The Abergavenny Eisteddfod

Lady Llanover and the Triple Harp

Lady Llanover had fallen head over heels in love, above all, with the triple harp and the folk airs and folk dances of Wales, and there's no doubt at all that the Abergavenny Eisteddfodau between 1835 and 1853 played a very important part in safeguarding those elements in Welsh-language culture. It's quite certain that the triple harp would have completely disappeared from Wales were it not for Lady Llanover, who employed a harpist in Cardiff, Bassett Jones, to make harps. That is, she set competitions in the eisteddfodau for triple harp players, and instead of giving them money as prizes, she'd give them a new harp. It seems that this Bassett Jones in Cardiff made around three dozen brand-new harps, which reached every part of Wales. And Lady Llanover remained fervently in favour of what she considered to be Welsh traditional culture, right up until the year of her death in 1896. She was called a 'very fiery Welshwoman' by one of her acquaintance, although she was in fact an Englishwoman by ancestry and birth. Thank Heaven for people of her kind.

Listen to a video narrative in Welsh by Hywel Teifi Edwards: