From the Brecon County Times
The Brecon County Times of 14th December 1867 recorded the marriage of 'Miss Gough', eldest daughter of Richard Douglas Gough of Ynyscedwyn (Yniscedwyn) House, Ystradgynlais, to the Reverend Robert Gwilt, Rector of Icklingham, Suffolk.
The article is noteworthy for outlining in detail the gifts and presents that the bride received, including expensive items bought by public subscription as a mark of respect to the daughter of the local landowner. In addition, the information about the wedding procession, with triumphal arches, and the church allegedly full to the number of 1000 persons, paints a very vivid, and striking, picture of a past much-changed from the town of today.
WEDDING FESTIVITIES AT YNYSCEDWYN SWANSEA VALLEY
The upper portion of the Swansea Valley, at Ystradgynlais and Ystalyfera, was the scene of great festivity and rejoicing on Thursday morning, the 5th inst., on the occasion of the marriage of Miss Gough, eldest daughter of Richard Douglas Gough, Esq., of Ynyscedwyn House, to the Rev Robert Gwilt, Rector of Icklingham, in the county of Suffolk. Considerable preparations had been made by the erection of triumphal arches in prominent places on the route of the procession, and by providing mortars and cannon-the sound of which echoed again and again through the valley throughout the day. Sometime in the early part of October, soon after it became generally known that the event was to come off, a general desire was expressed by the inhabitants that some steps should be taken to show, on this auspicious occasion, the universal respect which was entertained for Mr Gough, as lord of the soil on which those thriving neighbourhoods exist. A preliminary meeting was accordingly held at the Ynyscedwyn Arms, on the 17th October last, the Rev Thomas Walters, B.D., Rector, in the chair, to consider what steps may be deemed necessary to adopt in the matter. A resolution, of which the following is a copy, was unanimously passed and adopted: That a committee be formed for presenting Miss Gough, of Ynyscedwyn House, with a suitable wedding present, from the tenants and others, on the occasion of her approaching marriage, as a token of the high estimation in which the family is held in the neighbourhood; and that a circular note be printed and issued to convene another meeting at the Ynyscedwyn Arms for that purpose, on Thursday, the 31st day of October, 1867, at four o'clock in the afternoon. It was also resolved that the tenants be asked to attend that meeting, and that they be requested to invite any other person of influence and energy in their neighbourhood, whom they may think would take an interest in carrying out such a proposal. A committee was accordingly formed, and very liberal and generous subscriptions were at once entered into, and the result, we are happy to announce, was that a beautiful set of pink coral and diamonds, consisting of bracelet, ear-rings, locket, and brooch, of the value of eighty guineas, was presented to Miss Gough on the day before the wedding. These valuable articles were procured from Messrs Howell and James, Regent Street, London.
The committee were most courteously received at Ynyscedwyn on the occasion, and an address beautifully engrossed, and illuminated on vellum, was read by the Rev Thomas Walters, after which the present was handed over to Miss Gough, by William Price, Esq., of Glantwrch. The following is a copy of the address in English and Welsh: To Miss Gough, of Yniscedwyn House, Swansea Valley.
We, the undersigned, being members of a committee formed by your father's tenants and other friends, for presenting you with the accompanying wedding present, consisting of a diamond and pink coral bracelet, ear-rings, brooch, and locket, respectfully beg your kind acceptance of the same, as a token of the high estimation in which the Ynyscedwyn family is held in the neighbourhood, as well as of the sincere and heartfelt wishes entertained by the community at large for your personal happiness and welfare on the occasion of your approaching marriage. We also earnestly hope and pray that God's blessing may abundantly rest upon you in that state into which you are about to enter; and that you, and the husband of your choice, may long live happily together, as eminent examples of a holy and useful life, in the bonds of the purest friendship, and of the most devoted love: Dated this 4th day of December, 1867.
