Dylan Thomas Birthplace scoops major heritage award.

The Dylan Thomas Birthplace has beaten of the challenge of iconic castles and stately homes to win the Special Judges Award for Best Place to Stay in the prestigious Hudson’s Heritage Awards which were made at an award ceremony at Goldsmith’s Hall in the City of London this week (14th March).

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Geoff Haden who restored the Thomas family home and collected the award from Penelope, Viscountess Cobham, the chair of VisitEngland said “This is a huge honour and a testament to the hard work of our staff and volunteers in making this a unique place to visit and stay.

The house is as it might have been when Dylan lived and work there for 23 years and produced two thirds of his published work so no television or radio but a rare opportunity to escape the 21st century play games, read and relax.”

“In fourteen award categories we were the only Welsh based business shortlisted so it was a great honour to pull off this major award against quality opposition.”

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Lady Cobham & Birthplace restorer Geoff Haden with the award.

The annual awards were established in 2011 and are an independently judged national scheme open to historic houses, gardens, museums and heritage sites and celebrate the very best visitor experiences.

The awards lunch was hosted by an independent judging panel of heritage experts including Chairman Norman Hudson OBE, heritage consultant; Lucinda Lambton, writer and broadcaster; Jeremy Musson, architectural writer; Simon Foster, consultant to Channel 4’s Country House Rescue and Ken Robinson, CBE, tourism business consultant.

Sarah Greenwood, director at Hudson’s and publisher of Hudson’s Historic Houses & Gardens said “The finalists in 2017 showcase an amazing range of experiences just waiting for us all to enjoy at Britain’s heritage places. This year they include three World Heritage Sites but also iconic castles, public buildings, unusual gardens and stunning country houses several of which are not well known. We at Hudson’s would like to congratulate them all on setting the standards for others to follow”.

 

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

Dylan Thomas Birthplace carries Welsh hopes at top heritage awards.

The Birthplace of Dylan Thomas in Uplands, Swansea is the only Welsh heritage attraction shortlisted for a prestigious Hudson’s Heritage Award with the outcome being announced at a presentation lunch on Tuesday 14th March in Goldsmith’s Hall in London.

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The house which has been restored to its condition as a new house when bought by the Thomas family in 1914 is not only up for an award for the Best Accommodation but also for the Best New Discovery Award.

Geoff Haden, the chair of the Dylan Thomas Society, restored the house and now runs it as a tourist attraction and a unique place to stay overnight and soak up the atmosphere of a place where Dylan lived for 23 years says “This recognition is a tribute to our volunteers and staff who have turned this iconic building into a ‘must visit’ destination for groups and individuals and put this important family home on the literary and cultural map.”

The independent Hudson’s Awards were started in 2011 by publisher Norman Hudson to celebrate the high quality experience enjoyed by visitors to a range of heritage attractions and this year there are ten categories.

In the Best Accommodation category the Birthplace is up against Shropshire duo Western Park and Combermere Abbey as well as Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland while vying for the Best New Discovery with the Birthplace are Blenheim Palace, Eltham Palace and the RHS Lindley Library.

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…23rd January 1932

The Herald of Wales ran an article entitled Tragedy of Swansea’s Comic Genius by its junior reporter Dylan Thomas. Dylan looked at the life of Llewelyn Prichard, poet, artist and actor. Prichard was perhaps best known for creating many tales around the Welsh ‘Robin Hood’ figure from Welsh folklore, ‘Twm Shon Catti’

Dylan’s opening lines were eerily self prophetic…

“No one can deny that the most attractive figures in literature are always those around whom a world of lies and legend has been woven, those half mythical artists whose real characters become cloaked forever under a veil of the bizarre.”

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…18th January 1934 – and the history of the Mumbles Press

The Mumbles Press reviewed the Swansea Little Theatre’s performance of The Way of the World. Dylan Thomas played the character of Witwould but his performance does not receive a special mention within the review. 

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The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.

The following is a piece by Sylvia Bagley about the newspaper, a fixture of Mumbles and Swansea life for many years until the mid 1930s. Her father was its founder C.E. Tucker.

“For over thirty years, the Mumbles Press was a key institution of Mumbles life. My father, Christopher ‘C.E.’ Tucker, was its founder and driving spirit. In 1956, when he retired, he was described as ‘the man who put Mumbles on the map’ and he worked tirelessly to promote the Mumbles that he loved.”

“He first set up a printing business in the Dunns, where Solo now stands. Then in 1903 he bought No 8 The Dunns. And for over thirty years, until 1936, he promoted Mumbles through the Mumbles Press. At the same time, with my mother, Florence, he ran a local shop for both residents and visitors, with all sorts of seaside materials, smokes – and his very own lending library.”

“He and my mother were married in 1912, and the Mumbles Press chronicles in detail the clothes and jewellery of the bride and the bridesmaids – and all the presents received, and from whom. It was a grand wedding, at Clyne Chapel, Blackpill. And the reception was at the the Ship & Castle Hotel, the site of the present-day Conservative Club. Among the family records is one of continuing interest to present-day Mumbles. In 1916, a young apprentice printer was indentured to my father, to receive 5 shillings for the first year, increasing by one shilling per year for seven years. It was one Richard Cottle, son of Charles Cottle – none other than the grandfather of Tony Cottle known in this generation as the ‘eyes and ears of Mumbles’, and still providing a printing service. Charles Cottle (Tony Cottle’s grandfather) was the last lighthouseman of Mumbles – a real character, who had a cat which could swim and catch fish… Richard did not complete his full seven-year training, and the Indenture was eventually cancelled.”

“The Mumbles Press was published every Thursday, and sold for one penny. It provided local news, natural history, religious notes and romantic serials. The boys who sold the paper were paid 1d per dozen sold.”

