Penybont and District History Group Notes 4th March 2019 Main Topic: Friendly Societies and their Contribution to our Community – Dr Marion Evans

MGeraint welcomed another full house to this month’s gathering.

Before handing over to Marion he brought members’ attention to the up and coming meetings planned for the next few months.

In April, on April Fools Day, we will welcome Roger Coward who will be talking about the recent research into the history of Abbey Cwmhir. Abbey Cwmhir is just outside our district but it had enormous influence on the area as a whole.

On 6th May Richard Rees will talk about the Dams that did not happen in the area. This fascinating topic will explore what might have happened to Penybont and other local areas if plans that were drawn up had come to fruition.

Shirley will be presenting on the Insall Family and the history of the Royal Flying Corps, a subject that she ‘might or might not devote the rest of her life to’, on June 3rd.

Judy made a plea for any information, photos, etc., for her talk on Llanbadarn Fawr School. She has plenty of information from over 100 years ago, and from her own time at the school, but from 1919 the information in the Powys Archives cannot be released.

Derek said that he had been asked, or another member of the group, to talk to the Rhayader Local History Group about the Penybont Group. This group is being facilitated by Elan Heritage and Stephanie Cruise the Heritage Officer. The meeting will be on 2nd April at 7.30 p.m. at CARAD. Alan who has been to their meetings said that they did need some help. Maureen said she had modelled the Painscastle Group on Penybont and that this had worked very well. Geraint said that Brecknockshire had a group in almost every village but Radnorshire was just beginning to catch up. He felt that there were many ways for groups to run and be supported. He felt that Penybont was almost too small for a group going into the longer terms and it might be useful for villages to club together in the future.

Mary had her daughter home last week during half term and they visited the Penybont graveyard. They were particularly drawn to an unmarked grave of Mrs Cowley who had been evacuated to the village in the early part of the 2nd World War. She died in her first week in Penybont. When she was buried a promise was made to the family that there would be flowers on the grave as she had loved flowers so much. Mary and her daughter were delighted to see the grave a mass of snowdrops.

Main Topic – Friendly Societies and their contribution to our Community – Dr Marion Evans

  1. Marion started with a confession – this was not a topic of her choice. She would agree that historically Friendly Societies are of great interest but the research is largely about accounting and this in itself does not make for a great presentation!

However, Marion had done a considerable amount of research into the social position of Friendly Societies and she would then, in conjunction with Geraint, lead a discussion on how this applied, or might have applied, to the situation locally.

Friendly societies date back a long way but they began to play a more significant role in Victorian life from around 1830 onwards. They were/are mutual aid societies where people put money into the society in order to be able to take money out at times of need. The primary needs were an insurance against burial costs, sickness, child birth, pension. Friendly societies became popular in village life before there was a welfare state to support people but these positive benefits have to be seen against the challenges within small communities to manage the bookkeeping.

Poor Law and the Workhouse

In earlier times the monasteries were responsible for giving aid to the poor of the country but when Henry VIII dissolved them this source of aid came to an end and there was a noticeable increase in poverty with people found begging and homeless.

In 1601, in the reign of Elizabeth 1, a Poor Law was passed making each Parish responsible for the poor in its own area through the imposition of a Poor Law Rate. It was not long before people realised that some Parishes were richer than others and this led to considerable migration to these richer Parishes. In 1662 a Settlement Act tried to deal with this and made Parishes responsible for people who were born in their Parishes. Pauper relief was largely mitigated by expecting people to work. If visitors to a Parish had not shown sufficient industry within 40 days they could be sent away. In 1697 the Law required visitors to a Parish to show a ‘settlement certificate’ showing the Parish that had responsibility for their welfare.

Alongside the management of the Poor by labour the Workhouse Test Act 1723 gave Parishes responsibility for establishing Workhouses for people who were less able to work, people who were ill, elderly, and children. However, workhouses were often too expensive for single parishes to afford. Neither Presteigne nor Rhayader built on under this act. There was one in Kington but the governess there was noted as being incapable of maintaining control of the unruly inmates!

The Poor Law Rate was set and managed through the Vestry in each Parish. Some Parishes were clearly much wealthier than others. Poor Parishes often meant that the money raised was insufficient to cater for the needs of the Poor. There were other anomalous challenges in the management of the rates. A story that had emerged from Rhayader than considered the needs of two women with very similar backgrounds and requirements. One woman received significantly more than the other. When asked why this was the case it emerged that one woman would shout louder and make a scene and so she was given more to keep her quiet.

There were particular pressures by the middle of the 18th century. There was a significant rise in the population combined with rising food prices as a result of the French Wars; enclosures were taking place depriving people of the means for subsistence living; and changes were taking place on farms with early mechanisation; and improved fodder crops: – such that less labour was needed.

One of the most significant changes came as a result of the increasing availability of the humble potato. More children survived as a result of this availability and this drove the increase in the population. In some parts of Britain these extra mouths were soaked up by the early industrial revolution, but research shows that this was not the case in Radnorshire where a permanent cadre of unemployed began to build up. This put extra pressure on the poor rate and provided an extremely low standard of living for the unemployed. This was amplified by the fact that working men were often paid part of their salary by being allowed to grow a few rows of potatoes on the farmer’s land. Once they lost their jobs, even this small form of nutrition was lost to them.

 If families could no work they were in deep crisis. Sometimes Parishes that had no work available for the Poor would agree with a neighbouring Parish to give people work. The alternative was the workhouse. But as noted, only Knighton built one in this area – and it was described as riotous!

Emphasis on the Workhouse as the solution to the problem of poverty became more extreme following a Royal Commission into the Operation of the Poor Laws in 1832 that led to the New Poor Law of 1834. Interestingly the Chair of the Commission was Thomas Frankland Lewis, who had been M.P. for Radnorshire. The focus of the Commission’s investigation was to cut the costs associated with the Old Poor Law of 1601. The Commission put the emphasis on the Workhouse and away from expecting the Poor to work for landowners.  It is perhaps interesting to note that in contrast to cut costs in this situation, it was Thomas Franklin Lewis who had complained so bitterly about the cost of the tolls between his home in New Radnor and Hereford.

Friendly Societies

Alongside this Poor Law system people planned to offset the risks common to many people and to avoid falling into the Poor Law system. Friendly Societies evolved to provide mutual support by insuring against sickness, child birth, and old age.

Some of the early Friendly Societies in this area were:

Knighton 1787

Nantmel 1787

Presteigne 1805

Rhayader and Llansainffread Cwmtoyddwr 1824

It would appear that most had an association with a Public House in their area. They generally covered quite a small area and therefore were vulnerable to going bust. Actuarial tables were not available to the people running them and this also led to their vulnerability. The factor that began to increasingly put them under pressure evolved as young members, (the average age of the members who set them up was just 32 years), got older and the demands on the funds increased.

Penybont Friendly Society

New Friendly Society of Rhayader and Llansantffraid Cwmdauddwr was the largest in the area by 1906, but the Society in the Penybont area had 466 members.

Penybont Friendly Society Banner

“This painted silk banner was made by George Tutill.”

The information given within this website is:

“In 1879 the society had 466 members and £1,928 in funds. The Society was dissolved in May 1885 and a branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters was formed in shortly afterwards Description

Established on 1 September 1826, members of this Friendly Society paid a shilling a month into the funds. They could pay additional contributions to cover the costs of meals. They could also receive fines of sixpence for cursing, being indecent in dress, being rude, noisy or drunk and for divulging society business to non-members.

The most important event of the year was the “club feast “, which was held in Pen-y-bont every May.”

The Friendly Society Movement represented a huge change in the way assistance was provided to people in need. The ideas of self help were considered to be a very positive move by the ‘establishment’ or Ruling Classes. They were also viewed with suspicion by the same people as employers. While it was good to see the working classes taking responsibility for their own welfare, this coming together of the labour market was seen as the possible beginning of Trade Unionism and they did not want that.

The Poor Law Act of 1834, as discussed above, led to a significant increase in the number of Friendly Societies but by the turn of the 20th century and a number of Acts these small societies at parochial level gave way to larger more national bodies. In the 1895 Act the Societies and their activities were defined as:

“societies for the purpose of providing by voluntary subscriptions of the members thereof, with or without the aid of donations, for the relief or maintenance of the members, their husbands, wives, children, fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters, nephews or nieces, or wards being orphans, during sickness or other infirmity, whether bodily or mental, in old age, or in widowhood, or for the relief or maintenance of the orphan children of members during minority; for insuring money to be paid on the birth of a member’s child, or on the death of a member, or for the funeral expenses of the husband, wife, or child of a member, or of the widow of a deceased member, or, as respects persons of the Jewish persuasion, for the payment of a sum of money during the period of confined mourning; for the relief or maintenance of the members when on travel in search of employment or when in distressed circumstances, or in case of shipwreck, or loss or damage of or to boats or nets; for the endowment of members or nominees of members at any age; for the insurance against fire to any amount not exceeding £15 of the tools or implements of the trade or calling of the members”

This is taken from:

This article gives an in-depth insight into how legislation evolved during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries as recorded by the Encyclopaedias Britannica in 1911.

As we move into the 20th century the small societies died out and were replaced by larger and national societies such as the Foresters.

Some of the smaller societies grew out of particular areas of common ground. There were Temperance Societies, and Maureen was able to tell us about a Welsh Language Friendly Society in Painscastle that was formed in 1846. This only survived a few years but it is interesting to note that the Welsh Language was still spoken in Painscastle in the middle of the 19th century.

In many ways the Friendly Societies modelled themselves on the Free Masons. They were ‘secret societies’, they had handshakes, and other rituals. There was regalia and banners, as seen above for Penybont.  Even their names mirrored the Masons – The Ancient Order of Foresters was formed in Rochdale in 1834. The making of banners and other regalia could be expensive – banners in the region of £30 – and this led to criticism about how money was managed.

There was definitely a social element sometimes leading to riotous behaviour.

“All who are familiar with friendly societies know very well that they mean   a   great   deal   more   than   the   mere   payment   of   certain   premiums and  the  reception  in  time  of  need  of  certain  equivalent  benefits.    They know  that  they  are  clubs  in  another  sense  of  the  word  also.    The name is associated in their  minds  with  bands  and  banners,  and  processions  with  scarves  and  rosettes,  with  public  house  dinners  and  all  their  natural  concomitants.    Too  often  the  Club-day in a village means a day of drunkenness, a day on which respectable people shut up their houses and keep indoors, or take the opportunity of paying a visit to friends at a distance”

In Penybont the Friendly Society would gather at the Severn Arms on their ‘feast day’ in May and they would march under the banner to Llandegley Church. After a service they would march back to the Severn Arms. Percy Severn might be there for the meal but would withdraw to allow the riotous behaviour to take over.

Even in later times the Foresters and Oddfellow Societies would hold a ‘bash-up’ at Crystal Palace where they might host 70,000 people. According to Marion a certain amount of canoodling went on.

As we look ahead to the beginnings of the Welfare State, Friendly Societies would consult a panel of Doctors, and the larger societies would have such panels all over the Country. The Doctors would advise in health matters and ascertain whether someone claiming to be ill and unfit for work was really ill. The downside to this was that the Societies wanted to protect their funds and would often dispute the Doctors’ opinions.

Another downside for some people was the need to pay their dues every month. This could in some instances lead to debt, and debt could lead to fines and a vicious circle. There was nothing for people in this self-help system of they could not pay their dues.

Most societies were entirely male but a small number of women’s societies did come into existence, some in South and West Wales where there were some ‘independent women’.  There is an article on ‘The Fraternity of Female Friendly Societies’ at:

“Although the  returns made following a survey of friendly societies in 1803–04 are inaccurate in  regard  to  women’s  societies  (which  were  not  always  distinguished  from  those  for  men)  Bohstedt  noted  that  6000  of  the  9000  women  in female friendly societies in 1803 lived in towns where riots occurred. He Daniel Weinbren concluded that while the men were turning to more quiescent political activities, the female societies may have served as ‘a source for cohesion in riots.”

So, while Friendly Societies increased in number throughout the 19th century the concerns over the administration by these small organisations led to consolidation and one or two of the Societies began to absorb the smaller groups and as we move into the 20th century the Foresters, Oddfellows had become national organisations with the ability to manage their investments and liabilities in a much more professional way. This professionalism had a significant side effect in that some people became employed locally and even developed careers within these organisations that took them out of poverty. The Friendly Society Acts of 1875 and 1895 consolidated these trends, and this led to more regulated insurance opportunities including Old Age Pensions and Child Welfare insurance. An Article in the Times in 1889, written by a London Coroner criticised child welfare insurance suggesting that parents might maltreat or neglect their children to get insurance pay-outs!

There was also a growing governmental interest in Friendly Societies in the latter part of the 19th century following the Crimean War. The need to recruit troops to fight on behalf of the Crown highlighted the very poor health of the nation. Alongside the increasing population, brought about partly by potatoes, the nation’s died was extremely poor.

The beginnings of a Welfare State emerged in 1911 with the National Insurance Act and some friendly societies, alongside Trade Unions, and commercial Insurers became Approved Societies in the administration of the funds obtained through employers being required to pay into the insurance fund.

A Punch Cartoon of the time indicates some ambivalence about the Act:

‘Patient (General Practitioner) “This treatment will be the death of me.”

Doctor Bill “I dare say you know best. Still there is always a chance”’

Beveridge had a somewhat romantic view of Friendly Societies as fostering brotherhood and self-help but as the 20th century progressed things were changing and although even in 1942 Beveridge seemed to be supporting the voluntary status of Friendly Societies in the administration of National Insurance their status as Approved Societies was removed in 1943 and in 1944 the National Health Service was proposed and came into being in 1948.

Marion rounded off her talk by reminding members that it is often thought that National Insurance Contributions go to the Poor, but this is a misunderstanding, as it never did work that way.

  • Geraint thanked Marion for her comprehensive survey of Friendly Societies and the huge amount of research that she had done. Marion and Geraint then together opened up a discussion about how this impacted on people in Radnorshire and in Penybont.

