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


3rd December 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image A
Image B
Image C


Image D
Image E


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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