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

 

 

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 31 Spring 2016?

 EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 31            SPRING 2016

Welcome to the eleventh year of Pencambria, and I hope will find its contents as interesting/absorbing/ entertaining and/or thought-provoking as you have in previous years. While writing this introduction, I am on my best literary behaviour, determined that my efforts do not come to the attention of Professor Pedanticus in the puzzles section of the Saturday edition of the Guardian. How mortifying to have my grammatical gaffs spread out for all Guardianistas to tut and gloat over.

The closure of John Mills Foundry in Llanidloes was a great loss to the economy of Mid Wales. Douglas Hurd worked there for thirty years and he remembers some of the extraordinary machines that were made there. In the meantime, as he strides the hills once more, Lawrence Johnson looks for traces of that legendary Welsh bard, Taliesin, in the landscape. In contrast Brian Poole has taken to the river as he finds traces of timber being floated downstream to its destination, a mode of transport, long gone since the coming of the railways and the long-distance lorry.

If there is one object that can be said to be iconic as regards the heritage of Wales it has to be the harp. Wales has given birth to many truly great harpists and none more so than the Roberts family of Montgomeryshire. The most famous of this family was John Roberts the bicentenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year in several places in Wales, most notably here in mid Wales in Montgomery, where there will be a series of workshops held by Amanda Munday and one of the great contemporary virtuosos of the Welsh triple harp, Robin Huw Bowen, culminating in a concert in Montgomery town hall in May. Chris Barrett tells us all about John Roberts himself in the second part of Life On The Road, her lively account of the gypsies in Mid Wales and this article is published below as a tribute to this great Welsh harpist who, when he finally settled down, made Newtown his home.

On 1st June 1889 the town of Johnstown in Pennsylvania was wiped out by a flood when a reservoir above it collapsed after one of the most violent storms ever experienced in that area and in total some 5,000 people lost their lives. Johnstown was the home of a large number of migrants from mid Wales, especially from Newtown and Llanidloes. Several people managed to send letters describing the disaster, back to their friends and families in Wales and the newspaper reports give a particularly vivid account of the flood and its aftermath. Two of these letters plus the account transmitted in a Reuters telegram published in the Montgomeryshire Express are printed in this edition.

Having looked at the history of the Liberal Party in Montgomeryshire, Diana Brown goes for political balance by examining the influence of the Conservatives in this very politically  independent area of Wales and finds families entrenching their positions in a struggle for political supremacy that is, assassinations aside, comparable to the military manoeuvrings of the medieval period that preceded them.

Meanwhile, in Chapter 4 of Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40 E. Ronald Morris covers the political struggles of those much lower down the social scale: the Chartists riot for which the town is famous or notorious depending on which side you were on.

Using household account books of the period, Val Church shows us just how different were lives of the rich and the poor in Montgomeryshire in the nineteenth century.

Our retired lady from Llawryglyn discovers the joys and pitfalls of attempting to become a Welsh speaker. Let us hope she does not come across Henry, the Welsh learner whose fate is described by Val Church in a tale in the Dragon’s Crypt. There we also find A Strange Encounter as related by Gaynor Jones, the apprehensions on Leaving Home reflected on by Norma Allen, a child’s Hope of seeing her daddy again when he goes away to war expressed in a poem by Amber Louise Robinson, and Bruce Mawdesley’s inimitable variation on the immortal Song of the Weather as previously observed by those masters of wordplay, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.

Pasg hapus i chi – a Happy Easter to you all.

CONTENTS

The Foundry, Llanidloes  Douglas Hurd

A Welsh Hero  Reginald Massey

“I was a Salmon, I was a Dog”  Lawrence Johnson

A Harp for Rhiew Bechan School

Whigs vs Tories :Montgomeryshire politics prior to the 19th century Diana Brown

Chartism in Llanidloes: Chapter 4 E. Ronald Morris

The Johnstown Flood Gay Roberts

Gregynog Festival : Eire

Put Out to Grass: part 18: Reflections on Language Diana Ashworth

A Celebration of Welsh Gypsy Harping

The Lost Welsh Kingdom John Hughes

Two Lifestyles and What was in the Soup at Dolanog Val Church

Life on the Road: Part 2: The Roberts Family Chris Barrett

Mid Wales Arts Centre

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

  The Dragons Crypt

The Seasons Bruce Mawdesley

A Strange Encounter  Gaynor Jones

Leaving Home : 1962  Norma Allen

Hope  Amber Louise Robinson

Death of a Learner Val Church

 

LIFE ON THE ROAD by Chris Barrett 

Part 2: The Roberts Family

There are three things a man ought to have in his home:  a virtuous wife, his cushion in his chair and his harp in tune.”

