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Town and Castle Go Gay

Llandeilo County Secondary School

The glowing history of the illustrious house of Dynevor was perpetuated on Thursday, September 8th 1894. The Honourable Walter FitzUryan Rice, son of the sixth baron Dynevor, celebrated his majority.

His birth-date was 17th August but, for various reasons, the celebrations had been postponed. For three weeks or more anticipation had increased. It was now nearing the close of a glorious summer and here was yet an occasion for personal enjoyment, calling for heartiness and vigour, as well as respect and veneration for one of the most illustrious and ancient families in Wales.

A sycophantic contemporary writer recorded that "as soon as the day of celebration was announced, the countryside for miles around rose in joyous unity to illustrate in practical form their inborn pride for the oldest family in Wales, by making presentations to and enthusiastically shaking hands, as it were, with the hero of the day".

The name of Dynevor, it is true, had a magnetic charm for many. It was, for instance, fruitful soil for the genealogist, on account of its precedence among Welsh families. The Dynevors could boast a long and distinguished line of valiant and patriotic personages, including seven crowned kings.

Locally, the history of the house of Dynevor had its own peculiar importance. There were legendary roots, dating back to the 9th century. In default of written records beyond that century, the marriage of an early leader of the house of Dynevor, Urien Rhedeg to the half-sister of King Arthur of the Round Table must ever remain a subject of speculation. Yet other eminent names shine with assurance in the Dynevor pedigree. Thanks to medieval writers, some names have a ballast of authenticity, names such as those of Sir Elider Ddu, the gallant crusader and the name of Sir Rhys ap Thomas, warrior, creator and friend of Kings; and later there comes the name of Gruffydd ap Nicholas who laid the foundations of the eisteddfod. It was but fitting therefore that a local writer of 1876 should exalt the current baron as a man "known far and wide for his deeds of kindness and sympathy no less deserving of our respect and esteem than the gallant warrior and the chivalrous knight". Sure testimony, surely! It was based on personal knowledge.

The same commentator musing on past scenes of magnificence at Dynevor wrote, "crowds possibly gathered to laud Hywel Dda, hundreds might have collected to welcome Sir Rhys ap Thomas on his return from many a victory even from Bosworth Field but none met with more steadfast purpose to honour the House of Dynevor than the thousands who assembed to celebrate the coming of-age of the seventh heir to the barony and all that was noble connected with the family".

The philosophical layman, roused to passing interest by talk of coming celebrations, might ponder what it was all about.

Medieval barons and their exploits were all very well but what of the more immediate lineage? Pursuing paths of established information, he could learn much. Charles I had restored all the lands in the hands of the Crown to Sir Henry Rice. The transaction was regarded by many as an act of imperfect and tardy justice, for but a small portion of the original estates was returned to its owners. Nevertheless the house of Dynevor flourished. From 1702 to 1710 for instance, Griffith Rice, represented the county of Carmarthen in Parliament. He married Catherine, daughter of Philip Hoby. By this marriage Neath Abbey came into the possession of the Dynevors. The eldest son of the marriage, Edward, was in turn, member of Parliament for Carmarthen. He married Lucy, daughter of John Morley Trevor from a noble family of North Wales and introduced both the name of Trevor and valuable property into the family. George Trevor succeeded Griffith Rice at Dynevor. He married Cecil, the only child of William, first Earl Talbot. He was created first Baron Dynevor with remainder to his daughter. In 1783 she succeeded as first Baroness Dynevor. Her husband George Rice died in 1779. George Talbot, third baron Dynevor, then became a public figure in South Wales. His son, George Rice Charles Fitzroy distinguished himself as colonel of the Carmarthen Militia. His wife was Frances, daughter of Lord Charles Fitzroy. As there was no issue, he was succeeded by the Reverend Francis William, 5th baron, son of the Hon. and the Reverend Edward Rice, Dean of Gloucester. The fifth baron married Harriet Ives Raymond Barker. On his death in 1878, he was succeeded by Arthur de Cardonnel, sixth baron. He married Selina, the daughter of the Hon. Arthur Lascelles. She had died in 1889, leaving her son the Hon. Walter FitzUryan, aged sixteen, and three daughters, the Honourable Gladys, the Honourable Nest and the Honourable Gwenllian Clare. Sympathy for the widowed baron was infused with deep admiration for his happy, handsome brood.

