Tag Archives: Crimean War

2024: The Year of the Dragon

Collections - Posted 15-02-2024

2024 marks the year of the dragon in the Chinese traditional lunar calendar. It may interest you to know that Wales and China have shared so much in common that goes beyond the dragons. Did you know that the 1933 National Eisteddfod chair was crafted by four men in Shanghai?

 

 

Dragons are notably the most significant creatures in both cultures despite having different narratives of how they came into existence. They have gone beyond creatures and subjects in stories and literature. In both cultures they have transcended beyond just symbols and now represent a people, culture, traditions and the spirits of bravery, strength, and intelligence.

The National Library holds archives of the Wales-China Friendship Society established in 1975 to foster friendship and understanding between the two nation and most especially the Chinese people who had made a home in Wales. The society worked closely with the Chinese people’s association with friendship with foreign countries (CPAFFC) in Beijing and other associations in Europe. It has also worked with the British embassy in Beijing, the consulate in Shanghai and the Chinese embassy in London.

The society also drove various appeals and in 1988 which was also a year of the dragon, they jointly organized the first non-Chinese dragon exhibition in Shanghai, China, where items on display included drawings of dragons by Alderman Davies church primary school children, commissioned works of stained dragon windows by Sharon Patterson from Swansea, and musical compilations by Peter Rees (“The Dragon Sleeps” and “The Dragon Wakes”). The event was held on St David’s Day; the patron saint of Wales.

It is predicted that the Year of the Dragon will bring changes and challenges but also opportunities for development, courage, strength, prosperity, and good fortune.

 

Miidong P. Daloeng

Archives Decolonisation Project Officer

 

This post is also available in Welsh.

Henry Richard, Gladstone and the origin of the war with Russia

Collections - Posted 12-02-2024

With the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaching on the 24th of February, this is a timely opportunity to focus on a book titled History of the origin of the war with Russia from the Gladstone Pamphlet Collection in the Library. The collection comprises tracts that were sent to Gladstone during his periods as Prime Minister and member of the Opposition. The author of the book is Henry Richard, a Welshman from Tregaron and an MP for Merthyr Tydfil. Richard was Secretary of the Peace Society between 1848 and 1884 and a strong advocate for international arbitration to prevent conflicts between nations.

 

 

The short volume is a selection of his Parliamentary contributions which explain the origin and background of the Crimean War that took place from 1853 to 1856. It is thought that the book was first published in around 1875, between Gladstone’s second and third terms as Prime Minister. The title page shows that it was sent to Gladstone by Richard personally. The pages contain extensive marginal markings by Gladstone throughout. This is direct evidence that the causes of tensions with Russia exercised Gladstone’s mind greatly, as it does with our political leaders today.

 

 

Richard explains that the Crimean war started because of disputes about the ownership of Jerusalem’s Holy sites. Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire run by Turkey, but the Holy sites came under the control of various Christian denominations and the Turks. The Greek Orthodox Church (supported by Russia) controlled one site and shared another three sites, while the Catholic church (supported by France) controlled four sites and shared another three with the Greeks, Armenian, Copts and others. Three sites were taken from the Christians altogether and were controlled by the Turks. Although an agreement was initially reached between the relevant nations through the ‘Vienna Note‘, Turkey subsequently amended the agreement. This resulted in its rejection by Russia. Soon afterwards, war broke out between Russia on one side and France, Britain and Ottoman Turkey on the other side.

 

Henry Richard thought that the war was a grave mistake as it strengthened the hand of the Turkish Ottoman empire against the Christian communities who lived in the Ottoman territories. These Christians comprised around 12 million Greek Orthodox Christians. The war did indeed succeed in weakening the influence of Russia significantly, but Richard believed that it upheld the Turkish Ottoman dominion over the Christian population of Europe too. The war sowed the seeds of future conflicts between Russia and the West. Conflicts which we are currently witnessing again today.

 

 

We can tell from the marginal inscriptions that Gladstone agreed with many points that Richard makes, for example highlighting that the people of Turkey “though at heart desirous of peace, were reluctant to forfeit their share of the popularity enjoyed by the votaries of war”. He also highlights a sentence which says that the interests of England and Russia in Turkey are identical, suggesting that both countries could work together in the event of the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Can you, the reader, read Gladstone’s thoughts through his markings and handwritten notes in the photographs shown?

