What was in PenCambria: Issue 25 Spring 2014?

Eliza, Julia and Henry-a Victorian Triangle Val Church

“The One I Don’t Go To” Lawrence Johnson

The Trouble with History Diana Ashworth

My Roots Part 5: Salmon Poaching Richard Meredith

Torri Mawn: Peat Cutting in the Uplands of Mid Wales Brian Poole

Farming Between the Wars 1920-40, Part 2: Men’s Work R.M. Williams

1st World War Centenary Commemoration Gay Roberts

Put Out To Grass: Part 12 Left-Handed Challenge Diana Ashworth

How Not To Kill Yourself in Borth: a meditation on the Welsh hills by a flatlander Veronica Popp

Monastic Wales Diana Brown

Jottings of a Mid Wales Tourist Peter Watson

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Three Ladies Bruce Mawdsley

Back to the Smoke Gaynor Jones

In Time of War: A Trilogy Part 1: Selina’s Birthday Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 25 by Gay Roberts

Well, after such a soggy winter, what a lovely spring we are having at the time of writing. We all love a good scandal and we start this issue with a splendid example of a Victorian marital disharmony and a wet lettuce – just read it and find out. Val Church tells us the extraordinary history of Eliza Williams of Dolanog, her friend, Julia Davenport and Julia’s husband Henry Crookenden.

Lawrence Johnson has been looking into the culture of the Chapel in mid Wales. Once Non-Conformity became legal and the Bible was printed in Welsh and English, people could interpret it and preach more or less what they liked. In Wales, which has always been a very religious and thoughtful country, a whole variety sects with their attendant chapels mushroomed and one could choose which group to attend, which group to avoid and to chop and change as the fancy took.

Prior to this, the invasion of the Normans in 1066 was followed in the 1130s by colonisation of the country by the monastic movement, which, in Wales, was overwhelmingly Cistercian. Professor Janet Burton of the University of Wales Trinity St David’s has created a database and website which will eventually provide a fully comprehensive archive of all material including a bibliography of primary and secondary sources relating to this phenomenon – a must for anyone research this fascinating topic. Diana Brown has been studying it and gives us a most interesting account of what she has learned.

It is thanks to the Chartists that we have the parliamentary democracy we enjoy today. Llanidloes played a small but notable part in this campaign and, taking the two main historical sources, Diana Ashworth manages to present an account that does justice to both sides.

Tracing his roots once again, Richard Meredith regales us with his youthful salmon poaching adventures on the river Severn.

Peat cutting is one of the great unsung crafts of the uplands of mid Wales. Brian Poole touched on it in his article on Capel Gerisim in the last edition of PenCambria. This time he does full justice to it through the oral history of the area and his own interest in and understanding of the technical side of these activities.

Meanwhile on the lower slopes and pastures R.H. Williams describes men’s work on the farm between the two world wars.

It is lambing time in Llawryglyn and our retired lady grasps the mettle, or rather the back legs of her sheep by the hand and attempts to administer all kinds of pills and potions to keep her flock in tiptop condition.

The last episode of recent television programme thriller “Hinterland” set in Aberystwyth included a murder in Borth. A few days later Veronica Popp sent me this delightful piece about one of her experiences as a student at the University in Aberystwyth entitled “How Not to Kill Yourself in Borth”. I won’t spoil it for you. Just enjoy it for yourselves.

Peter Watson had a holiday in mid Wales last year both for leisure and for research and here is his affectionate account of his travels.

The RCAHMW have been very busy with their activities to preserve our heritage and to make sure that we are as fully aware of them as is possible. One of these is the creation of computer 3-D animation reconstructions of complex archaeological sites, especially the Swansea Copper Industry, for which they have received an award. They have also managed to provide a conclusive date for the construction of Tredegar House, one of Wales’ great until now unsolved archaeological mysteries. And they are asking for our help in providing what information we can about our own areas, specifically when it comes to place names. They are also putting on a full programme of events open to the public which are very enjoyable and informative, so do go along if you can.

Mid Wales Arts Centre and Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit are offering a wealth of creative and spiritual opportunities and you can read all about their activities as usual.

In The Dragon’s Crypt Bruce Mawdesley entertains us with his pen portraits of three women; going back to the smoke Gaynor Jones expresses what so many of us feel about have to leave mid Wales for a life elsewhere; and Norma Allen begins a three-part story set in the time of the First World War as the opening to our commemoration of this event, which will be published in the next issue.


What was in PenCambria: Issue 24 Winter 2013?

Pillow Talk Lawrence Johnson
The Shrewsbury Drapers and the Mid Wales Cloth Trade Dr. David Stephenson
Out & About with the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments in Wales
Capel Gerisim Brian Poole
An Evening with R.S. Thomas Glyn Tegai Hughes
Sir William Jones Reginald Massey
1st World War Centenary Commemoration Request
In Living Memory – H.B. ‘Gurra’ Mills Diana Ashworth
Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit
Cefn Gaer & Owain Glyn Dŵr Gay Roberts
Cefn Gaer : visit by the Arwystli Society Gay Roberts
Christmas at Dolwen Gaynor Jones
My Roots : Part 4: Polecats & Pigeons Richard Meredith
Put Out To Grass : part 11 Pumpkins, Myths and Toadstools Diana Ashworth
Farming Between the Wars 1920-40 part 1 Women’s Work R.M. Williams
A Good Read : two books reviewed by Norma Allen
Newtown Local History Group Honoured by the Queen Joy Hamer
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Wales

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Portrait or a Policemen Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly

The Parish Hall R.M. Williams
Back of the Bus Siôn Rowley
The River Severn in December Gaynor Jones
Final Choice Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 24 by Gay Roberts
With all kinds of interesting things in this issue, we begin with Lawrence Johnson, who has been walking the wilds of mid Wales again, going rabbiting, so to speak, investigating the pillow mounds above the Elan Valley.
Once Wales finally came under total English rule and disputes over sovereign territory were at an end, mid Wales wool producers began a war, of words rather than arms, over the monopoly of their wool sales enjoyed by the Shrewsbury Drapers, and Dr. David Stephenson, who I am very pleased to welcome back to the pages of PenCambria after a couple of years’ break, puts the case for the grievances of both sides.
The chapel traditions that mushroomed in Wales after the 1689 Acts of Toleration allowed Non-Conformists to practise their faith without fear of penalty, are remembered with the example of Capel Gerisim, high in the peat-cutting district, between Bwlchyffridd and Adfa, by Brian Poole, whose wife grew up in that parish. R.S. Thomas was greatly influenced by these isolated communities, and his thoughts were often part of the conversations that he had with Glyn Tegai Hughes, who shares some of them with us now, at the end of this year, which is the centenary of the great poet’s birth.
Yet another forgotten Welsh genius has come to Reginald Massey’s attention. This is the noted linguist, lawyer and orientalist Sir William Jones, whose family hailed from Anglesey.
A genius of quite another sort has been tracked down by Diana Ashworth. Gurra Mills was, among other things, a footballer of international quality who despite offers from several professional teams including Arsenal, Swansea and Shrewsbury, could not bear to leave this area, which he loved so much.
Owain Glyn Dŵr has been conspicuously absent from the pages of PenCambria as no suitable article has been forthcoming. This month, however, we have an account of a visit by the Arwystli Society to the house he owned in Pennal, near Machynlleth and where in 1406 he wrote the famous Pennal letter asking the king of France for aid in his campaign to secure his position as Prince of Wales. He also asks the pope at Avignon for help in establishing an independent Welsh church and two universities. The house is built on a Roman fort and is full of history. To accompany the account of the visit, I have included a very brief history of Owain Glyn Dŵr’s life, how he got to that moment and what might have been going through his mind as he wrote the letter.
The delights of a growing boy’s life in the 1950s are fondly remembered by Richard Meredith; Gaynor Jones relishes memories of Christmas during this time at Dolwen; while the joys of grandchildren and Hallowe’en in the 21st century are fondly related by our retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn.
Women’s work in St Harmon Parish between the two world wars is detailed by R.H. Williams. With no electricity or modern conveniences such as the washing machine and the vacuum cleaner, it was an entirely different life from that of today – and a hard but uncomplaining one too.
The RCAHMW has had a very active and interesting six months finding a Roman fort from cropmarks in a field near Brecon, restoring a bridge over the Kymer canal near Kidwelly, engaging with the Somalis of the Butetown, young and old, in tracing changes in their community using the Britain From Above material; and finding a long-lost carved medieval stone at Silian. They have also launched a new dimension to their access system, Coflein, which now allows users to search the National Monuments Record directly and explore the collection in far greater depth.
Norma Allen has found two excellent books to read and has reviewed them for your delectation.
Meanwhile in the Dragon’s Crypt there is lots of good reading, starting Bruce Mawdesley who remembers, in his own inimitably lyrical fashion, the village policeman, and once again it is illustrated by the delightful drawing of John Selly.
As well as a chronicler of the changes in St Harmon Parish R.H. Williams is also a dab hand at a bit of verse and here is the ballad he wrote for the centenary and the demise of the Parish Hall at Pantydwr.
Siôn Rowley, a new writer who I am very pleased to welcome to the pages of PenCambria, tells a story about a schoolboy who finds the courage to overcome the bully on the bus.
Gaynor Jones has also turned her hand to poetry this month, inspired by the river Severn in December.
Finally, a ghostly revenge from the pen of Norma Allen.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 23 Summer 2013?

Aberystwyth: the Biarritz of Wales Gaynor Jones
My Roots: Part 2 – Cor Hafren Richard Meredith
Cor Hafren Photographs
Mid Wales Railway and Associated Lines to Brecon: 50th Anniversary of Closure Anon, submitted by Colin Breeze

The Naming of Parts Lawrence Johnson
A Secret Legacy Diana Ashworth
An English Admiral and a Welsh Hill Reginald Massey
The Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s Rachael Jones & Gay Roberts
The Reality of Lambing Without Spring Diana Ashworth
Grus Grus at Caersws Brian Poole
Put Out To Grass part 11: Raining Cats & Dog Diana Ashworth
The Water Mills of Radnorshire R.M. Williams
Riot on the Mid Wales Railway: Llanidloes and Newtown Telegraph article submitted by Brian Lawrence

Coronation Day Diana Ashworth, the County Times and a few others
Freedom of the City of London for Reginald Massey
Knit for Britain From Above Campaign Natasha Scullion and Sandra Bauer

The Dragon’s Crypt:

Saturday Night Dance Norma Allen
Letter from the Llyn Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by John Selly

