Costumes worn by Lady Llanover, friends, servants and tenants

This page includes

  • Introduction
  • Lady Llanover, her family, friends, servants, harpers, tenants etc.
  • Descriptions of costumes worn by Lady Llanover, her husband, friends, servants, harper and tenants at Eisteddfodau and other occasions in chronological order, including extracts from the diary of Margaret Davies, one of Lady Llanover’s servants, 1861-1862


It appears that the majority of the gentlewomen of Wales never wore traditional Welsh costume. The evidence suggests that Lady Llanover, perhaps by force of personality more than by example, succeeded in making some of her friends ‘dress up’ in Welsh costume at special occasions such as eisteddfodau, balls and church services but perhaps this occurred only when she was present.  She also made her servants and some of her tenants wear costume supplied by her, at least at special events.  One of the stated reasons for this was to support the Welsh woollen industry and ‘Welshness’ rather than preserve Welsh costumes. The real extent to which Welsh costumes, or costumes made of Welsh fabrics, were worn by her and by people under her influence is unknown. Two visitors to Llanover, John Orlando Parry in 1848 and Rachel Allen, in 1877 (for details, see below) made no reference to Welsh costume being worn by Lady Llanover or her servants during their visit.

There are few descriptions or portraits of Lady Llanover, her family, her friends or her servants and there is some evidence that Welsh costume was worn only on special occasions, and then in fabrics not normally used in local costumes. The evidence that Welsh costumes were worn by her staff after about 1860 is in the form of a few newspaper reports  (Welsh Newspapers on line makes searching for these easy), but the fact that the, by then, elderly retainers were still wearing them at her funeral in 1896 suggests that the costumes were maintained. Newspapers also reported that she occasionally sent her staff, or the Llanover choir to events in Welsh costume, and that she either sponsored, or was credited with influencing, the wearing of Welsh costumes by some choirs. It was not unusual for the press to remark on the wearing of Welsh costume at events such as Eisteddfodau and concerts, and the implication of this is that it was unusual during the later part of the 19th century. There were a few women’s choirs in Wales who wore Welsh costume during at least part of their performances, one of which gained national fame by winning a prize at the World Fair at Chicago in 1893 and were commanded to perform for Queen Victoria the following year. A report of 1894 (below) which mentions this choir noted that ‘Twenty and thirty years ago the tall hat and “betgwn” might have been seen at fairs and chapels. English civilisation, however has now rendered them obsolete, in spite of the efforts of Lady Llanover and other patriotic women to revive them.’

Lady Llanover is reported to have worn Welsh costume, especially on Sundays and during some of the events which she helped organise at Abergavenny eisteddfodau. There are rare reports that she wore Welsh costume at other events, such as when she was presented to Queen Victoria in 1887 (see below).

There are very few portraits of Lady Llanover. There is a photograph of her in Gwent Record Office, Misc mss 1931) which is so similar to a self-portrait watercolour that it is difficult not to believe that it was based on the photograph. However, the watercolour has been dated to 1837 (NLW PA 3982; Joyner, Paul, Artists in Wales, c. 1740-c. 1851, (NLW, 1997), p. 73).  Both  show only her head and shoulders. She is wearing a tall hat with narrow curved brim (an equestrian hat, similar to those worn in the costume prints attributed to her) over a goffered cap; probably a neckerchief, and what appears to be a striped cape with a large collar.  The oil painting by Charles Augustus Mornewicke (a copy is now at Llandovery School), dated 1862, is similar except that she is wearing a Welsh hat and a red cloak with fur trim. There is a poor print of her head and shoulders, dated 1862,  and another of her seated in old age, both of which were published with her obituary in the Western Mail in 1896 and see South Wales Daily News, 20th January, 1896.

Lady Llanover paid 16 shillings for a Welsh hat purchased from Mr Restall of Abergavenny on the 19th September, 1879 (Gwent Archives, D1210.519). He won several prizes for hats at Eisteddfodau (see below).

It has been said that there is no national costume for Welsh men because Benjamin Hall, Lady Llanover’s husband, refused to wear anything resembling Welsh costume. John Guest, husband of Lady Llanover’s friend Lady Charlotte Guest of Merthyr occasionally wore Welsh costume. However, most men in Wales wore what their peers were wearing in England, but sometimes of local fabrics. Other men in Lady Llanover’s circle, who didn’t wear Welsh costumes, included Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg); Thomas Price, (Carnhuanawc) and Taliesin Williams (son of Iolo Morganwg).

Lady Llanover’s daughter, Augusta Charlotte (also known as Miss Hall, Charlotte or Gwenynen Fach, 1824-1912). She married Arthur Jones of Llanarth, whose family adopted the additional surname of Herbert. There is a portrait of a young woman in a checkered gown standing by a harp which is thought to be her. (Cambridge University collection). As Lady Herbert she supported the creation of costumes for Welsh gentry (based on a mythical mediaeval costume) which was worn by the Williams family of Aberclydach, Breconshire.

Lady Llanover’s circle included several outstanding female friends, who were, like Lady Llanover, patrons of Welsh culture, among whom were:

  • Lady Charlotte Guest (1812-1895), translator of the Mabinogion and helped manage the Dowlais iron works at Merthyr Tydfil after her husband’s death. She and her husband were reported to have worn Welsh costume at Abergavenny Eisteddfodau.
  • Maria Jane Williams (1795-1873) and her sister Ann of Aberpergwm near Swansea who dressed their maids in a red, black and white check fabric, woven at Aberpergwm mill, of which only a dress front now survives at the National History Museum, St Fagans. Aberpergwm mill is said to have produced woollen cloth to designs by Lady Llanover.  ‘The morning dress of the women and children at Aberpergwm in the 1870s and 1880s was a Welsh costume made from home-spun wool clipped from their own sheep and dyed in various colours with vegetables dyes’ (Review of  ‘About Aberpergwm. The home of the Williams family in the Vale of Glamorgan’ by Elizabeth F. Belcham (1993), Morgannwg, Vol. 39 1995, pp. 122-3)
  • Jane Williams (1806–1885), ‘Ysgafell, who wrote ‘The Origin, Rise, and Progress of the Paper People; for my Little Friends,’ with eight coloured illustrations by Lady Llanover, (London, 1856). Jane Williams also wrote a number of other outstanding works.
  • E Madocs of Tre-Madoc of whom Lady Llanover painted a portrait in Welsh costume.
  • Angharad Llwyd (1780-1866) of north Wales who won several prizes at Eisteddfodau including one for her substantial essay ‘The History of the Island of Mona’ for the Beaumaris Eisteddfod in 1832.
  • Lady Greenly who wrote the other essay on the Preservation of Welsh Language and Costumes for the Gwent and Dyfed Eisteddfod, 1834

Some of Lady Llanover’s women friends are known to have worn versions of Welsh costumes when they attended Abergavenny Eisteddfodau, especially at the balls.

