The Pales Newsletter – September 2017
From the Pales Management Group
(This newsletter can be downloaded for printing – please click here)
This month’s newsletter reports on our very successful tricentenary celebration week. We were delighted to see so many people and thank all who offered suggestions about what they would like to see happening in 2018. We hope to have a progress report on our future plans in the October newsletter.
Table of contents;
- Pales Celebration week
- Walk on Penybont Common with Derek Turner
- Geology at the Pales with Joe Botting
- Art at the Pales
- Quaker Testimonies Reflected at the Pales with Peter Rivers
- Pales History Day
- The Pales Peace Choir and evening barbecue
Pales Celebration week
After months of planning the Pales week of events to celebrate the Tricentenary took place on the 11th -16th September. Each event was well attended, drawing visitors both from the local area and from the more distant local meetings in the Southern Marches and it seems that everyone found the talks interesting and stimulating. Below are reports on each event, written by various people who attended.
The schoolroom was set out to suit each event and featured new information panels, being produced by Peter Hussey, and a display of some of the possible changes we have been discussing with the architects; we will give a full report on these in the October newsletter.
Once again the Pales showed how the rooms can be adapted to suit different events, as the photos below show.
Walk on Penybont common.
Twenty three hardy souls set out on a cold and wet morning to walk in the footsteps of George Fox, probably. Our morning had started in the Schoolroom with a talk by the walk
leader, Derek Turner, who owns and runs the Thomas Shop in Penybont. He gave us a brief history of Quakers in the vicinity and told us of the various tales of George Fox and his visits to the area. One of these visits brought him to this area to spread the Truth and to talk of the Inner Light and his message was well received; far better than it was in Brecon where he was shouted down. Although there is no evidence that he actually spoke on Penybont Common it is known that he preached in the area and that the common was the most likely place.
Clutching umbrellas and walking poles we set out, up the road from the Pales and then out on to the common. Derek spoke of the poor soil that makes for poor grazing for the sheep but also pointed out that the locals still exercise their rights although the management of the common was a somewhat haphazard affair.
We walked up and down hills, crossing small streams and marshy patches, and on the crest of a small hill we stopped to visualise George, surrounded by enquirers, and wondered if it had rained as much on him as it did on us.
Our walk took us past the remains of platform houses, now just unidentifiable lumps and bumps in the grass, but that were homes to the local population at some point in earlier centuries.
Our final climb took us to a high point on the common from where we could look across to the village of Penybont and see the full extent of the common. Derek explained some of the history of the village which included the fact that Penybont had been the main centre for the area, pre-dating the growth of Llandrindod Wells.
It was then time to return to the Meeting House, wiser and wetter, to eat lunch before the next event.
Chris Robertson – Brecon LM
Geology at the Pales.
The Pales never ceases to amaze but to be told that the car park was of ‘International significance’ marked a high point and helps to explain why it is now designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Joe Botting, a local geologist with close associations with the County, had agreed to give a talk on the geology of the surrounding area. The fact that forty one people turned out to hear his talk is a sign of the esteem in which he is held.
He began his talk by giving us a brief geology lesson, describing the various epochs in geological history and where the Pales fitted in to that scheme – he pointed out that the bedrock where we were was of the Silurian era but that out of the window, across the valley, we could see the Llandegley Rocks that were of the Ordovician era. He explained that the Silurian beds were laid down 420 million years ago and that the Ordovician were 60 million years older. When Joe told us that our current period, the Holocene, covers only 10,000 years, it became apparent how insignificant we were, in Geological terms that is.
Using computer generated graphics he explained tectonic plate movements and showed us where the Pales would have been when the local rocks were laid down, as mud in shallow seas, with sea creatures as the only form of life. It was these creatures that lived and died in these seas that formed the fossils that make the sedimentary rocks, exposed in the quarry where cars are parked for events at the Pales, so important. Fossils found there are among the most significant in the world and assist in the dating of other rocks and fossils, while others found there are unique to this location.
Joe explained the types of fossils we might find and also described the circumstances in which they had been formed. Having fired up our enthusiasm we were then released to go fossil hunting in the quarry and it was not long before we had samples which were proudly presented to Joe for identification. We were soon able to identify Graptolites, bivalves, and sections of the columns of Crinoidea. He asked to retain some for his own collection as they were better examples than those currently held.
We returned to the Meeting House, clutching our fossils like excited schoolchildren, awed by the beauty and mystery of the world that surrounds us.
The Radnorshire Museum in Llandrindod Wells contains a magnificent collection of locally found fossils together with a history of the surrounding area and is well worth a visit.
