Artefacts are a reminder of past Eisteddfods

By Brecon and Radnor Reporter in Community News

WITH the National Eisteddfod taking place on Anglesey this week (August 4-12), now is a good time to take a look at some Eisteddfod-related items in the collection of the Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery.

“The most impressive Eisteddfod item in our collection is a beautifully carved Bardic Chair,” explained senior curator Nigel Blackamore. “It is from the Aberhonddu Eisteddfod of 1928, and was awarded to R.J. Stevens of Builth Wells.”

The Museum also has several items relating to the 1889 National Eisteddfod which was held in the grounds of Brecon Castle. Curatorial assistant Helen Morgan tells us: “The Proclamation Ceremony was held on July 10 1888 at Clos y Castell, within the ruins of the castle.”

According to tradition, the Proclamation Ceremony must be completed one year and one day prior to the official opening of the Eisteddfod. The ceremony is conducted within the circle of Gorsedd Stones by the Archdruid of the Gorsedd of Bards who announces details of the proposed venue. 

“Not only do we have a photograph showing the ceremony taking place,” enthused Helen, “but we also have the inscribed Gorsedd stone in our collection. Another photograph shows a gentleman in a top hat, possibly John Williams who was chairman of the 1889 Brecon Eisteddfod, standing next to the Bardic Chair and a framed illuminated script containing his name. The photo is of further interest as it was taken and signed by H. Hobbiss who lived at 18 The Watton, Brecon, and who was known for his cabinet photos in the 1880s.”

The 1889 National Eisteddfod in Brecon was obviously a great success. On the final day, proceedings were brought to a close by one of the Presidents, Mr Talbot Dillwyn Llewellyn of Swansea.

The North Wales Chronicle of September 7 reported his praise for the organisation of the Eisteddfod, saying he “congratulated Brecon upon the great gatherings that it had seen last week, and he could only wish that all future Eisteddfod meetings might be as satisfactory, as well attended, and as fruitful”.

Following on from last month’s article, volunteer co-ordinator Caitlin Gingell is grateful to people who have been in touch. “Thank you so much to everyone who has volunteered to help in various ways at the Museum,” she said. “One particular area where we are still looking for volunteers, because it is so popular, is our educational work. If you would like to become involved with educational activities, we’d be delighted to hear from you. No prior experience is necessary and any training needed will be provided.”

To find out more about volunteering at the Museum, contact Caitlin on 01874 624121, or by email at caitlin.gingell@powys.gov.uk. “You’re very welcome to call us or pop in to see us in our Watton Mount office for an informal chat,” Caitlin added.

Upcoming educational activities: craft sessions making musical instruments during Brecon Fringe Festival, Saturday August 12 and Sunday, August 13, between 11am and 4pm, at Brecon Cathedral Heritage Centre – all welcome!