Saturday, December 06, 2008

Pub Signs At Risk?

One article from today's newspapers jumped out at me. Louise Gray in The Telegraph writes an interesting piece about traditional swinging signs that hang outside pubs. Since a Royal Act in 1393 made such signs compulsory they have dotted the British landscape and some of them are extraordinary works of public art in their own right. Now they are endangered.

That famous anglophile Bill Bryson explains:

"Only around 30 independent pub chains and breweries in Britain are still ordering individually painted signs, amazingly a few of these fine artists are still working and there are some notable examples such as The St Austell Brewery in Cornwall that still employ sign writers," he said.

"But it is a shrinking market and the dominance of a few chains has contributed to the disappearance of traditional British pub names, and led to a profusion of bland corporate makeovers."

There are quite a few pubs with Tredegar links. From those quite close to Tredegar House, such as the plethora of Tredegar Arms (although it always used to disturb and slightly amuse me that a print of Godfrey, Viscount Tredegar, and his skye terrier 'Peeps' used to hang near the toilets at the Bassaleg Tredegar Arms. No doubt Godfrey himself would have come up with a dry comment about that!), Ruperra Arms, and now of course even the Godfrey Morgan run by the Wetherspoons chain.

Further afield there is the Morgan Arms in the aptly named Morgan Street in Bow, and, also in that area is the Lord Tredegar in Lichfield Road, which has the image of Godfrey as its traditional swinging pub sign. (see above)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Family Members Worked for Lord Tredegar?

Over the years I have met so many people who have approached me after a talk or a tour to say: "My grandfather worked as a gardener at Tredegar House before the war" or "My great-aunt was 3rd Housemaid to Lord Tredegar in the 1930s." It is wonderful whenever this happens. I am always trying to add one more fact, or one more story, to help flesh out the history of this remarkable building and the family and staff who lived and worked there for centuries.

Quite often though, the grandson of the said gardener, and the great-niece of the 3rd Housemaid, although obviously having heard of Tredegar House, sometimes have never actually been there themselves. This got me thinking (usually a dangerous thing!). What if we had an evening event at Tredegar House for precisely those people? Would there be a demand for it?

Perhaps a quick tour so they could walk in the footsteps of their relatives, a glass of wine, and then a sit down in the New Hall, and a question-and-answer session, where we could hear THEIR side of the Tredegar story.

It would be a sort of Tredegar servants family reunion.

So, did any of your relatives work at Tredegar House when the Morgans themselves were in residence? Do you have any tales of the place that you would be keen to share?

If anybody has any ideas for this, or would like to attend the event, do drop me a line. Either by commenting on this post, or by emailing me at

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Evan, Viscount Tredegar Book Update

Many apologies for all those waiting for the biography of Evan Morgan. We should get some firm news soon about a publication date. Much new material (especially about Evan's activities during the Second World War) has been uncovered recently and I hope the wait will prove to be worthwhile.