Appeal for Dylan Thomas information

Wednesday 13th November 2013 12:00 am

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CHEPSTOW museum is appealing for information about the funeral procession of Dylan Thomas.

Poet Dylan Thomas died in New York on 9th November 1953, 60 years ago. His body was brought back via Southampton for burial in Laugharne on 24th November. The journey back to Wales was recorded on radio at the time, and told the story of how the writer's hearse became lost on its journey into Wales, and so when awaiting the coffin, Dylan's cortege of mourners took to a local public house to pass the hours.

Records show that the group spent time in the Chepstow pub, but no historian has yet been able to determine the exact name of the inn. If you have any information about the day, contact Chepstow museum on 01291 625981.

As the mourners arrived and there was no sign of the hearse, eventually the group went to Chepstow police station to seek assistance in finding the missing body. The police sent out a call and the hearse with its by now desperate driver was stopped in Exeter and directed back to Chepstow.

The mourners are reported to have spent 12 hours in a public house in Chepstow. Given the reputation of Dylan, his wife Caitlin and many of their friends as drinkers, this would inevitably have been a lively affair.

The error in procession occurred when the hearse driver from West Wales was travelling back into Chepstow. Having never ventured further east than Newport before, he made his way successfully to Southampton, collecting Dylan's coffin and setting off back. As he said later, he did not know that the country forked.

The Chepstow Singing Club in conjunction with the Drill Hall are staging an event 'Return Journey' to mark this somehow fitting incident in the story of Dylan Thomas.

The evening will start with a screening of the 1972 film of 'Under Milk Wood' starring Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole, narrated by Richard Burton. Then the singing club, dressed in early 50s costumes, will entertain with songs of the time and readings from Dylan's works.

The performance is on 23rd November at the Drill Hall starting at 6.30pm. Tickets are priced £6 and £4 and are available from Chepstow Museum.

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