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Opening of Llangunllo School

Hereford Journal – Saturday 27 June 1863

OPENING OF LLANGUNLLO NEW NATIONAL SCHOOLS. (A portion of the following report appeared in our Second Edition last week.) ” To teach or not to teach” is a question constantly forcing itself upon our consideration ; and while some heads differ as to the method which instruction should be given, and others as to the elements that should be taught, all seem ready to affirm that to teach the youth of the present generation is a national as it undoubtedly a social duty. Be assured of this, we need only turn to the catalogue of books daily issuing from the press, not only of England but of the continent, where the subject promoted with ardour and enthusiasm that we, inhabitants of the frigid zone, rarely manifest. In our principal towns and cities, philosophical, scientific, literary, and more numerous still, mechanic institutions, on every hand invite our attention and claim our support, on the ground that under the patronage and fostering care of the wisest of counsellors and most erudite of scholars they attempt to supply national neglect in the past dissemination of knowledge in the present. In the senate and on the hustings, in the pulpit and in the lecture room, at the criminal bar and in our city and district police courts, the importance of education continually ventilated.

In our towns and cities, where great commercial transactions rapidly realise splendid fortunes colleges, schools” and seminaries, rise up almost instantaneously at the command of the great god Mammon, but is different in remote and isolated country districts where the population is sparse or widespread, and fortunes depend much upon the character of the seasons. There, indeed, too often, if the labouring classes cannot help themselves, and the landholders and squires of the district are not disposed to help them, ignorance and superstition cloud the intellect and debase the mind. The pastor of the parish has therefore to labour against evils that tax his energies to the utmost, and with which single-handed he can do comparatively nothing to stem the tide of ignorance ever crying to be ameliorated. Happy is it indeed when the case is otherwise. Success in our endeavours is always very gratifying, but it is infinitely so when after a battle for years, the relief comes at last, and a community enters as it were upon a new phase of existence.

Such occurrences the English mind inclined to mark with demonstrations of joy, and the turning-point in such a position is worthily regarded as a red-letter day our lives. To be present and to witness, and it may be to assist in such pleasant gatherings, has for some years been our good fortune, and as they are quite in accordance with our notions of things, a ride of forty or fifty miles is scarcely deterrent enough to keep us away. Consequently, on Wednesday we journeyed to Llangunllo to attend the celebration of the opening of its new national schools, the history of which is briefly told by the following tablet on its front:

“By the munificence of the Vicar, landowners, and others, this school was erected A.D. 1862. Henry Lote, architect.” “And where is Llangunllo we hear the reader ask?”. Well, it is a village lying in a secluded valley, or rather a basin’, formed by the upheaval of surrounding mountains in Radnorshire. The traveller to Knighton knows that on reaching that place the valley narrows and the hills on either side rise precipitously to a great height. Following the course of the valley for about four miles, along the sides which the Central Wales Railway runs and crosses it once at Knucklas by a handsome viaduct of 13 stone arches, we come to Cwmheyop, a beautiful and romantic valley or deep mountain gorge with small sugar-loaf hills luxuriantly wooded, standing out here and there from these mountain’ pastures like sentinels to challenge the advance of an invader. After passing the old Mansion House of Cwmheyop, the architecture of which, as well as a carved date over an immense dormer in the centre of the building, tells us it was erected nearly 300 years ago, our further progress is impeded by an immense Plutonic rock, which has been hurled into the gorge and quite fills it up. This, engineering science failing to scale (for the railway has been constructed on considerable ascent from Knighton here), is now tunnelling, and after two years’ labour is preparing to welcome a through passage. However as the railway is not completed, the traveller, to get into the Llangunllo valley on the other side of this Titan, has to climb a precipitous ascent for a mile and a half, which should certainly not be performed in dancing pumps, or he may expect to be compelled to leave them behind if the roads be miry, and then, having attained the summit and feasted his eyes upon the magnificence of the scenery prepare to descend a road not entirely free from alpine dangers. Another mile and a half will bring the traveller to Llangunllo, a village of some twenty dwellings, a very rude old Church with a strange-looking square tower, and now with a pretty modern school-room, in comparison with which all the other buildings the place suffer sadly.

