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November 2012
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AGM 29th October at 6.30pm

The AGM will be reported in the December edition of the Newsletter.  

Saturday 24th Nov - Christmas Fayre

This year we are holding the Christmas Fayre in the Museum. Please be sure to come along and bring friends and family. We now urgently need items for the stalls including - cardboard rolls for crackers (and chocs or something to go in them), good quality unused gifts etc for the Lucky Dip, toiletries, toys, tins, Christmas crafts – all the usual sorts of items, and cakes. Please drop your donations off at the Museum. This annual event always makes a significant contribution to our funds and as a voluntary museum, every penny counts. We will also need helpers to man the stalls. Please help make this event a success!

Winterfest 26th Nov – 9th Dec

The Museum will be involved in this festival with a lecture (to be held in the Metropole) and buffet. Please call at the Museum for an update.

Craft Fair, Metropole 1st Dec Something for your diary!

Annual Dinner Friday 18 th Jan As usual this will be at the Top Hotel. Please call at the Museum to book your place and menu choices. It will start at 7pm and tickets are £17.


A trip has been arranged to see Cinderella in Swansea on Friday 11 th January (matinee performance) and tickets are available for Museum Society members. The ticket to the panto and your coach fare is just £21 – please contact Peggy Bearcroft or Enid Dean. Just the thing to brighten up January!

Diary Dates

Saturday 24th November Christmas Fayre, 2pm at the Museum

Monday 26th November – 9th December Winterfest (call at the Museum for lecture info)

Saturday 1st December Craft Fair , Metropole

Friday 11th January - Cinderella Pantomime, Swansea £21 ticket and coach (see Peggy or Enid)

Friday 18th January 2013 Annual Dinner , Top Hotel, Llanhilleth at 7pm £17

Saturday 26th January Mystery Treasures Coffee morning

Wednesday 6th February My Life in the Media by Steve Taylor

Wednesday 6th March What Lies Beneath? By Richard Dean

Wednesday 10th April Intellectual Property is All Around You by Gail Ashworth

Wednesday 1st May Cwmcarn Dam Disaster by Tony Jukes

Wednesday 5th June Inn Signs by Bob Trett

Wednesday 3rd July The Story of the Hero of Newport Docks Disaster by Monty Dart

Wednesday 7th August Newport Transporter Bridge by Anne Gatehouse

Wednesday 4th September Garden Birdwatch by Mick Bailey

Wednesday 2nd October ( TBA) Robin Williams

Wednesday 6th November Stanley Spencer War Artist by Pete Strong

Lecture Programme 2013

You will see from the Diary Dates that we have a full programme for 2013, from February through to November. The lectures will be held on the first Wednesday of each month (except Easter when it is the second Wednesday) in the Museum at 2pm, price just £2 to cover costs. Please come along and bring a friend. We have tried to arrange an interesting programme covering a wide range of topics and our first speaker is Steve Taylor who used to read the early evening news on HTV Wales. Steve is a natural raconteur and his talk promises to be very enjoyable. He also has ‘history’ connections as he regularly acts as a guide on battlefield tours of Northern France and he has been closely involved in a campaign to save one of Newport’s historic parks.

Christmas Gifts

If you are stuck for ideas remember that our Museum shop has an interesting selection of items for both adults and children, including stocking fillers, and all at very reasonable prices.

100 Club – October

No.29 Verley Phillips £25

No. 84 Corinne Taylor £10

No. 8 Audrey Osland £5

Fund raising October - £183

Poetry Corner

The Hills of Home by Theo Carter

When I shall walk this world no more,
Except in spirit only,
Then let me roam the hills of home
And I shall not be lonely.
There, where the ever changeless scene
Is changed by season’s pattern,
Where wimberries, with their purple fruit,
In contrast to the summer spruce,
Stain the bright green of grass and fern
And offer themselves for man’s delight.
Where Autumn next, with sober brush,
Paints the leaves enchanting shades of brown,
Pleasing the eye and easing the heart
Defying vain description;
Making man gasp in breathless adoration
And grope for words in speechless admiration
Of Nature’s glorious art.
Where Winter then, with icy touch,
Drapes the bare shoulders of the hills
With ermine cloaks of pure white snow,
Bringing cold comfort to the cheerless scene
‘til the struggling sun of early Spring,
With gentle smile, persuades the hills
To cast aside their threadbare capes
And coaxes creatures, plants and trees
To rouse themselves from Winter’s heavy sleep.
For magic breathes beneath the earth
As new life, throbbing to be born,
Is thrusting up to seek the sun.
Amid these dear familiar scenes,
That I have known from childhood to old age,
Let my soul wait ‘til I am joined
By those I love, and who love me.
There let me bide in sweet serenity,
Then I shall rest content for all eternity.

Mrs Sandra Tranter

Sandra has had to step down from her role as Secretary due to family and work commitments. She worked hard for the Museum; we are very sorry to lose her and take this opportunity to say thank you and wish her well for the future.

Local Voices

The Newsletter is most interesting when we have your local contributions. Please let me have your memories, stories, articles – all much appreciated.
Jen Price  


Glastonbury Tor is a familiar and prominent landmark in the Somerset landscape and for those who climb to the top there are magnificent views in all directions. However, Glastonbury has more to offer than the Tor. The main shopping street is dominated by shops selling crystals and the like but it is also where you will find the impressive remains of Glastonbury Abbey. It has a long history but here is a short snapshot. The Saxon King of Ine, a Christian, conquered Somerset in the 7 th century and is believed to be responsible for the church he then established in Glastonbury. The church was enlarged in the 10 th century by St Dunstan who became an Archbishop of Canterbury. The next phase in its history came with the Norman conquest. Skilled Norman stonemasons added magnificent buildings to the Saxon church and in 1086 the Domesday Book recorded Glastonbury Abbey as the richest monastery in the country. Much of the monastery was destroyed by fire in 1184 but the monks carried out extensive works of renovation and reconstruction and by the 14 th century it was the second wealthiest Abbey in Britain (behind Westminster). The Abbott of Glastonbury lived in considerable splendour and this is exemplified in the ‘Abbott’s Kitchen’ which still stands, largely intact.

