Cymraeg

A few years ago, while researching the history of St Fagans Castle during the First World War, I came across a number of oral history interviews in the Sound Archive with former tenants of the Plymouth Estate. The recordings were made in the 1970s and 1980s with people who had, for the most part, lived all their lives in St Fagans village. Although very few of the recordings yielded information relevant to my research, they did provide a vivid insight into the workings of the estate during the first half of the twentieth century, when village life revolved around the Castle and its owners the Earl and Countess of Plymouth. With Christmas almost upon us, I thought I'd use my last blogpost of 2016 to share some of the villagers' recollections of Christmas at St Fagans in the early 1900s. Nadolig llawen!

Christmas beast

Alexander ‘Bert’ Warden, born in Cirencester in 1910, moved with his family to St Fagans as a child. In an interview with the Museum in 1979, he remembered distributing meat to the villagers at Christmas:

Penhefyd Farm was the home farm in those days. Of course, the Plymouth people kept cattle there and all the rest of it. At Christmas time, they’d have a beast and it would be slaughtered, cut up into various chunks and each family in the village was allowed so much – I think it was about 5lb for a man, and 3lb for his wife and so much for each child. Now that was delivered around for the villagers by workmen from the estate. I did it myself when I was a boy. That was one of the Christmas boxes from the Plymouth Estate. Also a couple of rabbits – each person had a couple of rabbits and a load of logs. [6020/1]

Mary Ann Dodd, a housemaid for the Plymouth family at the turn of the century, remembered using the Christmas beast to make soup for the villagers. In the early 1960s, at the age of 96 and living at the Grange Home for the Blind in Hereford, she wrote an essay for the Museum about her 30 years working at St Fagans Castle:    

Every Christmas two animals were killed, and her Ladyship told Mrs Cousins to use the heads, legs and offal for soup. This was supervised by the Lady herself and was made in my biggest copper saucepan. It was so big I could almost stand in it. The Housekeeper put in the salt and seasoning, and my Lady was keen on plenty of parsley, and all five kitchen maids and myself prepared the vegetables. We cleaned celery, carrots and leeks. Once they knew that the soup was ready, the village folk came from breakfast time on with jugs and basins and all manner of things and they were all provided with meat and soup. [MS 1293]

Children’s party

Another festive tradition remembered with fondness was the children’s Christmas party. This was held in the Banqueting Hall – a large pavilion in the Castle grounds – before the end of the school term. Jessie Warden (née Mildon), who was born and brought-up in the village, described it as one of the 'perks' of living on the estate:

We were always a jolly lot. Lord Plymouth, every year, gave every child in the whole of the school – there could be a 100, there could be 50 – a Christmas party in the Banqueting Hall. Everything from the jelly to the Christmas presents at five shillings per child was paid by Lord Plymouth. And that was wonderful. It was a real Christmas party paid for by Lord Plymouth. There was a huge Christmas tree with your presents on the tree. Lady Plymouth was usually there and would give to the boys and Lord Plymouth would give to the girls. And they’d have a man with a ladder to get your particular present off the tree. The tree would then go to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary. [6020/1]

Mari Lwyd

Jessie Warden also recalled her childhood fear of the Mari Lwyd – a seasonal custom practiced without the patronage of the Plymouth Estate:

They had a Mari Lwyd every year. The Mari Lwyd used to come and that was a chap from Pentyrch, and there was one from Ely. There was one from the village, but then when he finished, his relatives in Ely came out in my day. When I was about ten. I can remember the Mari Lwyd. We were always petrified! The responses etc. were always in Welsh. [6020/1]

In 1933 the Museum acquired a Mari Lwyd for the collection from Thomas Davies of Pentyrch who would perform for one week either side of Christmas. At the time, the curator noted that he had been travelling with the Mari for 35 years and had connections with St Fagans. He probably visited the young Jessie Mildon and her family.

 

 

Hi Bulb Buddies,

Today is the last day for collecting weather data before Christmas! Most schools will finish for the holidays on the 16th of December, and will start back on the 3rd or 4th of January. The next week for weather records is 2nd-6th January. When entering data to the website please enter 'no record' for the dates that you weren't in school to take readings.

There's no need to take your pots home with you over Christmas. So long as they are in a safe place in the school yard where they are unlikely to get blown over by the wind, they will be fine. The bulbs are insulated by the soil and can withstand the winter weather.