Chris Robertson – Brecon LM
Tuesday was the second art day to be held at the Pales and attracted both newcomers and those who had been before. Around a dozen artists quickly scattered over the grounds, keen to make the best of the uncertain weather, but there was also the chance to gather indoors in the warmer setting of the schoolroom and to mix work and conversation. There was a fascinating variety of approaches, in materials used, in style of painting and in the range of colours explored to depict the surrounding landscape.
Trying to capture the essence of a place requires a special kind of looking which can be quite strenuous, but is intensely rewarding.
The changing light with intermittent sunshine was particularly challenging, no sooner had one mixed the right tone for a particular area, than one looked up to discover that the moving shadow of a cloud had completely altered the scene. But the setting of the Pales is a deeply inspiring subject with endless possibilities, and there was much enthusiasm for further art days, possibly with some tuition included.
Bridget Cherry – Ludlow LM
Quaker Testimonies Reflected at the Pales
I knew, when I first heard Peter Rivers describing his idea, that I was drawn to attend this day of reflection on the Testimonies. I was intrigued by the idea of how the testimonies we value and try to live out in our lives could also be expressed symbolically through location. 8 Friends gathered to reflect on Simplicity and Sustainability in the Williams Wood, Truth in the view from the campsite, Equality in the Burial Ground, and Peace around the mediation pool.
A beautifully illustrated map of the Pales has been produced by the Pales Management group and copies are available for future Friends and visitors to carry out their own reflective journey on the testimonies around the grounds of this special and unique place. The Pales Management group is working hard to preserve the Pales and enable it to be appreciated by others in the future.
A full report on this event can be read on the Pales website – please click here.
Close to 40 Quakers filled the Pales for the History Day, to hear an excellent programme of speakers, introduced by Bridget Cherry, a member if the Management group. The shutters were open between the Meeting Room and the School Room in order to accommodate everyone. The shutters, remade in modern times following the original design, may date from an earlier time when the schoolroom was a room for Women’s business meetings. As we heard from our first speaker Christine Trevett, it was extremely unusual for women to be allowed to participate in public life of any kind at this time. She led us through the works of satirical artists and writers who portrayed Quaker women in a less than favourable light.
Gethin Evans took us on an historic geographical tour of Quaker activity across Wales. Throughout his talk it was easy to recognise similarities between some of the challenges faced by Quakers in Wales in the past and those of today. It was a delight for local Friends to welcome back their much loved previous wardens of the Pales.
value and beauty of this place. Finally Geraint Hughes, retired vicar of the nearby village of Llandegley, talked about the Diary of Thomas Watkins, which he has published. Watkins was a man who was faithful to both the Pales and the Baptist chapel next to his house. Each day his diary is kept in two parts: firstly a record of farming activities and secondly a prayer.
A full report on this event can be read on the Pales website – please click here
Helen Oldridge – Vibrancy Support
Pales Peace Choir concert.
The final event in our week long celebration was the concert given by the Pales Peace choir on Saturday afternoon. The Peace Choir, led by Susie Ennals, was established when Martin and Lynda Williams were wardens, and so it was happily appropriate that they were there to participate.
The choir meets once a month (3rd Saturdays) and sings four-part songs without accompaniment, which are learned by heart without written music. The songs, originating from all over the world, and sung in a variety of languages, share themes of peace, love and friendship; some are quite short and simple, but the harmonies give them impressive depth. As a new member I was at first very uncertain whether I could cope, but Susie is an inspiring leader and the choir is wonderfully friendly and supportive, with a very special atmosphere ( new members are always welcome). The Saturday concert included 16 songs starting with a joyful Alleluia, and ranging from the Arabic Asalaam Aleykum, peace be with you, (which had been sung, very memorably, at the Pales Refugee respite day in July), to E Malama, a Hawaian earth blessing. High points were the haunting Home, combined with a moving poem written by Carey Glyn-Jones, one the choir members, and the vigorous South Afric
an anthem ‘Nkosi Sikaleli Africa’ . (You can hear the choir sing this anthem – please click here.) Two delightful interludes were provided by Flute and Guitar recordings made by choir member Peter Coleridge. These were available to buy as CDs, the money, together with a collection at the end, going toward funds for refugees.
After the concert there were refreshments, and the opportunity to make use of the newly acquired barbecue set, sheltered by a new marquee, assets which we hope will have plenty of use at future events.
Bridget Cherry – Ludlow LM
As part of the process of renewal at the Pales we have had an environmental survey conducted of the buildings. This has found that long-eared brown bats are roosting in the attic of the cottage. Mouse droppings were also found!
The swallows were gathering on the wires around the Pales and it will not be long before we say goodbye to these travellers until next year.