Evan Frederic Morgan: Viscount Tredegar : The Final Affairs : Financial and Carnal. by Will Cross

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Newport Author William Cross

Evan Frederic Morgan: Viscount Tredegar :

The Final Affairs : Financial and Carnal.

Available Now

Click on the link below, which has the synopsis of the book

http://screwpacketplaywrights.yolasite.com/Evan-Viscount-Tredegar-The-Final-Affairs.php

Any enquiries, please e-mail Will Cross

williecross@virginmedia.com

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Newport ˜Screwpacket Playwrights”

The Forgotten :

A Chartist Musical, which can be seen at the Riverfront Theatre
On 19th and 20th November
And other South Wales venues :
Llandogo Millennium Hall ( 22nd November )
Chepstows Drill Hall ( 27th November)
Savoy Theatre, Monmouth ( 5th December)

Godfrey Morgan Gentleman Rider

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 VISCOUNT TREDEGAR

GENTLEMEN RIDERS – PAST AND PRESENT

By JOHN MAUNSELL RICHARDSON, FINCH MASON & JOHNA.SEAVERNS

1909

Familiar as the name of the popular nobleman who forms the subject of this chapter must necessarily be, not only in the Principality, but throughout the length and breadth of the land as one of the staunchest friends of agriculture and all that

pertains to it the cause has ever possessed, it is probably news to the present generation, who may have only heard of him as a sportsman in connection with the Tredegar Hunt, of which he was master for so many years, that in his younger days

there were few more accomplished horsemen, both over a country and on the flat, than the subject of our memoir, and certainly none more popular; the roar of delight which went up all along the line when the purple and orange sleeves were

seen in the van at Cardiff or Abergavenny, more especially when sported by their owner, being something to remember.

 Godfrey Charles Morgan, first Viscount Tredegar, son of the first Baron Tredegar, and his wife Rosamund, only daughter of General Godfrey Basil Mundy, was born on the 28th April, 1830, at Ruperra Castle, in Glamorganshire, and on leaving Eton, joined the 17th Lancers, with which gallant regiment he served in the Crimean War, being lucky enough not only to participate in the historic charge of the Light

Brigade at Balaclava, but to emerge scatheless from the melie. It was soon after joining his regiment, in 1853, that Colonel Godfrey Morgan, as he then was, made his debut in the saddle, when he rode a horse called Fringe in a flat race at

Woolwich, his next appearance being at Newport, in Monmouthshire, in the course by the river-side, where the Newport rowing-club boathouse now stands, on which occasion he rode a grey mare named Miss Banks, belonging to Mr. Fothergill

Rowlands, in a hurdle race, coming in second to a horse called The General.

In the same year he won the principal steeplechase at Cowbridge on Mr. Briggs, belonging to his elder brother, which horse accompanied him later on to the Crimea, and was his mount in the Balaclava charge.

After the Peace, in 1855, Captain Godfrey Morgan retired from the Army, and gave himself up almost entirely to sports of the field, in which steeplechasing took a prominent place. Cardiff, Cowbridge, and Abergavenny — which last is described

by Mr. Thomas Pickernell as one of the stiffest courses he ever rode across — being his favourite battle-grounds. At Cowbridge he won the principal steeplechase, and was second in the next race on a horse called Peeping Tom, whilst the Hunt

and open steeplechases at Abergavenny fell to his share with Gadfly and General Bosquet respectively ; the first-named race being won again a second time by him on a horse named Bowles. Whilst still in the Service, Captain Godfrey Morgan steered the second in the light-weight Military Steeple-chase at Warwick ; and later on, at Melton, he won the first point-to-point steeplechase which ever took place there, on Mystery, his brother, Colonel The Hon. Fred Morgan, being second.

From 1858 to 1875, in which year he succeeded to the title, Lord Tredegar represented Brecknock in Parliament in the Conservative interest, and he still retains the Mastership of the Hunt which bears his name.

COLONEL THE HON. F. C. MORGAN

Until quite late into the seventies of the past century, none of the race meetings in South Wales, such as Cardiff, Abergavenny, and Monmouth, would have been considered perfect without the presence in their respective saddling paddocks of

the good sportsman named above ; and it would have been considered equally out of place if during the day the popular purple and orange hoops and black cap, worn by their owner, were not seen in the van more than once during the day’s

proceedings, either on horses belonging to himself or his brother, Lord Tredegar.

The third son of the first Lord Tredegar, the subject of our memoir, was born in 1834, and, his education over, joined the Rifle Brigade, in which distinguished regiment he served in the Crimean War, seeing a good deal of service during the time he was there.

