Cardigan Castle: The Wrong Rhys ap Gruffydd and Other News


As was the case with most Welsh castles Cardigan changed hands many times, yet of all its occupants the most widely known is undoubtedly Rhys ap Gruffydd (1132 – 1197), ‘The Lord Rhys’, ruler of Deheubarth and patron of the first recorded eisteddfod in 1176, when he invited poets and musicians from all parts of Wales and beyond.

Perhaps understandably, those now controlling the Castle have sought to use The Lord Rhys in up-front displays to disguise their lack of any real interest in the history and cultural significance of Castell Aberteifi. This was to be done by having the great man’s coat of arms stamped on assorted gewgaws, banners, plus of course the famous oversized bardic chair. And yet . . .

Since I became involved with this issue I was aware of an undercurrent, a suspicion held by more than a few that someone, somewhere, had made a monumental cock-up, with the result that the Castle was using the wrong coat of arms! Let me explain.

The Lord Rhys, as I’ve said, was the ruler of Deheubarth, and grandson of Rhys ap Tewdwr, who in turn was descended from Rhodri Mawr (820 – 878). But Rhys ap Gruffydd is a name regularly encountered among the Welsh nobility and gentry in the medieval period. One reason why, in an age of almost universal illiteracy, coats of arms were so important – they told people who you were. And why poets and genealogists had to know the lineages. However, this proliferation of Rhys ap Gruffydds can lead the modern amateur into mistakes, and this is what seems to have happened at Cardigan.

In the hope of clearing up the confusion I took the advice of Rhodri Dafis and contacted Thomas Lloyd, Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary. I asked him quite simply to tell me the coat of arms for The Lord Rhys who held Cardigan Castle in the second half of the twelfth century. His response can be found below.Coat of arms Lord Rhys caption

“The arms of The Lord Rhys are simply: Gules, a lion rampant in a border indented Or (ie: Red, a lion rampant gold, within a jagged gold border). These are the ancestral arms of the Princes of Deheubarth, as given to Rhys ap Tewdwr.

There has been confusion with his arms and those of Sir Rhys ap Gruffudd, Sheriff of Carmarthen 1322, died 1356, but he was descended from Ednyfed Fychan, and had quite different arms with six small lions on a red background above and below a jagged silver band across the centre bearing three ravens. (My apologies for non heraldic terminology, not knowing if you know the correct lingo or not!).”

Everything at Cardigan Castle purporting to be the armorials of The Lord Rhys (ap Gruffydd) carry the three ravens . . . of the much later Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd (? – 1356), and these ravens in turn derive from Urien Rheged of the Old North. The confusion may arise because the Ednyfed Fychan (ap Cynwrig) (mentioned above by Thomas Lloyd) married Gwenllian, daughter of Yr Arglwydd Rhys, but daughters did not inherit their father’s coats of arms. Or perhaps because in the fifteenth century the line of Dinefwr was re-united with the House of Deheubarth when Thomas ap Gruffydd, married Elizabeth ferch John Gruffydd, descendant of The Lord Rhys. Their son Sir Rhys ap Thomas raised an army in support of Henry Tudor and is said to have been the man who killed Richard III at Bosworth. Though Sir Rhys’ grandson, yet another Rhys ap Gruffydd, was said to have been plotting with the Scots to make himself Prince of Wales, and executed for treason in 1531. Another route to confusion might be the fact that The Lord Rhys may have called Cardigan Castle home but he held many other castles, including Dinefwr.

Ravens display

So who might be responsible for this appalling mistake, this insult to heraldry, this marketing exercise masquerading as history?  From enquiries I have made the mistake seems to be a few years old, and the recently retired trustee Glen Johnson, who doubles as the local historian, denies any hand in the choosing of the coat of arms. The suspicion grows that certain persons who have been mentioned in this blog many times may be responsible.

Perhaps this awful mistake should serve as a salutary warning against relying on Wikipedia, where the entry for Yr Arglwydd Rhys makes the same mistake with regard to the coat of arms. The Wikipedia entry was updated as recently as Monday last week, August 24th, by someone called Dudley Miles, who lives in Finchley, London, and whose interests are Anglo-Saxon history and nature reserves!

The thing to remember about Wikipedia is that it’s a simple matter for anyone who has an account to sign into a page and make changes. If you go to the page for Rhys ap Gruffydd and look at the small tabs on the top you’ll see one that reads ‘edit’ and another ‘view history’. Click on the latter and you’ll find a number of pages listing changes; some of these are editing or removing what someone else has written and there is even talk of “vandalism”.

