#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1791 William Williams Pantycelyn passed away

William Williams Pantycelyn

Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch, 
Fi, bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynof nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, Hollalluog,
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.
Ydyw’r Un a’m cwyd i’r lan.

William Williams Pantycelyn. Methodist cleric. Author. Hymn-writer. And one of Wales’s greatest religious figures. He played an integral part in the Welsh Methodist Revival of the 18th century, and is best known today for writing the favourite hymn of Welsh rugby supporters, Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. Or Bread of Heaven as it’s commonly known. The above words are the original words of the hymn he wrote, entitled Arglwyddarwain trwy’r anialwch.

Phil Carradice’s BBC history blog chronicles Pantycelyn’s life and the rise of the Calvinistic Methodists, from its beginnings as a Church of England movement to its break from that institution in 1811. This BBC Wales’s page on religion in Wales provides an insight into the first wave of great hymn-writers and preachers in the eighteenth century.

In his closing paragraph, Carradice offers a subtle, yet moving tribute to the man from Carmarthenshire who influenced so greatly Welsh Christianity.

“William Williams, Pantycelyn, died on 11 January 1791 and was buried in the churchyard at Llanfair-ar-y-bryn, just outside Llandovery. He remains one of the great figures of Welsh religion – indeed, one of the great figures of Welsh social history. Every year, when the Welsh rugby fans bawl out Bread Of Heaven, they are paying tribute to a remarkable and fascinating man.”


#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1983 Llanelli and Lions great Carwyn James passed away

Guto Owen runs a blog looking forward to the Lions tour to Australia in 2013. And today he’s written a post on one of the true enigmas of world rugby. Carwyn James. Enjoy.

Mae Guto Owen yn rhedeg blog yn edrych ymlaen at daith y Llewod i Awstralia yn 2013. Heddiw mae wedi ysgrifennu darn ar un o gewri y byd rygbi. Carwyn James. Mwynhewch.

Lion Coach

Lions Coach in 1971

Carwyn Rees James. 2/11/1929 – 10/1/1983

The Wales Archive from the Western Mail

  1. The Western Mail is publishing a series of pullouts every day featuring some of the most fascinating pictures from its archives on life in Wales.
    First of all it was the turn of shopping in Wales and how that’s changed during the last century.
  2. The Wales Archive: Part 1 – A look back at shopping in Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  3. Then it was the turn of transport
  4. The Wales Archive: Part 2 – Transport in Wales through the ages – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  5. Politicians.
  6. The Wales Archive: Part 3 – Politicians who made their mark on Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  7. Emergency services.
  8. The Wales Archive: Part 4 – 999 – The emergency services – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  9. Musicians.
  10. The Wales Archive: Part 5 – The superstar musicians who played Wales – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  11. Football managers.
  12. The Wales Archive: Part 6 – Football managers through the years – Need to Read – News from @walesonline walesonline.co.uk/news/need…
  13. You can buy any of the photos by clicking here.
    Louvain Rees is a history blogger from Bridgend who focuses on the Glamorgan area of South Wales who is constantly uploading photos of her locality to the Facebook page Remembering Bridgend. Her blog HelloHistoria also contains many photographs of Welsh life.
    Do you have any images of Welsh life? Share them with us by commenting below or visiting our Facebook page here.

#ONTHISDAYINWALES in 1873 Chris Williams was born

On this day in Wales in 1873 Christopher Williams, one of the leading figures in Welsh art during his career was born in Maesteg. A prominent portrait artist he completed a number of high profile commissions. He is best known for his imposing classical subjects, including Deffroad Cymru (The Awakening of Wales) and his large scale classical interpretations of the Mabinogion.

Schooled in Neath at the Llynfi Ironworks School his talent was first recognised by artist F J Kerr. In 1893 he won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal College of Art and from there he attended the oldest art school in Britain, the Royal Academy Schools.

Williams was offered commission after commission. In 1911 he painted The Investiture of Edward, Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle and later three portraits of former Welsh Prime Minister David Lloyd George. He was also commissioned by Lloyd George to paint The Charge of the Welsh Division at Mametz Wood.

He was a portraitist as well as a landscapist. Richard Lloyd, Sir John Rhys, John Parry Jones and Richard Lloyd all sat for him. Examples of his landscapes include Storm over Cader Idris and Sunset in the Welsh Hills. The Red Dress is held at the National Museum Wales and Holidays – Village Girls at Llangrannog at the National Library of Wales. His landscape painting took him all over the world including Switzerland, Holland and Morocco.

Some of his most striking work came in the form of three paintings inspired by three scenes from the Mabinogion. They include Ceridwen (1910) and Branwen which are in the collection of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea (1915) and Blodeuwedd (1930) which you can see at the Newport Museum and Art Gallery.

On 7 July last year the Christopher Williams exhibition at the National Library of Wales opened. In his NLW Blog, Siôn Jobbins writes that one of Williams’ paintings is perhaps more familiar than any other. Deffroad Cymru is a painting of a beautiful woman rising, phoenix-like from darkness into light, a metaphor for the rise in Welsh national consciousness. You can read about the process of putting the exhibition together here.

Former MP Kim Howells officially opened the exhibition on 14 July last year and also presented the 2011 BBC Wales series Framing Wales, which featured Williams and his works. Watch this clip from the series, in which he talks to Robert Meyrick, head of Aberystwyth School of Art, about the artist.