It was in gloomy, if poetic lines, that the poet, John Dyer, had recorded the view from Grongar Hill in the 18th century. He had described the stern old fortress of Dynevor, overlooking the River Towy as the black raven's sad abode, the home of the fox and of the poisonous adder. This vision would have seemed a gross illusion had he been able to see the ruined castle decked with flags and streamers for the current coming-of-age celebrations. He would have been moved to rapture at sight of the beautiful and natural landscaping of Dynevor Park and at the sight of the old oaks standing, sentinels of the centuries, on the undulating greensward.

Light and Colour
The town of Llandeilo was exceedingly gay. By mutual goodwill businessmen had agreed to close their premises. From the railway station near the King's Bridge, up the steep hill roads to the very gates of Dynevor Park, flags, in many colours and many devices flew gently in the late summer breeze. Bannerettes were festooned on houses, railings and trees. In gay colours they cascaded from the battlements of the church tower; they spanned lanes and squares, gay and loyal symbols of the feelings of the inhabitants of the town.

Inspector Rogers of the Carmarthenshire Constabulary adjusted his peaked cap as he set out from the Police Station at No. 1 Church Street. He began to plod his beat around the town. His mind was concentrating on higher mathematics. What proportion of an unknown concourse was likely to celebrate beyond capacity? How best would he be able to equate it with the confines of two small underground cells at his disposal?

He paused as he reached the main road. He looked down Bridge Street. Mrs. Edwards of the Half Moon Hotel had decorated her premises in a graceful style, reminiscent of her own neat self. It would be after nightfall that the hostelry would look its best; its illuminations would light up the shadows down to the bridge itself. They would plumb the depths and then surface in the meandering waters of the Towy. Inspector Rogers piloted himself around to view the spacious courtyard of the King's Head Hotel. To honour the young landed squire, the licensee, with access to poetic license, had inscribed over a wide arch, To-day he floats on honour's lofty wave.

Accompanied now by a tall young constable, the Inspector made a tour of the town. King Street, Abbey Terrace, Carmarthen Street, the Church Square, all these, by accident rather than design, had been decorated in tasteful colour harmony. Rhosmaen Street was resplendent along its length. Wherever the eye wandered, it encountered arches of different sizes and degree, bearing mottoes. Long life to the House of Dynevor; A long life and a Welsh wife; May peace and joy await the seventh baron; Honour to whom honour is due.

The facade of the Castle Hotel was resplendent in colour. Welsh hearts must have beat faster at sight of the decor. Above the portico stood male and female figures dressed in Welsh costume. They held aloft a sign, bearing the motto, Hir Oes i Etifedd Dynevor. Beneath was the convivial greeting, lechyd Da!

New Road was a spectrum of bright colour. Mr. Edwards of the Salutation Inn had erected a splendid arch. Decorated with the flags of many nations, the arch carried the inscription, Hir Oes Etifedd y Tywysogion Cymreig Long life to the Heir of the Welsh Princes. Above the porch of the inn was a life-like figure of Dame Wales. Meticulous detail characterised her national dress and her tall black beaver hat was well burnished. It was well-known throughout the town that the daughters of Dynevor had driven in especially to see her. The complete sincerity of their pleasure and enthusiasm had been self-evident. No pseudo-Welsh culture was theirs, as a wide community knew.

Homer himself might have recorded the dawning of the great day. As in Greek heroic tales, the elements were propitious. It seemed as if the sun longed to lend its rays for the guidance of him whose ancestors it had gladdened through the centuries. It was in keeping with the events of a Greek play that the day unfolded.

At mid-day his Lordship, Arthur de Cardonnel, sixth baron Dynevor, mounted on a fine white Arab steed, rode through the town and viewed with evident gratification the handiwork of his towns-people. Less martial was the entry of a procession of carriages that came from the castle to the town. The ribbons of the splendid animals in the shafts of the first carriage were skilfully handled by the hero of the hour, the Honourable Walter FitzUryan Rice, accompanied by his three sisters. The party received a hearty reception from the townsfolk and visitors.

