Monday, August 13, 2007

Book On Tredegar House Servants In Pipeline

A book is currently being written by Samantha Lilygreen on 'Service at Tredegar House'. Building on research conducted by May Adcock (who brought so much material together), David Beevers, David Freeman, Laura Beresford and sundry others over the years, Samantha hopes to be able to publish, what should be, a fascinating look at 'Below Stairs' life at Tredegar in the early 20th century.

If anybody has any memories, letters, photographs, or simply wishes to learn more about this project, you can contact the author through this blog.

My talk at Treadwells was sadly cancelled due to the dreadful flooding that gripped parts of the nation. We hope to reschedule shortly.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New Findings Unveiled

For all who might be interested. I will be at Treadwell's Bookshop, 34 Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London pretty soon, giving the following lecture. Hope to see some of you there.

26 July 2007 (Thursday)

Crowley’s “Adept of Adepts”
The Eccentric Occultist Evan Morgan
Paul Busby
7.15 for 7.30pm start

Tonight Paul Busby, biographer, introduces us to an almost-unknown occultist and eccentric, Evan Frederic Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar (1893–1949). A friend of Aleister Crowley, Morgan was (as Busby has discovered) actually a practitioner of the art magical. Crowley himself called him “Adept of Adepts”. Morgan was known in his own day not so much for his occultism but, in aristocratic society, for his extravagant lifestyle, and wild week-end house parties, which attracted the likes of Aldous Huxley, H.G. Wells and Augustus John as well as The Great Beast. This eccentric also kept at the house a menagerie of animals including a boxing kangaroo, honey bear, baboon and macaw. Tonight’s speaker has recently written a biography of Morgan, and has discovered a great deal about the man’s magical practice. Tonight he reveals his findings and in so doing provides a greater insight into the life in the 1930s of the work of Aleister Crowley, as well as allowing a fuller appreciation of the nexus of ideas and personal links that made up the the 1930s British occult community.

Monday, June 18, 2007

New Housekeeper at Tredegar

There is a new Housekeeper at Tredegar House. Such news would have sent shock waves through the establishment in Victorian times. What would the new Housekeeper be like? Would she rule with a rod of iron, or did she own a particularly nice pair of velvet gloves? Would the Still Room maids feel her wrath, or would the new regime be slightly more lenient on burnt toast than the old? All these questions would have swept through the Servant's Hall like a brush fire.

Today, the new Housekeeper is Caitlin Eales. Cait is not only the present day Housekeeper (I'm not sure how strict she is about burnt toast, as yet), but also occasionally plays the role of her late Victorian predecessor Mrs Williams for the school tours, which must present something of an identity crisis for her at times. Welcome Cait!

Now, I'm sure Cait already has the following qualities in abundance, but, I thought this advice to Housekeepers by Mrs Beeton, would be worth pointing out:

" 61. IN CONCLUDING THESE REMARKS on the duties of the housekeeper, we will briefly refer to the very great responsibility which attaches to her position. Like “Caesar’s wife,” she should be “above suspicion,” and her honesty and sobriety unquestionable; for there are many temptations to which she is exposed. In a physical point of view, a housekeeper should be healthy and strong, and be particularly clean in her person, and her hands, although they may show a degree of roughness, from the nature of some of her employments, yet should have a nice inviting appearance. In her dealings with the various tradesmen, and in her behaviour to the domestics under her, the demeanour and conduct of the housekeeper should be such as, in neither case, to diminish, by an undue familiarity, her authority or influence."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Keep Up To Date!

For the very latest news on my book: "Only Evan: The Eccentric Life of Lord Tredegar" and other Tredegar and Morgan-related projects I am undertaking you can now join my mailing list.

Just send an email to: and you will never be out of the loop again!

All the best people are on it!

News Update

Last Friday night saw the first Spooky Tales Tour of 2007. As usual, it was an excellent turnout, and a good time was had by all. These tours run every Friday evening (7pm start) throughout March. Ring Tredegar House (01633 815880) to book tickets or for more details.

Those on the tour witnessed a rather hectic looking house, with the Kitchen Corridor pretty much stripped to the bare bones. It is currently receiving a much-needed redecoration.