Editorial PenCambria Issue 23 by Gay Roberts
It is the summer holiday season once again and, up to the date of printing, we appear to having the sort of summer that has been just a distant memory for so long. Well, to celebrate, or rather to commemorate, we start with a memory from Gaynor Jones of more summer holidays in Aberystwyth in the 1950s. This article is a follow-up to her first memory there of a holiday, aged three years old, as printed in PC22.
Apart from the Cardiff services, from a network that covered the whole country, there are only three railway lines left in Wales. This industry, along with coal and various metal works, once provided the work that made Wales prosperous in so many ways. All these industries are now reduced to a wraith of their former services, and so it is very pleasing to be reminded of how integral they were to life in Wales. This we can enjoy in an article, author unknown, written in 2004 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the closure of lines through mid Wales to Brecon.
Mid Wales is famous for its highly descriptive names of features in the countryside and Lawrence Johnson has been investigating the wilds of Plynlimon once again, this time as a lexicographer – he has been finding out what some of the names up there might mean.
Diana Ashworth has had a really busy few months on our behalf. Long before the advent of the NHS, we kept ourselves well with herbal remedies, a practice for which Wales has been famous for generations. As a retired GP, she has been looking into this from the point of view of a modern practitioner, and has shed a very interesting light on some of the remedies used, in comparison to today’s knowledge, with a particular emphasis on Nicolas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist whose work still provides the standard body of knowledge for anyone learning this ancient art.
This year has been terrible year for Welsh sheep farmers and as Diana and her husband now have a small hill farm, she takes us through the hardship and heartbreak of those months. But, not to be beaten, the retired lady and gentleman from Llawryglyn still appreciate the funny side of life with their hearthside animal companions.
Reginald Massey has been visiting the Montgomeryshire borderlands, and at Breidden he came across Rodney’s Pillar, the tale of which he relates here. He has also become a Freeman
of the City of London, for which we must congratulate him, and you can read all about that too.
Richard Meredith remembers another choir with which he sung, this time Cor Hafren. With so many members, I have printed two different photographs so that you can enjoy seeing who was who in the 1950s.
I am very pleased to welcome local historian Rachael Jones back into the pages of PenCambria. She has been researching the Montgomeryshire Bench in the 1870s and we have a very interesting article based on a talk she gave to Powysland Club in April this year plus an account of a trial in Newtown 1869 to which I have added my own thoughts.
Rhayader has always had a mind of its own, so to speak, and Brian Lawrence has uncovered more riots in a very uncomfortable episode that happened between the Welsh and Irish navvies when the Elan Valley dams were being built. Calming things down a bit, in the gentle countryside of Radnorshire, R.H.Williams gives us tour around the water mills of St. Harmon Parish.
Royalist or republican, Protestant or Catholic, 1953 was one of the two years that marked the beginning of modern Britain. In 1945 the Atlee government that gave us the NHS, full state education and the Welfare State. In 1953 the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was the start of a brighter, more hopeful age after the dreadful slaughter of the two world wars and the years of greyness and austerity which followed as Britain struggled to recover from near bankruptcy. It was also the first event that virtually the country watched as it happened on the newly available television sets. Many people have all sorts of memories of that day sixty years ago and now, thanks to Diana Ashworth once more, we have a literary snapshot to complement them.
How are your knitting skills? One of the most delightful projects I have ever come across is the brainchild of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales. This august body would like us all to Knit Aeroplanes for Britain From Above – yes, really! Natasha Scullion and Sandra Brauer will tell you all about it, including how to get hold of the knitting patterns.
In The Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen goes out dancing while Bruce Mawdelsey contemplates evening on the Llyn Peninsular.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 22 Spring 2013?

April: a Playful Month Cynric Gwrol
Saint Richard Gwyn: Our Local Saint Diana Brown
Bell, Bones and Stones Lawrence Johnson
The Fowlers of Abbey Cwm Hir and the Lloyds of Clochfaen Cecil Vaughan Owen 
History Matters at Ty Mawr Medieval Hall Gary Ball
My Roots Richard Meredith
Everyone Can Sing Norma Allen
Powys Paradwys Concrit Cymru Brian Poole
Driving and Drovers Routes R.M. Williams
How Aberystwyth Became Norma Allen
A Trip to the Seaside Gaynor Jones
The Old Forge Bruce Mawdesley
Put Out To Grass part 10: Safe in the Gleam of Tony Blair’s Smile Diana Ashworth
The Second Rebecca Riots Brian Lawrence
The Oldest Working Brewery in Britain: Three Tuns, Bishop’s Castle Diana Ashworth
Mid Wales Arts Centre – A Sense of Place

Another Journey for the Little Red Dog Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Voice Lesley-Ann Dupré
Wartime Wedding Diana Ashworth
Nemesis Norma Allen

Editorial PenCambria Issue 22 by Gay Roberts

What a fickle Spring this has been! So many things seem to have conspired to prevent me to get this edition on time that I began to wonder what disaster have I avoided by being late! Because of the snow, car repairs and snow again, I have been house-bound for two of the last three months and with more snow forecast for Easter, it could be still more days tucked into my blissful but tricky little dingle. As a result, not only have I been unable to get this issue by Easter but there are also a few photographs that I have been unable to pick up unless I put back publication for even more weeks. I decided on balance to put it out with my profound apologies to Gary Ball and the Royal Commission for pictures omitted. I am sure I will be able to find a space for them in a later edition. Despite these setbacks, there is quite a light-hearted tone to begin 2013.
For one of our number, Cynrig Gwrol, the beginning of April seems to be a particularly inspirational time of the year. However, it was October that spelt doom for Llanidloes’ St Richard Gwyn who, on 15th of that month in 1584, was executed for high treason. Diana Brown brings us the grisly details. It is the ancient past that has taken Lawrence Johnson’s arm and led him into the wilds of Llangurig to an area called Cistfaen, not far from Cwm Clochfaen. The history of Clochfaen Hall and its occupants was described very entertainingly by the late Cecil Vaughan Owen in An Arwystli Notebook Part One, which the Arwystli Society have very kindly allowed me to reprint in this edition of PenCambria.
Historical re-enactment is all the rage these days and in one instance it goes hand in hand with the development of Ty Mawr, a medieval hall rescued and reconstructed by Powis estate and Cadw. Gary Ball tells all about it.
Richard Meredith is looking back to his boyhood and the debt he owes to Llanidloes’ great choral tradition. Norma Allen, in one of three highly entertaining items, tells us, on the other hand, all about the coping mechanism of that rare creature: a Welshman who cannot sing.
Brian Poole praises the contribution of concrete to the architecture of Powys, another pioneering venture started in Mid Wales.
R.M. Williams wanders far and wide with the drovers of Mid Wales, particularly the routes of Radnorshire.
Norma’s second piece looks to Rudyard Kipling and Ted Hughes for inspiration to speculate on the origins of Aberystwyth. This makes the perfect introduction to new writer Gaynor Jones’ remarkable memory of a trip to the seaside at Aberystwyth aged just three years old. Meanwhile Bruce Mawdesley waxes lyrical once again about crafts of the countryside, this time about the skill of the blacksmith.
Our retired lady at Llawryglyn finds herself coping with the emergency services and a clutch of new-hatched chicks.
Salmon poaching, that time-honoured tradition of the Welsh countryside, caused riots in Rhayader in the 19th century. Brian Lawrence tells us all about them.
The Three Tuns brewery is one of the four oldest breweries in the country and although it is in Bishop’s Castle, nevertheless it is close enough to interest us here on the Welsh side of the border. After all, with the various border changes over the years, it may well have wandered
into our jurisdiction at time or another. Diana Ashworth recounts its history after having spent an aromatic morning there.
The Royal Commission has been busy last year, especially with its future as an independent body in the balance. You can read all about their activities in the second Friends’ newsletter which they have very kindly allowed me to print in this edition of PenCambria.
Mid Wales Arts Centre has a lively and inspiring programme of events scheduled for this year and I do hope you will go along and enjoy some if not all of them.
I was unable to get in touch with the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit in time for this edition but do get in touch with them or visit their website (see page 10) to find out what is going on. They will be delighted to see you and to hear from you.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of good things, as usual, with more from about the travels of Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and a complementary poem about the finding of a voice; Diana Ashworth brings the poignancy of a war-time wedding to life; and Norma Allen brings this edition to a close with a cautionary tale of chance, hope, jealousy, revenge and retribution.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 21 Winter 2012?

