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.
circulated cards to members that Geraint had put together with next year’s
programme, and these were very positively received.
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
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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Territory_of_Trieste
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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’)
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’)
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.
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’)
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!
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’)
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’)
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.
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’)
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’)
next two items were found as a result of using a metal detector. (Image ‘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.
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.
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’)
had brought in a few items from the Thomas Shop Museum:
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’)
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’)
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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunter%27s_chain
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’)
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’)
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’)
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)
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’)
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.
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’)
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
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’)
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.
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.
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
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.
opened the meeting to another crowded room and welcomed the members once again.
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!
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
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.
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’.
Penybont District will have its usual service next Sunday at 10.30 a.m. at the
then asked Elizabeth to contribute a true-life story to the proceedings
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth this was a secret on both sides of the Channel, but a secret that
everyone knew about, but never talked about.
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
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.
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.
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
Roll of Honour in Builth Wells
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”
were many other elements that the Project was able to support:
and Mapping War Memorials. Initially 300 were identified but this has now gone
up to 350, and rising.
and enabling young people to take responsibility for their community War
Kits for training, recording, carrying out a condition survey, and for
repairing and maintaining A War Memorial
Walks and Trails including Brecon, Llandrindod, and Llanidloes
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.
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.
has been done in Ystradgynlais and Llanidloes on the Battle of the Somme
has also been done in Ystradgynlais with the Primary Schools to encourage them
to have a pride in their War Memorial.
special kit for schools has been developed with lesson plans.
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.
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.
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
Russia 3.7M 4.9M
Italy 1.2M 0.9M
France 1.6M 4.2M
UK 1.0M 1.6M
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.
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!
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
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
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:
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.
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:
HOSTILITIES AT AN END.
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
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
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
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.
Slump in Prices at November Fair. 1918
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.
LLANBADARN ESTATE, BETWEEN NEWTOWN AND
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:
THE RADNORSHIRE MEETINGS.
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
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
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.
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
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
THOMAS BERRY Private in the 8th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Contracted diphtheria at Gallipoli in the
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,
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,
Lived at Cefn Farm.
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
JOHN BRICK Private iLight
Died of wounds in France. August
Buried at Esquelbeeg Military
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.
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
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
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
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
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
DAVID EVAN LEWIS Private in the 6th Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry.
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”.
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
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,
His company officer wrote: “It is my sad duty to inform you of the death of your son in action on
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
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.
in action September 21st 1918. at Gauzaucourt Wood. Age 21
HENRY PRINCE Private 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers.
Killed April 15th 1918. Age 26
Service Number: 29802
Buried at Ploegstoert Memorial
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
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’.
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
Do not forget to bring items of local interest to our
December meeting on Monday, 3rd December.
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. https://wordpress.com/post/penybontlhgnotes.wordpress.com/60 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.
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: http://www.sarnbaptist.org.uk/shistory.htm
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.
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.” https://www.britainexpress.com/History/stuart/clarendon-code.htm
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, was an Act of the Parliament of England, which received the royal assent on 24 May 1689.
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, and atheists. 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.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toleration_Act_1689
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.” http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s-EVAN-HUG-1656.html
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.” https://www.thoughtco.com/calvinism-vs-arminianism-700526
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.
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.” http://history.powys.org.uk/history/common/dissent4.html
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’
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. http://www.castlesfortsbattles.co.uk/central_wales/dinieithon_castle.html 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. http://www.elystan.co.uk/castles
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.
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.
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:
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.
It was good to see Geraint back with us this morning, albeit Rosemary is still not very well, and she is still in Hospital.
Geraint explained that Marion, who was due to give the talk on the Friendly Society this morning, had had to go to a funeral in Poland where she had been requested to give the address. She will be asked to give her talk in next year’s programme.
Geraint thanked Derek for stepping in to the breech and for taking on an area that has not been previously covered by the group. He pointed out that any research has only been done in the last couple of days.
Main Topic: Entrepreneurial Flair
Derek thanked Geraint and explained that most of his material came from Geraint. He did not intend to give a ‘talk’ but hoped that, as a group, we could begin to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge of the businesses that once flourished in our area.
Derek explained he would not be covering farming as this was a topic to be covered in its own right at some time in the future. He would also not be dwelling on the previous entrepreneurs connected to the Thomas Shop, Burton House, and the Post Office on Penybont.
There are two main sources of information:- Geraint’s booklet, Penybont; and a Worrall’s Gazetteer that Geraint has placed in the History Group cupboard at the Thomas Shop. Derek hoped that the Group would be a 3rd source that we might be able to draw upon.
Geraint’s Booklet:- “Penybont – A Village History”
Geraint had interviewed Evan Richards, now deceased, about life in Penybont and Llandegley in the 1920’s. He Evan to picture walking through from his home, Waenygroes, along the Blacksmith’s Lane , up through Penybont village and on to Llandegley.
At Ffosybontbren Jim Morris was a Wheelwright at Caely. At Ty Newydd Mrs Stephens sold paraffin. Next door to Mrs Stephens was the Blacksmith’s where Tom and Bill Price worked.
