Sunday 13 October 2019

Anti-Plantagenet bias from Huw Edwards

the old church at Llanfrothen

Fresh from making his views clear on the name of the Welsh assembly (he favours the Welsh-only rather than the bilingual option), the BBC's Huw Edwards is now leading a campaign -  Exploring Sacred Wales - to link 500 Welsh churches and chapels with a single 440-mile route. 

He's doing so in his role as vice-president of the National Churches Trust (NCT). 

It sounds like a fine project and I wish it success. 

Here's Huw's reasoning:
In Wales today, those tokens of Plantagenet savagery, the medieval castles, are cared for with a vigilance approaching the fetishistic. We willingly revere these symbols of our oppression.  
In this same Wales, those heroic symbols of our nonconformist freedom, the chapels, are neglected, disdained and spurned. They lie rotting and decomposed in town centres, casually vandalised. They are invisible and irrelevant. They seldom pierce the people’s awareness, but when they do, they provoke repugnance and scorn. 
It really is no exaggeration to say that the spirit of the chapels shaped modern Wales. But modern Wales doesn’t want to know.
Time for an R.S. Thomas poem then:

The Chapel

A little aside from the main road,
becalmed in a last-century greyness,
there is the chapel, ugly, without the appeal
to the tourist to stop his car
and visit it. The traffic goes by,
and the river goes by, and quick shadows
of clouds, too, and the chapel settles
a little deeper into the grass.

But here once on an evening like this,
in the darkness that was about
his hearers, a preacher caught fire
and burned steadily before them
with a strange light, so that they saw
the splendour of the barren mountains
about them and sang their amens
fiercely, narrow but saved
in a way that men are not now.

1 comment:

  1. I've actually been to Wales and seen some of these chapels. No signs as to when they have services, no signs of which denomination they are... just nothing to say whether they are open or defunct and abandoned by unbelief.

    Welsh chapels are something Welsh people can use their own money to preserve. I suspect most will be sold and converted to houses. Architecturally they are not anything exciting - drab, grey, slate rooved, and pretty much the same all over Wales as nineteenth century structures as boring as the drab terraces of housing nearby.


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