For example, at the ball at the 1837 Abergavenny Eisteddfod, costumes worn by Lady Llanover, her daughter and friends were described as ‘the costume of Neath … strictly correct Cardigan costume … correct Merthyr costume … Carmarthenshire costume … Pembrokeshire costume … the costume of Gwent … but all were made of satins, the source of which was noted in the report for the costumes worn by The Misses Williams, of Aberpergwm, the style of Cwm Nedd, of 100 years ago, which were ‘made of satins from the looms of the patriotic Messrs. Howell and James‘.

There is evidence that some friends  resisted wearing costumes supplied by her.  In 1853, one of Lady Llanover’s guests, Lady Mary Elizabeth Lucy reported that all the lady guests were furious at  being made to wear woollen costumes supplied by Lady Llanover at the Eisteddfod and refused to wear them again, very much to Lady Llanover’s displeasure. (Lucy, Mary Elizabeth, Mistress of Charlecote, 1803-1889, (1985) pp. 95-96)

Lady Llanover is said to have employed Welsh speaking maids from various parts of Wales. It is possible that the costume prints are of those maids, wearing costumes based on those which they wore at home but which were adapted (by Lady Llanover) to current fashions.

[Lady Llanover] imported a number of mono-glot Welsh-speaking Methodists from north Cardiganshire, and their pastor with them. (Vaughan, Herbert M., The South Wales Squires, 1926, Chapter XII, The Lady of Llanover.)

‘Lady Llanover while talking to an aged retainer, discovered her quite distressed by the fact that the Welsh National Dress was dying out. She immediately resolved that it would never be altered while she was head of the Llanofer Estate. She decreed that all in her employment must wear Welsh dress.’ From an article entitled ‘Gems from the Past’. Welsh Folk Dance Society.

The terminology used in newspaper reports to describe the Welsh costume worn by Lady Llanover’s servants is slightly different to that used elsewhere, and several English language reports include Welsh terms, occasionally with translations. The choice of this terminology was, of course, influenced by the reporter and editor, but there is an indication that they were more particular about their terminology than in other reports of Welsh costume. All these may be found in context below.
gowns: bobtails, kirtle, Welsh bobtail gown, bedgwn-bach, gwn bach [The term bobtail suggests a long-tailed gown with the tail hooked up at the back.]
shawls: scarlet turnover, gwar-leni (turn-overs), scarlet shawls, white woollen shawls, woollen handkerchiefs of black and red Welsh check
hats: black straw Welsh hats, beaver hats, sugarloaf hat, chimney-pot hats, hat sidan
items presented as prizes to children [from English lasnguage newspapers, the words in round brackets were included in the reports]: crysau [shirts], ffedog (apron), peisiau [petticoats], llodrau [breeches], gwasgod [waistcoat], ysgabler (cravat)

Lady Llanover’s harpers were normally men for whom Lady Llanover commissioned a special costume, possibly based on what was thought to be mediaeval dress, made of checks and tartans. He sometimes accompanied his daughter who sang at concerts, wearing a Welsh costume.

Lady Llanover’s tenants
Lady Llanover distributed costumes to the people on her estate: this extract list the items given to 25 of her female tenants in 1879. pages 1-3 (Abergavenny Museum) The list was written in Welsh.
23 women were given crysau (more than one shirt)
6 were given a crys gwlanen (woollen shirt)
18 were given a pais (skirt – the term pais now normally means petticoat or underskirt, but it is likely that this was a skirt).
24 were given a neisiad (handkerchief). Walters dictionary of 1828  specifically attributes the word neisiad  to Glamorganshire.
22 were given a ffedog (apron)
1 was given a ffedog glanen wen (white wool apron)
16 were given a gwn (gown)
3 were given cynfasau (sheets)
1 was given a cwrlid (coverelet)
It is interesting to note that there was no mention of cloaks or hats.

She is said to have given other gifts to her tenants on the Llanover estate, e.g. a silk and glass leek  A similar leek is seen on the Welsh hat worn by Lady Llanover in her portrait by Mornewicke (1862).

A report of the 1835 Eisteddfod notes that several gentlemen wore the order of the leek beautifully executed in glass. (Glamorgan, Monmouthshire and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian 5.12.1835)

Red wool scarf, presented by Lady Llanover to Church Sunday School scholars, 1889

The Llanover mill and check patterns
It is said that Gwenffrwd mill on the Llanover estate produced cloth for Lady Llanover’s staff and tenants and possibly also some of the costumes worn by Lady Llanover and her friends. Several reports of the costumes worn by Lady Llanover’s staff describe it as being checked – a design of which she was particularly fond, and for which she sponsored Eisteddfod prizes. The Gwenffrwd mill certainly produced check fabrics, possibly as a result of Lady Llanover’s influence, but there is little evidence that check patterns were common in Wales on items of clothing other than aprons, except in the Swansea-Neath area.


These are found in letters and newspaper reports of Eisteddfodau (10 Eisteddfodau were held at Abergavenny  in 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1838, 1840, 1842, 1845, 1848, 1853). Lady Llanover occasionally sponsored prizes at other Eisteddedfodau. Maxwell Fraser wrote many articles on the Llanover family for the National Library of Wales Journal, based on archives now in the Library, but she didn’t always quote exact references.

Mrs Hall tells me that Lady Charlotte Guest’s son Ivor had a christening gown made of the Welsh manufactory called the Rodney strip.
Letter from Lady Greenly to Mrs Hastings, 26.10.1835, NLW Maxwell Fraser bequest, CB5,  transcriptions, p. 48

1835 Abergavenny Eisteddfod
Lady Charlotte Guest, Mrs [Augusta] Hall, Mrs Scudamore, Miss Morgan of Pantygoitre and other ladies, habited in the Welsh Costume, made, as we are informed, of Welsh manufacture; several gentlemen wore the order of the leek beautifully executed in glass.
Glamorgan, Monmouthshire and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian 5.12.1835

1836 Abergavenny Eisteddfod
All the ladies of the Llanover party, with the exception of Mrs Waddington, dressed themselves in Welsh costumes, including a round block [sic] beaver hat and mob cap, and set out for Abergavenny.
Maxwell Fraser, Lord and Lady Hall, 1831-1836, National Library of Wales Journal, (1964), p. 219

Second day
A large number of ladies and gentlemen entered the Hall, the former were tastefully attired in the different varieties of Welsh plaid wearing, for the most part the round beaver hat, so characteristic of the natives of Cambria
Monmouthshire Merlin, 3 December 1836

1837, Abergavenny Eisteddfod
‘Mrs Hanbury Leigh wore a costume the material of which was of Welsh manufacture, but she had had her gown made up by a London artist, and he had embroidered the edge with oak leaves and acorns, to which she had added her jewels … Many of the younger people were ‘very correctly dressed from Mrs Hall’s “Book of Welsh Costumes”, and looked extremely well’. Augusta Charlotte Hall, then thirteen years of age, ‘looked very nicely in a checked jacket and petticoat of silk in imitation of Welsh colours, with an apron to match’, and Augusta herself was, of course, in Welsh costume, with a superb diamond leek in her black silk hat.’
Letter from Lady Greenly quoted by Fraser, Maxwell, ‘Benjamin Hall, M.P. for Marylebone, 1837-1839 (National Library of Wales Journal, 1964), p. 316. [Lady Greenly was probably Lady Elizabeth Coffin Greenly (wife of Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin). She was a great friend of Lady Llanover’s mother and Lady Llanover’s God-mother.]