Two doors down from the Blacksmith towards the bridge lived Mr. and Mrs. Tom Stephens who had a shop selling fruit , flour and other provisions. Mr Stephens also repaired clocks. In later years this shop would be referred to by people, who were children at the time, as a ‘sweet shop’.
Reaching the main road and across is Bank House where Mr. and Mrs. Glyn Thomas lived. Mr. Thomas was a builder.
Coming across the Bridge the fields behind the Chapel were owned by the Thomas Family, of the Thomas Shop, and Jack Thomas had a poultry farm. Coming along the road past the Chapel in the 2nd of the terraced cottages were Mr. and Mrs. William Davies. Mr. Davies was an agent for Fosters the Seed Merchants, but he also had a building beyond the Post Office where he stored his products, and he also took over the deliveries of coal from Penybont station.
In the next house, the last of the terraced cottages on this side of the road, were Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett who had an Ironmonger’s shop. They had recently taken this over from Mr. and Mrs. James. Geraint was able to tell us that Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett later moved their business into Llandrindod Wells.
In the terraced houses on the other side of the road lived Mr. and Mrs. Bufton who kept a shoe sales and repair shop. In another of these terraced houses lived the Miss Morrises and their brother John. John was a delivery driver for coal from Penybont Station.
The Thomas Shop comes next where there was a grocery store, draper’s shop, gentleman’s outfitters, tailors, and Jack’s Chicken Farm that was sending day old chicks to London on the train.
Across the road from the Thomas Shop was the Bank Manager and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas. The Midland Bank was just two doors up from there on the corner where the road branches to Dolau.
After the Severn Arms and the village green, now where the garage is, was the Market. Mr. R.P. Hamer ran a monthly stock-market. The monthly stock market was expanded in the early 30’s with stock pens and auctioneer’s office. Campbell and Edwards took over the market in 1947. The site was used for the May Fairs held on May 13th. Evan remembered being hired as a farm labourer there on three occasions.
On the other side of the road was the Post Office, which, at this time, was run by Mr. and Mrs. Ted Bufton. Behind the Post Office is Sunnyside where Mr. Tedstone, the mason, and Mr. Drew, the carpenter lived.
The Police Station came next, Constable Ingram, policing the whole area on his bicycle, and his wife lived there.
Coming out of the village we come to Bailey Mawr where John Mills and Albert Oakley ran a Haulage business that picked up goods from Penybont Station and took them to the farms in the area.
Mr. Oakley, from Llandrindod Wells, ran a market garden opposite Carnau.
At the Ffaldau we find John Abberley living with his mum and dad who had a dairy round, we will hear more from John below.
A bit further up the road was Login, now gone, where Mr. and Mrs. Jack Jones lived. Jack was a postman and part-time butcher.
As we come into Llandegley we find Mr. Walter Jones in Church House. Mr Jones was a shoe maker.
A few doors down is Primrose Cottage. At that time it had been two cottages. In the first one was Mr. Boulter who killed pigs and sold paraffin.
Burton House was then occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Watkins who ran a Post Office during the 2nd World War.
Two businesses were to be found in Tynllan Yard. Mr. Davies was a Blacksmith who lived at Cow Hedge. Mr. and Mrs Evans lived at Mill Cottage near the sulphur well had a Carpenter’s Shop.
Evans journey mentions other people along the way but the range of businesses is quite extraordinary through present day eyes, and while some like Mr. Tedstone, the mason, and Mr. Drew, the Carpenter, worked for the Estate at Penybont Hall, there are over 20 businesses or craft’s mentioned.
Geraint also interviewed John Abberley who talked about how the change started to happen shortly after the period so eloquently described by Evan. He tells us how, as we approach the end half of the 20th century, his mother could say that in Llandegly she did not even have to venture out of her home as delivery vans came to the door regularly. Some tradesmen, such as Mr. and Mrs. Scandrett, the Ironmonger in Penybont, after moving across the river to Tom Price, the Blacksmith, they again moved to set up their business in the bigger town of Llandrindod Wells. It was however these deliveries that heralded the end of the village shop in small villages such as Penybont and Llandegley. John’s family were also in the delivery business, delivering milk, potatoes and eggs around Llandegley and Penybont. Fish and vegetables came every Friday from Rhayader; the bakery at Crossgates delivered bread twice a week; Mr. J.O. Davies delivered bread and groceries, initially from the Fron, but later from Llandrindod; more bread came, all the way from Alfords, Newbridge, twice a week, and John remembered particularly the hot cross buns that would be delivered on Good Friday; Tuesdays and Fridays saw Mr. Idris Hughes arrive with his mobile butcher’s shop; coming from the opposite direction Arthur Williams, from New Radnor, sent a van with groceries, clothes, batteries, wireless parts, and he took orders for tailor made clothes; there was even a delivery from the Ironmonger in Llandrindod, Coombes, who brought paraffin and other ironmongery items every Friday; Nicholls of Llanddewi delivered groceries on a Thursday but they also bought eggs and rabbits.