For many years there has been no school in the district, except one held in the church, and all attempts of the Vicar to improve this state of things had, until recently, been perfectly unavailing. The construction of the Central Wales Railway, which runs through and will have a station in the parish, and more particularly the good fortune that has attended the present very estimable member for the Radnorshire Boroughs, gave fresh hope that something could now be done to throw off the incubus of ignorance which had for centuries ridden upon the backs of the inhabitants, and happily, the time had arrived for this reformation. Mr Green Price, M.P., on being asked for his assistance, once gave an acre of land adjacent to the churchyard, and most admirably situated for the erection of the building, and added to it a gift of £35, with the promise of an annual donation of towards the support of the schoolmaster; the Vicar, the Rev. David Davies, and his lady, handsomely contributed £100 ; John Evans, Esq., of Treburva, and Lieut. Weyman, £30 each; Mr. Matthews, of Creege, £7 Mr. Davies, of Cwmheyop, £6 ; Mr. Evans, of Bailey (now deceased), £5 ; and others, all came out nobly, according to their means, and with these funds, and a little assistance from other sources, the new schools were built.

The premises include a lofty and spacious school-room with offices, and master’s residence attached. They are substantially constructed of native stone, with Bath stone dressings. An open bell turret is placed over the school entrance, the roof being of slate, with ornamental cress. An ample playground is enclosed by green paling. Under the superintendence of the committee, composed of the gentlemen above, excepting the donor of the site, the building has been brought to a satisfactory completion, Mr. Oliver Evans and Mr. George Evans doing the masonry, and Mr. Morgan, the woodwork, all residing the parish.

On Wednesday a large number of persons assembled to celebrate the opening, and the attendance would have been still more numerous had the weather in the early part of the day been more favourable.

Among those present we observed Rev. David Davies and Mrs. Davies, Llangunllo Rev. J. J. Evans and Miss Evans, Llanyere ; Rev. J. Price, Bleddfa ; Rev. W. W. Griffiths and Mrs. Griffiths and Mrs. Phene, Heyop ; Rev. J. D. Lewis, Cascob ; Rev. Davies, Whitton ; Rev. B. Hill, Norton ; Rev. Lewis ; Rev. J. Davies, Beguildy ; Capt. J. D. Correy and Miss Correy, Disserth House, Welshpool; Rev. Walter W. Vaughan, Vicar of Llandegley; Rev. David Lewis, Llanbadarn-fynydd ; Henry Warren, Esq., and Mrs. Croxon, Knighton ; John Edwards, Esq., and Mrs., and the Misses Edwards, Treburva Lieut. J. Weyman and Miss Weyman, Griffin Llwydd; the Misses Rae (3), Monaughty; Thomas Jones, Esq., and Miss Jones, Brookhouse J. C. Covernton, Esq., and Mrs. Covernton, Knighton ; Edward Jenkins, Esq., and Mrs. Jenkins, The Grove; Pateshall Jenkins, Esq., Nantygroes ; Edw. Tudge, Esq., and Miss Tudge, Llanver Hall; Mr. and Miss .Judge, Upper Hall; Mr. Greenhouse, Norton ; Mrs. Mason and Miss Hudson ; Mr. and Mrs. Bowen Mr. and Mrs. R. Evans, Knighton; Mr. and Miss Davies, Cwmheyop; Mr. and Miss Edwards, Nantygroes Mr., Mrs., and Mi&s Matthews, The Creege • Miss Walkey ; Mr. Dyke, Great House ; Mr. and Miss Dyke, Crungoed ; Mr. and the Misses Wilding ; Mr. and Mrs. Dyke, Lea Hall; Major Griffiths, Cefn ; Mrs. Edwards, The Noyadd ; Mr. and Mrs. James Lloyd, Knucklas Mr. and Mrs. Collins, Knighton; Mr. and Mrs. Matthews, Knucklas; Mr. and Mrs. Davies, Pentrehodry; Mr. and Mrs. Evans, Cold Harbour; Mr. Stephens, Llancoch Mrs. Stephens, Pye Corner ; Mr. Stephens, Cwmheyop; Mr. Brian, Cregnant ; Mr. and Mrs. Evans, Treburfa ; the Misses Mitchels, Miss Jenkins, of Nantygroes Miss Weyman, Weston Miss Jones. Griffin Llwyd.

The entrance gates were surmounted by floral arches, the doorway was wreathed with flowers, and the schoolroom tastefully decorated by Mrs. Evans, the wife of the gentleman whose duty it is to lead the responses in the church.

At three o’clock an eloquent sermon was preached in the sacred edifice by the Rev. J. Casebow Barrett, M.A., incumbent of St. Mary’s, Birmingham, the lessons having been read by the vicar, the Rev. David Davies. The place was thronged by an attentive congregation. The rev. gentleman took for his text a portion of the 2nd verse of the 19th chapter of Proverbs.