Penybont and District History Group Notes 4th June 2018 Meeting Main Topic: “Entrepreneurial Flair in Penybont, Cefn Llys, and Llandegely area” – Led by Derek Turner

 

 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.

 

  1. 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:

“PENYBONT, RADNORSHIRE

(Distant about four miles from Llandrindod Wells, three of which can be travelled on the Central Wales Railway)

THOMAS JAMES

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.

 

 

 

  1. 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:

 

Grocers Shops:

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

 

Mills

Llandegley – John O. Watkins

 

Coal

Radnorshire Coal, Lime & General Supply Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – Jas. Hamer Junr, Agent

 

South Wales Merchantile Co. Ltd. Penybont Station – John James, Agent

 

Transport

Penybont Station – Frederick Trantrum, Station Master

 

Blacksmiths

Llandegley – Richard Jones

Penybont –  Richard Phillips

 

Ironmongers

Penybont – Thomas James (and dealer in oils, paints and colours) plus Furniture Warehouse, Sadler; Watchmaker, Jeweller, Etc

 

Tailors

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.

 

  1. 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.

  1. Summing-up

 

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!

 

 

 

 

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Penybont and District History Group Notes 7th May 2018 Meeting Main Topic: “The Ormathwaite Family History” – Shirley Morgan

 

 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:-

 

  1. 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.

  1. Land Acquisition

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.

See: https://archiveswales.llgc.org.uk/anw/get_collection.php?coll_id=20122&inst_id=1&term=Women%20%7C%20Wales%20%7C%20Diaries&L=1

 

  1. Science

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.

See: https://archives.library.wales/downloads/ormathwaite-estate-records.pdf

 

Sir John Benn/Walsh (1759 – 1825) and

Margaret Fowke/Benn/Walsh (1758 – 1836)

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.

http://www.berkshirehistory.com/bios/jbwalsh.html

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.

 

 

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