In his section on ‘Businesses Old and New’ Geraint covers a number of the businesses that we have already mentioned and some, like the Old Mill at Llandegley, that had already stopped operating. In a more self-sufficient era local farmers would bring their grain to the Mill to be turned into flour and animal feed.
Geraint reminds us that the Blacksmith’s building at Tynllan is still there, and that it retains some of it’s features.
While the shoemaker’s building has become a private house, David Jones, the shoemaker, has left detailed records of the customers he served but also the accounts relating to the hides he bought from local farmers.
There is more detail on the Market at Penybont which needs to be the subject of one of our sessions in the future.
There is a wonderful poster photographed and in Geraint’s book that says:
(Distant about four miles from Llandrindod Wells, three of which can be travelled on the Central Wales Railway)
GENERAL & FURNISHING IRONMONGER, JEWELLER
Upholsterer and Furniture Dealer,
HARNESS & IMPLEMENT AGENT
Begs to invite the notice of persons about to furnish to his stock of General Ironmongery, Upholstery, Cabinetry, and HOUSEHOLD FURNITURE, and to ask an inspection thereof previous to purchasing at any other place. The goods in each department have been selected with great care from the stock of the best manufacturers, and will be sold at the smallest remunerative profit.
HOUSES COMPLETELY FURNISHED ON THE SHORTEST NOTICE. SADDLERY AND HARNESS OF EVERY DESCRIPTION MADE TO ORDER.”
Thomas James was listed as a maker of clocks in 1945 edition of ‘Clock and Watchmakers of Wales’ – Iorwerth C Peate. This document is now in the National Museum of Wales.
Bill Brown, who has contributed so much to Penybont, had a hand in the start of the Garage, or Penybont Service Station. A Nissen hut was in the Common was moved by Bill to house cars at the Severn Arms. He later sold it to Jim Gadd who developed it as a garage, but was subsequently run by Mr Lewis from Dolau Vicarage. When David Elway took the site over he rebuilt the building as an antique centre before Robert Lewis turned it back into a garage.
What is now the Powys Highways Depot had previously been developed by Fosters the Seed Merchants from Leominster. They had previously been based at the Thomas Shop in the black, feather board, wooden building on the roadside. It is understood that they moved from the Thomas Shop because of the regular flooding that occurred in the village when the Ithon burst its banks and cut the corner flooding across the road through their building and the cottages.
Fosters had a significant presence in the village employing 10 local people, and running three delivery lorries. Dilwyn Powell was the Manager. The Highways Dept. of Powys CC took over the site in the early seventies.
As we saw above, coal was an essential fuel and having the railway station in Penybont meant that deliveries were planned from here. Jack Morris, and later A.N. Edwards operated from here. Later coal deliveries were managed from the garages, at the Post Office, by Bill Davies.
Before leaving Geraint’s book, it is worth mentioning his interview with Tom Price, the blacksmith. Tom describes that in the thirties there could be 3 or 4 horses waiting to be shod at any one time. After 1940 there were noticeably fewer horses and the challenge was to keep farm machinery going. Tom remembered vividly the urgency with which machinery needed to be repaired. The use of the machinery being seasonable when a piece broke it did need to be repaired at once. It has been sad to see the smithy not used since Tom was forced to retire, and has subsequently died. The good news is that there is now a possibility that it will be brought back to life in the not too distant future.
Worrall’s Gazetteer 1871
Once again it was Geraint who introduced us to the Worrall’s Gazetteer. He was able to tell us that these were produced regularly and that they listed businesses, and other significant activities, across Britain. We only had access to the 1871 edition, but Geraint felt that there was an interesting piece of work for someone to look into these documents and track the changes over a period of time. The National Library for Wales has, Geraint believes, archived the complete set.
This edition entitled “PENYBONT” relates to a wider area than we currently cover:- Abbeycwmhyr, Llananno, Llanbadarnfawr, Llanbadarnfynydd, Llanbister, Llandegley, Llanddewi-Ystradenny, and Llanfihangel-Rhydithon.
The information starts:
“Penybont is an important village situated in the parishes of Llandegley and Llabadarnfawr, about 1½ miles from the Penybont station of the Central Wales Railway, and about 5 miles from Llandrindod Wells.”
It is of interest to note that Evan Evans was the Postmaster at the time, and that letters to all of the above villages “should be addressed “Near Penybont, Radnorshire”
A sign of the changing times indicates that the nearest Telegraph Office was at Llandrindod Wells.