As we have seen from above the Society in Penybont was formed in 1826 and by 1879 had 466 members. It followed the national pattern with the Society being dissolved in 1885 leading to a Foresters group being established.

There were about 15 Societies in the area and in Presteigne, the New Friendly Society had 300 members. The Penybont Society clearly drew people from a wide geographical area. What is remarkable is that in an area where there was not great wealth that in order to avoid the challenges of Poor Law administration that so many people were able to may the 1 shilling a month dues but they could also face fines for:


Being indecently dressed


Being Noisy

Being Drunk

Divulging secrets of the Society to non-members

A comment was made this could be seen as a fine for ‘living’!

A newspaper report of 1876 commended the Society for its membership of 430 members. Having assembled at the Severn Arms members marched to Llandegley Church for a Service. The members then marched back to the Severn Arms for the annual Feast. J.P. Severn addressed the meeting and gave £463 for the death and sickness fund. One can only speculate that it was after Percy Severn withdrew that the fun and games began! These annual events were quite significant in the area. The Schools would be closed. They had a status similar to other days such as the Agricultural Fairs.

Geraint was able to give us an example of how people benefitted from the Society. A lady, Hannah Jenkins, who paid in 1 shilling a month for her dues but she then had payments of 10 shillings when a child was born in 1864; 10 shillings for another child in 1865; and £1 for her husband’s burial in 1866.

Neil was able to tell us of his relative Evan Richards who was a member of Foresters for 54 years when he died in 1943.

  • Girls Friendly Societies

Discussion moved on with some photographs, see below, supplied by Joy of the Girls Friendly Society in New Radnor. Though they use the same terminology Girls Friendly Societies had nothing to do with Friendly Societies as we have discussed above.

Concerned by the plight of young women and girls leaving home to work in-service and in urban factories Mary Elizabeth Townsend officially established Girls Friendly Society on 1st January 1875 with the support of the Anglican Church. At the start girls could join by the age of 12 years but this was reduced to 8 years in 1882 when girls were allowed to be associate members.

There were some similarities to the Friendly Societies above in that they encouraged mutual support amongst the girls. Elizabeth Townsends main focus was on prevention, she said:

‘When we see what wonders are accomplished in worldly matters, by the power of organisation, association, and cooperation, when we know how strong are the links that bind together the members of Freemasons’ Clubs, of Benefit Societies, the members of different professions, and the like, surely we cannot but feel that this mighty lever should be used for the purpose of moral and spiritual benefit, that the children of this world should not be wiser in their generation than the children of light, and that every means should be tried, if only we may, by God’s mercy and blessing, save some.’

An important element of the Societies work was in proving hostel accommodation. One of these was located in Ithon Road in Llandrindod Wells and it was run by Miss Partridge.

Joy remembers that the Society in New Radnor was linked to the Church, it was run by a Mrs Griffiths, and she particularly remembers a train trip to Swansea.

More locally Geraint asked Judy to talk about her experience of the local group at Llanbadarn Fawr. Her most vivid memory was making rabbits out of some blue material.

Shirley remembers meeting regularly at the church and she remembered that Geraint had a hand in running it. Geraint could remember the three ladies sitting together Judy, ……. All those years ago sitting making rabbits and sitting together just like today!

Liz had been involved in setting up a group in Worcestershire.

  • Old Poor Law in Radnorshire

Marion brought us back to reflecting on the Old Poor Law and how this impacted on the people of Radnorshire. In 1740 Radnorshire had the highest illegitimacy rate in Britain. In Wales the rate was 1 child in every 13, in Radnorshire it was 1 child in every 7. This on its own had an impact on the Poor Law Rate. The reasons for the high illegitimacy rate are uncertain but there is some suggestion that there was a courtship practice in this part of Wales known a ‘bundling’, caru ar [or yn] y gwely, or ‘love on [or in] the bed. 

Bundling entailed a young couple spending an evening, and frequently an entire night, together, unsupervised, in bed, typically in the home of the young woman. If and when the woman conceived, marriage was the expected outcome.’

This practice could have been a type of ‘trial marriage’ but in some cases it led to children being born out of wedlock.

From about 1837 onwards, for unknown reason, the illegitimacy rate began to fall.

Geraint took us back to the humble potato which can be challenging in the poor soil conditions in Radnorshire. It was however a crop that would grow and give reasonable yields. While this did not give poorer people a healthy died, and there was much malnutrition, poorer people were often given access to a land to grow a row of potatoes. This even applied to Vicars. Geraint remembers when he first came to Llanbadarn Fawr Church that the Griffiths family at Church Farm told him that it was traditional for Vicars of the Church to cultivate a row of potatoes on their land. As a result, Geraint did have his own row on their farm.

Marion reinforced her previous concerns that the enclosures put a stop to this practice.

Liz had researched experiences in Worcestershire where illegitimacy had a link to the lack of housing and it was often only when housing became available that the marriage would go ahead. In Radnorshire there was a shortage of housing and to avoid financial penalties a couple might not declare the name of the father until they were ready to marry. In a more general sense, the feeling that comes through is that illegitimacy in Radnorshire in the 18th and early 19th centuries did not carry the stigma that came along in the Victorian era, and the word ‘bastard’ similarly did not carry stigma with it.

Reference was made to the Mr Wilding looking at the Severn Arms with a view to Managing it and recording in his diary that it ‘seemed like a good place’ and that ‘he would talk to his girlfriend about the accommodation there and maybe ‘they could now get married’.

In the closing minutes there was reference to family situations only a few generations back whose lives reflected the challenges of child birth and experiencing an accident that made working impossible. Marion finished by saying how a man living in Llandegley, quite well with 8 hounds, was claiming from the Poor Law Rate but as he was born in Llanbister the Llanbister Parish had to pay for him.

It had been an excellent session and Geraint thanked Marion again for preparing such an interesting talk.

The next meeting will feature Roger Coward who will be talking on the Recent Research into Abbey Cwmhir on 1st April 2019.

4th February 2019 Main Topic: Postcards of Penybont and District – Ray Price

Geraint opened the meeting and welcomed members to a new year’s programme. The room was packed as we entered our 8th year. Geraint explained that he, Mary, and Derek had initially started the group and had taken responsibility for guiding it over the years. Just like good shepherds who know that the sheep are really in charge. (Our understanding, or lack of understanding of democracy.) Shirley, as the youngster among us, has been asked, and she has agreed, to become a shepherd.

Though the room was full there were no new members.

The next session will be on Friendly Societies and Marion will address this topic. In thanking Marion for having agreed to cover this topic, he thanked Marion for the projector which she has made freely available to the Group. Geraint treats it as though it were his own, and he confessed that he also used Suzanna’s laptop in a similar way.

Geraint also mentioned that he had been in touch with Philip Jones, at the Radnorshire Museum, as Philip has done considerably more work on War Memorials, including the information on the Penybont War Memorial. Geraint has discussed with Philip updating his Booklet as he would like to bring it up to date as – Nothing Known is Know Known!

Elizabeth informed the group that Alan Stoyel is giving a talk in New Radnor on 12th April 2019 on the Mills of Radnorshire. Alan is retiring after this talk so, if any of the members missed his talk to our own group, this would be the last time to hear him. Elizabeth mentioned that Alan had been awarded an MBE for his work in keeping alive the history of Mills across Britain.

Marion is giving a talk for charity in the hall at New Radnor on 15th February at 7.30 p.m. on the Renaissance Gardens of Italy. Those attending will be invited to give a donation.

Main Topic: – Penybont and District Postcards

With Ray getting to his feet, and Geraint on the Projector, Geraint started the talk on the ‘Art of Deltiology – Collecting Postcards’.  See:

Postcards are the third most popular item to collect and there has been a long history of people communicating short messages on what can be described as transitory writing materials. At Hadrian’s Wall a number of stone tablets have been found dated between A.D. 85 and 160: – one reads:

“”On the third day before the Ides of September, sister,” to cite one letter, “for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival.”

In the 18th century decorated visiting cards and trade cards became popular. In 1840 William Mulready designed an envelope that had a pictorial element to it and, while it was derided as being over-elaborated, it became linked to the establishment of the 1d post and even more elaborate envelopes were designed. It was however in Germany in 1865 that the first postcard was designed by Heinrich von Stephan. The universal appeal of the postcard quickly developed leading to a ‘Golden Age of the Postcard’ between 1898 and 1919. They became so popular with collectors that jokes were told of how they were a ‘disease, epidemic, leading to insanity’. The cryptic messages, often in a type of code, on them were seen by some as a threat to good English. I winder where we have heard that recently!?

Postcards unlike stamps are unregulated, anyone can make them, from small specialists turning out a few, to huge companies printing 1000’s. There were some small companies locally and some much larger companies producing cards in this area. Some early postcards had no room for writing as the address area was only for addresses. By 1870 the Post Office had plain postcards that they sold, and subsequently an address and writing area was allowed on one side of the card.

Geraint explained that Deltiology – the study of Postcards. The third most popular collecting hobby in the UK – after stamps and coins. This comes from:

Deltion    diminutive form of  deltos   a writing tablet.   Latin – Tabulae

Postcards unlike stamps were produced in a decentralised and unregulated manner.

Hand produced drawings and reproductions of pictures appeared in large numbers from an early date and some may have been sent enclosed within a folded written letter.

The London Penny Post dates from 1680 and the Uniform Penny Post was established throughout the UK in 1840.

Postal Cards (plain cards for writing only) were sold by the GPO from 1870

Francis Firth started producing illustrated postcards from 1894

Raphael Tuck produced illustrated cards from 1866 and Postcards from 1900

Judges Postcards 1903 to present

Wallace Jones of Builth from 1905         

Bamforth Cards from 1910

Percy Benzie Abery (Builth Wells) from 1911    

Valentine & Sons from 1911

Ray has a ‘vast’ collection, 1000+ of cards from this locality and Geraint handed over to Ray.

Ray started by thanking people for coming to the talk and he thanked Geraint who had done all the technological work to have the cards projected on the screen.

Postcard 1.

Rather appropriately the first and second postcard is of the village, including the Thomas Shop, taken from the field opposite the Thomas Shop, and looking down the hill. This postcard is Park Newtown Card from 1911 and is No1. In the Penybont Radnors series. Park cards a rare as they were a small family business that operated under the motto: “Park for People”.

The post mark on this card says “Penybont Station”, and referred to the Post Office in Crossgates.  This title became a problem as Penybont itself was to have its own Post Office. The name was changed to Llanbadarn Fawr Post Office, and then subsequently to Crossgates Post Office.

Of note is the fact that the stamp is upside down, the card was sent to Breconshire, and read:

“Dear Cousin, Just a line to let you know as Dick is getting about a little again, I have no time to write, I will write the end of this week, Dad is here now. With love to all. MG”

Postcard 2:

The second card we looked at was very similar to the first one – the same picture but with a hint of colour. This card was also a Newtown Park Card but Series 2.

It was how ever the back of the card that excited members as it had been sent by Nellie Bufton who had lived in Ithon Terrace.

The angle of the stamp is again interesting. What is going on?

The card sent to Cardiff is addressed to:

Dear Bessie and Tom, I hope you are keeping alright and not pinning away. I shall be home at 11.0 on Friday night for the Colliery Job. Have my grey day suit ready for me, as I have to catch the 7.17 a.m. train on Saturday morning and expect to finish and be back home by the night then I will have Sunday at home and return here on Monday. Edith is improving and hopes you are both well, and sends her kind love. Albert sends his best respects. Tell you more when I get home. Nellie

(The words not in italics are my best guess.) The card demonstrates quite a lot of journeying for Nellie and the importance of family caring alongside other commitments.

Postcard 3 – First Bridge in Penybont

Another Newtown Parks Postcard, this time showing the rather beautiful Suspension Bridge with Bank House in the background.

 Postcard 4 – Severn Arms 1905

This postcard shows the Severn Arms Inn and the Iron Room, this is an another early Park Card

Postcard 5 :- Towers at Penybont Hall

This card shows the 2 towers, one of which was taken down some years later. It also shows what was described as the Squire’s Pitch, the road, that went past the front door of the Hall.

Postcard 6 – Lake at Penybont Hall

The man is the foreground of this Park Card picture of the Lake was thought to be a helper with the photographer. The picture evoked memories of over 100 people skating on the lake and Lord Ormathwaite whizzing around at 100 mph.

Postcard 7 : – Severn Arms with Stage Coaches

This picture probably dates back to about 1870, but was not mounted on a postcard until the early 1900’s.

Postcard 8 : – Severn Arms and gathering

This card of 1910 shows a postmark that is ‘Penybont’. It is a simple direct communication that would have been delivered the same day:

“I hope to see you tomorrow, but am afraid I cannot come before the afternoon train. Love Dores”

Postcard 9 :- Severn Arms – Front  Door

“Dear Cousin, Just a line to let you know Aunt got hear alight. Ma met her at the station along with the Boy, they drove in the cart. With Love from Mag They are going to Cefnmawr on Friday”

Postcard 10 : – Severn Arms and RAC Sign

Postcard 11 and 12 :- Severn Arms viewed from field opposite

Spot the difference between these views of the Severn Arms. It shows how different companies used the same photographs, they only had to change the caption.

Postcard 12 :- Severn Arms with War Memorial

Showing the War Memorial, erected after the 1st World War, it is further out than at present. It was moved back during the 1960’s when the road was improved. The Iron Room is still attached to the Severn Arms.

Postcard 13:- Post Office 1905

The photographer’s mate is featured again outside the Post Office.  The lane he os standing in would have taken you down and across the River onto the Ddole and on to the Blacksmith’s.

“My dear old Reg, I’ll leave on Monday for home Your loving sister Lil You can guess how excited I am”

Ray mentioned that the cards often showed that people travelled a lot.

Postcard 14:- Penybont Hall with twin Towers 1905

Postcard 15:- Post Office 1914

This was Ray’s home for 35 years. The gentleman in front of the Post Office is Mr. George Bufton from Gladestree, and the little boy was Tommy Jones, Keily and Barbara’s father. The Postcard was produced by Wallis Jones of Builth.