Crowds now merged on the market place. Constabulary and stewards were obliged to exert themselves to the utmost to control the rising excitement. It was the baton of the bandmaster Mr. W. Howells, rather than the truncheon of the constabulary, that achieved the desired result. On the embankment before the National Schools, the town band played medleys with skill hitherto uncredited and unacknowledged. As the melodies died away, there was much to attract the eye. Before the market, the local corps of the First Volunteer Battalion of the Welsh Regiment was assembling. In full regalia and headed by their own band, they marched to the castle. The aged guardian of the gate, in her usual livery of Welsh costume, curtseyed low as they passed. When the corps arrived at the courtyard of the modern mansion, Lord Dynevor came forward to greet them and spoke to the officers, Major Thomas, Dr. Lloyd and Chaplain Connop Price. When the Hon. Walter Rice, the nobility and gentry had assembled, the corps performed what was acclaimed enthusiastically as "military evolutions". Under the command of Captain T. Geo. Williams, there was a march-past and a salute. The Volunteers stood in square formation while Capt. Williams read an address to the Hon. Walter Rice. The Captain then presented on behalf of the Volunteers a magnificent Georgian loving-cup. After the Hon. Walter Rice had replied and praised the corps which had been established in 1859, the Volunteers gave three cheers. Lord Dynevor then expressed his thanks and pleasure. He said he intended the Volunteers to continue to practise on the range in Dynevor Park. It was one of the finest grounds that it was possible to have on account of the dead flat of the meadow and the beautiful hill on which they fired. He doubted whether any in England could beat that range. The Volunteer Movement was a great boon to the United Kingdom. Again the Volunteers responded to their Captain's cry for three cheers. A salute of 21 mortar guns was then discharged by Mr. Crane of Bristol.

Many thousands had now gathered in the park. Those nearest the mansion saw members of the house party. These included the Hon. and Rev. W. T. Rice and the Hon. Mrs. Rice, Hon. Cecil Rice, Hon. Mrs. Joyce, Rev. A. G. Joyce, Mr. and Mrs. Pennant, Mrs. Pennant, Commander and Mrs. G. Wingfield, Mrs. Barwick Baker, Mr. Lloyd Baker, Mr. and Mrs. G. Egerton Warburton, Mr. Molyneux Montgomerie and Mrs. Warren.

In one of the smaller marquees, close to the mansion itself, well-guarded by sturdy stewards, presents to the heir were displayed. These were numerous and costly. They included: Tenants of Dynevor Castle and Kidwelly estates, silver salver and old silver punch bowl; inhabitants of Llandeilo and neighbourhood, large silver cup; Llandeilo Rifle Volunteer Corps, large silver cup; employees on Dynevor estate, dressing bag; household servants and London tradesmen, bronze and marble timepiece; Lord Dynevor, pair of guns; the Hon. Gladys, The Hon. Nest and the Hon. Gwen-Hain Rice, diamond ring; Dowager Lady Dynevor, silver candlesticks; the Hon. Mrs. Joyce, enamel and opal leek pin; the Hon. and Rev. Wm. T. Rice and the Hon. Mrs. Rice, gold pencil case. There was a rich treasury of gifts from friends collapsible binoculars, silver paper knives, silver card cases, silver apostle spoons, silver mounted liqueur bottles and glasses, cigar box, pocket book, walking stick, brass tray, silver shoe lift, pearl and coral pin, riding whip, water-colour drawing, alpine fox rug, letter-writing companion, etc., etc., etc.

Feeding the Multitude
The dinner marquee had been prepared to welcome fifteen hundred guests. Invitations had been sent to tenants and their wives, to the Volunteers, and to those who had subscribed to presentations. Mr. John Fisher, Caterer of Westgate Street, Gloucester was in charge. He had arranged the tables and seating well. There were plenty of waiters and attendants at hand throughout the day. The marquee measured 200 feet by 75 feet. The decor included high palms, leafy plants and gaily coloured bunting. The layout of the tables evoked loud acclamation. All preparations had been made with a lavish hand. Mr. Fisher's catering order included 1,650 lbs. of beef, lamb and veal; a great number of chickens, pigeon pies and hams; 8 cwts. of potatoes; 600 lbs. of bread and rolls; 800 lbs. of plum pudding and 300 fruit pies and tarts. The catering was indeed tasty and splendid:

