“Te Party” Talysarn

27th November, 1879


This article in y Cenedl Cymreig just shows how many women of Talysarn were not ‘idle frivolous girls, organising and competing in this giant tea party in 1875…. The mixture of their names + the house names = as evocative as anything of the lives of Merched Chwarel in the peak of the quarrying industry.

In The Welsh Dresser: A Case Study, Moira Vincantelli talks of the importance of these tea parties as national icons of respectability (we have found lots of articles about similar tea parties in the old newspapers):

“I want to suggest the teacup also stands as a signifier
- a signifier of respectable feminine identity.

In 1847 the Education Report on Wales, the 'Blue Books', had accused the Welsh of barbaric customs and Welsh women of sexual laxity because of the custom of bundling where couples were allowed to spend the night together before marriage.

In part at least, in response to this, and in conjunction with the rise of Welsh Nonconformism, female sexuality was strictly policed.

At the same time, in association with the religious revivals, women became leading participants in the Temperance Movement. The Welsh tea-party became a national icon focused around the respectable activity of drinking tea as opposed to the non respectable activity of drinking beer. The collecting of china and glass for display on the dresser became interwoven with a Welsh feminine identity. The place where they were displayed - the dresser - became a signifier of both Welshness and female domestic prowess.”

Story contributed by Lindsey Colbourne