in mid Wales especially in the fields of culture and the arts. Their wealth came originally from David Davies’s enterprises in the south Wales coal fields and Barry docks. Peter wrote a biographical sketch chronicling the lives of David Davies and his grandson David Davies, the 1st Baron Davies, and this is will be serialised in the next few editions of PenCambria. This month’s chapter is all about the first David Davies, or Top Sawyer, as he was known.

Trust between man and bird, and a butterfly are the subjects of Bruce Mawdesley’s exquisite little pieces this  month.Richard Meredith is in pursuit of the Manuels whose name he bears.

After Chris Barrett’s introduction to megaliths in mid Wales, Lawrence Johnson has been on a strenuous hunt for a stone circle high in the moorlands behind Carno. Michael Apichela, on the other hand, shows us the delights lower down in the seaside town that is Aberystwyth. Michael  has a love of all things Aberystwyth and he just cannot keep his feelings in check with both a piece of prose and a poem celebrating this seaside resort and its traditions and introducing us to one of its artists, Karen Pearce.

In 2014 we began our commemoration of the centenary of the First Word War with Brian Lawrence’s account of the Home Front in Rhayader with a compilation of reports from the newspaper, council and other groups. This year sees the centenary of the end of this dreadful conflict and the documentary section of this magazine ends with his compilation of accounts relating to 1918 up to the armistice in November of that year.

Last year the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments in Wales began a project on place names in Wales. The history of Mid Wales, more so than north or south, can be said to be revealed in our place names so I have suggested to our writers that we could do something similar here. Jim French has started the ball rolling. If any of you would like to send me information about place names in your area I should be delighted to hear from you and perhaps we can add it to what we already have.

In the Dragon’s Crypt, thrills and chills for Hallowe’en from Norma Allen, Michael Apichela’s Ode to Aberystwyth and two beautiful poetic meditations on birth and death at the turn of the year from Paul Hodgon.

CONTENTS OF PENCAMBRIA 39

Diana Brown, 14th August 1932-13th August 2018, an appreciation compiled by Gay Robert

Reginald Massey awarded P.D. James Award

The PenCambria Quiz number 2

Last Leatherman in Llanidloes Diana Ashworth

Veterinary Practice and Bilingualism in 19th Century Aberhafesb Brian Poole

David Davies(Top Sawyer) 1818-1890 – a biographical sketch  Peter Lewis

Walking the Old Ways of Radnorshire: book review Lawrence Johnson

What’s in a Name? Richard Meredith

The Butterfly Bruce Mawdesley

Will the Circle be Unbroken? Lawrence Johnson 

Karen Pearce : a Welsh Artist of Many Hues Michael Apichela

From Coke Stoves to Computers Norma Allen

In Praise of Old Aberystwyth Michael Apichela

The End of the Great War – Rhayader 1918 Brian Lawrence

Fields and ‘Edges Jim French

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales – Latest Research into Abermagwr

 AS USUAL THE EDITOR HAS CHOSEN ONE ARTICLE TO PUBLISH ON THE WEBSITE IN FULL

 LAST LEATHERMAN IN LLANIDLOES by Diana Ashworth 

In the 1549 record of the Court of Great Sessions there is a reference to Stryd Gwyr y Gloferiaid (Street of Glovers) suggesting a flourishing glove making trade in the town of Llanidloes. Leather working would seem to have been an obvious enterprise for a town like Llanidloes – an economy being an industrial ecology system with inter-dependant enterprises fuelling each other’s success. Leather working certainly fitted snuggly with all the other enterprise in the town and there was much enterprise during the industrial heyday of the town. A leather industry needs hides in plenty (a by-product of the meat produced from cows and sheep by local farms), bark for tanning from the oak trees felled for building and for pit props for mining. The hills around Llanidloes had been mined for lead since Roman times.  Lead was mined at Bryntail from 1708 and the ore shipped down the Severn to the sea in small boats.  A rich lead seam was discovered in the Van in 1865 and it became the boom industry – in 1876 it produced 6,840 tons of lead, more than the total production of the rest of Britain and supported hundreds of workers.  A new light railway was built to link the mine with the rail network at Caersws. Oak bark was also a by-product of charcoal burning and charcoal was also important, before coke, to fuel the blast furnaces used to smelt the lead ore.  The remains of blast furnaces can still be found along the footpath on the north bank of the Clywedog River as it enters the town.

For almost any industry you need power – it is no accident that the wool processing factories in Llanidloes were called mills – mills originally powered by water.  Water crashed down over the paddles of the great water wheels that powered local industry before the extravagant days of steam.  Even in the little settlement of Llawr-y-glyn the gardens of the present houses are criss-crossed by the earthworks of ancient mill leats. Water was needed for tanning and dyeing and to carry away the chemical effluent from the factories.  Tanning continued in other places after it ceased in Llanidloes so there are still some people who can remember how every few days their river would run a different colour, according to the colour of leather in production that particular week!

There are three other things you need for a buoyant industry – investment, transport links and a skilled work force.  With the success of the mines, the flannel mills, farming and the iron foundries (which grew up to support the mining and the railways and really took off in the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century) the town was prosperous and there was no lack of investment.  With plentiful work and railway links to the rest of Britain, the town grew and with a strong tradition of religious non-conformity there was a lively Welsh culture and a relatively sober, educated workforce with a strong work ethic. So Llanidloes was perfectly situated to have a thriving leather industry.

In 1878 there were three tanneries listed in the town: Thomas and Edward Davies, skinners, of Short Bridge Street of Crybine and Phoenix-stream mills; Robert T Foulkes of The Nant and David Swancott of Great Oak Street. Later in the century there were skinyards on Lower Green in Cwmdu and later still, Spring Mill flannel mill, over the Short Bridge, was bought by Edward Hamer and converted into a skinyard and tannery by his son T Pryce Hamer.  When he was killed in the First World War the business was taken over by his brother George F. Hamer.  In 1931 George Hamer acquired another defunct flannel mill, the Cambrian flannel mill, which he converted to a leather factory which he ran in conjunction with Spring Mill.  These premises were large, impressive industrial buildings.  The Cambrian Flannel Mill had two large three story blocks with an oblique chimney that voided the smoke from the steam boiler at a distance from the factory so that soot did not get deposited on the acres of flannel that used to be pegged, with tenter hooks, on frames on the nearby hillside to dry.  These great mills and the foundry must have dominated the town landscape in a way that is hard to believe today.

By the second World War these works, now producing fine leather, employed more than 100 people, a quarter of them women.  Rough hides were processed at Spring Mill, cleaned and de-greased and turned into leather which then went to the Cambrian  Leather Works to by dyed and softened – a process known as finishing.  There are still people who remember the drying rooms, where hides were pegged to dry on frames that slid into drying cabinets heated artificially.  These were up on the hill, above Spring Mill and behind what until recently was Shirley Houson’s house. Gloves continued to be made in the town up until the Second World War and at that time there was still a tannery on the river at the rear of Victoria Avenue. Sandringham Leather Goods Ltd occupied the first floor of the Cambrian Works from 1939 making belts, wallets etc before moving to new premises in 1953.  In that year there was a major fire at the Cambrian Leather Works but the factory was rebuilt and continued until the 1960’s although latterly, I am told, the premises were leased and run by at least one other leather producer before being sold to BSK who ran it as an engineering workshop. By 1970 leather production in the town had ceased.  However there remained in the town many skilled leather workers, men who could handle and match hides by second nature and skilled machinists.  One man who had been born in the town recognised this.

Enter Len Davies who was born in Cae Gwyn, Llanidloes, and left school in 1955 and went to work at Titley Evans in Cambrian Place.  The company had been general dealers for over 100 years, buying goods and selling direct to the public.  They had two salesmen — one for south and one for north Wales.  They went from door to door and took orders from housewives (who were at home in those days), posted them back to Llanidloes where Edward Williams, the manager of the business and uncle of the two young women who had inherited it, ably assisted by Len, would make up the orders and deliver them.  Len was interested in the fabrics and haberdashery and he was paid £2 per week.   But those were the days when you could have a night out in Newtown, by train (cinema with friends and a bag of chips) for two shillings and six pence (2/6) — that’s 13p in today’s money! Len was born at just the right time; he missed the last call-up for National Service by a matter of weeks.  Many of his friends from the new Llani High School, opened in 1951, had gone that year into the Welsh Guards who always recruited in Llanidloes.  Len was ambitious and when, one day, he was stopped in Newtown by a man from the Youth Employment Department he was interested in the opportunities that were on offer.  Before he knew it he had applied for a job at a famous department store on London’s Buckingham Palace Road.  This was Gorringe’s, opened by Frederick Gorringe in 1858 though later taken over by Selfridges. This was a very exclusive emporium with several royal warrants – they were silk mercers to the Queen Mother and hatters to the Queen! To complete his application Len had to enclose a photograph of himself.  That was a problem — these were the days before digital photography.  One or two people might have a Kodak box camera with which they took tiny black and white snaps on holiday which took a couple of weeks to get developed, or you might have a studio photograph taken by a professional photographer in the nearest big town at great expense.  There was a photographer in Llanidloes who took pictures at weddings, Len sought him out and explained his quandary – “I’m doing a wedding on Saturday – meet me outside the church and I’ll see what I can do.”  Len got himself all dressed up in his Sunday best and was outside the church the following Saturday and a very respectable photograph was produced and duly sent off.  Len got the job and off he went to London.

He presented himself at Gorringe’s  — a very grand place indeed in a building not unlike the present Harrods building but just around the corner from Buckingham Palace, opposite the Royal Mews.  He wore his new brown suit, a cream shirt, a splendid tie and new ox-blood shoes, of which he was very proud.  “Oh dear! You won’t do at all,” said the floor manager at Gorringe’s shaking his head – there was a strict dress code for employees.  They wore smart black or navy suits, black shoes and socks and the house tie.   However they were accommodating to this innocent from the Welsh hills; they dressed him appropriately (deducting 2s 6d from his weekly pay for the hire of the suit while his own was made which in the end he got for free.  They adjusted the way he spoke (I always wondered what had befallen his Welsh accent!)  He lived in the staff hostel and was payed 24s 6d per week (£1.22½p in new money!)  In London he earned a lot less than he had in Wales but they sent him to the College of Distributive Trades in Charring Cross Road in the evenings where he got a good sound grounding in retail and business (including window dressing) and was teased by the snooty young women who worked at Gorringe’s, Harrod’s, DH Evan’s, Derry and Tom’s and the like.  These were young Mrs Slocombes and this time of his life was like finding himself in a scene from “Are You Being Served?” But if he felt homesick he could stand on the steps of Gorringe’s and watch the men of the Welsh Guards, stationed at Chelsea Barracks, marching past with their band and nod at 2 or 3 lads from home who he recognised as they went to change the guard at Buckingham Palace! He certainly cut a suave figure when he returned for his holidays to Llanidloes and from these sound foundations his career in the fashion industry blossomed.  He trained as a buyer for Freeman’s, the mail order people. – travelling all over the world, to Paris, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona and Portugal – buying for the catalogue and spotting the latest trends at fashion shows and in the expensive shops all over Europe that could be copied and sold through Freeman’s catalogue – it was a fabulous job!

They were building a factory in Ireland but had to sell their product outside Ireland.  Len went to work for Peter and learned the arts of selling.  Later Len decided he would like to be involved with manufacturing leather clothing and where better to do this than in his own home town where as we have seen, the leather industry had run its course but where there remained so many skilled machinists and leather workers. In 1970 Len rented the old Cambrian Mill for £5 per week and set up Cambrian Fashions Ltd, manufacturing leather clothing, producing up to 1000 jackets per week and the Phil Read range of motor cycle racing leathers (Phil Read was the Grand Prix motor cycle  road racer, World Champion and TT winner!)  But he could turn their hands to other things – fulfilling one order for 24,000 pairs of pyjamas!  At that time there was also a leather coat factory at the old station building.

The 70’s was a challenging time for business in Britain –it was the decade of high inflation, tight fiscal control, poor industrial relations, political instability, the three-day week with the downfall of Edward Heath’s government, the return of a Labour government with Harold Wilson succeeded by James Callaghan  and in 1979, the winter of  discontent with widespread industrial action.  At the end of the decade Mrs Thatcher came to power and took on the power of the unions about which passions in Wales still run high.  Whatever your politics it was undoubtedly a difficult decade!  It proved the downfall of many businesses and heard the death knell of much manufacturing in Britain and many enterprising men and women found themselves in unenviable positions due to circumstances way out of their control. Leather clothes are no longer made in Llanidloes.

In 1975, 76 and 77 the workers at Cambrian Fashions Ltd took to the streets in paramilitary uniforms – not to protest — it was carnival!  Llanidloes Carnival was in its heyday and Len and all the girls (for they were mainly girls at the factory) threw themselves wholeheartedly into the spirit of the thing.  They were clothes manufacturers after all and their machines hummed with enterprise, making white trousers with black stripes down the sides and smart burgundy jackets with brass buttons, epaulets and gold lanyards.  Hats were made –peeked flower pots with crossed sword cap badges. Brian Crisp was drum major and the girls were taught to march.  Brian in his blue suit with white accessories wielded a baton made from the missing snooker cue to which an equally illicit knob had been fixed and sprayed with gold paint.  The company flag was born by the factory manager and protected by armed guards with cardboard rifles and ammunition.  There were 60 in the band – playing kazoos, disguised as bugles and with the boss playing the drum. They practised their music and their marching and on the day they went down a storm, marching out of the old Cambrian Mill, playing and twirling as they went through the town, passing all the crowds waiting for the floats, up to the station where they joined the back of the parade to do another whole circuit of the town – the Cambrian Fashions Marching Band!