Spiced Rounds of Beef. Roast Fillets of Veal. York Hams.
Quarters of Lamb.
Roast Ribs of Beef. Galantines of Veal. Beef a la Mode.
Roast Legs of Mutton. Veal and Ham Pies.
Chicken. Pigeon Pies.
Hot Potatoes.
Plum Pudding. Greengage Tarts. Damsons.
Plum Pies Apple Tarts
Rolls. Butter
Wines, Etc.
Sherry. Claret. Beer. Soda Water.
Lemonade. Cold Punch.

About 8,000 persons sat down to tea later in the afternoon. Provisions for this meal included three tons of plum cake, seed and also sultana cake, 2 cwts. of fresh butter, 800 gallons of tea and 100 gallons of milk.

Mr. Fisher's catering account registered nearly 1,000 yards of table linen; 7,500 plated spoons, forks and cutlery; 5,500 plates and dishes; 3,500 glasses; 2,500 cups and saucers; and 1,200 other articles of glass and china. Table plants numbered 200.

At dinner, the house party sat at a high table. The Rev. Wm. Talbot Rice, step-brother of Lord Dynevor, said grace before meat. Lord Dynevor gave the loyal toast. In his speech he said, "In all relations of life, as a wife, as a mother, as a queen, she has been an example to the whole world (cheers). She is now in the 58th year of her reign, which only one King exceeded. The next was Henry III, who reigned 56 years and the only monarch who exceeded it was George III who reigned 60 years If we look back at the time when Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 and at the England of today, we shall find that great changes have taken place. When she ascended the throne, there was no steam, no electricity, none of the wondrous things invented since. There has been no other reign in which such a marvellous number of events for the improvement of the world have taken place.

"The whole of the Queen's life has been taken up in thinking of the good of her subjects, for there is no good work or institution she is not ready to help, assist and promote in every way. The whole object of her life has been the happiness of her subjects. Seven years ago, she celebrated her jubilee and many presentations were made to her then. The contributions of the women of England amounted to something like 100,000 - and what did she do? She erected a statue to commemorate the event; she got a jewel as a memorial of their goodwill and knowing the sickness which prevailed, but could not be prevented, and knowing that the only thing possible was to alleviate it by careful nursing, she devoted the rest of the money, 70,000, towards opening an institution of nurses for the benefit of her people (cheers). I give you the toast of the Queen: "God save the Queen". Victoria's loyal subjects responded.

Mr. W. N. Jones of Tirydail proposed the health of the Hon. Walter Rice: "Y swydd bleserus sydd wedi osod yn fy flaw heddyw yw cynyg Iechyd Da i'r Anrhydeddus Walter FitzUryan? Rice. Y mac phedwar ugain mlynedd wedi pasio oddiar pan ddaeth mab i Arglwydd Dynefwr i'w oedran o'r blaen. Yr wyf yn siwr ein bod i gyd yn gobeithio y caiff ei arbed yn hir i gario yr enw anrhydeddus a thrwy fendith Duw ei estyn yn yr un modd eto yn mhellach". (Clywch Clywch).

Major Thomas of Llandeilo in his speech, said that the Hon. Walter Rice was the heir of a noble ancestry. They had known him from childhood and had watched him growing into early manhood. He had had the advantage of a good education; he had had the sound advice and guidance of a noble father and the devotion of loving sisters what then could he be but noble and generous?

At the close of the speeches, the company rose, waving hats and kerchiefs. "For he's a jolly good fellow!" was sung lustily.

A fine illuminated address was then presented to the Hon. Walter Rice by the tenants of Dynevor Castle and of the Kidwelly estates. It was signed by W. N. Jones, Chairman; J. Hughes, Llandeilo, bank treasurer; Lewis Bishop, agent. A large silver cup and a massive original George III punch bowl, the gift of these tenants were presented to the heir by Messrs. D. Jones, Wern and Joseph Williams, Llwynpiod.

