Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 1st - 7th - Christmas Tree Festival at Monkton Priory Church

Christmas is in full swing.  Here in Pembroke it began on November 29th when the Christmas lights were switched on and Father Christmas abseiled down the Keep of Pembroke Castle to mark the opening of the Christmas Market. Thousands made their way to Pembroke for the Market which looks set to becoming an annual event, supported by the whole community, with numbers topping last years’. Monkton too joined in the festivities with a repeat of last year's very successful 'Recycled Christmas Tree' Festival.
We as a Society are always happy to support our churches.  We are very much involved with Monkton Priory Church as we rent office space in the Church Hall and hold most of our events there.  The Priory Church is a beautiful Church, the oldest in Pembroke founded as it was 5 years following the establishment of Pembroke Castle itself. It certainly provided a lovely setting for this colourful festival.  
The idea was to make Christmas trees and decorations with recycled materials, a novelty perhaps for youngster nowadays, but something we all had to do in the ‘old days’!  It certainly gave food for thought and prizes went to the most inventive.  

November 22nd - Archaeology Day at Pembrokeshire College

One of the main events on Pembrokeshire’s ‘history calendar’ is Pembrokeshire Coast National Park’s  Archaeology Day.  This is an event we as a Society like to participate in and Stuart and I were there on Saturday with our stall – I think we took up rather a lot of space!  The Event was oversubscribed so if you want to get a place for next year’s Archaeology Day make sure you book early.  It is scheduled to take place on Saturday November 15th 2014.

November 15th - Victorian Murder Mystery in Pembroke Town Hall

There were suspicious goings on in Pembroke Town Hall last week.  A Victorian Murder Mystery took place there last Friday, and  certainly appealed to many with all 80 tickets sold.  The Murder Mystery was performed by a group of actors called SeeSaw Productions, an amateur group raising money for charity.  
This is by far the biggest fundraising event that we, as a Society, have attempted.  Through our popular bi monthly Quiz Nights in Monkton Church Hall, we have developed a good reputation for food: we are fortunate to have such good cooks on our committee! A 2 course meal accompanied the proceedings.
 The History Society has its serious side as it is engaged in the very important work of researching and promoting our heritage: but it is also a community group aiming to bring people together in enjoyable events like this which give us the opportunity to raise our own funding.   Everything we do is voluntary and, as the ethos of the Society is free and open access to our heritage for all, our talks and exhibitions are always free at point of entry.    We do have overheads however, eg venue rentals, insurances, equipment, printing and display materials etc so we do have to raise money – and now that we are involved in the town museum we are contributing to that as well.  The actors also raise funds for charity and the fee we presented them with on this occasion will go to the Air Ambulance.  

Saturday November 2nd - Researching your Family Tree

'Researching your Family Tree' was the topic of Saturday’s meeting which proved very popular, reflecting no doubt the interest in this fascinating subject.  We were pleased to welcome members of the Dyfed Family History Society, Rosalie Lilwall, Jean Williams, Barbara Chester and Stella Donovan. 
So, how to get started?  This was what Rosalie Lilwall came to talk to us about; an introduction aimed to inspire people l on how to go about our search and inform us of the help we can call upon along the way.
Rosalie is Chairman of both the Dyfed Family History Society as well as the Haverfordwest Branch this year.  I asked her about her interest in family history and about the work of the Society. “The search for our family origins” said Rosalie, “has been called the fastest growing leisure activity and membership of the Dyfed Family History Society is evidence of this.  We now have about 1,200 members."  

October 18th - Pembroke's Ghostly Tales

It was a filthy night, the wind howled and the rain lashed down but many members (and non-members) turned out to attend our meeting in Monkton Church Hall.  Inside it was warm and cosy, everyone settling down with a warming drink and candles were lit to provide the right atmosphere for our ‘Ghostly Tales of Pembroke.’  

Pembroke has its fair share of eerie tales, many well known, others the result of personal experiences.  I cannot say that I have actually seen a ghost so I started the ball rolling by recounting a well known story, the story of the Bush House Ghost. Others followed and, by the end of the evening, everyone agreed that this had been a super evening and would like a repeat next year!