“Dear Marion, Sorry I shall not be able to come to Rhayader tomorrow, Hope you are all well and that your ……… with love from Aunty Amie”

Here again we see how quickly people expected their cards to be delivered.

Postcard 16 – Village view from the Knighton Junction

Changes from the present day would be the lack of pavements and the horse manure on the roads. Of course, the village had regular markets with the animals being driven through.

Postcard 17 – Village from a similar perspective

Postcard 18 – Village from opposite direction

Postcard 19 – Same View a few years later , now with pavements and a village noticeboard

Postcard 20 – Calvinist – Methodist Chapel

Postcard 21 – Village Blacksmith

The life and soul of the village.

Postcard 22: – Post Office and Bank

Railings have arrived on the front of the Post Office

Postcard 23:- The New Bank

With House built originally for the Bank Manager, Mr Thomas. Nurse Gittings had the other house.

Postcard 24:- The Central Wales Emporium

It was William Thomas from the Thomas Shop in Penybont who built and ran the Emporium, some times know as the Harrods of Mid Wales.

Postcard 25:- Severn Arms Advertising

As with the Emporium above the Severn Arms were quick to see the potential advertising benefits of producing a postcard.

Postcard 26:- First Bridge close-up

Postcard 27:- Testing for the New Bridge (2nd Bridge)

The photograph features Neil’s wife’s Great-Grandfather as the driver of the traction engine. Neil spent years trying to beg, borrow, or steal a copy!

Postcard 28: – Suspension Bridge and Chapel

Photograph also shows the tennis court just over the river. Neil’s father played against Jean on the court.

Postcard 30:- The New Bridge and Chapel

This Bridge split Chapel meadow with the tennis court being opposite the Chapel on the right. The older suspension bridge was further to the right.

“South View, Llandrindod Wells 24Sept 32

Hope this finds you much better – We are enjoying everything and find ourselves very well fixed. Lovely weather until today……… Place full of clergy for the conference and the Chapel Folk have one too. We have had some delightful walks. …. Love from Hel”

Postcard 31:- Footbridge to Ddole

Postcard 32:- Footbridge Taken from Other side

Postcard 33:- Outside Severn Arms

Older photo taken before the building of the Bank and the Manager’s House.

Postcard 34:- Pen-y-bont Station

Postcard 35:- Station with Locomotive

Postcard 36:- Llanbadarnfawr School 1920’s

Postcard 37:- Cross Roads at Crossgates

Postcard 38: – Chalet at Crossgates

It was moved subsequent to this photo and demolished more recently.

Postcard 39:- Crossgates, the Village

Postcard 40: – Crossgates Post Office known originally as Penybont Station Post Office

Features HQ Coates bread delivery vehicle with JO Davies

Postcard 41: – Not Penybont – Crossgates

Postcard 42: – Crossgates/Penybont Station Entrepreneurs

Postcard 43: – The Hotel in Crossgates

Postcard 44: – St Padarn’s Parish Church

Neil pointed out the chimneys that have since been removed – he pointed at Geraint as the villain of this desecration.

Postcard 45: – Llandegley

Village before the construction of the bypass

Postcard 46: – Llandegley – similar view

Postcard 47: – Llandegley Church

Photograph taken by McCaig of New Radnor, who travelled around on a motorbike and sidecar taking photos. The Burton Hotel is in the foreground and it shows St Techla’s Church with the old tower.

Postcard 48: – Primrose Cottage and Post Office

Postcard 49: – Llandegley School Photo

Postcard 50: – Parkes Card of Llandegley Parish Church

Postcard 51: – John Mantle – The Bank at the Church Gate Llandegley

Neil has the original photograph of this Postcard.

Postcard 52:- Church Choir Llandegley

Geraint said that they sounded a lot better than they looked!!!

Postcard 53: – Vicarage Llandegley

Postcard 54: Llandegley School

Ray remembered the day he entered the school in 1940 trough the door on the left.

Postcard 55: – Alpine Bridge

Postcard 56: Alpine Bridge

“Dear Fanny, We are having awful weather up here. I think Lily and I are going across this bridge some day. It looks very nice don’t you think. With love from Elsie”

Postcard 57: – Forest Inn

Ray finished by telling us about a particular postcard that highlights for him some of the excitement in the world of Deltiology. Some 30 years ago a gentleman, who then lived in London, bought a postcard from Ray when he was running the Post Office. The gentleman would send this postcard to his mum in Cardigan. Many, many years later Ray received a Postcard from a fellow Deltiologist who had picked up a postcard in a sale in Bloomsbury that he thought Ray might be interested in. He sent it saying he hoped Ray might like it?

When Ray opened the Postcard it was the same postcard that Richard Davies had bought all those years ago. He was able to return the card to Richard. A job well done!

Geraint thanked Ray for this most enjoyable and interesting look at our area through the medium of Postcards.

Our next meeting will be on Monday 4th March and will feature: Dr Marion Evans who will be talking about “Friendly Societies and their Contribution to the Community”.

Penybont and District History Group Notes 3rd December 2018 Main Topic: Penybont and District Antiques, Bygones, and Curiosities – Items brought by Members and Commented Upon by Michael Winterton


3rd December 2018

Derek opened the Meeting to yet another packed room by referring to Geraint’s loss of his daughter Deborah. Geraint was attending the funeral today in Swansea. Words could not express the loss that Geraint has had to endure over the last few months. Members were encouraged to sign a card for Geraint.

Shirley circulated cards to members that Geraint had put together with next year’s programme, and these were very positively received.

Derek introduced Michael Winterton, who had come all the way from Abbeycwmhyr. Michael has an auctioneering background and his nephew is currently one of the antique specialists on television programmes.

Main Topic: Penybont and District Antiques, Bygones, and Curiosities – Items brought by Members and Commented Upon by Michael Winterton

Michael was an auctioneer in Litchfield within a family run business that dated back to the 1864. His Great Grandfather was approached by the town to open a market in conjunction with his butchery business. Michael joined the business in 1955 and specialised in the sale of livestock. His most famous relative was Major General Sir John Winterton who was Governor General of the Free Territory of Trieste just after the end of 2nd World War (1951-54).  See: and

More recently Richard Winterton, Michael’s nephew, joined the business and he has subsequently gained celebrity status as an antique expert on TV. See:

In Richard’s career he had some memorable times as a auctioneer in Smithfield where he met the Queen Mother, who was extremely knowledgeable. Life was good and he was able to fit regular hunting into his routine. On one occasion he managed to do 12 days hunting in 14 days by nipping over to Ireland!

Michael brought with him a couple of silver items. His own silver christening mug and a couple of silver grapefruit spoons.  He started by talking about the volatility of the market. Prices go up and down and this makes it difficult to put a value on things. He did also bring his spyglass with him though he does not do much in the way of valuations these days.

Having watched his nephew and others on the television antique competition shows his advice to the members was to go for items that at not very expensive. Often people are drawn to expensive items but it is very difficult to make any money on these. The less expensive items have much more potential.

Getting pictures of each individual item proved to be impossible but some general pictures will hopefully give you a sense of the things we looked at.

Image A
Image B
Image C


Image D
Image E


Image F
Image G


Image H
  1. The first item to be looked at was a Tantalus brought by Mary Davies. This had been given as a wedding present to Mary’s Nain, a much-valued possession, kept in the Top Kitchen, by a tea total family. Michael said that the Tantalus had fallen out of fashion for a period, but was now back in again as there was a vogue for having port after a meal.  
  • Mary also brought with her a very charming music box that still worked. It had a little wood-worm. Michael said that this was quite a rare item and that its value would be likely to increase substantially over the years, as long as children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were not allowed to play with it! (Image ‘D’)
  • Two great lumps of black metal with a handle end and a curve were identified as Blacksmiths tools from the Dolau Blacksmith Shop. It was felt that the tools were probably hand-made by an apprentice as one of the first tasks. They were probably spanners that the Blacksmith used in relation to wheelwright work. Anecdotally it was reported that the Blacksmith had to move in a hurry as he was a known poacher on the Squire’s estate. (Image ‘A’)
  • Marion brought a moustache cup, not just any moustache cup, but a moustache cup featuring the Sir George Cornewall Lewis, 2nd Baronet, PC (21 April 1806 – 13 April 1863), Memorial in New Radnor.  Not a memorial that Marion greatly likes, but a memorial that dominates the entrance to the village.

The moustache mug had been invented by Harvey Adams in 1860 as the moustache had become the fashion of the day, and even the British Army got involved between 1860 and 1916 when soldiers were required to grow them.

The Memorial was built in 1864 to celebrate the MP who lived at Harpton Court, New Radnor. He had been an MP for Hereford between 1847 and 1852. He returned to parliament in 1855 as MP for the Radnor Boroughs when he was immediately made Chancellor of the Exchequer. His Government Posts included: Chancellor of the Exchequer 1855–58, Secretary of State at the Home Office 1859–61, and Secretary of State at the War Office 1861–63. His main claim to fame lies in persuading the Government not to intervene on behalf of the Confederates in the Civil War in USA, despite opposing views held by Palmerston and Gladstone.

Marion was able to tell us that the moustache mug was found by a friend of hers in a junk shop in London. While this in itself is surprising it was probably not as surprising as the size and scale of this monument, when it was opened in 1864, to the residents of New Radnor. The monument had been designed by John Gibbs and might have been situated on top of the Castle Mound. Fortunately, this did not happen.

  • The next item to review was a coffee set that had been made by the Potter, David Weekes, in 1965, when he was living at the Old Police Station, in Penybont. David was a very fine potter, and penny-farthing cyclist, who had been Head of Art at Llandrindod Wells High School. Judy remembered that David had made mugs to commemorate the Investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales. Every child in District was given one of these mugs. Judy still has hers, a treasured possession. (Image ‘A’)
  • The first picture to be looked at caused a bit of a stir when Michael announced that it could be worth £30,000. The picture had been found in a house after the new owners of the house had bought the house. Evidently the picture had been hidden away by the lady of the house as her husband did not like it!
  • A silver bracelet that had been handed down through the family was the next item. Michael, who clearly has a penchant for silver, enjoyed this item. (Image ‘A’)
  •   Books by David Davies dated 1898 had been a wedding present. They gave a history of Radnorshire and were given by a family to the maid on her wedding day. These are now worth a couple of hundred pounds. (Image ‘E’)
  • A very well used toasting fork was next. This had a history that went back to a great grandfather, and had been given to grandchildren over successive generations. Memories were of hot toast and dripping after school.
  1. A small silver vespa case was the next item. Michael said that though these were designed to take matches they were sometimes used as snuff boxes. When matches were first developed in the 1830’s matches could be hazardous and the vespa case gave some safety as well as being valued items that said something about the person who owned them. (Image ‘D’)
  1.  Referred to as pop-up sprung candles, the next item was brought partly because it was not known why there was a sprung mechanism within the candle holder. The mechanism was simply a way of removing the candle safely. (Image ‘D’)
  1. The next two items were found as a result of using a metal detector. (Image ‘A’)
  1. A piece of metal was found near to Shaky Bridge. The hope had been to find something religious and pertaining to this particular site. It was a piece of metal that did not come up with any serious idea of what it might have been. It was more like a hand grenade than There has been a subsequent suggestion that it might have had a past as part of a fishing rod.
  2. Judy brought in another piece of metal much smaller that the previous one. This was found in Crossgates. Following a discussion that included the suggestion that it could be a piece off a caster for a setee, this hitherto ‘curiosity’, that had a hole through it, there was a consensus that this had been associated with weaving on a loom and had been on the end of a stick to give it some weight. The same principles for weaving have been used right back to Saxon times.
  1. This was a picture of the Church at New Radnor. Michael looked immediately for any writing on the back of the painting to see if there were any clues to it’s origin. The Church, as it is today was rebuilt in 1843-45, see:

The old church was said to be ‘falling down’ and the Borough of New Radnor raised £1400 on the Rates to pay for the Church to be rebuilt. (Image ‘F’)

  1. Derek had brought in a few items from the Thomas Shop Museum:
  2. The very first donation to the Thomas Shop in 2003 were a pair of tailor’s scissors. In the first week that the shop was opened a gentleman came into the shop, all the way from the Isle of Wight, and said with the history of the shop we must have a pair of tailor’s scissors. A few days later these scissors arrived in the post. (Image ‘B’)
  3. The most recent addition to the collection was a 1912 Ever Ready Safety razor, in its original box with spare blade. Made in USA it came with a note, unsigned, hoping it might be of some interest. (Image ‘B’)
  4. Another early addition to the collection was a Gunter’s Measuring Chain. Designed and introduced in 1620 by Edmund Gunter the chain measured 22 yards, this becoming a s and was divided up into 100 sections. See: Michael became quite animated over this item as it took him back to his school-days when he would be taken out unto the cricket pitch to measure a chain with a ‘chain’ becoming a standard unit of measurement. (Image ‘C’)
  5. The next 2 items were both given to the Thomas Shop by Miss Freda Thomas and both belonged to her father, Alfred Thomas. The first was a small snuff box. (Image ‘B’)
  6. The second item was a gambrel that has Alfred Thomas’s initials carved into it. Mary was able to tell us that the family kept and butchered pigs. The gambrel would have been used to hang and stretch the carcasses. (Image ‘B’)
  1. Humph brought a musical jug that played the Ashgrove tune. It had been made in Ammanford and he thinks it is about 150 years old. Michael could not wait to wind it up and to have the music ringing out across the room. (Image ‘C)
  1. Also brought in by Humph was a Roasting Jack that had hung in his grandmother’s hallway. (Image ‘C’) (Humph himself can be seen in Image ‘B’)
  1. An intriguing picture of a soldier from the 1st World War was the next item. Michael thought the soldier’s uniform was probably cavalry, and that might help in trying to trace more information about the soldier. The picture was very similar to the image that Geraint had as a possible boyfriend of Miss James. It would be good to compare the two images with Geraint.
  1. Patricia brought in another item that also probably dated back to the 1st World War. It was a delightful little ceramic letter-box with and inscription that read: “Can’t get a letter from you, so I am sending you the box.” Patricia had felt that this was probably a mother writing to her son, the son having not written home after being posted to the front. (Images ‘G’ and ‘H’)
  1. Marked as a “Present from Penybont” the next item, thought to be about 100 years old, was a pair of ceramic boots that were used to display flowers on a dressing table.
  • The next ceramic item had an image of Caban Coch reservoir in the Elan Valley, thought to have been made in the 1890’s. (Image ‘A’)
  • Two ancient books of Radnorshire were next. The Radnor Red Book was a directory that gave details about everything that was going on in 1910. This was an unusual edition as Radnorshire was often included in other local directories rather than having one of its own. The other leather-bound book was a more legal document setting out the statutes particular to Presteigne.
  • Elizabeth brought in a Conveyance Indenture with an interesting story behind it. The nature of the conveyance as an ‘indenture’ was that the document was in 2 parts and the legality of the document was held in the fact that the 2 parts with their ‘indentured’ side had to fit together. In this case Elizabeth had both parts. The Conveyance referred to a commitment made to the building of a church, that has now disappeared, and to the payment of £5 a year to cover the cost. The sons who inherited this commitment were horrified to learn of the debt. In the end they managed to renegotiate the debt and agreed to contribute 10 shillings to the church and a one-off payment of £5 to the poor of the Parish. (Image ‘E’)
  • Mary brought in some photographs of, and found in, her grandfather’s 8-day grandfather clock. Michael was intrigued with the clock than the photos. Mary was able to explain that she still has the clock which was originally in the Top Kitchen at Maesyfed – to protect it from flooding. The house had a ‘traditional’ top kitchen, middle kitchen, and lower kitchen. Michael wanted know if the chimes still worked and was reassured to know that they did. It had been a bit of an issue when it started to chime at 2.00 a.m. but then it could not be stopped! (Image ‘D’)
  • The final items were 2 books. The first was a recipe book much in the same vein as Mrs Beaton. It had belonged to the great grand-parents. The second book was a Herbalist dating back to 1653. Michael stressed the importance of keeping these in good condition.

