Friday, January 31, 2014

THE LADIES OF LLANGOLLEN

The Ladies Of Llangollen pattern, ca. 1825.  Both the Glamorgan Pottery and the Cambrian Pottery made this pattern.
Years ago I found a plate with spider webs in the border (they are probably stylized flowers).  I loved the border and liked the center pattern, but hadn't a clue as to its history.  I discovered that the pattern is known as The Ladies Of Llangollen (pronounced a bit like hahlnglathlan).  I know I am hopelessly mispronouncing the name.  I read that the ladies, Eleanor Charlotte Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831), eloped at the end of the 18th century to Llangollen in Wales, where they lived in an elaborate cottage, Plas Newydd (New Place), for more than 50 years.  It was a great scandal.  The ladies were aristocrats whose main purpose was to wed, to mother, and to join with another aristocratic family and estate.  To run away with a man would have been enough to disgrace them.  It is not known if their relationship was a sexual one.  However, that was the gossip.  At first the ladies were ostracized (I think they always were by their peers), but they appealed to the intelligentsia and the famous.  Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington, Caroline Lamb and Josiah Wedgwood were just a few who visited Plas Newydd, where  an intellectual haven was created.  Today, Plas Newydd and the ladies are a beacon for all of us who value freedom of the self as well as the intellect.

We visited Llangollen a few years ago.  I wanted to see the house where the ladies lived.  It looked nothing like the castellated and towered building on the plate, but it was not exactly a cottage.  The ladies may have resembled the women on the horses when they were young, but not in the picture below.

An early 20th century postcard of Plas Newydd

The Ladies of Llangollen later in life
The inspiration for this post is the plate above and a wonderful post from a blog I follow, Nilly Hall.   Take a look!  I also recommend a  biography that I found in the gift shop of Plas Newydd titled The Ladies Of Llangollen by Elizabeth Mavor, Penguin Books 1971. 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the mention! We loved our visit to Plas Newydd too, and I also enjoyed Elizabeth Mavor's biography. I occasionally find porcelain figures of the contented pair and now I know what "their" blue and white pattern is too!

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    1. I didn't know there were porcelain figures of the happy pair. Such brave women!

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