Belgian refugee musicians in mid-Wales during the First World War

When Germany invaded Belgium in 1914, more than a million Belgians fled their homes and around 100,000 sought refuge in Britain. The Davies family of Llandinam assisted several families to come to Mid Wales and the artist members of this expatriate community were the subject of a major exhibition at National Museum Cardiff and Ghent’s Museum of Fine Arts in 2003.

Their musician colleagues were equally distinguished, yet their lives and careers are now almost entirely forgotten. Drawing on original sources in the UK and Belgium and offering powerful parallels with the migration crises of today, this lecture reconstructs a remarkable lost narrative and presents it in London for the first time.

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Drawing on Michael Cronin’s model of ‘microcosmopolitanism’ and its appreciation of the complexity and diversity of small nations, in this lecture Professor Wynn Thomas champions the importance of ‘studying Wales today’, and suggests developments for securing a sustainable and dynamic future for the field.

The text of the lecture may be downloaded here.


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Studying Wales Today: A Microcosmopolitan Approach

Gan ddefnyddio model Michael Cronin o ‘microcosmopolitaniaeth’ a’i werthfawrogiad o gymhlethdod ac amrywiaeth cenhedloedd bychan, yn y ddarlith hon mae’r Athro Wynn Thomas yn pleidio achos pwysigrwydd ‘astudio Cymru heddiw’, ac yn awgrymu datblygiadau ar gyfer sicrhau dyfodol cynaliadwy a deinamig i’r maes.

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Gellir lawr lwytho testun y ddarlith yma.

William R Grove: The Fuel Cell and the Hydrogen Economy

William Robert Grove (1811-1896) was a physical scientist who is known as “the father of the fuel cell”. His pioneering research on fuel cell technology and on the conservation of energy was sufficiently groundbreaking and renowned for him to become a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1840. Born in Swansea, he was also a founder of what became the Royal Institution of South Wales in 1838. In terms that are intelligible to non-scientists and interested lay persons, Professor Sir John Meurig Thomas describes Grove’s work on the fuel cell and assesses the contemporary significance of his discovery and its potential for the development of the hydrogen economy – the use of hydrogen, in conjunction with a fuel cell, to provide a low-carbon source of energy.

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The history and future of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography

In this lecture, Professor Dafydd Johnston, Director of the Universty of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, and a Co-Editor of the Dictionary, traces the history of the Dictionary of Welsh Biography from the foundation of the project by the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion during the 1930s to the present day. He describes some of the significant developments that the Centre and the National Library of Wales are currently taking forward. These include the improvement of the Dictionary’s gender balance through the addition of more articles about Welsh women, the digitisation of articles and the addtion of photographs and other illustrations. Professor Johnston goes on to outline the challenges facing the Centre and the Library as they seek to ensure the long-term future of this important national resource.

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YR Arglwyddes Llanofer: y bersonoliaeth tu ôl I’R prosiect

Darlith cyfrwng Cymraeg a gafodd ei thraddodi yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol yn y Fenni, dydd Llun, 1 Awst 2016, gan y Dr Celyn Gurden-Williams ar destun yr Arglwyddes Llanofer (1802 – 1896), un o gyfranwyr pwysicaf diwylliant Cymreig yn ystod y bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg ac un o gymeriadau mwyaf diddorol y cyfnod.



The Mills Family of Llanidloes: An extraordinary musical legacy

The Annual June Gruffydd Memorial Lecture, organised in association with the Montgomeryshire Society.

The lecture focuses on the three generations of the renowned Mills Family of Llanidloes, who spanned the nineteenth century, and their contribution to the musical and cultural life of Wales and beyond.

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The Ancient Britons: Sociability, Pageantry and Patriotism in the First London Welsh Society

The Most Honourable and Loyal Society of Ancient Britons, founded in London in 1715, was a complex and multi-faceted patriotic phenomenon. It was simultaneously a mouthpiece for royalist propaganda and a haven for political radicals, a piously charitable foundation and an excuse for having a good time. In a period when distinctly Welsh institutions had largely ceased to exist, the Society’s annual celebration of St. David’s Day in the English capital offered a rare example of eighteenth-century Welsh people deliberately imagining into existence an identifiably Welsh nation, using ceremony, sociability, poetry, and politics to fill the institutional void. This lecture tells the story of this important precursor to the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, trying to get to the bottom of what it meant for these London Welshmen to proclaim themselves Ancient Britons during the formative years of the British nation-state.

Image courtesy of the Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University

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Love, Money and Art: The Davies Sisters and a Fortune for Wales

Gwenda Sippings, Chair of the Society’s Council in the chair

About the Lecture

Gwendoline Davies (1882-1951) and Margaret Davies (1884-1963) were the granddaughters of the nineteenth century industrialist, David Davies of Llandinam, Montgomeryshire, railway builder and pioneer of the coal industry in South Wales. The Davies sisters’ childhood was dominated by the strict beliefs of Calvinistic Methodism. They learned that it was their Christian duty to make good use of the great wealth they would inherit. They championed social, economic, educational and cultural initiatives in Wales and beyond. As young women they developed a deep love of the visual arts and music, travelled widely in Europe and collected the art works of what were to become some of the leading exponents of the Impressionist movement.

Gwendoline and Margaret believed that beauty had a power to do good. The art collection that they bequeathed to the Welsh nation embodies this belief, and it is thanks to their generosity that the National Museum Wales now houses the work of name such as Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Renoir and Rodin. For all their fortune and privilege, they lived lives hones by shyness and self-denial, and haunted by love. Yet they adventured and pioneered: a medal salutes their Red Cross service in France during the Great War, for instance.

In his lecture, Trevor Fishlock outlined the lives of these extraordinary women and the remarkable impact that their idealism and generosity had on the cultural and intellectual life of Wales – an impact which is still with us today.

The Speaker

Trevor Fishlock is an author, broadcaster and foreign correspondent. He has worked on assignment in more than seventy countries and was staff correspondent of The Times in India and New York, and Moscow bureau chief for The Daily Telegraph. He has written books on Wales, India, Russia, America and on nineteenth-century exploration, and has presented more than 160 television programmes about life and history in Wales, winning a BAFTA award for his Wild Tracks series, which ran for fourteen years. He has made wo documentary programmes about the Davieses of Llandinam and about the Davies sisters’ trailblazing art collection. His book, A Gift of Sunlight: The fortune and quest of the Davies sisters of Llandinam, was published by the Gomer Press in 2014.

(With acknowledgement to Trevor Fishlock and to the publishers of A Gift of Sunlight, from which much of the above summary derives)

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