Derek thanked Michael for his contribution to making this a most interesting session. He also thanked the members for the items they had taken the trouble to bring in.

The next meeting will be on the first Monday of February – 4th February 2019. Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

Penybont and District History Group Notes 5th November 2018 Main Topic: War Memorial Project in Powys: Speaker Catherine Pugh; and Impact of the Ending of World War 1 on Community Life in the Penybont District: Speaker Revd. Geraint Hughes

Penybont and District History Group Notes

5th November 2018

Main Topic:    War Memorial Project in Powys: Speaker Catherine Pugh; and Impact of the Ending of World War 1 on Community Life in the Penybont District: Speaker Revd. Geraint Hughes

Geraint opened the meeting to another crowded room and welcomed the members once again.

He reminded members that our next meeting on Monday 3rd December is an opportunity to bring items with a particular provenance to the District when we can share their History and even have them valued. Michael Winterton, who is a retired expert and whose son regularly appears on the Antique’s Roadshow, has very kindly agreed to share his expertise about the items that will be ‘on the table’. There is of course the opportunity for those who have not got an item particular to Penybont District to bring a hidden Ming Vase or Rembrandt!

Geraint also referred to next year’s programme, which is beginning to take shape, and asked members to contribute to the vacant slot with suggestions, and/or offers to contribute to the programme directly. He hopes to have a Programme confirmed by our next meeting and be in a position to give members a card with all the dates.

Geraint asked Mary to talk about her visit to the Radnorshire Museum where there is an exhibition of memories, pictures and artefacts from the War period. Philip Jones and Will Adams have done a marvellous job in drawing together the information and then turning it into an exhibition. Only about ¼ of the material collected has been used in the exhibition, and they are still adding to it as new information comes in. The exhibition goes on until January. Mary highly recommended it as it is just full of local stories. Geraint reinforced Mary’s tribute to the exhibition and he will show some photos from the exhibition in his talk.

Mary went on to mention an event in Llandrindod on 11th of the 11th. This is part of a World-Wide Tribute to those who served, and in particular those who lost their lives. It will take the form of a Lantern Light Vigil between 6.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m., and will finish with a ‘Cry for Peace’.

The Penybont District will have its usual service next Sunday at 10.30 a.m. at the War Memorial.

Geraint then asked Elizabeth to contribute a true-life story to the proceedings

Elizabeth was the Registrar for Herefordshire dealing with Births, Marriages and Deaths, and in this area of work she had a particular interest in Family History.

One morning, out of the blue, she had a challenging phone call from France and from a person who only spoke French. The person wanted to trace the background of her Father, Owen, who had connections with Hereford.

From the information that she was given, and could understand, she took the research of the background to this request as a particularly interesting challenge. Elizabeth managed to trace the man’s Birth Certificate and discovered that he was not born in Herefordshire but in Walton, Radnorshire. Following the line of enquiry through she also discovered that he got married in Herefordshire and subsequently had 4 children.

Having managed to get a Birth Certificate from Llandrindod Wells and a copy of the Marriage Certificate she phoned the person who had made the original enquiry with this exciting information. There was a sharp intake of breath on the phone line from France. Ahh! – But he was married to my mother! Naughty Owen! Fortunately, the French son was thrilled to have ½ brothers and sisters in England and vice versa.

Owen’s story was quite complicated and in a sort of way he ‘paid for his naughtiness’ in the end. Owen had been conscripted relatively early in the War and had appealed against this, but lost the Appeal. He ended up in the King’s Liverpool Regiment where he was part of a clearing group. He did not get discharged at the end of the War but was eventually discharged in 1921.

By then he was lost to his family back home, but he was not shown on any War Memorial. He married in France where he also had children. Life was probably good for Owen as he had been a Labourer in England but was described as a Cabinet Makar. Things however turned difficult for Owen when the 2nd World War came along and the Police in France, who worked with the Germans, discovered him as an Englishman in France, and he was interned. Over the next few years he would be in Camps in France, Belgium, Germany and Poland. Fortunately for Owen, and others similarly interned, these were not concentration camps. He would have been treated reasonably well.

For Elizabeth this was a secret on both sides of the Channel, but a secret that everyone knew about, but never talked about.

There were probably many similar stories, but Geraint felt certain that there was no one quite so naughty living in Penybont!?

Main Topic: War Memorial Project in Powys: Speaker Catherine Pugh; and Impact of the Ending of World War 1 on Community Life in the Penybont District: Speaker Revd. Geraint Hughes

Part 1: Catherine Pugh – War Memorials Project

Geraint then introduced our surprise speaker, Catherine Pugh. Catherine has recently taken over from Nathan Davies, our expected speaker, to continue to develop the War Memorials Project on behalf of the County Council. She had only made contact this morning as Nathan had left a note that he had agreed to give us a talk on his Project. Catherine agreed to come immediately and Geraint, who knew Catherine, was very pleased that she was in a position to give us an understanding of how the Project had developed over the last few years.

Catherine started by telling us that Nathan had made a major contribution to improving War Memorials throughout the County. He has now moved on to work for a national charity for blind people. As well as making this change, he, and his wife, are expecting a baby. Catherine has only recently taken over the Project and has had to dive in, and run, at the same time. Her strategy has been to deal with things as they come along, and hence the somewhat late phone call this morning about this event.

The main feature of the Project has been to offer funds, up to £5000 for the renovation of War Memorials and a separate £200 to restore the railings that often surround the War Memorial. Any type of War Memorial has been eligible. These have included:

  • A Roll of Honour in Builth Wells
  • A Horse trough

Alongside the aim to include all these different types of Memorial has been the aim to include as many communities as possible, all under the Banner:

“A Mark of Respect”

There were many other elements that the Project was able to support:

  1. Identifying and Mapping War Memorials. Initially 300 were identified but this has now gone up to 350, and rising.
  2. Encouraging and enabling young people to take responsibility for their community War Memorials
  3. Developing Kits for training, recording, carrying out a condition survey, and for repairing and maintaining A War Memorial
  4. Establishing Walks and Trails including Brecon, Llandrindod, and Llanidloes
  5. Establishing a website: ; which is still being added to

There are a number of continuing projects:

  • In conjunction with Theatre Hafren a film is being developed featuring tanks; a unique and special piece of music has been composed ; and work to show the Tommies in a cheery mood; Showing the work that went on behind the front line; and featuring prisoners of war.
  • Following on from the film, and play; War Horse; work has been done to feature the horse and the conditions they had to endure – mud up to their knees; carrying paniers loaded with shells – 5 million horses died in the course of the War.
  • Work has been done in Ystradgynlais and Llanidloes on the Battle of the Somme
  • Work has also been done in Ystradgynlais with the Primary Schools to encourage them to have a pride in their War Memorial.
  • A special kit for schools has been developed with lesson plans.
  • A module that contributes to the Welsh Baccalaureate has been developed

In many instances the £5000 has not been enough to do all the work that has been needed to restore a War Memorial. The one in Montgomery was a particular example. The Earl of Powys had donated land to build the War Memorial and it was situated in such a way so that he could see it from his bed when he woke up in the morning. In Rhayader they had to close the road to be able to carry out the necessary repairs.

In Penybont the Memorial was cleaned in order to repair the names on the Memorial. The other work that was done has made it possible for people with a disability to gain access to the War Memorial. At about the same time the railings were repainted by a team of volunteers under the direction of Geraint Hughes. This was not covered by the Project as it had begun before the grant application went in.

Volunteers have been crucial to the War Memorial in Penybont and none more so than Chris Carpenter. Geraint made special reference to the work that Chris and Marlene have done over the last 15 years. Chris, who has lost Marlene in recent years, has now stepped down and the Community Council are advertising to find a someone to carry on the work. Members as a whole thanked Chris in the usual way.

Geraint thanked Catherine for her talk which was very well received by members.

Part 2: Impact of the Ending of World War 1 on Community Life in the Penybont District: Speaker Revd. Geraint Hughes

Geraint started with a reflection on the extraordinary number of people who died in the War. Roughly 1 million people died from Britain and the colonies. This number is dwarfed in comparison to the toll in other countries across Europe. In simple terms the main impact was this shocking loss of young men, a lost generation.

WWI Statistics

Number of men mobilised = 65M

Total Killed = 16M     Total Wounded =  21.2M

                             `                  Killed                  Wounded

Germany                               2.4M                     4.2M

Ottoman Empire                   2.9M                     0.4M

Austria/Hungary                  1.5M                     3.6M

                                                ——–                   ——–

                                                7.1M                     8.4M

                                                ——–                   ——–

Russia                                   3.7M                     4.9M

Italy                                        1.2M                     0.9M

France                                   1.6M                     4.2M

UK                                          1.0M                     1.6M

                                                ——–                   ——–

                                                9.4M                     12.8M

At the beginning of the War it was recruitment that was the main concern. The fact that there was no Recruitment Centre in Radnorshire had an impact on the numbers who put themselves forward.  A lot of young men did volunteer, 1466, but this was not quite as many as in other areas as a percentage of the population. This represented about 6% of the population. This was the first loss, the loss of young, fit and able young men, from a predominantly rural economy.

Evidence suggests that the majority of young people joined up out of a sense of patriotic duty, but there is also evidence that some saw it as a way out of poverty, or a way of getting away from home. In parts of Britain where the head of the household had a military history his staff were more or less marched to the recruiting office, but whether this happened to any degree in Radnorshire is not known.

The first to go were the young people who had previously joined the Territorial Army. They went automatically and as young people joined the territorials, as the War went on, this was a significant recruiting tool.

Geraint then turned to the photo of a young man in uniform that was found hidden in Cadogan Hall. Geraint likes to think that Miss James, who never married, might have remained true to the young man who went off to war. Neil, who knew Miss James, was not so sure, he said that Miss James frightened him. Cadogan Hall had no electricity.

In many ways’ life went on as usual during the years of war. Rock Chapel was still running ‘Teas’, and these were enhanced by people who had been billeted in Llandrindod to help in running the War Hospital.

Taken from Brecon and Radnor Newspaper.

The billeting did produce tensions within households however. People did not have the option whether to have or have not an additional person in their household. There were also large numbers of people in the area who were here in connection with military training. The town could be quite lively with all this going on – Boys will be boys!

Brecon and Radnor Newspaper cutting

Even though things carried on as usual, there was a desire to keep in contact with the ‘boys on the front’. Llanbadarnfawr Church would send Easter Cards  and though it seems unlikely the postal system worked well. Miss James had given Geraint a number of examples of cards and messages destined for  the front. There was quite a strong sense of “What can we do?”

Well one thing that Penybont excelled at was collecting eggs, probably used to supplement the food at the Hospital in Llandrindod. In collecting 317 eggs Penybont beat Crossgates!

Christmas parcels and clothing parcels were sent. In a note found in Presteigne that talked about the German tactics as: “Not playing cricket”, it mentions that the men were given 250 cigarettes. This prompted Geraint to comment: Well of the Germans did not get them, the cigarettes would!”

Turning to Agriculture there was a conflict between the need to recruit for the War effort, but also to maintain production on the land. The fact that some young people were deemed too valuable to send off to the front led to considerable friction between them and their friends who were told they had to go. Alongside this some young people volunteered to go anyway. The Brecon and Radnor newspaper reported on a shortage of labour.

This led to women being encouraged to carry out ‘light duties’ on the land and it was suggested that old age pensioners should also get involved.

Some of the Annual events that Penybont traditionally hosted were cancelled but others went ahead. The Annual Grand Concert went ahead in an attempt to ‘keep the old flag flying’. There was a lot of the patriotic support for the war effort. A concert in the Iron Room had 500 people crammed in to hear the Vagabonds and £40 was donated to the ‘Comforts Committee’. This helped to keep moral up against a background where ‘terrible noises’ were heard at night from injured people who were billeted locally.

Penybont Annual Concert. 