So when it comes to the coat of arms for Rhys ap Gruffydd, The Lord Rhys, we can either follow the ever-changing and consequently unreliable Wikipedia, or we can accept the description of the Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary. The decision should be an easy one.

The inescapable conclusion is that the three ravens being used by Cardigan Castle are in no way connected with The Lord Rhys. They belong to the family of the later Sir Rhys ap Gruffydd.


Regular readers will recall the curious business of how trustee Sue ‘English!’ Lewis, acolyte to Lady Tucker, was appointed to the newly-created post of Facilities Officer very soon after losing her job as editor of the Tivy-Side Advertiser, and how the job was only advertised online, between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. The post was obviously created for Sue Lewis, and ‘advertised’ in the hope that no one else would notice.

Despite this plan of Baldrick-like cunning there were other applicants, one of whom – possibly others – were better qualified than Sue Lewis. This quandary was surmounted with the bizarre decision to Sue 'English!' Lewisappoint what appeared to be two Facilities Officers, Sue Lewis and Carys Ifan. Though I have heard that as the year progressed Carys Ifan became the Events Co-ordinator while Sue Lewis moved on to become Acting Director, taking over the role vacated by the recently sacked and gagging clause-bound Cris Tomos. Maybe Cris Tomos was given the elbow to resolve the absurdity of having two Facilities Officers. Who knows what goes on at Cardigan Castle.

Either way, Carys Ifan has now handed in her resignation. She joins Cris Tomos and others who have left such as Rhian Medi Jones, who was the Education Officer at the Castle until the ‘reorganisation’ towards the end of last year which removed a number of posts as the excuse to create the job for Sue ‘English!’ Lewis. It may be coincidental, but almost all those who have been eased out or made to feel unwelcome by the Gang of Four are locals, with roots in the area. (I had to be careful how I phrased that lest I gave ammunition to Phil Parry at Wales Eye, for whom sacking people for being Welsh would not be racist, but complaining about it would!)

No doubt the advertisement for the post of Facilities Officer will appear in the Belgrade Evening News next week, one night only, next to the ads for chiropody services. And of course in Cyrillic.


Another curious and suspect practice by the controlling clique is to approach dissidents secretly and individually to offer private meetings with Jonathan ‘Joff’ Timms who acts as secretary and front man for the Gang of Four, even though he lives over three hundred miles away in Kent. It is never promised that Lady Tucker or any member of her immediate entourage will be in attendance at these secret meetings, just Timms and perhaps one of the more ‘pliable’ trustees.

Seeing as all advances have thus far (to my knowledge) been rejected by dissidents unless Lady Tucker attends it’s difficult to know what Timms hopes to achieve by these meetings. Are they attempts to intimidate opponents? Attempts to win them over? Attempts to sow discord among the opponents of the current regime? Or a combination of all these? Maybe the set up will be ‘good cop, bad cop’, with Timms playing Mr Nasty and someone else pretending to hold him back as he polishes the brass knuckles.

As yet I have not been approached. But I am a man of principle and honour . . . consequently my silence will not come cheap.


The more I look at the Gang of Four + Timms the more I am reminded of those wise words spoken by Benjamin Franklin in 1776, just after he and the other Founding Fathers had signed the Declaration of Independence. He said, “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately”. What he meant was that the breakaway colonists’ best hope of avoiding the noose was to stick together and see it through.

It may strike some as an odd analogy to make, but I see La Tucker and her cronies in a similar position. People are deserting them, their position becomes ever more exposed and isolated, and their only hope of survival is to stick together and brazen it out. Not least because while they remain in charge they have control of the records and other evidence of the way the Castle has been mismanaged these past few years, and its original mission subverted. Were they to be removed then those records – unless they went ‘missing’ – would become available to the new trustees.

The real concern now for those with the best interests of Cardigan Castle at heart should be that those whose job it was to independently monitor this project have either been negligent or else have fallen under Lady Tucker’s spell. To the point where the Heritage Lottery Fund, CADW and the ‘Welsh’ Government may have a vested interest in seeing the status quo maintained to avoid an even worse scandal than we see now. If so, then this is a short-sighted policy that  can only result in the failure of this £12m project.


September 10th sees the Annual General Meeting of the Cadwgan Building Trust that runs the Castle, and even though 80-year-old Lady Tucker is standing down (to comply with the rotation system), she is expected to be immediately re-elected by her gang. In fact, she has already been nominated for re-election by Glen Johnson who, you will recall from my previous post, stood down from his role as trustee due to online ‘persecution’. Yet here he is still involving himself, still doing the bidding of Lady Tucker, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also allowed himself to be sweet-talked into serving as a ‘Patron’. He will also remain a guide. Some ‘resignation’ that was, Glen! Read it all here in the AGM agenda.