The Upheaval: the Clearance of the Elan and Claerwen Valleys 1892 Diana Ashworth
John Paddison Gay Roberts
The Welshman and the Kilt Lawrence Johnson
Bacheldre Mill Reginald Massey
The Good Life: “It’s Been Such Fun” Doreen Gough talks to Lesley-Ann Dupré
Mother’s Aberystwyth Mariners Gay Roberts
Grand-dad, What was it like in the Olden Days? Part 2 David Jandrell
Getting the Best from Britain From Above Natasha Scullion
The Species Habitat Protection Group Brian Allen
Superorganisms Tony Shaw
Talking with the Dead Professor Peter J. Conradi
The Bedtime Apple Lesley-Ann Dupré
On the Move in Radnorshire R.M. Williams
The Wildlife Artist of Llanidloes Reginald Massey
Put Out To Grass part 9: Green Sheep & the Rout of the English Knights Diana Ashworth

Winter Memories of Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
October Thoughts Janet Williams

War Wounds Tyler Keevil
The Devil’s Dues Norma Allen
The Little Dog : Growing Up Lesley-Ann Dupré
Evensong Bruce Mawdesley, illustrated by Jane Keay

Editorial PenCambria Issue 21 by Gay Roberts

Welcome to the final issue of 2012. It will also be my final year as the general editor of PenCambria. After eight years in the big chair it is time to let someone bring in fresh ideas. That someone is Lesley-Ann Dupré who has been helping me as commissioning editor for this past year. She has already made some welcome changes to the layout as well as some very imaginative contributions to The Dragon’s Crypt. I am very grateful that she has agreed to take on the task of encouraging our established writers and finding new ones to help fill the pages of this magazine and you will find her contact details on the contents and back pages. I shall still be in the background, on the production and publication side and dealing with various technical and subscription matters and I shall still be delighted to hear from those of you who wish to keep in touch with me.
We have quite a personal tone to this issue with several articles of biography and family history. Diana Ashworth has been talking to John Pugh about how the Elan Valley clearances in 1892 affected his family, as described in the memoir of his ancestor, Emiline Price.
John Paddison was a remarkably talented sculptor who retired to Llanidloes from Wolverhampton in 1993. He was a great friend of Dr. Andy Scrase, who has allowed me to use an essay about him, written by Roger Holloway, as the basis of a profile that I hope you will enjoy as well as pictures of some of his sculptures, his “other children”, which appear on various pages of this magazine.
In 2009 we had a series of essays about Robert Owen, the great philanthropist from Newtown. Lawrence Johnson has followed these up with an article on a neglected aspect of Robert Owen’s vision – the kilt as an essential garment to a satisfactory and comfortable life.
Mid Wales is remarkable for its ability to nurture entrepreneurs. Two such are Matt and Ann Scott who came to Montgomery from Hampshire and established Bacheldre Mill, whose organic stone ground flour now enhances the lives of so many of us. Reginald Massey is so impressed that he has written a profile of them. Reginald has also been talking to Chris Wallbank, the wildlife artist who lives is Llanidloes and whose work is often seen in exhibitions at Maesmawr Art Gallery. You will also some of his delightful pictures seen on pages in this magazine.
Another person who is active in the preservation of wildlife if Brian Allen. He has written an article all about the protection of wildlife habitat, in particular, barn owls in the Llandinam area and his photo of a barn owl must be one of the most delightful that I have had the privilege to publish.
Professor Peter J. Conradi, who wrote that wonderful book about Radnorshire At the Bright Hem of God, has just published a book about a most extraordinary poet and wartime helper of the partisans in Yugoslavia, Frank Thompson. This is story we should all know about.
David Jandrell finishes his answers to questions posed by his granddaughter about life in the ‘Olden Days’. This will be his last work for us for the time being. David, you have kept us entertained with your travels round the Hafren Circuit, and your various family memoirs for four years. I shall miss you, I know, and so will so many of our readers. But if the muse does strike you again, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Joy Hamer has completed the third volume of her remarkable family history researches. This time we go to sea with Mother’s Aberystwyth Mariners.
Transport in Radnorshire from the horse drawn carriage to the coming of the railway and now the motor car has been on the mind of R.H. Williams. The Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales has acquired a huge archive of aerial photographs of Britain taken between 1919 and 2005 which they are very keen to share. You can find how to do so and see an example of Llanidloes in 1932.
Tony Shaw discusses how the bee functions as part of a single body, superorganism, as opposed to an individual and how this relates to human society.
Doreen Gough came to Old Hall to lead ‘The Good Life’ in 1981 and she tells Lesley-Ann Dupré all about it and how things have changed since then.
Diana Ashworth entertains us with yet another episode in the life of the retired couple from Llawryglyn.
Joel Williams has some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells and Janet Williams shares some October Thoughts.
Gripping reading, as ever in The Dragon’s Crypt with Tyler Keevil’s War Wounds, Norma Allen giving the Devil his due, Lesley-Ann Dupré’s Little Dog and Bruce Mawdesley and Jane Keay bring the year to a close with Evensong.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 20 Summer 2012?