The following reply was read by Miss Gough, on the receipt of the wedding present
Gentlemen, - I return to you my sincerest thanks for the beautiful and costly present which you, and other friends you represent, so courteously ask me to accept. I accept it with heartfelt pleasure, and I shall ever cherish a grateful remembrance of your kindness; and I wish to say that I cannot regard this manifestation of your kind and friendly sentiments, so munificently expressed on the occasion of my marriage, otherwise than as a proof of the esteem you entertain for my honoured father, and I am sure that he feels deeply gratified by your generosity towards me. I thank you, too, for your kind address and good wishes; and I have great pleasure in expressing my fervent hope, that the blessing of God may rest upon yourselves, and your families. And believe me to remain, faithfully yours, CONSTANCE GWENLLIAN HARRIET GOUGH. Ynyscedwyn, Dec. 4th, 1867.
A large number of other costly presents had been received by Miss Gough, and the committee were kindly allowed to inspect them. Amongst the number was a magnificent Bible presented by the Calvinistic Methodists of Cwmgiedd, with the following illuminated inscription: Presented to Miss Gough, of Ynyscedwyn House, on the occasion of her marriage, by the Cwmgiedd Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Society, as a small token of the high estimation in which the family is held in the neighbourhood. - Dec.1867. John Walters, Minister.
The following address was read by the Rev John Walters, Calvinistic Methodist Minister, in present of Miss Gough with the Bible To Miss Gough, of Ynyscedwyn House, Swansea Valley. We, the undersigned, representing the Society of Calvinistic Methodists at Cwmgiedd, beg to state that we appear here for the purpose of presenting you with the accompanying wedding present-that is to say, a Holy Bible, and respectfully beg your kind acceptance of the same as a token of the high estimation in which the Ynyscedwyn family is held in the neighbourhood, as well as the sincere wishes entertained by the Society we represent for your personal happiness and welfare on the occasion of your approaching marriage. We also, in union with the Society we represent, hope and pray that God's blessing may rest upon you in that state into which you are about to enter, and that you and the object of your choice may long live happily together in the bonds of pure and devoted love and that the Holy Book which we are now about presenting to you may be your infallible guide through life to a blissful eternity.
The other presents were very costly and numerous from friends on both sides, and it would be superfluous, if not almost impossible, to give a full description of them, or to convey any correct idea of their nature and character. These tokens of respect and esteem, so spontaneously evinced by such a large number of people, cannot fail to be highly gratifying to Mr and Mrs Gough and their friends. Amongst the many which were presented, was a beautiful stationery cabinet, composed of walnut wood, with plaques of Wedge wood china, by the old servants of the family, and also a pair of bronze candlesticks, representing knights in armour, for a writing table, and a handsome pair of green and white Bohemian glass lustres.
On the morning of the wedding day the bride, who was elegantly attired in the richest white Imperial de velours trimmed with costly lace, and veil of embroidered tulle, with beautiful ornaments of pink coral set with diamonds, was attended to the altar by her four sisters, the Misses Frances, Alice, Mabel, and Blanche Gough, who were all similarly attired in white llama dresses over white silk, with rose coloured sashes drawn through silver rings, cloaks of the same colour, edged with swansdown and white tulle bonnets trimmed with rose colour. The bridegroom was attended by his brother, Colonel Gwilt, C.B., in the capacity of best man. A numerous party of relations and friends were assembled at the church, and among the wedding party we notice, Mr and Mrs and Master Gough, Mrs Dansey, Mrs Pott, Miss Price (Herefordshire), Mr Green Price the M.P. for Radnorshire boroughs, and his lady, Mr Howel Gwyn, the M P. for Brecknock, and his lady, Mr and Mrs Gilbertson, Miss Gilbertson, Rev Henry Browne (Worcestershire), Colonel Gwilt, C.B., Rev Mr and Mrs Walters and Mr Watkin B Walters (Rectory, Ystrad), Mr and Mrs Gibbs (Suffolk), Mr Thomas Raynors (Herefordshire), Mrs Walter Jones Williams, Mr Richard Dansey (London), Mr Jenner (Wenvoe), Mr