Follow the link to watch the video

Follow the link to watch the video

Click on the links to view the paintings or visit the BBC Arts site Your Paintings (the subject of another Discover the Past post) to view over 100 of his paintings.

Who is Dic Aberdaron?

Who was Dic Aberdaron?

Who was Dic Aberdaron?

169 years ago yesterday, the Welsh traveller Dic Aberdaron died at the age of 63. In a recent blogpost Elin Meredith explains that even though he has been ‘immortalised through song, art and memory’ he is still seen as an enigma.

Born Richard Robert Jones in Aberdaron in 1780, he became known for his incredible skill of learning languages and eccentric tendencies. Completely self-taught, it is thought the wanderer from the small fishing village on the Llyn Peninsula could speak around 15 languages. He began learning Latin when he was only 12 years old and Greek before he was 20!

As Elin Meredith’s blogpost explains, the latest example of his immortilization comes in the form of an oil painting made available through a new project which has made all the UK’s publicly owned artworks available online. The painting by William Roos, who’s collection is at the National Library of Wales can be seen here.

Your Paintings showcases around 200,000 oil paintings, many of which have never been photographed before. It’s a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and participating collections and museums from across the UK.

Mark Bell, BBC Commisioning Editor, Arts, said: “Mark Bell, BBC Commissioning Editor, Arts, said: “Taken in its entirety, Your Paintings is the story of the country in pictures, but it is the individual discoveries, new attributions and connections that are most exciting.”

And re-disovering people like Dic is part of the fun. Many questions we have about him will remain unanswered, but as Jan Morris, the author of The Matter of Wales writes, “It is often impossible, even now, to disentangle his truth from his fiction…but there are young Welshmen still who see this way of life as admirable – a life full of aspiration and private satisfaction, but utterly outside the usual canons of success.” And for that Dic Aberdaron will forever be remembered.

See how its done! ‘We Beat the All Blacks’ tonight on BBC One Wales at 10.35pm

Me proudly stood in front of the iconic  scoreboard

This weekend the mighty All Blacks come to the city and anyone who’s worried about the Welsh team’s prospects should fear not, because tonight you’ll get the chance to see how its done.

We haven’t beaten New Zealand in nearly sixty years but on a damp October afternoon in 1972, Llanelli RFC did just that – a victory which made history.

In a one hour special made by Green Bay Media for BBC Wales, players and fans look back and reminisce about the famous win and reveal why it has become such an important part of Welsh rugby history.

And who can forget Max Boyce’s famous song ‘9-3’? And that iconic last verse:
‘And when I grow old, my hair turns grey and they put me in a chair,
I’ll tell my great grandchildren that their Datcu was there.
And they’ll ask to hear the story of that dark October day,
When I went down to Stradey park and I saw the Scarlets play.’

So remember to tune in to BBC One Wales at 10.35 tonight to witness one of the great Welsh rugby moments.

A Radio Cymru show was broadcast from Caffi Beca in Efailwen this morning – but why is the village so important?

The 1830s and 1840s were tumultuous decades in Welsh history as years of unrest among the working classes reached a violent climax. 1831 saw the Merthyr Rising, and the Chartists became the first working-class movement in Britain culminating in the 1839 Newport Rising. But one event during this period arguably captured the hearts and minds of the Welsh like no other – The Rebecca Riots or Terfysg Beca.

On May 3rd 1839 the tollgate in Efailwen, Carmarthenshire, was destroyed by a gang of men with blackened faces, clad in women’s clothes. But who were these men and what had made them so angry?

Why not visit the Southgate Tollhouse at St Fagans National History Museum?

Poverty and social inequality led these men to revolt against what they felt were unfair road taxes raised by the Turnpike trusts. These trusts were set up to improve Wales’ poor quality of roads. In return they were allowed to build toll gates. For example, between Pontarddulais and Carmarthen there were eleven tollgates. Farmers who regularly used the roads were hit the hardest. Efailwen tollagte was built in 1839 to catch out those who were not paying their way. This was the final straw.

The tolls were very much symbols of oppression, but as Neil Evans of the School of History and Archaeology writes here almost half  of the incidents ‘were about general economic conditions in the countryside and not about tolls at all.’

The economic hardship of the period meant life was hard and primitive. Below are some of the reasons why:

  • A population increase in rural Wales meant gaining a livelihood was difficult
  • Most farmers did not own their own land so had to pay high rents to wealthy landlords
  • Prices for livestock were falling
  • Common land which had been available for all the people in the village were now enclosed
  • Establishment of the Workhouse (one was built in Carmarthen in 1837)
  • Farmers had to pay tithes to the church – one tenth of all their produce each year – even if they attended chapel, which many did

Times were hard, but in 1842-3 when economic conditions were even worse the outbreaks once again spread through the south west….

 Now Discover for Yourself

There are a number of theories as to why the name Rebecca was chosen for the leader of the disturbances. Do some detective work of your own and find out what they are and which one you feel is the most convincing.

For those of you interested in reading some primary sources (original materials from the period) visit the People’s Collection Wales website. The National Archives website have some very useful and interesting primary source exercises so get involved!

You may even have seen episode 4 of The Story of Wales which was recently shown on BBC 2 which covered the Rebecca Riots. I was lucky enough to work as a runner on the series and the scene you can view here was filmed at St Fagans National History Museum just outside Cardiff, and took most of the night to film. The original gate was replaced with one specially made for the scene only so it could be smashed up by the rioters. It was all very fun.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous take a walk or cycle along the Bro Beca Trail and explore the landscape of Rebecca.