Since the war, the beautiful village of Penybont has lost several of its annual events, but so far it has been possible to hold the annual grand concert on New Year’s Day. Mr T. L. Vaughan, C.C., Llandrindod Wells, was the appointed chairman this year, and the event was as usual a great success, the profits being for the Calvinistic Methodist Church.  The second part of the concert comprised a dramatic sketch entitled, “Keep the old flag flying,” and this was sustained by Mr S. Arthur Jones., headmaster of the Llanbadarn- fawr council school, and a band of his scholars. The presentation was a great success, and was greatly enjoyed by the crowded audience. We understand the sketch was composed by Mr J. A. Jones himself, and both the composition and the way the children were trained reflected the highest credit upon Mr Arthur Jones. Cordial votes of thanks were passed at the close.

January 10th 1918



A variety entertainment and social evening were held in the Iron Room. There was a crowded house, nearly 500 persons being present. The old Pierrot troupe, revived as “Vagabonds,” gave an excellent programme of solos and choruses. A sketch, as part of the entertainment, was well received, and great praise is due to those taking part for the excellent way each represented the characters in the play. The audience were kept in interest and enjoyment during the whole evening. Refreshments were served at very moderate charges. The sum of £40 8s 8d has been handed to the treasurer of the Penybont Comforts’ Committee as the net result.

February 21st 1918

Geraint then showed a number of slides depicting the rurality of Penybont in the period after the War and through the 20’s a couple are shown below:


The War Memorial in Penybont shows the names of the fallen but Nathan in his research has named a few more people. Some of these were had addresses relating to Penybont Station but this indicated a wider area and the people concerned did not in the Penybont District.  Geraint has started to try and identify people who were wounded as a result of the War. Only the Memorial in Llanbister has the wounded included in this area.

An exception was:

Gunner G. A. Evans, R.G.A. (Penybont) has been wounded in France. Prior to joining up, he was employed at Penybont Hall for 20 vears. He is now in the Cambridge Hospital at Aldershot.

August 1918

Armistice was greeted in a relatively quiet way in the local area. The Brecon and Radnor did mention it on the front page, which was unusual as their front page was usually given over to adverts. In the middle of the adverts they printed a short statement:



The Prime Minister made the following announcement through the Press Bureau at 10.20 a.m. on Monday. The armistice was signed at 6 o’clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day.

Though the Armistice has become the day to celebrate the ending of hostilities it was not until the Treaty of Versailles Signed‎: ‎28 June 1919 and became Effective‎: ‎10 January 1920 that peace was confirmed.

Interestingly the Headmaster at Llandegley School did not even mention the Armistice on the 11th ,11th ,1918, school carried on as normal. At Llanbadarn Fawr the school was closed for the day but this was not because of the Armistice but because the Headmaster was ill.

November 11th 1918

Revd Albert Jordan made an inspection of the School. He found that there were 85 pupils present but the Master “was not in a fit state to proceed owing to the influenza” At 9.30 a.m. the thermometer registered 47 degrees only. “I therefore closed the School for the Day”

The story of the Headmaster’s war exploits was also documented alongside and interest social comment on the role of women (his wife) at that time:

Mr Alfred Bufton the headmaster was called up for military duties in June 1915. The children processed to the Railway Station to send him on their way “the children waving union jacks”. His wife was obliged to take over his woodwork classes and her daughter the sewing classes. Mrs Bufton reports: “Under the circumstances Mr Taylor the school inspector very kindly instructed me in the teaching and practice of ‘woodwork’ so that I may be able to attempt to carry on the woodwork class”.

The churches had quite different responses: at Llandegley there was the same response at the church as we have mentioned at the school; but at Lanbadarn Fawr there was a special service to celebrate ‘victory’, and a collection of 3s 6d was considerably up on recent collections.

A Celebration Banquet was organised in 1919 and this brought together the 2 churches above with St Michael’s at Cefn Llys. Geraint wondered if the churches would come together in the same way today?

When the veterans began to arrive home, they were welcomed. There was a ‘Comrades of the War’ event in the village hall in 1918 – the origins of the British Legion. When Sidney Pugh arrived home with a wooden-leg, he was given a Bible.


Pte. Sidney Pugh, who was for 10 years at “The Shop,” was wounded on November 19th, and received first treatment in the South African Hospital, Abbernfile, France. He is now In King George’s Hospital, London, and we regret to learn that his left leg has been taken off at the thigh. In a letter received last week he says he is getting on well, and truly glad to be in England once more. His many friends wish him a speedy recovery.

January 10th 1918


From the Radnor Express: October 24th 1918

“Ceremony at the CM Church, Penybont on October 20th. Five Scholars of the Sunday School joined the Army and two, Sidney Pugh, late of the Shop, Penybont and Ernie Bufton, Swydd have been discharged. Sidney Pugh lost his leg in the battle of Cambrai last November and has now been fitted up with an artificial limb and is able to get about reasonably well. Both were presented with a Thumb Index Bible from the officers and scholars of the school. The superintendent and teachers spoke words of encouragement and thankfulness for their bravery in defending their country so nobly in her hour of need. The presentations were made by Freda Thomas and Corris Morgan.”

Celebrations did follow however when a public holiday was announced:

Peace Celebrations. PUBLIC HOLIDAY, SATURDAY JULY, 19TH. 1919

Proclamation of the Peace Treaty was made throughout the Empire on Wednesday. Saturday, July 19th, which has been fixed as the date for the national celebrations. Thanksgiving services will be held next Sunday.

It was not an easy time agriculturally:

While farming had great importance during the War, the change in Wales was immediately felt by farmers.

Great Slump in Prices at November Fair.  1918

On the 11th inst., November a fair was held at Carmarthen. There was a big supply of horses. Sellers at the start asked £130 for first-rate carters. The dealers replied laughingly “Haven’t you heard the war is over?” Horses for which £130 were asked sold for £80. On the whole there was an average drop of £20 a head as compared with last year. There was a decided fall in cattle prices, although it was not so marked as in the case of the horses. Small stores were down about £30 a head.

In addition to the fall in demand and how this impacted on prices, the large Estates throughout Britain started to off-load their land. Tennant farmers were caught, they either lost their home and their work or they bought their farm. The price of land did not fall as many farmers took out large mortgages to buy the farms they had worked, often for many generations. The impact of this change in the structure of how the countryside was managed contributed to the economic depression that was to follow. In Radnorshire however, there were often no bids for land that was put on the market.


 SALE OF 3,400 ACRES. For some time past Messrs. Millar, Son, and Co., 46, Pall Mall, London, have through our columns been advertising the above for sale by auction at Newtown on the 6th August. The Estate is to be offered in thirty-two lots and consists of sixteen farms, small holdings, and 11 cottage properties and valuable woodlands. A feature of the sale is the inclusion, with a shooting box, of two and half miles of trout fishing in the river Ithon, the shooting over the property being exceptionally good.

August 2nd 1918

Thinking about how to commemorate the War dead soon became a matter of interest and concern:

War Anniversary.


We note that Miss Christabel Parkhurst will be the chief speaker at the War Anniversary meeting in the Pavilion, Llandrindod Wells, on Sunday, when Sir A. Walsh (lord-lieutenant) will preside. The organiser”. hope also that Lord Ormathwaite will be in attendance, and, if well enough, lie will probably address the meeting. There will also be an evening meeting (7.30) at Penvbont, when Miss Parkhurst will again speak. Arrangements have also been made for a Knighton meeting on Monday evening (8 o’clock).

 August 1st 1918

In Llandrindod Wells the interest in a Radnorshire War Memorial came to the fore:

Radnorshire War Memorial.

A meeting was held at Llandrindod on Friday to consider proposals for a county war memorial. The Hon Sir Arthur Walsh, K.C.V.O., presided as lord lieutenant, and the speakers included Sir Francis Edwards, Major Thompson (high sheriff), Colonel Venables-Llewelyn Capt. the Hon. William Walsh, Major Murray, and Drs. Ackerley, Worthington and Morgan Evans. The meeting decided unanimously in favour of a scheme submitted by Col. Venables-Llewelyn for the re- building of the hospital at Llandrindod Wells. April 19th 1919

At about the same time Rev. Dr. Jordan was proposing a ‘War Shrine’ to commemorate those who were lost within the Parish:

The challenge of getting everyone recorded and the details correct was a difficult task. It was clear that there was no simple way as nobody knew all of the facts. It was reported that in Kington the approach was simply for people in the town to bring information to the Butchers Shop!

Nathan in his research came up, even at this late stage with:

  • Jones, David J, Private M/427214. Died of pneumonia 22/11/1918, aged 31, at Sydenham Hospital, London. Army Service Corps. Buried Llanbadarn Fawr (St Padarn) Churchyard. Royal Engineers. Son of David James Jones and Jane Jones, of Glandwr, Penybont. Not named on Penybont war memorial.
  • Jones, William Trevor, Private 260463. Died 04/10/1917 aged 18. Gloucestershire Regiment. Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium. Son of Owen Daniel Jones, of The Manse, Penybont, Radnorshire, and Annie Edith Jones. Not named on Penybont war memorial.
  • Mills, DJ, Private M2/174967. Died 19/11/1917 aged 32. Army Service Corps. Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery. Son of William Mills of Clewedog Cottage, Penybont station. Not named on Penybont war memorial.

The first of these, David Jones, died shortly after the Armistice and this ruled him out.

William Jones’s family had been in Penybont, but moved away, and he was clearly forgotten when the list was compiled.

DJ Mills’s address as Penybont Station referred to a wider District and he was probably a resident in Llanbister.

The Memorial in Penybont:

It carries the names as shown below:

Geraint has been drawing together as much information as he has been able to find out about these young people who died in the War. Tom Price, Blacksmith, was an initial source of information but he did not know everyone.

THOMAS BERRY                             Private in the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

Contracted diphtheria at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles Campaign.

Died on a hospital ship December 4th 1915. Age 19. Buried at sea. Service Number: 31062. Named on the Helles Memorial, Turkey.

Son of Henry and Mary Ann Berry, Holly Cottage, Llandrindod Wells.

He was a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church and Sunday School. A memorial service was held at Tabernacle. Had worked for Mr. H. Leckenby, Jeweller, Middleton Street.

HENRY BOTWOOD Private in the 1st Battalion Kings Shropshire Light                                                     Infantry.

                                    Killed June 11th 1916. Age not recorded.

                                    Service Number: 17969.

                                    Buried at Poperinghe Cemetery, Belgium.

                                    Lived at Cefn Farm.

Gold Medal presented to Henry Botwood’s mother by ‘Penybont and District. “1914-1918 Peace To our Brave Men”. And on the reverse: “To the Memory of Henry Botwood

 Killed in the Great War. From Penybont and District”.

  JOHN BRICK          Private iLight Infantry.

                                    Died of wounds in France. August 14th  1918. Age 19

                                    Buried at Esquelbeeg Military Cemetery, France.

                                    Son of John and Annie Brick,Little Rabber,   


GARNET BUFTON   Gunner in the 218th Siege Battery of the Royal  Garrison.

                                    Killed in action. May 6th 1918. Age 25

                                    Service Number: 74067

                                    Buried at BrandHoek New MilitaryCemetery No 3. 

                                          Poperinghe,    Belgium.

                                    Son of Edward and Sarah Bufton,Penybont Post 


                                    Husband of EA Bufton, (living later at 71, Holme   

                                       R East Ham, London.). He was also thefather of a  

                                  young  son.

                                    Educated at LlandrindodIntermediate  School he

                                     entered the Civil Service in the GPOLondon. He

                                      voluntarilyenlisted in  April  1916 and trained as a

                                    signaller. HisCommanding  Officer, writing to his

                                      widow, reported that he had been killed instantly

                                  and  that he was ‘very willing and cheerful

                                   and regarded as one  of my best men’.

                                    Hisbrother, Sgt. Alfred Bufton, also saw active

                                   service  in France.

BENJAMIN DAVIES Private in the 12th Battalion South Wales Borderers.

                                    Died from wounds November 23rd 1917. Age 19

                                    Service Number: 41265

                                    Buried at Cambrai Memorial Cemetery, Louverval,                                                     France.

                                    Youngest son of Mr Evan and MrsHarriet Davies,

                                     WoodsideCottage, Fron, Cross Gates. He had been

                                    an  employee of the L & N.W. RailwayCompany. He

                                   was a ‘constant attendant’ at the services at the

                                 Rock Baptist Church and a member of the


                                    His eldest brother Stanley had been wounded earlier                                                and lost the use of an arm. Two other brothers also                                                   served in France.

THOMAS DAVIES     (no record yet found)

EDWARD HOPE       Lance Corporal in the 38th (Welsh) Division Machine                                                 Gun Corps.

Killed August 22nd 1918. Age 21

                                    Service Number: 128131

                                    Buried at Varennes MilitaryCemetery, Somme,


                                     by the Chaplain of the 16th Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

                                    Major W Williamson wrote to his parents:“As my


                                     your son was all that a good soldier should be and

                                    Imiss him very much. Everyone with whom he


                                     has asked that their deepest sympathy be sentto


                                     in your loss. In your sorrow I pray that youwill


                                    consolationin the fact that Edward died doing his


                                    andthe example he set will go down with many


                                     I was in the line when your son was woundedand


                                    fromhis wounds. The transport line was bombed


                                     he was wounded. He was at once taken to hospital

                                    butdied of his wounds the next day. You son was a


                                     lad and we will miss him very much”

                                    Son of Aaron and Eliza Hope of Llandrindod Wells.

DAVID EVAN LEWIS            Private in the 6th Battalion Kings Shropshire                                                                Light Infantry.

                                                Killed in action March 3rd 1917. Age 34.

Service Number: 21404                                             Buried at Thiepval Cemetery, Somme, France.

Son of Evan and Ann Lewis, Red House, Fron, Cross Gates.

Husband of Selena Lewis, 1, Boundary Terrace, Llandrindod Wells. Father of two children.

He was a carpenter by trade and also worked as a postman. Formerly employed at the  Llanfawr Quarry.

His Commander, Lieut R C Craigie writing to his widow says: “He was killed on the afternoon of  the 3rd at about 4 o’clock. He was  in the front line when a shell landed in the trench. He was killed instantly. He was ‘one of the best.’”

