Bulletin 378

January, 2014

Ffrancis Payne by Cyril Jones  Talk on November 15th, 2013

Francis Payne (1900–1992), although born in Kington, is best remembered for his writings in Welsh, of descriptions of Welsh counties, and especially Radnorshire, of his interest in Welsh history, and particularly of early Welsh poets, and of his own very elegant poetic compositions, and did much to further the study and revival of the language, – becoming more obvious nowadays. The conundrum is how a lad born in a very English Kington (although with strong Welsh connections) managed to have such an effect across a considerable cultural divide, but perhaps many aspects of his early life contribute to this.

Although his mother was ‘English’ from Ludlow – his father was from South Wales, and a Welsh speaker – but he died when the boy was 9 years old.  Very early recollections reveal that he had a vivid imagination and tremendous recall of interesting occurrences, even from the age of only 2 years.  When published later, they gave quite an insight into the goings on (or not) of pre World War I Kington – and from quite a different perspective of our usual diarists.

He attended school here, which had a strong tradition of excellence in languages, and relates how, as a choir boy, his gaze (and attention) wondered from the pulpit to the Vaughan Chapel with its alabaster monuments of the Vaughans of the 1400s.  He had strong memories of the prolonged visit to the town of a group of ‘strolling’ players, who had a vast repertory, which for 2d a night could be enjoyed or endured.

Although on leaving school he first worked in an iron Furnace in South Wales – his particular interest was in Wireless Telegraphy, and after studying in Glasgow, he worked as a Telegraphist in World War I.  This undoubtedly gave him an insight into the precise and exact use of words, and of composing sentences with impact and maybe – balance.

Later work was as a farm hand in West Wales, and in a wagon factory, during which he began to learn and use Welsh, but also acquired a knowledge and interest across the divide, which allowed him to write knowledgeably on “the Welsh Plough”, and later on “the Dark Ages Plough” for the archaeologists.  Then came a spell as an itinerant bookseller in West Wales, which probably allowed him time for contact with the local ‘cognoscenti’.

Finally, with all this under his belt, he had jobs in the University Library (Swansea), the National Museum (Cardiff) and latterly as a keeper at St Fagans, and commenced his writings on Wales and its history, and in particular – Radnorshire.

This county historically has been considered by the rest of Wales as more to do with England, so it was helpful to look towards it from the East – (i.e. Kington), and fortuitously, the English connection seemed to inspire a lot of interest from visiting bards in the Middle Ages anxious to acquaint themselves with the powerful local families, who had strong connections up and down the border.  And, of course the Vaughans fitted the bill here, with fingers in every pie (sometimes burnt) and their upwardly mobile relatives (i.e. the Herberts of Raglan etc.).

So the legacy for us is (in an English translation) of very interesting and insightful descriptions of most of Radnorshire (postwar), and for the knowledgeable – increased understanding of Mediaeval Welsh literature and culture, all from a distinguished son of Kington.

Review by JR.

Christmas Social & Quiz

At last we had decent weather for our Social & Quiz. All that pleading to the gods and to Shefali had worked. The quiz went well, won by Jenny Harrison, and there were so many donations to the raffle that almost everyone got a prize. The Christmas tables were overflowing with lovely food and the wine, generously supplied  once again by our chairman, Dr. Rerrie, was well enjoyed. A pleasing Christmas spirit was abroad and all went home feeling very happy. More fun next year!

A reminder from Nancy Wheatland

We are delighted to have our local Historian and expert on Black & White buildings coming along to talk to us about Presteigne, which will be followed up on May 18th with a guided walk around Presteigne in the company of Duncan. Duncan has covered many local places in the past for our society talks and with no exception this one will be as interesting as the past ones. So we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the New Year to learn more about Presteigne and ask Duncan any questions you may have.

A New Book on the Pember Family of Newport House

Colin Boylett, of Pember’s Oak, has produced a  splendid book  regarding the famous Pember family, who once owned Newport House.

The book applies not only to Almeley, but  to all the surrounding area.   It abounds with full colour photographs and maps. The historical aspect is detailed and informative; a riveting read. The book also comes with a CD which enumerates the families, giving details of births, marriages, deaths and numerous additional items of interest.

Colin’s book comes at the astonishing price of only £16.50.

Stop Press

Brampton Bryan Hall Visit  Friday 14th March 2014

Below is a missive from Edward Harley which gives a flavour of what we can expect to see during our visit to Brampton Bryan Hall on Friday 14th March.

Brampton Bryan Castle and Estate passed to the Harley family in 1309 on the marriage of Bryan de Brampton’s daughter  Margaret, to Robert Harley.  The Brampton Family had held the Estate since the Domesday Book and so there has been an unbroken line of ownership for over 900 years.  During the Civil War the castle was defended by Lady Brilliana Harley, her letters survive and give an extraordinarily vivid picture of a castle under siege.  Brampton Bryan Hall was built beside the remains of the castle in the 1660s and was largely remodelled in 1740.  The ancient deer park survives to the west of the village.

A tour of Brampton Bryan Hall usually includes a brief talk by Edward Harley outlining the history and introducing various things that will be later seen in the house. Edward and Victoria will then lead groups around the main rooms of the house.

The contents of the Hall reflect the history from the earliest days of the castle to the present day. This includes items relating to Brilliana Harley, her grandson Robert Harley, (later 1st Earl of Oxford, who was Speaker and Queen  Anne’s First Minister), Admiral Rodney and Lord Byron – amongst other characters and points of historical and local interest.

The tour is followed by tea and the opportunity to talk with the Harleys. As you will be aware there is no formal charge for the visit but the request of a £15 per person donation to go to local charities of the Harley’s choice. Can I please ask all those who have expressed an interest in attending to forward cheques or cash to John Potts, Treasurer, or myself Mark Wheatland at your earliest opportunity? Please make cheques payable to ‘Kington History Society’. John will then raise one cheque for presentation on the day to Edward Harley.

From the Editor

Please may I once again request  any items of interest  for this year’s Papers?  Surely there are old letters, books, bills, etc. hiding  in your  cupboards.  Perhaps you even have word-of-mouth stories. Please look them out, rack your brains, and let me have them for the next issue.   It is interesting to hear  the history of remote places, but local news is always the best.

Date for your Diary                                         

 Friday 21st February  Dr. David Maund, Population Movement during the Industrial Age.