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Ten Wonderful Days in May

Throughout May, a walking festival is taking place across the Vale of Glamorgan. It allows participants to visit various beauty spots, and places of special natural or historical interest whilst walking through some spectacular landscapes. The walks usually taking in a nice old pub or two as well. Rather civilised really.

The event is being managed by Valeways, Visit the Vale and Vale of Glamorgan Council with walks being led by TV Presenter and S4C weatherman Chris Jones.

The story behind places of historic significance are also told by local experts and I am delighted to be able support in just such a capacity. Also, characters in costume played by street artists bring those stories to life.

Saturday was a particularly special one for me. We met at one of my favourite haunts; the Plough and Harrow in Monknash. Guests were greeted by a monk who told a chilling tale of a noise which haunted visitors to the old monastic grange. I talked a bit about the history of the grange, the remains of which the pub is built on, the smugglers, pirates and wreckers from the area and how the old inn used to serve as a make shift morgue in the 18th century when souls were washed up on the beaches, the victims of the many wrecks on the Nash and Tusker Rock. A toll thank fully reduced since the construction of the Nash lighthouse in 1830 (also part of the walk). Then when the walkers returned, over a well earned fish and chips and a pint, the people sitting at the tables all around us suddenly sprang into song. A flash-mob provided courtesy of Barry Male Voice choir with traditional Welsh hymns and well known sing-alongs. In the radiant sunshine of the day, it was quite magical.

We are only halfway through the month so there are still plenty more walks you can join in on. Get all the information you need on this link. https://www.visitthevale.com/events/10-days-in-may. There is a good blend of coastal and inland walking and something for all abilities. I would highly recommend it.

Here are some highlights for me so far…

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Pints and Justice

What ties the criminal justice system in ancient Wales to some of our oldest local pubs? ⚖️🍺🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿.

I have made a 10-minute video (the link is below) in which I look at crime and punishment in Caerphilly in the mediaeval period, in Cardiff in the Tudor period and Abergavenny in the Stuart period. I investigate how much things have changed and also how many traditions and even expressions have survived. 

In this video we visit some familiar places;

▶️the Tafan-Y-Cwrt in Caerphilly, 

▶️the Skirrid Inn in Llanvihangel Crucorney, 

▶️Death Junction in Roath in Cardiff, 

▶️the original site of Cardiff Gaol and town hall

▶️and the current site of Cardiff Prison. 

We talk about;

▶️the Magna Carta, 

▶️medieval trials by ordeal, 

▶️the Bloody Assizes 

▶️and public execution.

All in all, a whirl wind tour of what faced criminals in South Wales in the olden days, and how much of it you can still see by popping down to your local pub or even things you might hear or say down the local pub.

Watch the video in full on YouTube 🎬

Here’s the link ⬇️

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Pints and Priest Holes

Pints and Priest Holes

Priest holes and pints is a video about the clues that have been left in some of the oldest pubs in Wales about the attitudes of ordinary people to the reformation.

We visit the White Hart inn, in Llangybi which is built on the site of an ancient monastery so has its roots in the church. It was also owned by Henry VIII but also has a priest hole. What secrets does it hold to give away the loyalties of the people who lived there? How did the Robin Hood Inn, in Monmouth manage to act as a secret Catholic chapel for over 100 years?

This fascinating story will give you a peep behind the closed doors of Monmouthshire. Sight of an unintentionally clandestine life perused by its inhabitants as they tried to make sense of the changes that were happening in the church. History on your doorstep has never been so vivid, and best of all, you can have a pint afterwards. In this video you see an explanation of what the Reformation actually was and how it got its grip, two sixteenth century pubs which were in the thick of the action, a priest hole, a secret passage, the well of St Cybi –  a fifth century holy relic, the remains of secret hidden religious paintings, the ancient town of Monmouth and its thirteenth century fortified bridge over the river Monnow

Video
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The Church Inn, Llanishen and the scandal David Lloyd George kept under wraps

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🍺⛪️Is the Church Inn in Llanishen the oldest pub in Cardiff? And what was the scandal David Lloyd George witnessed there but kept under wraps? Did Oliver Cromwell stay at the Church? This 9-minute video has all the answers. A must watch for Cardiff history buffs.

The Church Inn, in Llanishen, in north Cardiff is an 18th Century coaching inn from the Georgian era. During our visit we look at the pub and it’s history, the ‘Welsh Sunday Closing Act’ of 1881 and how a visit by a future Prime Minister; David Lloyd George uncovered an uncomfortable truth.