The Businesses within our own area mentioned in the Gazetteer are:
Llandegley – John Evans
Llandegley – Ann Hughes
Penybont – Evans Evan
Penybont – William Scandrett
Penybont – William Thomas
Inns and Hotels
Llandegley – Burton Arms – John Thornhill
Penybont – Severn Arms – John Wilding
Penybont – Builders Arms – Ann Jones
Boots and Shoe Makers and Repairs
Llandegley – David Jones
Penybont – Edward Bufton
Llandegley – John O. Watkins
Radnorshire Coal, Lime & General Supply Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – Jas. Hamer Junr, Agent
South Wales Merchantile Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – John James, Agent
Penybont Station – Frederick Trantrum, Station Master
Llandegley – Richard Jones
Penybont – Richard Phillips
Penybont – Thomas James (and dealer in oils, paints and colours) plus Furniture Warehouse, Sadler; Watchmaker, Jeweller, Etc
Penybont – Thomas Burton
This, of course does not include the Farmers who are also listed. How farming practice has altered over the years is probably another separate piece of work that needs to be researched.
Of interest are the number of ‘Private Residences’ that are also listed, only 6 are listed in Penybont, with 2 at Penybont Hall, and none in Llandegley. Everyone else in the community, presumably, were in rented accommodation.
Additional Information from Members present
Jean’s Great Aunt was Mrs. Bufton, as referred to above. Mr. and Mrs. Bufton lived in the last of the terrace houses going out of the village towards Crossgates on theThomas Shop side of the road.
In the house occupied by Steve and Luanne Price where the Ironmonger, Mr Scandrett, had his shop is a partition behind which is the shelving for the old shop.
At Ty Neuydd there were steps down to the cellar. One of the Barker twins, Mrs Ruell, missed her footing and fell into the cellar and subsequently died due to the fall and her injuries.
There was a suggestion that Brynithon had been a Smithy at one time. The District Nurse, Nurse Gittings, occupied Brynithon for some years before moving across the road.
The Police Station cells have been unoccupied for many years, but remain intact at the back of what is now a house.
Neil mentioned that there was a shoe maker at Glaneravon near the River Mithyl.
Mary remembered ‘segs’, little metal studs, being attached to the heals, and soles, of shoes to make them last longer.
In discussing the Mill, Neil remembered living there. His grandfather was a carpenter and did not manage the Mill.
There was a memory of Tom Price Senoir holding Boxing Matches at the smithy – no one could put him down!
Bill Bridgewater delivered every day from Crossgates.
Patricia mentioned that in her previous work on the census figures, frequent references to dressmaking as a cottage industry.
A number of members talked about the challenge of getting an invoice from Tom Price. Geraint said that he only sent out bills when he needed a bit of money. This could often be years after he had completed the work.
Tom had told Geraint, following the repair of a gate, to put the payment in the Church collection, only to find that Tom was the sideman with the collection plate.
Geraint referred back to Ray Price’s comment about the time when he closed his business at the Post Office and had a number of customers who had run up credit with him. Everyone repaid him within 2 years. He also made a comment to a customer who said he might not have 50p to pay him credit. Ray told him that if he would diddle him for 50p he did not need his custom!
Nichols included within their delivery servicing on battery accumulators. There was considerable concern over the management of the acid in these heavy items.
Geraint was interested to note the way in which the life of the community had changed as reflected in the changes over time that have been illustrated in the business has been conducted.
When we think that before 1730 there was no village at Penybont, the Parish centres were Llanbarnfawr and Llandegley. Previous to that there has been reference to a commercial centre at Cefn Llys that had both town and market charters by early in the 14th century. By 1871 there were 18 businesses central to community life in Penybont and Llandegley. There was a consolidation of these businesses, albeit the Mill had already gone, as we move into the first quarter of the 20th century with some businesses expanding during this period as Penybont, in particular provided some services for Llandrindod Wells. Gradually however there was a shift as Llandrindod began to provide services. The Ironmonger moved to Llandrindod and the Thomas Shop had already opened to Mid Wales Emporium.
The low price of petrol and motorised transport led to the development of delivery services and this accelerated the decline of village shops, even before the advent of supermarkets.
When we arrived in Penybont in 2000 the Post Office was the only shop left. The Market was still operating, but within a few years both had gone. Currently the Severn Arms, Midway Nursery, and the museum/café at the Thomas Shop are all that remain of that previous infrastructure. Newer initiatives have sprung up such as the roadside food outlet and sales of plants from the gate. On-line opportunities have already begun to have an impact on Llandrindod and the constancy of change. Asda are a frequent visitor to the village bringing groceries all the way from Merthyr Tydfil.
Next Session: Walk to the top of Cefn Llys, Monday 2nd July. Meet at the Thomas Shop at 10.00 a.m. for coffee and then travel by car. Quite a steep walk!
Derek opened the meeting with an apology from Geraint and Rosemary. Rosemary is in Hospital having tests done and Geraint is visiting her each day. A lot of concern and best wishes for Rosemary and Geraint was expressed.
Derek mentioned that BBC Bargain Hunt had filmed in the shop last week-end and he would let members know when this would be on the TV.
Caroline Phillips was a new member to the group but not new to the village. Neil remembered Caroline from his school days, and vis versa.
Derek welcomed Shirley back to centre stage and Shirley reintroduced Alice, her technical helper and granddaughter, who had come with her mother Abigail.