Welsh Triad (Stephens, 1901, p203)

The history of gypsies in Wales from the 16th century to modern day was presented in Part 1 of this article (PenCambria, No 30). Part 2 focuses on the talented harpists and violinists of the Roberts family of Newtown, descendants of Abram Wood – the great gypsy patriarch whose presence in north and mid-Wales is documented from about 1750. Abram Wood married Sarah and it is through their son, William, that the Roberts branch of the Wood’s family tree developed. Many of the Roberts family members became renowned as musicians. The most famous of this talented Teleu was John Roberts, born 1816, this year marks the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth.  He was known as Telynor Cymru, the Harpist of Wales. A book about John’s life and his family, “With Harp, Fiddle and Folktale”, was first published in 1978 in Welsh. A considerably revised English edition by E. Ernest Roberts, John’s great-grandson, was published in autumn 1981. Unfortunately, Ernest died in June 1981 and did not live to see his published work. Roberts (1981 p27) praised Abram’s astuteness and foresight in adopting the Welsh triple-string harp, in which his Teulu was to excel.  Some brief explanatory notes may be useful before exploring the Roberts’ family story.

The Triple Harp is known to have been used during the reign of Charles I, around 1630, and was very well known in Britain by the beginning of the 17th century (Roberts, 2000).  It is believed that the first Welsh triple harp was made, towards the end of the same century, by Elis Sion Siamas of Llanfachreth near Dolgellau (www.clera.org/saesneg/harp.php)An early description of the Welsh harp is provided by the harpist John Parry (Bardd Alaw) (1776–1851) in the preface to the second volume of his collection; The Welsh Harper (London 1839). Genetic studies have shown that the Romanies/gypsies originated in India (Kalaydjieva et al, 2005) and, therefore, may have brought the “Welsh” harp to Britain in the 16th-17th centuries as they travelled across Europe. There are reports of similar style harps being played in Europe, especially in Italy, before its arrival in Britain.  Davies (1901), in an appendix to Stephens’ book “Welshmen”, describes the Welsh Triple harp thus; there are no pedals on the Welsh harp, it is held on the left shoulder and produces a different sound to the English or pedal harp – notes which are clear, sonorous and rich, a household or family instrument. Davies considered it possessed three “enormous advantages of cheapness, simplicity of design and a rich tone” (p243) and, most importantly for travelling players, it was lighter and more portable than the pedal harp. Davies suggests possible improvements to the harp, stating that it had not been structurally modified in the past 200 years! In his opinion the contemporary decoration, on English and American harps, were more pleasing and Welsh harp makers were continuing to reproduce bad features such as being “troublesome to maintain in tune due to the great number of strings” and “manipulation owing to the closeness of the strings”. However, Sebastian Erard is known to have improved the Triple harp in the 1790s, producing a double action mechanism) which he later patented (http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk). 

The violin may also be called a fiddle and to all intents and purpose they are similar. The term fiddle is often applied when the music played is folk-song, celtic or gypsy. (Abram Wood played the violin, rather than the harp).

Penillion singing, cerdd dant, is an old Welsh form of poetry in which a harpist plays and sings or is accompanied by other singers. The harp player always opens the performance with the main melody (alaw/cainc) but both player and singer(s) then add a counter melody (cyfalaw), harmonies and rhythms before finishing their presentation together. The website cerdd-dant.org traces the history of penillion from its beginnings to present day. The earliest recording of this type of singing was in the 12th century. In 1885 Idris Fychan published the first known penillion guidelines and listed 64 penillion singers of the day. Trevelyan (1893), in describing Welsh singing, states that penillion ranges from “grave to gay, from quick movements to slow and from sprightly tunes to melancholy wailing” (pp106-107). In John Roberts’ time the harpist traditionally played the Welsh harp airs and the vocal counter melody was improvised. In old collections the “song” is the lyrics and the “air” is the tune. Modern penillion singing has become more structured.

Welsh Harpists are known to have been employed by Royal families in England, at court and in battle, since the reign of King Henry VII (1457-1509). They played single and double row harps and had adopted the triple harp by the 1660s (Roberts, 2000).

