Living Histories Cymru

Bringing hidden history to life

Living Histories Cymru presents lively talks and short plays about women
and LGBT+ people from history – with an emphasis on Wales.

Ladies of Llangollen

An Extraordinary Female Affection:
The Life and Love of the Ladies of Llangollen

See an intriguing pair of women brought back to life through letters, diaries, songs – and sensational headlines. 

Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler eloped together in 1778 and became known as the Ladies of Llangollen.

These two upper-class Irish women settled at Plas Newydd in Llangollen, North Wales. They lived there for the rest of their lives, visited or commented on by everyone from poet William Wordsworth to sapphic diarist and industrialist Anne Lister.

The pair were the object of much speculation, which continues to this day. Why did they share a bed with each other, and a grave with their devoted servant Mary Caryll? Was this an 18th-century romantic friendship, or a prototype lesbian marriage?

With their house and garden still tramped through by tourists, the Ladies of Llangollen are a legend. It is a legend that is recounted – with zest and beaver hats – by Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler. (Written and researched by Jane Hoy.)

Comments:

‘The performance was superb – an evocative, moving, and at times laugh-out-loud rendition of the story of the Ladies of Llangollen.’
– Prof. Matthew Jarvis, University of Wales

Other audience members:
‘Sensational!’
‘Thank you for treating us to your Ladies. I don’t think I will ever forget the flowers and cows.’
‘Brought to life not only the women but also the household and house.’
‘Fabulous evening. Thoroughly enjoyed it.’

The Oldest ‘New Woman’ and her Incorrigible Welsh Friend:
Frances Power Cobbe & Mary Charlotte Lloyd 

“A deeply moving and funny animation of these inspiring women’s stories” – audience member

Jane Hoy and Helen Sandler as Mary Lloyd and Frances Power Cobbe (by Alan Hale)

This is a lively conversation in costume, telling the true story of two women who contributed to the struggle for women’s rights in the 19th century, helping to pave the way for the Suffragettes. Frances Power Cobbe (b.1822) was Irish, a journalist, political activist and theologist. Mary Charlotte Lloyd (b.1819) was a Welsh sculptor from Corwen. Frances and Mary were partners for many years. They met in Italy where Mary was studying with the world-famous Welsh sculptor, John Gibson of Conwy. This presentation explores their partnership and conversations they had between themselves and their friends about their lives and passions.

Performers: Helen Sandler & Jane Hoy. Written and researched by Jane Hoy.

Find out more

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Please contact us to book Living Histories Cymru for your group or event.