The weather has been extremely mild again this winter, and it will be interesting to see what the effects of this are on our plants! November 2016 saw lower temperatures and less rain than last year, but far more sunshine! In November 2015 the UK had 35.6 hours of sunshine, this year we had 74.6 hours, that’s more than double! Although temperatures were lower, it was still warm for the time of year. And although it was dryer, there was still a substantial amount of rain. These are good conditions for our bulbs, and if this pattern continues, we may see our flowers bloom earlier than last year!

Have a lovely break Bulb Buddies.

Happy Christmas from

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

 

 

If you have read any of the recent blog posts about the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project, or the Lost Treasures of Swansea Bay Project and its various exciting activities, you will know that Saving Treasures works with metal detector groups and local museums in Wales to widen access to, and understanding of, the material heritage of Wales.

What is material heritage?

Material heritage is the physical remains of the past, the objects left behind by past societies. Often, these are brought to light by members of the public, mainly metal detectorists, who report their significant finds to their local Finds Liaison Officer in order that they can be recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database.

Taken together, these objects – especially when they are made available to the public in museum collections – help to build up a picture of how we used to live and who we used to be.

Why is it important?

The Saving Treasures; Telling Stories Project recognises that interaction with the history of your local area through the objects past communities left behind can be a powerful and enriching experience.

For those who are interested in the past, having access to the actual things that long-dead people used, wore and handled can bring us into contact with them much more directly than a history book ever could.

Every object has a story to tell

The discovery of a lost mourning ring or a hoard of Bronze Age axes tells us something about the people who used such objects and raises questions about how they came to be in the ground. Were they lost, discarded, or put there deliberately? And if so, why?

Thinking about these questions allows us to empathise with our forebears, understand something of their hopes, fears and concerns, and walk a little way in their shoes.

Hello Bulb Buddies,

A big thank you to all the schools that sent in their weather data last week. Especially to those who left comments! Some of the comments last week noted that the weather has been getting steadily colder, and that temperatures increase throughout the day. For this reason I thought it would be interesting to talk a bit about the seasons!

There are four seasons in the year. Winter, spring, summer and autumn. We are in winter, which is the coldest season.

Spring starts around 20th March (the Spring Equinox), this is when most flowers bloom, the weather gets steadily warmer, and many animals have their young. Lambs in the fields are a good sign that spring has arrived!

The summer comes in full force from June to September, and this is when we have the warmest weather and the longest daylight hours. Luckily for you, it’s also when you get your longest school holidays!

Autumn takes hold from late September, and this is when the days become shorter and the weather begins to get colder! This is when the leaves change colour from green to oranges, reds and browns and fall from the trees. And when animals like squirrels hoard food for the long winter ahead. Winter arrives again in December, and stays until mid-March.

Do you know why we get seasons? What causes the weather to change so dramatically throughout the year? Well, it’s because the Earth is turning around the Sun at an angle. The picture below shows the earth in relation to the sun. The earth turns (rotates) on its axis (imagine a line joining the North and South poles) as it moves around (orbits) the Sun.

It takes the Earth 365 days to travel once around the sun. The length of a planets year is the time it takes for it to complete one orbit of its star. So a year on Earth is measured as the passing of 365 days. 

The picture above shows the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. The axis is shown by the white line at the North and South poles. You can see that the axis (white line) is at a different angle to the Earth’s orbit (shown by the white arrows). This means that each day we are at a slightly different angle to the Sun than we were the day before. This is what causes a difference in the number of daylight hours we get. Fewer daylight hours (winter) means less light and heat, making this time of the year colder. More daylight hours (summer) means more light and heat, which makes it warmer!

Many of you have noticed that temperature increases throughout the morning, and decreases in the late afternoon. This is because the heat from the sun gradually warms our surroundings throughout the day. Materials and living things absorb this energy, and become warmer themselves, heating the air around them. The sun is at its highest point around noon, so this is when the earth gets the most light and heat energy from the sun. In the afternoon the heat and light from the sun gradually decreases. However, the materials and living things around you will continue to radiate heat, gradually cooling throughout the afternoon and evening. This is why the temperature is often higher between 2-3pm than it is at midday. This is also why temperatures are lower in winter than they are in summer, because the days are shorter and as such our surroundings receive less heat and light energy from the sun.  

The UK is in what is known as the ‘North hemisphere’, this means we are closer to the North Pole than the South Pole. Notice that in the picture the North pole (the white line pointing up) is leaning towards the Sun in summer and away from the sun in winter. This angle is what causes the change in daylight hours as the Earth orbits the sun over the course of the year.