[At the ball following the Eisteddfod] Most of the company were in fancy dress. Mr John and Lady Charlotte Guest first appeared in Wales costume. Lady Charlotte then changed this garb for a superb crimson velvet …
(Maxwell Fraser, ‘Benjamin Hall, M.P. for Marylebone, 1837-1839 (National Library of Wales Journal, 1964), p. 315, quoting a letter from Lady Greenly to her cousin Mrs Hastings Oct 23rd 1837.

Charlotte Guest recorded that she attended the Llanover house-warming party in 1837 in fancy dress ‘exactly similar to what the peasants wear about Merthyr except that the material, instead of woollen was satin wove to the proper pattern on purpose, the hat was black velvet instead of beaver and that the whole had a sprinkling of gold over it to give candlelight effect’.
Charlotte Guest’s journal, quoted in Revel Guest and A.V. John, Lady Charlotte, A Biography of the 19th Century (1989), p. 103

… In the hall, two handmaids, attired in the manufacture of the country, attended to dispose of the ladies’ cloaks. An anti-room was then passed into the great library, … across the end of which a refreshment table was supplied with ices, lemonades, &c. &c., handed out by female attendants in the full costume and manufacture of their country. (The effect of this table, by Cambrian nymphs, was particularly admired.) …
Among the numerous admirable dresses which appeared on this occasion, we think it right to specify first those in Welsh costume:—

  • Mrs Hanbury Leigh, in the real manufacture of Neath, adorned with gold, and resplendent with diamonds.
  • Mrs Scudamore, of Kentchurch, in a strictly correct Cardiganshire costume, composed of rich satin, in the native stripes, woven on purpose; her hat adorned with diamonds most becomingly attired.
  • The Lady Charlotte Guest was most exceedingly admired, in a correct Merthyr costume, composed also of rich satin, being a perfect facsimile of the patterns of Welsh manufacture.
  • Her Ladyship [Lady Llanover] afterwards appeared as Mary Queen of Scots, and in this magnificently attired : if a preference could be given, it was to her native dress.
  • Mr Guest, M.P., was admirable as a mountain farmer, in native costume.
  • Mrs Berrington (the sister of the host) was an object of great attraction, in the full Carmarthenshire costume, in satin.
  • Lady C. Greenly, a Gwentian costume.
  • Miss Jones, of Llanarth, as a Carmarthenshire peasant, was much admired.
  • Miss Tudor (the fair victor [presumably of a harp playing competition]), wearing the gold harp of Tredegar, was also very much admired.
  • Miss Angharad Llwyd (the celebrated Bardess of North Wales) appeared in the green and white colours of her country, and in full costume. The appearance of this talented and distinguished Cambrian lady at the Cymreigyddion y Fenni was considered one of the highest honours it could receive.
  • The Misses Williams, of Aberpergwm, were so beautifully and correctly attired in the costume of Cwm Nedd, of 100 years ago (in satins from the looms of the patriotic Messrs. Howell and James), that it is difficult to do justice to the picturesque and elegant effect of their attire, or, we may add, its richness.
  • Lady Rodney was habited in the well known and admired Welsh Rodney stripe, in satin.
  • Miss Hall, of Llanover (Gwenynen Fach), appeared in the Pembrokeshire costume, in brown satins, which was considered particularly becoming.
  • Mrs Hall, of Llanover (Gwenynen Gwent), was in the costume of Gwent, executed in satins in her hat she wore a diamond leek, surrounded by the Rose, Thistle, and Shamrock, in diamonds, and a velvet band round her throat was confined by a diamond clasp, with the cypher G. G., and the prize ring suspended, won on a former occasion.
  • Among the fancy costumes, we noticed the Hon. Mrs Stretton, as particularly elegant, and the Hon. Mrs Angerstein also, Mr B. Powell, as an Albanian; Mr Little and his party, as Persians; Miss Vivian, as a French peasant; the Hon. Miss Devereux, as a Swiss Mr Hobhouse, as a Turk Miss Wilkins, of Maesdeenen, as a Sultana Mr Wilkins, Charles the Second, &c. &c.

Monmouthshire Merlin   28.10.1837

THE BALL AT LLANOVER. … The company were directed, in their mazey course, by domestics, to a vestibule, where they were instructed to proceed to a cloak room, thence into a splendid apartment where there were refreshments served by Welsh girls, dressed up tastefully in the chaste native costume, – their tongues pronouncing only their vernacular language, the sole one that now remains of the many that were spoken in the day of the energetic Welsh. …
The lady of the mansion, however elegant other objects may have been, was the great attraction of the scene, and in her tastefully correct Cambrian costume she received her company with that very fascinating manner which peculiarly appertains to her. … There was a sylph that told of her parentage, the charming daughter of the house, whose dress bespoke her Cambrian heart. Amidst the gorgeous appearance of Oriental costumes – Greeks, Albanians, Russians, Poles, &c, most correctly and magnificently, the eye singled out the following ladies in Welsh costumes which carried the mind back to the days of Arthur a his round table, to Morgan Mwynfawr, and to lestyn, whose descendants so highly honoured the Abergavenny Eisteddfod: – Mrs Leigh, Ponty-pool Park; Lady Greenly (Awen Llwydlas); Lady Charlotte Guest; Miss Williams of Aberpergwm; Miss Jane Williams, (Llinos,) whom a high musical authority calls the Syren of the South; Mrs Berrington; Mrs Scudamore; Anghared Llwyd. The supper, at one, was costly and rare, and the dance was kept up with high spirit until the sun revisited in congenial splendour, the bright assemblage.
The Glamorgan Monmouth and Brecon Gazette and Merthyr Guardian, 21st October 1837

May 21st This evening I went to the Cambrian Ball in my regular Welsh Peasant’s dress which I had worn at Abergavenny. Such a thing I believe had never been seen before in London and it caused quite a sensation.
Earl of Bessborough, (ed.), Lady Charlotte Guest, Extracts from her Journal 1833-1852, (London, 1950), p. 69
CAMBRIAN BALL. In aid of the funds of the Welsh Charity School, in London, a Ball was held at Almacks on Monday se’nnight. Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Gloucester, Prince George, and all the elite of fashion were present. Dancing commenced at eleven o’clock, and was continued with great spirit until four. The Duchess of Northumberland, one of the most active of the Lady Patronesses, had a party of sixteen young ladies in her suite, who danced a set of Quadrilles arranged for the occasion to the most popular Welsh air. The display of taste and magnificence in the costumes has not been equalled at any fancy ball this season. Lady Charlotte Guest, and Mrs. Hall, of Llanover, appeared in real Cambrian Costumes, composed of satins manufactured on purpose for the occasion, with leeks of diamonds and enamel.
The Cambrian 2nd June 1838

1838 Abergavenny Eisteddfod
Wednesday: There was a procession which included:

  • horses, whose postilions were dressed in jackets and caps of Welsh plaid;
  • two bards dressed in druidical costume
  • a party of workmen who carried an immense leek, and wore small harps

Cambrian (newspaper), 20.10.1838; NLW MS 13962E, 98a (poster advertising the competitions).