October 5th - Before the Camera: an artists view of Pembrokeshire

Last Saturday we recommenced our monthly Local History Coffee Mornings at Monkton Priory Church Hall.  Unfortunately our programme met with a hiccup when Rosalie Lilwall, of Dyfed Family History Society, was unable to speak to us as originally advertised.  She will come next month instead on Saturday November 2nd.   Hunting around for an alternative, I came up with the idea of an exhibition and talk on the subject of old prints of Pembroke.  

Pembroke has an amazing heritage.  The history of our nation can be told here – the Norman Conquest, the mighty Earls of Pembroke (including William Marshall, regent of England), the birthplace of the Tudor dynasty, the Civil War and much more.  On top of all that, we have a great artistic heritage.  Whilst in the distant past men came here to fight, in more recent times they came to paint inspired by the once mighty castle which had been left in a ruinous state following the 17th Century Civil War.  Most of the great topographical artists came here to paint providing us with our first glimpses of what Pembroke was like in the 17th and 18th century.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Visiting Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard

September 24th I visited Portsmouth's Historic  Dockyard which is not only the foremost Maritime Museum in the country but also of special interest to us in Pembroke and Pembroke Dock. For Portsmouth is now the home of HMSWarrior.  Whilst there I met with the Captain of the Warrior - Mr Ken Jones.
I was also able to visit the new Mary Rose museum which houses the preserved remains of the ship.  As you pass through dimly lit galleries you can see the ship through windows on your right while on the left are arranged artefacts in the position where they would have lain. A fascinating experience!  

September Quiz Winners!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Change to advertised programme - October

Talk by Edward Perkins September 13th

Our Autumn Programme started well with a talk by Edward Perkins on the historic buildings of Pembrokeshire.  An accomplished speaker with an extensive knowledge of his subject, the talk was greatly appreciated and we hope to invite him to speak to us again next year.  Pictured here with Ann Lankshear who helps organise our programme of events.

Iron Man

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Events

August 16th - Stackpole Church Exhibition

Each August an exhibtion is organised in Stackpole Church in aid of Church funds.  We along with many others are invited to make a contribution by Mrs Anita Howells who performs the amazing feat of getting it all together.  The theme this year was "Echoes down the years".  Excellent lunches and teas also - lovely cake!

31st July - Chevron memorial bench

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

July 30th Templeton History Society visit Monkton Priory Church

Fundraising Quiz Night on July 19th

We decided to hold a Quiz Night this month to help raise funds for Monkton Priory Church. There was a good attendance and we raised £130.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We visit the Range again - July 21st

Another visit to the Castlemartin Range with Craig Stringer of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.  This time the weather was beautiful and we had a lovely trip visiting Flimston, Prikaston and Frainslake.  

Images of Denmark


The reason I am all behind with this Blog is that we have been away visiting Northern Germany - then stranded in Denmark because of the ferry breakdown.  Went off in search of Viking history and found real Viking ships and much, much more.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Musuems Poster

June 1st - Pembroke Museum Project

Saturday was a big event.  It was the day that we helped launch the Pembroke Museum Project – and what a morning it was with so many of you turning up to lend support! 
All credit to Pembroke Town Council, a Museums Committee was formed and interested parties from the community invited to take part.  The Courtroom was made available for the museum and permission granted for its use from June 1st to September 1st.  
Pembroke Town Council working with Pembroke and Monkton Local History Society, West Wales Maritime Heritage Society, the Sealed Knot, Pembroke Civic Trust and interested individuals has put together a fledgling museum.  It is a start and its success will ultimately depend on the interest and input from the community.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Saturday May 4th - Castlemartin farms and buildings

On Saturday Gordon Smith gave his presentation on the subject of Castlemartin's farms and buildings, a subject dear to the hearts of many as the Hall was packed to hear him.  Gordon has been collecting pictures over many years and it is so sad to look at some of those once lovely old farmsteads.  Some of the buildings like Flimston and Pricaston are actually Medieval buildings - now derelict ruins on the tank range.

April 21st - out on the Castlemartin tank range

I was unable to take part in the minibus tour of Castlemartin which I had arranged with the National Parks.  It is not often one gets the opportunity to visit the buildings on the tank range so this was a rare treat.  Despite the inclement weather the trip was enjoyed by all who went and we hope to repeat the experience later in the summer.