Another illuminated address prepared by Mr. Lockyer, printer, Llandeilo, the gift of Llandeilo and neighbourhood, was read and then presented by the Rev. Lewis Price, vicar of Llandeilo. An elaborately engraved loving-cup was presented on behalf of Llandeilo and district by Mr. T. Hughes, Red House. A valuable dressing case was presented by Messrs. Ticehurst, Barnes and Macdonald on behalf of the workmen at Dynevor Castle.

The Hon. Walter Rice then expressed his thanks. In the course of his speech he said: "If ever I become your landlord which I hope won't be for many years to come I only hope I shall be as much beloved and esteemed by you all as my father is (Cheers). I am glad and proud to say that I see very few unfamiliar faces here to-day. We must not look on this merely as a great meeting and a large dinner. It is something more it is a meeting that adds a link to the chain of bondship between us. As long as landlords and tenants and neighbours are bound together by one chain, I think we shall all get on capitally (Cheers).

"Before I sit down, I want to wish you all good luck, and all prosperity to Wales a wish that should be at the bottom of every true Welshman's heart. I am a Welshman I am proud to say (Cheers). I come of a very old Welsh family that has always been looked up to and a family that has always given a very good account of itself. I feel I have no excuse for not following in its footsteps."

When the loud cheering had subsided, the Vicar of Llandeilo called for "three times three" for all the Dynevor family. Enthusiasm was intense.

Mr. J. N. Rowlands of Neath made an address. Tenants of Neath Abbey presented the Hon. Walter Rice with a silver tray.

After the National Anthem had been sung, Lord Dynevor made a request that Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau be sung in Welsh. The interest of the daughters of Dynevor in Welsh music was established. The solo part of the Welsh National Anthem was sung in Welsh by the Honourable Gwenllian Rice.

Amusements of many kinds had been arranged on the spacious park. Athletic sports were held in a large enclosure in front of the modern castle. The music of the Volunteer Band, enlivened the intervals. The judges in the sports included the Rev. C. L. Price; Mr. W. Picton Philipps; Lieut. W. L. Roberts; Mr. C. G. Phillips. The treasurer was Mr. Lewis Bishop.

In a nearby tent, magicians from Bristol showed their skill at legerdemain.

Fashionable Ball
A very fashionable ball was held within the castle to honour the young heir. A great number of his personal friends, the nobility and the gentry attended. Many came from distant places. The house party was a distinguished one. The famous dining room where once George IV had feasted, had been turned into a magnificent ballroom for the occasion. Foliage, in which fairy lamps were interspersed, transformed adjoining lounges, halls and porticoes into ethereal bowers. Elaborate ormulu chandeliers, with scintillating crystal droppers, glowed, reflecting a thousand lights. Without the castle, the Italian gardens, pleasure grounds and fountains were gay in the summer twilight, gay with Chinese lanterns and fairy lights, while here and there romantic figures strayed . . . . Mr. Hulley's famous string band provided soft music.

Proud and dignified, the sixth baron found comfort, in his own personal loneliness, in the outstanding beauty and charm of his three daughters as they stood in the hall receiving the distinguished guests. The Hon. Gladys was dressed in white satin trimmed with moire and black lace. She wore diamonds and pearls and carried a bouquet of Marechale Niel roses. A short distance behind her, stood her two sisters. The Hon. Nest was in yellow satin, the bodice being of accordion-pleated chiffon. She, too, wore diamonds and pearls and carried a bouquet similar to that of her elder sister. The youngest sister, the Hon. Gwenllian was a youthful figure in pink broche, trimmed with pink crepe and lace. Like her sisters she wore diamonds and pearls but her bouquet was of pink carnations.

The sixth baron looked across the hall where the lithe form of his heir was moving with grace among assembled guests Lady Henry Bathurst in vieux rose garni, black velvet and with a parure of diamonds; Mrs. Molyncux Montgomerie in grey bengaline, trimmed with smoke grey velvet and white lace and resplendent in diamonds. The Hon. Walter Rice, was talking now to a happy group of young ladies the Misses Masters in Eton blue satin, veiled in lace; and Miss Elwes in rose pink silk, garni leafless roses.

The carriages of the local gentry were announced Golden Grove, Edwinsford, Glanbrydan Park, Danyrallt Park, Middleton Hall, Taliaris, Glancothi, Ty'r Eglwys, Caeglas, Maesteilo, Talley House, Frood Vale, Pantyrodyn Bryneithin, Derwen House.

