Commemorating Cranogwen

This article will be published in the Autumn/Winter edition of Ninnau, the North American Welsh Newspaper.

Sarah Jane Rees, best known by her bardic name of Cranogwen, is set to be commemorated by a bronze statue in her home village of Llangrannog, Ceredigion. Cranogwen (1839-1916) was a mariner, teacher, poet, journalist, preacher and campaigner. She was the first woman to win the chair at the National Eisteddfod. The statue will commemorate Cranogwen’s life and achievements, raising her profile and inspiring future generations.

A group of local women have joined the Monumental Welsh Women campaign to raise five statues of five Welsh women in Wales in the next five years. A statue of Betty Campbell has already been revealed in Cardiff, the first of a woman anywhere in Wales. Cranogwen is planned to be unveiled in 2023. The project is supported by a steering group including Elin Jones AM, Monumental Welsh Women’s Helen Molyneux and Professor Jane Aaron, who is writing a biography of Cranogwen.

Llangrannog sculptor Seb Boyesen, whose work is internationally renowned and includes the statue of St Carannog in Llangrannog, has been comissioned to create the piece, along with a female mentee from Coleg Sir Gâr. A local garden designer has volunteered her time, and local builders will be used to redevelop the village garden where Cranogwen will stand. She will look towards her grave in the church, and Banc y Felin Chapel, which she helped pay for.

The project is close to having raised the £75,000 target, and the team are now focusing on developing ideas with the community (What should she look like? What facets of her life should the statue represent? What should go around her in the garden?) and applying for grant money to further support the project.

The project will not end once there is a statue – the intention is to create more opportunities such as a history trail, commemorative and educational events, more fundraising for local and women’s causes, a literary journal, links with a planned tall ship called Cranogwen out of Aberaeron and a bursary for a female to learn seamanship and navigation aboard this ship. In this way it is hoped that Cranogwen’s pioneering spirit will live on and encourage others to work hard and achieve their goals, however difficult or unlikely they may seem.

If you would like to know more about the project or how to donate, please see the Cranogwen page on the Llangrannog Welfare Committee site.

Sarah Jane Rees – Cranogwen