An in-depth study of Lord and Lady Llanover

High Hats and Harps

The Life and Times of Lord and Lady Llanover

High Hats and Harps cover

Lady Llanofer - the Bee of Gwent


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Helen Forder


Lady Llanofer is said to have promised one of her old servants, upset that the Welsh national dress was dying out, that it never would while she was head of the Llanofer estate. However, it seems that some of the young maids, forced to wear Welsh dress while at work, would change into more fashionable clothing at one of the Lodges before going into Abergavenny on their day off. The Gate-keeper's wife kept their secret!!

Lady Llanofer, from the Western Mail 1896
Lady Llanofer from a sketch c. 1896

'The costumes of Wales being chiefly composed of wool, are from the nature of the material particularly well adapted to defend the wearer against the inclemencies of the weather, and the sudden transitions from heat to cold to which our climate is subject ...'
'... How frequently do we now see the hale and robust mother of fifty, and even grandmother of eighty, returning from church or market secure from the storm, under the protection of the warm woollen gown, and comfortable cloak or whittle of Gwent or Dyfed, with a neat and serviceable beaver hat, and black woollen stockings, pursuing her homeward path unobstructed by the influence of cold or wet, while the delicate and cotton clad daughter or grand-daughter, with perhaps the symptoms of consumption on her cheek, is shivering in the rain, seeking the precarious shelter of the nearest hedge, or shifting her station from tree to tree, to avoid the soaking of the shower, while her flimsy straw bonnet, saturated with water, and dyed like a rainbow by the many coloured streams descending from its numerous and once gaudy ribbons, is presenting a deplorable example of the sad effects resulting from that absurd abandonment of ancient and wise habits.'

From the Prize Essay, Cardiff Eisteddfod 1834, by Lady Llanofer, (Gwenynen Gwent).

The flock of  Black Welsh Mountain sheep seen today in the fields near Ty Uchaf are directly descended from those brought to Llanofer from West Wales by Lady Llanofer in the mid nineteenth century; and in her rather unusual cookery book she mentions that their wool 'is of very fine quality' and that the home-knit Welsh stockings of their wool are 'very superior and do not need any dye'.

Stockings of Welsh wool
Stockings of Welsh Wool

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