Posted by: brigid benson | August 24, 2014

Postcard from: Ty Mawr, Wybrnant

The Welsh language has faced tough challenges to its survival through the centuries.

Among those credited with preserving it from the onslaught of the English language is Bishop William Morgan. Morgan was the first person to translate the Bible into Welsh, a mission he undertook at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I.

The first Welsh Bible appeared in 1588, before the King James Bible and it is believed that Elizabeth intended her support of the Welsh language to win the support of the Welsh for England and for Protestantism.

Widely acclaimed as ‘Saviour of the Welsh language’, William Morgan was born in 1545 in the beautiful isolated upland valley of Cwm Wybrnant in the county of Conwy, north Wales.  The Morgan family home, Ty Mawr, which translates as ‘the big house’,is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

Ty Mawr, Wybrnant, Conwy, North Wales

Ty Mawr, Wybrnant, Conwy, North Wales

In an idyllic location beside a gurgling brook in open countryside, Ty Mawr has been restored by the National Trust to its probable 17th Century appearance.

The journey to the house is something of an adventure, scaling the hillside on single track roads through lush woodland. On arrival it’s the simplicity and peacefulness that makes the biggest impression yet this modest ‘big house’ was often stuffed to the rafters with family members and ‘porthmyn’ – passing drovers –  tramping along rough country tracks to sell Welsh livestock at markets in the Midlands and London. A huge journey.


Ty Mawr: the big house

William Morgan’s journey from Wybrynant to Bishop and translator began with his education; his father was a tenant of the wealthy and well-connected Wynn family of Gwdir and William was fortunate to be educated by the Wynn tutor before further education at Cambridge University.

Priest poet RS Thomas (1913-2000) was much intrigued by William Morgan and his mission to make Biblical prose with the ‘unmanageable bone’ of the Welsh language.

I love the poetry of RS Thomas, please, do take a few minutes to click on the link and discover an atmospheric six minute television portrait of ‘RS’  in which he shares his passion for the natural world and reads some of his work.


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