 ‘Fancy Ball’
On Thursday Night a grand Ball took place at the Angel Hotel, Abergavenny.

  • Lady Rodney. – A fancy dress of Welsh satin, looped with diamonds.
  • Lady Hall.- The costume of Gwent, composed entirely of satins, to imitate the Welsh woollens ; Welsh hat of black satin, with diamond leek; blonde mob cap; and black velvet round the throat, with the clasp of G.G. in diamonds. Apron to suit of silk.
  • Mrs Berrington.- Ditto in Welsh satin, in complete Cardiganshire costume and black satin hat.
  • Miss Hall, of Llanover.- Ditto in the Pembrokeshire costume
  • Mrs Mountjoy Martin – in the costume of Gwent and Morganwg, in satins, Beaver hat.
  • Miss Jones, of Llanarth.- Old woman’s costume of Gwent and Morganwg. Flat hat of silk.
  • Mademoiselle C. de Saumaurez.- Ditto
  • Miss Williams of Aberpergwm.- Gwent and Morganwg, in satins. Beaver hat
  • Miss Jane Williams.- ditto

The whole of the above were exact costumes of Wales – woven in satins, checked and striped, on purpose – and with the substitution of blonde for muslin caps.
The Compte de la Villemarque, in a costume worn by the inhabitants of Maubion, a district of Britanny; … Mr Curre.- Albanian Chief, finely dressed … ; Octavius Morgan  a magnificent eastern dress; Miss De Saumaurez, beautifully dressed as the duchess of Brittany.
Monmouthshire Merlin, 20.10.1838

1840 Abergavenny Eisteddfod (Wednesday and Thursday 7th and 8th October)
The platform was entirely occupied by ladies, many of whom were attired in full Welsh costume.
There was a fancy dress ball at the Angel at which many were in fancy costume including Lady Hall in a very becoming Welsh costume; , Miss Jane Crawford, a Welsh peasant; Miss Shirley, Welsh costume; Miss Hall, of Llanover, a particularly neat Welsh dress;
Cambrian (newspaper), 17.10.1840, 31.10.1840; The Welshman, 9.10.1840; Monmouthshire Merlin, 10.10.1840

1842 Abergavenny Eisteddfod
The Cymreigyddion Welsh Costume and Fancy Ball is expected to be very brilliant, and many ladies have ordered satins from London in the national patterns, fabricated to order in Spitalfields. In the morning the fair sex are expected chiefly to wear the national costume in home manufacture (according to the desire expressed by the society), as well as to testify their interest in or connection with, the Principality, and thereby considerably enhance the beauty of the scene.
Cambrian, 24.9.1842

E Madocs of Tre-Madoc was a Welsh friend of Lady Llanover who painted portrait of her in Welsh costume in 1842 or 1843.
(Portrait of E Madocs of Tre-Madoc (later Mrs Marmaduke Gwyn) signed by Augusta Hall, 1842 or 1843 in an album owned by Angharad Llwyd of Tyn-y-rhyl, Rhyl, Flintshire, which contains other watercolours by Augusta Hall. NLW MS781A)
The gown is unlike any others illustrated or surviving in that it is of plain fabric, is tailored at the waist, is done up to the neck and almost covers the front below the waist. She is wearing a plain red skirt, a fine check apron (bunched up to expose the front of the gown), and black mittens. A white cotton cap with goffered lappets is worn under the hat, which is conical (unlike others generally found in north Wales which are straight sided) and has a slightly curved rim and a leek attached to it (like the hat in Lady Llanover’s portrait by Mornewicke).

1845 Abergavenny Eisteddfod (12th anniversary)
[The procession to the hall included a miniature printing press] worked by two lads dressed in Welsh woollen clothes [and a loom]. … It seemed as though the surrounding country had sent its entire population to the Eisteddfod, while the Welsh costume gave an interesting feature of singularity to the crowded picture. Chorus Singers (two women in Welsh hats and a man)
Cambrian (newspaper), 19.9.1845 (announcement); 26.9.1845 (re hall); 3.10.1845; 24.10.1845 (prizes)

  • Interior of the Cymreigyddion Hall, Abergavenny
  • Print of Harpers (woman in Welsh hat playing a harp, a man playing a harp and a man standing)
  • Print of the public watching the Eisteddfod procession outside the Angel hotel, Abergavenny, 1845

Illustrated London News, 25.10.1845, pp. 264-266

1845 Abergavenny Eisteddfod
When the waves of the rushing crowd had somewhat stilled, and people had an opportunity of calmly looking around them, the coup d’oeil was singularly striking; several ladies, the loveliest, perhaps, that ever charmed a meeting by their radiant beauty, attired in Welsh costume, beamed upon the assemblage … On the left side of the gallery, from the front entrance, a row of harpers – male and female – attired in Welsh costume …
Monmouthshire Merlin, 18.10.1845

Wedding of Daughter of Lady Llanover to J Arthur Jones, on the 12 inst. The path through the churchyard was lined with young females in the Welsh costume.
The Bristol Mercury, November 21, 1846; Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette, 21.11.1846

On the following evening Sir B and Lady Hall gave a tea-party [at Llanover] to between 100 and 200 persons including the wives and daughters of their tenants. …  One of the most striking and picturesque features in this assembly was the numbers who appeared in the Welsh costume. Many hundreds of yards of the beautiful woollen known by the name of the Gwenffrwd Check, and so much worn in the parish of Llanover, were ordered by Sir B. Hall of all the principal weavers in the vicinity, and distributed for gowns, with complete suits, consisting of hats, petticoats, aprons, and handkerchiefs, to nearly 100 females in the parish of Llanover;
Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette, 28.11.1846
Hereford Times, 28 November 1846
[Gwenffrwd was the woollen mill on the Llanover estate.]

