Annual report 2017.pdf

Annual report Abergavenny Local History Society January 1st to 31st December 2017

The objects of Abergavenny Local History Society (charity registration
number 1098582) are:

1.To promote the local community’s knowledge of and interest in history

2. To provide local historical and general interest information for visitors

3. To support Abergavenny Museum and Castle

Achievements to meet these objects

1. During 2017 the society members attended lectures on: The Story of
Middleton Hall, Carmarthenshire; Famous & Forgotten Women in
Wales; Priests, Poetry & Purgatory in Late Medieval Wales; Amy
Dillwyn, Suffragist & Pioneering Industrialist; Archaeology of
Upland Gwent; Victorian Brass Bands & the Industrial Revolution
especially in Wales; Celtic Myths in Medieval Wales; and Women in
Agriculture in the 1860s from the report on Gwent.

During the summer months, visits to places of historic interest included:
guided tours of Brockhampton, Ledbury and Kempley churches; guided
tours of Margam Abbey and Aberdulais Tin Works; a weekend to
Derbyshire visiting Buxton, Haddon Hall, Eyam, Castleton and the
Derwent Valley; and an industrial history visits to Monmouth railways
and Tintern iron working sites. The newsletter included short reports on the visits of the previous year
for those unable to attend. It included articles on Abergavenny
(Llanfoist) Bridge, ‘Booze & Baccy in WW1’, information about
the setting up of a group to support and investigate the historic
Gunter Mansion in Cross Street with its hidden Catholic chapel, and
two reports on recent important archaeological finds in Wales –
Mesolithic footprints at Port Eynon on the Gower and possible traces
of Henry VII’s birthplace at Pembroke castle.

2. To provide information about local history to visitors and more
widely, the research group completed the review of historical
documentation from the First World War and a long article summarising
the findings will appear in the Gwent Local History Journal in Spring
2018. The research group continue to work on recording the
gravestones in Old Hereford Road Cemetery and exploring ways to
remove the overgrowth of trees and vegetation obscuring many graves
after attempting some clearance themselves. The Abergavenny Street
Survey (
continues to be updated with information received or obtained. The
research group had previously contributed to an initial survey of
historical sources for Gunter Mansion and several members have
continued to support the work as part of a Gunter History group.
Anyone who is interested in doing some local history investigation is
welcome to join the research group and will receive support as
The society continued to support the Abergavenny Eisteddfod with a
donation and the chairman announced and presented the literary
prizes. This year we have changed the system for the History Award of
£200 given to pupils going on to study history at University. It had
been noted that many students now changed schools to study at A level
and local students might attend any of the schools or sixth form
colleges in the area. We agreed to change the criteria to ‘any
local student’ rather than limit it to King Henry VIII
comprehensive school. We wrote to all the schools and colleges in the
area with A level students to inform them and asked for written
applications from the students explaining why they thought they
should receive the awards and confirmation from the school or college
that they were supported in the application. We received two
applications: from Kathryn (Katie) Davies and Rhys Gilson. We already
knew Katie as she had worked with the research group on the Street
Survey. Both applications explained well their interests in history
and their future aspirations and we had no difficulty in giving both
an Award which were presented to them in December by the Chairman.

Once a week, the society organises and provides a human presence in St
Mary’s Priory Church which contains one of the best collections of
monuments in the country. This provides information about the
collection and its links to the local history to visitors and local
people. We do, however, need more volunteers for Wednesday
A revised leaflet for the Trail around the ceramic plaques (Wigs,
Flannels, Normans & Romans) was printed with more than half of
the cost being donated by the Abergavenny & District Tourist
Association. This free leaflet in the series Trails & Tales has
been very popular over the summer tourist season. Two further
leaflets – ‘Parks & Gardens’ and ‘Chapels & Churches’
are in preparation for next year’s tourist season.

Members continue to receive emails notifying them about events of historical
interest in the area as well as information about the activities of
the society.
The society continues to provide information to the wider public via the
from where guided walks can be downloaded or leaflets or books
requested. Information about the society activities is available.
Visitors can attend lectures free (although we do ask for a
donation). Links to other societies of relevance are also provided
and there is a query page where questions about local history can be
collected. Answers are provided or the question passed onto other
bodies who may be able to assist. The annual report and financial
reports will be made available on the website.

3. The Castle and Museum continue to be floodlight during the evenings
of September to April and sponsorship is sought from members towards
the cost of maintenance and electricity, although most of this comes
out of the main account. The Victorian Garden in the Castle grounds,
maintained by members, continues to attract many compliments from

New displays have been created in the Museum and opening hours have been
changed to reflect the greater demand for Sunday and lunchtime

Members of the society volunteer at the Museum and the society is supportive
of the intention of the Museum service to provide an Events Pavilion
in the grounds to provide a covered space for activities. It is hoped
this will encourage appropriate use of the Castle grounds and provide
some much needed income for the Museum service. As part of this, the
society provided part of the funds for a geophysical exploration of
the area opposite to the Castle Lodge house to ensure that no
archaeological remains would be disturbed by the building of the

Ken Key
Members (with their main responsibilities) who were confirmed at the
AGM in May were:

Chairman: G Wakley.

Secretary: J Cormack,

Assistant secretary: M Senior.


B Hurley until January 2017, A Ward until November 2017, November
2017 onwards: co-opted member D Stein.

Lecture Secretary: H Morgan,

Assistant Lecture Secretary: J Sweeting

Membership Officer: J Patrick,

Deputy Membership/ Website and email notifications/ Research Group co-ordinator: S Smith

Floodlighting: H. Buchanan
Visits administration: C Fairclough
Publications: I Hofayz
Publicity: D Phillips
Schools Liaison & refreshments: J White
Refreshments: J Butt
Other committee members:
M Kelly, D Morgan

Monmouthshire Museums nominated representative: R Rogers

The committee have decided that they no longer meet formally each month
before each lecture, as most business can be conducted by email or
phone. They will continue to meet formally in February, April,
September and November with any additional meetings as required.

Many thanks to all for their hard work throughout the year, including
those, not on the committee, who assist by running the projector at
meetings, gardening with Paddy Beynon in the Museum Garden,
researching and being on the rota for church watch.

G Wakley Chairman

Abergavenny Local History Society 
          Charity Number 1098582              

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