08 December 2021

Finally visiting the local museum, in Welsh

We have a local museum in Bangor! I've known that for years. It's called Storiel, which is a pun of words; it sort of combines Stori (yes, story) and Oriel (gallery) as it is both a historical museum that tells about the story of Bangor, and also an art gallery. I've never been. I like museums with a historical slant, but somehow I never got around to it. But then suddenly I got an email that alerted me to an event for Welsh learners; there was going to be a tour of the place in Welsh. And that was the encouragement I needed. I signed up. And one day I went to Bangor for a lecture, then had lunch, and then went to Storiel. And slowly a small crowd gathered. There were three people I knew; one Welsh tutor, and two people (Trish and Harvey) I had been in an online Welsh class with. This was the first time I saw them in the flesh! It was good to see them. You always know a class was going to be colourful if they were in it. 

Storiel, with the Main Arts building of the University in the background

When we were ready we first got an introduction about the building; it seems to be the second oldest building in all of Bangor, after the cathedral. It had originally been the bishop's palace. That made sense; from the front door a path lead literally linea recta to the cathedral. I had never realised it was that old! Learned something already. Then we went in, and got a bit of a whistle-stop tour of what the place had to offer. Old costumes, old furniture, old utensils, archaeological finds, a Welsh Not, and loads more. And the building itself was worth attention too; they had tried to keep some of the old elements exposed. Amazing!

Old halftimber!

The lady who was showing as around was also working for the David Lloyd George museum in Llanystumdwy, and she pointed out some links. Storiel had a beautiful old wonky chair from Lloyd George's parental house, that he seems to have been sitting in a lot, listening to the words of older relatives. Very evocative.

She also guided this through several rooms where artists were exhibiting. There was one I quite liked! His name was Pete Jones, and he was clearly quite keen on seascapes with threatening skies above. 

The guided tour actually ended by a model of Telford Bridge, that Menai Bridge is named after. I had seen images of the bridge as it had been built before, but only now did I realise that originally, it had four chains holding up the deck. Two on each side, and two and the middle. Only the ones on the side are left! And the bridge is heavier now; footpaths have been bolted onto the sides. I knew the chains are not original; I can only suppose that the new chains are several times stronger than the old ones, given that now so few of them have to hold up so much bridge.

With that realisation it all ended; the lady thanked us and we thanked her, and then we were free to either roam freely in the building, or leave. I would have loved to stay but I had work to do. I left. But I fully intend to come back! I think it will be more in the forefront of my mind now. Watch this space…

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