In preparation for this talk Shirley remembered fondly an inspiring History Teacher, RCB Oliver. At the time she did not appreciate that he was also an Historian of some repute. He wrote a book, much referenced in these History Group Notes, “The Squires of Penybont Hall” that covered the time of the John Price, the marriage of his daughter Mary Ann to John Cheesement Severn, the developments of Percy Severn and his sister’s, Sarah, Emily Augusta, and Julia, and finishing with the Whitehead’s who inherited the estate following the deaths of the Severn’s who produced no children. Major General RC Whitehead inherited through his mother, Sarah Augusta, who was the step sister of John Cheesement Severn.
RCB Oliver indicated that he intended to write a book on the Ormathwaite family who purchased Penybont Hall Estate in 1919. The book was never written which, as Shirley pointed out, would have saved her doing all the research! Initially she thought there might be very little to say but as she dug deeper and deeper there proved to be more than enough material.
The Baronetcy is Ormathwaite, (the name taken from the village of this name in Cumbria, where the family originated) but the family name associated with this is Walsh. There were 6 Barons between the years 1868, when the title was awarded, to 1984, when it died out. As a starting point Shirley chose to start with:
John Walsh (1726 – 1795)
John Walsh is remembered for 3 reasons:-
East India Company
John was secretary to Lord Robert Clive of India. The East India Company had originated in 1600, when it was granted a Charter by Elizabeth 1st , as the “Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”. It started with a group of Merchants in quite a small way and quite late to trading in this area. It did however capitalise on its trading opportunities and by the 18th century it dominated the global markets in tea, textiles and opium. To protect its growing interests in land management and trade it developed an enormous army, bigger than the British Army, of about a quarter of a million troops. The army was largely based at Madras, Bombay, and Bengal. In 1757 Robert Clive’s army defeated an army of insurgents leading to the East India Company taking over full administrative powers over its territories, including the right to levy taxes. The East India Company increased its interests in India and ruled over most of the sub-continent until 1857 when there was an Indian uprising. In 1858 the British Government took over from the Company which was replaced by the British Raj until 1947.
Walsh was related to Clive through marriage and worked very closely with him as the paymaster in Bengal, but he was trusted by Clive to return to England to lay Clive’s plans, for the administration of Bengal, before the Prime Minister.
After making a vast fortune of about £140,000, as a result of his work alongside Lord Clive, he returned to England and set about acquiring land and securing a seat of influence in Parliament. Among his purchases were Warfield Park near Bracknell and about 4300 acres in Radnorshire. This latter acquisition included Cefn Llys, and the Coed Swydd Estate in Llanfiangell, and quite a few properties in Llanddewi, including Llanddewi Hall. Land and Parliamentary power gave Walsh influence but it was also a way of buying into British aristocracy.
Walsh was something of a polymath. He was particularly interested in the birth of electricity, and is reputedly the first person to carry out serious experiments with electric eels. As a result of this work he was made a Fellow of The Royal Society. He received many honours in this capacity before he died, unmarried and childless.
John Walsh’s estate was left to his niece, Margaret Fowke, but there were important conditions. Margaret, and her husband, Sir John Benn, were required to change their name to Walsh. The other significant condition was that the Estate should pass to Sir John and Margaret’s eldest son in his coming of age.
Margaret’s mother, Elisabeth Walsh married Joseph Fowke in India. Sir John and Margaret had no difficulty with the terms of John Walsh’s will and duly changed their name to Walsh, by Royal Licence. Sir John also served in India and made £80,000 from trading in just a few years. Textile trade had declined due to the industrial revolution, but trading was still strong in tea, spices, and opium.
He was made a Baronet in 1804, having been High Sheriff of Radnorshire in 1798, and an MP for Bletchingley between 1802 and 1804.
Sir John did not invest in land, like John Walsh, but he invested in mortgages and Government stocks.
Margaret was the dominant person in the marriage and her diaries, which are in the Welsh Archives, show her to be an intellectual who travelled widely. She had a particular interest in astronomy that had been cultivated by her uncle, who brought her up. She in turn shared this interest with her son.
Having changed her name she distanced herself further from the Fowke family. She was embarrassed by the activities of her brother Frank, and her father, Joseph. Frank was ‘disinherited’ by his uncle because of his “indulgence and irregular pleasures’ in India that he also tried to continue on his return to England. Her father, like other, made a fortune in India, but then proceeded to lose it all at the gambling tables in London. Joseph also fathered and illegitimate daughter, Sophie, who was introduced to society. In order to avoid contact with Sophie, Margaret stayed in France for the season in 1789.
The Fowke family downfall was chronicled by Margaret’s son, John in a handwritten memoir that was meant to be private. It is now available online!
John Benn Walsh 2nd Baronet and 1st Lord Ormathwaite 1798 – 1881 married Lady Jane Grey 1803 – 1877
John was born at Warfield Park in Berkshire, which he regarded as home for the whole of his life. Hi was the only son of his parents, as above. He had estates in Ireland and Radnorshire where he took a keen interest in their management. He inherited the Baronet from his father in 1825, becoming Sir John and got married in the same year to Lady Jane, the youngest daughter of George Harry Grey, sixth earl of Stamford and Warrington. Also in 1825, John was High Sheriff of Radnorshire – a busy year.