“My father was also a Councillor, a Member of Mumbles Urban District Council and was instrumental, following its closure, in getting a Branch Library established on the site. When the Urban District Council was abolished in 1923, and Mumbles came to be run by Swansea Corporation, he used to complain that there was much less local news to report.”

“The Corporation has not done a lot for the district’, he observed in 1956, ‘not as much as they should have. It was different in the old days when we had our own urban council. Things were a lot livelier…”

“He was also for many years a member of the Swansea Improvement Association, publicising the Mumbles area – though his view remained that ‘Mumbles does not properly cater for visitors…”

“The present City Council should think about that – while the Community Council does now try to address my father’s concerns about local interests, local colour and community identity.
My daughter Susan, who lives in Malvern, is carrying on the family tradition: she and her husband run a printing company there. My father would have been very proud to know that the family tradition is being maintained.”

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

 

On this date…17th January 1934

The editor of the South Wales Evening Post, J.D. Wiliiams reviewed the Swansea Little Theatre’s latest production. It was the 18th century William Congreve comedy, The Way of the World. Dylan is not mentioned in the review but is listed in the cast as ‘Witwould.’

In his review, J.D.W remarked, 

‘brilliant dialogue, the cynic touches, the epigrams hard as diamonds and as cruel as fate.’ This is not to say that he hadn’t found fault, he also commented that the players ‘are acquiring a set of mannerisms that too prominently identify them whatever their part. They need to find new graces with hands and shoulders.’ 

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…16th January 1934

The Swansea Little Theatre began their five night run of performances at Southend, Mumbles, of their latest undertaking, the 18th Century William Congreve comedy, The Way of the World.

Dylan played the part of the foolish young Witwoud. The programme however, listed him as ‘Dilyn’ Thomas.

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Mrs. Evelyn Burman a fellow cast mate of Dylan’s at the Little Theatre recalled Dylan’s impromptu trips to the ‘Prince of Wales’ pub or ‘Cheeses’ as it was known locally due to the owner being one Mr. Cheddar. She said…

‘In 1934 I played the very minor role of Mincing..woman to Mrs. Millamant in The Way of the World and as Dylan was Witwoud, a follower of Mrs. Millamant, it meant that we were often waiting in the wings. He would say to me ‘Mincing! I’m mincing off’ (the pub was less than two minutes from the theatre.)

She went on to say,

‘he never failed to appear ready for his next entry’ by all accounts Dylan was a burgeoning great actor and could hold his audience in a transfixed state.’

Of the performances of this Congreve play Evelyn recounted,

‘One of his (Dylan’s) lines, ‘Gad, I have forgot what I was about to say to you’ he used more than once to cover up a whirlwind entry until he composed himself.’

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

A Visit from America…Taylor University students seek out the true Dylan Thomas.

In his last few years, Dylan entertained hundreds of American students on his great but gruelling reading tours of America. He famously wrote a humorous piece on his experiences of the USA tours called  A Visit to America.

Due to his popularity and legacy, we at his Birthplace are too, becoming very used to hosting travelling American college and university groups.

One such group was the one which consisted of students and faculty members from Taylor University, Indiana, USA whom we had the pleasure of hosting recently.

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The group from the English department, are currently on an off campus study tour which combines reading of major British authors (Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginia Woolf, and others) and extensive sightseeing. Most of the trip is spent in London, with the class also travelling to other locations of literary significance. In this case they have chosen to look at Dylan Thomas and his Ugly, lovely town of Swansea.

The collection of culture vultures (as Dylan would term them) naturally acknowledged the importance of 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, the house of his birth and where a near two-thirds of the writer’s incredible works were painstakingly crafted from the snug confines of his tiny bedroom.

We wish them well on their travels and urge them, do not go gentle when exploring the works of Wales’ most renowned writer but to dive in head first!

Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…12th January 1935

An in depth review of Dylan’s 18 Poems appeared in the Herald of Wales newpaper. Reviewer, A. Spencer Vaughan-Thomas B.A. (Oxon) wrote…

‘No one can read his work without feeling that here is a poet magnificently equipped to achieve great things.’

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…12th January 1935

The Onlooker of the Herald of Wales drew attention to its former staff member, Dylan Thomas’ new book 18 Poems. Dylan’s previous articles from 1932 on the poets of Swansea and the responses that were garnered from the late classicist, James Chapman Woods were also mentioned. The ‘Onlooker’ hypothesised how Woods would now view the modern approach of this rising, young, local poet.

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!

On this date…11th January 1935

A highly complimentary review of Dylan’s first published book Eighteen Poems appeared in The Swansea Review section of the Swansea & West Wales Guardian newspaper.
This seems to be the first instance where the book was reviewed in a Welsh periodical.

The reviewer, “20th CENTURY” says of Dylan…

‘Modern poets fall into two categories, those who are the creatures of their age, and those who are it’s creators. In the latter group we find Auden, Spender and Dylan Thomas. It is a fault of both Auden and Spender, that having perfected their technique as poets, they strain themselves to become perfect media for propaganda. Dylan Thomas is too much the artist to allow politics to bemuse his muse. One knows instinctively his politics are correct, but they hover like a faint perfume above the lines of his poetry; they neither intrude or obtrude.’

He closes with…

‘Mr. Thomas is doing with poetry much the same as James Joyce did with prose. He is making a new language, not a Joyce did by making numerous languages to produce an illegitimate literary off-spring, but hammering new meaning into old worlds and phrases; crowning backs with the alchemy of his essentially poetic imagination.

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Take a look at our website www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com for details on how you can create your own unique experiences including tours, overnight stays and dining experiences at the home of Dylan Thomas, Wales’ most renowned writer!