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Saint Clears - Sanclêr
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Pentre Road

Rebecca Riots Sculpture

Simon Hedger
2008

Saint Clears - Sanclêr /  Rebecca Riots Sculpture   Saint Clears - Sanclêr /  Rebecca Riots Sculpture

Description

Between 1839 and 1844, a group of welsh farmers dressed in women's clothes calling themselves ‘Rebecca and her daughters', they were protesting the high toll gate prices in the areas around South Wales.

Saint Clears - Sanclêr / Rebecca Riots Sculpture Saint Clears - Sanclêr / Rebecca Riots Sculpture Saint Clears - Sanclêr / Rebecca Riots Sculpture
This floodlit sculpture stands in St Clears within eye sight of the original toll gate. The three figures have been carved out of a 120 year old cedar trunk. The traditionally hand-made ash gate holds back Rebecca and her daughter in the frame of two large oak posts.

Inscription(s)

CYFIAWNDER A CHARWYR
CYFIAWNDER YDYM NIOLL
(transl.: Justice and Lovers of Justice are we all)

On the side genesis xxiv v 60

Genesis 24,60: "And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them." (King James Bible).

Signed: s. hedger

Annotation

From the nearby village information sign:
The history of the Rebecca Riots is one of the most dramatic chapters in Welsh history. Against a background of agricultural crisis and grinding rural poverty, associations known as Turnpike Trusts established a network of tollgates on country roads. Whether taking cattle ot market or collecting lime to fertilise their fields, hard pressed farmers had to pay tolls at every turn.

Resentment built ip over many years until 1839 when there was a sudden explosion of violence directed at a new tollgate at Efailwen in north western Carmarthenshire. The attack, led by the stirring figure of 'Rebecca' was a man disguised with a blackened face, wig and women's clothers, astride a white horse and waving a sword.
When the main Trust placed a new tollgate near the Mermaid Tavern in St Clears on 18 November 1842, it marked the start of a four month battle between 'Rebecca' and the authorities. Positioned to make it impossible for traffic to pass through the area without paying a toll, it was pulled down by 'Rebecca' and her followers within hours. The Mermaid Gate was smashed a second time on 12th December that year when seventy to a hundred men, dressed in women's clothes and armed with scythes and guns, descended on the town at midnight. The rebuilt gate was torn down on 20 December and a fourth gate was destroyed in April 1843.

Every area seemed to have its own 'Rebecca' who became, and remains an almost supernatural figure – a Welsh Robin Hood. Police and troops were called to help protect the gates but 'Rebecca' and her daughters were usually one step ahead of the law. The protest came to an end in 1844 when a government Commission on Inquiry led to a reform of the Turnpike Trusts and answered many of the grievances of the rural population.

This sculpture was commissioned by St. Clears Council as part of an improvement scheme in the town. The sculpture was unveiled by Heritage Minister Rhodri Glyn Thomas in March 2008.

Saint Clears - Sanclêr / Rebecca Riots Sculpture

Sculptor

Sources & Information

Tags

Location (N 51°49'12" - W 4°29'39")

Item Code: gbwa073; Photograph: 26 July 2012
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