Monday, January 30, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 5

If your surname is Philpott and your ancestors originated from in Herefordshire, you might think they were English. Wrong.

This is my translation Lewis Glyn Cothi's elergy for Phelpod ap Rhys of Brilley:

No 144, Elegy for Phelpod ap Rhys

When the knell sounded for Ifor of Brilley,
There was a groan, oh why this?

Phelpod was kind to the poor,
The son of generous Rhys, a shoot of Sion.
Oh Holy Mary! Was there a better man
Than this since ancient Cadell?
From the storytellers
There was a world within his head;
Rarely has a living man surpassed
Him in knowledge of the Bible.
In his lands, he was the best Welshman,
He spoke the Welsh of Wales;
And because of this the son of Rhys knew
The chronicles of the men of the island.
Did he have a brother in faith?
Of course, there was Gildas ap Caw.
There are seven parts to earthly knowledge,
And just seven men knew them all;
He in the vale of Kington,
Knew something of each one.

Phelpod was an excellent man,
A leader whom all followed.
Scarlet, like the father of Tewdwr,
He wore, trimmed with fur.
Now his dress is quite different,
He is clothed in a new fashion;
A thin, tight dress of dark grey,
An overcoat of dull earth.
In the house of Jesus, his feet
Are both stuffed into one stocking;
His hands, folded gracefully about him,
Are pushed into one glove.

Oh Jesus! For placing him there,
In a house of roots and earth.
The soil consumes Phelpod ap Rhys,
Within three girdles of stone,
He has ended in the earth,
A short bed in a sealed grave.
How strange the death of a flower,
How strange the death of a man;
Every particle of a man withers to dust,
So too the kindly flower.
A forest like that on Cefn Digoll,
Once covered all of the land of Brilley;
Jesus has cut down a great oak
From the forest of Rhys, he was not old!
The tree is felled in a moment,
A riddle to the end of time.

His death came with
Plaintive harp song and mourning,
Boasting bells assault our ears;
Horns and trumpets, side by side,
Anchorites walking in a procession.
A single candle aflame in a stick,
Incense, like the church of Windsor,
Or that on the grave of St George.
In the church of St Mary, in Mary’s ward,
My fair leopard was ploughed into the earth.
His soul, with that of his parents,
Went to the grace of the One and Three.
The Trinity prepared a way for Phelpod,
Three prophets made three highways;
Three liberal heavens await the grandson of Sion,
Let there be three ages for his children and grandchildren.

Adverts on the Cars, an Early Example

From D.S.J.’s reflections on the 1965 Italian GP

“There was a strange little ceremony in the paddock on the morning of the race when Colin Chapman was presented with two cases of salami (and a pocketful of lire?) in exchange for putting an advertisement for this particular brand of salami on the Lotus that Geki was to drive……..The same was happening in the Brabham team, where Baghetti’s car was also carrying salami advertising, and this was brought about because the Italians have a national rule that permits their drivers to have advertising on their cars, in spite of an F.I.A. rule that forbids it.”

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Welsh Racing Drivers

It's easy to forget that in its pre-First World War heyday the South Wales coalfield was the power house of the modern world. Great fortunes were made there, which by the inter-war years had passed down to a class of loafers with the money to indulge a passion for racing cars. Many of the leading Brooklands racers sprang from this class.

Clifton Penn-Hughes was the son of W. Walter Hughes (originally from Llanelli), chairman of the Hackbridge Electric Construction Company and the Hewittic Electric Company. Incidently Penn-Hughes married Judy Guinness the Olympic fencer, silver medalist at Los Angeles in 1932.

Tim Rose-Richards' father Thomas Picton Rose-Richards was a leading light in the Swanea Coal exporting trade.

Charles Martin's parents lived at "The Hill" Abergavenney, his father was killed in the Great War and his mother was a Hanbury, industrialist family from Pontypool. Grandfather Edward Pritchard Martin was manager of the ironworks at Blaenavon and then Dowlais and a vice chairman of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds.

Owen Saunders-Davies who co-drove Rose-Richard's third placed car in the 1931 Le Mans race was somewhat different, a member of the Saunders-Davies family of Pentre, Pembrokeshire. An old landed gentry family.