An outcome acceptable to the Gang has been assured by barring critics from joining, and attending the AGM. I have seen one very recent e-mail from ‘Joff’ Timms to someone who applied to become a member of the Cadwgan Trust. Timms wrote: “In the light of your well publicised criticisms of the trust, the trustees have asked Cllr —— —– and me to try to arrange to meet you to discuss ways in which you would be willing to support the trust in realising its objects. Following this meeting, Cllr —– and I would make a recommendation to the trustees about whether your application should be approved.”

In other words, ‘Submit, in advance, to the will of Lady Tucker and her cohorts or you will not be allowed to play any role in the running of Castell Aberteifi’. This way of doing things is comparable to a ruling junta in a third world country allowing ‘elections’, but restricting those elections to candidates who agree with the junta! And just in case any dissident sneaks through the screening process, there is a short and strict AGM agenda with “Any other business at the discretion of the chairman”. The chairman is presumably Timms, so if someone wants to raise an issue embarrassing to the regime he will refuse to allow it to be debated. This is what passes for democracy in Cardigan Castle – Joe Stalin would have approved!

Listen, Joff, or whatever your name is, this AGM should not be about maintaining your friend Jann Tucker and her gang in power; membership and participation should be open to everyone with the best interests of the Castle, the town and the wider area at heart. You are damaging the whole £12m project by reducing it to nothing more than a desperate struggle by you and your friends to stay in power against mounting opposition.

And who are you, anyway? You, living in Kent, with no known connections to Aberteifi; who are you to sit in judgement and decide which locals are allowed to serve their Castle? Who the hell are you to turn away people whose ancestors perhaps knew The Lord Rhys, and could have told your women friends that there are no bloody ravens in his coat of arms? Time is surely running out for you, them, and the hangers-on.

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Hefin Wyn

To be fair Dai Dom Da I do not consider myself to be photogenic. I shied away from the photo opportunity.

In fact, I took a similar photograph myself with my two and a ha’penny camera which I then posted on my face-book account with a short resume of the proceedings.

Again, being of a shy retiring nature I did not venture mentioning any of the points made in my stirring speech. I spoke in Welsh, which is a habit of mine, and perhaps the Tivyside reporter, in the staunch Sue ‘English’ Lewis tradition, was not conversant with the lingo.

Nevertheless, it was gratifying to see the posting receive over a 100 ‘hoffi’. Most of the on-line savvy inhabitants of Hermon must have clicked.

Not a single harassing comment though.


Back to the Griffin Glasshouse. Has this building had Planning Approval and Listed Building Consent? I failed to find any reference to a glasshouse in the planning application records on Ceredigion’s website. I would have thought that any new building within the site curtilage of a listed building would need planning approval and a response from CADW. Having had some experience of CADW’s insistence on traditional materials and traditional forms of construction in the environs of a listed building I would be very surprised if a powder coated aluminium and steel structure would be considered suitable – albeit in a ‘Victorian-style.’ Perhaps you should ask CADW what they know about the glasshouse.

Dai Dom Da

Anon – If that public meeting did take place, the public was not invited. Cyfeillion Rhys ap Gruffydd called repeatedly for a public meeting and were ignored.

Returning to the Tivy-Side for a moment, the paper also carries a piece recording the ceremony which took place last week to thank Cris Tomos for his hard work. There is a photo of the assorted rabble rousers, riff raff and bigots who turned up. Strangely, Hefin Wyn seems to have been air-brushed from the snap. He also gave an eloquent and generous speech to mark the occasion. No mention of that either, although the piece does quote one or two others who did not speak.

Perhaps he wasn’t there after all and we’d all consumed too much vodka Red Bull in the Eagle, because surely an objective and balanced local newspaper would have told us if he was.


Having a last glance at this site before shooting off for a week in Kernyw, where I always enjoy good native hospitality and manage the odd side swipe at any Londonistas prancing around the neighbourhood. I also manage to go a week without all this electronic crap going on around me, but will rush back !!