Gwendolen Nasty Brian Poole
Sarn Sabrina Adele Hopkins
The Full Monty Gay Roberts
Walking the Montgomery Canal Tim Chilton
The Long and Winding Leat Lawrence Johnson
Cementing the Future Diana Brown
Put Out to Grass: part 9 Abby and the Earthquake Diana Ashworth
Glyndwr’s Daughter John Hughes
Bathing Beauties
“We pulled half of Llani down!” Ivan Evans Reminiscences with Lesley-Ann Dupré
Quiet Time Lesley-Ann Dupré
St Harmon Parish – the Black Years 1939-45 R.M. Williams
The Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit James Roose-Evans
Rhayader Mayfair: Never to be forgotten! Brian Lawrence

Grand-dad, What was it like in the Olden Days? Part 1 David Jandrell
Bees of Montgomeryshire Tony Shaw
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales : Friends Newsletter

Harold and the Widow Norma Allen
The Apple Tree Bruce Mawdesley
Dirge Hatton Davidson

Editorial PenCambria Issue 20 by Gay Roberts

The first thing you will notice in this issue is the change of format in the text from single column per page to, for the most part, two columns per page. As well allowing more reading material on the page, which in view of the reduced number of pages, I am sure you will agree is better value for the money, it also makes easier reading, particularly when some articles might need particular concentration. I do hope you like the change. For my part I think it is great improvement and my special thanks go to Lesley-Ann Dupré, our new commissioning editor for suggesting it.
This month, despite the extraordinary and prolonged downpours, PenCambria is full of articles about walks in mid Wales, one newly created, one restored and one not exactly neglected as it is not a formal trail but which for the experienced walker is worth following.
Firstly, following his portrait of Gwendolen Williams in last month’s PenCambria, Brian Poole has been looking at another Gwendolen who left her mark on mid Wales, but not such a pleasant one. This was Gwendolen, mother of Sabrina, the maiden who gave her name to the river Severn. Coupled with this is an introduction by Adele Hopkins to the Sarn Sabrina Walk, which, starting from Llanidloes follows the river Severn, to its source on Pumlumon. This walk was created by Nick Venti, whose name will be familiar to many PenCambria readers, and Richard Dix.
With Tim Chilton our restored walk follows the Montgomery Canal, which was built in 1794 to transport lime to the upland farms of mid Wales but fell into disuse when the railways
and the roads came into greater use. I have preceded this article a history of its construction and current use.
Our neglected trail is the leat that once brought water from Llyn Nant Ddeiliog to the mines at Dylife. This is the walk taken by our intrepid Lawrence Johnson.
One uncommon hazard of the outdoor life is the possibility of bee stings. Bee keeping is a well established tradition in Wales and Tony Shaw introduces us to the art and some of the problems of bee keeping in Montgomeryshire. Livestock of the more conventional kind have been running rings around our retired lady from Llawryglyn.
David Jandrell begins his last article for us for the time being, this time part one of a two-part imagined conversation with a child of today telling him about his own childhood on the farm in Mochdre, and inspired by questions from his granddaughter.
Memories of Llanidloes in more industrial times are recalled by Ivan Evans, while Lesley-Ann Dupré enjoys a quiet moment.
There is a quality of stillness and an altered sense of time on the hills of Radnorshire that can induce feelings of tranquillity that open the mind to a range of creative possibilities suppressed by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In the tiny hamlet of Bleddfa is the Centre for the Creative Spirit in which these possibilities can be explored. We are privileged to have an article by its founder, the distinguished British Theatre director James Roose-Evans telling how the Centre was created and extraordinary patronage he was able to obtain to get it off the ground and functioning.
In this spirit we have a substantial arts section this month with news of the re-opening of the Wyeside Theatre in Builth Wells and the programme of events from Mid Wales Arts Centre. John Hughes also tells us how he was inspired by the poems of three Welsh medieval bards to write a novel about Owain Glyndwr’s daughter, Gwenllian, who lived in Gwrtheyrnion, the ancient kingdom that is now Pantydwr and Tylwch.
Elsewhere in Radnorshire, Brian Lawrence remembers all the fun of the Rhayader Mayday Fair while R. M. Williams remembers the wartime years in St Harmon.
The Royal Commission of the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales is very keen to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of its function and its facilities, especially its archives and data base which are, for the most part free to use, and to this end it has created a Friends network. You can read all about this as well as some of the many activities they are currently investigating as well as the concern they have over a proposed merger with other organisations including the Welsh heritage body Cadw. A summary of their newsletters will be a permanent feature of PenCambria.
In the Dragon’s Crypt Norma Allen points out that men who appear to be a soft touch may not be as keen to have their feathers ruffled as the fancier might believe. An apple tree inspires Bruce Mawdesley’s peerless poetic prose and we finish with Hatton Davidson’s Dirge, a rumination on the selfishness of love.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 19 Spring 2012?

Musical Words Lawrence Johnson
Ty Coch Water Mill at Pontdolgoch Tim Chilton
Two Pen Portraits Bruce Mawdesley
“Don’t Push Until We Get You Into Bed” Connie Howells with Lesley-Ann Dupré
The Gwalchmai Family of Mid Wales : part 3 Gwalchmai Sais
The Mount and China Street Gay Roberts
Baron Moyle of Llanidloes in the County of Montgomeryshire Diana Brown
Homage to Gwendolen Williams Brian Poole
New Friendly Society of Rhayader and Llansantffraid-Cwmdauddwr Brian Lawrence
Saint Harmon and the British Heresy R.H. Williams & Gay Roberts
Digging up my Roots David Jandrell
Put Out To Grass part 3: Beginner’s Luck Diana Ashworth
Meg Lesley-Ann Dupré
Aberystwyth Printmakers

Welshpool Sheep Market Jane Keay
The Little Dog’s Journey Lesley-Ann Dupré
Lord Edric’s Fairy Wife Hatton Davidson
Walking the Hills and Hearing the Wind Lesley-Ann Dupré

