Media Release: Join WCIA on 23rd November for a ‘Peacemakers Reunion’ across the generations – with descendants from the Temple’s 1938 opening
Join WCIA next Wednesday 23rd November for a personal and moving evening to mark the 84th anniversary of the Temple of Peace’s opening by ‘Mother of Wales’ Minnie James – and be among the first to witness the return of the engraved golden key with which Minnie opened the building in 1938, presented to the great-grandson of architect Sir Percy Thomas.
WCIA invite journalists, media students, friends and supporters of the Temple of Peace to experience this ‘descendants reunion’ welcoming the great-grandchildren of the 3 figures who fronted the opening of Wales’ Temple of Peace, to crowds of thousands beneath the stormy skies of November 1938.
- ‘Mother of Wales’ Minnie James from Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, who opened the building on behalf of war-bereaved mothers of Wales and the world – accompanied by war mothers from across the UK and Commonwealth – and whose descendants, led by Robin Paul, will be travelling from as far afield as London, Guernsey and France.
- Temple Architect Sir Percy Thomas, who designed the Temple of Peace as the Welsh nation’s memorial to the fallen of World War One, and as offices for Wales’ leading peace and health bodies. Percy’s great grandson, much loved Welsh singer and musician Al Lewis, will be performing a specially chosen musical piece to mark this occasion.
- Temple Founder Lord David Davies of Llandinam, who gifted the building to the people of Wales as a headquarters for efforts to advance peace, health and international cooperation for future generations – and will be represented in this generation by his great-grandson Daniel Davies and family.
- Dr Emma West, British Academy Fellow and author of ‘A New Mecca: the Story of Wales’ Temple of Peace‘ will also launch the new support community for ‘Friends of the Temple of Peace‘.
Symbolically, the evening will include a presentation of the original engraved key with which Minnie James opened the building, and a display of her 3 sons’ medals and letters home from the trenches of WW1 – never before seen. Also reunited at the Temple will be the 1934 public memorial that was intended to accompany Sir Goscombe John’s bronze bust of Lord Davies, which looks over the Hall of Nations, along with a collection of David Davies’ writings from the interwar era.
View the Minnie James Collection – digitised images
The engraved key today, presented by Architect Sir Percy Thomas to Minnie James
Press Opportunities from 5pm
Press queries should please be directed to WCIA media volunteer ArinaYakupova@WCIA.org.uk and / or Heritage Advisor Craig Owen on email@example.com or call 07876638846. Prior to the evening event, at 5pm we will be offering press correspondents, student and community journalists the opportunity to interview the families, and to capture a ‘re-enactment’ of the opening photo (above). This will be in the Council Chamber Library (upstairs). Also available for interview from WCIA are Trustee and (British Academy Fellow) Dr Emma West, Heritage Advisor Craig Owen and Chief Executive Susie Ventris-Field.
From 6pm, Temple Friends and Alumni will gather and share their own ‘ journeys through the generations, as WCIA unveils the Temple’s recent heritage resources. Food and drinks will be provided, and we hope to enjoy a relaxed and informative gathering, an opportunity to network and to catch up with Temple friends past and present.
Story angles for Media / Community Correspondents and Student Journalists
- Reunion of families from the Temple’s 1938 opening (current day descendants of war mother Minnie James from Merthyr, Welsh ‘Art Deco’ Architect Percy Thomas, and founder Welsh philanthropist Lord David Davies)
- Re-enactment of opening ceremony pictures from 1938 – bring descendants together on same spots the opening photos were taken in Nov 1938.
- The rediscovery of Minnie James’ present-day descendants, the mementoes from the 1938 ceremony, and connections between then and now.
- Songwriter and Welsh singer Al Lewis performing ‘Over the Rainbow’ on guitar, composed at time of Temple’s opening in Nov 1938 – poignant as the opening was against ‘looming storm clouds’ of WW2, but also as (despite howling wind and rain) a rainbow broke out over the opening ceremony.
- Remarkable rediscovery of the golden key that opened the Temple of Peace, and presentation by Minnie James’ descendants back to WCIA along with her 3 sons’ WW1 war medals and letters from the trenches – viewable to public for first time ever.
- Rediscovery of public memorial to Lord David Davies, presented to accompany bronze bust by Sir Goscombe John, one of the most famous 1930s sculptors – viewable to public for first time since Davies’ elevation to the peerage in 1934.
- The Temple’s role in inspiring generations of young people and communities to get actively involved in international peace building, volunteering and campaigns – from the women’s peace appeal of 1923 (centenary next year) to climate change today.
- The evening reception will welcome over 100 Alumni involved with Temple of Peace through recent decades, who may offer rich and diverse perspectives on Wales’ role in the world today.
- Launch of the new ‘Friends of Wales’ Temple of Peace and Peace Garden‘ support group, led by British Academy Fellow Dr Emma West and bringing together community stakeholders and those with an interest and a say in the buildings future.
Resources for Journalists and Researchers:
- Resources on Wales’ Temple of Peace & Health and feature on The Story of the Temple
- Flickr Album of Press Clippings from the 1938 opening of the Temple
- British Movietone Newsreel footage 1938 ‘Temple of Peace opened’
- Western Mail & South Wales News Souvenir supplement 23 Nov 1938 ‘The Temple of Peace & Health’
- Research feature on Minnie James and the Mothers of Peace, including digitised archives and photographic materials.
- News story ‘Key to the Past’ on rediscovery of Minnie James’ present-day family, and mementoes from the Temple opening.
- Research feature on Percy Thomas’ Architecture and the Story of the Temple of Peace, including digitised archives and photographic materials.
- Research feature on David Davies and the founding of Wales’ Temple of Peace, including digitised archives and photographic materials.
- Feature article on the Opening Ceremony of Wales Temple of Peace on 23 Nov 1938, including digitised archives and photographic materials.
- Biography profile for singer / songwriter Al Lewis, great-grandson of Architect Percy Thomas, who will be performing a popular musical piece from 1938.
‘Friends of the Temple‘ Launch
We will be launching a new support community, the ‘Friends of Wales’ Temple of Peace & Peace Garden’, to connect and give voice to those beyond WCIA itself for whom the Temple holds a special place in so many hearts, and who have a vested interest in the building’s future. This will be launched by British Academy Fellow Dr Emma West, whose recent article ‘A New Mecca’ published in the Institute for Welsh Affairs ‘Welsh Agenda’ magazine, captures beautifully the Temple’s story.
For those who would like to take a closer or more personal look at the Temple Archives and Collections, including those items donated by the descendants’ families, we will be holding an ‘Archives Dropin’ in the Temple Library over lunchtime on Thursday 24th Nov.
- Register Here for ‘Key to Peace’ Evening event
- Join WCIA’s Temple Tour lunchtime 23rd
- Join the Archives Dropin lunchtime 24th Nov
- View the newly digitised Minnie James collections