John was described as an ardent politician and wrote significant political papers including: 1. ‘The Poor Laws in Ireland,’ 1830. 2. ‘Observations on the Ministerial Plan of Reform,’ 1831. 3. ‘On the Present Balance of Parties in the State,’
He became an MP for THE Borough of Sudbury in 1830 and was the MP for Radnorshire for 28 years from 1840.
On 11th August 1842, John was sworn in as Lord-Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorum (Master of the Rolls) of Radnorshire. On 16th April 1868, he was raised to the peerage as the first Baron Ormathwaite.
It was his writing and intellectual capacity that marked John out. He wrote a book entitled “Astronomy and Geology compared” in 1872 that is still in print today.
He remained close to his mother all his life and Warfield Park always remained dear to him because of her links with it. He said of his mother, “The word reserve is unknown between us”.
John died in 1881at Warfield Park and was succeeded by his eldest son Arthur.
Arthur John Walsh 1827 – 1920 2nd Lord Ormathwaite
Lady Katherine Emily Mary Somerset (1834–1914)
Arthur was very different from his father and grandfather! He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, and married Lady Katherine Somerset, daughter of the Duke of Beaufort. They had 7 sons and 3 daughters. Arthur’s interests did not lie in intellectualism, but in hunting and shooting. He kept a hunting lodge in Scotland and thought nothing of going off there leaving his wife and the children in Radnorshire.
The expansion of the family estates over the last 3 generations also came to a crashing halt when gambling debts accumulated and he had difficulty in maintaining his large hunting lodge. Since 1850 he had been borrowing against his expected inheritance as security, but, by 1881, this was beginning to catch up with him. His diaries were very different to those of his father; they covered his domestic and military duties, the London season, and shooting parties. The Ormathwaite papers include a letter about leasing a Shooting Lodge in Scotland, and an invitation to become President of the Llandrindod and Central Wales Hare Coursing Society. In 1880 he bought Eyewood at Titley, but from 1881 onwards the papers refer to sales rather than acquisitions.
Despite this, he was very prominent in public life. He was in the Lifeguards and an Honorary Colonel of the Third Battalion South Wales Borderers. He was MP for Leomonster 1865 – 68 and then for Radnorshire 1868 -80. He was Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire 1875 – 95, a JP, and Chair of Radnorshire County Council.
Newspaper reports show him to be interested in local affairs in Radnorshire. In 1889 he was among the welcoming party for the visit of Lord Randolph Churchill, who was visiting Newtown. In February 1894 he gave an interview to the Cambrian News regarding the condition of Cefn LLys Church. Tithes were being paid to Archdeacon de Winton but so services were being held. He was concerned, but did not want to be drawn into the argument. It is notable that even though he was so prominent in public life, he and his wife were regular visitors to Llanddewi School, where Lady Ormathwaite listened to readers and examined needlework.
The mid 90’s saw frantic efforts to keep the creditors at bay. Furniture, plate and farming implements were sold, but the inevitable could not be delayed and in September 1895 he was declared bankrupt. At the Hearing in London he was described as being late of Eyewood, Hereford, and Llanddewi in Radnorshire. Gross debts were £200,876, assets £932. In 1895 Warfield was sold and he was given a lease of seven years in the Keeper’s Cottage at Eyewood. His solicitor said in his defence that his debts were due to heavy expenditure on his property at Eyewood. However, the Gwyer family, who bought Eyewood, said that it was in a very run down state when they bought it.
As a result of this it would appear sadly that Lord Ormathwaite withdrew from public life. He resigned his post as Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire in the same year, 1895, a post that he had held for 8 years; and in the same year he stepped down as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions; and then in 1896 he resigned as Chairman of Radnorshire County Council.
On a brighter note, Arthur’s contribution to Public Life in Radnorshire was celebrated at a luncheon given in his honour at the Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, when a portrait of Lord Ormathwaite was presented to the County of Radnorshire. Sir P.C. Milbank MP presided, supported by Lord and Lady Ormathwaite and most of the County Gentlemen. The portrait was hung behind the chairman and bore the inscription – “Arthur Walsh, Second Baron Ormathwaite, Lord Lieutenant of Radnorshire 1873 – 1897, Chairman of the Quarter Sessions from 1887 – 1895, Chairman of the County Council 1889 – 1896”.
The portrait was painted for the County of Radnorshire by Herman G. Herkomer a celebrated portrait painter. The picture is an excellent one and was included in an exhibition in London before being hung in Shire Hall.
Lord Ormathwaite was cheered on rising and said that he had always devoted his poor abilities to the good of the County. Cheers were given for Lord and Lady Ormathwaite and by all accounts he was a popular figure in the County.