1848  Abergavenny Eisteddfod (15th anniversary) 11th & 12th of October 1848
The procession on the first day included a Welsh woollen loom in active operation. ‘The leek (formed of satin, pearls and silver,) was conspicuously placed in the dress of all ladies and gentlemen ; the former attired in the Welsh hat and costume. The postillions also wore leeks, and were dressed in Welsh jackets, etc. The Princess Calimaki … also paid the complement of wearing the Welsh hat and cap.
A very beautiful and ornamental arch … [a] representation of a Welsh girl was shown in the act of knitting stockings.
[speech of Col Keymes Tynte, MP: … [Sir Benjamin Hall unable to attend] But we have one consolation left to us ; we have present amongst us in this Hall, Gwenynen Gwent. (The name of this lady was received with the most marked enthusiasm.) And she is (I need not tell you) more than a host in herself. (Renewed cheering.) We have … Chevalier Bunsen (the gallant Col. Was stopped by a burst of applause which did not cease for some time.) …
… allow me to express my gratification at seeing so numerous an assemblage before me – in meeting here the men of Gwent and Morganwg, as well as many of our countrymen of North Wales ; … Many of the ladies, both English and foreign, who have honoured us with their presence, have adopted the native costume of Wales ; and here I would remark that, if all others knew how extremely becoming that costume is, and how enchanting they would appear in it, I believe that the dowdy and unbecoming bonnet would be discarded for ever and the Welsh hat be henceforth adopted in its place. (Great applause and laughter). ….
[At the dinner on the first day] The Chairman rose and proposed “The better health of Benjamin Hall” … To this toast he would add the ever to be honoured name of Gwenynen Gwent, who had been most indefatigable as well as on all former occasions as upon this, in her exertions for the success of the Eisteddfod. … His Excellency Chevalier Bunsen : Gwenynen Gwent wants no representation here. (Hear Hear.) She is known to all and enthroned in the hearts of all here present. (Great Cheering.) Her untiring love of her country has ever been proved by here deeds. (Renewed cheering.)
Fifteenth eisteddfod of the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion by Cymreigyddion y Fenni, 1848, Extracted from the Hereford Times of Saturday October 21, 1848. (Printed at the [Hereford] Times Office, Hereford.) [16 A4 pages of small type reporting the speeches and adjudication of prizes in detail. It was not the 15th eisteddfod, but the 9th, held on the 15th anniversary of the first.]

Sketch of a group of people on a stage at Llanover, practicing for the Abergavenny Eisteddfod 1848, by John Orlando Parry, 16.9.1848. It shows three women, one of whom wore a straight-sided Welsh hat, and 6 men including Griffiths the harper.]
Lord, Peter, Y Chwaer-Dduwies, Celf, Creffta’r Eisteddfod (1992), p. 13

The musician John Orlando Parry (1810-1879) stayed at Llanover for nine days in September, 1848. He didn’t once mention Welsh costume worn by Lady Llanover or the servants.
Journal of a concert tour through North Wales. 1848, NLW mss. 17728A

1853 Abergavenny Eisteddfod, 12th &13th of October
The Cymreigyddion Ball to be held on the 19th October the theme being Welsh costume or fancy dress. The Llanover ball will be full-dress only.
North Wales Chronicle October 8, 1853

W Basil Jones had a letter published in Archaeologia Cambrensis requesting information on the use of Welsh and English in Wales. To this he appended: ‘A year or two since, in passing through the village of Llanover, I was much interested to find that the ancient use of the Welsh hat, although unknown for many miles around, was invariably preserved among the women. I cite this as an illustration of my meaning when I speak of the possible isolation of the Welsh language in particular districts.’ The editor of Archaeologia Cambrensis added his own note: ‘There may be causes for the existence of the Welsh hat at Llanover not suspected by our correspondent. At the present time, the use of the high-peaked hat, and indeed of hats generally, is fast becoming obsolete in the six north counties of Wales and in some districts the head-gear of the women differs in nothing from that used in England.’ (Archaeologia Cambrensis, 1855, p. 143-4) [It seems likely that the late survival of the Welsh hat in the Llanover area was due to Lady Llanover’s influence.]

1st January, 1859
‘In the afternoon, Lady Hall went to the Welsh service ‘in a strict Welsh dress, pointed hat with feather and close frilled cap under it, scarlet mantle, fur-bordered, and shortish skirt.’
[from Horace Waddington’s diary, quoted in Twiston Davies, L., and Avery, Edwards, Women of Wales, (1935), p. 226. Horace Waddington was a cousin of Lady Llanover: he died in 1930 aged 96]

1859 Llanover
{Meeting on the estate of Lord Llanover where he was congratulated by his tenantry and gave them a temperance banquet.} ‘But a more interesting feature of the ceremony was the appearance of the excellent Lady Llanover who was attired in Welsh costume, red cloak, hat, lindsey wolsley [sic] and we know not what else of principality manufacture and who made a capital speech and contrasted this well wearing stuff with the flimsy wears of Manchester. We respectively hope to see her ladyship … introduce the costume into her opera box.’ {Better that the Welsh abandon this sentimental interest in provincial garb, language and music.}
The Era (London, England), October 9, 1859

[speech by Lady Llanover] Lastly, had the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion never existed, I might this day have been reduced to wear a petticoat of that “rheumatic calico” which our well-remembered and lamented countryman (Carnbuanawc) used to exhort his countrywomen never to adopt. Whereas I appear before you clad in the produce of the Welsh mountain looms and in the national costume of Wales which, I happy to say, is not likely to be extinct at Llanover ! and thanks to Abergavenny (pointing to her head) I am still able to get a Welsh hat ! the hatter, I believe, is amongst you. £12 have been given at your Eistedfoddau, in prizes for hats ! My scarlet cloak came from your town, and this very identical cloak I wore at the last Abergavenny Eisteddfod, in 1853, which proves it as durable as it is brilliant (laughter), whilst around me you now see my daughter, and also my little grandchildren of Llanarth, and many others, clothed in the well-known Gwenffrwd check, made by the weaver of this parish (Harri Ddu) who now forms one of the deputation, whose good mother as well as himself received many a prize in Abergavenny (upwards of £140 having been given at Abergavenny in prizes for Welsh mountain woollens), and he still supplies your market with the real unadulterated Bwmbas y Gwlan of Gwent and Morganwg, which is even sent to France. To sum up, I can say, in all truth and sincerity, there is not a town in Wales which has so much right to say our Welsh literature ” “our Welsh music,” “our Welsh woollens,” for in no other town in Wales has so much been contributed to keep up and encourage Welsh literature, music, and manufactories. Health and prosperity to Abergavenny, and may Llanover and Abercarn long remain united in the feelings which they manifest this day.
Hereford Times – Saturday 8 October 1859

Margaret Davies’ diaries

Extracts which mention costume from the diary of Margaret Davies, servant to Lady Llanover at Llanover 1861-1862.
f. 3v, 19th September 1861

Almost the only firm evidence that costumes were worn at Llanover Hall comes from the diary of Margaret Davies, one of the servants there between 1861 and 1863. The entries in the diary show that Welsh costume was worn by some of the staff on special occasions. The fact that the servants had to show themselves to her Ladyship on some occasions, and that they were mentioned on most significant events (Sundays, an Eisteddfod, dancing, and when the poor who were given costumes at Christmas), and that they were not mentioned on other occasions such as St David’s day in 1862 (though possibly this was because Lady Llanover was ill and she was unable to supervise the wearing of costume) or on Christmas days suggests that they were not worn by all of the staff all the time. Only her first entry, on arrival there, suggests that it was worn more casually.