His name is also recorded on the grave of his parents at the Rock Chapel “also David, son of the above, killed in action in France. March 3rd 1917 Aged 34 years. Duty Done”

JOHN LLEWELLYN             Private in the Welsh Regiment.

                                      Died of wounds October 28th 1917 Aged 21

Died at 54 Casualty Clearing Station, France, and buried  there. Rev E Ellis Williams, Church of England Chaplain wrote to his mother: “It is with the deepest regret that I have to inform you that poor John passed away yesterday evening. His end was painless and quite peaceful. I buried him today at 3.30 p.m. in our cemetery in the presence of some of his comrades. I shall long remember John Llewellyn and shall always think of him as a brave, honest and God-fearing young man, and you will have every reason to be proud of his memory”. His mother, Mrs J Davies, lived at the Nursery, Cefnllys, where John had been brought up. He was also in farm service at Llanrithol, Howey. The local newspaper report of his death states: “Being a young man of fine physique he would          probably have joined the Radnorshire Constabulary if war had not broken out”.

(Newspaper cuttings recording his death were found in a maid’s bedroom in Llanddewi hall.)

GEORGE LUCAS     Private in the 1st Battalion Kings Shropshire Light                                                     Infantry.

                                    Killed in action December 1st 1917.

                                    Service Number: 22206

                                    Buried at Cambrai Memorial Cemetery, Louverval,                                                     France.

                                    Son of William and Sarah Ann Lucas, later living at                                                    Baynham Farm, Knighton.

REGINALD MILLS   Reported killed in the Radnor Express of December 20th                                           1917.

Private. Killed instantly in action in France on November 27th 1917.

                                    Son of Mr & Mrs Mills, Baileymawr, Penybont.

His company officer wrote: “It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of your son in action on November 27th.  It is perhaps some small consolation to you to know that he was killed instantly, and can have suffered no pain. All the officers and men of B Company send their warmest and deepest sympathy to you in your sad bereavement. Please console yourselves by knowing that he did his duty.”

IVOR OWENS           Private in the 1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment.

                                    Died of pneumonia in training at Oswestry Camp                                                       February 2nd 1917. Age 18

                                    Service Number: 239043

Buried at Llandegley Church. Hisbody was brought by                                 train to Penybont Station andcarried with a military                                guard of honour forburial at Llandegley. The service at                             the grave was conducted by Rev.Watkin Jones, Baptist                                 Minister, Presteigne. The ‘LastPost’ was sounded by                                      buglers from his regiment. The RevStephen Williams,                                RD, Vicar was also present. Local arrangements were                                   made by the Central Wales Emporium under the                         

direction of Mr William ThomasBuried at Llandegley Church. Hisbody was brought by train to Penybont Station and carried with a military  guard of honour forburial at Llandegley. The service at                            the grave was conducted by Rev.Watkin Jones, Baptist                                 Minister, Presteigne. The ‘LastPost’ was sounded by                                 buglers from his regiment. The RevStephen Williams,                                  RD, Vicar was also present. Localarrangements were                                   made by the Central Wales Emporium under the                                           direction of Mr William Thomas.

                  Son of Mr J W Owens J.P. and MrsM Owens, Llanevan.

               Born at Llanevan, Llandegley. Helived before going to                the army at The Moors, Presteigne.

JOHN REES OWENS           Private in the 25th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

                                                Killed in action September 21st 1918. at Gauzaucourt                                                Wood. Age 21

                                                Service Number: 355456

                                                Cwmyrhendy, Penybont.

HENRY PRINCE        Private 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers.

                                    Killed April 15th 1918. Age 26

                                    Service Number: 29802

                                    Buried at Ploegstoert Memorial Cemetery, Belgium.

                                    Second Son of Daniel and Mary Prince, Pales Villa,                                                    Penybont.

                                    Born at Barrington,Herefordshire. Prior to the

                                    War  she  was in farm service.

                                    He was a member of the Baptist Church, baptised by                                                Rev D G Miller, Minister at Gravel Chapel.

CHARLES PRITCHARD      Private in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards.

Died of pneumonia February 14th 1917. Age 23

                                                Service Number: 25621

                                                Buried at Grove Town Cemetery, Meaulte,    Somme,  France.

                                                Son of William andFortune Pritchard, Hill House, Penybont.

A letter written to his mother on February 15th by the Sister-in-charge of No. 34 Casualty Clearing Station, British Expeditionary Force says: ‘ your son Pte Pritchard came into this hospital with acute pneumonia last evening and passed away early this morning. I asked him if he had any message for you, but I do not think he understood, he was so very ill. I am so sorry I could not save him for you’.

Pritchard Squad

GILES SWANCOTT             Private 10th Battalion Border Regiment.

                                                Killed November 11th 1916.

                                                Service Number: 54431

                                                Buriedat Thiepval memorial Cemetery, Somme, France.

JAMES TUNLEY      Private 11th Battalion Border Regiment.

Killed April 1st 1917 at the village of Savy. Aged 31.

                                                Service Number: 27825

                                                Buried at Savy British Cemetery, Aisne, France.

                                                Son of Nathaniel and Harriet Tunley, Pentre Farm,

                                                 Cefnllys and earlier of Midway Villa. One of

                                                brothers in the armed forces.

HENRY VICKERY                 Son of John Vickery, headmaster of Llandegley School

                                                1902 – 1919. Killed October 7th 1916. Queens Surry

                                                Regt. Thiepval Memorial.

Geraint finished his talk with a few slides about the excellent Centenary exhibition at the Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod.

A huge amount of work has been done, and continues to be done, to convey the enormity of the impact of the War on Radnorshire and this area in particular.

Pte. Harold Whitfield K.S.L.I.; VC

But the final honour went to Pte. Harold Whitfield K.S.L.I. eho was awarded the Victoria Cross:

He was 31 years old, and a private in the 10th Battalion, The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 10 March 1918 at Burj El Lisaneh, Egypt, during the first of three counter-attacks made by the enemy on the position which had just been captured by his battalion, Private Whitfield, single-handed, charged and captured a Lewis gun, killed the whole gun team and turned the gun on the enemy, driving them back with heavy casualties. Later he organised and led a bombing attack on the enemy, again inflicting many casualties and by establishing his party in their position saved many lives and materially assisted in the defeat of the counter-attack.

Pte. Whitfield does not appear on any War Memorial as he survived the War and died in 1931.

Derek thanked Geraint and Catherine for an excellent morning that gave an extraordinary insight into the impact of the War on the District.

Do not forget to bring items of local interest to our December meeting on Monday, 3rd December.

Penybont and District History Group Notes 3rd September 2018 Main Topic: A History of Rock Baptist Chapel – Revd. John Davies

Derek opened the Meeting welcoming everyone back after the summer break. As Geraint was present, Derek made a brief reference to the fact that Rosemary, Geraint’s wife, passed away last week-end, and to compound the challenges faced by Geraint, his daughter had had a heart attack about 3 weeks ago and is currently in a coma. Rosemary had given a talk to the group 1st September 2014: “A History of Medicine and Social Care in the Penybont Area given by Sister Rosemary Hughes S.R.N.  A card signed by members present was given to Geraint.

Derek also told the group that Richard Davies had had a ‘mild’ stroke a few days ago and Mary was unsure about how he was doing due to the fact that there were no Consultants on duty over the week-end. A card was signed by members to be sent to Richard.

Derek told of a coach visit from Carmarthen to the Thomas Shop. An elderly man had approached him during the visit to say that he had taken part in the Trotting Race Day in Penybont 66 years previously. He was not on horseback however but in a motorbike sidecar. He said that at that time the horse racing was combined with motor bikes.

Geraint then introduced our speaker, Revd. John Davies. Despite everything going on for Geraint he wanted to introduce John who he described a close friend who had done a lot for ecumenical Church activities locally. In particular John has had a very close connection with the Parish Church, Llanbadarn Fawr. John lives in Llanidloes and to serve the Rock he travels regularly to the area. Rock Chapel has been very closely tied up with the history of the village and, in the not too distant past, there were over 100 in the congregation. Geraint referred to the 2 Deacons of Rock Chapel who were present describing them as ‘acolytes’ – Ray Price, who of course lives here in Penybont, and David Davies. The importance of David to the Rock was highlighted by Rosemary when she heard David Davies (the Brexit Secretary) had resigned, Rosemary’s response was: How will the Rock manage?!

Main Topic: History of Rock Baptist Chapel (Based on Notes provided by Revd. John Davies)

John opened by acknowledging the health problems and the sad loss of Rosemary. He himself has his own health challenges as he is waiting for Heart surgery.

History is clearly a passion for John and he started his talk with a few quotations:

Viscount Alexis de Tocqueville, 1805 – 1859, an advocate of liberal democracy in France, and also America,  said: ‘ When the past no longer illuminates the future the spirit walks in darkness’.

George Santayana, 1863 – 1952, was an American atheist, with a Spanish passport who said: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ George remarkably supported a number of philosophical writers including Bertrand Russell, whose views he fundamentally rejected.

Cicero, 106BC – 43BC, the Roman Statesman and Philosopher, of whom it was said, “the influence of Cicero upon the history of European literature and ideas greatly exceeds that of any other prose writer in any language”, said: ‘History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illuminates reality; it vitalizes memory; it provides guidance in daily life; and brings us tidings of antiquity.’

R.G. Collingwood, 1889 – 1943, an English philosopher, historian and archaeologist wrote: ‘The value of history is that it teaches us what man has done and thus what man is.’

John himself added that in talking to us, as a History Group, he assumed we are all here because, like those writers, we believe that history is important for us to understand where we are now, and to learn from the past so that as we move forward, hopefully we will not make the mistakes of the past.

John explained that he would start with a brief outline of his own life and how he came to be Minister at Rock Chapel, before taking us through the history of the Chapel, and, while taking us through the History of Rock Chapel, he would tell a few short stories – Faded goods; the Scotsman playing his bagpipes; the miser and his money; etc.

At this point John looked up, and spotted Holly, and remembered her singing so beautifully in Rock Chapel.

  1. John’s Story

John comes from a long line of Ministers. His Great-great grandfather was noted for his ministry, and for his 18 children. His grandfather had just 2 children but both joined the ministry. He was born in Cardiff where his father, Penry Davies, was a Minister. Around the time of John’s birth, his father became seriously unwell and was determined to get out of Cardiff. John, at 2 yrs. old, moved to Sarn, just outside Newtown in the Parish of Ceri, where his father once again became the Minister. Sarn Chapel also has an interesting History: see:

It was then on to Ewyas Harold in Herefordshire, at the age of 11yrs, which is within the Golden Valley. This is a Welsh Marches community that shares some Norman history with Cefnllys.

John felt called to the Ministry at the age of 15yrs and was taking services before his 16th birthday and was commended for Ministerial training by the Hereford and Gloucester Association. In 1961 the family moved to Walsall in the West Midlands where John’s father served for 12 years as Minister. John did his A’ levels in History, English and Latin and sat the entrance exam for SWBC.  So in 1963 John embarked on 7 years training in Cardiff taking a BA (Hons) degree in Philosophy, Classical Greek, and Hebrew and Semitic Languages (15 three hour exams). Not satisfied with the 15 exams he embarked on postgraduate study for his B.D. – this involved a further 21 three hour exams. He then stayed on for a further year to complete a Master’s Degree in O.T. work.

During these 7 years of study John would be expected to study Pastoral Care and Baptist History, and then be sent out each Sunday to preach around South Wales. On one of his summer ‘breaks’ he did a further 3 months of study in Zurich, Switzerland.

John’s first calling was to the Rhondda where he spent 4 very hard years serving 4 churches in the Valley. In his last year John added to his qualifications and studied for a PGCE with a view to taking up a part-time teaching post to supplement his Ministerial salary, which was very little at that time. Now married to Glain, and with a baby daughter, and no Health Visitor’s jobs in the Rhondda, John decided to apply for a job as Head of RE at Llanidloes High School. He had a somewhat formidable interview, faced by 20 governors, but he was offered the job. John was to each at Llanidloes High School for the next 23 years. Alongside his teaching commitments John supported churches across Mid-Wales in any way he could. He had oversight of Newchapel and Cwmbelan for a number of years. He became fully integrated into the Llanidloes community becoming a Town Councillor in 1985, and served as Mayor from 1992-4. He was a governor of the Primary school and ran a junior football team for a few years. With his teaching and ministerial duties it was not surprising the John was appointed to County Committees including Powys SACRE (Powys Standing Advisory Council    on Religious Education). In addition to his teaching commitments, teaching up to and including A’ levels, John marked GCSE and A’ level papers for a few years. He took full school assemblies for 9 years, which meant conducting a short act of Christian worship for 650 eleven to eighteen year olds.

In 1997 John became mentally and physically exhausted under the pressures of having a headmaster who had no time for RE (hence the reason for taking the school assemblies, and when he discontinued A ‘level RE, John took early retirement. Eventually John was able to start taking services again and had oversight of the Congregational Chapel in Llanidloes for a year. It was then that John was approached about becoming the Minister for Rock and Dolau. John has always attempted to serve these churches to the best of his ability and it was not long before he was presiding over weddings and funerals in other churches in Radnorshire, including virtually all the funerals at Rhayader Baptist Church. During this period John became Superintendent of the churches in Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire, a post he held for 5 years.

  1. History of Rock Chapel

In thinking about Rock Chapel we must look back over 300 years or so and look briefly at the period that gave rise to the Rock and the Baptists in this area. The 16th and 17th centuries were centuries of turmoil and especially for religion. Henry VIII broke with Rome and established the Church of England and this brought Reformation ideas from Europe to Britain. During the 1530’s Henry destroyed the monasteries in Britain, including the Abbey at Abbeycwmhir. During the 17th century there was a great religious ferment in the country; as at one time RC was popular; then Protestantism, in the guise of the Church of England, was in vogue; then the Puritan and Separatist groups, during and after the Civil War; then back to the C of E; back to RC; and then Protestantism in the form of Non-conformity took hold.

When the Monarchy was restored with Charles II, in the 1660’s, draconian laws, known as the Clarendon Code were passed.

“The Code was named for Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, who was Charles II’s Lord Chancellor. Clarendon enforced the laws despite his personal opposition to many of the provisions of the Code.