Thanks are due to Len Davies for sharing some of his memories and acknowledgement to E. Ronald Morris, whose book Llanidloes Town and Parish – An Illustrated Account proved so fascinating and helpful in preparing this article.

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 38 Summer 2018

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 38 Summer 2018 

Dear PenCambrians

Well, here we are sweltering through another blisteringly hot summer and for those of you who enjoy it, I don’t begrudge you the pleasure as it so rarely occurs. However, for those of us with less or no tendency to leathering, I shall breathe a sigh of relief when it is all over.

Earlier this year saw the death of Lady Shirley Hooson. Llanidloes born and bred, the spirit of the town ran through her veins with her blood. Her devotion to Llanidloes led her to spend as much of her life as she could in promoting its welfare. Her public life is well documented elsewhere so this issue carries a personal profile and tribute to her from friends and family members who knew her informally as well as formally, and reveals a woman of great strength, integrity, warmth and friendliness, cultured as well as down-to-earth, as much at home on the streets of Llani as in the great halls of state, full of interest in people and passionate about Llanidloes.

In March this year Mary Oldham gave a fascinating talk to the Llandinam History Group about the private lives of the Davies sisters of Gregynog. Helen Edwards summarised this talk for an article in the Llandinam Listener and she has very kindly allowed us to include it in this issue of PenCambria.

With all the consternation this year regarding changes in the British High Street, Gaynor Waters has remembered how shopping used to be in Llanidloes in the 1950s. The establishments may have changed hands several times over the years but the layout of the town is still the same and any empty windows tend to fill up again relatively quickly.

Aberystwyth has also seen enormous changes in the past twenty years or so is and Lawrence Johnson takes a jaunty pub crawl around the town, visiting the original chat rooms. Therese Smout, a new and very welcome addition to our team of researchers, shows what gems can be gleaned from a letter found behind some old lathe and plaster during renovations to a house. Farming practices remained the same for centuries until the introduction of modern machinery and the demand for increased production during the wars of the 20th century. Brian Poole, together with Ivor Davies of Alltyffynnon, Aberhafesb takes us through these changes with a look at some traditional farming techniques and the introduction of the tractor.

Wales is full of prehistoric megaliths especially in the Preseli area of south west Wales, and a veritable culture has grown up around them. Thirty years ago Chris Barber and John Williams published a book called The Ancient Stones of Wales giving a concise overview of everything that was known at the time about these great phenomena from their physical composition to the legends surrounding them and providing a gazetteer with the locations of all those known in Wales. Chris Barber has updated this book and taking it as her guide Chris Barrett has written a fascinating article on this feature of our landscape and our history. Chris has been very busy for us this month. As well as working on the megaliths, she has reviewed two very interesting, lavishly illustrated books about Shropshire and the Mid Wales borders by Ellis Peters, creator of Brother Cadfael, the Welsh medieval detective monk cloistered (in theory) in Shrewsbury Abbey. The first, Strongholds and Sanctuaries, is co-written with architect and writer Roy Morgan; the second, Cadfael Country” is co-authored by renowned photographer Rob Talbot and author, TV director and producer Robin Whiteman. She reports on the Montgomeryshire Genealogical Society visit to the workhouse at Llanfyllin earlier this year and finally, she has come up with a new, regular and very entertaining feature for you all – The PenCambria Quiz, a list of 10 questions, the answers to which can all be found somewhere in this magazine.

Coming a bit further forward in time following my tale of how I came to mid Wales I am now letting you into the secrets, well, some of the secrets of how I got on in my first months here.

We have two letters regarding family history and research, and two laments: one for missing swallows by Reginald Massey, the other on a farm sale by Bruce Mawdesley.

Mid Wales Arts celebrates its 10th Anniversary in September and it is interesting to see how this unique feature of the cultural landscape of Mid Wales has developed and thrived. The RCAHMW has a new website to explore and a new book exploring 10,000 years – yes, 10,000 years of Welsh Maritime History.

CONTENTS

Shirley Hooson, Lady of Llanidloes, an informal tribute compiled by Gay Robert

Gwen and Daisy at Home and Abroad Helen Edwards

Llanidloes Shops of a Bygone Time Gaynor Waters

Chat Rooms Lawrence Johnson

New Book: Iolo’s Revenge

The Lost Letter Therese Smout

Farming in Montgomeryshire in the 1930s Brian Poole with Ivor Davies

Megaliths for Beginners Dr. Chris Barrett

First Months in Tylwch and Llanidloes Gay Roberts

Farm Sale Bruce Mawdesley

Where Have All the Swallows Gone? Reginald Massey

The Bright Field of Mid Wales Arts Gay Roberts

The PenCambria Quiz

CHAT ROOMS by Lawrence Johnson

 “Negatory ……I’m burning rubber in Clocktown……heading for the Big A.” 

Sounds like ancient history now. Does anyone remember the CB radio craze? It was certainly popular in Mid Wales in the late seventies before fading and being wiped out by the mobile phone revolution. In case you are struggling here is a translation: “No…… I’m driving through Machynlleth, heading for Aberystwyth.” 

I remember having to stifle a giggle in the back of that car as the US-type jargon was filtered awkwardly through a Welsh accent. However, every time I visit Aber – and it is a favourite trip of mine, especially by train – I am aware that by Mid Wales standards it is very much a case of bright lights, big city. Sometimes I get off at Borth and head over the cliffs to come down Constitution Hill. (Can it really be true that this name simply derives from the belief that regular walks up and down were good for your constitution?) Alternatively, from the station I can cross the Rheidol and climb up to Pen Dinas, with its summit ringed by Iron Age earthworks and crowned by an 1852 memorial to the Duke of Wellington. Sometimes I prefer to track the Ystwyth round to Plas Tan y Bwlch and across the shingle back to the harbour. Much of this walk overlooks the site of the trotting racecourse and reveals the new line of the Ystwyth, diverted in the 18th century with huge boulders and a deep trench to take it to the Rheidol and the sea. This engineering had the bonus of creating the beach of Tan y Bwlch. There are also paths and fine views from Penrallt, the field paths by the golf course and near the woods above Clarach.

While I am not particularly strong on self-analysis, I have long suspected that much of this, admittedly healthy, exercise is driven by guilt. Whatever business I have to transact in Aber, I cannot deny that the real pleasure in the trip lies in the pub crawl that covers the town. This has various routes depending on factors such as where I actually arrive but the ingredients are usually the same. The walking prevents excess and salves my wretched conscience. Over the recent past my starting point has been in one of two pubs. On the outskirts of town on the road out towards Penparcau is a new one, The Starling Cloud. This takes its name from the greatest free show in Mid Wales, when thousands of the birds swoop down in gloriously creative patterns to roost at dusk under the pier. The visitwales website estimates 50,000 birds locally yet the starling is on the Red List of threatened species. The flock or murmuration, a mainly silent process until they have settled under the pier, is believed to be a defence against predators, safety in numbers. This roost with water below provides even greater security. Try late October, early November, advise photographers and you can see some of the splendid images by putting Aberystwyth starlings into a search engine. As the birds swoop, hesitate and come and go the spectacle is gloriously prolonged.

From the new pub I can cross the railway and walk through the park to Northgate, home of Andy’s Records. Independent record stores and bookshops have had to fight to survive but my visits have always brought dividends. Andy’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for music, allied to his ability to get hold of the obscure and difficult mean I cannot avoid a visit. Siop y Pethe, then Ink and Ystwyth Books at the top of the town are favourites too.

Over Penrallt, past the Welsh Books Council and down to the seafront to the Glengower the end point of my other trek across the cliffs. In November 2017 it was so unseasonably warm you could sit outside. On most trips, however there has been evidence of storms and wind battering, traces of sand and shingle. The Atlantic gales that destroyed beaches on the Dingle and Ring of Kerry had retained enough power in their flight across the Irish Sea to wreck the bandstand and scour the promenade. Clearing up has become a regular chore for the council.

The Glengower at lunch town is popular with tourists and diners but the space to the rear indicates a student presence. Aber is one of many towns and cities whose economy is based in good measure on the student pound. Student numbers range from 9,000-10,000 out of a population of around 16,000 including Comins Coch and Llanbadarn Fawr. Reaction to this has been mixed. In the days of the old licensing laws, pubs had to close in the afternoon, normally from 2.30 to 5.30 pm. Market days were the exception and Aber’s was Monday. Opposite the station, a stern notice outside the Cambrian Hotel read:  No students served on Mondays. 

Things change. The last time I went in, the walls and ceiling were festooned with adverts for cocktails and the bar stocked with fruit ciders and coloured vodkas. It is probably gin these days. No pub can afford to turn the young away for long. Right in the centre of town the renamed pubs, the Varsity and the Scholar reflect this. I derive a secret and perverse pleasure from putting the average age up by walking in. It would not be fair or accurate to suggest that these pubs, or the Castle Hotel down by the harbour, are exclusively student dens. Aber has faced criticism in the past for not sorting its identity out – neither seaside resort nor university town – but this seems nonsensical to me. It is the mixture of people that makes it, a coexistence that, for the most part, works. This dual identity is not new. Ward Lock’s 1933-4 Guide to Aberystwyth often reads like an advertisement, saying that the town “has been called the Brighton of Wales” and “is the most important watering place on Cardigan Bay”. It goes on to compare its winter climate with that of Bournemouth but gives prominence to the University as well at a time when student numbers were about 700. Wynford Vaughan Thomas got it right in the Shell Guide To Wales when he described Aberystwyth as “a fascinating amalgam”.

Further along the front, turn in to Pier Street. To reassure those who may be disappointed by the idea that pubs have become somewhat sanitised and lost their edge, in the Pier pub I once witnessed a minor brawl between two of the oldest combatants I can recall. The dispute revolved around whether the cousin of one was or was not a local footballer of some repute. The climax of the contretemps went after this fashion:

Elderly Combatant A, leaning casually on bar: X had a good few games for Aber

Even More Elderly Combatant B, perched precariously on bar stool: Never

E.C.A: He did, boy, loads of times

E.C.B: Never played for Aberystwyth Town, never

E.C.A: You’ve no****** idea

E.C.B: Anyway, he was a f****** w*****!

As may be readily imagined this precipitated a delightful geriatric scuffle until broken up by a friend of mine and the grinning landlord who interposed themselves between the parties but only after a delay sufficient to provide a brief cabaret for the onlookers. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un – eat your hearts out! The Pier was always good for small scale incidents. Another accident prone pal of mine once opened a bag of salted peanuts with so much force and so little finesse that 80% of the contents exploded across the length and length of the room. On returning two months later, I was informed by the put-upon landlord that he was still finding peanuts all over the pub, most notably behind the clock when he had taken it down for its annual clean. I have no hesitation in awarding the prize for the best notice seen in an Aberystwyth pub. This goes to the Nag’s Head c. 1980 for:

MYSTERY TRIP TO DEVIL’S BRIDGE : BRING BOTTLES

In Last Tango In Aberystwyth and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being In Aberystwyth Malcolm Pryce has re-imagined the town as the haunt of crooks, gangsters and a druidic mafia. In reality Aber has often been much closer to the stereotypical image of the laced and corseted chapel town. Monty Python’s Life Of Brian was banned there in 1979. By a wonderful turn of events, Sue Jones-Davies, who played Judith Iscariot in the film, became Mayor of Aberystwyth and presided over a charity screening event that included Michael Palin and Terry Jones in 2009. It achieved another kind of fame in 2009 when a plague of ladybirds descended. Kids with ice cream cones covered with the pests made the national dailies. Apparently they could bite.

To enter a pub can open up new worlds. This may surprise those people who look with disapproval at big screens, fruit machines and juke boxes. Moreover, most pubs are just as vulnerable as the rest of the universe to the curse of the mobile phone, ipad, tablet and laptop. A press report of February 2018 had three students of Dundee creating the “Sociometer”, a device that shows how many people in a pub are using mobile phones.

I am usually guilty of burying my head in a newspaper. All these are conversation killers. Nevertheless, anyone familiar with the Crown in Llanidloes, Ty Brith in Carno, the Red Lion in Machynlleth, the Druid in Goginan or the Ship and Castle in Aber will know that there is still life in the body. Many years ago the Royal Oak in Rhayader had a clutch of regulars who held a Saturday morning “parliament” where the world was put to rights.

