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Blog posts by year and monthJuly 2011

Posts (105)

  1. Welsh art at y 'Lle Celf'

    It's a tough act to follow the fantastic architectural spectacle that greeted visitors to the Ebbw Vale National Eisteddfod's 'Lle Celf' (Art Space) in 2010. But the Lle Celf at Wrexham, which opened offically last night, rises to the challenge, even if its home on the maes this year is a more m...

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  2. The wicked squire of the west

    Sir Herbert Lloyd of Maesyfelin and Peterwell just outside Lampeter can arguably be acknowledged as one of the wickedest men Wales ever produced. In many ways he was the archetypal evil squires so beloved by romantic writers and early film makers. If he had been born and lived a hundred years later it would be easy to imagine him tying delicate young maidens to railway tracks and laughing as the train came ever closed. In the 18th century, of course, there were no railway trains and Lloyd's wickedness took him in other directions. Born in 1720, Sir Herbert Lloyd succeeded to the family estate of Maesyfelin after the death of his brother John in 1755 but had little liking for the place, preferring his own inherited property, the nearby land and house at Peterwell. Indeed, he literally plundered the riches of Maesyfelin - its contents, its treasures, even the very stones of the place - in order to embellish and enrich his favourite house at Peterwell. However, by inheriting the estate at Maesyfelin, Lloyd also succeeded to control of the court sessions at Lampeter. As a JP he was brutal and vindictive, always seeking to fill his own pockets. Thanks to the corrupt nature of voting in the mid 1700s - servants and tenants of Lloyd's estates being enrolled as voters - he also became member of parliament for Cardigan Boroughs in 1761. Representing his constituents meant nothing to Lloyd, it simply gave him more opportunity for lining his coffers, invariably at the expense of others. As someone once said of him, "he will never cease to persecute. It is become second nature to him." Aided and abetted by his steward Oakley Leigh, Lloyd became famous for his violent and tyrannical lifestyle, heading up a band of friends and retainers who were soon regarded as being as dissolute as Lloyd himself. He was vain, greedy and arrogant and during his time as Lord of Lampeter his control of the courts and their finances - their revenue meant to be a means to enforce things like road repairs and trade tariffs - was brutally enforced. Fines increased dramatically, much of the revenue undoubtedly finding its way into Lloyd's pockets. The tale of the black ram So vicious and violent was Herbert Lloyd's reputation that many of his deeds have gone down in Lampeter and Ceredigion folk lore. There are dozens of stories about the man but none is more powerful than the tale of the black ram. There was even an opera about the events written in 1957. Apparently, Sir Herbert Lloyd wanted to gaze out at only his own lands from the roof of Peterwell - a vantage point that, amazingly, boasted an elegant roof garden. Unfortunately his vista was broken by the lands of one Sion Philip, an old farmer. He refused to sell his land to Lloyd and so a dastardly scheme was hatched by the owner of Peterwell. Lloyd's prize black ram was taken and hidden away. Declaring the ram to have been stolen, Lloyd conducted searches all over the area. This went on for several days. Then, one dark night, servants from Peterwell climbed onto the roof of Sion Philip's cottage and carefully lowered the ram down his chimney. Philip and his wife slept on, unmindful of the fact that they were about to be charged with what was then a capital offence. Sir Herbert Lloyd immediately sent for the Lampeter constable and, together with Oakley Leigh, headed for the cottage. The noise of the ram being lowered down the wide chimney had woken Philip but before he could do anything the constable and Sir Herbert burst in through the door. Philip was arrested and, apparently, marched off to jail, a journey of 30 miles through deep snow and frost. The old man refused to confess to something he had not done and spent several weeks chained up in jail before a jury - hand-picked by Sir Herbert Lloyd, of course - convicted him for sheep stealing. He was duly hanged and Sir Herbert quickly acquired his lands. At this distance, it is hard to say whether or not the story is true. Certainly Sion Philip existed and his small parcel of land did eventually end up as part of the Peterwell estate. And Sir Herbert was cruel and greedy enough to resort to such tactics. However you view it, it remains a fascinating tale and there are many people who still believe it implicitly. In another country legend from the Lampeter area, the house and estate at Maesyfelin were subject to a curse, placed upon them by the local vicar. When Herbert Lloyd died in London on 19 August 1769 - some say by his own hand, others from natural causes - the two Lampeter estates were in severe financial difficulties. Most of the problems, it seems, were due to Lloyd's bad management and dissolute ways. It seems, however, that the curse was effective. Sir Herbert Lloyd died childless and his estates soon passed into ruin. Many of the locals claimed that the curse on Maesyfelin was transferred to Peterwell along with the stones that Lloyd had moved from the original building to his favourite house. By the end of the 19th century neither Maesyfelin nor Peterwell remained, the houses smashed down and left to moulder. Now all that remains of Peterwell is a pile of old stones and a stately avenue of trees. And, of course, the legend of Sir Herbert Lloyd, west Wales' very own wicked squire.