 

Henry Richard was certainly a visionary of his time. Such strong advocates for peace and arbitration are urgently needed today.

 

Hywel Lloyd,

Assistant Librarian.

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Maps, art and decolonisation

#LoveMaps / Exhibitions - Posted 05-02-2024

This blog is one of a series to accompany the Wales to the World: maps from the National Library of Wales exhibition, currently on display at the Riverside Gallery, Haverfordwest, until 24 February 2024. Each blog will focus on a selection of items joined by a common theme. This time we look at maps connected to colonisation and slavery.

In 2023 the National Library of Wales (NLW) commissioned four artists of colour to create new artworks responding to NLW collections. Two of these projects grew from items in the map collection and had a particular focus on difficult and contested histories of slavery and colonialism.

The art commissions were funded by Welsh Government as part of the Anti-racist Wales Action Plan.

 

What is not on the map?

Mfikela Jean Samuel, artist and speaker on racial justice, was born in Shisong-Kumbo in northwestern Cameroon and now lives in North Wales. Mfikela works with acrylic and oils and draws his inspiration from both his heritage and lineage as well as broader historical themes. Mfikela’s new work responds to a map of British colonial possessions in West Africa in the late 1940s, distributed by the British government’s Central Office of Information (COI).

 

 

The COI was responsible for producing information campaigns on everything from health and education to transport and childcare. This map focuses on the products that could be exploited in Britain’s west African colonies. Only the areas that were under British control are shown in any detail.

 

 

Mfikela says, ‘in an effort to encompass the diversity of the continent, I incorporate elements inspired by all major regions of Africa. The inclusion of pharaohs from Egypt and traditional masks from various regions is a deliberate choice. These symbols represent the rich cultural heritage that endured despite the colonial intervention, showcasing the resilience and strength of African societies.

The artwork serves as a visual dialogue, inviting viewers to question the narratives imposed by colonial powers. It challenges the notion of Africa as a passive object of colonization, instead highlighting the agency and resistance present throughout history. By weaving the maps with these cultural symbols, I aim to dissolve the one-dimensional perspective placed upon Africa and its people.’

 

Slavery and Slebech

Jasmine Violet graduated from Carmarthen School of Art in 2020. Jasmine is an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, cyanotype printing, watercolours and oil painting, to explore themes of identity, subconscious thought and mental health.

 

 

 

Jasmine created her work in response to connections between Wales and Jamaica in the 18th century. The National Library of Wales holds records of sugar plantations and people enslaved by Nathaniel Phillips, who would later use the wealth he gained in the Caribbean to buy the Slebech estate, five miles east of Haverfordwest. These records include a map of one of Phillips’ plantations, Pleasant Hill, and a list of the enslaved people who worked there in the 1760s.

 

 

Nathaniel Phillips (1733–1813), illegitimate son of a London sugar trader, moved to Jamaica in 1759 and by 1761 had bought half shares in a plantation called Pleasant Hill. The other half was owned by Richard Swarton (–1762). Phillips married Swarton’s daughter Ann (–1767). When Swarton died in 1762, he left his share of Pleasant Hill to Ann and her descendants. We know from an inventory of Swarton’s assets at the time of his death that he owned half shares in 51 men, 29 women, nine boys and seven girls. He was also the sole owner of another nine men, 10 women, eight boys and seven girls.

 

 

In practice, this meant the plantation and those enslaved on it passed to Ann’s husband, Nathaniel Phillips, as married women were not able to own property in their own right. In the 1760s the 120 enslaved people on the plantation were expected to produce 90,000 kilograms of sugar and 30,000 litres of rum each year. After returning to Britain with his plantation wealth in 1789, Phillips bought Slebech Hall and its estate of 600 acres, near Haverfordwest. When Phillips left Jamaica, he owned 706 slaves, valued at £50,000. His Jamaican lands were worth an additional £160,000. He was an active campaigner against the abolition of the slave trade in the 1790s through the Society of West India Planters and Merchants. When slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1838, agents of Phillips’ descendants claimed £3599, four shillings and five pence in compensation from the British government. Those who had been enslaved received nothing.

Mfikela and Jasmine’s artworks, and the maps that inspired them, are on display in the Wales to the World exhibition at the Riverside gallery in Haverfordwest, until 24 February 2024.