Two recent Aberystwyth experiences underline this, both from December 2017. When I walked into the Inn On The Pier it was empty and the bar untended. After a few minutes a young woman emerged from the back to serve. She had red hair and a few words persuaded me that she was probably Irish. Not so – from the Isle of Man and what’s more a Manx speaker. She spoke a few words to me in what I had sadly assumed to be a dead language. So too did Unesco’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, pronouncing it “extinct” in 2009. However it now says “critically endangered” with 1800 speakers or 2% of the island’s population of 88,000. Although the last native speaker died in 1974, the work of the Manx Language Society (1899) and Language Unit (1992) has obviously borne some fruit. The Wikipedia page on Manx is detailed and provides comparisons with other Celtic tongues. I have some form with Celtic languages. The first pub I visited in Cornwall, The Queens in Botallack, near St.Just, provided me, within one hour, of my first experience of Cornish, another language I never expected to hear. Internet scouring shows just 300-400 speakers out of a population of 536,000. UNESCO have upgraded it from “extinct” to “critically endangered” but it has no official status despite some encouragement from the county council. On brief exposure, I can say that neither Manx nor Cornish has the throaty quality of Welsh. Having seen more than one grave of “the last native Cornish speaker” I realise that this term needs more thought and research. Dictionary definitions leave room for doubt. Cambridge says “spoken since a baby” while Collins goes for “someone who has spoken it as a first language rather than learning it as a foreign tongue”. I suppose both Manx and Cornish may have died as spoken languages at some point only to be revived in some establishments and households and then passed on to children.

Less than two hours later I was the first customer in Welsh-speaking Yr Hen Llew Du at the top of the town. This time the young woman who had both let me in and served me had blonde hair and once again drawing on my trusty reserve of stereotypes, I guessed from eastern Europe. Wrong – by quite a few miles. She was Ladin and as a bonus averred that she was one of only 10,000 speakers of that tongue. Cursory research may indicate a figure as high as 31,000, mainly in three provinces of northern Italy. Ladin is recognised as a minority language in 54 municipalities with speakers forming 4.5% of the population of South Tyrol and 3.5% of Trentino. It was originally a Vulgar Latin tongue. Again, basic websites such as Wikipedia are extensive and footnoted.

Further – a couple of years ago, on a train back from Aber to Caersws, I had sat opposite a mother and small son and become intrigued at their conversation. It emerged that they were talking in Afrikaans and she was at pains to say how proud she was to speak it and how determined to do her bit to keep it alive. There is an argument about whether this language is endangered in South Africa and Namibia but with 7.2 million native speakers, 13.5% of the population, it is certainly a long way from the level of the Celtic tongues.

It might be wrong to depict Aberystwyth as a melting pot of languages and cultures but the student influx and tourism have added to the Welsh/English mix. Walk along the promenade at certain times of the year and you will see flags of minority nations, cultures and tongues like Catalonia flying in the westerly breezes.

A while back I was in a student pub in Manchester. A single occupant at a nearby table was hailed by a newcomer who came over and sat down. “I haven’t seen you in ages, how are you?” Brief pleasantries then – silence. Both men were at their phones. I looked round at the other tables. More silence, more phones. People in the room – yet not in it. A new world. Facebook, Instagram and smartphones lack appeal but I do like chatrooms – as long as they are real world. No PC or mouse required, just the opening of a pub door. You can listen or talk and listen. Of course there is a risk of trolls or bores (I am not the former but must have been the latter more than I care to admit) but there is always a short walk and another place. I don’t need to unfriend or press delete and clearing the head on Aber seafront is preferable to logging off. The mix of people in the town adds to the fun. My email was once interrupted with a message inviting me to join with people similar to me in exchanging emails. I forget its name, probably because of the horror I felt. Hell is other people? No – hell is other people like me! Out in the pub world you never know what lies through the chatroom door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 37 Spring 2018

 EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 37 Spring 2018 

Dear PenCambrians

 Well, it is early 2018 and we are already in “interesting times” with nerve agent poisoning, suffocation by plastic and the ever more intricate Brexit manoeuvres, to name but three current crises on the table. Oh for the days when bombs and famine were all we had to worry about.

When I started this introduction it was a beautiful warm spring day outside, although we were promised rain and a drop of 8 degrees in temperature. Finishing it now, we are snowed in for the third time in six weeks with another deep drift blocking our driveway. Since no-one can get in or out this has delayed deliveries including the paper and covers for this magazine. So if it is a bit later than expected, this is the reason and I hope you will forgive me.

We start this year with news and, in the Dragon’s Crypt, some verses of a 19th century poet from Dolanog, rediscovered by Val Church, whom she affectionately describes as Montgomeryshire’s McGonagall. I find him more wry, more tongue-in-cheek, intentionally more humorous than William McGonagall. Indeed, I have quite fallen in love with his verses and hope you do too. For a seemingly out-of-the-way place like Tylwch there were a remarkable number of railway accidents in the days when the line went through. Those and other incidents caused this hamlet to be mentioned relatively frequently in the local newspapers. Andrew Dakin has come to Tylwch in the course of researching his family history and he tells us all about them in the first of his Tales From the Footplate.

Brian Poole, meanwhile, continues his journeys by bus, this time taking us from Newtown to Shrewsbury in the 1950s. Our intrepid Lawrence Johnson goes trekking on foot across Trannon Moor in search of the site of an ancient battlefield.

So many people have come to Wales in the past and still do for all sorts of reasons; many pass through en route to other places; many others come to stay, mixing with the local community or forming their own. A recent book by Cai Parry-Jones looking at the history of the Jews in Wales was published last year and Chris Barrett reviews this book. She also refers to it in her own article on this fascinating subject.

Are you missing the tales of the retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn? I know I am. However, they have just been published under the title of Iolo’s Revenge, of which we get a sneak preview from Diana Ashworth. Another book which came her way is a novel by Brecon writer Jan Newton which is the first in a detective series about D.S. Kite, who comes to Radnorshire from Manchester and will no doubt later find mid Wales steeped in murder, rape, arson and all the other  perversions found in Midsomer. Sounds like a real treat. Diana also tells us about the Chicken Whisperer of Trefeglwys.

Even in the towns and village we can all still get close to nature if we wish and Julia R. Francis muses on the Red Legged Partridges that come into her garden in Llandinam. The simple childhood thrill of wearing a hat came to Bruce Mawdesley’s mind for this issue.

Somewhat emboldened by my interview with Michael Apichela last year, and as Diana Brown is unable to carry on with her series on the laws of Hywel Dda at the moment, I had some space to fill, so I thought you might like to know how I ended up in Llanidloes. The RCAHMW have two new projects in the go. The one on places names sounds particularly interesting – and there is plenty to get your creative talents going at Mid Wales Arts Centre. Are you a retired or semi-retired engineer? If so, you may be interested in a job opportunity that has arisen on the Montgomery Canal Project, which you can also read all about in this issue.

The Dragon’s Crypt is full of poetry and prose this month with lines by Paul Hodgon to stir the solitary soul, verses by Reverend G.R.G Pughe to make you smile, an homage to Edward Thomas and the railway station at Tylwch by yours truly, a special bus timetable by Dennis Bedford and a new sighting of the Fairy Horseman by Norma Allen

CONTENTS

Lost in Translation – Reverend G.R.G Pughe of Dolanog Val Church

High Rise Chickens? Diana Ashworth

Tales from the Footplate: Tylwch Andrew Dakin

And a Partridge beneath an Oak Tree Julia R. Francis

A Bus To Shrewsbury Brian Poole

Book Review – The Jews of Wales Reviewer Dr Chris Barrett

Picton of Picton Street Reginald Massey 

Want a Fight? Lawrence Johnson

A Tenacious  People: The History of the Jews in North Wales. Dr Chris Barrett

Yale University and the Indo-Welsh Connection Reginald Massey

How I Came To Llanidloes Gay Roberts

The Hat Bruce Mawdesley 

IN The Dragons Crypt

Solitary Paul Hodgon

Megan and the Horseman Norma Allen

Three Poems Reverend G.R.G Pughe, submitted by Val Church

Not Adlestrop But Tylwch Homage to Edward Thomas by Gay Roberts

A New Bus Timetable 1.4.2018 Dennis Bedford

 

PICTON OF PICTON STREET by Reginald Massey

A short and narrow one-way alley in Llanidloes connects the Church car park with Short Bridge Street. Interestingly it passes under an arch just before it meets Short Bridge Street. It is named after Sir Thomas Picton who was born in Haverfordwest on August 24, 1758.

His father was a country gentleman and his uncle was General Sir William Picton under whom Thomas Picton started his illustrious army career. Military records reveal that he was the highest ranking British officer who died in the battle of Waterloo. He was also an MP at the time. In fact he was dancing at the Duchess of Richmond’s famous ball in Brussels when an aide-de-camp riding at full gallop delivered a message. Napoleon was almost at the door, less than ten miles away. The ball was unceremoniously abandoned and the generals rushed off to their command posts. Wellington however stayed on to finish his dinner.The Duke’s sang-froid was legendary. This must have irritated Napoleon no end as he considered his opponent to be a mere ‘sepoy general’, a term which alluded to Wellington’s years in India.

There are many conflicting versions of how Picton was killed but there is no doubt that he led his division, known as the Fifth, in a bayonet charge against Marshal d’Erlon’s corps with extreme valour. It also emerged that he had been shot in the hip but rather than handing over to his second-in-command and being carried off in a stretcher he bandaged the wound himself and confronted the enemy. There is also a rumour that Picton led the bayonet charge wearing a top hat.

Wellington for some reason did not like Picton very much though he recognized Picton’s worth as a field commander. The Duke described Picton in the following words: “a rough foul-mouthed devil as ever lived”. The historian Alessandro Barbero wrote that the Welsh general was “respected for his courage and feared for his irascible temperament”.  Picton never sought popularity and often proclaimed that it mattered little if he was hated so long as he was feared. In a despatch to Earl Bathurst, the Minister of War, Wellington wrote, “In Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton His Majesty has sustained the loss of an officer who has frequently distinguished himself in his service; and he fell, gloriously leading his division to a charge with bayonets, by which one of the most serious attacks made by the enemy on our position was defeated”. His body was sent to London where it was buried in St. George’s Church in London’s Hanover Square. Later it was re-interred and buried next to Wellington’s grave in St. Paul’s Cathedral. A monument in Carmarthen was erected in his memory and there are memorials to him in Canada and Australia.

Picton started his army career in Gibraltar and then, from 1807 – 1814, served under Wellington with distinction during the Peninsular War. He expected a peerage but was passed over possibly because of a serious error he committed when he was Governor of Trinidad (1797 – 1803). The island had been a Spanish colony and had only recently been acquired by Britain. Picton ruled the islanders with an iron hand.  He authorised the torture of a mixed race young woman named Luisa Calderon who, as it happened, was not a slave. The news reached Britain and Picton was summoned to London and put on trial. The winsome Luisa Calderon also came to London and described to the court how she was tortured. The case was widely reported and both the public and the press started baying for Picton’s blood. During cross examination by the brilliant lawyer William Garrow, who detested slavery, it emerged that Picton had been involved in the buying and selling of slaves through his mixed race mistress Rosetta Smith. Picton was sentenced. However, with the help of wealthy plantation owners Picton immediately appealed. A case was made out that the inhabitants of Trinidad were used to Spanish law under which torture was permitted and that Picton was merely applying the law that people were used to. It was a rough and ready system of justice and the Trinidadians understood it. In other words, argued Picton’s lawyers, the blacks and mulattos were not yet ready for the niceties and nuances of English law.

Picton got away by the skin of his teeth. However, the stain on his character haunted him for the rest of his life. Perhaps on the very last day of his life (Sunday, June 18, 1815) he redeemed himself to some extent. So much so that the town of Llanidloes named a street after him.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 36 Winter 2017

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 36 Winter 2017 

Dear PenCambrians

 

The Welsh migration in the 1860s to Patagonia to form a colony that spoke only Welsh, worshipped as they chose and celebrated their own culture free from the restrictions of the English government, in essence to form a new Wales, is pretty well known, especially after their 150th anniversary celebrations in 2015. What is possibly not so well known is that originally what is now the state of Pennsylvania was to be a Welsh colony in North America and that for over 100 years prior to the Patagonian migration there had been a constant trickle of Welsh people, especially from rural Wales, to North America desperate to escape the grinding poverty of their homeland. In this issue we read about one of those communities, built in the heyday of the slate industry, which, despite its decline, has managed to maintain its Welsh culture due to the determined efforts of the minister at the local chapel. The history of the Rehoboth Chapel is a very welcome feature in this edition.

Life in Wales is a constant flow of people coming in and going out and also in this edition we have the extraordinary account of a couple who retired here from Lincolnshire but who arrived there having escaped the worst excesses of Partition in India in 1947. Lyn Wells, who related her account to Diana Ashworth as part of Diana’s In Living Memory oral history project, and her husband Clarrie, have also been in the news this year for having been married in the same year as the Queen and having received a suitably royal card of congratulations from Her Majesty earlier this year.

To begin with, however, we have a portrait of the Reverend John Idloes Edwards and his connection with the Llanidloes Debating Society sent in by his granddaughter Julie Evans who has very kindly furnished us with E. Ronald Morris’s translation of the Reverend’s obituary in “Y Blwyddiadur 1905“ Deaths of Ministers and his Will and also a piece about him from The Children’s Treasury 1904.