Arthur lived to a ripe old age and saw his estate reduced by stages. The Radnorshire estates were not saleable in 1920 so they were retained until 1945 when 5,222 acres in Llanddewi were sold at the Severn Arms. It included The Hall, Old Mill and cottages, and Dolwen Wood. The bulk of the estate was bought by NSK Pugh.
Arthur Henry John Walsh, 3rd Lord Ormathwaite 1860 – 1937
Lady Clementine Frances Anne Pratt 1870 – 1921
We know more about the 3rd Lord Ormathwaite than any of the others because he wrote his autobiography: – “When I Was In Court”.
His book gives us a glimpse into the world of the aristocracy at a point in history when their power was in decline. We see a man who is frantically trying to hold on to the standards and values of the past. He begins the book with the words:- “I was born a snob”!
He goes to great length to explain his pedigree on the Walsh and Somerset side. He was the oldest of 10 children and he describes his childhood as happy, despite being short of money.
From an early age he showed a desire to make contacts and to progress socially and to his benefit, and providence was on his side as he progressed through life.
He was at Eton for only a term when he caught a cold that turned into bronchitis, so it was decided that he and his mother should go to Cannes for his recuperation. They had only been in Cannes a week when his mother put a candle too near the mosquito net and set the hotel on fire. The proprieter was too pleased and when his mother was presented with a large bill, she was until to pay. It was particularly providential that Edward, Prince of Wales, was also in Cannes and heard of their misfortune and offered his services to get them off the hook. Arthur as a consequence met the Prince of Wales, and future King, and this would serve him well in future years.
In 1877 he spent 8 months living with a family in Germany where he became fluent in German. He already had learned French from French Governess, and was now ready for a future role at Court.
In 1878 he joined the lifeguards and was chosen to lead a parade in honour of the Prince of Wales. After attending the social celebrations, Srthur records that Edward gave him an invitation to Sandringham. “Thus began – if I might venture to say, a friendship that survived over many years”. However, he admits that life on the Guards was rather expensive and that he was constantly up to his eyes in debt.
In 1881 we have seen how the family fortunes began to decline after the death of Arthur’s grandfather. While they were settling on the Hereford Radnor border near Titley, Arthur was progressing well on the social scene of the 1880s. He says he was living with his friends, the Rothschild’s, and he describes the famous musical gatherings of the Prince and Princess of Wales. He namedrops constantly in his descriptions of the people who were present: – Gilbert and Sullivan; Nellie Melba; Madame Patti; and Tosti. Life for Arthur seemed to be a constant round of house parties, visits to the opera; and racing and shooting parties.
In 1885 he was asked to stand as an MP for Radnorshire. He was elected, but regretted not taking enough interest in the proceedings of the House of Commons. He only made one speech during the whole time he was there, but he enjoyed the importance it gave him in Radnorshire. He seems to have been more interested in the acquaintances that he made amongst the MPs across all parties, rather than political business. Home Rule for Ireland was at the forefront of political debate and Arthur complained bitterly about the long sittings. He dies say that Lloyd George was one of the most agreeable of men, apart from his politics. His political career came to an end in 1886, and he said he was glad it was all over.
During the 1890’s he bcame more involved in the Royal circle after helping to organise Queen Victoria’s visit to Llangollen. In 1889 he became engaged to Lady Clementine Pratt, but he states that there were difficulties due to ‘financial complications’. His appointment as Equerry to the Duke of Clarence was cut short due to the untimely death of the Duke. He did continue to develop his relationship to the family of Princess May of Teck, but admits that his connection with Court was ‘dormant’, and he had no post to go to, and did not belong to any household.
After the death of Queen Victoria, things began to look up for Arthur. The new King, his friend now Edward V11, and Alexandra ran a very different Court. Arthur was appointed as a Gentleman Usher and then Master of Ceremonies, and thus began a long period of service at Court. Life was now full of organising State visits by foreign dignitaries, State dinners, and accompanying Edward and Alexandra on their tours around Britain. Another perk, that came with the job, was a visit to Marienbad on the Czech Border, a magnet to the rich and famous. Rules were strict – early nights, no alcohol, frugal meals, etc.
In 1910 Edward died and Alexandra invited Arthur to the death chamber, and invited him to kneel and pray with her by the Kong’s body. She told him how fond the King had been of him, and they wept together. He played an important role in the funeral arrangements and in particular the arrangements for the Royal Heads of State from across Europe. It is well known that Edward’s lifestyle had not been morally upright, but Arthur made no allusion to this, and the Royal Court was described as a happy one.
The Coronation of King George V was the next big State event. It would prove to be the last gathering of the crowned heads of Europe. Princess May had been married off to George and was crowned as Queen Mary. It was Queen Mary who had such a profound effect on the child who was to become our present Queen. The Coronation involved much pomp and ceremony, and the organising of Balls and State visits around Britain. After the Coronation, Arthur records that he and his wife took a small house in Llandrindod where they joined shooting parties and visited the families of tenants who are “the most delightfully warm hearted people I have ever met, and they have always shown a loyal hearted devotion to my family.”
