Tuesday, 11 April 2017
Edward Thomas and the Tywi Valley
Several years ago I bought Edward Thomas' book "Wales". Imagine my surprise when reading, "And I have been to Abertillery, Pontypool, Caerleon, infernal Landore . . . . etc - and then "Nantgaredig". I did a double take. Amongst all the poetical Welsh place names - Myddfai, Llanddeusant, Llanddewi Brefi, Cil-y-Cwm - there was Nantgaredig. WHAT was it doing there? WHY did he mention it, for as it stands now it is just where the school is and the train station was and most people drive through it unless they live in Station Road. I pondered and then, when I was researching something else in our parish, my eye was drawn to the name Marendaz - Edward Thomas had Marendaz ancestors . . . The lady in the gravestone above (in Llanegwad churchyard), lived in the village for most of her life. She was down, aged 11, in the 1881 census. She was born in London, but her father was a Swansea man, and from what I deduced, he had married a Tywi Valley lass, who must have been working in Swansea. From what I remember, she died when Sarah Anne (put down simply as Ann Marendaz in the 1871 census) was very small and so the little girl went back to her maternal family roots. Nantgaredig was the station he would have left the train to walk the tracks across the fields to Llanegwad, to visit his Marendaz relative . . .
This ancient mounting block and equally ancient warty old tree beside it would definitely have been familiar to him, as would the cottage below when it was in its prime:
He would certainly have known Y Plas, which we tried to buy for my mum. When we viewed it the half timbering inside had every beam painted a different colour gloss, and there was someone dossing in the bedroom, but the original cloam fireplaces were still there from more than a century earlier. Now it is modernized, the beams covered in plaster and the clay fireplaces have long gone.
Dryslwyn Castle, dreaming across the fields.
He and Helen had spoken of moving to Wales - had he survived the war, perhaps they may have settled in the Tywi valley he knew and loved . . .