Corporation Act (1661)

This first of the four statutes which made up the Clarendon Code required all municipal officials to take Anglican communion, formally reject the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The effect of this act was to exclude Nonconformists from public office.

Act of Uniformity (1662)

This second statute made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious service. Upwards of 2000 clergy refused to comply with this act, and were forced to resign their livings.

Coventicle Act (1664)

This act forbade coventicles (a meeting for unauthorized worship) of more than 5 people who were not members of the same household. The purpose was to prevent dissenting religious groups from meeting.

Five-Mile Act (1665)

This final act of the Clarendon Code was aimed at Nonconformist ministers, who were forbidden from coming within 5 miles of incorporated towns or the place of their former livings. They were also forbidden to teach in schools. This act was not rescinded until 1812.

Effect of the Code

The Clarendon Code effectively ended any possibility of the Anglican Church and Nonconformists coming together under one religious and social banner. The religions of Britain were deeply polarized, and religious intolerance would be an ever-present feature of British life for at least the next century.”

This meant that people who did not attend communion regularly in the C of E, or who were caught preaching, could be fined, have property confiscated, and even be imprisoned. It was not until 1689, after William of Orange and Mary, became King and Queen, in 1688, that the Toleration Act was passed.

“The Toleration Act 1689 (1 Will & Mary c 18), also referred to as the Act of Toleration,[3] was an Act of the Parliament of England, which received the royal assent on 24 May 1689.[4][5]

The Act allowed freedom of worship to nonconformists who had pledged to the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy and rejected transubstantiation, i.e., Protestants who dissented from the Church of England such as Baptists, Congregationalists or English Presbyterians, but not to Roman Catholics. Nonconformists were allowed their own places of worship and their own schoolteachers, so long as they accepted certain oaths of allegiance.

The Act intentionally did not apply to Roman Catholics, nontrinitarians,[6] and atheists.[7] It continued the existing social and political disabilities for dissenters, including their exclusion from holding political offices and also from the universities. Dissenters were required to register their meeting houses and were forbidden from meeting in private homes. Any preachers who dissented had to be licensed.”

This made it a little easier for Non-conformists, or separatists as they were sometimes called. They wanted to get back to Bible Study and worshipping as they thought fit.

In 1646 a young man named Hugh Evans, whom it is thought hailed from Llanyre, went on a preaching tour of Radnorshire. He had spent some time in Worcester, training to be a clothier (outfitter). He moved to Coventry where he became a member of the Baptist Church in the city. He later became a student under the guidance of Jeremiah Ives, Minister of Old Jewry, in London.

“EVANS , HUGH (d. 1656 ), General (i.e. Arminian) Baptist .

Details of his early life are wanting; some years before the Civil War he was clothier’s apprentice at Worcester . He moved to Coventry and ostensibly made a visit to London to see Jeremiah Ives , minister of the Old Jewry Arminians , and both proceeded to Wales (about 1646 ), full of the new gospel of general redemption but close communion. Their sphere of labour was mainly in Radnorshire — the parishes of Llan-hir , Cefnllys , Nantmel , Llanddewi Ystradenny — but included districts across the upper Wye in Brecknock . Ives returned to England , but Evans went on propagating his doctrines, aided by half-a-dozen other preachers , till his death in 1656 . These Arminians were fortified by a confession of faith drawn up in the Midlands in 1651 , but applying also to Wales , and by the salaries paid some of their preachers as itinerants under the Propagation Act of 1650 (one of them, John Prosser , was for a time Puritan schoolmaster at Talgarth ). But the Quaker invasions wrought sad havoc in their ranks; a Quaker named John Moon made a vicious attack upon the Arminian Baptists of Radnor in a pamphlet; and it is in a vigorous rejoinder by two followers of Hugh Evans — The Sun outshining the Moon — that we get the most authoritative account of the dead leader’s life and activities.”

Both came on a preaching tour of Radnorshire, but when Jeremiah returned to London, Hugh remained, giving up his material prospects. He preached in the area for some 10 years. He established a congregation of Baptists at Cwmfaerdy, near Abbeycwmhir, with some of his followers arounf 1660. Cwmfaerdy was built by the monks of Abbeycwmhir. Hugh Evans was essentially a General Baptist who followed Arminian views and believed in general election as opposed to Calvin’s particular election.


Election refers to the concept of how people are chosen for salvation. Calvinists believe election is unconditional, while Arminians believe election is conditional.

Calvinism: Before the foundation of the world, God unconditionally chose (or “elected”) some to be saved. Election has nothing to do with man’s future response. The elect are chosen by God.

Arminianism: Election is based on God’s foreknowledge of those who would believe in him through faith. In other words, God elected those who would choose him of their own free will. Conditional election is based on man’s response to God’s offer of salvation.”

Vavasor Powell, another evangelist who spent much time preaching at Garthfawr in Montgomeryshire was a Particular Baptist (Calvinist). Hugh Evans faced great persecution from the Quakers at the Pales. John Moon wrote a scathing article about him which was answered by 2 articles by John Price of Maesygelli, Nantmel, and William Bound of Garthfawr, who were great supporters and helpers of Hugh Evans.

“Welsh Quakerism

In the north of England George Fox was very successful in his pilgrimages recruiting people to the ‘Children of Light’. A Welsh convert, John ap John of Ruabon, returned to his native land determined to spread the word. By bringing in well known English Quakers he converted many Baptists, and in 1657 he toured Wales with Fox himself preaching to thousands. Many were recruited into new congregations, but Fox met with hostility also and he was convinced that there were murderous plots being hatched against him in Brecon.

Welsh Quakerism at this time was a militant creed, antagonistic towards the established church and willing to confront its opponents. Quakers would interrupt church services, refuse to pay tithes,or doff their hats to their ‘betters’. This challenge to secular authority brought them into direct conflict with the authorities, and many were locked up. Puritans from other sects resented their success and violent clashes were not infrequent. Vavasor Powell took on leading Quakers in Radnorshire in public debates.”

It is not known where Hugh Evans was buried, but on his death a member of the congregation, Henry Gregory, who had a farm at Llanddewi Ystradeny came forward and was encouraged to lead the church at Cwmfaerdy. It is possible that Henry Gregory may have been imprisoned for a time, but he certainly suffered greatly for his preaching. On one occasion his persecutors took all his cattle except one, they left one as a mockery to him so that his children could have milk. Not long afterwards they stole the remaining cow when Henry was away from home. Members of the congregation came to the family’s aid. It would appear that all his persecutors met tragic ends to their lives!

The Toleration Act of 1689 meant that all meeting houses had to be registered in the court of the Bishop or Archdeacon. Henry Gregory died in 1700. He had by then several assistants in ministry: Peter Davies and Thomas Evans of Pentre (Newbridge); and Francis Davies from Cwnfaerdy. One of Thomas Evans’s sons, Caleb, also preached, and one Francis Davies’s sons Nathan (a wild lad who had a dramatic conversion) became a leading minister at Cwmfaerdy, with Caleb assisting him. Nathan was ordained in 1703. Caleb lived near Pentre and looked after the group living in that area who all belonged to Cwmfaerdy fellowship.

About 1717 there was a huge split as one member of the Pentre Group stole an employee from a member of the Cwmfaerdy Group. It was not until 1721 that this rift was healed with support from the Association. The Cwmfaerdy Group then moved to Rock in that year when Stephen Price, a member at Cwmfaerdy, donated the building there for worship. It was described as a ‘tenement in a country place’: part of it was fitted up for a ‘meeting house’, with the rest being a ‘dwelling house’. There was also a stable, a garden for the house and for a graveyard, and the site included a 2 acres of land. He also gave £100 to maintain a Minister.

Nathan Davies died in 1726 and was buried at Rock, and by 1727 there was a further split with Pentre. There was at this time some uneasiness between the 2 groups over the £100 that was meant to mantian the Minister. Rock claimed the £100, but Pentre claimed £40 of this as Stephen Price, during his lifetime, had paid part of the interest on the money to them. The matter was eventually settled with Rock having £60 and Pentre £40. Later, when the cause at Rock weakened, due to lack of English preaching, the £60 was taken to Dolau, and it is said that it was used to help buy New Inn Farm for the benefit of Dolau. The upshot of this was that Rock lost the whole of the £100. Stephen Price died in 1743 and was buried at Rock. Caleb Evans was also buried at Rock.

Following the death of Nathan Davies the new Minister at Rock in 1727 was Roger Walker who came from Herefordshire and bought Dolau Farm in Nantmel. He registered this property as a meeting house for Baptists. Despite this he married Nathan Davies’s daughter, and she taught him Welsh so that he could preach in the Welsh language. He lived at Rock House, and his son farmed Dolau Farm towards the latter part of his life. In his Will he insisted that his son should build a Chapel for the Baptists in Nantmel to worship in opposite Dolau Farm. He died in 1748 and was buried at Rock. Roger Walker’s assistant, Thomas Davies, took over from him at the Rock. Seven years later, in 1756, he decided to move to a farm in Monmouthshire, but when he went to visit the farm he became ill and died before he could move there. John said that by reputation he was not liked as a preacher, but was a worthy Minister.

In the same year Richard Davies of Rhayader, who had been a Presbyterian but became a Baptist, came to Rock as Minister.  He resigned in 1768 because many of the members felt that their Minister was leading a life of immorality. At this point the Rock members started to worship at Dolau, in the recently built chapel(1761), under the ministry of Rev. David Evans. After a time James Griffiths of Esgairewy Farm, an assistant preacher, began taking services at Rock, and in 1800 David Evans, the son of David Evans of Dolau, became Minister for Rock and Dolau. He was instrumental in building a new chapel at Rock, built entirely of wood, in 1806. It was a barn-like structure in appearance. David Evans extended the chapel in his later years, lengthening it and adding a second gallery. It had a low roof and small windows. David served Rock and Dolau diligently and also established causes at Bleddfa, Llanddewy, Pilleth, Presteigne, Rhiwe, and Kington. He also went on preaching tours of North Wales establishing groups there. Added to all of this he was a famer who travelled around on horseback. After his death, in 1828, Rock and Dolau agreed to separate. They had both grown such that the members needed their own Minister.

Rev. James Jones became the next Minister at Rock in 1829. He had been brought up at Brondrer Fawr Farm near Bwlch-y-Sarnau. Rev. James married Mary Jones of Oldcastle Farm where they lived for a while before occupying Coedmawr Farm in Bettws and finally settling at Lower Trelowgoed, Cefnllys where they rented the property from Rev. James Donne, an Anglican Vicar. James Donne later became a Baptist and worshiped at Rock.

Mary Jones sadly died suddenly before James undertook his ministry in 1814. They had 4 children. In 1818 James married Charlotte Meredith, of Rhyleen Farm in Penybont. They were happily married for 42 years and had 3 children. James served Rock faithfully for 32 years and preached at Franksbridge, Cwmgwillim, Newchurch, Gladesbury, at Himms Farm in New Radnor, Bleddfa, Llanfiangel-Rhydithon, and Llanddewy Ystradenny. One of their children, John Jones, was encouraged in his preaching by Rev. James Donne, at Trelowgoed Farm, and became Minister at Rock.  The family moved to Rock in 1843 after a cottage was built for them. The old thatched house had become dilapidated and, having had a few legacies left to the Chapel totalling £80, the new cottage was completed in 1842. It has been described as a small, and not very serviceable manse. The annual interest on the £80, of £4 was paid to the Minister. James Jones died in 1860. His son John who had studied for the ministry at Pontypool Baptist College, and was Minister at Towcester, struggled to get back to Rock for his father’s funeral, and was rewarded by being offered the Minister’s job at Rock. He turned down this opportunity as the decision to offer him the post was not unanimous.

In 1861the Rev. W. Evans, who had just recently left the College at Pontypool, became the next Minister. When the new Minister started at Rock his wife found the house to be too isolated and hated being there alone when her husband was away. They only stayed at Rock for 4 months. John Jones was again invited to become Minister and this time accepted the Call. He lived in Kington for some of the time as he found the cottage too small for their family of 5 children. His wife, who was somewhat frail, ran a school for girls to supplement the Minister’s meagre salary. Sadly she died when she was just 39 years in 1864. John persevered in his ministry, travelling around on horseback from Kington and over the Radnor Forest. In 1866 it was agreed to take down the old Chapel and rebuild it. When a Thomas Pugh of Glanithan, and a member of Rock, died he left £50 towards the building of the new Chapel. The foundation stone was laid in 1866 by Mr. Chapman, who was secretary to the company building the Central Wales Railway. He was extremely helpful in getting the materials to Penybont by rail. A special service was held on 13th and 14th June 1867 to celebrate the opening of the new Chapel. It was then decided to enlarge the Minister’s house and in 1867 John Jones and his family moved to Rock. The cost of the extension was £600. John Jones had raised most of this money himself on his travels through seven counties in Wales and 12 counties in England. James Griffiths, of Cefn-y-Coed Farm, a faithful member of Rock, had had the original deeds for Rock, but the house burnt down and all the paper work was lost. A new trust deed was drawn up by John Jenkins, a solicitor from Llanidloes, in 1872. A dispute emerged between John Jones and the Trustees over the grazing of his horse in Chapel field and renting Chapel House. In the end the dispute was settled when John agreed to pay £10 a year to cover his rent and grazing for the horse.

James Griffiths, as above, held services and started a Sunday school at Cefn-y-Coed Farm, and with help from John Jones the Sunday school flourished. Eventually the school was moved to Rock and in 1892 there were 124 scholars attending the Sunday school. In 1873, with help from A. Walsh MP, J.P. Severn of Penybont, S.C.A. Williams of Rhayader, and some money from the Bible Class, John Jones established a Library at Rock, the first such facility in the area. There were 1159 books in the library and each family that used the facility paid 6d per year. John Jones ended his ministry in June 1891, and he died in 1907 having established the Tabernacle Baptist Chapel in Llandrindod Wells. He was greatly loved by people throughout the area.

In 1892 Rev. John Roberts served Rock and Howey until 1894.

