Sunday 11 October 2009

Welsh characters

This is a little extract from one of the books garnered at Hay-on-Wye last week -" Welsh Country Upbringing" by D Parry-Jones, printed 1948. He is writing of his childhood at the turn of the century . . .

"Round the farms came at regular intervals the stocking woman, a small, frail, gossipy little body, much under the influence of religion and, especially, of the revival then raging through Wales. She moreover undertook, as part and proof of her renewed faith, work on behalf of a temperance society in which she was quite as successful as in her legitimate business. There were many feet to cover and many drinkers to reform. As a potential member of this latter class, I was myself, with all my brothers and sisters, rescued at the tender age of twelve. Well do I remember my very determined resolution to abjure this form of wickedness and, in proof of my enthusiasm and conviction, did, again in the company with my brothers and sisters, some missionary work in that direction by learning one or two temperance pieces and reciting them in the Penny Readings. She was assured always of a good long rest at our home and a cup of tea, for my mother dearly loved to talk about religion. As to the attitude of my father towards her I think he liked her well enough when she confined herself to her primary business, but he became very impatient when the sideline was being pushed, possibly regarding it as a dig at him for he had his glass of beer - and enjoyed it.


'Sally'r Sannau' (Sally of the stockings, for that is the name she went by), was the last in our parish to ply that trade. Like the bidder, she too, has gone! She belonged to a fraternity that at one time walked far into the counties of England, following their trade - even as far as Oxford. Two hundred years ago they carried messages from one home in the district to a son who was at the time a minister near that city. I often try to picture what the lot of these poor women must have been, for they were exposed to terrible hardships and dangers. It rained, I suppose, in those days as it does now. Where did they get their clothes dried, where did they put at night, or were there kind people in those days that took pity on the poor? Sally, the last of them, has passed out of sight round the corner of the road, she walked alone, none came after her; light and frail of body she was eminently fitted ot be the ghost of all her sisters that had pilgrimaged before her."

Views from Llantony Priory

The winding road . . .

As for me, I never signed the pledge and will have a little glass of wine tonight. Purely medicinal you understand . . .


  1. Hullo BB,
    Are you feeling a bit better m'dear? I hope so.

    A nice post and some rather fetching photos once again. If these are yours you have a nice touch.

    What a well written wee except as well. It gives agreat feel of time and place. I love the allusion of not gone but just around the bend in the road ahead. That will have me contemplating tonight I'm sure as I'm on my own for the evening.


  2. Hope your partner in crime will soon be back by your side Al. For myself, I am off to the Doc's in the morning as a month of this feeling unwell is quite enough.

    Glad you enjoyed the post. So much has changed, and so quickly (even since my childhood which seems almost like Victorian times) and I like to just show how things were - and find some photos to match . . .

  3. I am intrigued with those stone steps and the plants growing on them. The style of fence with the gate built in that way seems very unusual. Is there a "name" for it?
    Did the stocking woman knit for the household or did she carry a supply of ready made "socks" and sell door to door?
    Sorry you have to make a doctor visit and maybe take meds, which are almost as nasty as the germs. Be well.
    Trying to stay warm here and thinking it will be a long winter of conserving the propane.

  4. Thanks for popping over to visit my blog - this is a return call. Liked your blog for today. Do please call again - anytime.

  5. MM - they are mostly nettles plantwise. The stone steps lead to a creep-under sort of stile - instead of a step-over one. They were quite close to Llantony Priory so possibly a Pilgrims' route or just a short cut to worship.

    I believe the stocking woman would have collected the hand-knitted stockings to sell on behalf of the housewives in far flung parts of the parish, paying so much for them and making her own cut when she sold on to the tradesmen who would take them to market.

    Doc's visit done and dusted and hopefully I'll be on the mend again soon.

    Weaver of Grass - I shall be back (Ive been before). I think you and I like the same things!