Dudley Folland, son of a tin-plate manufacturer from Glanaman, was something of a Corinthian. He played rugby on the wing for Swansea and London Welsh, indeed was a Welsh trialist; he was also a Cambridge soccer blue and a pretty good amateur golfer. He raced pre-war under the name Tim D. Davies.

Lindsey Eccles was a director and later managing director of the Briton Ferry Steel Company, he was born in Neath (14th May 1908) and died in Swansea in 1991. His brother was Roy Eccles born in 1900 in Neath, the son of a manufacturer Herbert Eccles.

That old fascist Donald Marendaz was born in Margam in 1897 where his Welsh-speaking father was a merchant.

Interesting people, both as individuals and as representatives of a class.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 4

This is my translation of a poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi which was probably composed for the Assembly of the Men of Elfael, the cantref that later became the southern part of the old county of Radnorshire.

No 141, Praise of Elfael and her Saints

What land is more welcoming
Than this wise land along the Wye?
What folk as generous,
Under a far sun, as her folk?
Is the land of yonder Elfael not generous?
Is liberality not amassed there?
God and the saints would not allow
Any harm to befall Elfael.

Yonder were thirteen saints
Or more whom God has named.
Blessed Mary, she and her maids,
The generous mother of God, she is a good mother.
Michael and his countenance,
High upon wings of gold.
On the day of sifting, who else?
Blessed Peter from his land, fair Padarn
Holy Dewi, blessed old Teilo,
God in his country, blest-holy Deiniel.
Elwedd, good and large, a kindly image,
Good Mariaith, St Bride the virgin.
Meugant that confident saint,
Proper Meilig, likewise Cewydd.

These saints of our generous land
Are the foundation of Elfael.
One day they will defend
Their obedient parishes.
Without question they will be
The lifeblood of this country.

Sons, tall beautiful daughters,
Mountain stallions, large and excellent cattle
Friendly, capable servants,
Ploughmen, husbands and fine wives.
Elfael is generous and wise,
Generous with her patrimony of wealth.
She sleeps well after wine,
Untroubled and fortunate.
Elfael is never vexed
Although she shares her mead and gold.
Her wisdom is never diminished
By any surly refusal.
In Elfael there is no hearth
Without a full table, without food and drink,
No woodland, no mountain, no spot
Not richly stocked with grazing beasts.
No ancient vale without some crop,
No fair brow not covered with wheat.
The fruits from her rivers are plentiful,
Fruits from woodland and from green hedgerow.
Halls long bound by obligation,
And firesides full of riches.
A strong land there to give warmth,
Fire we have and cosy houses;
Tasty food and drink everywhere,
All of everything, and Weobley ale.
Beneath the stars there are fine forests,
And all the designs of toilers,
And free land and long standing houses,
And firesides full of riches.

Elfael, which is below the mountains of Mael,
Elfael is well made.

Gary Hocking

This is Gary Hocking’s career record on four wheels:

26/8/62, Roskildering, Danish GP, Lotus-Climax, 4th
1/9/62, Oulton Park Gold Cup, Lotus-Climax, retired
10/10/62, Kyalami Rand Spring Cup, Lotus-Climax, 1st
24/11/62, Swartkops, Total Cup, Lotus-Climax, 1st
2/12/62, Kumalo, Rhodesian GP, Lotus-Climax ,1st
15/12/62, Kyalami, Rand GP, Lotus-Climax, 4th
22/12/62, Westmead, Natal GP, Lotus-Climax, killed in practice

And this is from the Motor Sport report of only his second race at Oulton Park:

“There was a select bunch of V8-engine cars out in front, but on their tail and not losing any ground at all came a lone 4 cylinder Climax car driven by Gary Hocking. This showed that his practice times were not luck, and he was holding 9th place behind eight V8-engined cars and going extremely well, his speed out of corners being quite exceptional, not by reason of lots of power, by reason of high cornering speeds, his Lotus continually showing three inches of daylight under the inside front, wheel, a thing not seen on a modern G.P. car for some time.”

The eight drivers ahead of Hocking’s Tim Parnell entered car were: Clark, G Hill, Ginther, McLaren, Surtees, Ireland, Brabham and Salvadori. Not a bad bunch!