Enough of technicalities, let’s move on to the Roberts musicians themselves! John Roberts Alaw Elwy (1816-1894) was the eldest son of John Robert Lewis and Sarah Wood. His father was a Welshman, from Pentrefoelas, a parish and village in North Wales. His mother, Sarah, was the grand-daughter of Abram Wood. John was born at Rhiwlas Isaf, Llanrhaeadr, Denbighshire. His nomadic gypsy childhood, often within a small family group, was challenging. Roberts (1981) provides evidence that John experienced poverty and hunger and when the family desperately needed money he would be sent back to work on a relative’s farm near Llanhaeadr. In 1830, aged just fourteen, John decided to join the army. He reasoned that (p38) during a “wilful cold winter” in Breconshire he enjoyed seeing the soldiers on parade. Also, John knew his own father had been in the army and reportedly fought at Waterloo. After enlisting at Brecon Barracks, John spent about nine years as a drummer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers (23rd Battalion). However, he deserted twice, firstly in 1839 when he was captured in Swansea. He absconded again four months later and stayed on the run for four more years during which time he earned enough money performing to purchase his service discharge in 1844. John was obviously a very resourceful person, as illustrated by his ability to survive for five years as a deserter during which he moved around the UK (Roberts, 1981 pp38-40).

Because of the strong family ties in the gypsy community John would have known many other harpists, too numerous to discuss in a short article, for example; Richard Roberts (1796-1855), from Caernarvon, who was blind from the age of 8 yrs and a well-known and accomplished harpist, penillion singer and teacher. The Dictionary of Welsh Biography, available on the National Library of Wales website (wbo.llgc.org.uk/en/s-WOOD-sip-1500html), lists many of the Woods/Roberts Teulu who were talented harpists and fiddlers. They were welcomed by Welsh gentry to entertain their guests and some individuals were employed long-term by the nobility as their resident musician. But John’s talent was exceptional and by 1886 he was widely known as Teylnor Cymru, rather than Alaw Elwy, following his investiture in a bardic gorsedd near Llyn Geirionydd. In addition to his extraordinary musical talent his resourcefulness, imagination and ability to write and to tell a good story seems to have contributed to a “larger than life” persona. Literacy was not common in his social class at that time. John’s correspondence to Frances Hindes Groome, written in 1887-9, are in Romani and English and are an entertaining mixture of affection for his “nephew”, storytelling, and descriptions of gypsy music and lifestyle.

John had played the harp since boyhood and was steeped in the traditions of gypsy music, poetry and song. During his military life as a drummer he learned about many other musical instruments and improved as a harpist. He played the harp for various members of Royalty including Princess Victoria (in Portsmouth in 1834 and Winchester in 1835), the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia (in Aberystwyth in 1847) and Prince Leopold 1, later the first King of Belgium (in Swansea in 1848).  In his letters to Francis Hindes Groome he identified many notable families of Welsh gentry he had entertained on request. He had married his first cousin Eleanor Wood Jones (Perpinia), in 1839.  Her father was a well-known musician, Jeremiah Wood Jones, who worked as a harpist at Gogerddan (the home of the Pryse family since the 14th century). Once John and Eleanor were married, and during the time he was an army deserter, they entertained people in many different venues from inns and hostelries to fine country homes. But John’s reputation grew when he won Eisteddfod medals and prizes for his playing and singing (at Abergavenny in 1842, and 1848 and at Cardiff in 1850.)

John Roberts, picture reproduced from flyer and archived in the National Library of Wales

In 1850 John and Eleanor settled in Newtown, mid-Wales, a place which was to remain his home until he died some forty-four years later. They brought up a family of thirteen children who were born between 1840-1865. And it is here that the focus of the Roberts family moves from John to his many talented offspring. Apart from Abraham, Sarah and Ann, his remaining ten children were instrumentalists, singers and performers (see Table 1).

When John and his nine sons performed together they were known as The Cambrian Minstrels. They practiced at home in Newtown to become a “trained and disciplined orchestra…that toured a circuit that included Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Tywyn, Dolgellau, Corwen and Bala” (Roberts 1981 p76). Table 1 illustrates each individual’s competence to play different instruments but only suggests the co-operation that must have been required to achieve cohesion of the group members. John appears to have acted as agent/manager of the Minstrels, confirming events and travel and touring arrangements as well as deciding the programme from their vast repertoire.

The Minstrels’ reputation was bolstered in their home town by local performances including balls held in the Pryce Jones Warehouse. When Queen Victoria visited Wales in 1889 she stayed with Sir Henry Robertson, of railroad building fame, in the beautiful mansion overlooking the River Dee, Pale Hall. The Cambrian Minstrels solely provided the evening entertainment for the royal visitor. Roberts (1981) describes in detail the family’s preparations for their performance and their journey to Llangollen and onward by a special train to Llandderfel station. Interestingly, the current website of the Pale Hall Hotel describes the occasion as; the Queen was “serenaded by a local Welsh choir”!  Following a year of declining health John had a stroke in 1893 and sent his triple harp to his friend, Mr Nicholas Bennett. The family turned down a trip, all expenses paid, to the World Fair in Chicago. John died in 1894 and was buried in Newtown, in the parish churchyard of St David’s church.

