Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Local History Month

September will soon be upon us, and that's the month for all sorts of interesting local history events as part of Brecknock History Month.
Hay History Group met recently, and finalised what they would be doing to contribute.
There's going to be a talk at Cusop Village Hall by Dr Mark Baker on Gwrych Castle and The Welsh Country House, on Saturday 23rd September. Gwrych is quite a bit north of here, just outside Abergele, but a fascinating place to visit. I remember it in the 1970s, when it was run as a visitor attraction, with a miniature railway through the grounds, pony rides, a potter, and jousting every afternoon. We were once there when the Sealed Knot stormed the castle, too. Since then, it fell into disrepair, but now there's a Preservation Trust trying to restore it to its former glory. The talk can be booked through the Hay History Group website, and tickets are £4 each.
There's also going to be a pop up museum showing Hay Castle's archaeology, in the Parish Hall, and a talk on Old Gwernyfed Estate since 1600 by Colin Lewis, who has just written a book on the subject. Tea and cakes are also promised on the Sunday afternoon.
The Hay Tours will also be running over the Hay History weekend - on the Railway, Major Armstrong, the bookshops, and Heritage. These are free, but should be booked online.

Meanwhile, there's concern about St Mary's Churchyard, which has become very overgrown, making it difficult to get to some of the gravestones. They are considering a working party to help clear the brambles. They are also interested in mapping all the graves in the cemetery. WET Morgan, once vicar of Llanigon, made a study in 1926 (he was very interested in local history and a member of the Woolhope Club). The book is in Brecon Museum, and the History Group hopes to be able to digitise it and put the information on their website.

And at the Castle, there have been opportunities to learn traditional building techniques as the restoration progresses. Recently there was a day on lime plastering. They've also installed a "bat cave", and two bats have already been seen in the area.

The Dark Skies Festival has had to wind up their affairs, as they no longer have the services of the astronomer who was leading it. Therefore they have decided to donate the surplus money in their account to Hay History Group, and they wish their £320 (approx.) to go to a specific history project.

The next meeting of the Group (after the History Weekend) will be on 29th September, at Cusop Village Hall at 7.30pm, when Mari Fforde will talk about Matilda de Breose.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Steam Rally

I always miss the Steam Rally, which is held just over the river at the top of the hill at Boatside Farm, because I work on Sundays. So this year I walked over on Saturday afternoon to see them setting up. A few traction engines had arrived already....

And there were caravans where people were staying overnight, and bits of the fun fair laid out ready to be assembled.

And this afternoon, there was the sound of a loud engine overhead, and a little biplane came into view, doing aerobatics! It's just a pity that the tree at the front of the Cinema Bookshop was in the way of some of it.

And this evening, a loud clanking on the road heralded a traction engine going home after the event, going down the hill.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Buster Grant in What's Brewing

Thinking about beer reminded me of an article in May's What's Brewing, the newspaper of CAMRA. On the back page, the featured brewer is our very own Buster Grant, pictured looking thoughtfully at a glass of beer. The article was written by Buster, who had just become the new chairman of SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers.
Over the years, he's been a bar manager at the GBBF (stepping down finally in 2015), and this influenced his decision to do an MSc in brewing and distilling. He goes on to talk about the importance of beer quality at the point of serving, something that the brewers have no power over, as it is done by the staff of the pub where the beer is being sold, and he goes on to discuss fair pricing for cask beer, and he looks forward to seeing a thriving, imaginative and sustainable brewing industry, with close collaboration between SIBA and CAMRA.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Great British Beer Festival

I was in the Hay Tap on Tuesday night with a few friends, when one of the bar staff walked in wearing a "Viking" horned helmet with blond plaits (in soft materials - not a real helmet such as the Norman helmet I have at home), and a large drinking horn fastened to his belt. When he turned round we could see that there was a smaller drinking horn as well.
He told us that he'd just been to the Great British Beer Festival, where he'd got the hat and drinking horns - and he'd had an awesome time!
I presume he was there because Brecon Brewery had beer there, but I can't find a list of the beers on the GBBF website, and the Brecon Brewery blog seems to have last been updated in 2015....

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Visiting Hay on Crutches or in a Wheelchair

I came across a blog at seenobounds.co.uk, written by Jamie McAnsh, who uses a wheelchair and crutches to get about. Recently he visited Hay, and gives quite a positive account on his blog dated 16th July, though he adds that the hills, and steps into some of the shops, make things difficult.
And on 30th July he wrote about the trip he made to Tintern, which he also enjoyed.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Pete Brown's The Apple Orchard

It's taken me a while to get round to reading this book - I went to see the talk about it at the Winter Hay Festival, and got a signed copy, and then stuff (and other books) happened.
However, now I've finally read it, and it is delightful.
I already knew I liked Pete Brown's writing - I've read all of his books on beer - and now he admits to getting obsessed with apples, which is ironic because he can't eat them. He's terribly allergic to them.
But it's the history, and the magical feeling of actually being in an orchard, that hold the interest. He even goes to prune apple trees at an orchard very close to Glastonbury Tor, the Arthurian Avalon, or Island of Apples, as part of a year he spends learning to do everything needed in the orchard. He also learns a lot about the fine balance between the healthy apple and all the predators and diseases it can be subject to.
When asked about his favourite ciders, he admits that he goes straight for ones from Herefordshire, even though Somerset is the county most identified with cider drinking, and orchards across Herefordshire feature heavily in the book, along with Herefordshire cider makers. He mentions the Marcher Apple Network, and that wonderfully illustrated book the Herefordshire Pomona.
And he also takes the story all the way back through the mythology to the very first apple, in Genesis - or was it an apple at all?
It's a wonderful book, and it made me appreciate apple orchards a lot more than I had before.

Friday, 4 August 2017

CE Vulliamy, Local Author and his Family

I sometimes look at a blog called Bear Alley, which specialises in old comics and obscure authors - and in the entry for the 22nd April, I found something of local interest.
CE Vulliamy was born in Glasbury in 1886. He wrote crime novels in the 1930s under the pen name Anthony Rolls, and books on many other subjects as well. Although he had no academic training, he worked as an archaeologist and historian, and also wrote historical biographies. He also wrote Jones: A Gentleman of Wales under the pen name Twim Teg.

Steve at Bear Alley says:
"Colwyn Edward Vulliamy was born in Glasbury, Radnorshire, Wales, on 20 June 1886, the son of Edwyn Papendick Vulliamy and his wife Edith Jane (nee Beavan), and baptized on 18 July 1886 at Llowes, Radnorshire. The surname derived from a clockmaker named Francois Justin Vulliamy (1712-1797), born in Pay de Vaud, Switzerland, who moved to Paris and then to London. Justin Vulliamy set up shop in Pall Mall in partnership with Benjamin Gray, watchmaker to King George II, and married Gray's daughter, Mary."

Edwyn became a landowner in Glasbury, and helped to build "a local church" in 1883, probably at Glasbury. The church at Llowes where Colwyn Edward was baptised is much older.
He was educated privately, studied art, and started writing. His father died in 1914, with the estate split between him and his mother.
His war record is complicated - Bear Alley goes into it in some detail (his research is always impressive), and it was while he was serving in the near East that he became interested in archaeology.
He wrote more crime novels in the 1950s under his own name, one of which, Don Among the Dead, was filmed as A Jolly Bad Fellow in 1964.
He died in Guildford in 1971, aged 85.
His son John Sebastian, an architect, married Shirley Hughes, the children's author and illustrator. He died in 2007.
Their son Ed Vulliamy is also an author and children's illustrator.