Andrew Dakin comes to the end of his very entertaining and informative series of articles chronicling his researches into his family history.

The fight to save St. Mary’s Church at Pont Llogel which was damaged as the result of a nearby plane crash during WW2, is very much on Val Church,s mind.

Brian Poole reflects on the part that the ox and bullock have played in our history.

A daredevil attempt by the Marquess of Powis and her maid to spring her husband William Maxwell from the Tower of London, where he had been imprisoned for his part in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715 is beautifully told by Lawrence Johnson.

Meanwhile Dr David Stephenson provides us with the historian’s perspective of the legend of the massacre of the bards of Montgomery which appeared in the last issue of PC.

Love makes the world go round they say, and love has to be proved by various deeds, or at least some sort of effort, so Chris Barrett has been looking at Welsh courting customs as presented by Catrin Stevens in a book of the same name some years ago. 

40 years ago here in these quiet backwoods of the United Kingdom at Carno, the world’s biggest drugs bust took place. Code-named Operation Julie, Jim French takes us through the whole business from the history and the arrival of the drug manufacturers and their dealings to their eventual arrest and imprisonment.

Meanwhile in the Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen eavesdrops on a group of locals who have heard that not all the drugs were recovered during the heist and that big rewards may be paid to anyone who finds them.

The Royal Commission is going from strength to strength in its goal to make its facilities available to all and their programme of events is a must-to-attend for all those interested in the history and heritage of Wales.

Finally in the non-fiction section although who knows? I succumbed to Michael Apichela’s persuasive techniques to include something personal in this very eclectic publication.

Elsewhere in the Dragon’s Crypt Julia R. Francis takes us on a walk through the year, “Eeyore” laments the closure of Lloyds Hotel and I leave you with a tale for Halloween inspired by a picture hanging in a friend’s back room, the stories that came with it and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Spooky! 

CONTENTS 

Reverend John Idloes Edwards and the Llanidloes Debating Society Julie Evans

The Demise of the Dakins of Llanidloes : Part Two Andrew Dakin

The Long Arm of the War Val Church

Oxen of Bullocks? Brian Poole

Castle, Cottage and Tower Lawrence Johnson

The Tragic (and Completely Untrue) Story of the Bards of Wales D. David Stephenson

Fred Carno’s Army: the Story of Operation Julie Jim French 

In Living Memory : The Partition of India Diana Ashworth

Rehoboth Church : A Piece of Wales in Pennsylvania Gay Roberts with Sterling D. Mullins

Courtship the Welsh Way! Book Review by Chris Barrett

Gay Roberts : a Woman of Many Parts a Profile by Michael Apichela Ph.D

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales 

The Dragons Crypt

The Reward Norma Allen

Walking the Year Julia R. Francis

No More Room at the Inn Bruce Mawdesley

The Cobblers Field Gay Roberts  

THE LONG ARM OF THE WAR

Val Church 

During the last week of June we learned, with some sadness, that St. Mary’s Church at Pont Llogel, in the parish of Llanfihangel-yng-Ngwynfa, has been closed. The reason, we understand, is that it is no longer safe, and cannot be insured until certain repairs have been carried out. Needless to say, the necessary repairs are expensive, and the church authorities feel that with the current decline in congregation numbers, the cost of maintaining the fabric of the building is not warranted. Until and unless the problem is solved, services are being held in the village hall. 

The nature of the safety problem lies in the visible bowing of the main church window, and requires its removal and re-setting, together with some modifications to the surround. The cost is currently set at about £1300.  However there is also electrical work to be done, and additional money needed to pay current debts and ensure future maintenance. It is estimated that the total amount needed to save the church is in the region of £30,000. 

There may be a clue to this misfortune, which dates from the Second World War, some seventy-five years ago. Apparently the RAF was in the habit of carrying out anti-submarine sweeps over the Bay of Biscay and along the French coast. On at least two occasions the Wellington planes used for these sorties had to be abandoned, once because of engine failure and a second time because the plane ran out of fuel. Details of one of these disasters were recounted in a publication called Wings over the Border, a History of aviation in North-east Wales and the Northern Marches, by Derek Pratt and Mike Grant. 

It is suggested that on each occasion bad weather caused the planes to become hopelessly lost, and to overfly their home base in South Wales. One of them crashed in Dyfnant forest. Piecing together reports from several RAF monitoring locations, signals from the plane had been picked up in the area two or three times before being lost , and the dates and times recorded from these posts match the discovery of its remains at a currently unknown spot in the forest. 

According to the account given in the book mentioned above, discovery of the debris was made by one Pte. Watkin Jones, a member of the Llwydiarth Home Guard, who was making his way back from seeing a security film in the village hall, past Parc Llwydiarth to Tynfedw, his home. Suddenly he stumbled over a large cylinder lying across the track. By the dimmed light of his torch he could make out the word Oxygen stencilled on the side. 

Looking around by the light of his torch, Pte. Jones saw debris of all kinds scattered over the forest floor, and suspended from trees. He noticed that many of the trees had been neatly topped as if by a giant scythe. 

Upon his arrival home, he was naturally anxious to know if anyone had heard anything strange, but nothing but the howling of the wind in the chimney had been heard by his family. He felt, however, that the matter should be immediately reported to the authorities, and dutifully braved the storms and darkness to make his return journey to the village where he telephoned his superiors in the Home Guard. Meanwhile the Intelligence base at Wrexham were receiving reports of an aircraft crash, and of a German pilot who had baled out of his doomed aircraft, and been taken prisoner by the Home Guard unit guarding the Vyrnwy dam. Other reports told of German parachutists in the vicinity of the hairpin bend at Boncyn Celyn down river from the dam, resulting in a full-scale invasion alert. Several arrests were made of survivors of the crash, all of whom turned out to be members of a Polish air unit stationed in Pembrokeshire. The last person to leave the aircraft before it crashed was the Polish pilot. He broke his leg on hitting the ground and was in such pain that he forgot the few words of English he knew, which would have enabled him to explain his predicament. 

Since the plane had crashed into a heavily forested area, the impact on the plane itself was relatively light. The bombs and depth charges it was carrying did not explode. However it was necessary that these weapons of war should be destroyed, and this was done by means of a series of controlled explosions. A day and a time was fixed, people advised to leave doors and windows open, and to lie flat on the ground outside their houses. 

Some damage was done to local houses, and here I quote from the book: Nothing could be done about the windows of St. Mary’s parish church, Llwydiarth, even today many of them still show traces of bowing, severe in places, as they withstood the blast. It was not certain then, and is even less so now, whether all ordnance had been removed from the wrecked aircraft. 

The War Damage Commission was set up to organise compensation for damage done to property and buildings as a result of enemy action. Responsibility for payment was taken over by local authorities, and the scheme finally wound up in 1964. Had a claim been made in the early years it is likely that repairs would have been paid for, but it is probable that the scheme was not widely known about, particularly in small rural places far from the heavily bombed areas. 

Whether the damage done to the church windows has worsened over the last seventy-five years we do not know. It is likely that health and safety issues are taken more seriously today than in the past, and maybe today the bowed windows pose no greater threat to the public than was the case in 1942. 

However, the building cannot be used if it is not insured, so, as matters stand today St. Mary’s Church faces an uncertain future.

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 35 Summer 2017

INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 35

Dear PenCambrians,

50 years ago we were going through momentous changes in so many ways, especially socially and politically. In America the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum. Here in Britain the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was thriving after the Cuban Missile crisis; Harold Wilson was the Prime Minister of the first Labour government since Clement Atlee’s government, which through housing, education and especially the National Health Service had improved the lives of the vast majority of the people in Britain, had been defeated in 1951, the contraceptive pill, the decriminalisation of abortion and the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality were transforming the lives of so many people and the alternative lifestyle known as the Hippie movement, or Flower Power was beginning to bloom. In the forefront of this were the Beatles, who released their ground breaking LP Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Make Love, Not War was the slogan from John Lennon and this all began to culminate in the Summer of 1967 which was known as the Summer of Love. What was happening in Mid Wales and what were the experiences of Mid Walians during this year? You can read about that later on in this issue.

100 years before 1967, the world was also undergoing profound changes. Electricity was beginning to transform society and the USA was in the full throes of expansion and consolidation. In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was pivotal in the events that led to the First World War, was formed, and Pierre Michaux developed the fist mass-produced bicycle. In Britain the vote was given to all male ratepayers in the borough constituencies, Karl Marx published Das Kapital and Queen Victoria turned down plans for a channel tunnel. You can read about these and so much more in Jim French’s look at the year 1867.

We have lost 2 invaluable local historians this year David Pugh of Newtown and E. Ronald Morris of Llanidloes. Tributes to both these men can be found in this issue.

Brian Poole discovers just how much of a retail innovator was Newtown’s Pryce Jones.

Andrew Dakin provides a very entertaining account of his family history researches is amazing what you can dig up if you go that extra mile. Lawrence Johnson can always be relied on to go that extra mile and this time he is exploring the lake district of the Leri Valley and the upper Rheidol valley, inland from Ponterwyd, surveying all from the Great Watchtower. There can’t be many families with so many talented members as the Mills family. We have heard about some of them in previous editions of PenCambria and in this issue Richard Meredith sketches some pen portraits of a few more of them. Following my brief look at the development of the British Parliament and of the history rioting in mid Wales in PC34, you can read my account of the riot that took place in Llanidloes in 1721. This is also the featured article on this web page.

Giving us much food for thought, Dr Chris Barrett reviews a book documenting the various asylums in Wales and the lives of the inmates.

The Reverend Francis Kilvert was a prolific 19th century diarist and his diaries while he was a curate at St Harmon are a great source of research material, giving a particularly vivid insight into life there at that period. Reginald Massey takes a look at Kilvert as a diarist. Reginald also gives a tantalising look into his own life with his account of film making in Bangladesh with that great boxer Muhammed Ali, yes, really!

The RCAHMW has two fascinating projects that they are keen for us all to know about and to use the collection of information about European travellers in Wales from 1750 to 2010 and their list of historic place names in Wales. Details can be found on their pages in this edition. History told in verse, as indeed it was for millennia, especially in Wales, before the age of writing, conveys an impression of events more vividly and memorably than many words written down on dusty parchments. We have two instances in this issue: the very human tale of a jilted albeit anonymous Radnorshire girl, sent in by Brian Lawrence, and in the Dragon’s Crypt the epic drama of 500 bards slaughtered by Edward I after a feast at Montgomery as commemorated by the Hungarian poet, Janos Arany in a masterly translation by the physicist Peter Zollman. Also in the Dragon’s Crypt  the late Tom Merchant of Aberystwyth tells a tale of hope overcoming adversity, Norma Allen discovers the Radnorshire legend of Silver John, Reginald Massey welcomes the return of the swallows and Eeyore has a few words of advice. 

CONTENTS 

Mr. Newtown. David Pugh 1941-2017 Brian Poole

Llanidloes: a Riotous Town? Part One Gay Roberts

The Royal Warehouse at Newtown Brian Poole

The Millses of Llanidloes A Family of Many Talents Richard Meredith

The Demise of the Dakins of Llanidloes : Part One Andrew Dakin

The Life and Diaries of Francis Kilvert Reginald Massey

All Below the Watchtower Lawrence Johnson 

Edward Ronald Morris 1922-2017 Richard Meredith 

The Jilted Girl Brian Lawrence 

Dangerous Asylums : Book review Dr. Chris Barrett

Domestic Deity  or a Damned Cat Diana Ashworth

Aberystwyth Bruce Mawdeskey

Mid Wales in 1867 Jim French

Make Love Not War  1967 and the Summer of Love Gay Roberts

Ali and Me Reginald Massey

Abbey Cwmhir Heritage Trust

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales features

European Travellers: A new view on historic tourism to Wales

The List of Historic Place Names of Wales

Mid Wales Art Centre Events

 

The Dragons Crypt

I Shall See Snow Again Tom Merchant

The Bards of Wales Janos Arany, translated by Peter Zollman

The Legend of Silver John Norma Allen

The Swallows Reginald Massey

If I were you Eeyore

 

THE LLANIDLOES RIOT OF 1721 Gay Roberts 

To set the scene in Llanidloes, in December 1721 canvassing was already underway for the general election which was to be held in April of the following year. There were two political parties putting up candidates the incumbent Whig party, that drew its support from the burgesses and the landed aristocracy led by Sir Robert Walpole, who was campaigning to establish himself as the country’s Prime Minister, and the Tory party, the party of the landed gentry and the burgesses. Diana Brown has written very astutely and entertainingly about the political tough and tumble in Montgomeryshire at this critical time.

Their names Whig and Tory are thought to come from the Scottish whiggamore, meaning a horse thief, and the Irish tory – a pursuer or a pirate, hence the saying that the English Parliament is a parliament of pirates and horse thieves. The Llanidloes gentry, which included the powerful families of the Lloyds of Berthllwyd, the Ingrams of Glynhafren, the Clunnes of Glandulas, the Owens of Garth and the Glynne family were Tory to a man and had been ever since the Civil War, and especially since the 1680s when the Whig Herberts of Lymore had sought to disenfranchise the out-boroughs, and have their pocket borough of Montgomery as the sole representative of the seat.

