Sunday, December 23, 2012

January Events

Monkton Priory Recycled Christmas Tree Festival

Monkton Priory Church Recycled Christmas Tree Festival
Monkton Priory Church was the lovely setting this week for a Christmas Tree Festival – a festival with a difference as all trees had to be decorated with recycled materials.  We were asked to take part providing an exhibition, an exhibition which looked at the changing attitudes to recycling and waste, contrasting the situation some 50 years ago when recycling really was a way of life to the present day where it really is just a gesture.

The money raised for this event was for the Monkton Priory Church Restoration fund.  This beautiful church now requires a lot of money for its restoration, as well as day to day running costs which are substantial.  It is so important to support the Priory Church which is contemporary with the Castle and one of the oldest Mediaeval Churches in Wales.  The festival was inspired by Ken and Pauline Davies who organised the event with other volunteers from the community.

Christmas Quiz Night November 23rd

Christmas is hurtling towards us  and last Friday we held our Christmas Quiz in Monkton Church Hall which was decorated for the festive season.  It was good that so many joined us in what is our last event this year.  Twelve tables in all which made winning all the more commendable for the winning team: Michael Howlett, Abby John, Wendy George, Michelle Carter, and Graham George.  Many thanks to Pauline Waters, our Question master; Liz Jenkins and Ann Lankshear for organizing the lovely buffet and to all who contributed food and raffle prizes; Rachel Norman for organising the raffle and not forgetting  Des Sinclair for supplying the questions.  It was a really lovely evening.  Our next quiz will be in the New Year, on Friday January 18th .

Thursday, November 22, 2012

PCNP's Archaeology Day November 17th

On Saturday we participated  the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park's Archaeology Day School which is now a  popular annual event.  We joined other heritage organisations in putting up a display - this was organised by Planed.

Introduced by Phil Bennett and chaired by Polly Groom of Cadw (formerly with PCNP)  we enjoyed an interesting day of talks.  It was certainly a varied programme.  The first speaker, Celia Thomas, spoke about how the natural environment can be better understood by looking at history and man’s impact.  Next Mike Parker Pearson presented us with a fascinating report on research into Pembrokeshire’s contribution to Stonehenge, and the discovery of the quarry at Craig Rhos y Felin  which provides an exact match to some of the Stonehenge bluestones. 

After lunch Louise Barker and Toby Driver reported on one of our best preserved prehistoric landscapes – Skomer Island and  Roger Thomas drew the day to a close with a fast forward to the 19th century with a  look at the fortifications of Milford Haven.  In particular he reported on the work being done to restore the Chapel Bay fort to return it to its original state - I think we must try to arrange a visit there.

The day was organised by Pete Crane, Archaeologist of the PCNP and he was applauded for a truly enjoyable and interesting day.

Pembrokeshire People - Friday November 16th

Despite the foul weather and so many competing events, it was good that so many turned out for our Friday evening talk.  Testament I think to the popularity of our speaker, David James who came to talk to us about “Pembrokeshire People”.

David’s talk encompassed people who visited Pembrokeshire through the ages, the famous and infamous as well as some local characters.  

Visit to Carew Cheriton Control Tower - November 10th

Last month, John and Deric Brock came to talk to us about their work at the Carew Cheriton Control Tower and we were invited to pay them a visit.  This proved popular as, last Saturday, twenty five of us turned up to be given a warm welcome by John and fellow volunteers.  First, we were given a talk by John Harries which sparked off many memories by those present and then we were shown some of the many displays and exhibits on show.

After coffee and cake, we were shown around the site and given an entertaining talk by John Brock which involved dressing up in wartime uniforms.  In the photograph: Bill Thomas (Home Guard), Liz Jenkins (Civil Defence), Don Hood (Airman) and Nikki Hancock (Women’s Land Army) with John Harries, John Brock and Les Dixon.  The visit was thoroughly enjoyed by all and we finished with a sing song in the air raid shelter concluding with “We’ll meet again” – I’m sure we will!  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Forthcoming Events

Through My Eyes - an update

Introduced by George Lewis, Saturday morning’s meeting at Monkton Priory Church Hall was an update on our current project “Through My Eyes: a Community History of Pembroke and Monkton”.  Our project involves collecting the stories of local people: memories of past times which will combine to paint a picture of our community.  It is to be a history of Pembroke in the words and photographs of the people who have lived it – a testament for future generations.