In 1536, when Henry VIII had been on the throne for 27 years, there were over 800 monasteries, nunneries and friaries in Britain. By 1541 there were none. At the time of this ‘Dissolution of the Monasteries’ the incumbent Abbott of Glastonbury refused to swear allegiance to Henry. The Abbott, in his eighties, was taken to the top of Glastonbury Tor where he was hung, drawn and quartered. The Abbey itself was stripped of its wealth and fell into decay. Although what remains today is just a fraction of what once stood, the ruins still impress.

On one corner of the Abbotts Kitchen you will see an ‘egg stone’ which allegedly has spiritual powers to those sufficiently receptive when they run their hands over it. The town and Abbey remain a magnet not just for the casual tourist but also those who profess to be able to experience the ‘special force’ of this locality. There are apparently more spiritual healers in Glastonbury than in any town of comparable size in England.

There is an excellent visitor/interpretation centre to tell you about the Abbey itself and which also paints a vivid picture of life in those times.
Jen Price

Trellech Well

There are several wells in Gwent which are regarded as holy wells, or wells with special powers. One such well is to be found at Trellech.

Wells have always been important and to our Celtic ancestors they were where the gods lived, and the entrances to the supernatural world. A number of ceremonies were associated with wells and they were places of pilgrimage. Over time many of these ancient pagan sites gradually became associated with the early missionary saints and Christian beliefs.

The well at Trellech, known locally as the Virtuous Well, was first depicted on a sundial erected in 1689 by Lady Margaret Probert and now sited in the churchyard. The name ‘virtuous’ well refers to its medicinal qualities. According to an ancient Welsh manuscript, the healing water of the Bards ran beneath the Caer of the Three Stones (Harolds Stones on the entrance to Trellech) and it has been suggested that this well was the reason for the choice of Trellech for mystical Druid rites.

In the 18 th and 19 th centuries the well’s water was considered particularly beneficial to those with eye problems and ‘women’s complaints’.

The well has also long been used as a wishing well. To make a wish one needs to throw in a small metal object – the number of bubbles related to the prospect of your wish coming true. No bubbles, no luck. Girls wanting to know when they were to be married would throw a pebble into the well – every bubble that rose counted as one month.

The Virtuous Well at Trellech continues to attract those wishing to draw on its powers. If you visit you will see many ribbons hung on a nearby tree. The belief is that by dipping a piece of your garment in the healing water, your symptoms will disappear as the cloth rots away. Others make small offerings which can be seen on the ledge around the inside of the arched recess.

Book Corner

Heroes and Villains in Welsh History edited by H.V. Bowen, published by Gomer, price £14.99

This book asks us to think again about some of the great, and not so great, historical figures we thought we knew. It asks us to reconsider the achievements of Gerald of Wales, Oliver Cromwell, Robert Owen and George Thomas – just a few of the figures who feature in this recently published book.


The unexpected benefits of Lettuce

Some of you may remember the talk I gave some years ago about our tour in Egypt. In it I mentioned some of the many Egyptian Gods, they all have their own stories and legends, one of these was the God “Min”, and here is one of his legends which we were told on our River Nile holiday.

This legend tells that when Egypt was a series of villages spread along the River Nile the men of a village decided to attack their neighbours and take their goods. They were ready to go when they realised that their wives and daughters would be left on their own with no one to defend them. No one trusted the others to look after their women. After a lot of argument and discussion they decided that a very old man should be left to stand guard over the women. They then proceeded to the neighbouring village and attacked it.

Egyptian Gods

On their return home they were horrified to find that all the women of child bearing age were pregnant!

Furious they dragged the old man out with the intention of executing him, they chopped off his right arm and were about to continue dismembering him when an elder of the village cried Stop! He cannot be an ordinary old man to do this, he must be a god! Everyone stood back and then proceeded to worship him.

Min became an important God associated with the Kingship of Egypt, Fertility and Fertility in Agriculture. He was depicted as an ithyphallic figure on the relief of shrine’s and temples together with statues placed in these and other prominent places.

Some will remember in my slide talk how lettuces sprung up from the ground all around him.

The Egyptians offered lettuces to Min believing it is an aphrodisiac; it can be seen in wall reliefs and on stelae with Min standing on rectangular beds of lettuces.

The Egyptians also used lettuces as medicine to destroy intestinal worms. Oil was extracted from the seeds for cooking, and in Middle Egypt today around Qena and Sohag men still consume lettuces seeds to aid their fertility. In its wild form the lettuces of Ancient Egypt grew as tall plants which is depicted on ostraca and wall reliefs.

Rabbits Eating Lettuce

It was grown as a salad crop in Mesopotamia and the Syrians also used lettuces in ointments for ear infections.

Latex from lettuces was also an alternative to poppy opium, Lactucarium has been found to contain substances that act on the central nervous system and is used in herbal medicine today.

Also in complimentary medicine today it is still used as cough medicine and as a cure for insomnia (a sedative). This is the opposite of an aphrodisiac but it seems that nobody told the Rabbits.

There are many such stories about Ancient Egypt but not everyone is as enthusiastic about the subject as I am!

Bear LogoDon Bearcroft, Curator


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