April 19th - Pembroke and Tenby Railway 150th Anniversary

Last Friday, April 19th  I was not able to be present at our Friday evening meeting as I was, as per previous blog, in Bergen with Pembroke Town Council.  I was disappointed however, in missing our meeting in which our president, George Lewis, gave a talk on the Pembroke and Tenby Railway – which drew, I am told, a very large crowd: evidence of the popularity of the speaker and the very great interest in the subject.

Our forthcoming exhibition
This year is the 150th anniversary of the Pembroke and Tenby Railway and we are making this the subject of our major exhibition which will be featured in the Town Hall throughout the summer as part of the Court Room museum initiative of Pembroke Town Council in which we are participants. 

In this exhibition we will be looking at the Age of Steam.  Steam had powered the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century which changed our society for ever.  It also changed the way we travelled during the 19th century with the advent of the railways.

Tuesday April 16th - Twinned with Bergen

I went along on a Twinning Visit to Bergen leaving Pembroke just past midnight on Tuesday 16 and returning on Saturday 20th.  I had never been on a twinning visit before and have to say I was impressed with our counterparts in Bergen.  Lovely people, so hospitable and they took such good care of us and showed us around.

We visited Belsen where our Mayor, Mel Phillips laid a wreath on behalf of Pembroke Town Council accompanied by Burgermeister Rainer Prokop, a moving moment which all felt deeply. Afterwards we went to the Becklingen War Cemetery for another moving ceremony. Our Mayor on behalf of Pembroke Town Council and Cllr Brinn on behalf of the British Legion,  with the Burgermeister again in attendance, placed wreaths on the memorial while bugler Neil MacIsaac played the Last Post so beautifully. It was so sad seeing all those brilliant white grave stones uniformly arranged in rows, so many young lives lost.

“I found both visits to be unbearable and heart breaking experiences” Mel told me afterwards “Having said that I do truly believe that everybody should visit these dreadful places once in their lifetime, as a reminder of man’s inhumanity to man.  As the great poet and author Rudyard Kipling once wrote.  ‘Lest we forget’


A museum for Pembroke?

It has long been an aspiration to have a museum in Pembroke – but where do you begin?  Well, a start is now being made by Pembroke Town Council which has now formed a Museum’s Committee of which we are a part along with other local historians.  We met on Friday April 12th and present on this occasion were  Cllr Aidan Brinn (Chairman of the Committee), Cllr and Mayor Mel Phillips, George Lewis, Cllr Linda Asman,  Stuart Asman , David James, Terry John, Gene Ryecroft ,Vicki Haggar, Cllr Pauline Waters, Cllr Dennis Evans with Karen Didcott ( Town Clerk).

Pembroke Town Council has granted permission for the Court Room to be used as a museum during the summer months, June to September inclusive, and we will start assembling the displays following Mayor Making which takes place in the Court Room on May 11th

Through My Eyes - a film preview evening on Wednesday 10th April

On Wednesday evening we invited participants and their partners to a social evening to preview their films.  We recently completed a batch of 11 more films and it was nice to get together to enjoy them.  Afterwards we supplied a buffet - a most enjoyable evening!

Pleased to say the end is in sight.  With a further 10 films to make completion is certainly not so far away. It will be a proud moment when the project is completed and published: eagerly awaited!  

April 6th - Monkton Headstones by Owen Vaughan

Stories Behind the Headstones
On Saturday last our monthly coffee morning was accompanied by a talk.  Owen Vaughan came to tell us about his work of researching and recording the inscriptions on the gravestones and plaques of Monkton Priory Church.  The cemetery lies in front of Priory Church but the headstones have been cleared away: many are arranged around the Churchyard walls and some have disappeared.  There are many stories behind the headstones and Owen told us of a very small selection from his researches.

Owen has photographed, recorded and researched all the pre-1950 headstones and memorials in the parish, including those in the new cemetery and in the Church itself.  This valuable resource (on CD format) is now being sold to help raise Church funds and will be available to buy for £5 (£7 by post to include p&p.  Any queries please contact Liz Jenkins on 01646 684277 or email us.  The CD will be available to buy at our events.