I gave a presentation outlining the project and a selection of the films we have made were shown.  Four participants - Bill Thomas, Vicki Haggar, Sue Clague and Josie Thomas - were invited to introduce their stories, each illustrating a different aspect of Pembroke’s story.

We in the Society were really pleased at the response to this project and pleased that so many attended the meeting to see what we are doing.  Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund we have the money to publish the finished project which will result in 2,500 DVDs and books which we hope will be available for you to buy next Christmas.  We are also aiming that all monies raised from future sales will fund future local publications, making it a truly sustainable project. 

We put together an exhibition of some of the stories for people to look at during the course of the morning.  This exhibition will be constantly added to during the year and by the time of the book/dvd launch will grow into a substantial exhibition for you to see and enjoy.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Forthcoming November Events

We have three events this month, all at Monkton Priory Church Hall:
 On Saturday, November 3rd we have our monthly coffee morning and exhibition from 
10.30 – 1.00.  I    shall be giving a presentation about our Heritage Lottery supported project: ‘Through My Eyes- a Community History of Pembroke and Monkton.’ This is an important work, probably the most important thing we will ever do.  The aim is to paint a picture of Pembroke in the 20th Century through the eyes of the people who have lived it.  About 40 people will be involved in recording their stories, each with a different outlook.  The end result will be a DVD and an accompanying book.  The work is being done completely voluntarily with funding to cover only the publication and professional fees involved. All are welcome and entry is free. 
 Friday, November 16th at 7.30 pm.
David James will be giving a talk: ‘Pembroke People – some of the great and famous who have visited here’.  David is well known for his work with the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society and is a popular speaker.
 Friday, November 23rd at 7.30 pm.
Christmas Quiz Night and Social.  £3.50 includes buffet – bring your own bottle if you wish.

In addition, on Saturday November 17th we will be participating in the PCNP’s Archaeology Day School at Pembrokeshire College which runs from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Quiz Night October 19th

Last Friday we held a Quiz Night at Monkton Priory Church Hall.  These events are always popular and, having the good fortune to have the support of several good cooks, the buffet is first class.  People are always so generous in contributing to the buffet and raffle and a big thank you to all.  Congratulations to the winning team ‘Golden Girls’ – Liz Jenkins, Pat Hearn, Sue Clode, June Hearn - pictured here with Quiz Master, Pauline Jenkins. £119 was raised.

The Opening of Pembroke Fair October 11th

Pembroke Michaelmas Fair
The opening of the Michaelmas Fair i is a great tradition in Pembroke and a real link with our past.  Its origins lie in the town’s mediaeval charters and it was formerly a hiring fair when farm workers from the area would come seek employment.  Although now a fun fair, it still takes place in Pembroke Main Street and is still opened with great ceremony by the Town Crier.  Rose Blackburn will be donning her Town Crier’s garb and reading out the ’Cry of the Fair’ as her predecessors have done for centuries, albeit now from the Waltzers on Wesley Square.  I am told this used to take place on Elm Square underneath the old Elm Tree.

Coffee Morning October 5th

At a well attended meeting of the Pembroke and Monkton History Society on Saturday, we were pleased to welcome as our guests John Brock MBE and his son Deric Brock who came to talk to us about the Carew Cheriton Control Tower.  John has fond memories of Monkton and began by recalling some of his experiences in the war, when, as a young lad, he would cycle over to Monkton school which he attended during the bombing raids on Pembroke Dock.
 Carew Cheriton Control Tower
He then told of the WWII Control Tower restoration project: now fully restored to its 1940s condition.  John informed us that The Carew Cheriton Control Tower Group was formed in the spring of 2000 after the landowner approached the Carew Historical Society with the offer of the building on a long-term lease.  The building, situated on the disused Carew airfield, was in danger of being taken down and therefore lost to future generations. Its restoration was a lot to take on but, as a result of a Parish meeting, a group was formed composed of members of the historical society and other interested people who were keen to see this building restored to its original state: 35 members ranging in age from 13 to 80.   The Welsh Assembly had then given grants to begin restoration work: fortunately there were people who could still remember the Control Tower as it was enabling them to put it back to its 1940’s condition. 
 A great tribute
Deric, who is author of “Wings over Carew”, then took over with a slide show of some of the large archive of photographs collected and the stories behind them.  Another achievement of the Group has been the production of a DVD of wartime memories and photographs resulting from the project. 