After his marriage. Colonel Morgan settled down in Glamorganshire, where he lived the life of a country gentleman, for which he was so eminently fitted. For many years almost the entire management of the Tredegar Hunt, belonging to Lord Tredegar, devolved on him in the Master’s absence ; whilst there can be no doubt that it was to his own influence and the generous support of the Tredegar family that the various race meetings in the locality owed in a great measure their success. It was no uncommon thing to see the two brothers, Lord Tredegar and Colonel Fred Morgan, riding together in thesame race ; and on one of these occasions, in a friendly match

over hurdles, to decide the merits of two of their hunters,

Colonel Morgan’s horse, who was on the inside all the way, in jumping the last flight, not only cleared the corner hurdle, but the rails as well, landing handsomely amongst the crowd, and as a consequence had to retrace his steps, thereby enabling

Lord Tredegar to win at his leisure. The amusing part of the story was that the natives went away firmly convinced in their own minds that Colonel Morgan’s jump over the rails, so far from being an accident, was prompted by an amiable desire on his part not to defeat his brother.

The subject of this memoir, who died to every one’s great regret on January 8th, 1909, represented Monmouthshire in the Conservative interest for thirty years, being only deprived of his seat at the last general election, and was, from its foundation, one of the most active members of the N. H. committee.

This antiquarian book – written in 1909 can be had for £299 on internet

 But read it here for FREE. Click on link below – when open scroll down to read.

http://archive.org/stream/gentlemenridersp00rich/gentlemenridersp00rich_djvu.txt

 

Reunited

Martyn,Elizabeth,Paul

Martyn,Elizabeth,Paul
At the Edeny Gates

Hi Annie and Monty
Annie a big thank you for the photo’s you sent me.

Article for the website.

August 15th 2013 is a day I will always remember. I received an email from Annie Parker,
ref an email she had received through the website from Elizabeth Rassmussen who
lives with her husband Paul in the United States.

Elizabeth’s sister & brother had visited Tredegar House & had seen the photo of John Evans the chauffeur (my grandfather) on the wall.

Her sister mentioned to Elizabeth about this & Elizabeth sent the email to the website.

After a couple of days Annie passed on Elizabeth’s email address to me. I was then able to send an email with the family history which goes back three generations of working at Tredegar House.

Elizabeth & I have been in contact ever since

Elizabeth’s connection to the Evans family is through John Evans’ older sister; Lucy who married William Henry Lyons in Newport. They had three children – Elizabeth’s father Hayden Desire Lyons plus two Daughters. Hayden then married & moved to Birmingham. He was an oboe player in the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra…

I happened to mention to Elizabeth about a talk at Tredegar House about the servants in the 1900,s by Monty Dart which was on June 11th.  I was overjoyed when Elizabeth & Paul said they would be coming over to visit family & friends & would be visiting Newport for two days and could
to come to the talk & also to meet up for the first time. I travelled up from Christchurch in Dorset &
met up with them at her brothers in Bristol. They then travelled with me to Newport.
In the evening we went to a wonderful talk by Monty who used some of my photos.
Elizabeth’s brother & sister from Bristol also came over, also my brother from Newport.

The next day I took Elizabeth & Paul to see the house that the Evans family had lived in for over 120 years.

Elizabeth was taking a photo of the house when the owner walked up to us.we explained about house and the connection to us.
We then were invited inside what is now one large house. It used to be four cottages.
To sit in what would have been Nan & Pops lounge for the first time in 40 years for me &
Elizabeth it was so wonderful.
In the afternoon we were invited by Monty & Annie to go around Tredegar House & the
gardens, we were overjoyed. We then went back to my brother & sister in laws for the evening. What a wonderful 2 days.

Martyn Evans

Elizabeth and Paul

Elizabeth and Paul
At the Dining table
In the Brown Room

Sir Briggs The Original War Horse

 The Original War Horse.

A visitor will find the grave of Sir Briggs in the Cedar Garden of Tredegar House.

The Friends of Tredegar House, are so pleased to announce:

that after consultation With The National Trust

We are to provide funds for the restoration of the grave,

Which is now completed

The inscription reads:

In Memory of Sir Briggs

Favourite charger. He carried his master the Hon. Godfrey Morgan, Captain 17th Lancers boldly and well at the Battle of Alma, in the first line of the Light Cavalry Charge at Balaclava and the battle of Inkerman, 1854.

Sir BriggsHe died at Tredegar Park February 6th 1874. Aged 28 years.

Sir Briggs was bought in 1851, the same year he won the hunt Steeple Chase at Cowbridge. When the Crimea war broke out, the most sensible thing would have been to send horses and men by steam ship to the Black Sea. It wasn’t to be. Sir Briggs set sail from Portsmouth in 1854 on board the Edmundsbury, a sailing ship carrying forty horses, four of which belonged to Godfrey. They lost horses to seasickness. ‘Atheist’ Captain Morgan’s 2nd charger died and was thrown overboard. Other horses continued to die.

The vessel stopped briefly at Malta, and by 19 May had reached the Dardanelles. The vessel anchored at Constantinople for four days. The regiment had lost twenty six horses, and others continued to die.

The troops then embarked for the Bulgarian port of Varna. The Bulgarian phase ended when the Turks took Silistria, and the Russians retreated.

At the Crimea, the cavalry remained largely inactive. It was not until Balaclava, that bloody action was seen. The exact numbers taking part in the charge is controversial, and put between 661 and 673. After the charge only 195 came back. Sir Briggs received a sabre cut to the forehead.

