This summer, after more than half a century since they last participated in a major tournament, the Welsh football team are aiming for victory in Euro 2016! With France hosting the tournament, here at Glamorgan Archives we’re taking a look at all things French.
Glamorgan Archives made its own ‘French Connection’ recently, when a group from Nantes, a city twinned with Cardiff, visited the office and saw a display of documents relating to their home country.
Included amongst the records on display were those of the Societe Franco-Britannique de Cardiff (ref. D593), set up in 1906 ‘for the promotion of friendly relations and mutual understanding between the peoples of France and Great Britain’. It had its base in Park Place, Cardiff, where rooms were open for most of the day, newspapers and magazines were available, as well as games and refreshments. It was a popular society as so many people came over to Cardiff from France to work in the shipping and coal trades.
The onset of war in 1914 saw many members return to France to fight at the front; and again in 1939 society activity was limited due to absence of members. However, during the Second World War, the Society headquarters in Park Place became the base for ‘The Friends of Free France’, with members knitting clothes to send to the French front line and acting as wartime ‘godmothers’ to French troops stationed in Wales.
The Society celebrated its centenary in 2006 and is still active today. The records held at Glamorgan Archives include membership books, committee minutes and annual society programmes.
Another ‘French connection’ can be found in one of our most treasured documents, a letter from Princess Pauline Borghese (1780-1825), sister of Napolean, to the Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, in 1821 (ref. DF/BO/X/2). In her letter the Princess appeals to him to help improve conditions for her dying brother, by moving him from St. Helena to a less harsh climate. Enclosed in her letter to the Prime Minister is a copy of one she received from Count Montholon, Napolean’s companion, which told her of the serious state of her brother’s health. The letters are in our Fonmon Castle collection, as a member of the Boothby family who lived at Fonmon had married Fanny Jenkinson, a cousin of Lord Liverpool.
To find more records detailing the connections of Glamorgan with France and the French see our online catalogue, Canfod