The candidates contesting the seat of the Montgomery Boroughs were John Pugh of Mathafarn, the sitting member, a Tory who was supported by the outboroughs of Llanidloes, Llanfyllin, and Welshpool, and Sir Charles Lloyd of Moel y Garth, a Whig supported by the borough of Montgomery and its patrons the Herberts of Lymore. 

What actually happened on 26th December 1721? Dr. Humphreys gives an excellent summary of the events of that night and that follows below:

On 26th December 1721 Evan Glynne of Glyn Clywedog, a member of a powerful local gentry family and a Tory, canvassed the town with more than the customary gusto. Accompanied by at least four henchmen, all apparently the worse for drink, he called “Pugh for Ever!” and fired his pistols at the houses of several respectable townsfolk. By coincidence, at the market hall there were two town lads, Richard Pryce and John Davies who baited one another with the political cat-calls of “Pugh for Ever!” and “Lloyd for Ever!”. Evan Glynne, hearing Richard Pryce call ”Lloyd for Ever!” fired his pistol at the boy and caught him in the thigh. Ugly scenes were already developing in the town; Glynne was inciting an explosion of communal anger. He and his accomplices fled into the house of a mercer of the town named John Evans. There followed the stoning of the house, apparently a popular form of crowd action in eighteenth-century Montgomeryshire. When the crowd finally entered the house, they found that Glynne had escaped with his accomplices, and for good measure they proceeded to beat-up John Evans. Two cases were brought into the Court of Great Sessions; a case by John Evans against the rioters for riot and assault, and a case by Richard Pryce against Evan Glynne for grievous assault. However, the whole affair becomes confusing because of the appearance of some `alternative’ witnesses who were undoubtedly used by the Glynne family to clear the case against their relative. (Dr. Melvin Humphreys)

As with all rioting the sequence of events is a bit confusing with some statements appearing to be at odds with others. The following account is pieced together from the depositions reprinted by Dr. Humphreys in his article.

Sometime between seven and eight o’clock in the evening of 26th December Evan Glynne and three companions, John Humphreys, a shoe maker, Richard Humphreys, a shoemaker, and John David Junior, all probably somewhat the worse for drink, were swaggering around the town crying “Pugh for ever!”  in support of John Pugh as they passed Lowry Jones’s house until they came to David Jarman’s house. Glynne stood against the house and fired a gun the shots of which passed very close to the face of David Jarman’s daughter Anne, who was trying to get back to the safety of her father’s house as quickly as possible, and lit up the side of the house. Wandering on, they were joined a bit later by Morris Humphreys, a glover, and some others in the street where John Evans, a mercer, lived.

Richard Price, a carpenter in Llanidloes, was on his way home from the house of John Wilson when he heard John David Junior called out”Pugh for ever! Who dares speak against him?” When Richard Price answered “Lloyd!” in order to reprimand John David Junior for making such a disturbance, Glynne was out of sight and called out to ask who was there. Price replied”It is I. Dick Price”. Glynne then emerged from the shadows and came upon him with Richard Humphreys saying “God Damn you! How dare you say Lloyd”! Price replied that he would say Lloyd again, and went on his way.Evan Glynne, John David and Richard Humphreys ran after him. Then Evan Glynne hit Price in the face and Richard Humphreys grabbed him by the hair and started to haul him along. At that moment Richard Humphreys’ father John arrived and told his son to let Price go, which he did.

At some point during this interchange Glynne replied “God Damn me but I’ll shoot thee!”, instantly cocked the loaded gun he had in his hand and clapped the muzzle up against the breast of Richard Price, who immediately beat it down with his hand so that when it went off it shot him in the right thigh. Price dropped to the ground crying  “I am killed! Mr. Glynne hath shot me through the thigh!”  but managed to make it back to his home where he lay dangerously ill for a long time lapsing in and out of consciousness at least a dozen times. When the depositions were being taken he was being treated by James Baxter, the apothecary and surgeon of Newtown, However, he was still in a very uncertain state of health when his deposition was taken and if he survived he would as likely be lame or a cripple and he and his family would be ruined as the result of his being unable to work. David Lewis, a former citizen of Llanidloes, asked the group who were the murderers who killed the lad, striking at somebody in the crowd as he did so. Morris Humphreys then struck David Lewis with a hurdle. At this point one of the petty constables, Robert Jones arrived and told Morris Humphreys, John Humphreys and Richard Humphreys to lay down their weapons and be quiet in respect of the King’s peace. Whereupon John Humphreys knocked Constable Jones to the ground, cutting him on the forehead and they all fled into John Evans’s house and barred the doors. There then followed the most extraordinary scenes.

At around nine o’clock, a crowd assembled in an ugly mood outside John Evans’ house and then proceeded to break most of the windows. Those gathered were the sergeants Evan Davids and David Jerman, David Evan bellman, Henry Edwards the inn keeper, Richard Owen the butcher, Thomas Jones glover, Edward Woosnam, Richard Jerman and Lowry Roberts. Lowry Roberts and some other men and women collected some great stones which they then threw into the house through the broken windows. She then said that she would get some fire, or perhaps they would get some gun-powder and blow the house up. Henry Edwards said that was not proper and that breaking it open so that they could get in should be enough. Then Edward Woosnam threw a huge stone that made a great breach in the wall and Henry Edwards, David Jerman and Evan Davids laughed heartily and said “Good lad, thou art strong, that’s a good push!” and then they broke open the shop windows. The next day he heard some people say that it was ill done to break John Evans’ house and windows to which John Price replied that it was not half enough but they should pull the whole house down. As a result, a watch was put on the street that night. Of those already in the house, John Jackson, a Scotchman from Newtown, said that he and three others were in John Evans’ parlour that night when around eight or nine o’clock the windows were broken and several great stones were hurled through by Richard Owen, David Evans and Evan Davies. Seven of them fell on the bed where Dunkin Miller lay and he was forced to get up. David Evans put his hand through the window and tried to strike John Jackson. Then one of Llanidloes’s innkeepers, Henry Edwards, came to the window and called everyone in the house murderers and that if they would not open the door to him he would break it down and murder everyone inside. He then saw Jenkin Kenkerdine, a shoemaker, come into the house along with everyone else, all acting in a riotous manner and Kenkerdine kicked John Evans down the stairs. 

Anne Lewis came along as Evan Davies, John Price Junior and David Miles, all carrying great clubs or truncheons, were trying to break into the house, she tried to pacify them but Evan Davies pushed her in the breast with a club and said “God Damn You!” Just then John Price struck her on the head with a club and she fell down and began to bleed profusely. She managed to get to the back door of John Evan’s house where she was let but she was in a bad way and had to lie down on a bed in one of the rooms where another sick young woman also lay. Despite this the men continued to throw stones into that room. Matthew Ruffe was in the John Evans’ house that night and he heard John Price Junior, Richard Owen and David Miles say they would bring the house down and immediately began to take the tiles off the roof and threw them into the room where Matthew was along with the great stones they were throwing into the other rooms. He saw Jenkin Kenkerdine kick John Evans down the stairs and then he and David Miles hauled him by his collar into another room where they assaulted him and tore his clothes. Lydia Humphreys, wife of Morris Humphreys, had come over to the house at the request of John Evans’ wife and while she was there Richard Owen threw a great piece of wood, possibly the foot of one of the benches in the street, into the shop where it struck Mrs. Evans, who was standing there, causing a great bruise on her forehead. Then, despite the back door being open, all the previously named rioters burst in through the other door and proceeded to break all the windows. 

According to Lowry Jones, John Evans’ son James was also in the crowd when Evan Glynne shot Richard Price and they all urged him on to do it. However, it would seem from Richard Price’s testimony that Evan Glynne committed the act without any urging from anyone else and maybe he was saying this in order to provide some mitigating factors as to why he should not receive the full punishment that the law provides. When he first heard the gun being discharged, Henry Edwards did not know who had shot Richard Price. He did not find out until later that night, at the house of Francis Herbert, when Evan Glynne confessed to him and that he was sorry that he ever seen the face of the Humphreys and John David. Glynne’s deposition does not appear in Dr. Humphreys’ article and his name was crossed out on the list of those who did provide testimony. And there is no indication of whether or not he was found guilty and if so, what the punishment was.

Although slogans of political support were exchanged it would seem that these just provided the touch paper for a brawl by Evan Glynne and his friends, who then fled into John Evans’ house to escape being apprehended for the shooting of Richard Price. However, what is intriguing is why this should have caused so many in the town to want to destroy John Evans’ property and bring out such murderous feelings that his very life seemed to be in jeopardy. John Evans was a mercer, which is a textile merchant, one who buys and sells textiles. The economy of Llanidloes would have depended on the wool trade at this time both the manufacture and the weaving of the finished product. Unless there was something in his life that is not mentioned here, which gave townsfolk cause to feel such rage against him, maybe John Evans was too tight in his purchases and too generous with his profit margins. After all, the rioters were not calling for him to hand Evan Glynne and his companions over to them or the law. They just seemed determined to bring his house down, with gunpowder if necessary, as if some deep, long held back frustration had suddenly burst out and they were determined to take full advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

Just how politically motivated this riot was, is open to question. Evan Glynne was a scion of an old and very powerful Llanidloes Family, the Glynnes of Glyn Clywedog and he and his followers were evidently used to throwing his weight around using politics as an excuse, as the following incident shows. When the Whig John, Lord Lisburne passed through Llanidloes on his way to his home at Crosswood in Cardiganshire he was set upon by one of Evan Glynne’s henchmen, Morris Humphreys, whose wife Lydia made a deposition regarding the riot on 26th December 1721. According to one Richard Owen, Humphreys was standing in the road with a pikel in his hand, as Lord Lisburne approached. Humphreys called out “Pugh! Pugh!” and pushed at his Lordship’s breast with the pikel as he rode by. Lord Lisburne called out “Edwards, Edwards, I am put upon! Secure the man or the pikel!

The December 1721 brawl was certainly not the only incident of its kind that Evan Glynne would be party to. Dr Humphreys is convinced that, although Evan is a common name in the Glynne family and it can be difficult to know which Evan is being referred to, it was this same Evan Glynne who was present when, at the house of one Richard Spoonley, a man called Evan Humphreys was killed seemingly because he wanted a fiddler, who was also present, to play a certain tune. Evan Glynne objected and a brawl followed resulting in the death of Edward Humphreys by an unknown assailant with a sword thrust through an open window. 

(THE LLANIDLOES RIOT OF 1721 National Library of Wales, Wales 4/ 173/ 8 Edited by Dr Melvin Humphreys and published the Montgomery Collections Volume 75 1987)

In Part One of this article it was stated that there was an interesting correlation with the Chartists riot in Llanidloes nearly 120 years later. When the Trewythen Arms was attacked in order to release the Llanidloes Chartists who had been arrested and were being held there, it was Thomas Marsh, the former mayor who, having persuaded the current mayor David Evans to bring in reinforcements which included three London policemen and about three hundred special constables from around the area to maintain law and order, who, finding himself surrounded by the crowd wanting to get their friends released, shouted â “Hurrah for the Chartists! The people forever!”, raised his stick and smashed the first pane of glass, before fleeing to Shrewsbury to inform the Lord Lieutenant. The names are different but slogan is almost the same; vandalism is committed, women gathered the stones in both incidents

CONCLUSION

In the course of this piece we seem to have gone from the days of Victoria back in time to Poldark and back through the centuries to the days of the Anglo Saxons.  However, I think that I prefer today’s ‘boring political life that some young people currently deride, to the rioting and affray that overcame Llanidloes in the 18th century.

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 34 Spring 2017

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 34           Spring 2017 

Dear PenCambrians,

Welcome to another year of trailing round and trawling through the highways and byways of Mid Wales

Last winter’s edition saw the final episode of our serialisation of E. Ronald Morris’s comprehensive account of the Chartist Riot in Llanidloes Chartism In Llanidloes 1839-40. In September last year, I came across an account of another riot with political connotations in Llanidloes in 1721, written by Dr Melvin Humphreys and published in The Montgomeryshire Collections volume 75 in 1987. This got me wondering about the tradition of political expression in Llanidloes and Mid Wales in general and I came across some very interesting history. So, as a preliminary to the riot, in this issue I have given brief history of  rioting in Wales and of Parliamentary government, which is the background to the main event, which you can read about in the next issue.  Diana Brown adds to this account with the first part of her examination of the Laws of Hywel Dda, the Welsh king of Deheubarth who codified the laws as a fitting way to provide a good, just and fair life for his subjects.

Gaynor Waters pens an affectionate portrait of her grandmother, Mary Jane Northam, whom some of you older readers in Llani may remember. Andrew Dakin is very keen to hear from you if you have information regarding another of his forebears, Richie Dakin. Always keen to ensure that knowledge is not lost, Brian Poole has been researching the invaluable work women did on the railways in the Severn Valley during the Second World War. Still in Newtown the Newtown Textile Museum re-opened last year after very nearly being closed permanently. Janet Lewis, who chairs the Committee dedicated to saving it tells us all about its history and its regeneration. This provides some very useful information if you too are involved with a similar project.

