What was in PenCambria: Issue 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.  


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”


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.





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