Children’s Welsh costume

There is very little evidence that girls wore traditional Welsh costume until the beginning of the 20th century except, occasionally, by performers at Eisteddfodau and  Concerts but the costume was not described in detail: it is not clear whether they wore small versions of Welsh hats.

The first known photographs of groups of children – almost entirely primary school girls – wearing Welsh costume on St David’s Day date to about 1910.

It is possible that some children were dressed in Welsh costume to celebrate the Investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon in 1911. Some children were presented with mugs at special ceremonies to mark the event.

Photograph of the children of Blaen-ffos School, 1915. The title of the Welsh national anthem ‘Land of my Fathers’, is written on the blackboard in the window. 

Urdd Gobaith The Welsh League of Youth

Goodwill message from the children of Wales

Choirs of young girls sometimes wore Welsh costume at Eisteddfodau.

Photograph: Girl in Welsh Costume The Welsh hat was almost certainly hand made of black shiny cardboard

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Portrait of the Thomas girls, Ceredigion, 1927. All are wearing Welsh hats, shawls, long skirts, and boots but no aprons. The fabric used for the skirts was probably made locally. Each has a leek attached to their shawls. The hats on the left and right hand sides are probably hand-made, or repaired.

 

 

 

REFERENCES TO CHILDREN IN WELSH COSTUME

1837 ABERGAVENNY EISTEDDFOD
Tuesday set out for Abergavenny, put on my Mob cap and my Leek. [The procession:] The Bards, a Leek of splendid growth, followed by a train of charity children all clothed in Welsh checks, and little black hats.
Letter from Lady Greenly to Mrs Hastings, 23.10.1837, NLW Maxwell Fraser bequest, CB5, includes a typed transcript of Lady Greenly’s diary and letters, 1805-1837, pp. 73-74

1858 LLANGOLLEN EISTEDDFOD

Mary Ann Roberts, daughter of John Roberts (Telynor Cymru) who wore an ‘orthodox Welsh costume’ when performing.
Cambrian Journal, 1858, p. 273; Jarman and Jarman, The Welsh Gypsies: Children of Abram Wood, (1991), p. 117
Miss Roberts (Meirionwy) sang in Welsh costume
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, September 25, 1858

1859 MERTHYR EISTEDDFOD
Miss Wynne, accompanied by the harp, sang “Robin is Shy” in Welsh and English. She was dressed in the Welsh costume, and kept the audience in one roar of laughter by the naviete way in which she sang the words.
Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian, Glamorgan, Monmouth, and Brecon Gazette 24.9.1859
Miss Wynne’s singing, accompanied by Ellis Roberts created quite a furore. She appeared in Welsh costume, with all the primitive severity of the high crowned hat, the linsey petticoat, the bedgown with short sleeves and busily plying her knitting needles, to sing.
The Cambrian Journal, Published by The Cambrian Institute, Tenby, Wales, (1859), p. 228

1859
Mr T.D. Morris played the harp in Bangor and was assisted by his young pupil and another, both of whom were attired in the original Welsh costume.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, July 16, 1859

1872 HOLYHEAD EISTEDDFOD
The prize on the triple harp was won by quite a young girl, who appeared in the old Welsh costume of a short stuff dress, white frill cap.
John Erskine Clarke‎, (ed.) Church Bells, (1872), p. 438

1873 MENAI BRIDGE EISTEDDFOD
Miss Jones, Telynores Cybi who appeared in the old Welsh costume, won the triple harp prize.
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Thursday, August 7, 1873
Prize for Penillion singing presented by Miss Lloyd daughter of Estyn, Llanfynydd Rectory, who appeared in primitive Welsh costume.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, August 9, 1873

1873 MOLD EISTEDDFOD
Boy in Welsh costume played the harp
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Saturday, August 23, 1873

1873 BENEFIT CONCERT
Master Owen Jones in Welsh costume, played on the harp that he won at the Mold Eisteddfod
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, December 5, 1873

1873

As a small girl [Edith Wynne] wore Welsh costume and knitted while she sang.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, August 16, 1873

1874 WELSH FESTIVAL AT THE PHILHARMONIC HALL
Owen Jones, in Welsh costume, played the harp at Covent Garden
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Monday, January 19, 1874

1876 ANGLESEY CHAIR EISTEDDFOD
Owen Jones, Llanerchymold ? a small boy dressed in the old Welsh costume
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, August 5, 1876

1881 THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, Merthyr Tydfil
The pedal harp competition, Welsh melodies, excited intense interest, the competitors being little boys attired in Welsh costume, whose playing was remarkable. The first prize of £3 was gained by Willie Morgan, Bargoed; second J. R. Evans, Troedyrhiw and a special prize given by Mr Lewis Morris, Charles Pearce, six years of age, Treherbert.
Aberdare Times 3.9.1881; North Wales Express 2.9.1881