Soon, the men, in convivial mood, dressed in dark suits with collars, high, white and very stiff and wearing buttoned boots of soft leather, were clustering around the ladies. Exquisite little dance cards, fitted with pendant gold or silver pencils, fluttering on fair wrists were soon filled.

The programme for the occasion read: Valse, La Cigale; Valse, River of Years; Polka, My Jeanette; Valse, Daisy Belle; Valse, Acclamations; Pas de Quatre, Faust, Up-to-Date; Polka, Off We Go!; Valse, Eton Boating Song; Valse, Venetian Song; Lancers, 'Arry and 'Arriet; Valse, Love's Old Sweet Song; Polka, Wot Cheer; Valse, L'Etoile Polaire; Polka, See Me Dance; Valse, Linger Longer Loo; Pas de Quatre, Darkies Dream; Valse, Toreador; Valse, Fiddle and I; Polka, Who's that a-Calling?; Lancers, Gondoliers; Polka, My Little Lot; Valse, After the Ball; Gallop, John Peel and Post Horn.

The dowagers seated beneath a green and silver awning, adjusted themselves on their cushions and raised their lorgnettes to view the dancing in its varying moods and rhythms. Accredited connoisseurs of the very best in toilettes, they nodded their heads with approval as the ladies glided, pirouetted and turned on the ball-room floor. Lady Drummond wore white satin, brocaded with bunches of violets and green leaves. The lights from the chandeliers flirted with diamonds on her tiara and necklace. Mrs. Dudley Drummond in heliotrope silk brocaded with pink roses, Mrs. Richardson of Glanbrydan Park in pink and green brocade trimmed with golden otter and point de Venice lace and Mrs. Mervyn St. Peel in mauve crepe-de-chine and pompadour brocade were an attractive trio. Among the most enthusiastic dancers were Mrs. Peel of Taliaris in a dress of pea-pod green brocade trimmed with lace and Miss Constance Peel in maize-coloured silk, trimmed with white feathers and honey-suckle. Many of the younger guests favoured white. Miss Phipps wore white satin trimmed with lace and turquoise blue velvet; Miss Ina Montgomerie was in white satin garni en soie de chine; Miss Lloyd Baker was in white satin trimmed with lace and pink flowers; Miss Ketha Lloyd Baker wore white moire trimmed with chiffon and white flowers; and Miss Susan Mansel was in cream satin festooned with lace and yellow roses. Likewise Miss Pryce and Miss Gertrude Pryce of Golden Grove Vicarage wore dresses of white silk crepon, trimmed with lace and moire ribbon.

Miss Mansel of Maesteilo wore a charming dress of rich apricot and pink brocade trimmed with old point lace; and a petticoat of pink satin. She wore diamonds. Miss E. Mansel was dressed in a lovely shade of green brocade with panels of green satin trimmed with bond lace. She too wore diamonds.

Mrs. W. H. Lloyd of Llandeilo wore a black broche silk dress and Mrs. Davies of Frood Vale was in black velvet with point lace. Mrs. Gwynne Hughes wore sage green brocade trimmed with pink and lace.

The dancing commenced at 10 p.m. and continued until the small hours of the morning.

At the foot of the steep slopes of The Rookery, many hundreds had gathered to await the dusk. Anticipation, according to precept, is better than realization but on this occasion the maxim was totally refuted. As squibs and Catherine-wheels and whistlers swirled into the night, there were wild cries of hysterical delight. Sunrise alone could have been the finale but even this had been pre-arranged dramatically: Long Life to the son and heir was displayed in bright illuminations. And then with thankful and loyal hearts, and in happy tiredness, the crowds wended their way homeward.

Inspector Rogers made a last tour of the town. He half-closed his eyes at the sight of late imbibers in the hostelries. They were quiet enough and he was content to leave a margin, even if not a wide one, on such a night as this. The church clock struck one, sonorously, as he passed beneath it. Yes, he could hang up the great keys of the cells to-night. He hummed as he turned into Church Street and opened the studded door of the Police Station 'The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high or lowly and ordered their estate . . .' And ordered their estate ? He wondered.
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