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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Two Unique Anglesey Anniversaries

2015 marks a unique event for a celebrated village on Anglesey – a centenary and a bi-centenary.

On the 16 September 1915, the first meeting of the Women’s Institute in Britain took place in an unassuming building in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (or Llanfair PG). The movement was formed in Canada in 1897. Their aim was to revitalise rural communities and encourage the local country-women to help increase supplies of domestic food supplies during the Great War. The original meeting hall still stands, beside the old A5 trunk road through the village.

There are over 200,000 members of the WI in the UK, and the movement has evolved to become the largest women’s voluntary organisation in the country.

For the second anniversary, you only have to travel a short distance to the east of the hall, to Craig y Dinas, and the striking column that was erected in 1817 as a tribute and to Henry William Paget, the first Marquis of Anglesey. The title was awarded to him in July 1815 - in recognition of his bravery and leadership at the Battle of Waterloo, where the French army, commanded by Napoleon, was defeated by the Anglo-allied army, commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army, led by Gebhard von Blucher, on the 18 June 1815.

Paget was the cavalry commander on that day. He and Wellington were on their horses and observing the scene before them. Grape shot from one of the very last French cannon volleys of the battle hit Paget’s right knee. He looked down and said “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” Wellington instantly replied “By God, sir, so you have!”

The bronze statue was a later addition to the column. It was placed there in 1860 after Paget died, at a grand old age of 85.

By Medwyn Parry

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