Friday 26 July 2013
(G)Widigada, where art thou?
As a researcher (it was something I excelled at - WHEN I had the time - at Uni) I sometimes have a little prompt (thank you eldest daughter dear) and find I am following a deep line of research which keeps me occupied for hours. She phoned around 5 p.m. and 3 hours later I am still researching. What started me off were a couple of links to the previous occupants of our house - well, if I am honest, I think it was all probably flattened by Thomas Lewis, he who proudly put the plaque over the door "Built at the charge of Thomas Lewis 1718" . . . but the building that was on this site in the mid to late Medieval periods. I dived straight in and FINALLY have the name of the man who lived here in the 1400s and was made Esquire to the Body of Henry VII (after Bosworth, when Lord Dynevor supported Henry Tudor and raised an army locally from local gentlemen and their retainers.) If you have been watching the White Queen on tv recently, you have no idea how exciting it feels to be part of that history unfolding as the weeks go on, from our little quiet spot of Carmarthenshire. Here, the occupants had Friends in High Places and answered their call.
He was Gwilym ap John, born around 1430, and son of John ap Llywelyn "Ddu" (Ddu means dark), and Lleucu ferch Gwallier, who were both born around 1400. His occupation was given as "Gwilym Egwad the Poet". His talents as a poet were cultured by Lewys Glyn Cothi, the Bardic poet , who addressed the eleventh Ode, in the fourth Dosparth of his poems, to this Gwillim ab Sion ab Llewelyn ddu, and calls his house (here on this site) Neuadd wen Llywelyn Ddu, "the white (or fair) mansion of Llewelyn ddu."
We always wanted to believe that the lower front portion of this house was the original Great Hall, but recent events point out to it being reinvented by Thomas Lewis. The recent demolition of a plinth (built at the side of the house overlooking the yard and originally intended to support an oil tank for the central heating!), contained quantities of large lumps of building stone, including some dressed and rebated pieces which could well have belonged to the earlier dwelling here. We found several other pieces of high-status dressed stone and a piece of rebated stone window surround used as flooring in what used to be the old Dairy at the back of the house.
Anyway, I digress. Then I got distracted by the mention of Llewelyn ddu ap John (Gwilym's elder brother) being born about 1430 at Gwidigada commote, Carmarthenshire, where his father's first wife Nest Philip hailed from. I have finally tracked down the Manor of Widigada in Llanegwad to Cwmgwili, 2 miles N-N.East of Abergwili. Job done!
Anyway, I expect by now you are all bored to death, because early Welsh history doesn't float your boat, but thank you for listening. Sometimes I wonder if I will open the kitchen door when I go downstairs for medication or something in the night, and walk into the past, just like in Alison Uttley's wonderful children's book "Traveller in Time" . . .