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

The Harp

At the end of the 18th century the development of the more sophisticated pedal harp brought a decline in the popularity of the triple harp. The difficulty of playing on the middle row of strings during rapid passages was a drawback, as was the fact that it was impossible to play in any other key than that in which the triple harp was tuned.
'... the pedal harp ... is an immense improvement in a musical sense, upon any former invention, as it admits of the most rapid modulation into every key, and enables the performer to execute passages and combinations that would not have been dreamt of previously.' John Thomas, Pencerdd Gwalia, The National Music of Wales, 1878.

Sylvia Walters - Telynores Llynfi - with her pedal harp
Sylvia Walters
Telynores Llynfi


Throughout her long life Lady Llanofer (née Augusta Waddington 1802 - 1896) fought to maintain all aspects of Welsh culture, which many saw as being under threat during that period. The language, literature, traditions and music of the Principality were all of interest to her, but particularly close to her heart was the plight of the triple harp; she wanted to 'restore to its proper position the national instrument of the principality, and to encourage the cultivation of the pure and simple style in which the ancient Welsh music ought to be played'.

Augusta was familiar with the harp, 'the Caerphilly harper' having played at her wedding in 1823; she herself had lessons with the harpist and pianist Elias Parish - Alvars (1808 - 1849).

Augusta Hall attended the Brecon Eisteddfod of 1826 and heard John Jones playing the triple harp, when his brilliant performance won him the highest award offered, namely the silver harp. It was at this same eisteddfod that she met Carnhuanawc (the Rev. Thomas Price) who was also interested in the harp, and anxious to encourage its use.


Following the completion of Llys Llanofer in about 1837, Benjamin and Augusta Hall, (later Lord and Lady Llanofer) installed John Jones as their family harper (a position he held until his early death in 1844, at the age of 44), and from then on there was always a harper maintained by them. This was one of Lady Llanofer's ways of supporting and encouraging the use of the triple harp.


Another way was through the eisteddfodau of the time. The triple harp was made the official instrument of the eisteddfodau held by Cymreigyddion Y Fenni, between 1834 and 1853, and players of the pedal harp were not allowed to take any part in the proceedings. Harps were given as prizes and as well as donating instruments herself, she persuaded her wealthy and influential friends to do the same. She had a staunch ally in Carnhuanawc who was one of the founders of Cymreigyddion Y Fenni. He too favoured the triple harp and was well aware of its plight.


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