Evan and Wales

Mr. Jenkins I find was mistakenly termed the British Consul at Brussels; he is in fact the English Episcopal clergyman. I think perhaps we shall find that the best plan will be for papa to write a letter to him by and bye, but not yet.
– Charlotte Brontë to her sister Emily, ?7 November 1841

 

Monica writes of her quest for her great-great-grandfather Evan Jenkins:

All that was known in my family was that Rev. Evan Jenkins had gone to Cambridge University, became chaplain to King Leopold of the Belgians – the ‘dearest uncle’ of Victoria and Albert – and had been born ‘somewhere in Wales’. I turned first to the Alumni Cantabrigienses online, but the entry for Evan Jenkins who matriculated at Trinity College in 1817 was confused: either this Evan became rector in Dowlais (a virulently anti-Chartist who knew Lady Charlotte Guest) or he became a chaplain in Brussels.

The Clergy database had my Evan Jenkins in Brussels, but dithered about whether he was at Oxford or Cambridge. But more importantly it recorded that he had been ordained by the Bishop of London. I was nervous when I went to the London Metropolitan Archives but I excitedly discovered there his ordination bundles. He was indeed a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, made deacon and then priest in 1825 to a curacy in Brussels. And inside the bundle I found a note by his elder brother:

‘1794
Novr. 19. Evan fil. Evan Jenkins Penycastell’
The above is a true copy from the Register Book of Baptisms of Llanbadarn Odyn extracted Sept. 21st 1824 by me
D. Jenkins perpetual curate of
Pudsey, Yorkshire

In the Cambridge admissions book Evan was noted as born in Aberystwyth, presumably the nearest large town. Where and what was Penycastell? A farmhouse or a village? I found miraculous survivals of documents in the National Library of Wales, and on a gorgeous June morning I walked along the embankment of the Cors Caron from Tregaron to Evan’s extraordinary school, Ystrad Meurig. Most movingly, after some hopeless map reading and fights with Welsh vegetation, I was invited in for a mug of tea in the farmhouse where Evan was born in 1794. The story of its discovery is in my book.

Charlotte Brontë and Arthur Nicholls spent the first night of their honeymoon in Conwy, in North Wales, on 29 June 1854. Charlotte mentions one drive they took from Llanberis, at the foot of Snowdon, to Beddgelert, which ‘surpassed anything I remember of the English Lakes’. You can walk from Beddgelert to Conwy along the Snowdonia Way, created by Evan’s three times great-grandson, Alex Kendall: The Snowdonia Way.

Guidebook for low level and easy walking routes in… | Cicerone Press
Katherine Jenkins, Welsh National Anthem. – YouTube
Fern Hill – YouTube

The photos show the little footbridge over the Afon Teifi in Ceredigion, hidden by Welsh vegetation, and the Teifi curling through the ancient bog of Cors Caron near Ystrad Meurig and the ruins of Ystrad Fflur (the abbey of Strata Florida). The tithe map locates Evan’s home of Penycastell in the parish of Llanbadarn Odwyn.

Monica Kendall

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