John concluded that he is so proud of what has and is still being done in recording the history of what happened at Carew.  He pointed out that over 100 people lost their lives in the bombing raids on this airfield: what has been achieved here is a tribute to the many who lost their lives.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Supporting Macmillan

We in the Pembroke and Monkton Local History Society are always happy to support other voluntary groups in Pembroke and last Tuesday we were at the Town Hall with an exhibition supporting Macmillan Cancer Support’s World’s Biggest Coffee morning.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Next Event - Saturday October 6th

Local History Fair on Saturday 22nd September

Our display at the Local History Fair

Saturday saw us participating at the Local History Fair held at Haverfordwest Library.  The Fair is an annual event in which Heritage groups from all over Pembrokeshire participate to display their work and generally network.  There was a theme and this year it was Pembrokeshire 1900 – 1920.  So we attempted to put together a display to illustrate some aspects of life at the beginning of the 20th Century - we actually found we had a great deal of material with many photographs.

September - we begin our Autumn Programme

Terry John and George Lewis hold up a picture of Titanic
We held our first coffee morning of the Autumn Programme on Saturday September 1st and were treated to a morning of old home movies introduced by Pauline Waters.  Home movies reveal so much more about the community and its personalities than still photographs, and are fascinating to watch.  One of the films, shot in the early 50s, belonged to Mary Dewhirst who gave us a commentary.

Then on Friday evening September 14th, we met at Monkton Priory Church Hall for a talk by Terry John.  Terry has helped us a great deal in our research: together we have worked on a series of interpretation boards outlining Pembroke’s history. An interesting and popular speaker, he is very much in demand and his subject on Friday was ‘Titanic- fact and fiction’.  The Titanic continues to fascinate. Despite the passage of time, interest has not waned and has given rise to numerous books and films.  This is probably why so many stories have grown about her, and Terry, in his talk, attempted to unravel fact from fiction, examining conflicting claims, misconceptions and stories of survivors.

We win HLF Funding for our Community History

Our Project Team

We have now won HLF approval for our Project "Through MY Eyes: a Community History of Pembroke and Monkton. This ambitious project is described on our website and involves making a DVD of digital stories made by around 40 Pembroke people with an accompanying book. We envisage this taking 12 months and aim to complete by next September. Thank you so much Heritage Lottery for making this possible.

Looking Back on summer events

Our display in Stackpole Church
 Haven't been blogging much of late - time has marched on and have been trying to keep up!  This summer has been a busy time for us in the Pembroke and Monkton Local History Society:  we have been supporting many local organisations with our exhibitions – these include the Castle, St Mary’s Church (did you see their beautiful Flower Festival? It was lovely!), the River Rally, the Spitfire Shop, the Pembroke Show, and local history exhibitions of the Lamphey and District History Society and Stackpole Church.   We are always pleased to support other community groups – but I think we will have to try to acquire some more display boards! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Next Events

We will not be holding events during July/August - had intended to have a break but we are very much out and about supporting local events: to date, the Diamond Jubilee in the Castle, the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society's River Rally, the Flower Festival in St Mary's Church and next week the Lamphey History Society, Pembroke Show and Stackpole Church.  We also have a heritage display in the shop window of Brown's fish and chip cafe.  Not forgetting the weekly articles in the Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Observer.  Some break!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

West Wales Maritime Heritage Society's River Rally 2012

The River Rally
On Sunday 15th July, I had the opportunity to join the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society on a voyage up the Pembroke River. I boarded one of the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society’s crafts “Quest” on Hobbs Point along with none other than Henry VII himself (alias Peter Kraus, Mayor of Pembroke Dock).  As usual David James, Secretary of the Society led the way with “Supporter” to Crow Pool where we rendezvoused with other boats making their way from various points along the waterway to join the rally.  Already there was “Dashing”, Cllr John Allen-Mirehouse’s boat, the lead vessel carrying the Mayor of Pembroke Cllr Mel Phillips.