Lawrence Johnson has been immersing himself in the waters of Radnorshire, literally at one point, as he checks out the spa at Llangammarch Wells and it most illustrious guest, Kaiser Wilhelm II, he of First World War fame, or notoriety, no less. Norma Allen, meanwhile takes a much more leisurely trip down memory lane on the Boating Lake at Llandrindod Wells. Wales is the land of the bard and Brian Lawrence provides a moment of history in poetic form with an account of wedding sent to him by a reader in Abbey Cwm Hir.

PenCambria has been involved with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ‘Living Memory’ project since last year and in this issue, Nathan Davies, Project Officer for the Powys War Memorial Project gives an account of the restoration of the Builth Wells Roll of Honor (sic) and its unveiling in November 2016. To complement this article, and as part of the CWGC project Chris Barrett has written about one of the soldiers who fell during the First Battle of the Somme, Glyn Hilton Jones, from Llanidloes.

Now, I don’t quite know how to tell you this, how to cushion the blow. I suppose directly is best. So, here goes. This edition sees the last episode of Put OutTo Grass. No longer will we be entertained by the ups and down of the retired lady and gentleman as they settle into hill farming in Llawryglyn. No more anecdotes about the wily antics of the sheep, no more playing catch up with some of the locals, no more squeals from squeamish offspring. No more marvelling at the mysteries of life in the hills. However, don’t despair. I am sure we can persuade the retired lady to turn her talents just as entertainingly and insightfully to other aspects of mid Wales.

Some very interesting books are reviewed this month: Dr. David Stephenson’s much needed reappraisal the history of Medieval Powys, the mystery in verse of another David by Dr. Maria Apichella and Changing Times, a collection of memories of the 1950s and 60s – those were the days indeed…

Mid Wales Art Centre has a veritable feast of art exhibitions, workshops and poetry events scheduled for this year. If you are feeling creative this is the place to go for an outlet for your self-expression. The Royal Commission is settling into its new premises in the National Library in Wales and has a full and ongoing programme of events and projects, especially this year to cherish the coastline of Wales.

As ever, the pens of our own poets and writers have been busy on the paper – or should it be fingers on the keyboard these days and in the Dragon’s Crypt, Gaynor Waters presses the memory button with her memories of Llani of Old; we go up the Alaskan creek to pan for gold with the late Lesley Ann Dupré; Bruce Mawdesley, after being beguiled by the butterfly last month, muses on the moth in this edition; finally, the ills and irritations of modern life get up the nose of one Homo Insipient.  

CONTENTS

Mary Jane Northam Gaynor Waters
Letter re Richie Dakin from Andrew Dakin.
Llanidloes: a Riotous Town? Part One: Rioting in Wales, Witangemot to Parliament Gay Roberts
The Railway Ladies of the Upper Severn Valley, 1940-1945 Brian Poole
The Birth, Near Death and Renewal of a Museum Janet Lewis
The Boating Lake Norma Allen
A Frog, A Pig … and Kaiser Bill? Lawrence Johnson
Put Out To Grass – Part 21: Hopeless and Three Quarters Diana Ashworth
The Vicar’s Wedding – a true story Brian Lawrence
Powys War Memorials Project Builth Wells Roll of Honor (sic) Nathan Davies
A Welsh Soldier at the Somme Chris Barrett
Hywel Dda and His Law – Part One Diana Brown
Book Reviews :
–  Psalmody by Maria Apichella reviewer Reginald Massey
–  – Changing Times by Deirdre Beddoe reviewer Norma Allen
–  – Medieval Powys – Kingdom, Principality and Lordships by Dr. David Stephenson,

   reviewer Jim French

The Dragons Crypt

Llani of Old Gaynor Waters
Alaskan Gold Lesley-Ann Dupré
Moth Memories Bruce Mawdesley
Homo Insipient “Eeyore”

 THE VICAR’S WEDDING – A TRUE STORY

Brian Lawrence 

Several years ago when I was editor of the Radnorshire Society Field Research Section Newsletter I appealed to members of the society to forward to me any poems of local interest.  The following poem was sent from a member in Abbeycwmhir. She relates that she can remember older members of her family talking about this wedding that didn’t take place. For obvious reasons the names of both the vicar and his intended bride have been changed in the poem. The poem is a social document which vividly portrays the religious hypocrisy of that time, a time not so far distant.

 

It is evident that not all Church of England vicars were so bigoted for the Rev. J. Prickard of Dderw, Cwmdauddwr laid the memorial stone at the new Baptist Chapel, at Cefnpawl, Abbey Cwm Hir,  on November 6th 1885.


 

THE VICAR’S WEDDING

 

 

In a quiet pretty village

Among the hills of Radnorshire

Where the pretty river wanders

Happened what I tell you here.

 

To the vicar who resided

In is mansion hale and well

Just beside the parish churchyard

Known by name as Mr Fell.

 

He a bachelor and lonely

Having none to share his bed

Went about to seek a partner

For resolved was he to wed.

 

I a homestead near the river

Just in view of Mr Fell

Dwelt a fair and sprightly maiden,

She was known as Miss Gazelle.

 

After due advice and counsel

From a friend of Mr Fell,

He resolved to broach the subject

To the maiden, Miss Gazelle.

 

But to smooth the way to help him

To the hand of Miss Gazelle

He a costly present took her

Did the parson, Mr Fell.

 

It was a lady’s bike most splendid

Ivory handle, guard and bell.

And the maiden smiled in taking

This bright gift from Mr Fell.

 

“Now”, thought he, “the way is open

I’ll propose without delay”,

So he did, and was accepted

And they named the happy day.

 

 

‘Twas to be in dewy April

Just about the Easter tide

He, the vicar of the parish

Was to wed his charming bride.

 

But the lady was a dissenter

She whom he had made his choice

And the church folk all cried “No sir”,

In an undertone of voice.

 

And they murmured and they mumbled

Till it reached the bridegroom’s ears

And his congregation dwindled

While his heart grew full of fears.

 

But the day was fixed and settled

And he could not well draw back

Though his party frowned upon him

And the clergy whispered “sack”.

 

For the lady of his choice sir

Was not christened or confirmed

When the wedding day came round sir

And this fact herself affirmed.

 

Only in the river yonder

Once upon a Sabbath day

Been baptised by Pastor D…. Sir

In the Apostolic way.

 

But this rite would count for nothing

With the Bishop or the See

For unless she was confirmed sir,

How could she a Christian be?

 

Early on the bridal morning

To the home of Miss Gazelle

With his mind sore troubled

Went the Reverend Mr Fell.

 

 

And he begged the maiden’s mother

To postpone the happy day

To some more convenient season.

But she sharply answered “Nay”.

 

“Have we not the guests invited

And the wedding breakfast spread.

If this day you’re not united

You to mine shall ne’er be wed”.

 

“Have they not the bower erected

And the bridal carriage brought

Do you think that all this show sir

Is for you to pass for naught?”

 

Then he piped his eye and muttered

To his fair one Miss Gazelle,

“Don’t you know that all Dissenters

Are upon the road to hell?”

 

“And we clergy regard you Baptists

Just like the infidels.

And to marry you endangers

Soul and living, Miss Gazelle.”

 

Then the maiden’s eyes flashed anger

And she spoke with scorn and pride,

You can go to heaven alone sir,

I’m content to stay outside.”

 

“If in all I must confirm sir,

To your creed and to your rules,

You can have your heaven without me

As a paradise for fools.”

 

Then he wiped his tears and whimpered,

“Have I lost you Miss Gazelle?

All through mother church and holy

Whom I’ve sought to serve so well.”

 

But the lady, under pressure

Of her friends and guests at home,

After much delay consented

To the alter she would come.

 

And the uncle of the bridegroom

Was the marriage form to read.

While the parson from the vicarage

Came in haste the rite to speed.

 

Up the aisle and to the altar

Sped the bridegroom on his way.

Then he cried “The time is up dear.

And we cannot wed today.”

 

“See the legal day is over (1)

Hark! ’tis three by yonder chime

And today we can’t be married

It must be some other time,”

 

Then he turned and left the altar

And the maiden at its side,

While the friends and guests were wondering

At the bridegroom and the bride.

 

While the people, all who gathered there

To gaze upon the scene

For the vicar to be married

Cried and muttered “Oh, how mean!”

 

And the church folk and the wardens

Cried “our parson has gone mad

Thus to treat a fair dissenter

At the altar was too bad.”

 

But the maiden kept her heart up

And the tears she shed was dry

As she gazed hard at the bridegroom

And to him she did thus reply.

 

“Go and seek some church-bred maiden

One whose age is near two score

For with me before the altar

You will stand sir, never more.

 

“Or some buxom widow lady

Who had wed a priest before,

But as bride and bridegroom never

Shall we pass through yon church door.

 

Then he hastened to the vicarage

Did the Reverend Mr Fell.

But as he passed down the churchyard

Someone rudely tolled the bell.

 

And the vicar still is seeking

For a partner and a bride.

And the maiden still is tripping

Freely by the riverside

 

Some wiser, none the worse sir,

For this escapade in life.

And resolved to be John Ploughman’s

Rather than John Parson’s wife!.

 

(1) Weddings at that time could only be held between sunrise and sunset


 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 33 Winter 2016

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 33            WINTER 2016 

Dear PenCambrians,

In this issue we are crossing a lot of bridges. Brian Poole has been musing on river crossings in Mid Wales, be they bridges or fords in both their Welsh (pont, rhyd) and English context, since we are so close to the crossing points both physically and culturally. Lawrence Johnson plunges us onto far more insecure crossing – Shaky Bridge, near Llandrindod Wells. Jim French meanwhile, avoids river crossings where he can by going down our ancient pathways.

This month sees the conclusion of E. Ronald Morris’s definitive booklet on the Chartist Riot in Llanidloes in 1839 with the sentences passed on the rioters, what became of the protagonists in all camps and the modern memorial erected to Thomas Powell in Newtown.

In a politically similar vein, after hearing about Chloris Mills from Brian Poole and her niece, Elizabeth Day in two recent editions of PenCambria, in this one we finally get a glimpse of Chloris herself speaking in a short memoir she wrote about a suffragette meeting she attended, and also her abiding affection for Mid Wales in a poem published in the Dragon’s Crypt.  Brian also uncovers some more memories of her from Glyn Jerman of Oakley Park, who still thinks fondly of her.

100 years ago Rhayader, like everywhere else in the country, was deeply immersed in the war effort. The report of a local boy acting as a despatch rider in the Balkans was one of the gripping episodes Brian Lawrence has turned up in his extraordinary collection of data chronicling the Great War period in Rhayader.

With Powys County Council divesting itself of all responsibility for maintaining public health in the county in the form of a public lavatory network, Reginald Massey has written a paean of praise to the toilets in Llanidloes as he found them as they were lauded 30 years ago in places far beyond the boundaries of Mid Wales. What have we come to when the executive body of our elected representatives has chosen not to carry on providing such a basic essential of civilised society?

Mid Wales is a rural area with few major centres of population, consequently land use is a vital element in our economy and Chris Barrett has looked at the changes in agricultural practices as noted in a  research project being conducted by the Farmers’ Union of Wales using the Tithe records from  175 years ago. On a totally different track, she has also come across Beatrix Potter’s early impressions of Mid Wales on a visit here in 1888. Hmm…

Our retired lady and gentleman in Llawryglyn enjoy the fruits of their country pursuits. Meanwhile Diana Brown has come across a delightful booklet recalling Richard Hughes of Efailrhyd, near Llansilin, Dyn Gwallt Mawr (the man with big hair) as he was known, who travelled the roads of north Montgomeryshire, working from farm to farm, never sleeping indoors, and remembered above all for his wonderful bass singing voice.

Continuing the musical theme, in the first of a series of pen portraits Richard Meredith provides us with more information about Y Millsiaid, that extraordinary family of music makers of whom he is a descendant, who put Mid Wales and Llanidloes in particular on the national musical map.

The Royal Commission  on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales has very lively and interesting programme of events which should certainly get you out and about during the dull days of November. They are also very busy settling in to their new premises in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and improving their national online catalogue and its availability.

What treats there in the Dragon’s Crypt this month! We have poems from our youngest contributors so far, although they are 25 years older than they were when they wrote these delightful verses for a compilation published to raise money for Llanidloes County Primary School in 1990. Chloris Mills sings of the beauties of Mid Wales. Bruce Mawdesley remembers days of his boyhood spent in church and the gift of a butterfly. Finally, strange things are discovered at Hallowe’en – read Norma Allen’s short story if you dare…

The Season’s Greetings to you all.     Gay Roberts

 

CONTENTS

Pontydd or Bridges? Brian Poole

Ancient Trackways – a Gentle Ramble Jim French

Chartism in Llanidloes: Chapters 6, 7 and Epilogue E. Ronald Morris

Memories Chloris Mills

Evan Mills and his Family Brian Poole

Rhayader, Life during World War One: November 1916

Over the Shaky Bridge Lawrence Johnson

“Not We from Kings but Kings from Us” Gay Roberts

The Llani Loo Reginald Massey

Letter from Andrew Dakin

Wales and Agricultural Land Use Chris Barrett

Beatrix Potter’s Wales Chris Barrett

Newtown Textile Museum

Put Out To Grass – Part 20: Festive Fish – Big Ones In Small Streams Diana Ashworth

In The Footsteps of Richard Hughes: a memoir reviewed by Diana Brown

Lesley Ann Dupré – an appreciation Gay Roberts

The Battle of the Somme – Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Living Memory Project Update

The Mills Family of Llanidloes Richard Meredith

Llandinam Village Hall; Montgomery Canal

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

  The Dragons Crypt

Reflections: some children’s poetry on the theme  of Water

Toccata and Fugue Bruce Mawdesley

A Song of Mid Wales Chloris Mills

The Hallowe’en Dare  Norma Allen 

OVER THE SHAKY BRIDGE

Lawrence Johnson 

And they say you should never mix your drinks….

