Newport Branch- Solemn Sabbaths and Faraway Sundays

Peter Strong gave a very interesting talk (27 June 2018) on how Sundays were treated in the past. It gave rise to many nostalgic memories for us. As the title suggests it was in two parts- the religious attempts to preserve the Sabbath and the increasing liberalization of Sundays.

The first part starts with King Edward VI (the son of Henry VIII). From his time attendance at Church on a Sunday became compulsory with heavy fines for failure to do so. The 1558 Recusancy Act, which provided this power, was not rescinded until 1888 but not enforced during the later years.

The second part dealt with the opportunity to shop on a Sunday and to drink alcohol in a public house. We all remember the strange laws which permitted the purchase of some items on a Sunday not others. Also the absurdity of being able to visit a pub on a Sunday in England but not in Wales and how large numbers would cross the border into England to benefit from the more lenient law. We heard how Monmouthshire was originally linked with England for the 1881 Act, then with Wales in 1915 (caused by heavy drinking near the munition factory at Magor causing great concern for the War Effort). We all remember the term ‘Wales and Monmouthshire’. Finally Monmouthshire rejoined Wales in time for the two referenda which finally permitted Sunday drinking throughout Wales.

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