Tom Pryce is recognized by many as a racer who would surely have gone on to win the World Championship but for his tragic accident at Kyalami in 1977. If Gary Hocking had lived Tom might have been the second Welsh Formula One World Champion.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 3

This is another poem by Lewis Glyn Cothi, no doubt commissioned by Elen Gethin of Hergest for the funeral of her son Rhisiart, Lord of Bleddfa, who was killed in the aftermath of the battle of Banbury and who was buried, like his father, in St Mary's Church, Kington.

No 128 The Elegy of Rhisiart Fychan

A sermon to Elen Gethin,
All my life I’ve spoken my mind:
Think about God, Elen,
And Mary his gentle, holy mother;
Mary who witnessed the death
Of Jesus, her son and her redeemer.
Elen , too, has witnessed, for her sake,
The cruel death of her prince.
From the court she brought him to the church,
Oh God, such a burden, Rhisiart Fychan!

I am sad from studying
The sadness of his mother for him,
Elen has grieved for two lands,
All the fair court of Herast has grieved.
Herast, oh more’s the pity, is saddened,
It was a good place for feasting;
In two days Maelienydd became
Weak, now it is worse;
Cedewain has run to gorse,
Ceri has become a withered forest;
In a hundred lands no man is praised,
Montgomery is nothing but a battlefield;
Llinwent, which was the world’s pattern,
Llinwent is less than nothing now,
The storm ravages Llinwent in the wake
Of this nephew of Tristan of Gwent.

Master Rhisiart, a powerful treasure,
Hidden at the edge of the choir,
A secret curtain over yellow hair,
There is white marble on his hair:
It is not unpleasing to Elen’s gaze,
The sight of her son in his white helm.
She sees him next to his father’s bed,
Lying together in a single love,
Two angels from the same house
Have gone to two rented beds.
God for better, between two altars,
Has taken a champion and a great soldier,
And she went to God himself,
High on the wind, Mary of Kington.

When Tomas ap Rhosier went
To God and the saints through the stars,
He was wise, my blessing to him,
Wishing his son to follow him.
The wood of Moreiddig is a bare pasture
Since every branch was blown down;
Yet there shall grow once more,
From a single sprout, two thousand trees.
Although men are brought down like twigs,
Tall ashes will grow again at Herast.
Master Watcyn desires such a world,
Master Rhosier will also be counted.
What God gives from the root
Both God and Mary desire.
If Tomas and Rhisiart have been taken,
The one Holy God has brought them to his ward.
A praiseworthy father and son,
Mary and her father will help them,
On her throne, as a protector
Of father and son, the Virgin Mary.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Stuart Lewis-Evans

There are various sites around the web that list Stuart Lewis-Evans as a Welsh driver, so is there any truth to the claim?

Firstly TNF has already established that Lewis-Evans was not the name that appeared on Stuart's birth certificate, infact his surname was Evans, Lewis is a second forename. A search of TNF shows that Pop Lewis-Evans listed his place of birth in the Who's Who section of the Motor Racing Directory 1957, it was Plumstead, the date, 6 November 1899.

A search of the 1901 census again shows that the family surname was Evans and that Pop's birth name was Lewis Evans, the double barrel was obviously a later addition. Pop's father Charles Evans was born in........Plumstead, as was his mother. Go back to the 1881 census and we find Stuart's great grandfather Thomas Evans, a Stafford born beer retailer living in Plumstead.

Yes, we can safely exclude Stuart Lewis-Evans from the list of Welsh drivers.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mrs Louise Bryden-Brown

Mrs Louise Bryden-Brown, Formula One entrant in the early Sixties? Who was she then?

Born 19th June 1916, she was the daughter of Mr and Mrs James H. Parke of Pacific Grove, California, and an occasional competitor in American races in the late Fifties when she was known as Louise P. Cano. Anthony Bryden-Brown of London ( his parents lived in Sydney, Australia ) married Mrs Laura Louise Cano in Reno, Nevada on February 8th, 1958, and so she acquired the surname known to motor racing.

Tony Maggs drove her pretty Lotus 18 in a couple of World Championship races in 1961, Dan Gurney raced the same car in a handful of Non-Championship events. In 1962 Mrs Bryden-Brown's equipe - Anglo-American Racing - even built a Cooper Special of their own, the Aiden-Cooper, which was campaigned in Non-Championship events by Ian Burgess.