It was a lovely summer’s day, the sunshine rendering the water a brilliant blue, and the boats cut a colourful spectacle as they sailed along Castle Pond to dock at the South Quay.  Many spectators had gathered to view the event and join in the activities there and we were greeted by Pauline Waters, the Town Crier, who welcomed us all to Pembroke. First to step ashore was The Mayor who declared “This river rally is to exercise the right of passage up and down the Pembroke River for the people of Pembrokeshire."

Father Gildas visits Monkton Priory

Priory Church last week.  Father Gildas has spent many years researching the religious communities and churches in Pembrokeshire and has a particular interest  in the old Priory, the importance of which is not fully realised, he believes.

 Monkton Priory was founded in 1098, following the Norman Conquest which saw the invasion and building of Pembroke Castle in 1093.  Its history stretches back further as there is strong evidence to believe that the Priory was built upon an earlier Christian site for Christianity had entered Wales at a very early date, long before the Conquest.  Father Gildas was of the opinion that the monastery was very large accommodating not only monks but lay brothers and nuns.  It would have been the administrative centre where the populace came to sort out problems & disputes, perform rites of passage, seek help for ailments.  Around 200 people would have lived there.   He believed strongly that the importance of Monkton Priory was not fully realised and there is much that needs to be brought to light.  He added that what we have here is something very special.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Museum of Scrimpinology

When Jeff and Pat James asked me to visit their Museum of Scrimpinology earlier this year whilst attending one of our events, I had no idea what to expect.  They only open it for 2 weeks in the year they told me to book a date well in advance if I wanted to take along a party from the History Society.  Now I know why.  The Museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia, a real trip down memory lane - an amazing collection of household items, tools,  games, everyday objects from the past as well as an old signal box and railway items, a mining section from Hook, school classroom and cinema equipment and even vintage cars.  "Oh I remember that" was heard over and over again as everyone delighted in looking and handling objects remembered from their younger days. 
What an amazing achievement! To have gathered all this material together and more than that, to have organised and presented it a way to make it so accessible. I loved the humorous touches too - the lady with eyes which lit up in the telephone box, the legs poking out from under one of the cars. Such a lot of care and love has gone into it - and all done for love as no funding has gone into it.  Thank you so much Jeff and Pat for a wonderful evening and for your warm welcome.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

We visit Pembroke, Nova Scotia

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks across the Ocean in Nova Scotia, Canada.  Far away from Pembroke,  but whilst there happened upon another Pembroke. Not much there though – a few houses by the shoreline on Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy, which lays claim to the highest tides in the world.  An interpretation panel informed us that every 6 hours the tides rise to an average of 50 feet: every 24 hours 115 billion tons of water move in and out of the Bay of Fundy, a volume equal to the discharge of all of the world’s rivers.  Some tide!  A short distance down the road, we stopped for lunch at a friendly pub which claimed fame for its hamburgers ‘Home of the Walton Whopper: under one billion served’ – they obviously like to think big around here!  What the Walton Whopper actually tasted like though I’m afraid I cannot say as we are both vegetarians.  Good food anyway and lovely people – we left them with our Pembroke Sense of Place leaflet to promote old Pembroke back home!

Award winning Society!

We have received 2 awards for our efforts in promoting the history of Pembroke: first by Pembroke Town Council and second by PAVS for “the outstanding work made to the community through volunteering”.   Nice one!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Joining in the Jubilee Celebrations

Our exhibition in the Castle

On the big screen

Decorating an empty shop window in Pembroke Main Street

We have been getting into the spirit of the Jubilee celebrations. Our last exhibition was on a Royal theme and this week we have been in the castle this week putting up our exhibition “Royal Visits and Celebrations”. The exhibition looks back to Pembroke’s prestigious past: our small town once played a large part in our nation’s history and was well worthy of Royal notice. Pembroke was even the birthplace of a king, King Henry VII. In more modern times its importance waned but, with an important Dockyard on its doorstep, Royalty again came to visit.
Our exhibition is in the Henry VII Tower, no less, so pop in to see us if you come along to any of the Castle’s many events being staged for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Week.
Many of the images were put into a PowerPoint and this was shown on the big screen. during the Castle festivities
We also decorated an empty shop window (by permission of the owners Browns Fish&Chips) with photographs and memorabilia. 

