Saturday, January 17, 2015

Jessica's Radnorshire Roots

Not having access to a television - well at least one where I have any control of the remote - I'd never heard of the actress Jessica Raine, she was the star of the BBC series Call the Midwife.  I came across her name while checking out some Kington history, Raine is an ex-pupil of the town's Lady Hawkins school.

Like another ex-pupil, the singer Ellie Goulding, there seems to be some ambiguity about Jessica's nationality, she being described in various mainstream articles as a Welsh actress.  The cause of this mix-up in Goulding's case was the inability of Warburton's Wales's national newspaper to distinguish between Kington and Knighton.  In the case of Raine it seems to stem from an early interview where she said she was from near Hay-on-Wye, no doubt correctly surmising that this was the only place anywhere near her home in Eardisley, Herefordshire a London journalist might conceivably have heard of.

Ms Raine herself has had something to say about borderland ambiguities, remarking on the "Welsh twang" of her local accent and that she "grew up in Herefordshire on the borders with Wales, so it was neither one nor the other."  All quite interesting but more was to follow when I discovered that her real surname was Lloyd and that she was connected to the Lloyds of Baynham Hall, Michaelchurch-on-Arrow, a branch of the well-known family of Radnorshire bonesetters.

In the days when agriculture was less mechanized than it is today a bad back could easily bring ruin to a family.  Radnorshire farmers had little faith in the medical profession to be of any assistance, whereas bonesetters were trusted and sought after.  An interesting article here.  Many of these local bonesetters were descendants of Hugh Lloyd 1770-1856, as indeed is Ms Raine.  In 1969 Jessica's father unveiled a memorial tablet in Michaelchurch parish church to commemorate the original Hugh Lloyd.  The memorial repeats the verse on the bonesetter's original tombstone.

A talent rare by him possessed
T'adjust the bones of the distressed
Whenever called he ne'er refused
But cheerfully his talent used
But now he lies beneath this tomb
Till Jesus comes t'adjust his own.

A few year's ago I may have done something to cast doubt on the family's connection with that figure of local folklore Silver John, see here.  It was not my intention as there is usually some element truth in these old legends.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really hate the term "Welsh twang"

English accents twang. Our Welsh accents have broad open vowels and a melodious intonation. We call the English language 'yr iaith fain' for a reason!