Table 1: Musical ability of the family of John Roberts 

Date of Birth  Name Place of Birth Area of recognised competence Other comments
1840-1869? Mary Ann Neath Welsh Harp, Violin, singing Eisteddfod prizes, 1850 & 1858
1844-? Lloyd Wynn Llanuwchllyn Welsh, English Harp Eisteddfod prize, 1865Harpist to Lady Londonderry
1850-1852 Abraham Brecon Died aged 2yrs
1852-? Madoc Brecon Mainly English Harp, and Welsh Harp Eisteddfod prizes, at least 9
1852-1919 Sarah Welshpool
1853-? John Newtown Welsh and English Harp, Singing Eisteddfod prizes, at least 10Played for the Empress of Austria
1855-? James England Holywell Flute, Flageolet Twin: Reuben
1855-1949 Reuben France Holywell Welsh Harp, English Harp, Violon-Cello, Double Bass, Piccolo. Mandolin Twin: JamesHis eldest son was Ernest France, the father of Eldra (1917-2001) and taught her to play the harp. Eldra taught gypsy tunes to Robin Huw Bowen
1858-? Albert Kington Welsh Harp Eisteddfod prizes, at least 19.Bardic title and Chief Harpist.“The ablest musician of the family” *

Played for the Empress of Austria

1860-1897 Ann Newtown —–
1862-1962 Ernest Aberystwyth English Harp, Violin, Double Bass, Singing
1865-? Charles (Charley) Aberystwyth Cello and Harp Twin: William
1865-? William Aberystwyth Mainly Violin, English Harp Twin: CharlesPlayed at London Palladium and Phoenix Theatre

 *(Roberts, 1981 p67)

It is important to place the achievements of the Roberts family in context. Musicality is recognisably part of Welsh history, culture and folklore. In the 12th century Gruffydd ab Cynan held an Eisteddfod at Caerwys, Flintshire, “for the purpose of regulating minstrels, whither travelled all the musicians of Wales” (Stephens 1901, p200). He is credited also with increasing the popularity of the bagpipe in Wales, where it was often regarded with contempt (pp200-202). At this time “the harp ruled supreme” and “strangers were entertained with conversation of young women and the music of the harp, for…almost every house was provided with both” and in “every family, or in every tribe they esteemed skill in playing on the harp beyond any kind of learning” (p203). Karen McCauley has studied the Celtic Bards in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Her descriptions of wandering minstrels and mournful harps are available on several websites, including a chronology of Welsh Songbooks 1794-1927 and many examples of Welsh harp airs, songs and penillion arrangements. (crowdsourcingbard.pbworks.com).

Despite present day recognition of the Roberts family’s abilities, wandering minstrels and Gypsy/Romany musicians may often have been on the fringe of the music scene in Wales –  as they were in much of society generally. In many European cultures Romani music was only partially assimilated into national culture. Gypsies and their way of life stimulated fascination and fear.  For instance, in Hungary gypsy costumes and music were emblematic, national symbols. However, gypsies themselves and their folk music were later to be discriminated against and ostracised. In the UK in the 18900s Trevelyan wrote “Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character”. In Chapter 7, which was devoted to “Welsh singing and song”, she declares this activity to be “as natural to the Welsh as to the birds” (p105). She reproduces the words and music to many songs which “are to be heard from house to house in Wales, and perhaps never to better advantage than in the open air” (pp110-113). This could be assumed to be a reference to gypsy singers but the rest of her writings make no mention of travelling or Romany musicians. Her descriptions are of farming folk in rural areas, milkmaids and workers. Marie Roberts’ book The Harpmakers of Wales (2000) does include a description of the “folk harpers” (p26-28) who travelled the Welsh countryside carrying their harps on their back.  Also, she lists 58 makers and repairers of harps and includes John Roberts. John and his sons would have been skilled at maintaining and repairing their harps. Marie describes their ability to renovate old instruments (p127). Indeed, Roberts (1981) includes a letter from John to Mr Morley of Morleys harp makers in London. It discussed the technical aspects of the Welsh harp and the desirable quality of a pure Welsh harpist as “one who has love for his country … and a Tear in his eye” (pp94-9).

Today the harp, like the gypsies, is still a part of life in Wales. To mark the two hundredth anniversary of John Robert’s birth there has been a celebration of Welsh Gypsy Harping(telynor.cymru/en/hanes.php). A series of harp workshops and concerts has been held throughout Powys. Robin Hugh Bowen has played the harp airs in the traditional Welsh manner- resting the harp on his left shoulder. He has many talents and is a harpist, folk group member and publisher. Other contemporary Welsh harpists have achieved international fame, including Elinor Bennett and Catrin Jones. In the 19th century Wales gained a reputation as the Land of Song and in Welsh the harpist doesn’t play but sings the harp – Canu’r telyn! Throughout Wales, Welsh love spoons, silver and wooden, are found with a heart and harp entwined. It is often said that music is heard by the ears but the harp touches the heart and in Ireland the harp is said to reflect immortality of the soul. It seems fitting to end this article on Welsh gypsies and the talented Roberts’ family with the opening words from Chapter 9 in the book written by EE Roberts about his great-grandfather; Telynor Cymru:

“John had a deep and abiding love for the Welsh harp.”

REFERENCES

Davies (1901) Appendix on the Welsh Harp In Stephens (1901) Welshmen 2nd Ed Western Mail Ltd. Cardiff.

Jarman, E & AOH (1991) The Welsh Gypsies: Children of Abram Wood, University of Wales Press.

Roberts EE (1981) With Harp, Fiddle and Folktale, Gee & Son, Clwyd.

Roberts M (2000) The Harpmakers of Wales. Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Llanrwst, Wales.

Short R S Rev (1885) The Roberts family of Welsh Harpists Aberystwyth Gazette July 18th 1885.

Stephens T (1901) Welshmen 2nd Ed Western Mail Ltd. Cardiff.

Trevelyan M (1893) Glimpses of Welsh Life and Character. John Hogg, London.

McCauley K https://www.academia.edu/1511674/Crowdsourcing_the_Celtic_Bard_Wandering_Minstrels_and_Mournful_Harps and crowdsourcingbard.pbworks.co.uk.

Letter from John Roberts http://www.morleyharps.co.uk/general-articles/historical-documents-from-the-clive-morley-collection/

2016 Anniversary Workshops: telynor.cymru/en/hanes.php

 

 

What was in PenCambria: Issue 30 Winter 2015?

Issue 30 Introduction and Contents at a glance

INTRODUCTION

With this issue we complete 10 years of publication and my thanks go to all of you, writers and readers, for your support during this time. Don’t worry, this is not a resignation piece, just an expression of my profound thanks appreciation of all of you who help to make PenCambria what it is today. When I look back over the years I am pleased to say that, apart from the brief instruction that we cover local history, heritage and creative writing, there is no set pattern that we follow, and, apart from being “legal,decent, honest and truthful”, no rigid guidelines about the material published as far as I am aware. Because it is all about us and our interests here in mid Wales nothing you have ever sent me has been totally rejected as irrelevant although I may have occasionally suggested modifying the approach to suit the general theme.

Every issue is different from the previous one and I always hope that in each issue all you readers will find something of interest.

We have been so fortunate in our regular writers: Brian Poole with his indefatigable thirst for discovering our industrial past – something sadly neglected by so many historians; Lawrence Johnson who walks the hills tirelessly and uncovers so many quirky things about the countryside; Diana Ashworth and Chris Barrett with their passion for oral history and to whom we owe such a debt for reviving our presence on the internet;Diana Brown who has become a fund of local knowledge about Llanidloes; Norma Allen whose modest appearance belies the vivid literary imagination that can always fill a corner in the Dragon’s Crypt; similarly Bruce Mawdesley who told me once that PenCambria has got him writing again after a long period of stagnation. We are indebted to Reginald Massey, who is a professional writer but who has been so taken with PenCambria since its inception that he never fails to make a contribution if he can and publicises it whenever he feels it is appropriate.

In this issue I am very pleased to print articles from two of our very first writers and without whose encouragement PenCambria would not have got off the ground. Since his arrival here in 2004 Dr. David Stephenson has become the recognised authority on medieval mid Wales. A formidable intellect and a compelling speaker – in his mind he lives in the 11th century but comes back to the 21st to eat and sleep – David very generously wrote something for each of the first 15 issues, giving them an authoritative substance that enabled me to build a network of expert writers who would be willing to contribute either regularly or occasionally. He is an incredibly busy man these days but is still willing to write for us when he has time. E. Ronald Morris, leading light of the Arwystli Society for many years, also encouraged me from the very beginning with contributions from his invaluable archive. We have been so lucky to have been able to draw on such a talented pool of writers with such varied interests. Unfortunately space prevents me from listing everyone here so please forgive if I don’t mention you or your favourite writer but I would like to highlight a few just for the variety: Nick Venti’s interest is in the Napoleonic period and in the early issues he introduced us to several soldiers from mid Wales of that period; the Reverend Malcolm Tudor provided us with a few pen portraits of some interesting local characters; Richard Meredith and his family that has played such an important part in providing the bricks and mortar of mid Wales, Brian Lawrence who is a mine of information about Rhayader and similarly R.M.Williams of St. Harmon; David Jandrell took us all around the outskirts of Montgomeryshire on his Hafren Circuit. The Abermule Train Crash was David Burkhill-Howarth’s introductory article and from there he took us all the way to Patagonia. Michael Brown was one of most our most entertaining writers first with his account of the  installation of the China Street chapel organ in Llanidloes, then in his stories for the Dragon’s Crypt. Further afield, Tyler Keevil, also a writer from issue number 1 and now an award winning novelist,introduced us to gangland Chicago with his tour de force on the extraordinary Murray the Hump, Al Capone’s second-in-command, whose family were from Carno. Mid Wales Art Centre and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales keep us up-to-date with the cultural and historical events that they host.