Very good news on the Morgan graves at St. Basil's: the restoration work has made such a massive difference and they are now looking splendid. The memorial to Gwyneth Morgan has grown an arm back and looks brilliantly white and gleaming. I'm particularly pleased about the restoration of the graves, and have to thank (among others) Mike Buckingham for his original column in the South Wales Argus last year that publicised their then sad state, and Cyril Highman, who began to explore a possible solution to the problem.

I am scheduled to give a talk for the Friends of Tredegar House (and anybody else that fanices popping along) at the Civic Centre on March 28 at 7.00pm. I will be discussing the unrestored parts of Tredegar House. Tickets are readily available, and will only set you back a single shining pound coin. Oh, the value! Please contact Dawn Elliott at for more details.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

William Morgan (d.1569) (10)

Perhaps the 'Jolly Roger' is not the ideal image for William Morgan of Tredegar, and, yes, I probably should have saved it for when I got to Sir Henry Morgan, but, it's there now, and it isn't totally inappropriate.

William succeeded to Tredegar in 1518. The Tudors were by this time reorganising the political structure in Wales and the Morgans of Tredegar (who had proved themselves staunch Tudor supporters - give or take a little bit of embezzelment) gained greatly as a result. William owned Tredegar during the time of the Act of Union between England and Wales and the Reformation. The Reformation allowed the Llantarnum branch of the family to purchase the Cistercian Abbey and although William himself did not obviously benefit from the dissolution of the monasteries, the seeds had been sewn for future advancement.

The local power of the Morgan family had reached new heights. As the historian Kyrle Fletcher states: "The Squire of Tredegar was like a king in a country." In the Great Hall (probably the present day 'Servant's Hall') lay the Justice Chair, where William would sit and pass judgement on vagabonds brought up before him. If the authorities were concerned about a local matter they would often first approach Tredegar about it. A good example of this is the plight of the Bristol merchants. They were getting heartily sick of their ships being attacked by pirates as soon as they left Bristol. The finger of suspicion pointed directly at Newport, where they suspected the pirates were being harboured. The Privy Council began an investigation. When their men turned up at Tredegar House to ask the Squire questions they found William to be uncooperative. This isn't too surprising. William had a hand in the piracy.

With William getting a fat share of the pirate's Bristolian haul, with the respectability of being an executive officer of the Tudor crown (he served as MP for the County of Monmouth between 1555-1558 and Sheriff in 1565), and with hawks being kept in Tredegar Park for sport, life was good for the Morgans of Tredegar. Perhaps the one fly in this rich ointment came in William's family life. He had married Catherine Bodenham, the daughter and heiress of the wealthy Thomas Bodenham from Hereford, but the marriage produced no children, and William became unfaithful to his wife. William had fathered an illegitimate son from one of his dalliances who went by the name of John Morgan. He was set up at the Cross House in Newport, and William appears to have looked out for his son's interests above all things.

With no legitimate children of his own, the legal heir to the Tredegar Estate on the death of William was to be his cousin Rowland. Rowland was a Roman Catholic, and using this pretext, William arranged for the estate to bypass his cousin, and go instead to William's (illegitimate) grandson, Miles Morgan, the son of John of the Cross House. William died in 1569 and the scene was set for a legal battle and much uncertainty in the years to come.

William Morgan (d.1569)
Son of John Morgan of Tredegar and Lettice Herbert
On Throne when at Tredegar: Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I
Married: Catherine Bodenham of Co. Hereford
No Legitimate Issue (but had a son, John Morgan of the Cross House, Newport)

Click to view previous chapters in this series:

9. John Morgan d. 1513
8. Sir Morgan ap John d. c1504
7. Sir John Morgan d. c1492
6. Ieuan ap Llywelyn ap Morgan
5. Llywelyn ap Morgan (lost Tredegar in 1402)
4. Morgan ap Llywelyn d. c1384
3. Ifor Hael of Gwern y Cleppa
2. Llywelyn ap Ifor and Angharad
1. Sir Morgan ap Maredudd d. c1331