Editorial PenCambria Issue 19 by Gay Roberts

Welcome to PenCambria number 19, the first issue of 2012. With this edition I am very pleased to welcome Lesley-Ann Dupré as our new Commissioning Editor. You will already know her name from some of her very imaginative poems and prose published in The Dragon’s Crypt in the last few editions of this magazine. Bilingual in Dutch, Lesley has had extensive experience in editing and translation and she is already a valuable asset to the team. She is very good with snippets and so we can enjoy a few more of those in future. She also has a keen interest in oral history and begins a series for PenCambria with an interview with Connie Howells, the former Llanidloes midwife who remembers very different practices from those today.
As usual, we have lots of good things for you to read. Lawrence Johnson has been researching John Hughes, the 19th century Llanidloes stationmaster whose alter ego was that great Welsh poet Ceiriog. Well, there must have been a lot of time between trains and once he had finished his chores… Tim Chilton was looking to buy a period residence in the Cotswolds or South Wales and ended up with the water mill at Pontdolgoch near Caersws – haven’t so many us found ourselves here quite by chance? With the third instalment of his researches of the Gwalchmai family history Gwalchmai Sais comes to the end of his account for the time being. From 1920 until his death Lord Arthur Moyle of Llanidloes was a great socialist and member of the Labour Party who sought to improve the conditions of working men and women through his support for the trade unions and whose position as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Clement Attlee enabled him to play an active part in the introduction of the welfare state and the National Health Service in the late 1940s. Diana Brown has been researching into his life and has shed some light on this neglected worthy of our heritage. With the help of Dr David Stephenson I have been able to put you all in the picture as to how the Mount in Llanidloes came to be and its subsequent history and how China Street got its name – something which I know has puzzled so many people in the past.
In times of sickness, old age or any other kind of adversity, until the creation of the Welfare Stare and the National Health Service, the only thing that stood between the working man and his family and the Poor House, the Work House or starvation were the Friendly Societies, a form of insurance that paid out benefits to its members so long as certain stringent conditions were met. These societies need to be remembered for the good they brought to their members and as the result of his research into the social welfare life of Rhayader and the surrounding districts, for this issue of PenCambria Brian Lawrence has given us an account of the New Friendly Society of Rhayader and Llansantffraid Cwmdauddwr. Continuing his Glimpses of Beautiful Mid Wales, R.H. Williams begins a two-part look at the religious life of St Harmon Parish beginning with a brief look at its early medieval history and the Pelagian heresy that was integral to the establishment of St Harmon church. From there he touches on Francis Kilvert, vicar of St Harmon Parish for a short time, the long vanished St Harmon Monastery and Abbey Cwm Hir.
After his tour of the Hafren Circuit around the edges of Montgomeryshire and Radnorshire, David Jandrell has settled back at his home on the Shropshire border and has been digging up the roots of the Jandrell family tree – and a fascinating dig it is too, going right back to the late 14th century and lucky, no doubt to survive the Black Death. Our retired couple from Llawryglyn face their first lambing season, observed with wonderful wry humour as ever by Diana Ashworth, PenCambria’s “Pam Ayres in Prose”. A book shop and the coach station provides the venue for two more of Bruce Mawdesley’s beautifully penned character studies. Brian Poole makes an interesting and quite unexpected diversion from his industrial pursuits by venturing into the cultural life of Newtown and has discovered yet another forgotten artist, Gwendolen Williams, a sculptor, who although a north Walian by birth, nevertheless spent a lot of time here with her closest friend, Eveline Lewis, and much of her work is still in the area.
In the Dragon’s Crypt in a poetic change from her usual pen-and-ink studies, Jane Keay shows us a very poignant perspective of Welshpool Sheep Market from the point of view of the sheep. In the classical tradition of the medieval English ballad Hatton Davidson recounts the tale of the fairy wife of Lord Edric of Shrewsbury. Finally Lesley-Ann Dupré takes us on a journey up into to the realms of the Infinite with her little dog, and coming back down to earth again to the sublime hills of Mid Wales.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 18 Winter 2011?

A Forgotten Industry: the Coal Fired Gasworks of Montgomeryshire Brian Poole
The Maggot Roger Garfitt
Kington & Radnor Bank in Rhayader Gay Roberts & Gwynne Jones
From the Glog to the Giant’s Grave Lawrence Johnson
Lumberjacks & Backwoodsmen: Put Out to Grass pt. 7 Diana Ashworth
More Winter Memories of Llandrindod Wells Joel Williams
Llanidloes Town Hall Gay Roberts
Saint Harmon Parish Monty Williams
John Wesley and Methodism in Llanidloes Gay Roberts
Round Perdition’s Corner Gay Roberts
The Hafren Circuit: Final Stage the Heart of Montgomeryshire David Jandrell
Witchcraft and Magic in Wales Richard Suggett

Radnorshire Felicity Vale
Flight Plan for the Island Lesley Ann Dupré
Journey South Janet Williams
Verbascum thapsiforme Bruce Mawdesley, illustration by Jane Keay