One of the things I am most pleased about is that PenCambria seems to give many people something to do in their retirement. However, retirement usually means getting older and sadly some of them are no longer with us. Jonathan Sleigh, one of those great could-have-beens, passed on the year after we began; Reverend Malcolm Tudor, David Burkhill Howarth and Michael Brown are all great losses to our pages. As I said earlier, I should also like to thank all you readers, especially those of you whom have subscribed from the beginning and without whose support PenCambria would not still be in print. Whether we shall be having another such appreciation in ten years’ time only Providence can tell, but in the meantime I do hope this issue gives you as much pleasure as much as the previous one.

Gay Roberts

CONTENTS

Introduction – The First Ten Years

An End and a Beginning: VJ Day in Mid Wales Diana Ashworth

The Demise of the Stagecoach and the Advent of the Railway Brian Poole

Girls in Green Diana Brown

“We Have All Done Our Bit” Lawrence Johnson 11

Chartism in Llanidloes 1839-40: chapter 4 E. Ronald Morris

The Royal Courts of Mid Wales Dr. David Stephenson

A Local Gladstone vs Disraeli Diana Brown

The Perennial Traffic Problems in Rhayader Brian Lawrence

BLAST! Bishops Castle Story Telling Group

Life on the Road in Wales: part 1 Chris Barrett

Oriel Davies Open Writing Competition

Put Out To Grass : part 17: Prejudice and the Eternal Conundrum Diana Ashworth

The Not So Humble Mince Pie Bruce Mawdesley

Christmasses Past: Memories from Local People collected and edited by Gay Roberts

The Lost Arc Glenda and Paul Carter

Mid Wales Arts Centre

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales

Mid Wales Events Horizon

The Dragons Crypt

A Different Child Gaynor Jones

The Winter Garden Amber Louise Robinson

Mimosa Journal – a sequel Norma Allen

Existentiale Reginald Massey

 

The next issue will be out at the end of MARCH 2016

 

CHRISTMASES PAST – memories from local people collected and edited by Gay Roberts.

This article was first published in December 1994 in The Llani Gazette, the Community Newspaper of Llanidloes & District

Christmas is a very special time of year for all sorts of reasons. Historically it is the winter solstice, when people of all cultures in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the Sun’s return on the day after the longest night of the year. Lights and warmth were the most important feature of this coldest of seasons so it was a time for candles, bonfires and feasting; and, in gratitude for having survived the rigours of winter, it was a time for giving and receiving presents. This is the aspect that dominates our culture today. It was the time of the Roman Saturnalia and the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas also has different meanings according to the various stages of our lives. We get the most enjoyment from it as children, or when children play a major part in our lives, particularly as parent and grandparents. When children are no longer around, for many people Christmas loses much of its magic and meaning.

In this article people from all walks of life living in Llani have given their thoughts on what Christmas means to them and a few have described Christmas times they remember. Llanidloes has a quite cosmopolitan population, so as well as from Wales, contributors have added their memories from England, Germany and Australia.

Karen remembers childhood Christmases in Germany. The season began on 6th December when all the children put their shoes out for St. Nicholas to fill with sweets., Excitement builds up to the big day, which is Christmas Eve, when the tree and all the decorations go up. Presents and sweets are given and Christmas dinner is eaten that evening. Christmas day itself is quiet. Her overwhelming memories are of lights, marzipan and smell of spice. It is a very special family occasion and “What I can’t get used to here”, she says “are all the parties”.

Bill Davis remembers Christmas on the farm at Cwm Belan. The animals still had to be fed and tended so Christmas Day was a day much like any other except that no ploughing was done. One blessing of the chapel was that the Bible said that six days shalt thou labour and the seventh shall be a day of rest. Otherwise, the farmers would have had them working all the hours they could get out of them every day of the year all for only six shillings (30p) a week.

When told about Father Christmas, Margaret remembers being absolutely terrified at the thought of a strange man coming into the house. Her sister felt exactly the same. Her mother reluctantly reassured her when she was four and a half years old why she had no reason to fear his presence.

