The original idea for a banner for every county in Wales was conceived by Gwenno Dafydd. Her vision was of hand-made banners the size of the coal mining lodge banners, based on the words and images of the Saint David’s Day Anthem (Lyrics: Gwenno Dafydd. Music: Heulwen Thomas) and elements of local county history with the aim that they be paraded every Saint David’s Day in their respective local communities.
The first of these banners was the Pembrokeshire Banner, which is on permanent display in the East Cloister, Saint David’s Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Every year the Pembrokeshire Banner is paraded around the Cathedral in the Saint David’s Day Service by the Head Boy and Head Girl of Ysgol Dewi Sant whilst the children of Ysgol Bro Dewi Primary School sing the Saint David’s Day Anthem.
The Pembrokeshire Banner
Gwenno Dafydd’s maternal grandmother had a very strong connection with Montgomeryshire, having been brought up in Llangadfan where her father was the local school teacher. Gwenno’s great grandparents are both buried in the cemetery at Llangadfan and so she is thrilled that The Montgomeryshire Banner is the second of the County Banners to be completed.
Two textile artists Patricia Huggins and Angela Morris designed and made the banner to depict life in Montgomeryshire and the legacy left by St David. Contributions were also made by Pamela Higgs (drawing of Market Hall), Mavis Jones (Needle lace flowers), Shirley Kinsley (dove), Maureen Morris (dyed silk fabric) Also featured are elements from the tomb of the Herbert family to be found in the church of St Nicholas in the old county town of Montgomery.
In the centre of the banner sits the Montgomeryshire’s Coat of Arms, above which are a dove and some bees. St David was the patron saint of doves, bees and poets. The bees are very symbolic of Celtic mythology symbolizing here the Diaspora of the Welsh people. The bees are linked to many stories about St David. The bee also takes pride of place on the Pembrokeshire Banner, as they also do on the third County Banner, that of Carmarthenshire.
The needle lace flowers are the corn spurry, the county flower of Montgomeryshire. The carrying tabs at the top of the banner are the flag of St David and they also have bells attached which ring when the banner is carried
The banner is worked in dyed silk and the background features the rural life and scenery in Montgomeryshire. The hills, rivers, trees and sheep farming are all important aspects of the prosperity of the region.
The buildings featured are to be found in some of the main towns; The Clock Tower (Machynlleth), St David’s church (Newtown), Powis Castle (Welshpool), the Market Hall (Llanidloes) and the Town Hall (Montgomery).
Also depicted are three notable persons famous to Montgomeryshire. David Davies (1818-1890) a Liberal politician who built much of the railway network in Mid Wales and was a pioneer of the coal industry in the Rhondda valley. He is remembered for Barry Docks.
George Herbert (1593-1633) a poet whose parents are buried in the tomb in St Nicholas church Montgomery. Words attributed to George Herbert appear in the background of the banner “Kind words cost little and mean much”. These words also reflect the life and preaching of St David
Robert Owen (1791-1858) was a reformer and founder of utopian socialism and also the co-operative movement. He worked in the cotton industry in Manchester before setting up a large mill at New Lanark in Scotland. In 1824, Owen travelled to America to invest the bulk of his fortune in an experimental 1,000-member colony on the banks of Indiana's Wabash River, called New Harmony. New Harmony was intended to be a Utopian society.
The background is flanked by two columns inspired by the tomb of the Herbert family. On one column are the words “Cenwch y clychau I Dewi” (Ring out the Bells for St David) and “Gwnaeth y pethau bychain”(He did the little things) which resonate the last words of St David.
Construction techniques include hand and machine embroidery, quilting, appliqué, painting, machine made lace and handmade needle lace.
The Montgomeryshire Banner’s very first outing will be in the ‘All Saints’ Church in Newtown for their St David's Day Service on 27th January 2017.
Gwenno Dafydd - St David's Day Ambassador To The World
Gwenno Dafydd is the instigator of the Saint David's Day Anthem (Lyrics: Gwenno Dafydd Music: Heulwen Thomas) which was launched by The Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly Government, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas in 2008. She has been promoting and developing Saint David's Day activities worldwide since 2006 when the Saint David's Day Anthem 'Cenwch y Clychau i Dewi' (Ring out the bells for Saint David) was performed in public for the very first time in the National Saint David's Day Parade in Cardiff. She has instigated the tradition of 'County Banners' throughout Wales to celebrate Saint David's Day. This year, the first County Banner, The Pembrokeshire Banner, which is kept on permanent display in the East Cloister in Saint David's Cathedral, will be joined by two new County Banners, those of Montgomeryshire and Carmartheshire.
The Saint David's Day Anthem, which will this year be sold from the very prestigious Ty Cerdd website, patron Karl Jenkins, alongside the music of Welsh composers such as Grace Williams, William Mathias, Morfydd Llwyn Owen and Gareth Glyn. The Saint David's Day Anthem has been performed not only in Wales but also numerous times in Canada, Los Angeles, Patagonia, Disneyland Paris and the Houses of Parliament. Every year the Pembrokeshire Banner is paraded around Saint David's Cathedral whilst local school children sing the Saint David's Day Anthem.
She has created an Iphone App to learn the Welsh National Anthem and is the author of 'Stand Up & Sock it to them Sister. Funny Feisty Females' which had been described by Funny Women, the UK's leading female comedy community as 'the ultimate canon of female stand-up comics'. She is a Leadership and Public Speaking Coach and works extensively via Skype and even has some clients in Los Angeles.