Then my gut went all sour when I noticed Jac’s note about Kosovans in the tweet sidebar. What a F***in’ liberty ! During the years of the B.liar madness, Kosovo became one of his pet projects ( allied to the spivs from U.S.A ) to humiliate Serbia for daring to challenge their combined divine wisdom over the breakup of old Yugoslavia. It still rankles to see the outcome of that obscene campaign, creating a gangster state out of an ethnic enclave that was a known haven for assorted bandits and other deviants, most of them hiding behind the convenient screen of adherence to Islam ( here we go again ! ). Despite being gifted their own turf, these lazy no-good bastards raced across Europe like a bunch of dark ages barbarians setting up their usual trades – drugs, whoring, arms trading – in many capital cities and eventually emerging as, yes you’ve guessed it right, people traffickers. Well, with impecable Islam credentials, they were able to set up shop in all those Midddle East hot spots created by the Blair/Bush military intervention and arms trade circus and shift the large numbers of displaced people wholesale via the Balkans into Europe – and that’s where we are today.

People would do well to remember Kosovo, the Serbs do for their own reasons but we should regard it as a warning of how chickens come home to roost. It would be nice if we could drag B.liar and his chums off to the Hague to account for their antics, though it would probably be cheaper to commission a Kosovan bandit to terminate him with the usual dose of extreme prejudice.


I’m not sure about that! I have good friends in Albania and have never had a problem there at all. The issue that may affect us all are the Albanian neighbours in Greece, another fine bunch of people.


Well of course! The reasoning amongst the colonisers is that the thick natives would lap that up – just mention dragons and possible connections to one of their silly language names & you will make them roll over on their backs to have their bellies tickled whilst they sip leek cawl and munch faggots & peas!

Understandable as they are obviously too thick & lazy to know how to put glass panes in wooden frames. Highly technical jobs like that require the expertise of Anglo Saxons from the other side of Clawdd Offa!

PATHETIC! But I hope they keep it up – given enough rope they’ll hang themselves without any help.


Some questions before the Cadwgan AGM:

Did this meeting ever take place?

How did the AGM move itself into September? All the previous ones were in the darkness of November. Not anything to do with a staff lay off that may come as the busy season ends? Last year’s AGM was overshadowed in PR terms by staff reductions.

Dai Dom Da

This week’s Tivy-Side Advertiser carries a nice little example of the increasingly bonkers outpourings of the castle’s spin machine.

The kitchen gardens behind the house have acquired a new Victorian-style glasshouse supplied by Griffin Glasshouses of Hampshire, there being nobody local capable of building a wooden frame with panes of glass, apparently.

The MD of Griffin Glasshouses, Linda Lane (i.e. Equinox), tells us that this is a family owned business, and that the name Griffin may possibly derive from the old Welsh name Gruffydd, and that the family has a dragon on its crest (oh God, not more heraldry), so winning the contract was a bit like coming home!

And to think that Equicrap was paid good money to come up with this drivel.


“You want to spend your time cultivating your plants not worrying about the maintenance of your glasshouse. With this in mind, we manufacture from aluminium and steel which is powder coated in any colour of your choice giving your glasshouse all the appeal of a traditional wooden structure but without the need to sand and re-paint it every few years.” – From the Griffin Glasshouses website.
A medieval castle isn’t a proper castle without an aluminium-framed greenhouse is it?

Dai Dom Da

If proof were needed that things have gone seriously wrong at the castle, we now have the departure of Carys Ifan after less than a year in post, and a man living in Kent with no known links to the area apart from, perhaps, owning a holiday cottage in Aberporth, writing to someone who commands enormous respect locally to say that their application to join the trust is being rejected.

Joining, or rather re-joining, the board we now have Keith Evans, the erstwhile Independent leader of Ceredigion County Council. One of the biggest upsets in the 2012 local government elections came when Keith was booted out by the ungrateful citizenry of Llandysul.

Normally the only way veteran Independents release their grip on municipal office is when they are carried out feet first in a box, so Keith must have really upset the voters.

But then his hopes of re-election can’t have been helped when it emerged that he had accidentally overclaimed £5,500 in travel expenses in 2011, the distance from Llandysul to Aberaeron being rather less than he had believed. Perhaps someone should have bought him a “system nafigeiddio cymuned”:

Warning: this video may not be suitable viewing if your name is Phil Parry

Ianto Phillips

I have no interest in heraldry, and this is not to defend anyone involved in Cardigan Castle, but from the little I remember from the matter on reading about Welsh History in general, isn’t it the case that heraldry never really “caught on” in Wales until it became redundant? This sort of “strutting berbelang on a field azure with purple scallops and a fesse tripartite wearing silk knickers” nonsense. Even under the Tudors weren’t the Welsh notorious for breaking the rules about images and colour, and using shields broken up into a hundred and one divisions just using them to describe their ancestry? And most of the arms at the time of (eg) the Lord Rhys being attributed rather than actual?

Of course, the blog does show the lack of any sort of reasonable research done on the matter by the normal suspects, but important to remember how the Welsh at the time actually regarded it. Maybe.