Her reference to very tall hats confirms that Margaret Davies, who was from Holywell in north Wales, was unfamiliar with the style of hat which was not very common in the north – where Welsh hats were generally shorter and squarer. Also, her use of the term ‘rustic’ to describe the Welsh costume worn at a dance in February, 1862, suggests that she thought of it as old fashioned. Her suspicions that the poor who came for a gift of cloths at Christmas hadn’t worn their costumes since the last distribution of clothes suggests that they were not popular (or perhaps were just reserved for special occasions).

These are some of the very few descriptions of Welsh costume known to have been written by a Welsh woman. The diary, like much of that written by Welsh people at the time, was in English.

{Arrived at Llanover} I was very much animated to see two women who were brushing? the walks dressed in hats and bobtails and stuff aprons etc etc.
f. 4v, Jane, the still room maid prepared [tea] for us, she was dressed in Welsh costume and as I afterwards saw, all the other servants were the same.
f. 5v, Elizabeth Emanuel [see f. 10 – she lived at Y Hen Persondy ?] was dressed in a fancy dress and a black shawl pinned over her chest, a black apron and a net cap with pink strings.
f. 9v, 20th September 1861 (Friday)
‘… about tea time Lady Llanover sent for me … She spoke to me very kind, but still with a strong determination not to deviate from any of her accustomed rules … Her dress was rather peculiar on the whole. She had on a stuff skirt tucked up all around, a black velvet jacket, a puce bow attached to her collar, no cap as I had anticipated, black silk stockings and little shoes with ribbon bows’.
f. 11, 22nd September 1861 (Sunday)
{to Welsh service at 3 pm). All the servants belonging to the Hall wore their high hats and a few besides. Her Ladyship also wore one (and always does on Sundays).
f. 15, 29th November, 1861
{during the presentation of charitable presents to tenants} her Ladyship … was very particular in noticing that each was dressed in the Welsh style.
f. 21v, 19th December, 1861
We were very busy all day making up the clothes for the poor here again
f. 21v, 20th December, 1861
We distributed the clothing to above a 100 of the surrounding poor. Some few of them came in their Welsh dress evidently they had not worn it since the last time they came for their clothing. There was one enormous high hat it actually haunted me for days. I was fancying it like some great chimney falling on me for it looked so rickety on the woman’s head.
f. 25, Christmas Day {Went to church early, prepared dinner for about 200 of his Lordships tenants and workmen.
f. 25v Elizth Manuel came up about 12 o’clock dressed for the occasion to help me to do the same and very smart we looked in our new flannel gowns that her ladyship gave us (and indeed had given to all in the house) {meal served in two sessions, no intoxicating drinks, then} ‘speeching, choir singing, and repeating poetry went on. There was no dancing allowed because of the Prince Consort’s death on the 14th ? Inst.
f. 29v, 13th February 1862
{much company came}Welsh reels and Welsh jigs were danced in the front hall. Mrs Davies, Mrs Lewis and Lemmy? – Gwenllian Parker, Janet and Gethin Parker, Little Anne, Margaret James and Richard composed the sets. They were all dressed in full Welsh costume all looked very rustic.
f. 30 14th February, 1862 Hunt Ball. Mention of costume but no detail (not Welsh?)
f. 33 Mary Ann Davies [another servant] wore a cap with blue ribbons and a small black shawl over her shoulders.
f. 36, St David’s Day [1st March, 1862]
We all wore leeks and had a regular “Welsh dinner” it was also the usual day for the school children to come up to be examined but her Ladyship was not well enough [no mention of Welsh costume: perhaps if Lady Llanover was feeling better, they would have been made to wear Welsh Costume].
f. 50, 14th May, 1862 (on journey home from a trip to Tenby ) when we came to Narberth there was a very large fair, we could scarcely drive through, all the women were dressed in the real Pembrokeshire dress, jacket and petticoats alike and very tall hats.
f. 53, 19th May, 1862
What a great day to be, about 20 of us went to an eisteddfod, we were all dressed in the Welsh costume. Elizth [Elizabeth Emanual?] and I had red cloaks. We all went to Lady Llanover’s bedroom after we were dressed and she was very pleased with us. {The eisteddfod was near Bryn Mawr}
Diary of Margaret Davies, later Margaret Mostyn Jones, servant to Lady Llanover at Llanover. She came from Mostyn, near Holywell, Clwyd. (NLW MS 23511A).  Extracts were published in an article ‘Lady Below Stairs’ by David Thomas. ‘Country Quest’ July 1967.

To add to the charms and variety of this Eisteddfod, Lady Llanover sent up nineteen people from Llanover all attired in genuine Welsh costume, with high hats and stout Welsh flannel dresses.
Merthyr Telegraph, and General Advertiser For the Iron Districts of South Wales. 24.5.1862

On Thursday, 28th ult., Lord and Lady Llanover opened their gardens and grounds to the principal tradesmen of Abergavenny with whom they deal. … Gruffydd [Lady Llanover’s harper], in full costume, was seated with his triple harp, and was soon joined by the Llanover Welsh choir, who approached two and two in procession—the women, in Welsh costume with black beaver hats and mob caps, each person having a bough of oak in their hand. The Welsh song entitled Yr Hen Dderwen Llanover” (the old Oak of Llanover), composed by the celebrated Mr J. Parry, with Welsh words, was then sung delightfully—the choir walking round the oak as they chanted, and the wind wafting the sweet sounds over the water through wood and grove.
Monmouthshire Merlin 7.10.1865

1865 (31.7.1865-1.8.1865)    
Prince Arthur visited Newport, Milford, Pembroke and Tenby where he unveiled the Welsh Memorial to his father. Ann Jones, dressed in the national costume sung to the harp played by Gruffydd, harper to Lord Llanover. At the banquet Gruffydd, dressed in ‘the national costume of a Welsh harper of the 14th century, played the triple harp.’
Cambrian Journal, (1865), pp. 149-165

