Women Rediscovered: Gwyneth/ Ann Owen, The Mothers

January 11, 2021

We are pleased to reveal our 1st monologue in the Women Rediscovered series!

This monologue is based on a real case of postnatal depression discovered in the patient case books of the North Wales Hospital, otherwise known as the North Wales Counties Lunatic Asylum. We chose to highlight a very specific case, that of Ann Owens who was admitted into the North Wales Hospital, Denbigh in January 1875. This case highlights the difference in approach to treatment and the attitude we have now to postpartum psychosis.

Ann was 39 years old when she was admitted having had five children, the youngest being just 1 month old at her time of admission. Ann was from Flintshire, she was married to a coal worker and had been experiencing symptoms such as delusions and severe depression. She refused to eat and her mental and physical condition deteriorated. She resided in the hospital for 6 months where she was eventually tube-fed and died of pleuro-pneumonia in July 1875, leaving behind her husband and children.

We have uncovered all of this information about Ann using the reception order held at Ruthin branch of North East Wales Archives.

The reception order of Ann Owen, dated January 1872. Held at Ruthin branch (Ref: HD/1/459)

Women Rediscovered: Stories from North East Wales Archives

January 11, 2021

Inspiring female stories from our archives have leapt from paper to screen as part of a grant funded project with Theatr Clwyd.

North East Wales Archives, which covers both Denbighshire and Flintshire archives, has been awarded a Welsh Government grant to work alongside Theatr Clwyd to create monologue style films which will re-tell rousing stories of strong and inspirational women during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

The stories are based around real women discovered in the archive collections held at Ruthin and Hawarden. The spotlight will be on four lives including;

  • A headmistress who devoted herself to education;
  • A widow of miner killed in the Gresford colliery disaster;
  • A mother reflecting on postnatal depression;
  • The famous Marged ferch Ifan, “an extraordinary female who was the greatest hunter, shooter, and fisher, of her time” as written about by Thomas Pennant.

The filming took place during Explore Your Archive week, a campaign organised by the UK Archives and Records Association, and supported in Wales by Archives and Records Council Wales.  The annual week-long campaign encourages people across Wales to discover something new and exciting within the nation’s archives, whether that’s delving into your own family history or finding out the stories about the people and places at the heart of Welsh communities.

Sarah Roberts, archivist from the North East Wales Archives, said: “We would normally hold events and exhibitions around this time of year, but we have had to think more creatively this year because of current COVID restrictions about how we can use and promote our wonderful collections”

“It has been exciting to work with Theatr Clwyd on something so different. We are looking forward to launching the stories online over the coming weeks and keeping people entertained over the lockdown period. Hopefully this will inspire other storytellers and film makers to base their work on archive collections wherever they are based”.

Director of Creative Engagement at the Theatr, Gwennan Mair, has said “It’s been extremely interesting working with the archive on this project. It’s enabled us to find hidden stories from North Wales. We hope to work more in partnership with the archive to bring stories alive and to share our unique history with the world in a creative way”.

Eleri B. Jones, Director of Women Rediscovered and Trainee Director at Theatr Clwyd has commented “Rediscovering these women’s stories in partnership with the North East Wales Archives has been an eye-opening and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Too often rural, historic stories from just around the corner are forgotten or buried, especially when it comes to progressive, everyday women like the ones in our films. Imagining life from their perspective and giving voice to the wisdom that’s still relevant today has been a privilege”.

Look out for #monologuemonday over the next few weeks on the North East Wales Archives YouTube channel and blog to see these stories come to life!