Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tribute to a remarkable woman

Dinas Oleu - a shining beacon to lovers of the 'good, the beautiful and the true'
It's a hundred years ago today that Mrs Fanny Talbot, of Ty'n Ffynnon, Barmouth died. 

What's remarkable about this, I hear you ask? Well, Fanny Talbot played a key role in the founding of the National Trust and was one of a band of radical thinkers - many of them women - who were at the forefront of the conservation movement in the 19th century.

She was the first person to appreciate the potential of the newly formed National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty to take ownership of special places and hold them 'in trust, for the nation'.  Raised in the first meeting of the newly-formed National Trust's Executive Committee was the gift of a hillside at Barmouth in North Wales, Dinas Oleu.

The rest, as they say is history.  And, as I never tire of saying when showing people around Dinas Oleu, "from this tiny acorn, the mighty oak of the National Trust has grown".

Fanny Talbot was one of a group of far-sighted people who led the way for the conservation movement

So it was right and proper that we recognized this woman's seminal gesture by gathering for a memorial service in her honour at the beautiful church of St Mary's and St Bodfan at Llanaber on the outskirts of Barmouth. 

At the service, the Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd, Edmund Bailey, spoke of her many gifts to Barmouth and the contribution that the National Trust continues to make to upland farming and conservation.  (To read the text of his address, click here).  A tribute was also made by our Director of Land, Landscapes and Nature, Peter Nixon, which mentioned her links with our founders and her relevance to today's priorities.  (To read this address, click here).

We then gathered at the newly restored graveside for a blessing by the Revd. Miriam Beecroft.  Flowers were laid on her grave, including a posy of wildflowers and sprigs of gorse and oak from her beloved Dinas Oleu.

At the graveside (L-R): Peter Nixon (NT Director of Land, Landscapes and Nature), Edmund Bailey (Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd), Eirwen Owen (Meirionnydd Association of NT Members), Rhodri Wigley ( NT Meirionnydd Ranger), Revd. Miriam Beecroft.
Later, following a guided walk led by our Lead Ranger for Meirionnydd, Rhodri Wigley, we were treated to fascinating talks by Peter Nixon and Fanny Talbot's biographer, Dr Astrid Swenson of Brunel University, London.

After the walk, we gathered at Barmouth's Dragon Theatre to hear lectures about Fanny Talbot and her legacy.  Here's Dr Swenson, speaking on Mrs Talbot's links with some of the greatest thinkers of her time.

To read more about this influential and intriguing person, click here for my recent article about her in Welsh Coastal Life magazine.

No comments:

Post a Comment