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Borrowing Discovery Boxes

These contain several items which children may handle (unless otherwise stated). Their contents are restricted to items which are duplicates of items in the museums collection, safe to handle and small enough to keep in the pack...Read More

Educational Resources

As you all know by now, my name is Medwyn and I am an historical mole detective. Some moles dig for worms, I dig through time solving crimes as I go, using the computer in my goggles to help me.

As any decent time traveller knows, you can't just wander back into the past knowing nothing of the time you're going to. It is here, in Carmarthenshire County Museum, that I gather a lot of my information. So if you're ever fortunate enough to get offered a job as a time travelling detective like me, then you'll know exactly what to do – start by visiting your local museum.

Here are some things I've found out about Carmarthenshire County Museum.


There has been a building on the museum site for almost a thousand years, since 1290. It started life by being very much like a monastery but instead of having monks, it trained men to be priests.


In 1542 it was changed to be a home for the Bishop of St David’s.

This was where, in 1567, a man called William Salesbury and Bishop Richard Davies translated parts of the Bible into Welsh. (New Testament and Book of Common Prayer)


This was how everything stayed until a fire in 1903 burned everything inside the building. The Bishop couldn’t move back in for 4 years and it remained a Bishop’s house for another 67 years.


In 1974 it changed from being a house for the Bishop of St David’s to be a museum displaying wonderful artefacts from all over Carmarthenshire and the world!

Bridget Bevan


Did you know that in 1998, Carmarthenshire County Museum was able to buy this portrait of a woman called Bridget Bevan who worked hard to make sure that Welsh children and adults would have the opportunity to be able to learn to read and write. In the picture she is shown holding a prayer book opened on Psalm 73 which shows that she was a very religious Christian woman. This portrait was painted by John Lewis, who worked as an itinerant (moved from place to place) portrait painter in England, Wales and Ireland.

Bridget Bevan was born at Derllys Court, Llannewydd in Carmarthenshire, in 1698. She was the youngest daughter of John Vaughan who was very involved in charity work and was a patron of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (SPCK) schools in the county.

On 30 December 1721 at Merthyr church, she married a local lawyer and Member of Parliament for Carmarthen called Arthur Bevan.

She followed her father's interest in charity work and, in 1731, helped a local preacher called Griffith Jones Llanddowror, to establish an experimental school in Llanddowror, Carmarthenshire.

Griffith Jones was also an enthusiastic member of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge,(SPCK) and in 1731 he started "circulating schools” in Carmarthenshire in order to teach people, no matter how much money they had, to read. The schools were held in one location for about three months before moving (or 'circulating') to another place. These would then be led by the people who had newly learned to read.

It must be noted that the education was given in the Welsh language which was unusual for the time as English was the official language of Great Britain.

Griffith Jones was called the "father of popular education" in Wales and he taught people to read so that they could be good Christians, which meant that they only learnt things to do with the Bible and the Church of England. Some people think that this Christian learning may have played a part in making the people of Wales ready to accept Methodism. He was a powerful preacher and would preach in the open air, as later the Methodists would do, which didn’t please the bishops at the time at all!

Between 1736 and 1776, 6,321 schools were founded and 304,475 scholars, both adults and children, taught. It is estimated that at this time half the population of Wales had attended a circulating school, and the nation achieved one of the highest literacy rates in Europe. By 1764 news of the success of the project had reached the ears of Catherine the Great of Russia, who ordered her ministers to find out more.

Madam Bevan spent a lot of her money helping these free schools and even after Griffith Jones died in 1761, she carried on with the management of the project until she died in 1779.

Madam Bevan left £10,000 of her wealth to the schools. Relatives however disputed her will and the case went into Chancery, where it remained for a period of thirty years, and grew to over £30,000. In 1804 the money was released and spent on the educational purposes Mrs. Bevan wanted.

In 1854 the schools were absorbed into the system of the National Society, which meant that circulating schools were no longer needed.

Worksheets for the Detective Boxes to be completed during the Teacher-led Visit

These worksheets for the 6 Detective Box challenges for the Teacher-led visit can be downloaded beforehand here or can be purchased for £10 from the museum itself on the day. Prior notice must be given if to be purchased from the museum.

They are colour coded and you will be able to place them in the relevant plastic envelopes, that are in the Detective Boxes, on the day.

It's always a good idea to run through the worksheets with the children beforehand.

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