Of course, I may well be talking bollocks.

Ianto Phillips

Oh, absolutely, people have always done such things, and as I said, Welsh heraldry seemed particularly obsessed with showing lineage- but as far as I understand it, “heraldry” is a specific set of arbitrary rules concerning forms and colours used for such reasons which (just from what I have read here and there, as I say, I am at least as ignorant on the subject as you!) the Welsh seem to have been comparatively notorious for breaking until relatively recent times, and the early arms and symbols being often attributed to past figures to fit in with comparatively recently introduced “rules of heraldry”.

I’m sometimes (overly!) annoyed by the establishment figures dealing with Welsh heraldry seeming sometimes to want to stress the idea of this “English and Welsh” Heraldry going back into Welsh history as far as possible, reducing any idea of a separate Welsh attitude towards it- as with all other things which show a specific difference in Wales.

Not important though, and a tangent off the main point, as as I say, your blog shows up the slovenly attitude of the usual suspects towards Welsh History.


history is in the past, some of it very distant. I accept that heritage is part of our culture but contend that we should be far more concerned now with how we move towards our future.

As far as Castell Aberteifi is concerned I don’t particularly care too much which “version” of history is projected, my priority would be simply to address the present abuse of history, heritage etc replacing it with a tacky imported construct which bears no relevance to any version of the past and does no good to the local community’s present or future welfare. There is ample evidence according to various correspondents that the venture has deviated wholesale from its originally stated purpose which was the platform that attracted funding. Thus those who have steered the project on its wayward course should now depart, and be held accountable by those statutory bodies that are supposedly in place to ensure compliance and performance.

Ianto Phillips

Oh, as I said above in both my posts, it’s the slovenly attitude towards researching the matter showing the contempt held which is the important thing, so also agree with your post.


The arms shown in your pictures from the castle correspond to neither of the two descriptions given by your herald friend. Did they just make the design up? It would be par for this particular misguided course.


The wrong Rhys ap Gruffydd? Maybe it was right that the historian resigned after all? Or maybe he did notice and was shot down whilst trying to put it right?

Chris Corrigan

It is disgraceful that the organisers of the Cadwgan Building Trust AGM should adopt this siege mentality, where anyone with awkward questions are not welcome. It all sounds so secretive. There is much public money involved here – Mr Timms and his friends should explain why they wish to suppress criticism, and explain it publicly.

The Trustees must also publicly explain the debacle over the raven emblems on the Castle’s flags and banners. It is like having a kangaroo on a New Zealand flag. It is a total shambles!

(Congratulations are due to Jac O’The North for revealing this).

PS: Regarding the ravens, perhaps there is a relevance to a well-known legend concerning the Tower Of London. Charles II ordered that ravens at the Tower must be protected after a soothsayer warned the king that if the ravens ever left the Tower, Britain would fall. The Tower’s ravens remain protected to this day.

Daley Gleephart

More like the kangaroo on the ‘Last Supper’ mural.
Bet they serve potatoes at so-called medieval banquets too.
“1589 – Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), British explorer and historian known for his expeditions to the Americas, first brought the potato to Ireland and planted them at his Irish estate at Myrtle Grove, Youghal, near Cork, Ireland. Legend has it that he made a gift of the potato plant to Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). The local gentry were invited to a royal banquet featuring the potato in every course. Unfortunately, the cooks were uneducated in the matter of potatoes, tossed out the lumpy-looking tubers and brought to the royal table a dish of boiled stems and leaves (which are poisonous), which promptly made everyone deathly ill. The potatoes were then banned from court.” –

Can anyone get £millions from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore an old building? My Great-Grandfather moved out of the family home because it was too big and it burnt more coal than a WWI battleship. The house fell into disrepair and was demolished. It would be lovely to rebuild the property and staff it with Servants Guides.


Lewis like lavender. A presentation was made at the March meeting of Cyngor Tref Aberteifi. It was in the form of a gift from the mayor and was given to Sue Lewis, past editor of the Tivy-Side Advertiser. “A lavender plant and an engraved council shield as an acknowledgment of her sound reporting of council matters” according to the minutes. It was condolence following her loss of the editorial role at the newspaper. In return, I notice Cllr Gwynfi Jenkins, who appears to have had stints as town mayor since the days of Rhys ap Gruffydd, is to be appointed a “patron” of Cadwgan at their forthcoming AGM. It’s most unusual for newspaper reporters to accept ‘gifts for favourable stories’, especially at taxpayers expense. Unfortunately, as any florist will tell you, Lavender (Lafant) in a bouquet symbolises distrust or caution.