In 2016 I made a journey to Cardiff and Dinas Powys in Wales to see the place where my grandfather was born in 1888 and where my great grandfather was Headmaster of the National School for 17 years from 1887 to 1904. My wife and I arrived in London on Saturday June 25 and we caught the Great Western Railway train from Paddington Station to Cardiff. The two hour journey brought us to Cardiff Station just as news had arrived that the Welsh National Football team had defeated Northern Ireland and the streets filled with singing fans as we walked to The Royal Cardiff Hotel in the midst of the celebration. We sat an outdoor table in front of Pieminister Café and we enjoyed Venison Pie for dinner while watching the raucus celebration continue in the streets of Cardiff and heard the singing until the wee hours of the morning.
On Sunday we caught the first train to Dinas Powis where we were met by Victoria Greene who took us by car to church at St. Andrew’s Major where we met Rev. Andrew James and his dog Coco. I was surprised to see a plaque on the church wall with the names of Headmasters of the National School including my great-grandfather John Benjamin Mockford who lived in Dinas Powis from 1887 to 1904.
After the church service we visited with parishioners at a lovely coffee hour hosted by Cicely Green at her beautiful home at Garn Hill. I walked into the peaceful garden around her home and took many photos.
After coffee Peter Hilary Jones offered to be our driver and guide to show us around Dinas Powis where we visited a local historian Joan Andrews who lived in a home once occupied by a former student of John Benjamin Mockford. She shared her research on the late Victorian period and some interesting findings about School Master Mockford . Joan suggested that we visit the Glamorgan Archives where she had found the Headmaster’s Log.
After a fascinating hour of visiting with Joan at her house our host Peter drove us to the Twyn, a small park in Dinas Powis with a stone monument and War Memorial across the street from the site where the National School was located at the time of Mockford’s work at the school. The local history book “Dinas Powys St Andrews Major & Michaelston-le-Pit: From Old Photographs” by Chrystal Tilney included photos that identified John Benjamin Mockford and his wife on page 46.
We continued our tour past Wenvoe Castle where Major General Lee had lived a century ago and a man who was a benefactor of the National School and close friend of John Benjamin Mockford. General Lee served as Best Man at my great grandfather’s wedding to Elizabeth Agnes “Cissie” Cram in 1894. Cissie was John Benjamin Mockford’s second wife after his first wife Julia Bull Mockford died in 1888 from a post partum hemorage after giving birth to my grandfather Arthur Julian Mockford.
We were surprised to receive a nice letter from Tony Welshman, a Cram relative who provided us with some photos and family history. Unfortunately we were unable to meet Mr. Welshman as he was out of town at the time but it was my first time to connect with anyone from the Cram family and I thought that some of our Mockford relatives from John Benjamin’s second family might have an interest in the Cram family history too. I was determined to visit the Glamorgan archives but that would have to wait for a day when the archives were open. Our tour of Dinas Powis took us back to Peter’s home the old parsonage of St. Andrews Major where his wife Anne had made us a delicious supper and our conversation continued to the end of the afternoon when she kindly returned us by car to Cardiff.
The next day we toured Cardiff Castle with friends from Portland that surprised us by timing their arrival at Cardiff Castle just before we entered the gate and joined the same tour of the magnificent house of the Bute Family and then a walk on the grounds to the Norman Keep with Welsh Flag flying overhead.
After the tour of the castle we decided to take the boat tour from Bute Park across Cardiff Bay to Mermaid Quay where the Dr. Who Museum and Wales Millennium Centre are among the tourist attractions.