I decided on three “shots” in little plastic glasses – sulphur, magnesium and saline. A bargain at 30p each. Result? My system seized up for 48 hours as the competing minerals fizzed around my innards like a mad-scientist potion. I can only be thankful that the lithium and radium were no longer on offer – I would have glowed green, a Mid Wales Incredible Hulk. So my first visit to Llandrindod Wells, Pump Room and town was not a success. I found only one pub (my criteria for assessing places need expanding) and was put off by the Victorian and Edwardian hotels and shops, signs of the once booming spa. At 30-odd years of age I was old enough to think I knew what I liked but too young to appreciate experiences outside my comfort zone. Then September 2015. Better-travelled, relatively more open-minded and only the chalybeate well to assault my intestines. The town was now the capital of Powys and even boasted a micro-pub, the sun was shining and walking was a pleasure. Past the drive leading up to the County Hall, past the Welsh Assembly outpost, the lane climbs past Bailey Einon and swings to the right. The ground drops sharply to the looping River Ithon on its journey from the hills south of Dolfor. To the right a wooded top, Cwm-brith Bank. To the left a church and, rising steeply behind it, Castle Bank topped with earthworks above the bracken. A great view – almost a shame to come down into it and cross the Shaky Bridge.

A structure of the Smith and Joiner’s art

Of which the smith may claim the greater part

Chains thrown across secured to posts and trees

That swung aloft the acrobat’s trapeze 

Arthur L. Davies of Upper House, Howey was moved to write this because the bridge was destroyed in a flood in 1940 and rebuilt 2 years later. The present model is shaky no longer – sturdy, no more fun and games crossing the planks held together by chains.

Emblem thou art of life’s tremendous span

The time on earth allotted unto man

This poem and a picture of the old Shaky Bridge can be viewed in St. Michael’s Church, below the Castle Bank. (There is a car park by the bridge.) This is all that remains of the borough of Cefn Llys other than grassy hummocks between the Ithon and the hillside. One of many churches in this part of Radnorshire dedicated to St. Michael the dragonslayer, the site shows clues to a pre-Norman origin, a circular llan with yew trees. (Northwest of Llandrindod Wells is Llanfihangel-helygen, St. Michael in the Willows, tiny and beautiful.) Seen from the church the Castle Bank is steep and forbidding but most strongholds have a weakness. From the churchyard gate go straight up to a bigger gate giving access to a track which climbs steadily up to the left. This eventually leads to a farm but a fence on the ridge before the farm can be followed up to the right where a short rise takes you on to the northern end of the hilltop. As you walk along the ridge the view takes in not only the meandering Ithon but also a panorama spoilt only by the conifers on top of Cwm Brith Bank. The strategic value of this site in the 12th century is clear. This is where the March, the eastern parts of Wales under English control, met Welsh Wales ruled by native princes.

Radnorshire is rightly loved for its rolling hills, tiny villages and small towns – for its tranquillity. In the years after 1066, however, it was a battleground with Norman lords pushing to seize control of the area then called Maelienydd, a Welsh cantref or hundred. The Mortimers, with estates in Hereford and Shropshire, played a huge part in these “private enterprise ventures”[1] for centuries. The Kings in London had granted them land on the basis that they performed services – principally keeping the Welsh down and even better, pushing them back further west. (We might think of this today as a kind of “outsourcing” or a “public-private partnership”.) Ultimately, in the fifteenth century, a Mortimer became King of England, but as far as their Marcher activities were concerned there were many ups and downs before they could feel in control.

A splendid landscape long fought over. It is not always easy to read about, however. There was intrigue and treachery on both sides of the divide, with Wales especially prone to division between north and south leaving the central areas vulnerable. Marcher lords were fierce rivals too and the fifteenth century’s Wars of the Roses split the English aristocracy. Castles were built, destroyed, rebuilt and re-destroyed. The Ralph Mortimer you read about on one page is often not the same Ralph you were meeting a page or two earlier. This is why a visit to such a magnificent site as Cefn Llys is so important – it makes the dry words come alive.The whole stretch of the Ithon hereabouts was of strategic significance. The hilltop of Castle Bank shows grassy ramparts from the Iron Age which Norman castle builders were happy to use. To the north near the Alpine Bridge where the river has carved a narrow gorge, is a mound believed to be the site of an 11th century motte put up by Roger Mortimer as he established a toehold in Wales. (This area is accessible via a lane from Llanbadarn Fawr which goes on to Cefn Llys, but parking could be a problem). This family came over with William the Conqueror and prospered.[2]

By the 13th century a sturdier stronghold was needed to defend against the rampages of Llywelyn the Great. From 1242 to 1246 a stone keep and bailey went up on the northern end of the Castle Bank. This made use of the Iron Age earthworks and the Ithon loop but was by no means impregnable as Llywelyn ap Grufydd (the Last) proved to Roger Mortimer twice in the 1260’s. Much of the work of twenty years earlier lay in ruins. Persistent Roger used the stone to build a new castle with tower at the southern end. Here, the slope down to the Ithon is very much steeper and though the flat top of the bank was a help to attackers, the new structure was reinforced by a ditch hewn out of the rock. This effort proved more durable and at some point the summit’s name went from Castell Glyn Ithon to Cefn Llys – the Ridge of the Court. The Mortimers were wielding much of their Marcher authority from here. One sign of this was the clearing of forest to ease travel and deny the Welsh cover.[3] The castle was able to withstand Owain Glyndwr early in the fifteenth century and undergo some rebuilding.

The end of this history is full of ironies. When the direct male line of the Mortimers ended in 1425 the castle came under the control of a royally appointed constable, but in 1461 Edward, Earl of March, Lord Mortimer, became King Edward IV. Cefn Llys was now Mortimer and royal – “Not we from kings but kings from us”.[4] This was their high point – but nothing lasts. The Wars of the Roses ended badly for the Mortimers with a Lancastrian triumph at Bosworth in 1485 and, supreme irony, Henry VII, born in Pembroke, founding the Tudor dynasty. Not only were many Mortimer lordships lost but the March came increasingly under royal control until, starting in 1536, England and Wales were united. The Marcher lordships were abolished as Wales was divided into counties. In any case, as Ludlow had advanced in importance so Cefn Llys castle had declined and was in ruins by the late 16th century. The long standing struggle between the Mortimers and the Welsh had ended in a way none could have predicted. Poetic justice if the Mortimers were indeed responsible for the death of Llywelyn the Last back in the 13th century.

Cefn Llys was more than just a castle. Down below by the church, 10th, 11th or 13th century according to sources, but possibly with those earlier origins indicated by its circular enclosure and yew trees, a borough had developed from the late 13th century to serve the rebuilt castle. Symbiosis – the castle got its provisions and services, the burgesses got a livelihood with protection. There was a market charter, a mill and 25 tenants.[5] By 1332 there were 20 of them. As the castle lost its significance the borough declined. Its distance from major trade routes and lack of exploitable farmland sealed its fate.[6] Nevertheless the Act of Union of 1536 that created Radnorshire also made it one of 7, later 5, contributing boroughs which together made up one Radnorshire boroughs seat in parliament. By 1831 the population was 31 and in the middle of the 19th century there were only 3 houses there. (That, however, is highly democratic compared to classic “rotten boroughs” like Old Sarum in Wiltshire and Dunwich in Suffolk which had no inhabitants at all but still sent members to Westminster.) Rotten or “pocket” boroughs were small enough to be easily exploited by rich landowners. The justification of such a system was that it gave those who had the largest stake in the well-being of the country the biggest say in it. This essentially medieval and rural mindset was challenged by the middle classes of the rising industrial and commercial centres like Manchester which had no MP. This pressure led to the 1832 Reform Act. However, between 1832 and 1885 there was never an electoral contest and from 1869 to 1880 the MP was the Marquess of Hartington, heir to the Duke of Devonshire. A further act of 1885 ended the Radnorshire Boroughs seat and it was merged into the County constituency.

I left Cefn Llys and followed the Ithon through the Bailey Einon Nature Reserve to the Alpine Bridge and on to Llanbadarn Fawr. The only drawback in a pleasant walk was arriving at Penybont station almost an hour early but even then there was a happy outcome. After about half an hour a spaniel trotted on to the platform and decided to keep me company in that unconditional way animals sometimes have. When the train came slowly around the bend, the guard considerately allowed him time to trot over the tracks back home – very much a non-corporate courtesy and all the more welcome.

Reflection as the train makes its steady way to Llandrindod. The castle on top of the hill, looming and ominous, was power at its starkest, enforced at sword point. Down below – the rotten borough is a much less direct but nevertheless pretty blatant exercise of authority by the landed classes who succeeded the Mortimers. Back down the lane just up from Fiveways are the Welsh Assembly buildings or, better still, turn off up the driveway to County Hall. Here you see a lake and trees with a remnant of old spa architecture adding to the modern structures. This is the modern source of power and authority but heavily disguised. Franz Kafka would have a lot to say.  In the space of a couple of miles we can see how we have progressed from ruling first by naked force, then through pseudo-democratic dominance to control by forms and emails issued by the faceless.

‘NOT WE FROM KINGS BUT KINGS FROM US’

Gay Roberts with thanks to Lawrence Johnson for sending in Ian Mortimer’s article 

According to Ian Mortimer in an article entitled ‘The Supposed Mortimer Family Motto’, written on 12th May 2015, there is no basis for the claim that the phrase ‘Not we from kings but kings from us’ was the motto of the Mortimers of Wigmore. This phrase is painted on the side of Upper Bryn, a house in the parish of Hendidley, just outside Newtown, but the house belonged to the Baxter family and following the phrase are the initials R.B. and the date 1660. R.B. probably refers to the then owner Richard Baxter who was a Puritan and the date is the year of the Restoration of King Charles II. The Baxters are not known to have any connection with the Mortimers of Wigmore. The attribution seems to have come about after E. R. Morris wrote in an article in Montgomeryshire Collections volume number 59 entitled G.R. Wythen Baxter, Upper Bryn, Newtown 1814-1854 “ – the proud motto of Ann Mortimer but which seems meaningless in the context of the Baxter family history.”  Anne, last of the Mortimers of Wigmore, married Richard Earl of Cambridge and died in 1411.It should also be noted that family mottoes did not come into general use until long after the death of the last Mortimer of Wigmore in 1425, and the only Mortimer family with a motto being the 17th century Scottish family of Auchinbadie (Burke’s General Armoury)

Instead, bearing in mind the date on the house, it more than likely refers to the Restoration. It was occasionally used as a Stuart motto and as their name implies, Stuart/Stewart, they were stewards to the Scottish kings before rising to become the royal family itself. Thus it fits their trajectory perfectly. Although why a staunch Puritan should display a motto recognising a monarch from such a controversial family raises another very interesting question.

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 32 Summer 2016

EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 32            SUMMER 2016 

Dear PenCambrians,

Well, what a turn round for us all during these last few weeks – leaders resigning, underlings scrabbling for power and, despite everything thrown at him, only one prepared to stand his ground, all credit to him. As I write this introduction a new leader for Conservative Party has just been announced. In the meantime, Diana Brown gives us a very entertaining glimpse into the murky world of 18th and 19th century politics with a look at the Watkins Wynn brothers of Montgomeryshire. Plus ça change indeed.

This year we have been commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, to that date the worst battle ever experienced on European soil. The only people who can possibly know what it must have been like are men who are or have been soldiers themselves. From Brian Lawrence’s remarkable month by month record of the First World War as experienced in Rhayader and the surrounding villages, in this issue we find out what was happening to the men themselves, some in France but many elsewhere in places such as in Turkey and Egypt. We also have news of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Project devoted to the Battle of the Somme.

In the last issue as part of an article observing the changes in transport during the 19th-20th centuries Brian Poole included an interview with Evan Mills, published in the Montgomeryshire Express in 1940. Following this I was delighted to hear from his great-granddaughter Elizabeth Day, who has corrected three mistakes in the original interview and also provided a lovely, fuller piece on both Evan (giving me chance to correct three mistakes which have gone unremarked for the past 70 years) and his daughter Chloris, also mentioned by Brian, and Elizabeth’s great aunt. Chloris was quite an extra woman – a suffragette, a writer and poet, a teacher and a potential headmistress who could not however, stay away from her beloved mid Wales – well, we all know how that feels. Some of her work will appear in future editions of PenCambria. Brian Poole himself has found a corner of mid Wales just outside Newtown, containing three houses – Glan Hafren, Middle Scafell and Red House – that have been the inspiration for three published writers of quite different fields.