1870 London
An interesting Welsh musical entertainment has been given by Lady Llanover at her London residence, in the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, the Grand Duke and Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the Princess Mary Adelaide, and the Prince of Teck, to shew the value and powers of the triple-stringed harp … Some of the Welsh compositions collected by Miss Jane Williams were sung by Miss Edmunds (who was dressed in Welsh costume)
Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard, 30.7.1870 (and other newspapers)

The performance of Gruffydd, Harper Extraordinary to the Prince of Wales, was greeted enthusiastically by the representatives of the Principality. Gruffydd was accompanied by his daughter (dressed in Welsh costume) and by a Welsh pupil.
Cambrian  8.3.1872

Marriage of Mr Monteith and Miss Florence Herbert at Llanarth
One of the attractive features on the departure from the chapel was the appearance in double line of the female retainers of Llanover, who were all in full Welsh costume, both in form and material – Welsh hats and caps and scarlet shawls, each hat being adorned with a silver and green leek.
Cambrian  30.10.1874, Glasgow Herald, 17.10.1874

Announcement of a marriage (in Welsh), Edward E Peters, teacher and Miss E Morgan, Llanover house at the independent chapel, Llanover. Y oedd y merched yn y Welsh costume [sic] ar gais yr Arglwyddes [Lady Llanover]. [The girls were in the Welsh costume at the request of Lady Llanover]
Baner ac Amserau Cymru (Denbigh, Wales), December 6, 1876; Y Goleuad (Caernarvon, Wales); December 16, 1876

Miss Gruffydd [sic] played a harp duet with her father, Mr T Gruffydd of Llanover.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, July 15, 1876

[Brief description of Lady Llanover in a letter from Hare, dated at Llanover, 18.3.1877, where he stayed while preparing a biography of Baron Bunsen, Lady Llanover’s brother-in-law.]
Her great idea is Wales – that she lives in Wales (which many doubt), and that the people must be kept Welsh, and she has Welsh schools, Welsh services, a Welsh harper, always talks Welsh to her servants, and wears a Welsh costume at church.
[Hare’s Journal, 6.4.1877 looking back on his stay at Llanover]
… Lady Llanover on Sundays is even more Welsh than on week-days. She wears a regular man’s tall hat and short petticoats like her people, and very becoming the dress is to her, and very touching the earnestness of the whole congregation in their national costume…
Hare, Augustus John Cuthbert, The Story of My Life, vol. 5, (1900), pp. 3-6.
[He said that she wore Welsh costume at church but she also attended the local Methodist chapel: It is not known whether she wore Welsh costume there – most of her friends would have been Anglicans.]

Lady Llanover took us … over the kitchens… all the maids wear regular caps tied under the chin which looks very nice [This is the only reference to costumes in a long account of a visit to Llanover.]
Allen, Rachel, [a visit to Llanover] Pembrokeshire RO, MS HDX/132/2.

On Monday Sep 27th all of Llanover was in motion for the Prince’s [Grand Duke of Baden] departure, more scarlet cloth than ever all over the place, the Welsh harpers harping at the door, the Welsh housemaids in high hats and bright scarlet and blue petticoats waiting with bouquets in the park.
Hare, Augustus, Memorials of a Quiet Life,
Quoted in: Herbert Millingchamp Vaughan, The South Wales Squires‎, (1926), p. 134

PRESENTATION TO LADY LLANOVER. Concert suggested by the Venerable Lady Llanover … The choir was composed of six ladies and seven gentlemen and the former wore the Welsh costume in which they looked neat and picturesque. … Mrs Barton sang in native costume with a tall bonnet with a leek.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 11, 1883
{The 13 harps on stage} On each side of [Lady Llanover’s blind harper Gruffydd] were six performers, the four ladies being attired in the full flower of the Welsh costume of Gwent and Morganwg, which is one blaze of gay and cheerful colour.
Cambrian  2.11.1883

The female harpers were attired in true National costume
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Friday, October 26, 1883

A little before 7.30 twenty Welsh maidens, bare headed, and each wearing a Welsh flannel dress, came on the platform from a side door. The morwynion Morganwg sat on chairs ranged in a long string from one end of the platform to the other. They presented a bewitching appearance, and, I doubt not, many swains present that evening lost their hearts. All present seemed to regard the charming costume with interest, and when Colonel Ivor Herbert in the course of his address alluded to its highly-becoming character the audience emphatically endorsed the sentiment by loudly applauding it. Immediately after the maidens a number of the domestics of Llanover and Abercarn, under the guidance of Mrs Evans, Llanover, entered from the back of the hall. Each wore a similar dress to the above described, but wore in addition a scarlet shawl and, a hat sidan, being the tall silk hat with broad brim at one time very popular among the morwynion of West Wales. By the way, the name morwyn is now employed in reference to a female domestic servant. But it is a compound of mor (sea) and wyn, or wen (gwen), and means sacred. … Two of the harpers were young Welsh ladies of most modest bearing. They were Mrs Richard (daughter of Gruffydd Llanover ) and Morfudd Glan Wysg, whom Lady Llanover delights in designating Marced Vach. Each wore the Bedgwn-bach, a scarlet turnover, and a silk hat, with a leek made of green ribbon and silver on the front of her hat.
Weekly Mail 3.10.1885

13.9.1886 THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, Caernarfon
Welsh triple harp competition, promoted by Lady Llanover. Her ladyship’s band of harpers  and Dr Parry’s choir were present in Welsh costume, their expenses being bourn by Gwenynen Gwent.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales),  September 13, 1886

Where these [Welsh] hats have disappeared to nobody knows. They are nearly as extinct as the great plesiosaurus. Occasional specimens may still be found at Llanover or at Swansea Market on a Saturday.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 30, 1887

At the “W.J.O.” function the venerable Lady Llanover, in characteristic Welsh costume, was warmly greeted by the Queen, and possibly congratulated on the originality of her Jubilee illuminations.
Weekly Mail, 23.7.1887

Mr David Bowen, the conductor of the Abercarn United Choir (which choir was successful in carrying away the two chief prizes of £100 and £20 respectively, with two gold medals, at the Abergavenny Eisteddfod on Easter Monday), has decided upon introducing a novelty in connection with this choir when attending the National Eisteddfod of Wales, to be held in London in August next. The whole of the choir, numbering 250, will appear in Welsh costume. Whilst still maintaining that Monmouthshire is a part of Wales, it has been decided to adopt this course out of respect to the lady of the manor, the Right Hon. Lady Llanover, who has always shown such deep interest in the welfare of the Welsh people, more especially those who reside in this part of Monmouthshire. As a large sum of money will be necessary to provide funds for procuring the costumes and defraying the costs of conveying the choir to London, it has been arranged to open a subscription list, and, in addition to this, arrangements are being made to give grand evening concerts (during the week preceding the Eisteddfod) at Blaina, Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Newport, Cardiff, and Bristol.
Weekly Mail, 30.4.1887; Cardiff Times, 30.4.1887

