Christmas at Carmarthen County Museum




Take a hall whose foundations date back to the thirteenth century, panel it with oak, decorate with fir and lights and place the Myrddin Chorale on a magnificent staircase. This is the setting for the annual Christmas Festival of the Friends of Carmarthen County Museum, which took place this year on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 12th and 13th of December.

A capacity audience, most of whom were regular attenders at previous festivals, enjoyed a true celebration of Christmas. The chorale, under conductor John Morgan, a long-standing favourite with the audience, delighted with a varied selection of carols and Christmas music, some old, some new, some unaccompanied, others with a background provided by the fine museum piano. This old piano entered a new phase in its life when the pianist David Poulter performed a jazz solo on the themes of Jingle Bells and Tropical Heatwave. The programme included items by soloists and duettists, as well as readings by choir members Gwyn Edwards and Val and Mike Kirby. Members of the Friends Trevor Lloyd, Eiluned Rees and Jill Davies also contributed readings on a seasonal theme, and Anne Wright, Conservation Officer at the museum, demonstrated how to make a Christmas Cake with comic brilliance that arouse gales of laughter to match the storm which raged outside on the Tuesday night. The audience contributed their bit by joining enthusiastically in the traditional carols. Particularly enjoyable was "Jingle Bells" with the children in the audience leading the numerous choruses on bells provided by John. The quiz on a seasonal theme, by now a firm favourite with the audience, was won on the first evening by Tom Woodentop and on the second by Diana Bevan.

The chairman, Diana Pazienti, introduced the guests on both evenings. On Tuesday, Mr Roderic Morgan, formerly Chief Executive of the council, paid high tribute to the dedicated professional Museum staff for their work in caring for the priceless artifacts kept there and the preservation and reconstruction of the past. Thanks are due to them and the Antiquarian and Museum Movement for their contribution to the culture not only of Wales but of Europe. He made a plea to Carmarthen County Council and to the people of Carmarthen to continue and, indeed, to increase their support for the Museum and to recognise the inestimable value of the collection. He announced his intention of enrolling as a member forthwith, as indeed did Wednesday's guest, Councillor Pam Palmer, cabinet member for the environment.

The theme of enjoyment was continued after the end of the concert, when guests and choir mingled in the outer hall for mulled wine, fruit cup and mince pies. It was particularly pleasing to hear choir members say that they enjoyed the occasion quite as much as the audience, and looked forward to it from year to year. The Friends also look forward to repeating the occasion next year, for the money raised will all be spent for the benefit of the museum. We always welcome new members to the varied, friendly events.

How to make
a Christmas cake.

Anne Wright Conservation Officer at Carmarthen County Museum demonstrates the most  vital stage "check your whisky"

The result of checking the whisky too often!

The arches were formed when the cloisters of the medieval college, which preceded the use of the building as the Bishop's Palace, were roofed over early this century.

Christmas 2002

This year the whole of the museum was decorated by students of the Ammanford campus of Coleg Sir Gar as part of their coursework for the National Diploma in Interior Design.

The quality and inventiveness of their work proved an enjoyable bonus to museum visitors.

 The inner hall

The main hall, where the Friends hold most of their events. 

The entrance hall

The outer hall, with part of the shop.

Photographs by Dara Jasumani