Mike misses going from shop to shop in China Street for a convivial drink on Christmas Eve after 5.30 pm closing time. The hyper commercialisation upsets him too. Although it is his busiest time of year, “it can be depressing when people come into buy presents and, when they see the prices these days, they just cannot afford them. What I really look forward to now is shutting the shop on Christmas Eve and going straight across to the church where anything goes. Anyone can come in and take part. All the children are given a bit of costume – as a shepherd or an angel or something – and a candle and we all have a really good time” ‘ Carol spent some childhood Christmases with his grandparents on the farm in Pant-y-dwr, where particularly after the war, there was no money and nothing to buy. They were not religious and they lived too far from the chapel to walk there. So it was much like any other day. Grandmother baked bread in the oven beside the open fire. Nearly all the food – poultry, eggs, butter, fruit and vegetables – were produced on the farm; and nearly every day people would call for supper. The battery radio was a great thing in the house. But most important of all, people talked and talked. For entertainment on Christmas Eve in town, he remembers going out from the Trewythen Arms after closing time to watch the fights.

Another farmer, with most of his family having flown the nest, is glad to dispense with the competitive spending of Christmas time. His greatest pleasure now comes with the simple home-made gifts from the travellers that pass his way. G. remembers Christmas in Sydney, Australia in 1966 in a temperature of 100º F (38ºC) in the shade. Despite this, traditional European decorations prevailed – artificial fir trees, cotton wool snow, Santa sweltering in red suit, white wig and beard and black wellies. “In the department store where I worked, Christmas coincided that year with an Italian theme week. Their prize exhibit was a full-sized fully endowed plaster replica of Michelangelo’s 16 foot (5 metres) statue of David, planted firmly in the middle of the perfume counter, much to the interest of the local Sydney feminae. I spent most of Christmas Day dutifully with my family exchanging presents and noshing roast turkey and Christmas pud. but, as soon as I decently could, I hi-tailed it back to the city as, this particular year, the US, Canadian, Australian and Royal Navies were exercising in the Coral Sea and all 16,000 sailors were roaming the streets of Sydney looking for a good time. No single girl worth her mini skirt could let that go by without partaking. To cut a long story short, two days later in the company of a ship’s doctor, who looked more like a Greek God than the David, I received my most memorable Christmas present. But taste and decency require that I draw a veil over the details.

Anon, remembers his earliest Christmas, 1944. “London, you may have heard, was receiving sundry nasties from our European chums; and a piece of German hi-tech, that had fallen on our street sometime before, had removed the roof, windows and most of our doors along with 24 lives. The roof was now artfully draped with a tarpaulin and the window glass was replaced with a kind of cardboard. Although most of the doors were back in place, the blast had removed nearly all the lamp shades and most of the curtains. The Christmas tree was a broom handle with twigs tied to it, stuck in a bucket of rubble, which was the only thing in plentiful supply. A doll was tied to the top for a fairy and the decorations were those pre-war ones that had survived the bombing and others made by us children from whatever we could find lying around at the time. The cake I was told later, was made mainly from the contents of a U.S. food parcel (God bless America!). It had no icing, but was adorned with one candle – the 6” type we took to bed – and a sprig of holly from who knows where. I do not remember what presents were given, except for one. Money was even scarcer then, so my uncle Les, ever the comedian, gave everyone a festively wrapped toilet roll – very apt, remembering what had been falling on us out of the sky for the past five years. Despite the gloomy setting, we kids had a thoroughly jolly time that only youthful optimism can deliver. How sad we have to grow up.

Finally, Dorothy remembers at 9 years old her mother still evading the crucial question. Determined to find out, she conceived a fiendish task. She had two dolls – a boy doll and a girl doll. In her letter to him on Christmas Eve she asked Santa to send a set of pink clothing for each of her dolls. When she woke on Christmas day, she knew in her heart the clothes would not be there. But there, on the end of her bed, glowing pink in the pale light of dawn, were a suit for boy doll and a dress for girl doll.

Merry Christmas!

THE WINTER GARDEN by Amber Louise Robinson

The sugar-dusted petals

are blushing in the winter air,

cold and silent

yet so beautiful,

like snow crowning

a marble statue.

They are tired now,

wilting slightly

but standing strong.

‘A weaker winter.’

the flower scoffs,

but perhaps it is,

instead,

A stronger flower

What was in PenCambria: Issue 29 Summer 2015?

Issue 29 Introduction and Contents at a glance

INTRODUCTION 

Well, what profusion of centenary commemorations we have this month! Continuing with our tributes to the war time generation, this issue remembers both world wars. Brian Lawrence has documented month by month Rhayader’s involvement in and reaction to World War I and this time we hear something about life from January to July 1915. Brian Poole has been investigating the contribution of the men of the Cambrian Railway, specifically three men from Caersws, to the war effort and Diana Ashworth has been looking through back numbers of the Montgomeryshire Express to find how VE day was celebrated in 1945in mid Wales.