In 1895 Rev. David Thomas from Haverford West served Rock until 1899.

In 1904 Rev. William D. Young became Minister and he served until his death in 1922. One of the people that he baptised at Rock, Richard Jones, became a Baptist Minister.

In 1923 the schoolroom was built to accommodate the increasing number of children attending Rock.

From 1925 until his death, in 1927, Rev. David Morgan Davies was Minister at Rock.

In 1930 Rev. Fredrick Legge, a former student of the South Wales Training Institute, became Minister at Rock. The work thrived under his ministry, but he was called to serve in Nottingham in 1933.

Between 1933 and 1939 Rev. P.L. Philipps was Minister at Rock.

In 1940 Rev. Evan Richard Jones came to Rock from Bwlch-y-Sarnau. Unfortunately his ministry was very short and he died in 1941. His son Islwyn, who is now 95 years, is a resident at Spa Residential Home in Llandrindod Wells. He is still a Deacon at Rock.

In December 1942 he Rev. Hugh Price Jones was ordained and inducted to ministry at Rock. He had attended Ilston Preparatory College in Swansea. On 1944 he accepted a call to Water Street in Port Talbot. During his time at Rock his wife passed away and he married one of the daughters of Mr. C.D. Venables.

In 1946 Rev. Trevor Dacey became Minister and worked faithfully until 1952 when he resigned the pastorate.

In 1954 Rev. Hector Jones became Minister at Rock until 1972. He was Welsh speaking, coming from Kidwelly area of Carmarthenshire, and had worked in the coal mining industry for 20 years before entering the ministry. He was President of the Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire Baptist Association 1969 – 1970. He was a greatly loved Minister in the area. He passed away in 1977 having gone to live with his daughter and her family in Manchester. His daughter is still a member at Rock albeit she is still living in Manchester. John was able to say that he knew Geraint Hughes had a great respect for Hector because they served together in Crossgates, and the two churches , Llanbadarnfawr and Rock, have worked very closely together ever since, if not before.

In 1972 a call was given to Rev. Michael Shepherd to come to Rock from Resolven. He accepted the invitation and served Rock and Bwlch-y-Sarnau until 1976. While in pastorate he also worked for ‘Help the Aged’ and in 1976 he resigned the pastorate to take up a post with the Probation Service.

Between 1976 and 1992 there was no Minister at Rock although the Chapel was served once a month by Rev Maurice Heath of Tabernacle Llandrindod Wells, who conducted communion services at the Chapel. Other Ministers, including John himself, would take services on Sunday afternoons.

John has been going to Rock since 1976 before taking up the Pastorate at Rock and Dolau.

In 1992 Rev. Michael Jones, who was the son of Rev. Hugh Price Jones, became Minister at Rock. He came to Rock from the South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff where he trained for the ministry. Hugh came back to Rock in 1992 to celebrate 50 years in the ministry. Michael resigned in 1999 to take up a pastorate in Wiltshire. He has since retired and moved to Bury St. Edmunds.

Rock has had a strong Sunday school over the years with Sunday School Anniversaries being one of the highlights of the year. It also has had a vibrant Sisterhood for many years with ladies raising a lot of money to help the Chapel. When John started they used to have a Sale of Work in the old school in Crossgates, but after a few years it was discontinued. They held Sankey evenings until about 2 years ago at Rock with some wonderful soloists and instrumentalists taking part, sadly as the Church has weakened these have also ceased. During John’s time at Rock, he has been very involved in CYTUN (Christian Unity Efforts in Wales) and they have held services at Rock from time to time in conjunction with CYTUN. One of the highlights of the year for John and for the congregations of Rock and Dolau were the ‘pilgrimages’ to places of religious and historic interest. The group have been to St Mary’s Church at Pilleth and on to the Judges Lodgings for tea, Capel-y-Fin, Mary Jones’s Church at Abergynolwyn, and many others. Rock has experienced the best and worst of times, but earlier this year it was thought that it might have to close, with an aging congregation and no officers in post. At present John is holding the Secretary and Treasurer positions as there is no one able or willing to take up these responsibilities. However, it is hoped that with local support it will be possible to carry on after the end of this year, albeit John will be stepping down after 19 years of service. Rock has one of the best kept cemeteries in the area, thanks to the hard work of the caretaker. John finished by reminding us that the views from Rock are still wonderful.

Questions and Comments

Elizabeth asked about the American connection as she knows of people in North Carolina who trace their roots back to Radnorshire. John knew of the link but had not explored this dimension. John did get a number of people coming to Rock in search of their ancestors.

Marion said that the Quakers had gone out first and Baptists often followed. Many Baptists settled in Pennsylvania alongside the early Quakers.

There was a question about when the Welsh language might have died out at Rock. John said that it stopped being the language to preach in around 1850.

There was some discussion about Hector Jones as many of the members had distinctive memories of him.  Geraint remembered him fondly and saw him as a pioneer bringing the Churches together. One member saw him as ‘fearsome’ but Judy remembered how he had calmed a distraught child.

There was some discussion about the decline of the church/chapel, the loss of Christian values.

It was felt that TV was a culprit; members could remember when they would go to Chapel 3 times on a Sunday.

One member felt that it was the Forsyth Saga that had the biggest impact.

Derek showed to the members a Poster for a Rock Chapel Anniversary event and one member told the group how much, as a child, she had looked forward to these events. It really was the highlight of the year. Members remembered getting a new dress to go, they were very special times.

Geraint thanked John for a most excellent talk.

Next Meeting will be on 1st October at 10.30 a.m. at the Thomas Shop.

Maureen Lloyd will be talking on the topic of: ‘From Waste to Farm: – Encroachment and Enclosure in this locality’













Penybont and District History Group Notes 2nd July 2018 Meeting Main Topic: A Walk Around Cefnllys Castle – Led by Rev. Geraint Hughes

About 20 people gathered at the Thomas Shop and Geraint gave a short introduction to the history of the Castles at Cefnllys.

Dinieithon Castle, the Citadel above the Ithon, or even the Old Cefnllys Castle, was, according to the historical records at a site a 1 mile north of Cefnllys.  Built by Ralph de Mortimer, in 1090, one of a long line of Mortimer Marcher Lords, it was destroyed by Madog ab Idnerth around 1130. There was some discussion about the use of the term ‘Citadel’ for this site, when this word would better describe the aspect of the Cefnllys site. There are also questions that can be raised about whether, or not, there had been older castles on the Cefnllys site.

An understanding is however that the early castle having been destroyed might have been rebuilt in 1165, as there was a reference to the Castle in 1179.

The alternative view is that there may have been an older castle at Cefnllys, and that the early name for this castle was Dinieithon. Certainly the Cefnllys site located high up above the Ithon, and almost surrounded by the river, and it is much more suited to the name than the site that is marked on the map as Dinieithon.

In 2006 the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales published their findings on Cefnllys Castle.

In this document Brown and Pearson give considerable detail about the Geography and History of the site with many diagrams and pictures. Also worth reading is:


The Cefnllys Castle site is situated on a mound known as Castle Bank in what was considered quite a strategic position high up above the Ithon at about 1000 feet. The river swings around Castle Bank on three sides with steep slopes up to the top. It would appear that the site might have been popular with the Welsh prior to the 12th century but it was the English, the Mortimer’s, a Norman family and Marcher Lords, that made the most use of it in trying to tame the ‘marauding Welsh bands’ as referred to in a letter written by the Bishop of Hereford to King Henry lll, in 1263.

It was however in 1241 that Ralph Mortimer, having been given rights over Maelienydd by King Henry lll in the previous year, and following the death of Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, who began to assert his authority over the area. This move away from Welsh Princes’s authority in Maelienydd did not go down well with local inhabitants and a rebellion was led by Dayfydd ap Llywelyn of Gwynedd.  This attempt to restore Welsh sovereignty failed. As part of consolidating his hold over Maelienydd, Ralph built the first of the Cefnllys castles in 1242.

Llywelyn ap Gruffudd did not consider this the end of the matter and by 1267, having regained, and destroyed, Cefnllys Castle, after a siege, from Roger Mortimer, Llywellyn had control over Maelienydd, agreed with the new King Edward l, Roger was allowed to repair the Cefnllys Castle. This only led to further friction as Roger interpreted this act of conciliation as an opportunity to build a much more substantial castle.

By 1282, when Roger died and his heir Edmund took over control of the castle, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the meddling of the Mortimer’s in lives of the people in Maelienydd. In 1297 Edmund decided to try and reduce tensions by allowing for the traditional rights of the area to be managed under the court at Cymaron, provided that there was no future dispute over the demesne of the castles at Cefnllys. Edmund died in 1304 allowing his son Roger, a minor, to take control. Roger however lost his rights 1322 when he backed a rebellion against King Edward ll by Thomas Earl of Lancaster. At this point the King turned to Gruffudd ap Rhys. Roger was imprisoned in the tower, sentenced to death, then given life imprisonment, and subsequently escaped. In 1326 Roger defeated the King and regained possession of his lands. This was short lived when he in turn was defeated and beheaded in 1330.

In 1331 the King gave back Cefllys to Roger’s son Edmund, who promptly died by 1332. His widow Elizabeth was, with her subsequent new husband William de Bohun, then took over the management. Under Elizabeth’s patronage there is reference to Cefnllys town and a blacksmith making shackles for the prison. She died in 1356 and everything past to her son Roger, who in turn died by 1360 in France.

Philippa, Roger’s mother, was given charge of Maelienydd later in 1360, and she held this until her death in 1381. Roger’s son, Edmund, also died in 1381, in Ireland. Edmund’s son, Roger was a minor and was unable to take over the responsibilities until 1394. By 1398 he had also met his death in Ireland.

The twisting fortunes of the Mortimer family continued with Roger’s son Edmund being a minor. In 1401 the Welsh rebels were again active with Owain Glyndwr leading the way. There were reports of Cefnllys being burned and wasted but this is not clear. Edmund died of the plague in 1425 leaving no heirs. The castle then came under Richard, Duke of York, a nephew, and yet another minor.

Richard did not gain responsibility until 1432 but when he did it was through Edmund he increased his claim on the throne of England, a claim that in part triggered the War of the Roses. Richard failed to become King and has his lands and titles withdrawn in 1459. However, his son became Edward IV in 1461, just after Richard died the previous year, and Cefnllys, along with the other estates, became Crown Land.

It was during Richard’s period that the management of Cefnllys castle and the responsibilities for local courts changed from ‘English’ imposed system to a system managed by ‘Welsh’ people. Wooden Halls were built onto, or adjacent to, the Castles for administrative purposes. The constable of Cefnllys and receiver of Maelienydd, Ieuan ap Phylip and his wife, Angharad had had such a Hall added to Cefnlys and the poet Lewys Glyn Cothi wrote a poem in praise of this facility. The actual date of the poem is uncertain and it could have been written any time between 1432 and 1483. He describes a white building with eight sides, suggesting that there was an octagonal or multisided tower.

With Cefnllys becoming Crown Property it was not long before the castle was being described as ‘ruinous’ in 1493, and ‘now done’ in the early part of the 16th century.

The Walk

It was a gloriously hot day in July when we set off, almost too hot. Geraint had gained permission, although not strictly necessary, from Ray Collard, and Phillip Kendrick (known to Geraint as The Squire).

Stopping just short of the Neuadd we went through a gateway on our right. Evidently the path, which originally went close to the Neuadd but now deviates and goes around the house and garden. The Neuadd had itself been a place where courts were held in a period between the Castle, as the centre of administration, and the court sessions being held in Penybont.

Across the fields and down in a valley was a house with a bell-tower, this had previously been a private school. Access to it was very limited, only tracks seem to go there. The school was run by a Rector in the 1700’s.

The walk to the Castle was not very far and gentle to begin with before rising steeply to the castle. We approached it from the north-east and came to the site of the older castle first. This is described as having a bailey and a keep with three rooms. Drifting over to the newer castle with its more dramatic features in the area where there had been an octagonal tower exposed fantastic views across the whole basin enclosed by the hills around. Penybont, Llandegley, and the Radnor Forest. It was very difficult to get your bearings as the River Ithon winds its way through. The Neuadd, which seemed quite far away from the Castle, turned out to be very close to the acknowledged settlement around St. Michael’s Church. This gives credence to Geraint’s view that the settlement of Cefnllys Town extended round to the Neuadd.

Penybont was almost obscured by trees and so and this led to lots of questions about the 360 degree landscape. It was very easy to see why this position provided a vantage point that was easy to defend. Conversely it did lend itself to siege as obtaining water was clearly a  challenge. On top they had to rely on rainwater or else carry it up  from a well at the bottom of the slope. In 1403 there were 12 spearmen and 30 archers defending the Castle. Happy Valley, or Bluebell Valley could be easily seen to the south west where an old road would have taken travellers to Builth.

Despite the fact that access was a challenge two stories were recounted:

Cattle were driven up to the Bailey of the Castle to protect them from rustlers;

Geraint, in his younger days, led processions up to the Castle on Palm Sundays when a cross was carried from St. Michael’s Church. A couple of the members had very happy memories of these events.

The lands associated with the Castle were known as the Park and they extended quite widely out from the Castle. A map showing the extent of the Park can be seen at:

Radnorshire Society Transactions 2016 has also got diagrams of the Castle, Park, and Fishpools.

The Borough of Cefnllys is discussed in:

Geraint’s owns a piece of land in the edge of the Park and it was almost possible to see his sheep from where we were sitting. Close to this land were the old fish ponds that would have produced food for the Castle. This was our next stop on our tour of the area. We went by car as there was no easy direct route to walk. Just as the road through Bryn Thomas branches to New Radnor, and on the higher side, there is a large dip in the ground for the holding pool, and then on the other side of the road a series of small depressions in the ground for the fisheries. It was muted that there may be funding available that could restore the fishpools.

All were extremely grateful to Geraint for leading such a great walk and for arranging to have such wonderful weather!

There is no meeting in August, so out next session will be:

“The History of Rock Baptist Chapel” with Revd John Davies on 3rd September 2018 at 10.30 a.m. in the Thomas Shop.