1882 THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, DENBIGH
The next competition created great interest owing to the juvenility of the only competitor, Eos Rhondda, a little boy of six years, who, dressed in Welsh costume and perched on a chair, sang Penillion in very good style, but of course, in the shrill voice natural to his years, and was made supremely happy by receiving from the hands of Miss Mainwaring a prize of £1, to which the adjudicator, Idris Vychan, considered him entitled. The little lad is named Edmund Bevan, and hails from the Rhondda Valley.
Weekly Mail 26.8.1882

1886 THE WELSH NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, CAERNARFON
Mr Henry Richard, M.P the president of the day, had with him on the platform the Lord Mayor of London], who during the morning was presented by Miss Morris [daughter of Mr Morris, the Hon. secretary], a little girl in ancient Welsh costume, with a length of Welsh tweed.
Cambrian 17.9.1886; Cardiff Times 18.9.1886; Manchester Times (Manchester, England), Saturday, September 18, 1886
Miss Myfanwy Jones, Mostyn Vicarage was attired in typical Welsh costume and was loudly cheered.
Liverpool Mercury(Liverpool, England), Thursday, September 2, 1886

1887 LLANRWST
Nevin, Children’s Bazaar. 12 little Welsh girls were dressed in Welsh costume, Mr Lowe taking their likenesses.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, September 10, 1887

1887 PROVINCIAL THEATRICALS
Grand Theatre, Glasgow. Pantomime in which children dressed in Scotch, Irish and Welsh costume.
The Era (London, England), Saturday, December 24, 1887

1889 LLANDUDNO, MR RIVIERE’S CONCERT
Song performed in Welsh costume; harp solo by Miss A.M. Hughes, Telynores Menai, (age 12), in Welsh Costume.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, September 28, 1889

GRAND HARP AND VOCAL CONCERT AT BANGOR
Miss Mary Hughes, Telynores Menai, performed in Welsh costume; Mr Owen Jones, Telynor Seiriol, also in Welsh costume.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, May 3, 1890

1890 NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, BANGOR
a clever harp performance by Telynores Menai, a little lady of some seven summers, who was picturesquely attired in the Welsh costume of days gone by. [child]
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Thursday, September 4, 1890

1890 NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, BANGOR
… a clever harp performance by Telynores Menai, a little lady of some seven summers, who was picturesquely attired in the Welsh costume of days gone by.
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Thursday, September 4, 1890

1891 GWYNEDD CHAIR EISTEDDFOD AT LLANRWST
Miss Jane Parry, a Liverpool Lady of a dozen summers,correctly dressed in the Welsh costume won prize for harp solo.
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Saturday, August 8, 1891
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, August 15, 1891

1891 THE LORD MAYOR’S SHOW
The Lord Mayor comes from Llantrissant. Three cars had Welsh interest. One had a girl with a harp and two girls in modern Welsh costume.
Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper (London, England), Sunday, November 15, 1891

1892 THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD AT RHYL
Harp players – seven entrants, two of the girls wore the quaint old Welsh costume
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Thursday, September 8, 1892

1892 NATAL
At the second African Eisteddfod, held recently at Natal, Miss E. Caney, niece of Mr Edward Grogan, of Cardiff, was awarded the chief prize, a silver medal, for her rendering (in the competition for girls under 13) of The Bells of Aberdovey. Miss Caney appeared in Welsh costume and responded to an encore
Evening Express 26.9.1892

1895 LLANDUDNO
Childrens’ dance at the Pier Pavillion included dances in Welsh national costume
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, August 31, 1895

1895 The Recent Royal Visit to Gloddaeth & Llandudno
Duchess and Duke of Teck visited the Mosty’s seat at Gloddaeth. The lodge keepers were attired in the picturesque old Welsh costume … in the harp gallery, Telynores Menai in Welsh costume and Telynor Seiriol performed.
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, April 20, 1895

1896 Belfast Royal Academy
Recital of kindergarten games and exercises included a child in Welsh costume.
The Belfast News-Letter (Belfast, Ireland), Saturday, May 30, 1896

1899 THE NATIONAL EISTEDDFOD, CARDIFF, PRIZE WINNERS
Original costume in Welsh flannel for a child not over seven years old, won by H Griffiths, High Street, Swansea.
Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Thursday, July 20, 1899
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), Thursday, July 20, 1899
North Wales Chronicle (Bangor, Wales), Saturday, July 22, 1899

1926 Eisteddfod competition for boys costume
D Rhys Phillips suggested that a competition for a boys’ Welsh costume be organised and Lady Howard Stepney offered a prize for it at the National Eisteddfod in Swansea in 1926, Miss Stepney-Gulston of Derwydd being chief adjudicator. An entry by a lady from Dunvant was to be developed on traditional lines, from which, D Rhys Phillips wrote ‘something useful should emerge. Then the choir boys on one side of the chapel galleries at Morriston will not have cause to cast jealous glances at the costumed Welsh maidens who sit on the other side.
D Rhys Phillips, Ancient Welsh and Celtic Costumes, Radio talk, broadcast 8th April, 1927. NLW, D Rhys Phillips, 259 (hand written with many corrections), p. 5.
It appears that this proposal was never realised.

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