On Wednesday, the 21st inst., the above solemn religious duty was performed by the Welsh Bishop of the Welsh Diocese of Llandaff in the old Church of Llanover. The females walked first, all draped alike in plain gowns and petticoats without any trimming, white woollen shawls over woollen handkerchiefs of black and red Welsh check, neat white mob caps tied under the chin, and black straw Welsh hats until they entered the Church (when the hats were taken off), plain sleeves below the elbow, white gloves, and white aprons completed their costume, and they entirely filled the chancel. Lady Llanover was present in Welsh costume.
Cambrian, 30.11.1888

On Tuesday, the 12th instant, a Welsh Confirmation by the Bishop of Llandaff, took place for the first time at Pont Newydd (Newbridge), in the new iron church, erected by the Right Honourable Lady Llanover, for the benefit of the Welsh people. … The number present to be confirmed was 54, who were all in the places assigned to them on the left side of the aisle. Their appearance was both national and picturesque, all the females being in the Welsh costume, which was once the universal attire throughout Gwent and Morganwg. Welsh mob caps, and the neat gwn bach, with coloured petticoat, the shawls and aprons being white, instead of in the coloured Welsh checks, as more appropriate to the special occasion. The male candidates were all dressed in coats of the respectable Welsh farmer cut, with blue neck ties.
Cambrian, 22.11.1889

Lady Llanover is consistent in her enthusiasm for the maintenance of the Welsh language, Welsh costume, and Welsh customs.
Cambrian, 22.5.1891

1893 THE ROYAL WEDDING. Duke of York. Princess May’s Trusseau … A Purely Welsh costume
{Description of many of the costumes} … Gallant Little Wales has a dress all to itself … This is a gift from Lady Llanover … specially woven for her in England by the Misses Frith. The design consists of little alternate white and green squares thickly interwoven with gold and silver tissue and is an exact reproduction of the Cwlwm Cariad Cywi original Royal design used by the Prince of Wales for their robes in those days when they held courts of their own and has more recently appeared in the humbler guise of flannels manufactured in Wales.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 8, 1893

The English papers speak with due respect of the Welsh Ladies’ Choir, … But undoubtedly the signal triumph hitherto achieved by the choir was at Chicago, where the Welsh ladies carried all before them at the World’s Fair, they have just been honoured by a command to appear before Her Majesty the Queen, and duly visited Osborne on Thursday. All the choir by appearing in brand new Welsh costumes of the correct style and material. The dresses were of real Welsh flannel of black and red, and each member of the choir wore a black and white check flannel apron and small three-cornered shawl of the same pattern, characteristic of the Welsh peasantry, buckled shoes, and the regulation sugar-loaf hat. Our English friends over the border, though, must not run away with the idea that any such “regulation” costume is now in vogue in any part of the Principality. Twenty and thirty years ago the tall hat and “betgwn” might have been seen at fairs and chapels. English civilisation, however has now rendered them obsolete, in spite of the efforts of Lady Llanover and other patriotic women to revive them.
South Wales Daily Post, 10.2.1894

[Lady Llanover died in 1896. Many long obituaries of her were published in newspapers in Wales and England.]

The death of Lady Llanover at the advanced age of 93 removes one of the staunchest admirers of the Welsh language, Welsh costume and Welsh customs and of the Welsh harp. Her enthusiasm bordered on eccentricity but it contrasted favourably with the almost criminal apathy of the bulk of the ruling classes in Wales. … Her somewhat eccentric conservatism in the matter of dress – for it was her pleasure always to wear the tall beaver hat, the shawl, the firm kirtle and the buckled shoes, which formed the national costume of Wales half a century ago – attracted and fascinated the popular image. (Liverpool Mercury January 21, 1896) … It would seem as if Lady Llanover made it the object of her life to keep the Welsh language and customs of Wales alive and flourishing. Llanover became a sort of Welsh colony.
South Wales Daily News, 18th January 1896

1896 Welsh Life at Llanover.
… The annual festive gathering of the tenants of Llanover was always a thoroughly enjoyable event. This was called Gwledd y Tyddynwyr,” and the cottagers never dared appear thereat unless dressed in what her ladyship considered to be the orthodox Welsh costume—’sgidie bwele, sana’ r dd ddafad, clos pen lin, côt cwt fach, nisied fraith a cholen frith’…. The servants were all Welsh, and her Ladyship insisted that they should all wear the Welsh bobtail gown, turnover, and the sugarloaf hat – a costume which even her Ladyship herself donned every Sunday to go to church. The tenants also for the most part were Cymry. .. It would seem as if Lady Llanover made it the object of her life to keep the Welsh language and customs of Wales alive and flourishing. Llanover became a sort of Welsh colony. The servants were all Welsh. and her Ladyship insisted that they should all wear the Welsh bobtail gown, turnover, and the sugarloaf hat – a costume which even her Ladyship herself donned every Sunday to go to church. The tenants also for the most part were Cymry. In the Llanover National School a prize was annually given by Lady Llanover to the boy showing the greatest proficiency in Welsh … Among other customs observed by her was that of distributing annually at Christmas a number of prizes among the most faithful in their attendances during the year at the three Sunday schools of two churches she endowed the Presbyterian (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist) Church at Capel-rhyd-y-meirch, and the Presbyterian Church at Abercarn, and also at Llanover Old Parish Church. The gifts invariably took the form of clothing. The highest girl in the list would be presented with cochl coch (red cloak), and the highest boy would receive a crys coch (red shirt); while among other gifts, according to a list now before us, were articles designated in Welsh as crysau [shirts], ffedog (apron), peisiau [petticoats], llodrau [breeches], gwasgod [waistcoat] , ysgabler (cravat), and gwar-leni (turn- overs).
South Wales Daily News, 18th January 1896

The death of Lady Llanover at the advanced age of 93 removes one of the staunchest admirers of the Welsh language, Welsh costume and Welsh customs and of the Welsh harp. Her enthusiasm bordered on eccentricity but it contrasted favourably with the almost criminal apathy of the bulk of the ruling classes in Wales.
Liverpool Mercury, January 21, 1896


A Genuine Lover of Welsh Institutions and Patron of Music and Literature. Whenever a guest visited the house she addressed her words of welcome in the Welsh language, and the visitors were waited upon by servants all dressed in the Welsh costume.
Evening Express, 18.1.1896

The wreaths having been deposited on the coffin and the bier, the members of her Lady’s household entered the central hall, and a touching scene was witnessed. The women, dressed in ancient Welsh costume, with tall, chimney-pot hats over white caps, muslin aprons, and black turnovers, cried bitterly. Many of them had grown grey and infirm in Lady Llanover’s service, and felt the bitterest pangs of the cruel parting that had now overtaken them…
Cardiff Times, 25.1.1896

There is an engraving of the procession at the funeral, showing many women in Welsh hats. (Western Mail, 1896)