May 20th: We ride out on the Range

Flimston farmhouse

picnic time

On Sunday 20th, we went out on the Range with the National Parks Education Service. Our guide was Pete Crane and we visited Flimston, Pricaston and Brownslade Farm (the house has been completely demolished). What a great loss: buildings dating back to Mediaeval times and productive farms, now in ruins in an uncultivated landscape. And such a breathtaking coastline, now out of bounds.
We learnt a lot: Pete is an archaeologist and showed us a hillfort, bronze burial mound and even WW2 relics.  Did you know that Frainslake Sands was used to rehearse the DDay landings?
It was a hugely enjoyable day, with good companionship and to cap it all, the sun shone allowing us to fully take in the beauty of the landscape.

18th May: Castlemartin: life after the military requisition

Ann Lankshear introduces the evening's proceedings
Participants in the event
 Ann Lankshear organised the proceedings which drew a large crowd of 76 people, such is the interest still in this event which happened so long ago. It is Ann’s aim to bring people together to pool information and to record the stories, collecting information and photographs of the farms and cottages.
In 1939 the War Office made a decision which was to affect many people who lived here: it was decided that land be requisitioned for use as a tank training range. As with all decisions made from above a price has to be paid, and many families in the Castlemartin area paid heavily for it. Uncovering the human story was the aim of our meeting on Friday, when some of the people who had been affected by the requisition were invited to come forward to give their stories.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Next Events

Royal Pembroke - exhibition on Saturday May 5th

We made Saturday a right royal occasion by making ‘Royal Pembroke’ the theme for our Coffee Morning exhibition.  With the Diamond Jubilee imminent we have been collecting material around Royal visits to Pembroke and encouraging people to bring in anything they may have. 

 Pembroke has great Royal connections in its prestigious past and the exhibition traced these back over the centuries. Moving towards more modern times, the earliest photographs we have found were taken, I believe, of the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh who came to Pembroke Dock in 1892 to  launch  the ship ‘Edinburgh’. They also travelled to Pembroke and the town was gaily decorated with flags, and amazing arches for their visit. 

We have photographs of subsequent royal visits and are always on the look out for more.  For our part in the Jubilee celebrations we will be showing these in the Henry VII Tower in the Castle – it does take a lot of time and effort to mount an exhibition and it is good to be able to exhibit the lovely old photographs in a place where many more people can see and enjoy them.  

Rotary Club of Pembroke's Charity Fayre

Saturday 27th April saw us participating in the Rotary Club of Pembroke’s Charity Fayre.  This gave us an opportunity, along with many other charities in Pembroke, to demonstrate what we are about and to publicise our work.  We put together a small exhibition to show the various projects we are engaged in and to invite you, the community, to participate with your memories and photographs.  It was a busy day chatting to visitors and we gave out a great many of our heritage leaflets, programmes of events and even colouring sheets for the children (based on George Lewis’ Town Hall murals).  Many thanks to the Rotary Club for the donation of £50 towards our funds.

Monday, April 23, 2012

John Evans talks about Pembroke Dock and its Flying Boats

Friday evening at Monkton Priory Church Hall we were pleased to welcome John Evans who kindly agreed to talk to us about his exciting Sunderland Project which has won world wide recognition.  In the early days of our Society we went on a visit to the Flying Boat Centre in Pembroke Dock which has been a great success story attracting over 21.000 visitors. The Sunderland Centre tells the Story of the Sunderland 79044 and the stories of some of the pilots who flew it.
John told us how it had all begain " In November 1940 there was a huge gale - one of the flying boats went missing, disappearing without trace when it came off its mooring.  Happily noone was killed.  But the T9044 was lost for decades - noone knew of its whereabouts.  But at the end of the 1990s parts were recovered - at first its identity was not known - until August 2003 the engine was recovered.  Then we knew it was a Sunderland!