Postcards from Tongwynlais – Part 8

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We’ve got a bumper collection of postcards for you this month. They all feature beautiful pencil sketches of Castell Coch by Joyce Capon.

Old postcard featuring drawing of Castell Coch

Dating the cards is tricky because they haven’t been posted. They were printed by “William Lewis (Printers) Ltd., 43, Penarth Road, Cardiff.” Some quick research tells me that William Lewis died in 1918 but operated the business as sole proprietor from 1873 to 1913. If we assume that the postcards were produced during his lifetime, then they’re at least 100 years old. The business was taken over by William’s son, Sidney William Lewis.

Text from an old postcard featuring drawing of Castell Coch

The next cards feature detailed sketches of the courtyard, Well Tower and Keep.

Old postcard featuring drawing of Castell Coch

The final card has some writing in Welsh on the back and a list of names. A friend has helped me translate some of the words but I’m afraid it doesn’t make much sense. The final line is “July 1st (19)33”. This date makes me wonder if the postcards were produced when William’s son was running the business. Perhaps he was known as William Lewis and kept the business name.

Text from an old postcard featuring drawing of Castell Coch
  • wyneb = face
  • tlws = pretty
  • sydd = which is
  • uwchlaw = above
  • gwerth = value/worth

I posted the text on Twitter and Rhys Owen pointed out that the second word is “tlws”, not “Hws”. He suggested that this translates to, “A pretty face is priceless.”

Carol Spackman thinks the translation is, “A pretty face is above worth” and has been kind enough to ask Matthew Williams, the former curator of Cardiff Castle, to take a look at the postcards.

“[She] was one of several artists interested in engraving at the time. These date, I would say, from the early 30s. The firm of William Lewis was in business until after WWII. She will probably have written to the 4th Marquess of Bute to seek permission to go inside Castell Coch. Note the wine barrel being used at the bottom of the steps – a vestige of the vineyard that closed in 1914.”

Matthew Williams – former curator of Cardiff Castle

Old postcard featuring drawing of Castell Coch

We love these drawings and it’s great to see Castell Coch inspiring artists all those years ago. If you have any information about Joyce Capon, we’d love to hear from you.

Update (28 Sep 2019): Thanks to Rhys Owen and Carol Spackman for helping with the translation. I’ve edited the article to include this new information.

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Founder and editor of Tongwynlais.com and mycardiffnorth.com.

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