 

Links and further reading

More information about Mfikela Jean Samuel and Jasmine Violet.

The Legacies of British Slavery project contains detailed information about slave owners and the compensation they received from the British Government at Abolition.

The British Online Archive [accessible inside the library building] includes detailed information on the Slebech papers held by NLW.

See this blog for more detail about the COI West Africa map and other colonial maps of Africa.

See this blog for information on NLW’s holdings relating to Wales and the slave trade.

See this blog for some of the other items on display in the Wales to the World exhibition.

 

Ellie King

Assistant Map Curator

 

This blog is also available in Welsh.

Maps for Learning and Play

#LoveMaps / Collections - Posted 29-01-2024

This blog is part of a series to accompany the Wales to the World: maps from the National Library of Wales exhibition, currently on display at the Riverside Gallery, Haverfordwest, until 24 February 2024. Each blog will focus on a selection of items joined by a common theme. This time we are focusing on maps for learning and play.

Games have long been used to help children get to grips with geography. Jigsaw puzzles were first invented as a map teaching aid. They invention is generally attributed to John Spilsbury in the 1760s Originally, the pieces were not the ubiquitous shape of puzzles today, but were individually cut out along outlines of countries, or counties. Children could then piece together a complete map. In the exhibition, you can see a jigsaw, or ‘dissected map’ as they were originally known, from the 1890s. It was manufactured by William Peacock, a prolific creator of map jigsaws. His company, Peacock & Co., continued into the 1930s, when it was bought by Chad Valley.

 

 

Peacock & Co. were not cartographers, they used maps that were already available, pasted them onto wooden boards and then cut out the pieces. This puzzle is made up of the counties of England and Wales. Ideally, each county would have its own piece, but as each puzzle had to be laboriously and expensively hand cut, some pieces cover more than one county. Like jigsaws everywhere, this puzzle is missing a single piece!

Also on display is a school atlas used at Llanddewi Brefi Board School in the early 20th century. We know this because schoolgirl Mary Davies wrote her name and school on the cover. This book was designed to introduce the concept of a map to school children. The atlas opens with a drawing of a typical Victorian school building in an idyllic landscape of fields and rolling hills, a steam train passing in the background. The same scene is then shown on a map, all features carefully labelled. This would have helped school children get to grips with cartographic conventions by connecting them to a familiar landscape.

 

 

Most of the maps in the atlas focus on physical geographical features, but it also includes one historical map, showing ‘the Holy Land in the time of our saviour’, showing the embeddedness of religion in the general school curriculum at the time. The Middle East also appears in one of the Welsh language maps in the exhibition.

Published in 1916, Map y rhyfel yng ngwledydd y Beibl [Map of the war in the lands of the Bible] was intended to help ordinary people understand the course of the First World War by showing the modern placenames alongside their Biblical equivalents. The map was published in Y Darian, a radical South Wales paper. The map’s creator, Beriah Gwynfe Evans, explained his aims to a Darian reporter:

“Gwyr pobl Cymru eu Beibl, a’r enwau Beiblaidd-ond ni ch’eir ond ychydig o’r enwau hynny yn y papurau new- ydd, gan fod yr enwau diweddar ar y lleoedd yn wahanol i’r enwau a geir ar y lleoedd hynny yn y Beibl … Gwyr blant yr Ysgol Sul am Sardis, a Philadelphia, ac Elath, Ninifeh – ond pwy ohonynt a gysylltai yr enwau hynny ag ‘Aktisar,’ ‘Alashei,’ ‘Akaba,’ a ‘Mosul’, er engraifft. … A cha’r Cymro ddidordeb newydd wrth ddarllen hanes y brwydro yn y lleoedd dieithr hyn pan wel mai yr un ydynt a’r lleoedd y dysgwyd ef am danynt o dan ryw enw arall yn yr Ysgol Sul.” (Y Darian, 31 Awst 1916)

“The people of Wales know their Bible, and the Biblical names, but only a few of those names appear in the newspapers, as the current names of the places are different from the names found in the Bible … Sunday School children all know about Sardis, Philadelphia, Elath and Nineveh, but who can connect them to Aktisar, Alashei, Akaba and Mosul … the Welshman will have a new interest when reading the history of the fighting in these strange places when he sees that they are the same as the places he was taught about under some other name in Sunday School” (Y Darian, 31 August 1916)

The paper later published a letter of thanks from a Pembrokeshire woman who was keeping track of her cousins in Egypt using their letters and the Darian map.