This is one of a series of short videos in which I examine a moment in Welsh history, from the perspective of our ancestors. Specifically, when they were propping up the bar in a pub which was at the heart of the action. These are the stories I gather from visiting some of the oldest and most interesting pubs in Wales. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please subscribe to this channel and share them on social media.

Click on this link to view the video 🔽

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‘Historic Pubs of Wales’ Video: The Plough & Harrow, Monknash and its links with pirates, ship wreckers and monks.

What links priests, pirates and pints? 

If you know the pub; the Plough and Harrow or if you are familiar with the Wick and Monknash area you will love this 10 minute potted history. Stories of ship wreckers and pirates, and a fascinating reconstruction of how Monknash Grange might have looked when it was in its prime. You also get to see how some of the Grange’s traditions are still being observed to this day. Even if purely by chance.

This video is an accompaniment to the book “Historic pubs of Wales” by Graham Loveluck-Edwards, It is available on Amazon and all good book shops.

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From alms to ales – A potted history of the oldest pub in Swansea.

Thanks to the combined efforts of the Victorians and the Luftwaffe, most of the old inns in Swansea city centre are gone for ever, but the Cross Keys (pictured above in 1880, 1926 and now) has survived them all and has antiquity by the spade full.

The name is a nod to the legend that St Peter held the keys to the gates of heaven. A clue to its godly past. The building it self was built by Bishop Henry de Gower (Bishop of St Davids) in 1330, not as an inn but an almshouse and early hospital annexed to a monastic cell. The charter of 1332 says that it was established for ‘the support of other poor chaplains and laymen deprived of bodily health.’ It was not only there to look after people taken ill or injured, but to support the destitute, poor and starving.

The institution must have had some significant patronage, as it survived right up until the Reformation and the dissolution of monasteries in 1536. It was then confiscated by the Crown and sold to Sir George Herbert, who was a very powerful and rather unscrupulous man, descended from a family of ‘Marcher’ lords. And to make matters worse, he was from Cardiff.

He was a man of very different moral fibre to Henry de Gower, and as there was no money to be made from feeding the starving or tending to the sick, he closed down the hospital and almshouse and broke the estate up, turning the old buildings into shops and an inn. Later all the other buildings were demolished, but the inn thrived.

By the beginning of the twentieth century the pub was very dilapidated and run down. and its origins had largely been forgotten, so it was a very brave undertaking to get it all restored and renovated. But when the rendering got stripped away, to the delight of the owner who oversaw the work, a lot of the original features, like the stone arched windows and medieval timber, were re-discovered. The two bays on the St Mary Street side were added onto the original building in the seventeenth century, and it is believed that when they were built, they contained two narrow shops separated by a passageway which ran to the back of the building.

Inside there are some lovely features. The massive ceiling beams tell a story of all the walls and partitions that have been added and taken away in the last 700 years, and there are fragments of medieval roof trusses on either side of a small seating area in the lounge.

The layout of the pub today suggests that this part of the original building had two uses. The old hall would have been located on the first floor, which would have been a cleric’s living accommodation. Meanwhile below would have been part of the old hospital, possibly a ward.

This exert is taken from a new book, out now, called “Historic Pubs of Wales” by welsh author and historian; Graham Loveluck-Edwards and published by Candy Jar Books. It charts the history, folklore and incredible stories that are tied up in 89 historic pubs from all over Wales. Everything from royal patronage and assassination attempts to ghosts and priest holes. Even one which claims to have an elephant buried under the beer garden. It is available from good, independent book shops, WH Smiths, Amazon or direct from the author at a discounted price at http://grahamloveluckedwards.co.uk.

A crowd of regulars outside the Cross Keys in Swansea in 1880. Historic pubs of Wales.

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“Historic Pubs of Wales” by Graham Loveluck-Edwards reviewed by the South Wales Argus.

An AUTHOR has published a book telling the historic tales of 89 pubs across Wales – including Newport, Caerphilly, and several cross Gwent. 

Graham Loveluck-Edwards has announced the release of his new book ‘Historic Pubs of Wales’ where he relishes in some of the more colourful myths, legends and stories from Wales’ ancient past and oldest pubs. 

Included in the book is an entire chapter dedicated to Gwent, titled ‘Monmouthshire and the ancient kingdom of Gwent’ which includes pubs such as The Hanbury Arms in Caerleon, The Murenger House in Newport, The Robin Hood Inn in Monmouth and several more.