Editorial PenCambria Issue 18 by Gay Roberts

This month we have a real taste of Radnorshire, I am pleased to say. Monty Williams shows us around St Harmon Parish by way of another article based on his book, A Glimpse of Beautiful Mid Wales. We get a look at the history of the Kington and Radnor Bank together with banking practice from another era with Gwynne Jones, former manager of the Midland Bank in Rhayader. The late Felicity Vale wrote paean to Radnorshire and this is published by kind permission of John Pugh. Finally we have some more winter memories of Llandrindod Wells provided by Joel Williams.
That forgotten industry, the coal-fired gasworks in Montgomeryshire is the subject of a well-needed tribute and Brian Poole is the man for this. Gas was the first source of power to literally shed light on a whole community, delivered from a single source rather than from individual candles and torches. Not since the Moors left Spain had the streets in Europe been lit so efficiently. It was the stepping stone to so many other chemical-based facilities that we take for granted today. It was a dirty, dangerous industry and the men who operated it deserve our heartfelt thanks for risking their health and their lives in such conditions to lighten our darkness and put bread on their tables.
Lawrence Johnson’s peregrinations have taken him to the Glog, an area full of prehistoric monuments, behind Dolfor and Mochdre. Coming into the present era, early motoring in The Maggot is what Roger Garfitt remembers in this final excerpt from his autobiography, The Horseman’s Word. David Jandrell completes the Hafren Circuit with a nostalgic trip down memory lane through the heart of Montgomeryshire by road and rail from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth. This has been a wonderful series which has taken us to some beautiful and little known places in the valley of the Hafren and I do hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have done – and if you can keep a dry eye reading the epilogue than you are made of sterner stuff than me!
John Wesley visited Llanidloes several times in the course of his preaching tours around the country. There has been a small exhibition celebrating this history and also the installation in the Wesleyan Chapel in Longbridge Street, of a bust taken from the statue of him outside his birthplace in Lincolnshire. This bust, created by Sue Thornton, the sculptor of the statue in Epworth, is unique to Llanidloes. The Arwystli Society visited the Wesleyan Chapel in the course of an afternoon trip around Llanidloes this September and the talk given was based on the article in this edition of PenCambria. We also visited Llanidloes Town Hall and you can read all about that as well.
Our retired couple in Llawryglyn have been planting trees and finding their way through a forest of regulations under the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. Spreading our wings a bit further afield, in the second part of my article on Welsh pirates, we find ourselves back on the high seas with Captain Henry Morgan and Black Bart in wooden ship quite possibly built with Montgomeryshire oak.
It is October and not just the season of mellow fruitfulness but also of melancholy, magic and all things that go bump in the night. Wales is nothing if not the Land of the Fey and in 2008 Richard Suggett published a book entitled the History of Witchcraft and Magic in Wales and that same year he gave a talk about it to the Arwystli Society and has very kindly agreed to let me publish a transcript.
The Dragon’s Crypt contains a feast of poetry in this edition. As well as Felicity Vale, Lesley Ann Dupré and Janet Williams both take flight and Bruce Mawdesley meditates on the humble mullein with another beautiful illustration by Jane Keay.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 17 Summer 2011?

Cup Fever or “Come on, the Daffs!” Lyn Meredith & Byron Hughes
An Ecclesiastical Tale Bev Barratt
Pedro Gonzalez: Put Out to Grass part 6 Diana Ashworth
Liminality – sculpture by Benjamin Storch
“That Poet-Haunted Place” Lawrence Johnson
E. Nicholls & Sons, The Stores, Ystradenni Brian Lawrence
The Gwalchmai Family of Mid Wales : part 2 Gwalchmai Sais
Diatoms, Seed & Pollen – sculptures by Kevin Blockley
The Hopkins of Llanfihangel Y Creuddyn – Joy Hamer’s family research
One Man and His Dog Bruce Mawdesley (illustrations by Jane Keay)
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 8 Breidden Hills and Long Mountain David Jandrell

The Pryces of Newtown Hall: “an interesting family” Diana Brown
The Horseman’s Word Roger Garfitt
A Journey Through Mid Wales R.M. Williams
A Short Life and a Merry One Gay Roberts
Bones and Stones at Old Chapel Farm Gay Roberts

Radnorshire Felicity Vale
Flight Plan for the Island Lesley Ann Dupré
Journey South Janet Williams
Verbascum thapsiforme Bruce Mawdesley, (illustration by Jane Keay)
Editorial PenCambria Issue 17 by Gay Roberts
We have a sporting start this month with a rollicking account of football fever in Llanidloes. Last year Lynn Meredith and Byron Hughes, two very well-known footballers in their glory days, published a book recounting stories of the members of Llanidloes Football team, known as the Daffodils, because of their yellow and green strip, who played cricket, hence the title of book The Daffs Who Played in White. When I first read their original manuscript, parts of it actually made me laugh out loud and I knew I had to persuade them to write an article for PenCambria and I am very pleased to tell you that I was successful. For this article, they return to their first love, football, and the highs and lows, not many of them here, of the Daffs and here we have a fond account of the team’s history from the 1920s to the 1970s, with some extraordinary statistics for a town the size of Llanidloes, but I will not spoil it for you just now.
For our other treats this month, the retired lady of Llawryglyn has a doggy tale to tell, divine revelation adds atmosphere to a climb up Snowdonia by the intrepid Bev Barratt; Manafon forges a surprising link between a giant of Welsh poetry, R.S Thomas and an reclusive modern songwriter for Lawrence Johnson.
We have three fascinating pieces of family history. After the death of Humphrey Gwalchmay and the sobering incident with his wife Susannah at Llanwyddelan, in this episode the family dip a toe into religious non-conformity as Gwalchmai Sais takes the next step on the path followed by this remarkable family. Following her work on the Hughes and Hamer families, Joy Hamer has done a quite remarkable piece of research on another branch of her family – the Hopkins of Llanfihangel y creuddyn and I have summarised part of it as a taster for you. Taking us up Breidden Hill and along the Long Mynd David Jandrell reaches the final stage of the Hafren Circuit. The Pryces of Newtown Hall are a very interesting family as Diana Brown has discovered, especially the one who had been so fond of his first two wives that he had their bodies embalmed and slept between them.
Where there’s a demand there’s always a supplier as Brian Lawrence illustrates in his article about the enterprising E. Nicholls of Ystradenni. In another peerless piece of poetic prose,
Bruce Mawdesley remembers a shepherd and his dog and once again, we are privileged to have Jane Keay’s illustrations. One of our occasional contributors, who also has such a wonderful way with words is Roger Garfitt, who has just written his autobiography and the publishers Jonathan Cape have very generously allowed me to reprint some extracts from it.
With its small settlements set in its wild and lonely hills and valleys Radnorshire is a great inspiration to many a writer. R.M. Williams has written a book about Mid Wales and with a view to serialising it in PenCambria he has written this introduction, A Journey Through Mid Wales, giving a brief, lyrical picture of some of what has been lost in this part of the world.
For my contribution this month I have taken to the high seas with a synopsis of the book Welsh Pirates by Dafydd Meirion.
Mid Wales provides an unending source of inspiration to those of a creative mind. Kevin Blockley, who many of you may know as an archaeologist, is a highly talented sculptor and you can read about him and exhibition of his work along with that of his son Merlin and two other crafts people, that was held in June. You can also see pictures of his work on some of the pages elsewhere. Mid Wales Arts Centre at Caersws goes from strength to strength and you can find out about everything that is going on there in the later pages of this magazine. There are also a number of other very interesting and unusual events that you can read about and possibly be encouraged to attend, especially at the Willow Globe in Llanwrthwl. Dr David Stephenson’s lectures will be embarking on some very interesting water this year for those of you who like to attend them.
The Dragon’s Crypt is full of mystery this month. While Norma Allen reminds us all of the joys of a School trip, Lesley Ann Dupré takes a trip of a much darker kind while Hatton Davidson “travels the whorls of Space and Time” to who knows where?.