Lawrence Johnson considers the bloody history of a pile of bones found in the church of St Llwchaiarn at Llanmerewig in 1892.

Richard Meredith treats us to another aspect of his extraordinary family history – the builders, and their lasting legacies of edifices of all kinds from houses to chapels to bridges and a reservoir are still part of our everyday environment.

Another centenary is celebrated this year at Bryn Tail Cottage which has housed an Outdoor Summer School for Central Secondary School in Birmingham since 1915. Richard Fryer tells us all about it. While researching the life of the late Emlyn Hooson Diana Brown found out so much about the Liberal Party and its links with Montgomeryshire that she decided to write about it for this edition and cover Emlyn’s life in a later issue.

Jo Florin was one of those souls that come to mid Wales after a very much out-of-the-ordinary life elsewhere and find a haven here to settle down and develop a life away from the stresses of modernity and to end their days, which indeed Jo did last year. Andy Scrase knew her well and has written an appreciation of her which will chime with all those who knew her. In Llawryglyn our retired couple hope they can give their dog benefit of the doubt regarding the wound on their dog’s leg, which they hope has come from an heroic stand taken to defend a sheep against an intruder hound.

A crop of interesting books has been brought to our notice this month. Newtown History Group has published two very different books – A Brief Survey of Public Houses, Inns and Taverns of Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn, and Letters from the Front 1914-1918, a collection of letters sent home to Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn by some of the men involved.   The Dolanog Booklet Group has brought out a  booklet all about Dolanog. Meanwhile this month Gwen Prince reviews a recently published book about climate change by George Marshall; and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales have published two new books: one about the history of the slate industry in north Wales and the other about their discoveries of Roman life from their excavations of the Roman villa at Abermagwr, near Aberystwyth. For those of you eager to read the next instalment of E.Ronald Morris’s account of the Chartists’ uprising in Llanidloes, lack of space prevented its appearance in this issue, so it will continue in the next edition out at the end of October.

In the Dragon’s Crypt Gaynor Jones paints a beautifully sensitive picture of a mother taking her child to be admitted to school for the first time; Norma Allen completes her tale of the Welsh migrants’ journey to Patagonia; Reginald Massey expresses his love of Wales in some wonderfully heartfelt verse (SEE BELOW); Bruce Mawdesley remembers summers of childhood brought to life by John Selly’s illustration, and Amber Louise Robinson asks us what happens when we silence the world – a profound question from a 17 year old.

 CONTENTS

ROD Brian Poole 

Victory in Europe –  VE Day in Mid Wales Diana Ashworth

Blood and Fire Lawrence Johnson

A Legacy in Stone, Bricks & Mortar Richard Meredith

Don’t Even Think About It : Why Our Brains are Wired to Ignore Climate Change :

George Marshall book review Gwen Prince

Bryn Tail Cottage Richard Fryer

A Local Gladstone vs Disraeli Diana Brown

World War One in Rhayader : January to July 1915  Brian Lawrence

The Story of Jo Andy Scrase

Put Out To Grass : part 16: Dog Days Diana Ashworth

Roman Life in Abermagwr: Villa Finds Go On Display In Ceredigion Museum RCAHMW

New Publications reviewed:

Dolanog – Village on the Vyrnwy

From the Newtown Local History Group

–  A Brief Survey of Public Houses, Inns and Taverns in Newtown and Llanllwchaiarn :

–  Letters from the Front 1914-1918 Newtown & Llanllwchaiarn

From the RCAHMW:

Welsh Slate: Archaeology and History of an Industry

  The Dragons Crypt

School Admission Gaynor Jones – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -43

Mimosa Journal  Norma Allen – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  44

Lines from Llani Reginald Massey – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  51

“All on a Summer’s Day” Bruce Mawdesley, illustration John Selly– – – – – – – – – – – 52

A Song in Silence  Amber Louise Robinson  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 53

LINES FROM LLANI

I now proclaim my immense wealth.
I live in Wales, the Land of Bards.
I know it rains and winds are cold;
But grass is green and sheep are hard.

I am not Welsh by blood nor birth
But they have taken me to heart.
And hence I thank the Welsh nation;
They are indeed a world apart.

My London friends still think I’m mad
That I deserted them for Wales.
But I never made a better choice;
I love the oaks, I love the gales.

The Mid-Walians possess warm hearts
And have a sense of decency.
They are the salt of God’s good earth;
I love them all and they love me.

Reginald Massey