and Mrs Allaway and Mr Wood (Craigynos), Mr and Mrs and the Misses Price (Glantwrch), Mr Conway Lloyd, Rev Calvert Jones, Rev Thomas Thomas (Ystalyfera), Rev Thomas Davies (Abercrave), and the Rev S D Rees (Cwmtwrch.) The whole of the arrangements were good. The Church, which was most tastefully decorated, was crowded, and every seat was occupied, the admission to it being by ticket, and applications for them could not be satisfied. The church is said to contain 640 sittings, but on this occasion it was computed that there were at least a thousand persons in the church —every available standing room on the aisles and elsewhere was thickly occupied and there were quite as many, if not more, obliged to content them- selves with witnessing the procession outside on the churchyard, while along the route from Ynyscedwyn to the church, large masses had congregated here and there at or near the triumphal arches, who cheered the wedding party most lustily on their way to church, and on their return. The edifice was most tastefully decorated on the occasion. Over the porch entrance was placed the motto, very elaborately wrought, "God bless the Bride and Bride groom," and the interior of the church reflected great credit on those who had the arrangements of the decorations entrusted to him. There were several cannons placed in different positions some being at Ystalyfera, on the tips between Alltygrug and the railway station, under the charge of Mr William Davies. Others again were placed at the Darren, opposite the Ystalyfera Works, the superintendence of which Mr White and Mr Pearce kindly undertook, and the remaining ones, on the tips near the Ynyscedwyn Works, were in charge of Mr William Buckland-the whole forming a kind of triangular batteries at an almost equal distance from and around Ynyscedwyn House. By means of pre-arranged signals made at the vestry door, a volley was fired after the ring had been placed on the bride's finger, and by the same arrangement another volley was fired when the ceremony was over. After the proceedings were over, the party returned to Ynyscedwyn House, where a sumptuous dejeuner was served, and to which about sixty ladies and gentlemen sat down. Several excellent speeches were made at the breakfast. The Rev Henry Browne proposed the health of the bride and bride groom in a very pertinent and humorous speech, which caused considerable merriment and laughter and the reply of the bridegroom was equally facetious and good humoured, and was also full of deep feeling and pathos, and most telling in its effect on those present. About half-past three o'clock, the bride and bridegroom left in a carriage drawn by four grey horses, with postillions, for the Neath station, en route for a short tour. They received quite an ovation on their way through Ystalyfera, where a great number of triumphal arches, most gaily decorated with flags, etc, had been erected. It. appeared as if the whole population, numbering "between five and six thousand persons, had turned out to do honour to the event.
Ynyscedywn House, Ystradgynlais, from a drawing in a 1948 edition of 'Y Gurnosydd', the magazine of Gurnos Secondary School. It should be noted that the spelling of the house in the more distant past was often reported as Yniscedwyn.
Rear view of Saint Cynog's Church, Ystradgynlais, photograph by Val Trevallion. The church was built as it currently stands in 1861, so it would have been this building which played host to the Gough family wedding. Today, however, we see features added since that time, such as the bell enclosure, and the whole of the West wall, which was reconstructed in the mid 20th century, and the stained glass windows, which were added over time.
Modern view of the Ynyscedwyn Arms, Ystradgynlais. In the 19th century, the square in front of this hotel and inn was the centre of the town of Ystradgynlais. It featured a good number of additional buildings, since demolished, including ones where the wall to the pub's beer garden now stands, and the majority of these were shops of various kinds.
The Reverend Thomas Walters was a native of Trallong, near Brecon. He was appointed Rector of Ystradgynlais in 1856, and was responsible for the construction of the current church, on its new site, completed in 1861. He was the Rector of Ytsradgynlais for 18 years. In 1874 he left to become Vicar of Llansamlet and it was he who also built the parish church there. At his death, his body was brought back from Trallong, where he had retired, to be buried in the Churchyard in Ystradgynlais.