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

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/

Our official response to letter & subsequent article published in The South Wales Argus

 

A letter was published on the “your say page “of the South Wales Argus on Wed. 5th Dec. 2012   “The House is a Theme Park“. and a subsequent article published on 6th Dec. 2012 under  the title  ‘Stately home Friends’ fears as National Trust leaves them in the dark’ by Melissa Jones.

We totally disassociate Friends of Tredegar House from these views as these were published without our knowledge or consent.

Annie Parker

Membership Secretary of Friends of Tredegar House

Read statement below, from our Deputy Chairman of Friends of Tredegar House Monty Dart, which can also be viewed under “your say page” on the Argus web site under the title of “House is now a Theme Park”.

 

Friend of Tredegar House
2:39pm Fri 7 Dec 12

 For and on behalf of the Executive Committee of Friends of Tredegar House.

Friends of Tredegar House

With reference to the article ‘Stately home Friends’ fears as National Trust leaves them in the dark’ by Melissa Jones, published in the South Wales Argus, 6th December, pg 3.
We, the Executive Committee of the Friends of Tredegar House would like to advise the South Wales Argus and its readers that the person who wrote a letter (published 5th December) and who was subsequently interviewed and quoted as a ‘spokesperson’ for the Friends of Tredegar House, has no authority to speak on our behalf.
We wish to disassociate the Friends of Tredegar House from the views expressed in the letter and article.
Echoing the comments of the spokesman for the National Trust in Wales, Alun Prichard – the relationship between the Friends of Tredegar House and the National Trust is ‘fantastic’. For this reason we were particularly distressed by the comments made in our name.
Far from ‘dying a very slow death’, the Friends of Tredegar House are pleased to say that membership of our organisation has increased since arrival of the National Trust.
We invite the Editor of the South Wales Argus, Melissa Jones and the readership of the Argus to see for themselves as the Friends of Tredegar House and the National Trust Volunteers celebrate our first Christmas together.

Deputy Chair Monty Dart

Link to the letter

http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/letters/10092716.House_is_now_a_theme_park/

 

 

Copyright © 2012 Friends of Tredegar House