Tag: Wales

Carnegie libraries in Wales

September 18, 2021 0 Comments
Carnegie libraries in Wales

Alfred Zimmern, the classicist and first professor of international politics in Aberystwyth (and the world) is now largely forgotten, except for one striking phrase he coined, ‘American Wales’.  He was referring to the explosive industrialisation of south Wales in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, which produced an […]

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Michael Faraday watches water fall

September 10, 2021 0 Comments
Michael Faraday watches water fall

In 1819 a brilliant young chemist came to Wales on a walking tour.  He had little money – his family was poor, and he was still technically an apprentice at the age of twenty-seven – so walking was more economical than coach or horseback.  He was eager to see the country, but he had a […]

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A Gresford decapitation

September 3, 2021 0 Comments
A Gresford decapitation

Today is 29 August, the traditional date, faithtourism reminds me on Twitter, for remembering the Decollation of St John the Baptist.  Decollation is a euphemism for having your head violently removed from your body.  It’s often used of this particular episode, when Herod Antipas, puppet ruler of Galilee and Perea, ordered John to undergo this […]

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Father Toban, the greatest scholar in the world

July 30, 2021 0 Comments
Father Toban, the greatest scholar in the world

It’s late summer, 1854.  George Borrow, walking around Wales, has arrived at Holyhead.  He stays overnight at the ‘Railway Hotel’ – reluctantly, because he detests railroads and never takes a train if he can do the same journey on foot.  In the morning he explores the town and then finds himself on the breakwater at […]

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Tennyson in Llanberis

January 23, 2021 0 Comments
Tennyson in Llanberis

Alfred Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire, and lived there throughout the first part of his life.  The portrait of him that always comes to mind is the photo Julia Margaret Cameron took of him in 1865, which shows him as prematurely aged, with thinning, straggly hair, untidy beard and lined face (Tennyson said it made […]

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The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

December 26, 2020 2 Comments
The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

By now the ‘invented tradition’ is itself a tradition.  Since Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger published their edited collection The invention of tradition in 1983, we’ve become familiar with the idea that rituals, histories and beliefs that seem age-old were actually recent fictions devised with specific purposes in mind. One of the chapters in The […]

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Coleridge’s ginger wine

August 14, 2020 0 Comments
Coleridge’s ginger wine

Some think that the Notebooks are Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s masterwork.  In them he would jot any thoughts that occurred to his omnivorous, lightning-fast mind, wherever he was.  Snatches of poetry, quotations from other writers, jokes, lists of works he would write (most remained unwritten), apothegms, descriptions of landscapes, recollections, fragments of philosophy, memos to himself […]

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Cornelius Varley in Wales

July 3, 2020 3 Comments
Cornelius Varley in Wales

Among the many artists who came to draw and paint in Wales around the turn of the eighteenth century, Cornelius Varley is yet to receive just attention.  The pictures he made in Wales are fresh, delicate and strong, the work of a young man with great visual intelligence who reacted with instinctive wonder and clarity […]

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In defence of permanent institutions

February 14, 2020 1 Comment
In defence of permanent institutions

It’s a truism to say that the destruction of trust is at the heart of societal decline.  We’ve known for a long time that politicians come bottom, or close of bottom, in league tables of professions in whom the public has confidence.  It’s no surprise to find that, since the financial meltdown of 2008, bankers […]

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At Strata Florida: Gerald’s vision of male beauty

January 10, 2020 0 Comments
At Strata Florida: Gerald’s vision of male beauty

I’ve been reading the account written by Gerald of Wales of the tour he made, on horseback and on foot, around the perimeter of Wales in the year 1188.  The manuscript – there are actually three versions – is usually called the Itinerary through Wales, and it’s the earliest account of a long journey in […]

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