Summer Outing

Saturday 10th July 2010 - Abbey-Cwm-Hir Hall, near Llandrindod Wells, and The Howell Harris Museum, Trefeca near Llangors.

The first stop was the Hall at Abbey-Cwm-Hir, a Grade II listed building in the Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture. The Hall was built in 1834 by Thomas Wilson and doubled in size in 1869 by the Philips family.

Paul and Victoria Humpherston have spent nine years restoring the building and the 12 acre Victorian gardens. The Hall lies above the ruins of the 12th Century Abbey of the Long Valley. Sadly the clocks were rather disappointing but this was compensated for by the excellent guided tour by Paul and the spectacular interior design.

In the afternoon we visited the Howell Harris museum and college at Trefeca, where we were welcomed by Mair Jones, warden of the college and curator of the museum. Howell Harris (1714-1773) was a famous as one of the leaders of the Methodist Revival in Wales. He was born in Trefeca and later, in 1752 he returned there to set up a self-sufficient religious community or ‘family of converts' ( Teulu Trefeca ) of people from all over Wales, with various skills including blacksmithing, printing, farming and weaving. Here we saw three very interesting clocks. The first was a turret clock built by members of the Trefeca family in 1754 and installed in the tower complete with two octagonal dials (now unfortunately lost). It is an 8-day turret clock with a mechanism for chiming the quarters. It is now installed at ground level in the entrance hall, and has a replacement 18 th century dial similar to the original. This clock was overhauled and repaired in 1854 by Wladyslaw Spiridion, the noted Cardiff clockmaker, and again in 1999 by the Barometer Shop, Leominster . The clock is in excellent condition and we were able to wind it up and set it going.

The clock was an early chapel clock in the form of a trunked wall clock (‘ Norfolk clock'), donated to Trefeca in 1873 by the ladies of Denbigh. It was made by Lowe & Sons of Chester. The third clock was an imposing 8-day long-case of about 1750, with brass arched dial with an engraved sunburst on a boss in the arch, and housed in an oak case with a lenticle to the trunk door. This clock bears no name and, like the turret clock, is believed to have been made by members of the community.

Joseph Harris (1704-1764), the elder brother of Howell Harris, was a famous mathematician and astronomer who worked out the ‘Trefeca meridian' i.e. longitude of Trefeca for the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. Most interestingly, the little museum contains the actual telescope used by Joseph Harris in his observation of the Transit of Venus at Trefeca on 6 June 1761, using a clock and a stopwatch, together with facsimile copies of his notebook entries recording his observation and measurement of the event for the Royal Observatory.

 

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