The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion

Recognising the contribution of Wales in contemporary society

The Transactions

home > Transactions > Volume 20 - 2014 > Meeting King Lud at the Fleet Gate: David Jones and the Welshness of London

Meeting King Lud at the Fleet Gate: David Jones and the Welshness of London

Throughout his career the modernist writer and painter David Jones explored the idea that Celtic Britain should be read in the context of its Roman heritage. Through the transforming experience of Roman occupation and through the following centuries of allegiance to the Church of Rome, Jones argued that the Welsh were what he called ‘the heirs of Romanity’ whose history and culture reached back to European and classical roots which remained more significant than the effects of the English interregnum. This fascination with Rome also affected his reading of London, the city where he spent nearly the whole of his life, and where the Roman presence was still visible in walls and streets and placenames. Many of these concerns come together in his long poem The Anathémata (1952), particularly in the central sections about the maritime tradition of the city of London. In this essay I will be looking in particular at Sections V and VII, ‘The Lady of the Pool’ and ‘Mabinog’s Liturgy’, in which sub-Roman elements are interwoven with motifs from medieval Welsh tales, particularly those concerning King Lud at the White Mount.1

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