Cymdeithas Hanes Resolfen History Society

A web log for the Resolven History Society which publishes articles and stories related to Resolven and the immediate surroundings.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Noel Thomas Memorial Lecture

Andrew Marr and David Dimbleby

The Annual Noel Thomas Memorial Lecture was given by the President of Resolfen History Society, Phylip Jones. It was a pleasure once again to have members of the family of the late Noel Thomas in the large audience

As long as anyone can remember, Phylip Jones has spoken on "a local theme", which has given him a free hand to range as far as he needs on the history of Resolfen. However, this year, Phylip gave notice that he would stray form the confines of the village in his latest address. It is reasonable to suppose that he has also taken to watching the series "Grumpy Old Men" on the television, since they have been known to remark that a sign of growing older is to to be seen to rail against whatever happens to be on the box (which does not concur with your views). Whatever the reason, Phylip's approbrium was trained on Messrs Marr and Dimbleby of the BBC.

David Dimbleby's careless remark on his recent "History of Britain" series stating that St. Columba had brought Christianity to these shores was dismissed as sheer ignorance of the facts, even though he may well have brought Christianity to the Saxons. Phylip showed by a skilful use of the chronology of the spread of Christianity from the middle east to the shores of Britain, that this was certainly untrue. Christians had been martyred in Britain during the Roman occupation and also St. Patrick had been born in Wales in the 5th Century and had returned to evangelise Ireland in 436. Phylip's serious point was that the media often confuse British history with that of England. The fact that this goes largely unchallenged is a matter of great concern.

Phylip then turned his attack on Andrew Marr, a commentator whom he normally admires . Apparently, Mr Marr had described the Education Act of 1870 as the attempt to make the English and Welsh literate when the Scots were already so. This was obviously not so, since the Welsh people were already among the most literate in Europe at the time. Why the confusion? The answer is quite simple, the Welsh people were able to read Welsh but not English. Phylip Jones then gave a detailed account of the circulating schools of Griffith Jones, Llanddowror in the 18th century. Peripatetic teachers would serve a community for a period of three months which was considered sufficient by Griffith Jones for a person to be able to read. The phonetic nature of the Welsh language made this a viable option and periodicals in Welsh sold in their thousands e.g. Thomas Gee's Y Gwyddoniadur ( Encyclopedia). At least 5 of these circulating schools took place in Resolfen during the period. Interestingly, people were able to read printed work but could not write and would struggle with reading handwriting. Following the demise of the circulating schools in the 1760s the work was taken over by the Sunday School movement spearheaded by such famous Welshmen as Thomas Charles. However, the gloss was taken from this happy state of affairs by the "Treason of the Blue Books"in 1844 when the Welsh people were dismissed as tardy and sluttish by inspectors who were about as knowledgable of Welsh history as the forementioned Andrew Marr.

Mr Jones finished his talk with a familiar theme. One of his pet hates is when someone asks if RESOLVEN is a Welsh name. Once again he pointed out that the name of the village ( though really Ynysfach in any case) come from "Mynydd Soflan" ( literally stubble mountain ) combined with the familiar "Rhos" ( heathland) to give us, over the years, the slightly diluted present day version of anglicised Resolven. Apparently the historian Arthur Griffiths had found over twenty different versions of the name of Resolven in various documents. One possible explanation of the confusion is that "u" was pronounced "v" so that the spelling gave a rather French sounding "Resoulven" in some versions

Mr Gwyn Thomas thanked Mr Phylip Jones once again for his memorable address.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year: New Activities

Street party Company Street

Some important dates for members and supporters:

1. St David's Day Annual Dinner - owing to rising transport costs it was decided to hold the annual dinner this year at the Farmers Arms, Resolfen on Friday, March 11th . Members should note that numbers will be more limited this year and a £5 deposit will be needed. Rest assured, this year there is no clash with rugby internationals or the Women's Day of Prayer.

Cost - £ 12.95 Three Courses including coffee.

Give your names to Brenda Oakes .

2. May Day - some members have asked that we use the society's archive more effectively. Therefore we will be holding a historical "treasure hunt" on the bank holiday, followed by a presentation of old Resolfen in photographs, such as the one above.

Any additional material welcome.

3. Visit to the Somme - following the November meeting, it has been suggested that the Society should organise a trip to see the battlefieds of Belgium. The viability of the visit will depend on the level of interest from members.

4. Summer trip - details are to be finalised, however a vist to Clyro under the guidance of
Mr Phylip Jones has been suggested.