Inkerman followed. Horses became ‘hog-maned’ and ‘rat-tailed’. Many died from starvation.

Godfrey Morgan became sick and returned to Constantinople. Sir Briggs remained in the Crimea with his brother Frederick Morgan, and was used as his staff horse. In the same year that Sebastopol fell, Sir Briggs won the military steeplechase at Sebastopol.

In 1855 Sir Briggs returned to Tredegar House, where he was finally buried.

Sir Briggs’s Monument in the Cedar Gardens

Article by Monty Dart

National Army Museum article about Sir Briggs (click here)

 

Tredegar House Late Night Friday

IT’S THE WEEKEND: Getting a taste of the party past of Newport’s Tredegar House

9:51am Saturday 7th June 2014

With Thanks to The South Wales Argus and Jen Mills for use of the article and Photos

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LOOKING THE PART Annie Parker strolls in with the Edeny Gates, behind.

Visitors to Newport’s Tredegar House have been getting a taste of the mansion’s decadent party past, as JEN MILLS discovered.

TREDEGAR House: the champagne is flowing, jitterbug music is playing and women in strings of pearls and flapper dresses dance across the floor into the arms of their partners.

It’s a scene that was once the standard in the decadent stately home owned by the notoriously decadent Evan Morgan, the second Viscount Tredegar, who held lavish all-weekend parties when he urged guests to skinny dip and take on his boxing kangaroo.

Except this scene didn’t take place at one of his 1930s get-togethers, but just last Friday, when a group of dancers put on their glad rags and took the house back in time.

On the last Friday of every month in summer, the house is taken over by dancers who do the Charleston, lindyhop and twist, while decked out in fabulous vintage outfits they sourced mainly from vintage shops or eBay.

Last Friday (May 30) was the first of this year’s dances, and the house looked beautiful.

The Trust is mixing the old and new together, putting on the dance just for the joy of it but also because the stately home was once a party-place and holding a dance does as much to preserve its memory as trying to find the original material the curtains were made from.

Chris Edmunds, from St Julians, one of the guides at the house with a special interest in the 1930s, was offering guided tours to visitors or any dancers who wanted a time-out. “You can be in no doubt we’re having a party here,”, he said. “Why? Evan Morgan. He was famous for his extravagant and often outrageous country house weekends here throughout the 1930s. Evan got to know all the rich and famous in London, went to parties with them and invited them here, such as Ivor Novello, Prince Paul of Greece and the actress Tallulah Bankhead.”

One of the dancers on Friday’s guest list was John Powell, 64, from Chepstow, who came along with his wife Claire for the dance. “I have been dancing for about eight years,”, he said. “It’s a good social event. We have a lesson or two a week and we have a dance a week.”

He came along with the other members from his dance ground, the Lydney Lindyhoppers. With so many of the group from Gwent, it’s a testament to their love for dancing that they’re willing to travel so far to get their dancing fix.

Their dedication is also shown by the clothes they wear, really putting in the effort. “We usually dress up in 40s or 50s clothes”, John said. “I get mine in vintage shops but the men have a job to find stuff.”

In his musical note patterned braces he was concerned he hadn’t quite nailed the fashion of the time, but cut a dapper figure nonetheless.

Although he has danced in many different venues, Tredegar House was something special he said. “We wanted to come to see this house – we were going to come this afternoon and we’ll definitely come again. It’s a good stress relief. I wish we started earlier.”

His wife Claire Powell agreed, saying: “Most of us started dancing around eight and a half years ago and it’s just taken over. We absolutely love it.”

Fellow dancer Christine Holliday, from Monmouth, has been donning her dancing shoes for slightly longer, saying: “I have done it about 14 years. It has been fantastic. It makes you feel happy. Sometimes I could be really tired but as soon as I get up there and I hear the music, it’s like a whole new energy comes through. You just feel the music. It keeps your mind active although sometimes you have a great dance and the next day you get out of bed and feel very stiff.”

She added that dancing could have benefits for many people: “It would be nice for more youngsters to come. You see youngsters on the street and they don’t know what to do with themselves.”

It’s not just 1940s music that they enjoy dancing too; in fact any kind of music can do, as long as the beat is right.

Merv Morris, 63, from the Forest of Dean, said: “You can dance to modern stuff. As long as the beat is right, it can be anything. Imelda May, Tom Jones…”

His friend Nigel Price, 63, from Llandenny in Usk, goes a step further towards modern pop, adding: “We had Aleesha Dixon at our wedding. It’s a really good beat.”

Friday’s party at Tredegar House was a stylish affair, but the National Trust weren’t able to recreate all of the original party atmosphere of the Morgan household, no doubt partly because of health and safety laws.

Our guide Chris outlined some of what guests might expect at one of Evan’s shindigs: “Parties like this didn’t come cheap. He had a boxing kangaroo called Somerset. Young men were invited to take on the kangaroo – and of course, it always won. He also had a honey bear called Alice. She was extremely tame and was allowed to wander the grounds quite freely. Then there was Bimbo the baboon. If he got bored, Evan thought nothing of letting Bimbo around the bedrooms. Imagine you have had a long evening partying and you come back and there’s Bimbo the Baboon in your bed.

“There was also skinny dipping in the lake. He would encourage the men in particular to strip. Princess Olga used to put the blinds down when that started.

The parties started on a Friday and finished somewhere the following Monday.

It was a really wonderful time. The people of Newport had no idea what was happening in the house.”

Many may not be aware of the Trust’s new parties either, or of the thriving dancing scene.

Nigel’s wife Bev, 54, said she started dancing in Usk and was hooked ever since. “I thought it’s something with my husband we can share,” she said. “We love it. We have built up a large circle of friends. We all go to dances, we dress up. We still do lessons and demonstrations.

“We started having lessons in Usk, but there was poor attendance. Lydney is a 40 minute drive for us, but every week on a Wednesday we have driven there for five or six years.”

The activity has become more and more a part of life. “In Abergavenny they do vintage festivals and we were once asked to do a flash mob”, she said. “We came out from the audience and suddenly started dancing.”

She has even started teaching, at a Dance Blast class in Abergavenny.

Although there were no excesses to the level of Gatsby or Viscount Tredegar immediately obviously at Friday’s affair, she said the social side of the dancing scene was excellent, with everyone friendly and welcoming.

After the party was over, she said, the group planned to go to the Greyhound in Llantrisant.

In her white dress with black detailing at the sleeves and flapper headress, Bev certainly looked the part. “I got my dress from Coast,” she said, “and the headband is from Accessorise. I do look up genuine 40s or 50s clothes on eBay.”

Her husband kept the standards up with a dicky bow and matching yellow pocket square, sourced from Extons of Raglan, he said.

The powerhouse teacher of the group, 60-year-old Lyn Crossman, was exhausting just to watch as she hopped and jived around the floor. “They just dance now. They don’t need teaching,”, she said. “This is my first time at Tredegar House so we were excited. We don’t usually get dressed up quite as elaborately. I’d like to come back.”

She said anyone should come along and try – but especially the men, as “there’s always a shortage of blokes at dances.”

The event is held on the last Friday of each month from May to September, with the house and grounds open until 9pm. Anyone can come along for no additional fee and there is no need to book.

Guests don’t have to join in the dancing, but could simply sit out in the grounds enjoying the summer sunlight and imaging the scene that once went on as the party

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IN STEP Lyn Crossman, right puts the ladies through the routine

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Claire Powell observes the floor

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Claire and John Powell put on the style

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Couples show off their dancing skills

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Dressed for the occasion

Link to The South Wales Article

http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/11263596.IT__39_S_THE_WEEKEND__Getting_a_taste_of_the_party_past_of_Newport__39_s_Tredegar_House/

‘Fantastic mum’ had big impact on Newport’s Tredegar House

‘Fantastic mum’ had big impact on Newport’s Tredegar House

 Article In The South Wales Argus    8:14am Friday 31st January 2014 in News

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A STALWART supporter of one of Newport’s biggest visitor attractions has died following a short illness.

 Phyllis Mary Roberts (nee Soffe), 91, was a founder member of the Friends of Tredegar House and part of a team of women who made and restored many of the soft fabrics which still adorn the house.

 Today the registered charitable organisation aims to conserve and spread public interest in the historical importance of Tredegar House.

 Mrs Roberts had a very active role as a founding member of the organisation and took part in re-enacting the history of the house.

 Her son Christopher Roberts said she loved playing the part of a parlour maid alongside her husband Frederick, who acted as a butler, during tours of the house for around 20 years.

 He said she was saddened when she grew too old to participate.

 Mrs Roberts, brought up in Pill, Newport, was the fourth child of five born to Sylvester Jesse Soffe and Frances Emilina (nee Williams).

 She had ambitions of becoming a pharmacist, but the financial climate meant she had to leave school before taking exams, to find work to help support the family.

 The Second World War intervened, and Mrs Roberts was employed in the office at the Royal Ordnance Factory off Corporation Road, where Bofors anti-aircraft guns were manufactured.

 Later, she recalled night shifts with dancing during the mid-shift meal break. The war exacted a heavy toll on Mrs Roberts and her family.

 Her brother Frederick (Ted), who had joined up along with her eldest brother Jack, was killed while working as a wireless operator when his aircraft crashed with the total loss of the crew.

 And later, her boyfriend Brynley Capel, who was in Bomber Command, was shot down and killed over Germany. In 1945 Mrs Roberts married Frederick and they had two children, Mr Roberts and Jane Paske.

 They lived in Malpas and later Gaer and, when she was in her 80s, she moved into Monmouth Court on Bassaleg Road leading an active life despite health problems.

 She enjoyed flower arranging and always loved poetry, reciting many pieces from memory, including Shakespeare’s sonnets.

 She had two grandchildren, Daniel and Chloe, and lived to hear of the birth of her great granddaughter Cordelia Lily (Dilly) on January 20.

 Christopher Roberts said: “She was a fantastic mother.”

 Her funeral will be held on February 12 at 1.30pm at the Gwent Crematorium.