What was in PenCambria: Issue 16 Spring 2011?

The Early Gwalchmai Family : part I Gwalchmai Sais
“Not Much of a Hill”? Lawrence Johnson
The Red Road Gay Roberts
Bunford’s Bus Business at Trefeglwys Brian Poole
Wales and the Essex Rebelllion Mary Oldham
Llanidloes – Its History and Its Historians Diana Brown
Odd? Not really, when you think about it: Put Out to Grass part 5 Diana Ashworth
Leaping the Marteg R.M. Williams
Miss Lizzie Barker: School Mistress Extraordinaire! Brian Lawrence
The Hafren Circuit: Stage 7 Along the Shropshire Border David Jandrell
Roman Roads, Prehistoric Monuments and the Morning Surprise Gay Roberts
A Song of the Scythe Bruce Mawdesley (illustrations by Jane Keay)
Owen Owen: part 3 Gay Roberts
The Stefan Knapp Project Gay Roberts

The Strange Tale of Dai No-Socks Peter A. Tudor
Sharing Secrets & Southwell Cathedral Elizabeth Briggs
To TSE Reginald Massey
Fashionista Tyler Keevil
Bluebell Wood Janet Williams

Editorial PenCambria Issue 16 by Gay Roberts

Well, after the second year in a row of being snowed in for several very wintry weeks following what certainly didn’t seem like one of the hottest summers on record in this part of the world, it is difficult to believe in global warming in mid Wales at the moment. However, this has not put us off getting a very interesting group of articles together for your delight, delectation and edification this Spring.
There can be very few people in Wales who have not come across the beautiful pictures of the artist Jane Keay and I am especially pleased this month to be publishing a set of her drawings illustrating Bruce Mawdesley’s matchless prose in an elegy to the scythe, that once ubiquitous tool that harvested the wheat for our daily bread, the hay to feed cattle and horses and the straw for their bedding, the thatching for our houses and so many other uses.
The great Calvinistic Methodist preacher Humphrey Gwalchmai is legendary in the Non-Conformist tradition of Wales. He was born to a Montgomeryshire family and one of his English descendants, Gwalchmai Sais begins a family history and opens this edition of PenCambria with an introduction to the 17th century members of this dynasty.
In a fascinating speculation as the meaning of the name of Pumlumon/Plynlimon or any other orthographic variant, Lawrence Johnson takes us on a trip through the bogs of etymology and tradition as well as those in the wilds of the Cambrian mountains where the unwary can get sucked in as much by the mire of myriad meanings as they can by the peat.
Bunford’s at Trefeglwys was one of those small bus services scattered throughout the country that we all took for granted and to whose fate and service to our communities we never gave a thought as we bought our cars and drove off down the highway of history. Alun Bunford has talked to Brian Poole about his father’s business and provided a nostalgic set of photographs with views which I know many of you will enjoy.
It can’t be many articles that begin with an early 17th century hanging, drawing and quartering and Mary Oldham captures vividly the mood of the rebellion by the Earl of Essex as he attempted to seize the throne from Queen Elizabeth I, supported by two Welshmen from the Marches, Robert Vaughan and Sir Gelli Meyrick, the latter whose fate it was to suffer this end.
Dr David Stephenson’s recently published book, Llanidloes: a history, is the latest in a line of books seeking to define Llanidloes through its history, each one adding to the knowledge of its predecessor. In an article by Diana Brown each of these historians and their work are assessed and each one gives a fascinating glimpse into world that they knew and the history that they themselves had researched.
Continuing their adventures renovating a hill farm in the hills of Llawryglyn, our retired couple have now got the roof on and daughter, who is not country-savvy in the ways in which her mother is now totally au fait (!), come to stay.
The perils of country walking around St Harmon are also vividly described in a fishy little tale by R.M. Williams, a newcomer to our merry band of scribes and whose tales I look forward to reading a great deal more in PenCambria in the future.
Brian Lawrence introduces us to Miss Lizzie Barker, the school mistress of Bwlchysarnau who forsook our beautiful Radnorshire hills for the wilds of South Africa to teach the Boer children in the concentration camps there.
On Stage 7 of the Hafren Circuit David Jandrell takes us out of Wales on a brief diversion into Shropshire, along the Vyrnwy from Llanymynech to Crewgreen..
Two years ago Bob Silvester of Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust gave one of the most interesting talks it has been my privilege to hear, all about Roman roads, prehistoric sites and squatter settlements (tai nos) in mid Wales. Based on his talk, I have written and article which I do hope you will enjoy it as much as I did listening to the original.
We come to the final part of Owen Owen’s biography when Owen having consolidated his success in business turns his eye to marriage, children and finally returning in some measure to his birthplace in Machynlleth.
Cathy Knapp has now established her sculpture park, housing the collection of Stefan Knapp at Mid Wales Art Centre and you can read all about him, his works and all the other events going on there and elsewhere in mid Wales this summer.
The Dragon’s Crypt contains a feast of poetry, a toe dipped into the murky waters of the Paris fashion scene and the strange tale of Dai No-socks.