The Lamb Inn, Adpar
Once a hamlet in its own right, Adpar – John Elwyn’s birthplace on the Cardiganshire banks of the River Teifi – is now considered to be part of Newcastle Emlyn which lies on the opposite banks of the river and is in Carmarthenshire.
Adpar, the views across the river to Newcastle Emlyn, and the meadows and woodland of the Cilgwyn Estate above the artist’s family home, provided rich subjects for John Elwyn’s early paintings.
This view from a bedroom window at Emlyn Mill was painted in the year John Elwyn moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art. Beyond his father’s allotment stands The Lamb Inn public house. The single-storey white-washed building in front is the blacksmith. On the left, the bridge over the River Teifi leads into Newcastle Emlyn.
John Elwyn recalled that Adpar’s May Day, September and Christmas Poultry Fairs took place in the square outside The Lamb Inn. Here farmers came to buy, sell and barter livestock and produce.
He remembered well the great horses with plaited manes and tails, decorated with yards of coloured ribbon, that pranced across the square. The slapping of hands clinched a sale. The two parties then moved on to The Lamb Inn to seal the deal.
The May Day Fair was also the occasion to hire domestic help and farm hands for the season. At the fairs, local farmers stocked up on clothes, flannel, footwear and turned wooden domestic utensils.
There was much drinking when the evening festivities moved into Newcastle Emlyn. Traders lined its streets with stalls. Ballad singers performed. Wrestling contests were fought out. The swings and roundabouts of the show ground at night was a great attraction for young John Elwyn.
In an undated poem, the artist’s father David Davies described four friends visiting such a fair. They saw a girl playing a tambourine, a beautiful monkey in a red waistcoat, a man playing the organ accompanied by a blind fiddler, and an Englishman from Ireland showing a giant who had been caught in the forests of Patagonia.