Two New History Books with Morgan Connections

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A NEW BOOK November 2013

The Williams Family of Maesruddud House (now known as Maes Manor Hotel) Blackwood

This book traces the history of the Williams family who by a, system of purchasing, inheriting and probably the most important method, marrying, over a period of nearly 400 hundred years assembled an estate of at least 23 farms in the old parishes of Bedwellty and Gelligaer. In the early 1800s the family fortunes greatly increased because of the coal that lay beneath their lands, furthermore some towns were built on their farm land. The town of Pontlottyn in the Rhymney Valley was virtually built solely on Maesruddud estate land. One of the sons of Maesruddud became one time vicar of Undy ,near Newport. His son EDMUND KEYNTON WILLIAMS went to Oxford with the intention of also taking Holy Orders, but he entered the army and had a distinguished career, finally, as Sir Edmund Keynton Williams, he concluded his military career as General of the Central Division of the Madras Army, East India. He was made a Freeman of the Borough of Newport in 1816. But, back at Maesruddud, the family fortunes increased and in 1894 the old, but substantial, farmhouse was replaced by the present day building. The house was built by Edmund Davies Williams who died in 1895, his estate was valued as the equivalent to £4.5 million in today’s money. In his funeral report it was said that his nephew, Edmund Williams Tom Llewellyn Brewer of Dan y  Graig House near Christchurch, Newport was the next male heir to the Maesruddud estate; in 1907,by Royal license, he was allowed to take the additional surname of Williams. The photographs below are, left to right, Maes Manor hotel, and E.W.T. Llewellyn Brewer-Williams in his uniform as a Deputy Lieutenant (of Monmouthshire) outside the Great Castle House, Monmouth.

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Mr Brewer-Williams was called to the Bar (The Inner Temple) in 1894, but he never practised as a Barrister. He did not need to work because of his fairly substantial income from the Maesrudud estate. Instead he maintained a flat above a jeweller’s shop in Vigo Street (which is just off Regent Street) London. He had an “arrangent” with Willie Bertolle, the jeweller; Brewer-Williams had the cash and Bertolle the expertise and reputation as a jeweller. Bertolle had in fact made Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubille bracelet; he supplied,in 1923, the Queen mother’s engagement ring. In 1947 he gave the remains of the nugget of Welsh gold, which had been used to make Royal weding rings, to the present Queen Elizabeth II when she married the Duke of Edinburgh. Brewer-Williams and Bertolle had a very comfortable life style, they travelled around the world together.

In 1909 Mr Brewer-Williams married a very young widow by the name of Etienne Dunbar, she was age 30 and had a daughter who regrettably spent most of her adult life in care because of mental health issues. In the 1930s Mr & Mrs Brewer-Williams loaned many paintings, items of furniture and porcelain to the Newport Museum. Following the death of Mr Brewer-Williams in 1945 the loan was converted to a donation, there are now nearly 1000 items held at the museum which form the Brewer-Williams collection. Foremost amongst the collection is a leather bound book containing sketches by Turner.

Mr Brewer-Williams  bequeathed the estate to his wife, but there is a distinct possibility that he had an amount of jewellery stashed away in London. Etienne, died in 1960, by then she had moved out of Maesruddud House. She set up a trust for the lifetime of her daughter, and upon her death the trust went absolutely to Dr Barnado’s charity.

Thank you Newport Museum for your invaluable assistance

THE BOOK, 199 pages, is available from the author, David Mills for  £8.50 plus postage of £1.50

Contact david.mills1947@hotmail.co.uk or tel. 02921401684 or 07816604234

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A New Book

THE HISTORY OF THE TREDEGAR MINERAL ESTATE.

Whilst researching the history of the South Wales Iron and Coal industries with a view to writing a local history of the village of Aberbargoed, a village in the Rhymney Valley and its roots, including Pontaberbargoed, a chance visit to Tredegar library in 2011 and a meeting with Janet Carn the librarian, turned up a set of old books named “The history of the Development of the Tredegar Mineral Estate”, a narrative written by J. Hopkins Thomas in 1933/34. Mrs Carn referred to them as “The Skip books”.

Further enquiries revealed that the books, along with other materials, had been thrown into a skip in Mynydd Y Garreg, near Llanelli, in 2002, after the death of the owner of a house in that village.

Fortunately, the books were discovered before they could be dumped and were sent for safekeeping to Tredegar library where they remained until Mrs Carn brought them out for inspection.

 At the time, some notes were taken but it soon became apparent that the information contained in the books was virtually unique as it did not appear in any other local history book. From then on, several visits to the library over a two year period with a camera meant the every page was copied one by one and transcribed into “Word” documents. It was in the summer of 2013 that I sought permission from Janet to publish  a new book based on the old narratives. This was granted and the book appeared in early October 2013.

