Saturday, November 24, 2007

Time warp

Today, another Match Day, the weather not being good enough for a decent walk, we ventured out to Nelson to visit Llancaiach Manor, a sixteenth century dwelling, which I recall as a shabby old farm house, growing up, and going hiking in that area as a young Boy Scout in the fifties. Since then it has changed hands, and is no longer owned by a farmer. It has been well restored as an historic visitor attraction by Rhymney Valley District Council, and is open to the public.

It's an impressive venture, and the place is well used, with a varied programme of activities, some of which exploit its reputation as one of Britain's Most Haunted houses. Apart from its posh tourist shop and its scenic modern restaurant, it has an excellent visitor interpretation programme. The place, after renovation was restored to represent the house as it appeared in 1645 equipped with period artifacts.

The tour guides are in the period costumes of household servants and speak in period English. You are invited to imagine that you are invited to the house of Colonel Thomas Pritchard, Lord of the Manor, and at that time co-incidentally governor of Cardiff Castle.
The Colonel and his family are away from Llancaiach, but the servants welcome visitors and show them around, telling the story of life in their times as they go, in fascinating detail.

Pritchard was a Puritan and prominent local Baptist, initially loyal to the king, then to Parliament, eventually taking a more independent stance seeking to shield Glamorganshire and the neighbouring counties from being sucked into the Civil War - was his armed militia a kind of prototype Free Wales Army, I wondered?

It was good to see such creative imagination being applied to bringing an historic monument to life for the modern age. It reminded me of 'Brother' Thomas, the Cistercian costumed guide to Tintern Abbey, seen during our Parish Pilgrimage back in the summer.

Will there come I time, I wonder, when St John's visitors will be shown around by a role-playing guide emulating the last generation of active believers to have served God in the heart of a totally secularised city?

1 comment:

dazzakoh said...

Keith, Just a quick note to let you know how much I enjoy reading your thoughts on life! Your current spate of inspiration makes for very good reading....

Love to Clare...