Sunday, July 03, 2011

Dr Dee

A correspondent informs me that Damon Albarn (ex-Blur) has recently staged the premiere of his English folk opera Dr Dee, here's the BBC report. Now although Radnorian is in favour of anyone who wants to "express something about England" and is "tracing modern English identity" he does wonder if Albarn is aware of Dee's Radnorshire roots. You can find Dr Dee's descent from Bedo Ddu of Nantygroes, Pilleth here.

Albarn is fascinated by Dee's "lasting influence on English identity" which I suppose is correct, although I would say that the influence was in helping create the confusion between "British" and "English" which the junior partners in the Union find so annoying. Before Dee's time "British" meant "Welsh" so I guess his coining of the term "British Empire" and the subsequent history of the word as a useful term to describe the union of the English and Scottish thrones under James the Sixth/First did contribute to the confused modern-day English/British identity.

Turning back to John Dee's pedigree we note that his English mother was called Jane Wilde. It's a fact that from the 1600s on Wilde was a Radnorshire name. Indeed by the 19C a quarter of all the Wilde's in Wales were born in Radnorshire. I wonder if marriages between 16C Radnorians on the make like John Dee's father and English brides might have been responsible for English cousins inheriting land in 17C Radnorshire?

A Brit Pop take on Elizabeth the First is to be welcomed, but if you like your music with tunes then Bob Tai'r Felin's recording of Pan oedd Bess yn teyrnasu can't be bettered. Not on You Tube, shamefully, although there's a brief snatch on Amazon. Certainly Radnorian's first choice for Desert Isamd Discs.

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