This first book, called “The History of the Tredegar Mineral Estate” covers a large number of leases granted by Sir Charles Morgan and his son Charles Morgan Robinson Morgan to a variety of coal owners and prospectors in Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire from the early 1820’s up until 1934. It also describes in detail, the negotiations and wrangling that led to the granting of the leases. The second book, which has not yet been published, will be named “The History of the Tredegar Mineral Estate in Glamorganshire”. The publishing date has not yet been set. It will, however, follow the original narrative very closely with some additions based on information that was not available at the time of writing in the same way that book 1 was produced.

The book is available by post from the Publisher, Park Mile Publications, details 01443 822649, from the Author,(email gw0giq@hotmail.com), from the Winding house at New Tredegar and on Amazon. It is priced at £10-95 plus £2-80 postage.

W. Smith

Hilary Barrett interview with John Watkins, who worked at the house from 1950 -1956

In 1950, at the age of 15, John Watkins started a 5 year Apprenticeship as a Maintenance Fitter in the Tredegar Park Workshops which were situated in the Home Farm complex of the Tredegar Estate. He completed his apprenticeship and worked on the estate until 1956.

He had been born and brought up in Pencarne Cottages, Coedkernew. A tenanted cottage on the Tredegar Estate.  The cottage had no electricity, running water or indoor toilet. A family of frogs lived in the well in the garden. His mother cooked on a black lead grate and candles and oil lamps were in use to light the cottage. John shared a bedroom with his brother and grandfather. The rent on the cottage was 3s 6p a week.

His father ran his own business building farm carts but had previously worked on the estate and had driven the first estate lorry – a Morris Commercial vehicle which operated out of the Tredegar Estate Rhiwderin workshops. This lorry conveyed workers to undertake repair work on the estate farms.

The iron work for Johns’ fathers carts was undertaken by the Tredegar Estate blacksmiths. It was on an occasion that Johns father was visiting the workshops that they mentioned they needed an apprentice in the blacksmith and fitting shop. John was taken on to learn his trades.

There were 2 adult engineers and 3 apprentices in the workshops who undertook all maintenance work within Tredegar House and the outlying buildings and grounds.

He worked a 46 ½ hour week, including Saturday mornings. 8am to 5pm (30 mins lunch with no other breaks during the day). He had one weeks holiday a year and earned 9 old pence per hour in the first year. In 1956 when he left estate employment John was earning 3s an hour.

 All members of the engineering staff worked in the blacksmiths forge and did all the forge work apart from shoeing the one horse that was left on the estate. There was a shoeing iron, 3 anvils and bellows (which were later replaced by a big blower which fed the three forges). The workshop was situated in the buildings now occupied by Isca Woodcrafts.

John had to turn his hand to any remedial or new work that was needed and remembers how Tredegar House was left bare after the building and contents were sold in 1951. He was then part of the conversion team installing plumbing and electrical wiring and turning rooms into classrooms.

He states the nuns were “pretty good to us” “although the boarders were warned to keep away from me after I had taken some for a ride on my motorbike in my lunch break”!

“Nothing changed” on the estate when the nuns took over.  “The farm was still working in the 1950’s and possibly for another 20 years, after which there a was compulsory purchase order for part of the grounds for the building of the new Duffryn school”. “The gardeners were also kept on in employment by the convent”.

There was a rick yard and a poultry farm in front of the estate workshop (with thatched roofs) and John remembers, when food was still under rationing, locking the chickens in their shed until they had lain an egg for his dinner.

Potatoes grown on the estate were stored within clamps in the rick yard area and sold in sacks to local shops. Local labourers picked the potatoes in season.

“In the orchard behind the workshops were lovely fruit trees. Pear trees grew up the walls. “

There was an Apple House in the kitchen gardens used for storing all the ripe apples.

Where the car park now exists was the sports ground for staff, overlooked by two sports pavilions, and surrounded by chestnut trees. After the war when there was no timber available to be purchased these pavilions were dismantled and the wood used for repairs in the house

The open sheds over looking the sports ground housed the farm equipment – tractors and combines.

During WW11 John remembers American Forces being billeted in corrugated iron Nissan huts built on the sports ground. “There were military vehicles parked all over estate land, around the lake and as far as the eye could see. There were sentries posted at the entrance to the estate. The forces were being prepared for the Normandy Landings and there were men sleeping in vehicles. Along Forge Lane were French and Canadian troops, with tanks and tank carriers. Behind the walls were stacked cans and cans of petrol”.

John remembers one day during that time when 5 small planes circled over the area and came into land alongside his cottage. American jeeps came to meet the passengers and took them away to Tredegar House where they were negotiating the Normandy Landings. Sentries were left on duty to guard the planes. Johns’ parents allowed the sentries to sleep on the floor of their cottage. John remembers the cocoa the soldiers provided.

One morning John when walked to school and the area was like a ghost town – the forces had all left for the beginning of the Allied Invasion.

After the war the “War Agriculture” set up base in the Nissan huts. This was a government led initiative which hired out plant to farmers for ploughing, hay making and seeding to grow food during the rationing years. Johns’ boss bought a big charging system to charge batteries for the “War Ag”. One of Johns’ jobs was to use a small valve charger in the workshop to charge radio batteries for the local residents.

After the war the Nissan huts were also used to provide housing for demobbed soldiers and those without housing.