 

 

To end on a lighter note, also on display are three map playing cards created by William Redmayne in the late 17th century. At the time, England and Wales together were made up of 52 counties – the same number of cards in a standard playing card deck. Several different publishers took advantage of this to make packs of cards where each county appeared on a different card. The ‘Pembrook-shire’ card here is from the first edition of Redmayne’s cards and dates to 1676. The cards were printed in black and white, and the red suit shapes were hand stamped after printing.

The following year, Redmayne released a revised second edition. Possibly the fact that Pembrokeshire is described as adjacent to Flintshire contributed to the decision to reprint! The second edition was also produced in black and white, with the expensive second stage of hand stamping the suits dispensed with. ‘Red’ and ‘black’ suits are distinguished by stripes and hatching respectively. The ‘Cardigan-shire’ and ‘Caernarvan-shire’ cards here are from this second edition.

 

 

These are just a few of the items on display in the Wales to the world exhibition, currently on display at the Riverside, Haverfordwest, until 24 February 2024. You can read more about the exhibition here: https://blog.library.wales/a-new-maps-exhibition-at-the-riverside-gallery-haverfordwest/ .

 

Ellie King

Assistant Map Curator

 

This blog is also available in Welsh.

Supporters and Subscribers of Welsh School, Ashford, Middlesex

Collections - Posted 15-01-2024

Browsing through the different reading materials in the school’s library, one name which steps forward and was an influential figure in Welsh culture particularly during the late 18th and beginning of the 19th century, was William Owen Pughe.  He is named as the Librarian for the Society of Antient Britons between 1830-32, 1834-35, in one of the Annual Reports volumes for the school.  William Owen Pughe was a lexicographer, editor and grammarian, antiquarian and poet.  He left his native area in Meirionethshire for London in 1776 and lived in the capital for 30 years.  Though he returned to Wales in 1806, his ties with London continued to be strong. He was also the editor for Y Greal, the periodical for the Cymmrodorion and the Gwyneddigion, between 1805-1807.

 

 

Like his contemporaries, Pughe, made an important contribution to the literary and cultural life of Wales.  His efforts contributed to Welsh scholarship during the 19th century because of his and his contemporaries eagerness to uncover, re-discover and publish the contents of ancient Welsh manuscripts. Amongst other collaborations, William Owen Pughe, helped Owain Myfyr, who had been assistant secretary at the time for Cymdeithas y Cymmrodorion and also President of Y Gwyneddigion, to publish Dafydd ap Gwilym’s poetry, for the first time in 1789.  Both, along with Iolo Morganwg, were responsible for compiling and publishing ‘The Myvyrian archaeology of Wales’, between 1801 and 1807, a compilation of Welsh language manuscripts containing Brutiau (Chronicles) and early Welsh poetry. The Cymmrodorion were a prominent influence in promoting other educational and cultural ventures established in Wales, such as the University of Wales at the end of the 19th century. It played an important role in the discussions regarding the creation of educational and national institutions in Wales during the 20th century.

The Annual Reports of the School show that there were continued Welsh aristocratic and important patron links between Wales and the school.  Amongst the list of School Governors and Subscribers (who were also members of o ‘The Most Honourable and Loyal Society of Antient Britons’) there was a local link with Aberystwyth, for example, Lord Lisburne, Trawscoed Estate, subscribed £5/5s/5d for 1889. One of Lord Lisburne’s ancestors was amongst the founders of ‘The Most Honourable and Loyal Society of Antient Britons’ when it was established in 1714-15 in a dinner held at Haberdashers Hall to appoint the society’s President and stewarts.

The 1890 report also lists the contribution made by Squire Loxdale, Castle Hill, Llanilar, Aberystwyth who subscribed £1/1s in the same year; Major Price-Lewes, Ty-glyn Aeron, Ciliau Aeron, Ceredigion subscribed £1/1s in 1889; Theresa, Dowager Marchioness Londonderry, Plas Machynlleth, who subscribed £5/5s for 1889. Another individual in the history of Aberystwyth was Thomas Savin, Oswestry, the first owner of the Castle Hotel, Aberystwyth, before it was eventually sold in 1867 because of debt.  The hotel was bought as one of the first buildings of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and is also known as the ‘Old College’, located on Aberystwyth seafront.

