Cymru Culture

Articles / Erthyglau

Ffair Cedweli

(June 01, 2014)

Rhys Gryg Ffair Cedweli

Friday 18th & Saturday 19th July 2014
Cedweli Castle

Castell Cydweli - castle estuary
Castell Cedweli, Carmarthensire

In an atmosphere echoing Wales' 'real' medieval history, 'Rhys Gryg Ffair Cedweli' provides two days of fun and games suitable for all. Set within the castle and grounds of Cydweli, Kidwelly or the original and authentic name Cedweli, Carmarthenshire, Hanes Cedweli's mediaeval ffair celebrates Cedweli's return to Welsh rule in 1189, following 80 years of Norman occupation.

Singers; players; magicians; poets and performers; stalls; and workshops are all included in this, the Ffair's second year. In one of the Ffair's most popular events, the archers of Ysgolau Castell, Gwenllian and Mynyddygarreg Schools, will compete to become 'best archer' of the Rhys Gryg castle guard.

Ffair Cedweli - CastellInside the castle walls at the 2013 Ffair Cedweli

Cedweli town was founded by the Normans in 1106, who swept aside whoever and whatever was there beforehand, becoming the first Norman borough west of Offa's Dyke. Cedweli, in the ancient kingdom of Deheubarth, is celebrated in the Mabinogi. Through its hills and valleys rode and strode Rhiannon and Manawydan, Pwyll and Pryderi. Less fictional, but almost as mythical, are the characters who loved and fought their way through blood, bed and tears, as Deheubarth came to terms with the never-ending Norman greed for land - ours and anyone else's - and to make slaves of us all:

  The warrior-king Rhys ap Tewdwr Mawr, who held William the Bastard diplomatically at bay (until he fell to the sword), and four generations of warrior leaders, mostly men, but famously one woman – Gwenllian;
  His son Gruffudd, who raised the Cymry and Cedweli in a rebellion in 1116 which brought the Normans to their knees, after ten years of occupation;
  Gwenllian ferch king Gruffudd of Gwynedd - the warrior queen of Deheubarth – king Gruffudd ap Rhys' wife, who fell at the battle of Cedweli in 1135 and lies now in a soldiers grave with her son Morgan;
  Her sons Maredudd, just 15 when he stood atop the walls of Llanstephan castle urging his fellow warriors to throw back the Norman attackers, and his illustrious brother, the Lord Rhys, who stormed Cedweli castle in 1189 throwing out the descendants of the Normans who had killed his mother;
  And his son, another Rhys, helpfully nicknamed Rhys Gryg (the hoarse), who became the native lord of Cedweli ca. 1200 and who 'hosts' our Ffair to celebrate the return of native rule, as he would have done back in his own day.

This, briefly, very briefly, is the historical context of the Ffair … the writing through our Cedweli rock, the spice in our curry, the fish in our chips, the cockle in our pie, the lava in our bread.

Ffair Cedweli, 2013
Cedweli Medieval Fair, to remember Gwellian and
Hanes Cedweli (the story of Kidwelly),
video © 2013 John Jeffrey, Grass Rootsco

The fun and games will come from the likes of two of Cedweli's and Cymru's finest up-and-coming bands, Fastabenj and Three Smiles Wide, see them now before they get too famous, and tickets to their gigs too expensive!

With them, on and off-stage, the brilliant Ysgawen minstrels, the comic Lazarus, stage hypnotist, Fanny and her Squeeze Box (no comment), Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi, Monster DJ and the Shabbies, the excellent Dai Sharkey, Original Home Brew, Rattlin' Bog, Professor Knowitalacus, Famous Last Words, Côr Pedair Heol, and last but not least, Paul & Steve, and the indescribable Vollsanger.


Ffair Cedweli - YsgawenThe Ysgawen minstrels, performing at Ffair Cedweli last year

And there's the drama, the story-telling, the poetry, the workshops and stalls, and the tales of the warrior queen of Deheubarth who took on the Normans at the Battle of Cedweli, of her brothers, her husband and her sons.

In the field will be Dr Bob the Apothecary, and his leeches hungry for your boils and pustules, CircusDayz, Have-a-go Archery, Story-telling and all kinds of goodies from 'the funny poet' John Bilsborough.

And don't miss the contest to find the best archer of Rhys Gryg's volunteer castle guard - ready to defend the town and castle from the Normans (and any one else) wanting to take us over … any time. Yma o hyd!

Ffair Cedweli - Three Smiles WideThree Smiles Wide, on-stage at the 2013 Ffair Cedweli

Still in its early days, the 'Rhys Gryg Ffair Cedweli', looks to be going from strength to strength. Hanes Cedweli, who organise the event, aim to make this Cedweli-made, Cedweli-bred festival a remembrance of our 'real' history.

Normal CADW admission charges apply on 18 and 19th July:

  Adult - £4.00
Family - £12.00*
Senior citizens, students and children under 16 - £3.00
Disabled and companion - Am ddim/Free
  Entry to the Ffair Cedweli is free to local residents on production of "Residents Pass" - obtainable at the Council Office sheds behind the Gwenllian Centre. You will need a passport-size photo with you when you go to collect it. The passes are free.
  *Admits two adults and all children under 16

Further details on Facebook: HanesCedweliCydweliKidwelly

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