1914 was memorable because his much loved mother died, and he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Radnor, as were his Father and Grandfather.
During July, that year, Arthur had a chance to visit Marienbad. On 25th June the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by a Serb terrorist. Arthur did not think that this was anything to worry about so he carried on. The view in London was however very different and he was advised by the Foreign Office to return immediately. As an escapee he met up with Mrs Rothschild and Lady Wolverton and their entourage. Arthur became the unappointed leader of rather unusual group of escapees. The journey was chaotic and confusing, their luggage was left on the platform, despite the payment of a large tip. There was a great amount of officialdom at every border. Stations were crowed with soldiers who were going to join their regiments; there were no refreshments available; and they were even obliged to carry their own hand luggage! The ultimate indignity was having to travel 3rd Class – totally unheard of in their privileged lives. When they arrived at Ostend there were huge queues waiting to try and catch the boat to Dover. Arthur had an idea to beat the queues – “the idea of a little bribery occurred to me” – he said “While talking to the official in charge, I cracked some £5 notes, and it paid off”.
During the War his role changed greatly and he described life as a nightmare. The Zeppelin raids were horrendous and Arthur states: “One can only pray that calm and common sense may prevail and that we shall never again experience those awful years 1914-18. (Arthur died in 1937)
Arthur gave an insight into the lives of the King and Queen during these dark days:- “King George and Queen Mary earned the everlasting admiration of their people by their unstinted service during the War”. He paints a picture of a happy and contented Court – a picture of the Royal Children that did not include Prince John, the Lost Prince.
1920 was a momentous year in Arthur’s life. His father died at the age of 90, so he now became the 3rd Baron Ormathwaite. His father’s death caused great upheaval
As the Will had been made 40 years earlier, and before Death Duties had been introduced. As a consequence he had to oversee the sale of the Cumbrian and the Irish Estates. The Radnorshire estates were considered unsaleable so they were not sold until 1945. Arthur resigned his Royal Post, and in recognition of his service he was awarded a Knight Grand Cross of the Victoria Order.
At Christmas/New Year 1920/1, he and his wife decided to host a Christmas Party. Sadly, Clementine became ill and was unable to enjoy the celebrations. She died of Encephalitis on 13th January. At this point Arthur finishes his autobiography and says: “Virtually I died when my wife died.” He resigned as Lord Lieutenant in 1922, and died in 1937. There were no children of the marriage.
George Harry William Walsh (1863 – 1943) 4th Baron Ormathwaite
As Arthur’s younger brother, George Harry William Walsh succeeded to the title in 1937 and became the 4th Baron. From 1890 -93 he had assisted the Governor General of Canada. His career also included biting a captain in the Imperial Yeomanry, later the Grenadier Guards, and he served in the Southern African War 1899 – 1901. He settled in Radnorshire and served as a councillor on Radnorshire County Council. He had no family to succeed him when he died in 1943.
Reginald Walsh 1868 – 1944 5th Baron Ormathwaite
Lady Margaret Jane Douglas-Home (1908 – 1940)
Reginald, as the youngest of the brothers, had not expected to inherit the title and become the 5th Baron, in 1943, to die in 1944. He had served in several diplomatic posts – Secretary to the Governor of Mauritius, Her Majesty’s Consul to Greece 1899 – 1906, and to New York 1908 – 11. He served as a Captain during World War 1. It was a few years after the War that he and his wife bought Penybont Hall following the death of Mrs Whitehead in 1926. The couple had 3 children. Reginald died in 1944.
John Arthur Charles Walsh (1912 – 1984) 6th Baron Ormathwaite
John Arthur succeeded his father Reginald in 1944, and was a familiar figure in Penybont as he came to live here as a bachelor, with his two sisters, in Penybont Hall from 1950. Betty Morris’s husband was the Estate Manager and worked closely with John Arthur. He admitted straight away that he did not have a clue about farming. His approach on a day to day basis was to turn up for work on the farm and ask:” Well, what are we to do today?”
John’s younger sister, Jane Emily, also did not marry, but the youngest of the three children, Anne Elizabeth did. Neil remembered that she married Peter Edward Bromley-Martin and that there were step-sons. As step sons they did not succeed to the title and the Ormathwaite lineage died out with John when he died in 1984.
The family are remembered in the area: There is a family grave at Cefn Llys, the Walsh Arms, former public house at Llanddewi Ystradenni, is a dominant building in the village, and there is reference to the Walsh family on the clock-tower in Rhayader.
Elizabeth, in discussion, said that John Walsh was reported to have said that the Rev. Pugh should be ‘defrocked’ after he was caught poaching.
By contrast the Vicar of Cascob, WJ Reece, published a series of sermons that were dedicated to John Walsh.
He was also said to have given the land to build the vicarage in Dolau.
Derek thanked Shirley for a most excellent talk that not only gave the history of the Ormathwaite family but a large chunck of history around Europe and beyond.
Marion is to give the next talk on the history of Friendly Societies.