Amongst the school’s other Governors and Subscribers in 1890, and who were prominent in Welsh life at the time, were Sir R. Williams Bulkeley, Beaumaris; David Davies, Broneirion, Llandinam; Lord Dynevor, Dynevor Castle, Llandeilo; the Right Honourable W.E Gladstone, Hawarden, Chester; Lord Harlech, Brogyntyn, Oswestry; Stuart Rendel, Liberal M.P, 4 Whitehall Gardens, London; Lady Aberdare and Sir W. Williams Wynn, Wynnstay, Ruabon and his wife and mother, the Lady Dowager Williams Wynn, Llangedwyn, Oswestry.

Recognising its royal links were very important to the school’s profile and it always paid homage to the king/queen as its Honorary President.  The royal heraldry always appeared amongst the first few pages of the school’s annual report to emphasise the loyalty of the pupils and school staff to the monarchy.  Annual dinners were held to demonstrate these links as well as being fund-raising events for the school.  The First Grand Fancy and Full Dress Cambrian Ball for the benefit of the Welsh Charity School, Gray’s Inn, Road, took place at Willis’s Rooms, King Street, St.James’s Square, 20th June, 1823. The school’s 185th anniversary was held at the Holborn Restaurant on March 1, 1900, and John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia) was listed as one of the musical items performing a harp solo.  John Thomas at the time was also the Royal Harpist at the time and had been appointed to the role since 1871 when he was appointed by Queen Victoria.  During his career he was appointed a harp tutor at the Royal College of Music and at the Guildhall School of Music.

 

 

The school’s library contained a range of materials and books on various aspects of Welsh history, culture, literature and heritage.  Amongst these were works by Edward Jones such as ‘Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards… to the bardic Tunes are added Variations for the Harp, Piano-Forte, Violin, or Flute.  Dedicated, by Permission, to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, by Edward Jones, Teacher of the Harp, and Bard to the Prince’.

Edward Jones (1752-1824) arrived in London c.1775 and by the end of the century he had been appointed Royal Harpist to the Prince of Wales.  He was also known as the ‘Bard of the King’.  He came from a musical family whose roots were in Meirionethshire, had been an adjudicator on harp playing and was an enthusiastic collector of Welsh folk-songs.  He published a number of arrangements for harp and native folk-songs and penillion.  ‘Musical and Poetical Relicks of the Welsh Bards’ was originally published in 1784 and contained Welsh poetry and folk-songs, such as ‘Gorhoffedd Gwŷr Harlech – The March of the Men of Harlech, ‘Gogerddan’, ‘Hob y Deri Dando’, ‘Rhyfelgyrch Cadpen Morgan / Captain Morgan’s March’.

The school’s library included a variety of original material whose authors were famous in Wales, ‘Canwyll y Cymru’ by Ficer Pritchard of Llandovery; ‘Historie Britannicae Defensio’, by J. Price published in 1573; ‘The Historie of Cambria’ by Caradog of Llangarvan and an 1848 publication of the 1847 Education Reports known as the ‘Treason of the Blue Books’ (Brad y Llyfrau Gleision).

During the school’s existence it was a focus for the patronage and support of individuals and institutions which had an interest in the culture and heritage of Wales.  Its library was a cavern of Welsh literary and archival treasures which enabled this legacy to be honoured and preserved for future generations.

 

Bibliography:

Annual Reports for the Welsh School for Girls

NLW website

Dictionary of Welsh Biography

‘A History of Wales’ – John Davies

 

 

Bethan Hopkins-Williams

Cataloguing Assistant

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Discovering Welsh Archives in Brittany

Collections - Posted 10-01-2024

T. Gwynn Jones, Dyfnallt, O.M. Edwards, Ambrose Bebb, R. Williams Parry … just a few of the Welsh personalities whose archives are preserved in the National Library. But recently letters from them and other prominent Welsh figures came to light in Brittany, thanks to an international project investigating archives from Brittany held in Wales and those from Wales in Brittany. The project is led by the Centre de Recherche bretonne et celtique at the university in Brest, together with the Centre for Higher Welsh and Celtic Studies, Aberystwyth, in partnership with the National Library and the Finistère archives in Quimper.

