The website was recently visited by a lady who had been searching for information about the chaired Bard at the Eisteddfod held for the Welsh troops in Bedford in April 1916.
She knew that the bardic chair had been won by Private A Jenkins of the 2/1st WCCS, Royal Army Medical Corps. And the website was able to enlighten her that Reverend Private Alfred Jenkins BA from Ardwyn and Presbyterian Minister at Pencoed, had won the bardic chair with his poem on “A Soldier’s Life”.
But why was this lady interested in Alfred? It transpired that as young Welsh exiles in England some decades ago, she and her husband had discovered and bought Alfred’s bardic chair in an antique shop in Kent, and over the years had wondered about the man who had won it.
She is back in Wales now, re-learning Welsh and writing her own poetry with some success. And knowing much more now about the Bedford Eisteddfod and the man who won the bardic chair which is today, more than 100 years later, a treasured possession of her family.
Two questions: how did Alfred’s chair find its way to an antique shop in Kent? And has a little of the chair’s poetic magic rubbed off on this Welsh lady?!
A bardic chair, specially designed and made for the chaired bard of an Eisteddfod, is awarded to the winning entrant in the competition for the awdl, a long poem written in a strict metre form known as cynghanedd, a complex system of alliteration and internal rhyme.
Alfred’s bardic chair was described as a “handsome Jacobean chair” in the full report on the Eisteddfod in the Bedfordshire Times and Independent of 28 April 1916. Could it have been designed and made in and brought from Wales, or might it have been designed and made in Bedford, if so by whom? Or in those difficult times was it perhaps a “handsome” chair in the town that was readily available?
Thank you to the lady from Wales for these photographs of the chair and the engraved plaque on it which reads:
PTE A. Jenkins
which with her story add movingly to the history on the website of the Bedford Eisteddfod and Reverend Private Alfred Jenkins, the chaired Bard.