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  3. Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 24 July 2011

    This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. Please visit the link below any time between now and the start of the next programme. This week we're baking under superb sunshine in the beautiful, expansive grounds of the Faenol Estate in Bangor, at the 5th Gwyl Gardd Goll festival. BBC Ra...

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  4. Gŵyl Gardd Goll, Y Faenol Estate, Sunday 24 July 2011

    I wake up on the Sunday morning existentially adrift. This can feel like the loneliest job. You get to flit around countless, remarkable folk, drawn to their talents, banging your dusty antenna against their luminosity, but you never get in. You're a different species. And that's how it should b...

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  5. Wild encounters at home

    The dust has finally settled after a hectic week at the Royal Welsh Show. The washing machine has been going flat out, boots have been cleaned and I'm still finding bits of straw about my person, but It was a great show. I've now come back down to earth with a bump and an infestation of slow...

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  6. Snap happy? Photomarathon exhibition opens this weekend

    Having recently got married, I now have a mound of photographs 'arranged' in haphazard piles on my kitchen table. I can't quite bring myself to painstakingly, er I mean, lovingly arrange them all in the assorted albums and frames that have formed a Tetris-style stack in the living room. Patience...

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  7. Gnashional Trust: Dennis the Menace and Gnasher conquer Powis Castle

    This summer the National Trust has opened its doors to some of the nation's best-loved cartoon characters and allowed The Beano's mischief-makers to run riot across the country. Dennis the Menace and Gnasher kick off the summertime chaos as they conquer medieval Powis Castle in Welshpool. The Beano front page: Dennis and Gnasher at Powis Castle Dennis and Gnasher at Powis Castle Dennis and the hedge menaces This is the first ever time that the National Trust has given fictional characters keys to all of its 300 homes and access to the 617,500 acres of land it cares for. The Beano characters have invaded historic properties to help the trust bring its places to life and prove that its doors are open to all. Other Beano characters have had some cracking fun at National Trust properties including The Numskulls, who live inside Edd's nostrils (of course). They are sneezed out at Edwardian Surrey estate Polesden Lacey into a game of croquet - and a planned bug hunt - to enjoy the buzz of bumblebee racing. Minnie The Minx takes her dad on a manic trip to Northern Ireland to discover the iconic Giant's Causeway and find the giant Finn McCool himself, and Billy Whizz has a fast-paced day, topped off by a good night's sleep in Lyme Park's Edwardian Nursery. John-Paul Murphy, head of brand marketing at the Beano's publishers DC Thomson, speaking about Dennis' visit to Powis, said: "We couldn't think of a better way to prove what fun kids can have at 'Gnashional Trust' properties than by letting the world's most famous menace and his friends from Beanotown loose on them. Dennis hasn't let his own 60th anniversary affect his ability to cause his own brand of havoc and it is a fitting birthday treat for him to become 'King of the Castle' at Powis. We're sure Beano readers will have just as much fun as the characters when they visit the venues featured in our comic this summer." Tony Berry, visitor experience director of the National Trust, added: "We are delighted to open our doors to The Beano and all of its mischievous characters. The National Trust and The Beano are both British institutions and we are hoping the news that we have opened our doors to them all will encourage families to take a leaf out of Dennis' book and organise a trip to one of our places. As our black and red stripy friend says: 'a menace always has a plan' and this summer should be no exception." If you're looking for things to do with your little menaces over the school holidays take a look at the National Trust for Wales website. The Gnashional Trust issue of The Beano goes on sale Wednesday 27 July 2011. For a behind-the-scenes look at the takeover visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/thebeano.

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  8. Following the Flame ignites in Holyhead

    With today, Wednesday 27 July, marking one year to go until the grand opening of the 2012 London Olympics, anticipation surrounding the event is building. We have a small slice of the sporting action in Wales as the extravaganza literally kicks off with the women's football at the Millennium S...

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  9. Rheola Festival interview

    This year we've seen a spectacular crop of music festivals pop up around Wales, such as Gŵyl Gardd Goll, Laugharne, Mach Comedy Fest, Gŵyl Arall and many others. Each week I'm sent new links and hear of the fantastic work being done in sometimes the most remote locations of Wales. Wales has long been the place to hold a great event, from Tapestry at Margam to Green Man, and Wakestock when it started on the side of the Abersoch cliffs - we have the best locations, and the best music-loving crowds too. So it was good to hear that the Rheola crew decided to build on last year's one-day success, and once again put on an event of like-minded bands from all over Wales inspired by the sound of the 60s. Here's Tom and Elliot on my BBC Radio Wales show last week talking about everything in the run up to this weekend's Rheola Festival.

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  10. Unveiling of the 2011 Eisteddfod Chair

    Today the Wrexham and District National Eisteddfod chair has been unveiled to the Eisteddfod executive committee on the Maes. The Wrexham and District National Eisteddfod Chair Made from four different types of wood, cedar, sycamore, the African Wenge and the Welsh oak, the chair was c...

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