Other countries experience the changes in daylight hours at different times of the year. In Australia it is summer in December! And in Iceland they have continuous sunlight for days in a row in the summer and darkness for as long in the winter! Imagine having sunlight at midnight!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

 

Your comments:

Stanford in the Vale Primary School: Hello, This week it has been very frosty and cold. In the mornings it has been frosty but got warmer at lunch times.

Ysgol Bro Ogwr: Mae'r tymheredd yn newid yn y prynhawn.

Hudson Road Primary School: It has been quite warm during the afternoons this week with bright sunshine.

Ysgol Glanyfferi: The temperature is getting colder as it's getting further into the winter.

Hudson Road Primary School: It has been really cold towards the end of the week, with very frosty mornings but it has warmed up through the day.

Betws Primary School: An extremely wet start to the week! The temperature is beginning to dip and winter is most certainly coming...

Stane Primary School: It's getting colder and colder every day! Get your hat, scarf and gloves on. Professor Plant: Great advice Stane Primary, make sure you stay warm!

Arkholme CE Primary School: We have had some frosty nights and most of the leaves have fallen off the trees. No change what so ever with the bulbs. Have a good day.

Broad Haven Primary School: Everything was frozen every morning this week. Frost and ice. The birds are hungry they are eating the sunflower seeds of the sunflowers we grew in the summer.

Hudson Road Primary School: Friday was a lovely warm afternoon and we did lots of garden maintenance getting ready for the winter and filled our bird feeders so they will have food in the cold winter days. Professor Plant: That’s lovely Hudson Road Primary. Well done for looking after wildlife in your garden.

Darran Park Primary: Despite the sunny weather, the temperature has been quite cold but not freezing Also the temperature has been quite consistent but it dropped a little bit on Friday. As well, to start the week off is has been raining, nevertheless, the rest of the week has been dry.

Carnbroe Primary School: The weather was dry but cold and damp this week. Although it didn't rain the soil in our plant pots was damp. Professor Plant: Hi Carnbroe Primary, well done for checking whether your plants needed watering. It’s likely that dew or frost has been forming on top of the soil this will be why the soil is damp even though it hasn’t rained.  

Bacup Thorn Primary School: We had a lot of snow Thursday night into Friday. Heavy snow throughout Friday making a wet but enjoyable time at break. We had some very large snow flakes falling.

Bacup Thorn Primary School: A cold start to the week, ending with an extremely wet day!

Darran Park Primary: The temperature has dropped and the rainfall has raised.

Ysgol Rhys Prichard: No rain in the week. Hotter on Monday than Thursday.

Auchenlodment Primary School: There is no record for Wednesday as we were off school for St Andrew's Day. Professor Plant: Hi Auchenlodment Primary, thank you for letting me know. A number of other schools let me know that it was St Andrew’s day as well.

Ysgol Pennant: Diolch am y Worm World! Dwin edrych ymlaen am y bylbiau i agor. Diolch am y bylbiau dwin hoffi cadw golwg ar y potiau. Professor Plant: Helo Ysgol Pennant, diolch am eich gwaith called ac am anfon lluniau! Cadwch ati gyda'r gwaith caled Gyfeillion y Gwanwyn!

Rougemont Junior School: Flowers are starting to sprout. Professor Plant: Wow Rougemont, that’s great news! A few other schools have said that their plants are sprouting, it’s earlier than last year so it will be interesting to compare the results!

 

Yes, you have guessed it, it's time to roll out our annual #MuseumAdvent Calendar at National Museum Cardiff.

Each year throughout December we like to highlight our fantastic collections and spread some Christmassy cheer.

So why not find out what is behind each door of our advent calendar by following the @CardiffCurator Twitter account and see what wonderful suprises we have in store for you behind each one. We have delved deep into our collections to find some great Christmas objects. This year the theme of our advent calendar is lines from Christmas songs and poems. See if you can work out which song or poem each line comes from.

We have started off the calendar with:

Diwrnod 1 #AdfentAmgueddfa: ‘Aur, thus a myrr a gafodd ef, gan ddoethion ddaeth o bell’. Aur Cymru o gasgliadau @Museum_Cardiff

Day 1 of #MuseumAdvent - ‘Five gold rings!’, 5 nuggets of Welsh Gold from @Museum_Cardiff collections

Enjoy!

Update:

Well, now that the festive period is over and the decorations are coming down. We thought that we would put all of our Christmassy tweets together in this Storify for you to read.