Winter / Spring Activities



The Winter/Spring session of Tuesday Group began with the AGM where the officers and committee were voted on again to serve another year. This was followed by a social evening where everyone was able to catch up after the summer break. Joyce produced a very interesting quiz based on several decades since the fifties. It produced much discussion if not the right answers ! Thank you Joyce for a thought provoking quiz.

Our first speaker was Ann Callem who spoke about her lifetime career as a nurse. Her father was in the Admiralty and they lived abroad a lot when she was a child. As a consequence she went to five different schools before spending a settled period in a prestigious school in Kent. At first the uniform was a culture shock. After living in lightweight clothing in the tropics she had to get used to thick grey knickers and coarse stockings.

She decided to be a nurse by default. When asked at her posh school what she wanted to do in the future she said she wanted to be an air hostess. This went down like a lead balloon and she was told she’d better be a nurse, so this was the career she pursued.

She began her training at a teaching hospital in London where a Hattie Jacques type character was matron and ruled with a rod of iron !! She was a larger than life figure that petrified her. The uniform in those days was in complete contrast to the modern day where dresses and aprons were starched to within an inch of their lives and an elaborate hat was worn. She came across many celebrities during her time there as the hospital was situated in Paddington and remembers actors and other well known people such as Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies.

Ann spent over 57 years as a nurse so had many funny stories to tell. She even retired once but went back on request. A high point in her career was when she was nominated for an award by her peers for ‘going above and beyond the call of duty’. She has continued nursing, though these days she is a practice nurse in a doctor’s surgery. She still enjoys the contact with patients albeit in a different setting. To have continued for this length of time as a nurse must have been a fulfilling one even though it began in an unorthodox manner.

Our programme continued with a trip to the New Theatre to see Cabaret. It was a well acted show and I am sure that everyone who went had a good time. Thank you Betty for getting such good seats.

Our indoor meetings continued with a talk by Gwerfil Gardener who became a house volunteer at Duffryn over three years ago. Gwerfil spoke to us about the fascinating history of the ownership of Duffryn.

The story of Duffryn dates back to the 7th century when the house was then called the Manor of Worlton. In the 16th century the Button family acquired the Manor and a house of some note was built. Sir Thomas Button was an admiral to Elizabeth1 and his family occupied the estate for a

number of generations.

In the 18th century the estate was bought by Thomas Pryce, who rebuilt the property and called it Duffryn House. He was only 23 at the time, an industrialist who made munitions for the government. When he died the estate passed to his daughter but as she had no children it was inherited by a distant relative, John Knigt.

In 1891 the estate was sold to John Cory, a coal merchant and he built the present house in 1893. John Cory was very wealthy and the original house was not considered grand enough so he appointed an architect, Lansdown to design the new property. The old property was not demolished but remained inside the new structure.

You can still see evidence of the family’s vast wealth today- from the 16th century fireplaces to the commissioned stained glass windows.

One of John Cory’s sons Reginald was a passionate horticulturalist and collaborated on the garden design with Thomas Manson. Sir Cenydd Traherne bought the estate in the late 1930’s and later leased it to Glamorgan County Council who used it as an educational conference facility.

The house and gardens are still owned by the Vale of Glamorgan Council but the National Trust took over the maintenance and running in January 2013 on a 50 year lease. The trust have built on the work already done to the house and gardens and hopefully this will secure the future of Duffryn house for us all to enjoy in years to come.

Our speaker on the 7th November was Mandy Morgan from Garth Mountain Silver. Mandy grew up in Pentyrch and named her company after the Garth mountain where she played as a child. Sadly, you won’t find silver there, it has to be sourced from places like Peru and Mexico these days. Mandy gave us an amusing and inspirational talk about her background. She did not do well at Radyr Comprehensive School and was even told that she would never become a metal worker. After doing a variety of jobs, she actually went on to do her degree and worked with people with drug and alcohol problems. Lack of funding meant that she became redundant and that was when she took a class in silver smithing, ironically at Radyr Comprehensive. Her hobby became her passion and her business grew. She demonstrated how she makes rings from silver spoons that she gets at car boot sales. Mandy now sells her jewellery at craft fairs and to private customers.