Louise died in Penzance, Cornwall, January 4th 1972.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 2

In the Fifteenth Century the Welsh speaking lands extended into districts which are now part of Herefordshire. In 1469 Tomas Fychan of Hergest was killed at the battle of Banbury. His wife, the formidable Elen Gethin of Llinwent, brought his body home and constructed the alabaster tomb which can still be seen in St Mary's Church, Kington. Lewis Glyn Cothi was no doubt well rewarded for composing this cywydd. Here is my translation.

No . 125 The Tomb of Tomas ap Rhosier Fychan

Without an hour to waste, greetings
To the land and houses of Herast,
Houses of obligation, stone towers
A land with eight homes that serve wine,
The close of Tomas ap Rhosier,
Houses like the tower of Alaher.

When gold-embossed Tomas was killed
At Banbury, in a golden crest,
That Sunday his lady
Brought him back to his glass-windowed home.
Did Rhodes make, or her eight ancient men
In eight halls, what Elen has wrought?
A grave that cost as much as a distant conquest,
It cost more than a castle wall.
There is writing above the grave,
Two names joined together:
The name of generous Tomas, who alas is no more,
And then the name of Elen.
Every part of the grave is dressed
With posts of white alabaster,
And on them, a man of ancient gold
And a fair woman under a covering of gold.
There are angels set one by one,
And has not each a multi-coloured shield?
It was good work, work for a day, two such days.
The relic chests are gilded,
A pregnant bed with colour in the heights,
A gleaming square like the church of St Curig,
Cut rock like a white crag,
A stone cradle from the choir of St David’s,
A white coffer that no-one stirs,
A pale citadel closing over a face,
Steel about a soldier,
A screen circle of a man’s bones,
A stone altar like a full moon,
With golden light falling on the floor,
The form of a wooden chest under bright candles,
The form of a stall closing over the brother of an earl.

How futile the grave under a thick wall,
Next to the tomb of Tomas.
By chance the grave of Tomas
Is a cairn of gold in an elegant fortress.
Another grave like that of Huail,
A Canterbury for the deer of Kington,
As powerful as Thomas the Martyr,
He was a miracle for his men.

Master Watcyn is a graceful root,
The maintainer of Tomas’s yeomen,
A wise eagle over his father’s men,
A lamb of God for our two lands.
The root and branch of Moreiddig,
Head of the eighth part of Elystan’s line,
The foundation stone of Bleddyn ap Maenyrch,
The seal of Einion Sais, beloved spear.
Holy God preserve Watcyn and his tenement,
This Monday, the Eagles of Llinwent,
Was there born within its shelter
Any better than the falcon of Hergest court?
If the sun goes down into the salt sea,
If the sunshine goes with it,
If a stag runs on the hill slope,
If the roebuck wanders the river cliff,
If falcons go in threes to the forest,
A long life will go to the lion of Herast.

Brooklands Ladies

Some more biographical detail on Brooklands Lady racers:

Mrs Bill Urquhart-Dykes, maiden name Pauline Ruth Hegarty, daughter of Dr. Hegarty of Clonbur, County Galway, she died 9th April 1981 in Cobham, Surrey, aged 86.

The Hon. Mrs Chetwynd, maiden name Joan Gilbert Casson, afterwards Mrs Findlay, probably born circa 1899 and possibly in India where her father was in the Indian Civil service. When her husband inherited his title she became Viscountess Chetwynd.

Victoria Worsley, later King-Farlow, the daughter of Sir William Worsley 3rd Bt. of Hovingham Hall and hence an aunt of the present Duchess of Kent.

Violette Cordery, later Hindmarsh and thus Roy Salvadori's mother-in-law, died the night of 29th December 1983 at Oxshott, Surrey. It does seem to be Violette and not Violet as most sources have it.

Barbara Skinner who married John Bolster and was killed January 3rd 1942 in a traffic accident.

What about Coleen Eaton? I think she was born 1901 in Kent the daughter of Captain Harley Hixson of the Royal Australian Navy and that she remarried in 1938 to a Mr Norman.

