Louvain Rees • hellohistoria

In Loving Memory • Death Collections at the National Museum of Wales.

Portrait of Mrs William Williams of Caernarfon. It shows her wearing a mourning dress, and a brooch with an image of a man - possibly her husband, Captain Williams. 

The National Museum of Wales is home to a collection of over half a million objects relating to Welsh life, history and culture. In these collections, you will find everything from taxidermy animals to bracelets made of human hair.

Of course, the collection includes an array of objects related to death and mourning – my specialist subject! In this blogpost, I will be sharing a few of my favourite objects and their stories. 

A horse skull draped with ribbons | The Mari Lwyd

The Mari Lwyd at St Fagans 2019.

The Mari Lwyd is perhaps one of Wales' most well-known folk customs. A horse skull draped with ribbons, the Mari Lwyd (The Grey Mare) often startles those who meet her for the first time. 

She usually makes her appearance between December and Old New Year, with the longest continuous Mari Lwyd taking place every year in the sleepy village of Llangynwyd in South Wales. 

Finding Alice Edwards.

In affectionate memory of 


The dearly beloved daughter of Charles & Martha Edwards, of The Bush, 

Died October 19th, 

Aged 13.

Interred at Evancoed Church, October 22nd, 1881.

A while ago I purchased a bundle of mourning cards from Nolton Antiques in Bridgend. While looking through my bundle of mourning cards I found the mourning card for a young girl called Alice. I decided that I wanted to 'find' Alice.

What is a mourning card? 

Mourning cards were often given out to friends and relatives as keepsakes at funerals. The predecessor of what we now know as an 'order of service', these cards were usually decorated with a black bordering, a verse, and illustration. On occasion, a photograph of the deceased would be included on the card. 

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