history

Is it time for a National Trust of Wales?

September 1, 2017 2 Comments
Is it time for a National Trust of Wales?

There was a time when the National Trust was invulnerable and beyond criticism.  Its aims are so obviously virtuous, and the experience of visiting its sites so rewarding that anyone bold enough to question its ethos or ways of working would have been seen as eccentric.  The Trust is still one of the most popular […]

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John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

August 27, 2017 3 Comments
John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

It wasn’t his real name, ‘John Ystumllyn’, but one the locals gave him. Another was ‘Jac Du’ or ‘Jack Black’. How he arrived, unwillingly, in north Wales is obscure. What is certain is that his origins were in Africa, and that he found a home for himself and his family in the Criccieth area in […]

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Reading and silence

August 20, 2017 1 Comment
Reading and silence

I’m working my way, slowly – that seems the best way – through Sara Maitland’s A book of silence, and I’ve reached the part where she discusses the paradoxical relationship between reading and silence.  On the one hand, reading the way we do it today is a silent communion between writer and reader.  Silent, on […]

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Mr Skates’s ring cycle

July 28, 2017 11 Comments
Mr Skates’s ring cycle

The row over the ‘Iron Ring’ proposed for Flint Castle seems to be over, so the time is right to think more calmly about what we’ve learnt. First, a quick summary of what happened (there is an ignominious prequel, which I’ll skip).  Cadw, responsible for safeguarding scheduled historic monuments in Wales, together with Visit Wales, the […]

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‘The Llanboidy molecatcher’ gan James Lewis Walters

July 22, 2017 0 Comments
‘The Llanboidy molecatcher’ gan James Lewis Walters

Sylwais i ar y llun am y tro cyntaf llynedd. Ar y pryd roeddwn i’n chwilio am bethau eraill yn Amgueddfa Sir Gâr, yn hen Balas yr Esgob yn Abergwili. Hongiai’r llun yn swil, mewn lle anamlwg y tu ôl i ddrws. Ei destun eithriadol ac arddull medrus a ddenodd fy llygad gyntaf. Arhosodd y llun […]

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Remembering Walter Conway

June 30, 2017 5 Comments
Remembering Walter Conway

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been in and around Tredegar – Tredegar as it is today, but mostly Tredegar as it was in the first part of the twentieth century.  Most people know about the town’s best known resident, Aneurin Bevan, and many know about Bevan’s pre-War experience of the pioneering services run […]

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Micromuseums

April 15, 2017 0 Comments
Micromuseums

Micromuseum is a new word for me.  But that was the topic of a presentation to the Friends of the Glynn Vivian last week by Fiona Candlin of Birbeck College.  It was the ideal talk – funny and self-deprecating but full of ideas that rattled your lazy assumptions about what museums are about.  And it […]

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Two Scilly visitors

April 2, 2017 0 Comments
Two Scilly visitors

On 22 October 1707 Admiral Sir Cloudsley Shovell was guiding his fleet of fifteen Royal Navy ships back towards the England coast after a failed attempt to defeat the French fleet near the Mediterranean port of Toulon during the War of the Spanish Succession. It was a difficult voyage.  The weather was stormy, and Shovell, […]

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The socialist submariner

March 19, 2017 0 Comments
The socialist submariner

My friend J. asked me the other day whether as a child I’d read stories set in schools.  I said I couldn’t recall reading any, despite being a greedy reader – unless you counted Tom Brown’s schooldays, a present from some well-intentioned aunt, which I found unreadable and never finished.  The only explanation I could […]

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George Ace, pioneer cyclist

March 13, 2017 0 Comments
George Ace, pioneer cyclist

Wandering among the memory theatres of Wales over the last year or two I’ve come across some fine institutions, some striking objects and some remarkable characters.  In Tenby Museum they remember the happily named George Ace, a distinguished figure from the heroic days of cycling. George Ace was born in 1861 and came from Swansea.  […]

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