 

 

Over the years many Breton researchers have come to the National Library to use its extensive Breton holdings, but until now little information was available about the corresponding Welsh material in Brittany. The papers of the bard François Jaffrennou (‘Taldir’, 1879-1956) are a case in point. Half his archives are in the National Library, but the rest are in Quimper. And there, in his correspondence files for 1897 to 1927, we discovered a treasure trove of letters to Taldir from prominent Welsh men and women of the day. Many of them wrote in Welsh, knowing that Taldir had mastered the language. His correspondents included T. Gwynn Jones and Dyfnallt, whose connections with Brittany were already well known, but we also discovered amusing letters from R. Williams Parry and Sir Ifor Williams.

 

 

Another archive in Quimper is that of Francis Gourvil (1889-1984), who learnt Welsh in Dyffryn Ogwen between the two world wars. Not surprisingly his files included letters from Ambrose Bebb, Dyfnallt and other Welsh correspondents, and in many cases the other side of the correspondence can be read in the National Library.

So far we have only scratched the surface, and we expect to make more exciting discoveries as the project continues.

 

Ceridwen Lloyd-Morgan

History of the Welsh School, Ashford, Middlesex

Collections / Research - Posted 08-01-2024

Some years after closing the Welsh School in Ashford, Middlesex, a collection of their early books were donated to the National Library of Wales. The collection has now been catalogued and available for the public to request individual items to view in our reading room.

 

This is the first of two blogs which will provide the historical context to the collection. This blog gives a brief history of the school and its books. The second blog, which will be published next week, will discuss the supporters and subscribers of the school.

 

 

The school was first established by ‘The Honourable and Loyal Society of Antient Britons’ under the name of the ‘British Charity School’ in the Clerkenwell area of London in 1718.  It was also known as the ‘Welsh Charity School’. When placed in its historical context, the school belonged to a ‘Welsh Renaissance’ when London became a destination for many Welsh individuals and societies who wanted to promote and the richness and depth of Welsh culture and heritage.

 

The story of the school’s establishment began with the leasing of a room in Hatton Garden in 1718 with just twelve pupils. In 1737, subscriptions started to be collected in order to begin the process of building a permanent building. Contributions from nobility and aristocracy with links to Wales were gathered so that a piece of land in Clerkenwell Green could be bought to build a school on it. Amongst the first patrons of the school was the naturalist from Wales Thomas Pennant, who contributed £100 towards the cost of building the new school in Gray’s Inn Road.

 

The school was initially founded as a charity school to educate poor children in London who were of Welsh descent and it was maintained financially by voluntary contributions.  The location of the school moved in 1772 from Gray’s Inn Road, London, and then onto Ashford, Middlesex, in 1857 before it changed into a girls only school in 1882 with a new name, ‘Welsh Girls School’.  It closed officially in 2009.

 

During its history, which nearly spanned 300 years, the school changed from being an educational institution for underprivileged boys and girls with an emphasis on learning a trade and vocational skills, to being by the time of its closure in 2009, a private, girls independent school. The school was re-named ‘St.David’s School’ in 1967.

 

‘The Society for Ancient Britons’, established in 1715, was one of the main patrons of the school and there were close links between the two from the school’s establishment with the Society’s meetings being held in the school when it was located in Clerkenwell and Gray’s Inn Road.  The Society of Ancient Britons’ library of books was also held in the school and late on its library was inherited and incorporated by the school when the Society came to an end in 1787.  Apart from the Society’s books, the school’s library included reading materials from other institutions, such as the Cymmrodorion Society and the ‘Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge’.  It had inherited the pamphlets and reading material which had belonged to the Cymmrodorion when that society was first dismantled in 1785.  The above collections are now available to view here at the National Library of Wales.

 

 

Pupil numbers increased significantly during the first half of the 19th century.  In 1837 there were 160 pupils (boys and girls) in the school and by 1857 there were 2,000 boys and 670 girls in the school. The Prince Consort (Queen Victoria’s son), in his speech at the opening ceremony of the new school on July 13, 1857 explained how the nature and constitution of the school had evolved since its founding. The basis of the type of education provided at the outset of the school emphasised vocational education and skills and apprenticeships to provide the pupils with a means for a livelihood.  Equal attention was given to a Christian education and loyalty to the monarchy was also emphasised as the school was initially founded on March 1, 1718, the birthday of Princess Caroline.  This also coincided with the national celebrations of St. David’s Day in Wales.