“For example, the pub which claims to have an elephant buried under its beer garden, or the pub where funeral parties take a short cut to the cemetery through the bar to keep an ancient right of access alive, or the pub that claims to have invented pancake day and so many more. 

“In all, I’ve compiled over 100 incredible stories based around 89 amazing old pubs – is there any truth to them?

“Some for sure, but this book captures them and puts them in the context of history so you can be the judge.”

The book also contains a travel guide so readers can go on a tour around Wales and visit all the pubs in the book.

You can find out more at www.talesfromhistoricpubsofwales.co.uk.  

“As you can imagine for such a book the research was relentless and thorough, and a lot of fun,” he added.

“Pubs have had such a tough time in the last year with us going in and out of lockdowns and with the introduction of social distancing measures. 

“Sixteenth century inns are usually a warren of tiny rooms so being two metres apart has made opening and trading near impossible for many. 

“So, a book which celebrates all that is great about our old pubs, which tells people their history, where to find them and what to expect when you get there has been welcomed by all landlords.”

Link to live item: https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/19581611.vale-author-details-history-newport-pubs-new-book/

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“Historic Pubs of Wales” by Graham Loveluck-Edwards reviewed in the Denbigh Free Press

THE medieval town of Ruthin has a turbulent past. But did you know that there are phrases in common use in the English language today that originate from one of the town’s gorier traditions?

As much as the thought of a public hanging might turn our stomachs today, back in the 18th century they were considered good, clean, family entertainment.

In Ruthin, the gallows stood in the medieval market square at the top of the hill that leads up from the town’s old gaol. The route between the two places back then is as short and direct as it is today.

However, Ruthin continued a tradition that was echoed in towns across the country. The condemned man was never taken directly. Instead, it was customary for the condemned man to be placed in a cart or wagon and be taken on a zig zag route throughout the entire town, stopping at every pub in the town on his way.

The journey would begin at the gaol and the condemned man would travel in this wagon with an entourage of guards, a chaplain, and the executioner himself. Every time they stopped, the condemned man and his guards would dismount, go in the pub, have a few drinks, and then stumble back out to move on to the next one.

The only people who could not join them were the two men who still had a job to do, namely the executioner and the chaplain. So, if you ever offer to buy someone a drink and they reply, ‘Not for me, thanks. I’m on the wagon,’ now you know the tradition they’re referencing. It’s these two abstaining souls who could not join in the revelry.

And that is not the full extent of language that is derived from this tradition.

On its journey, the wagon transporting the condemned man used to start and stop so often that the lunging motion of the horses’ jerking the wheels into rotation earned the nickname ‘the lurch’. So, when the executioner and chaplain remained on the cart, while everyone else went into a pub, they were ‘left in the lurch’.

There are even suggestions that the term ‘pub crawl’ refers to the pace of the cart moving along the streets. Meanwhile, having ‘one for the road’ is another, self-explanatory reference.

This and many other fascinating revelations like it come from a new book which has just been published by Candy Jar Books, called “Historic Pubs of Wales” by Welsh author and historian; Graham Loveluck-Edwards.

Graham said: “When it comes to history, the humble pub has always punched well above its weight. Some of these wonderful old buildings have been at the heart of some very significant history as well as colourful events and imaginative folklore down the centuries. Yet when it comes to reading about local history, as much as there is no end of books about castles, stately homes, churches, and cathedrals, there is precious little about our pubs. They are so often overlooked. And that is something I am keen to put right”

“I have always loved old pubs. I am one of those people who cannot pass by an old and decrepit-looking pub without popping in for a pint and asking the landlord, ‘What’s the story behind this place then?’ This book is the fruit of a good 30 years of such conversations.”

The book charts the amazing haul of history tied up in 89 historic pubs from right across Wales. Capturing the history, the stories, and the folklore. Nineteen of the 89 are pubs are in North Wales and they include the Morning Star in Ruthin (at the heart of the tradition we were just looking at), the Ty Mawr in Gwyddelwern, The King’s Head in Llanrhaeadr and the Guildhall in Denbigh.

Historic Pubs of Wales is available from the author’s website just click here.

Link to live item: https://www.denbighshirefreepress.co.uk/news/19607856.many-phrases-use-today-derive-gory-past-pubs-denbighshire/

The Denbigh Free Press