In the fields opposite the estate worked Italian and German prisoners of war. They were very clever people and would barter for pieces of clean board to use when making willow baskets. They would also take 2 shilling and half crown pieces and tap the metal out to make “nice rings”. “One German blacksmith prisoner made the farmer many unbelievable things”.

In the 1950s, when there was still running water to the mill, the engineers attempted (but failed) to get the old Mill machinery working. They did however repair the laundry machinery for the convent. “The washing tubs were like half beer barrels, it was so long since they were in use they were leaking and had rusted bands. They had to be re banded with new bands made in the workshop”. “We made flat strips on the anvil and measured and riveted them together, fitted them and then took the barrels to the lake to soak and swell them”.

“There was also a big ironing machine which went back and forth. It was full of bricks to weigh it down”. “There was a Bendix paddle operated washing machine which had an open motor on the side and open gears driving it it”. “There were lots of people working in the laundry”.

John describes a bell with a rope pull over the porch of the Brewhouse. There were servants quarters downstairs in the Brewhouse and a games room upstairs in the Morgan room, with table tennis and a snooker table.

The weigh bridge outside of Brians House was not working in the 1950’s.

The Barrett family lived in Home Farm cottage.

The Carpenters shop was situated at the end of the Great Barn. He made the cart wheels which were then taken to the engineers shop for banding on the large metal circle which lay outside the workshop, but now lies outside of the Great Barn doors. The carpenters shop business eventually

became private and did work for local schools as well as Tredegar House. Bert Marsh was the Head Carpenter. “He was a fine carpenter with an unbelievable tool chest”.

Next to the carpenters shop, the last door at the end of the Great Barn was Alan Rees’ cart shed. “Alan was quite a character and lived in the Lodge at one time”- “Alan moved anything with his cart and took ashes away from the boiler house. He sold cigarettes and wheeled and dealed out of his shed”.

Horse drawn sleighs hung from beams in the barn next to Alans’ shed. They were still there after the house sale but the rest of the house was bare.

There were Indian canoes and a gondola on the lake and on the side of the lake, now grown over, was a “massive fire pump incase of fire in the house”. It worked the emergency points – around the outside of the courtyard were red boxes with stand pipes and fire fighting equipment. 

Upstairs in the stables there are carved names on the walls and there are also names scratched on the lead weights of the window sashes in the Nursery wing. (The sash cords were renewed in the early 1950s  – when John and his team also added their names).

During WW11 a 2 metre flat walkway was built around the chimneys to enable fire watching duties and John describes massive tube like structures for sliding down in an emergency from the upstairs rooms. In the 1950’s the estate had very large wind up fire escape ladders, used for undertaking repairs to the roof. These ladders had to be taken apart, with wheels taken off, to get them into the inner courtyard.

The main water tank on the roof was lined with lead and soldered. Galvanised tanks were later put inside this tank. There was a big cast iron boiler in the cellar which was taken apart in the 1950’s

The chandelier over the main staircase was re wired in the 1950’s. The chandelier was put on a trolley and taken to the workshop. It was originally manufactured to be used with candles and it proved a difficult task to thread the wires through the parts.

John states two of his jobs on a Saturday were to run the fire pump by the lake and to wind up the stable clock. This mechanism was on weights, with a big handle to pull the weights up. He also remembers walking through Cleppa Park Woods to the water reservoir to take  daily meter readings at the Filter House. He had to clean the filters and fill up the chlorine jar, which pumped chlorine into the water supply to purify it. This supply served the whole Tredegar Park Estate and surrounding areas, almost as far as Castleton.

John describes a big culvert running under the courtyard (big enough to crawl into). This became blocked in the convent days and had to be cleared – the nuns were cutting up telephone directories for use as toilet paper!

In the kitchen gardens was a sub station to provide electricity for the house – with the electricity cables entering via the back door. When there was a big event on in the House the engineers had to increase the electrical voltage by pulling out the trip switches. All electricity lines were open copper and dead birds would be found on the ground where they had perched on these wires.

John states Evan Morgan was “Nutty as a fruit cake”. He travelled in a chauffeur driven Humber Snipe car but the the family also possessed a French made Hotchkiss car and 2 Rolls Royce. During the war, when no petrol could be obtained, the Rolls were put up for sale for £25 each.

The hunting lodges were situated behind the stud farm in Church Lane Coedkernew. The stud farm was farmed by the Harris family.

There were two lodges off the Forge Lane entrance to the Tredegar estate. Tom David (footman) and his wife lived in one lodge and slept in the other. Every morning, on his way to school John observed Mrs David emptying the contents of their chamber pots into Tredegar House lake.

John also recalls passing “The Lodge” (a cottage located on the A48 opposite the present Greggs bakery). It was lived in by Jack Vaughan and his wife. John states ‘he was always dressed in top and tails – it frightened the life out of us as he looked like an undertaker”.

 There was a footpath to Ruperra castle directly from the gamekeepers cottage.