In this 90th birthday year of Her Majesty the Queen, Chris Barrett has been looking at the various progresses of Elizabeth II throughout Wales since she became Princess Elizabeth, heir to the British throne. Meanwhile, Roger the First refers not to a monarch but to the first person in Wales recorded as having the surname Jones this being one of Lawrence Johnson’s most entertaining articles. The Dakin Brothers of Llanidloes were hugely influential in the wool trade in this part of mid Wales and in Merthyr Tydfil in the 19th century and their rise and demise as recorded by their descendants, Andrew and Keith Dakin as part of their research into their family history gives us yet another glimpse into the complex world of mid Wales before the First World War.

C.S. Lewis is the subject of a lively pen portrait by Michael Apichela, who used to live in his house in Oxford. As well as pictures of his residency, Michael can be seen wielding C.S. Lewis’s walking stick, which was left in the house when he moved in. In chapter 5 of E. Ronald Morris’s book on Chartism in Llanidloes the instigators of the riot have been caught and are brought to trial. In Llawryglyn our retired lady’s lambs are determined to evade capture.Finally in our non fiction section, a lively look at the Carnival and Fancy Dress in Llanidloes with thanks to Robert Parker Munn for memories recorded at Llanidloes Day Centre as part of his oral history archive and published in The Llani Weaver in 2003.

The Dragon’s Crypt in this issue is full of wonderful writing to get your imaginations going. Bruce Mawdesley is struck by Moonlight, while Martha Fosberry is struck by her childhood memories of Nant-y-sgiliwch, the house where Bruce and Glenys lived in Llawryglyn. Bringing us down to earth Norma Allen imagines what it might have been like being involved in the building of the new War Memorial Hospital.

 

CONTENTS

Our Boys from Radnorshire Brian Lawrence

Evan and Chloris Mills Elizabeth Day 

The Queen in Wales Chris Barrett

Roger the First Lawrence Johnson

The Dakin Brothers of Llanidloes and the Mid Wales Wool Trade Andrew Dakin

C.S. Lewis and Wales  Michael Apichela

Chartism in Llanidloes: Chapter 5 E. Ronald Morris

The Parish Corners with Three Authors Brian Poole

Van Institute Exhibition of Photographs, Postcards and Paper Collection

Put Out to Grass: part 19: Colditz Hero Diana Ashworth

Bubble and Squeak Diana Brown

The Battle of the Somme – Commonwealth War Graves Commission Living Memory Project

Good Times in Llani Gay Roberts

Mid Wales Arts Centre

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

  The Dragons Crypt

Nant-y-sgiliwch  Martha Fosberry

The New Hospital 1962  Norma Allen

Moonlight Bruce Mawdesley

 

GOOD TIMES IN LLANI: Carnival and the Fancy Dress from Llanidloes past.

Gay Roberts

Llani has always known how to have a good tine and if we can raise money for a good cause, so much the better. We had two great regular collective events in which everyone can take part  – the Carnival, which was originally organised in 1932 to raise money for the War Memorial Hospital, and the Fancy Dress, when almost the whole town dressed up, which was started in 1969 to raise money to fund the Community Centre.

Llanidloes Carnival

Dressing up is something most of us love to do from childhood and many of us carry on doing it in one way or another into a ripe old age. Carnival is one of those occasions and it is a tradition which goes way back to time immemorial in all societies, including Llanidloes, although from 1932 onwards, its main purpose has been to raise money for the hospital. The syllable ‘carn’ in Carnival means meat, implying that meat was an essential part of this occasion and, as anyone who watches Time Team will know, archaeology has shown us just how important and frequent were festive occasions when huge quantities of meat were consumed. These days while the barbecue and the hog roast are a vital part of the provisions, it is the dressing up, the parade all through the town, led by the Llanidloes Silver Band, down to the football field on Victoria Avenue, and the games that we all enjoy that is important, the Carnival Queen taking pride of place.

In 1932, when the current Llanidloes Carnival began after a break at the end of the First World War, the Queen was the Rose Queen and they were known as the Rose Queen Carnivals. They were held specifically to raise money for the hospital, which, before the National Health Service began in 1948, was paid for by subscription, donation, sponsorship and general fund raising. The General Organiser and Chairman of the Executive Committee that revived the Rose Queen Carnival in 1932 was Mr. W.E. Dakin who can be seen on page 16 as a small boy and one of the weavers in the High Street Factory. He was a very enthusiastic and energetic fundraiser for the War Memorial Hospital, and in the eight years prior to the outbreak of World War Two the Rose Queen Carnivals raised on average over £200 a year, totalling £1,716 altogether, a very satisfactory sum for the time. His wife was a vice president in 1954 and although I have no details to hand I believe she was just as enthusiastic in this cause as was her husband.

The pre-war Rose Queens were Dorothy Benbow (1932), Iris Wood (1933), Dorothy Worthington (1934), Annie Ashton (1935), Margaret Ingram (1936), Beryl Phillips (1937), Morfydd Ingram (1938) and Florence Evans (1939). To be 18 years of age and single are still the usual qualifications to be a Carnival Queen, who is chosen by the public at a special dance; and on Carnival day, rather like her wedding day, it is the one day when she gets to be beautifully dressed and treated like a queen before real life sets in.

Left: Dorothy Benbow, The first Rose Queen in 1932.

Right: Marie Jones, whom many of us remember as Marie Ingram, crowned as Rose Queen in 1954,

The Rose Queen Carnivals carried on after the end of the war in 1945 and the picture below, very kindly given by Gaynor Waters shows the crowd in Great Oak Street cheering the parade in 1953.

Left front are Ann Evans and Margaret Jenkins.

Centre grouping are Mrs Lithgow and her daughter Stephanie, Elsie and Betty Hughes, Olwen Edwards, Phil and Rita Owen (neé Edwards) and their daughter Julie (in the pram).

On the right are Peter Jones with his nephew Brynmor, standing at the back, and Gaynor herself in the front. Do let me know if any of you recognise anyone else in this picture, and I will pass it on to Gaynor.

Fun is the essence of Carnival and the late Carroll Davies told me of the time he and a friend decided to dress up as German officers. They couldn’t get hold of real uniforms so they dressed up in what would pass for such at a glance, including the peaked caps. They took a jeep down to Llangurig and burst into the Black Lion, thinking everyone would laugh. The place went dead quiet as everyone looked at them as if in a time warp, and Carroll wondered just for a moment whether they had done the right thing. Then, everyone started to laugh and said, “It’s alright. It’s only Carroll!” and to the profound relief of everybody, drinks were had all round.Finally, passing the residents of Maesywennol, who had been brought out to Smithfield Street to see the parade this year, as they passed them the Llanidloes Silver Band played ‘Hello Dolly’ as a special tribute to them and the general enjoyment of all.

Llanidloes Fancy Dress

When I first came to Llanidloes in 1972 it seemed to me that the Fancy Dress was an opportunity for everyone – male and female – dress up in drag, especially as good-time girls. Great Oak Street was closed to traffic and filled to bursting – you could hardly move from place to place for fishnet tights and shiny bras let alone get to a bar to get a drink. There must have been as much beer spilling out of the pubs as there were bodies, and the scent of more exotic stimulants also filled the air. The Dance at the Community Centre started at 10pm and finished around about 2am. But one or two revellers could still be found staggering around town at 9am the next morning. And everything was cleaned up by then too, which was a great credit to the organisation. It wasn’t a competitive event, not for the adults, anyway. It was just a great street party. Children’s competitions were introduced a few years later but they didn’t really seem to reflect the spirit of the Fancy Dress, which was just to dress up and have a good time. And there was no trouble.

In the 1980s as word got round, more and more visitors began to make a point of coming to Llani for the Fancy Dress and soon busloads of party goers were coming in from places as far afield as Telford, Birmingham and even London. It began to be known the Llani Mardi Gras, after the similar festivities in New Orleans in the USA. Unfortunately, as the years went by, many of the revellers would be well oiled with drink before they arrived and inevitably there was trouble. In the early days the need for policing was minimal, probably just to redirect the traffic. By the 1990s it was a major operation. In 2004 5,000 people filled the streets. Inevitably it became too expensive to police and in 2005 it was temporarily suspended over concerns for public safety; in 2012 it was cancelled altogether. But you can’t keep a good Llani girl, male or female, down and, while it is no longer held as a festival, that particular Friday is still Fancy Dress night when we can climb into our fishnets, take to the streets and have a good time. 

The second part of this article gives voice to the people in the town sharing their memories with Robert Parker Munn in FANCY THAT! Published in The Llani Weaver of Summer of 2003 and gives a wonderfully vivid picture of the fun and enjoyment that Idloesians have at the Carnival and the Fancy Dress

Margaret said Victor Davies was an ex police sergeant who was the “Mr. Fancy Dress”. He was the one who used to organise it. Ivor said it was a Mr. Roberts who started it all. He was a solicitor’s clerk with Milwyn Jenkins. Ivor was a treasurer for the Fancy Dress once.

Margaret said the early fancy dress must have been in the 1960s but Doug said he remembers it in 1955 when he was in digs in Picton Street. He went as King Arthur. Everyone said it’s all for the alcohol now and not so much for getting friends together like it used to be.

Margaret said people don’t realise the Fancy Dress has always been organised by the Fancy Dress Committee and not the Council. Peggy remembered the fancy dress was a dance night in the community hall. After the carnival they would be dancing in their costumes. The carnivals went back to the 1930s at least. Beryl recalled a “Tramps Dance” too, there was something on every night in carnival week.

Ceridwen said the procession used to start from the old station. There was lots of space before, no industrial estate. There would be a figure of eight march through town to the football ground. Billy or Beryl Vaughan would lead it all on a piebald horse. Then there was Monty Morgan’s homemade penny-farthing bicycle. The Vaughans supplied the horses. When Billy died it was Berty Bull (Berty Slawson) who walked up front. Berty used to be a drummer in Llani Silver Town Band.

Beryl said Ernie D.T. and Nelly Griffiths used to do an act. Nellie was short and he would push her upon a horse and she’d fall off. You’d laugh at Harry Crisp as a Zulu too. Denzil Crisp and his brothers had motorbikes with planks across them.

Ynys said carnivals were brilliant affairs. 20 to 30 good dance troupes from all over performed. There were comic football matches with people dressing up as anything. The floats were fantastic. “I always remember a man on stilts catching money in his box hat.”

Beryl said there was the crowning of the Queen and competitions. Carnival always ended up with a confetti battle in Great Oak Street outside the town hall.

Peggy said that in the carnival there was a prize for the best dray pulled by stallion horses.

Carys said that everyone used to make their own clothes. Ivor said he was the treasurer for the Carnival in Llanidloes for 5 years. The carnival fell out for a few years in the 1940’s.There was a jazz band that often played there. “The Cambrian Jazz Band” Len Davis (Merle Davis’s brother) played for it. He was coming from the Cambrian leather factory. They dressed up as Spaniards and Dick Evans the Angel was in it. Carys remembered them marching to the sound of “The Isle of Capri.” There were often Morris Dancers. There was Llanidloes Football Team for Ladies for fun in the 1940s. They’d turn up on Carnival Day in the evening. The men would have a tug of war. There were other jazz bands too.

Peggy said, “We went as Llani football team. It was after 1941 sometime. We were a married group. We were walking. We were all ladies. We won the first prize. The second year we went as bunny girls. We won a prize then too. And we went as Black and White minstrels. Another time we dressed as babies with dummies. A woman was dressed up having 8 or 9 ‘babies’. We all had dummies and wore nappies. We won another prize like that. We went once as the Land Army girls. Another one was as the Salvation Army. I still have the photos. We had lots of fun preparing for it. We made it all ourselves. We went for the fun of it. We never had such fun after. It was very odd really that our husbands were letting us go in for it.

Eileen Meredith. I was from Llangurig. In 1932 I was a Scotch girl on a lorry in the carnival.

Doreen was 13 when she was the first carnival queen at Rhayader, in 1930. She wore a special dress to keep. They went round the schools to choose; about 7 of them. They would pick the ones to go on the lorry. Peggy said you had to pay for all the bits and pieces. Peggy said Llani Carnival Queen was called a Rose Queen.

 

REFERENCES

– The History of the War Memorial Hospital Llanidloes 1920 – 1948 Brian Owen published by the League of

Friends Llanidloes Hospital 1998  

– 1954 Rose Queen Carnival Programme and Timetable

– The Llani Weaver Summer 2003

– https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanidloes

https://llanidloes.com/llanidloes_carnival/index.html

 

 

 

 

Llanidloes carnival?

davidpoolelllanicarnvial“This Photo of a Llani carnival is from the early 1950’s ( I think) , do you recognise anyone? I found it in my mothers old collection of photo’s from when we lived near Llanidloes”. Posted by David Poole on another FB page. The setting has now been identified as Vaenor Park, Llanidloes. Anyone know the people?

Interestingly Vaenor Park is currently for sale.