During 2011 Antiquarians were provided with a variety of lectures and field days
encompassing all areas of our county. Again tribute must be paid to the industrious nature of officers
of the society who continue to formulate an active programme of events.
At the beginning of the year the January lecture was held at Capel Heol Awst where
County Archivist Dr. John Davies gave a lecture entitled “Be mindful-The Cawdor Family and
estates in Carmarthenshire, 1804-1911”. Dr. Davies had spent seven years researching the subject
which culminated in an award of a Ph.d. Members were told that that there were at least one thousand
boxes containing archival material dating back to the 14th Century stored at Parc Myrddin. It is
hoped that the Society will publish the research carried out by Dr., Davies in the very near future.
February saw the annual Day School being held at The Cothi Suite, Halliwell Centre,
Trinity College.The theme was “Made in Carmarthenshire”. The first lecture was given
by Jen Jones from The Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter followed by Sally Moss whose subject was focussed
on the woollen industry in Carmarthenshire. After lunch Donald Treharne delivered an address on
Llanelli Pottery and Robert Protheroe- Jones from The Waterfront Museum in Swansea and who is the
curator of heavy industry gave an account of the brick industry in Carmarthenshire. Chris Delaney
rounded off the day when he spoke on the tinplate industry in Carmarthenshire.
Capel Heol Awst was re visited in March when John Gwilym Jones, a former Arch
Druid of Wales and one of three brothers all of whom are renowned for their contribution to Welsh
cultural and religious life, spoke on the subject of Parc Nest with emphasis on the Middle Ages.
The lecture was delivered through the medium of Welsh and simultaneous translation facilities were
ably provided by Catrin Howells from Trywydd.
A very well attended Annual General Meeting was held in April at Capel Newydd,
Llandeilo. Dr. Brinley Jones who is the former President of The National Library of Wales and former
Warden of Llandovery College gave an appropriate lecture on Sir John Williams, the founder of The
National Library in Aberystwyth. During the business part of the meeting Dominic Conway was appointed
Chairman with Dylan Rees as Vice Chairman.
With spring in the air, members made a field trip in May to the Penpont estate
near Brecon. This visit was scheduled for last year but access had been denied as a sudden road
closure had been implemented owing to a fatal road accident. Everyone enjoyed the hospitality of
the estate owners, Gavin and Davina Hogg who gave a guided tour of the house and grounds. Penpont
is a grade one listed house and has been in the same family since 1666. Whilst the estate is still
a viable rural property of two thousand acres it has taken the owners seventeen years to make a
sympathetic restoration of the house. On the return journey a visit was made to St. Cynog Parish
Church at the village of Defynog. Here Dominic Conway gave a history of the church followed by a
visit to the bell tower. The present incumbent, the Rev.’d Michael Wilding and his band of
parishoners provided a sumptuous tea for which everyone was truly grateful.
In June, Robert Evans organised an interesting field day to the village of Manorbier
which was the birthplace of Geraldus Cambrensis (1146-1223) and who described the village as “
the pleasantest place in Wales”. Members were delighted to have Robert Scourfield, the Conservation
Officer for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and one of the authors of The Buildings
of South Wales- Pembrokeshire, as a guest lecturer for the day. The Castle, a Dovecote, a Neolithic
Burial Chamber and the Norman Church of St. James were all on the itinerary and thoroughly enjoyed
Continuing the summer season of field days, the Chairman’s evening took
place at Stradey Castle in Llanelli, the ancestral home of the Mansel Lewis family. Stradey Castle
is the only surviving baronial mansion in the county and Thomas Lloyd was able to provide a detailed
history of both the family and castle. Kim Conway provided delectable refreshments at the conclusion
of the visit.
August was an opportunity for our Antiquary Editor, Muriel Bowen- Evans to host
a field day at Trelech. Following a lecture on Capel Y Graig members were led north from Trelech
to Crugybolion which is the site of a Bronze Age burial ground and which marked the boundary of
the Carmarthenshire/Pembrokeshire border. Later in the afternoon members adjourned to the Tafarn
Beca where Muriel Bowen-Evans lectured on the Rebecca Riots and the march on Carmarthen in 1843.
To round off the summer events there was the annual week long field excursion
and in September 2011 it was to visit North Wales using Llangollen as the base. Members visited
many diverse properties such as the Quaker museum in Dolgellau and Gwydir Castle where Peter Welford
and his partner Judy Corbett have restored a 16th century Castle which they purchased twelve years
ago. The excursion would have been incomplete if the Lloyd George museum had not been visited! As
autumn approached Roy Davies led a field day in October to Llanedi Church, Hendy. A lecture entitled
“A Church, a Chapel and two literary greats” was delivered by Roy Davies who read out
a very moving account, written by Siegfried Sassoon, of the last days of David Cuthbert Thomas who
was killed in action in 1916 and who was immortalised in Sassoon’s literary work, “The
Memoirs of a Foxhunting Man”, under the name of Dick Tiltwood.
The winter months commenced with Richard Rees, in November, speaking at The Llanwrda
Hall on “London County Council’s plan to steal the River Towy”. Richard Rees is
a railway and civil engineering enthusiast and is a well known motor engineer in a long established
family business in Llanwrda. The lecture centred around a scheme in 1898 when it was proposed to
create ten dams in the Towy and Irfon Valleys , thereby supplying London with up to four hundred
and fifteen million gallons of water per day. However the plan was rejected by Parliament.
Also in November the Society, together with the Ceredigion Historical Society
met at the County Museum in Abergwili to launch a new publication by Steve Dube, entitled “My
failings and imperfections-The Diary of Rees Thomas of Dol-Llan 1860-1862”. This publication
was a joint publishing venture with the Ceredigion Society and it is pleasing to note that sales
are doing well.
The final event of the year was the annual Presidents’ lunch, in December,
which was held at The Plough in Rhosmaen, Llandeilo.
The President, The Rev.’d J. Towyn Jones entertained diners with the subject
of “A Book bound in red buckram” and as usual, was an event not to be missed!