With less than a hundred Maconochie's on the UK electoral roll there has to be a good chance that the Miss M. J. Maconochie who raced at Brooklands circa 1928 was Margaret Jean Maconochie, born in London in 1905. Her father A. W. Maconochie had built up the family firm, Maconochie Foods, from a Lowestoft fish paste producer into one of Britain's premier food manufacturers. A.W. died in 1926, so no doubt Miss Maconochie was doing her bit to dissipate the family fortune, successfully it seems, since Maconochie Kippers are no longer the household name they once were. Margaret later married a Mr Parry and moved to Rutland.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 1

One of my great interests is the work of the fifteenth century bard Lewis Glyn Cothi who composed more than 80 praise poems to patrons living in and around what later became the old county of Radnorshire. I'm going to post English language translations of these poems here every now and again. This is a Cywydd Gofyn, a request poem, addressed to four female patrons living in Gwerthrynion, the area of Radnorshire bordered by the Wye on the south and the Ithon on the east. Glyn Cothi requests the gift of a new bed, but at the heart of the poem is in reality a description of the grave, and a sad echo of the death poem addressed to the bard's seven year old son Sion y Glyn.

No. 186 Request for a Bed

Four right living women,
Four whose like will never be again;
Four Marys under a splendid obligation,
Four Nons of generous St Harmon.

Gwenllian, daughter of old Owain,
Will be happy,
let us go to greet her;
Daughter of the prince of a privileged land,
This woman comes from Cenarth.
Efa is next, famed for her wine,
The high browed daughter of Llywelyn;
The Enid of Ricert ab Einion,
She is of the tribe of Llowdden.
Mallt, the daughter of Ieuan Fychan,
Will be praised in Maelienydd;
In Llananno, this girl is formed
From the ancestors of Elystan.
Elen Llwyd her word is good
As you will see, a daughter of Gruffydd Goch;
White wines and gowns were mine
From this Esyllt of the Gwenhwysians.
Cheerfully we greet each other,
Behold, four powerful good-women!
I know of no four in all the world
Who, in giving, can be compared.

From these four from Gwerthrynion
A thousand could learn between the Usk and Anglesey.
The doors of their four halls
To the world are like the gate of Bath;
To me, that is less, by the skull of St Oswald
Than the mead of Elen and Mallt,
Efa the good woman shares green wine,
Wine comes from Gwenllian’s hand.

Before them I am confident,
From six feasts, to ask for a bed.
A bed for when I am sick,
So I can escape from a long, pining sickness.
For me, it will be a place where
My guilty body can rest.
My little dice loves the night,
He throws himself, full stretch on the white coverlet,
To sleep for an hour away from me,
Stretched out on pure silk.
It is thick and many coloured,
Tender against the scorching frost,
A soft place of small feathers,
A place of rest for a labourer.
Square dice of white braid,
A high door between two bed walls,
An acre of superior green bedding,
An altar of sleep on the cell floor;
All is made of linen and cloth,
Of silk brocade and white feathers.
There, in the depth of the night,
One can sleep like Maelgwn in Rhos;
I’ll be like Eli with his mead,
Like Enoch, for sixty years.
There I would never see
Tenacious nightmares,
Or futile things that can never be;
Or any early morning dreams
Which find me at the altar of Rouen,
Or in the bed of the angels.

They gave it to me, four saints,
My saintly bed like a tennis court;
And flour from their four homes,
And gold, and ale, and mead,
And silver, and a fire, and a house,
A hundred feasts, and wine and a bed.

Mrs Gordon-Simpson

What was Mrs Gordon-Simpson's first name, a question which has been asked on a couple of motor sport forums including TNF and which has seemingly baffled a few experts. Read the 30s reports of the Brooklands races and it's usually Mrs Gordon-Simpson or at best Mrs E. Gordon-Simpson. No forename in Sammy Davis's "Atlanta" nor in John Bullock's rather similar "Fast Women". There's a great picture of the lady in John Tennant's "Motor Racing, the Golden Age", where she look's the kind of woman who any sensible daughter would hesitate to introduce to her boyfriend. No first name there either of course.
Well, after a bit of searching through the Times archive and the GRO indexes, I found that Mrs Gordon-Simpson had divorced her first husband and married Hugh Conway, the well known Bugatti expert and future director of Rolls Royce in 1937. Her maiden surname was Brewer and she was born in Garstang, Lancashire on 30th July 1901. She died in 1980.
And that elusive first name? It was Eveline, Eva for short, Eva Gordon-Simpson.