 

In the School Annual Report for 1900 it was noted that: ‘During the period previous to 1882 about 2,600 boys and about 900 girls were admitted to the benefit of the Institution.  The children received board, clothing, and a sound, useful education; a great number of them were afterwards apprenticed to useful trades, others were fitted out and sent to the Colonies, others to sea, some to service and many became pupil teachers. There is evidence to show that many of these children became afterwards prosperous, useful, and loyal citizens…’.

 

In 1882 it was decided to close the old school and compensate those pupils who were enrolled at the school at the time.  The new school was opened on 4 October, 1882 with the new name ‘Welsh School for Girls’ with the aim of being to provide higher education, with board and lodgings, for girls only.  It was stipulated that the criteria for being accepted as a pupil was not dependant on where parents/children lived – the only stipulation was that at least one of the parents had been born in ‘the Principality of Wales, Monmouthshire, or in the parishes of Oswestry, Selattyn and Llanymynech in the shire of Salop (which is the old name for Shropshire)’.

 

Girls between the ages of 10-15 years of age were admitted to the school and their education was categorised based on its numerical value.  Pupils who paid the higher tier would pay £32 for the year, intermediate tier education was £16 a year and foundation tier education provided free education and accommodation.  The latter two groups were admitted based on their examination results, by the General Body of Subscribers for the school.  The school’s convenient location in Ashford was promoted as an advantage with its close proximity to Ashford Railway Station being only 16 miles from London, 7 miles from Windsor and 25 miles from Reading, when travelling on the ‘London and South Western Railway’.

 

The nature of the curriculum was academic. Attendance figures for the school showed a significant increase in pupil numbers from 1882 when 54 pupils were registered to 1900 when 150 pupils had enrolled. However, just over a century later, the school closed its doors for the final time because of financial difficulties.  A sad end for an institution which had played a key role in giving a haven to some of Wales’ most important literary and archival treasures.

 

Bethan Hopkins-Williams

Cataloguing Assistant

 

 

Bibliography:

Annual Reports for the Welsh School for Girls

NLW website

Dictionary of Welsh Biography

‘A History of Wales’ – John Davies

Spineless Wonders

Collections / News and Events - Posted 11-12-2023

 

The first book from the Gregynog Press was published a century ago in 1923, but the first item to come from the press was a Christmas card for 1922. It includes a verse in Welsh and English about the importance of reading – appropriate for a new printing press – and a wood engraving of Gregynog Hall, the press’s home near Newtown.

 

 

I had the pleasure of presenting some items from the Library’s collection of private-press publications at the ‘Spineless Wonders’ hybrid event held recently in the Drwm and online. The term “private presses” refers to contemporary presses which use traditional hand-printing methods to create beautiful publications in limited editions. Given the theme of the conference I concentrated on more ephemeral publications, such as the peace message from the children of the Principality of Wales to the children of the world printed in May 1923; similar messages were published every year from 1930 to 1939.

 

 

Amongst other private presses in Wales are the Old Stile Press in Llandogo, Monmouthshire, and the Gwydir Press in Gwydir Castle, Llanrwst. Lesser known is the press of Huw Ceiriog Jones, a former member of staff at the National Library, which has gone under various names including Gwasg Llety Gwyn, Gwasg yr Arad Goch and Gwasg Y Wern. I showed a number of items printed by Huw, such as Christmas cards and a selection of the poetry of Dr. Daniel Huws, former Keeper of Manuscripts and Records at the Library, of which just three copies were printed.

 

 

Works by Welsh authors have inspired private presses outside Wales. Items shown included works by R.S. Thomas printed by the Celandine Press in Warwickshire and the Babel Press in Denklingen in Germany, an edition of Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill by the Waseley Hill Press in Worcestershire, and an edition of Llywarch Hen by the Tern Press in Shropshire. In about 1920 the Cuala Press in Dublin printed the Gorsedd Prayer and Welsh verses by W.J. Gruffydd and Eifion Wyn.

 

 

The audience was delighted to view these small items which nevertheless display the exceptional skills of their creators. The Library continues to collect private-press items of Welsh interest, both new publications and older ones of which we do not already hold copies.

