GRANT me the pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, of presenting to you two Monmouthshire people whom I have known for many years.

The lady is rendered in brass, the gentleman in stone; she lived at or near Llangattock-nigh-Usk, he at Kemeys Inferior. Both were born in Tudor days, both died in Stuart days; their costumes suggest both periods.

The stone tablet above the rear entrance to Kemeys House shows George Kemeys in 1623. He bears in his left hand a parchment roll and in his right hand an hour-glass surmounted by a scroll inscribed in the Gwentian dialect of Welsh: Onus Whyth Awel Fe Terfyn Amser.

Of several translations I select the most authoritative and interesting: “Unless the wind blows time will cease.”

Sir Joseph Bradney and I brooded long over the problem presented by this motto, and at last he hazarded the solution.

George Kemeys intended this portrait to be placed on a windmill to be erected on the hilltop. (Unless the wind blew, the windmill would not grind the corn, and time would cease). When the portrait was completed he was so pleased with it that he had it placed in its convenient position for frequent admiration.

The year 1623. Raleigh had been dead five years. The “Mayflower” had sailed three years before. James I had two years of miserable life left in him.

Our friend George is portrayed in his newest and best clothes.

His hat, and the long, loose, plushlined gown with split sleeves and gone out of fashion in Court circles before 1610.

His doublet-sleeves retain some suggestion of armour while his breeches are padded but not “bombasted”.

Unlike the vast bucket-topped boots with butterfly-tops soon to be become de rigueur with London fops, George wears neat jewelled shoes, and his ruff, though greatly dated, is not eccentric.

The Kemeys shield with the three pheons and his initials complete an engaging study – of a seventeenth century country squire, justifiably proud of his name and ancestry.

Not far from this tablet you may read above the great doorway of a Kemeys barn:



Nine years after the defeat of the Armada, the first Elizabeth had already reigned thirty-nine years.

My second sketch is a copy of a remarkable brass now hanging, framed, in the chancel of the church of Llangattock-nigh-Usk.

Zirophoeniza Williams, of Radyr, married first Matthew Jones, of Llangattock and her second husband was Judge Andrew Powell, a Welsh judge of the Brecon Circuit since 1610.

l Fred Hando’s work is published courtesy of Chris Barber.