Tredegar House Engineering staff remembered by John Watkins

George King – Chief Engineer

Charles King (bosses son) was a trained engineer on the estate. He was 35 and had been in the army.

Bryn Phugh – Engineer. Left to go into the services. Became a police inspector.

Derek Street – Apprentice. Was killed in the forces.

Gwyn Bistow – Apprentice. ?lived in Tredegar Street Rhewderin

Jack Sidneys – WW11 veteran

Lionel Short – worked in workshop

Dorothy ……… worked in the engineering office. Had a cockney sort of accent

Other Estate workers

Allan Rees – Handyman/carter.

……. Allen – Head Gardener

Goff Rees – Gardener. Lived in Marshfield when retired. Father of Goff Rees

Oliver Seymour – Gardener

(John remembers the gardeners being permanently bent over when walking. There was no petrol for machinery, they had to dig the large gardens by hand.)

Bert Marsh – Head carpenter

Phyllis Short – worked in kitchen in Evan Morgans time. Sister of Lionel Short

J O Cullimore ran Home Farm,  his son Pat Cullimore then took over. He moved to Greg farm Forge Lane.

Courtney Williams – Land Agent for Tredegar Estate. Collected rents each month.

Evan Morgan & Aleister Crowley by Will Cross and Monty Dart

evan and crowley

Click photo for a larger view

 

Evan Morgan and Aleister Crowley

 

 

“Saw Tredegar’s Magick room far greater than I thought and he did expect me to talk to Frieda bout it!

My one idea was to get out before any harm was done!”

 

 

 

 

Aleister Crowley makes this startling comment on visiting Evan Morgan, Viscount Tredegar, a rich aristocrat, a homosexual and a Roman Catholic convert; he was also a Papal Chamberlain at the Vatican to two Popes. What of the rumours that the two joined in black mass rituals in country churchyards? Monty Dart and Will Cross are co-authors of several books on the Morgans of Tredegar House, South Wales.  The Viscounts early cult and black mass-influences, how he met Crowley, and the bizarre events that prompted him to invite Crowley to Tredegar House in the middle of the Second World War.

 

 

 

 

Mary Courtney MBE 101st Birthday

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UNFORTUNATELY MARY PASSED AWAY ON 13TH NOVEMBER 2014.

Link to South Wales Argus Tribute to Mary(click here)

PLEASE TAKE TIME TO RE-READ THE ARTICLE BELOW.

1st July 2013

Mary Courtney MBE of Aneurin Bevan Court, woke this morning to scores of ‘happy birthday’ cards. It isn’t every day that you are 101 years old. When she joined her fellow residents in the lounge for morning coffee, little did she know that not only would she receive a present, but that she would be making a presentation herself, to Newport’s Mayor, Councillor Cliff Suller, who was accompanied by his wife Christine.

Last year an email was received by Monty Dart archivist for the Friends of Newport Transporter Bridge – coincidently, she is also archivist for the Friends of Tredegar House, the email read:

 I am the current Historian for the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology’s (SDSMT) American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chapter.  Our chapter recently acquired what appears to be a cigar cutter from the Newport Transporter Bridge.  An alumni of SDSMT bought this cigar cutter at an antiques store and had it on his mantle for several years.  In 2007 he donated it to SDSMT.  He recently sent us a letter and was wondering if we still had it.  We found it.  The alumni would like us to get it to someone who will appreciate it, hopefully its rightful owner. SDSMT ASCE  Historian.

Brian Ruppelt

The cutter ties two famous Newport icons together –  Tredegar House and the Transporter Bridge, or three icons if you include Mary!

The cigar cutter was given to Viscount Godfrey Morgan by the contractors Alfred Thorne Ltd of Westminster on the occasion of the opening of the Transporter Bridge, Godfrey Morgan was of course Viscount Tredegar of Tredegar House. The handle that opens the cutter is a replica of the handle Viscount Tredegar would have used on the Transporter Bridge, to send it on its first journey across the Usk on 12th September 1906.

Mary worked as volunteer for the Friends at Tredegar House until the age of 98. She was a founder member (now honorary member of the Friends of Tredegar House) for over 30 years and on the occasion of her 101th birthday was pleased to present the cigar cutter – on behalf of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology – to the Mayor, who accepted it gratefully on behalf of the City of Newport. He then led the assembled company in a rousing chorus of happy birthday. Mary acknowledged the singing saying that ‘she was very pleased to be able to present the Mayor with such a unique gift’.

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Mary presenting the Cigar Cutter to the Mayor

 

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Newport’s Mayor, Councillor Cliff Suller, with the Cigar Cutter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke to Newport Museum Curator Oliver Blackmore and he said they would be pleased to have it but again, couldn’t promise to display it but it would be available for people to see on request. So that was better than nothing!  I took it to the Museum on Monday and Oliver was so thrilled to receive this unique object that he has moved things around in one of the cases and it has already gone on display! Those who can’t visit Newport Museum can see it on this short animation made by Tom my husband on the link below

Monty Dart (Archivist FOTH)

Link to the Opening of the Transporter Bridge(click here)

Copyright © 2012 Friends of Tredegar House