Timothy Cutts

Rare Books Librarian

Decolonising the National Art Collection

Collections - Posted 05-12-2023

The National Library of Wales is home to over 60,000 works of art, ranging from watercolour paintings to cartoons and continues to expand its art collection through various projects.

One such project is the Library’s Anti-Racist Project for which four artists – Joshua Donkor, Jasmine Violet, Mfikela Jean Samuel and Dr Adéọlá Dewis – were commissioned to create new works of art in response to the Library’s collections, whilst facing some challenging aspects of history.

The result is new works of art which contribute to improving the diversity of the art collection so that it can be a better reflection of Wales.

These works are on display across two locations: at the Wales to the World exhibition at the Riverside gallery at Haverfordwest, the Reflection display for Black History Month and the newly opened CYFOES exhibition, both taking place at the Library.

The Library’s Art Curator, Morfudd Bevan said “It has been a great experience working with these four extremely talented artists on this very important project. It is essential that we have open and honest conversations about our collections in order to create improvements and to educate ourselves about the hidden history of Wales.”

A selection of new Welsh related books that have reached the National Library

Collections - Posted 13-11-2023

History and general works

Cymru ddoe mewn lliw a llun / Gwyn Jenkins, Y Lolfa, 2022.

Merched peryglus / Golygwyd gan Angharad Tomos a Tamsin Cathan Davies, Honno, 2023.

Fy stori fawr / Golygydd: Gwenfair Griffith, Y Lolfa, 2023.

The North Wales Limestone Way / Colin K Peter, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 2023.

The Welsh in Liverpool : a remarkable history / D. Ben Rees, Y Lolfa, 2021.

 

 

The Nanteos Grail : the evolution of a holy relic / John Matthews, Ian Pegler and Fred Steadman-Jones, Amberley Publishing, 2023.

Two rivers from a common spring : the Books Council of Wales at 60, Welsh Books Council, 2021.

The Corris Railway : the story of a mid-Wales slate railway / Peter Johnson, Pen and Sword Transport, 2023.

Ffestiniog law : the shaping of a pioneering railway / Stephen Murfitt, Railway & Canal Historical Society, 2023.

Lost lines of Wales : Monmouthshire Western Railway / Geoffrey Lloyd, Graffeg, 2022.

 

 

Essays

Tryweryn, a new dawn? : the legacy of the drowning of Capel Celyn / Dr Wyn Thomas, Y Lolfa, 2023.

 

Biographies

Gelli di newid y byd! / Margaret Rooke, Graffeg, 2023.

Llythyr Noel : Dal y post / Noel Thomas, Gwasg y Bwthyn, 2023.

A Fisherman’s Fortune : A Memoir / Roger Jones, Llyfrau Cambria Books, [2023]

Charles : The King and Wales / Huw Thomas, Parthian, 2023.

Ahead of his time : Roy Francis and Rugby League / Peter Lush, London League Publications Ltd, 2022.

 

Sport

Mae’r haul wedi dod i Wrecsam / Geraint Løvgreen, Y Lolfa, 2023.

Dau frawd, dwy gêm / Dylan Ebenezer, Y Lolfa, 2022.

From Hollywood to Wrexham / Peter Read, Y Lolfa, 2023.

Half truths : my triumph, my mistakes, my untold story / Mike Phillips, with Matthew Southcombe, Reach Sport, 2022.

Wales and the All Blacks : an off-field history / Roger G. K. Penn, Y Lolfa, 2022.

 

Children

Cadi Goch a’r Crochan Hud / Simon Rodway, Y Lolfa, 2023.

Cadi a’r môr-ladron / Bethan Gwanas, Y Lolfa, 2022.

Shani Chickens / Valériane Leblond, Y Lolfa, 2022.

Seed / Caryl Lewis, Macmillan Children’s Books, 2022.

 

Fiction

Anfadwaith / Llŷr Titus, Y Lolfa, 2023.

Love untold / Ruth Jones, Penguin Books, 2023.

Vulcana : A Novel / Rebecca F. John, Honno Modern Fiction, 2023.

 

Poetry

Barddoniaeth Ystrad Fflur / Dafydd Johnston, Gomer, 2023.

The peacemakers / Waldo Williams ; parallel translations by Tony Conran, Y Lolfa, 2023.

 

Euros Evans,

Cataloguing Assistant.

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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