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On Wednesday 12 June 2024, the pupils of Penmachno Primary School and Llanddoged Primary School had the special experience of seeing Bishop William Morgan's Bible (1588) alongside a portrait of him by Keith Bowen.

A joint project between the National Trust and the Education Service at the National Library of Wales, the event was part of the Library’s priorities to take masterpieces to schools. This originally stemmed from the Library’s work for Masterpieces in Schools – a scheme by Art UK to bring children face-to-face with great works of art inside their classroom, breaking down traditional barriers to art.

This year's event was a celebration of Bishop William Morgan's achievement in translating and publishing the first Welsh Bible in 1588. An achievement widely credited for having saved the Welsh language. The two treasures went to the schools and pupils had the opportunity to take part in workshops by the Library's Education Service team.

Dr Rhodri Llwyd Morgan, Chief Executive of the National Library of Wales said:
“I'm extremely glad that the Library is collaborating with Penmachno and Llanddoged primary schools. The Library's education team does excellent work in providing experiences that meet the requirements of the curriculum by using the Library's treasures. And this is a project at the heart of our mission to inspire future generations to learn and to create by going out into those communities and sharing the wealth of our culture which has deep roots in their locality.”

Lois Jones, Senior Programming and Partnership Officer for the National Trust said:
“We are very proud to be working in partnership with the National Library of Wales on their Masterpieces in Schools project.  The inclusion of young people in our work at Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant is a priority for us.  
"By working with the Library on this plan, we have been able to offer a package of experiences to the children which will strengthen the local community’s relationship with Tŷ Mawr and William Morgan’s story.”

Elliw Roberts, Headteacher of Ysgol Gynradd Penmachno said:
“It was a privilege and an unforgettable experience for the pupils, staff and Governors of Ysgol Penmachno to welcome the 1588 Bible, together with a portrait of Bishop William Morgan, to the school for a day. It was an amazing occasion, and certainly one that will be treasured here at Ysgol Penmachno for years to come.”

On Friday 12 July, both schools will visit the National Library of Wales, to see where the two items are kept safe, and learn more about the national collections and how they are preserved for future generations.

As part of the project, the children will also visit the birthplace of William Morgan, Tŷ Mawr Wybrnant, which is in the care of the National Trust, in order to learn about how William Morgan lived when he was a young child, and what inspired him to learn.

In addition, the schools will hold a day of art workshops, during which the artist Eleri Jones will visit the schools to show the pupils how to paint portraits.

The Library’s work to take masterpieces to schools is part of the strategy to reach out to communities across Wales and support participation in cultural, educational and artistic activities for children and young people.

The sessions assist the school in aligning with the Curriculum for Wales guidelines, while supporting the Learning and Experience Areas of the Humanities, and the Expressive Arts, as well as presenting material that is relevant to the pupils’ cynefin.

** Mae'r datganiad yma hefyd ar gael yn y Gymraeg**


The National Library of Wales Media Contact
Rhodri ap Dyfrig, Head of Marketing and Audiences  / 07521761762

Notes for editors

About the National Library of Wales
The National Library of Wales is a library for Wales and the world. Located in Aberystwyth, it is the home of the story of Wales.

Opened in 1907, the Library is the centre of research into the culture and heritage of Wales and the Celtic nations.

The purpose of the Library is to make our culture and heritage accessible for everyone to learn, research and enjoy.

We are a legal deposit library, which means we are entitled to a copy of every print publication in Britain and Ireland, but our collections also include the following:

  • 7,000,000 feet of film
  • 250,000 hours of video
  • 6,000,000 books and newspapers
  • 40,000 manuscripts
  • 1,500,000 maps
  • 150,000 hours of sound
  • 950,000 photographs
  • 60,000 works of art
  • 1,900 cubic meters of archives

You can search the collections online. You will find further information along with a list of resources on our website.

About NLW Education Service

The National Library of Wales Education Service was established in 2002. Its main work is to:

  • Deliver a programme of educational activities of a high standard to promote The National Library of Wales and the national collection through the school curriculum.
  • Increase awareness among children and young people of the history, culture and heritage of Wales.
  • Facilitate access to information for learners and educators and assist them in making the most of our collections by interpreting information in the national collection.
  • Increase the Library’s presence, and awareness of the institution and its work, in various parts of Wales.
  • Assist the National Library of Wales in delivering the strategic aims set out in A Library for Wales and the World, the National Library of Wales strategic plan for 2021-2026.
  • Produce high quality digital resources to assist with the delivery of the school curriculum in Wales, and publish these on Hwb.
  • Manage various projects that provide access to the collections to children, young people and adults.
  • Support the Welsh Government social inclusion and reducing inequality agendas by working in disadvantaged.

Since 2007 the Education service at the National Library of Wales has been presenting the Library's collections in areas across Wales as part of its outreach programme. These projects are planned and delivered in partnership with local authorities, schools and other organisations, and tailored to meet the needs of the users, as well as meet the requirements of the curriculum in terms of content and skills.

About Masterpieces in Schools
In 2013 Art UK launched Masterpieces in Schools with the aim of bringing children face-to-face with great works of art inside their classroom, breaking down traditional barriers to art. A range of masterpieces were loaned to schools by renowned artists including L. S. Lowry, Monet and Turner.

Following its success, Art UK announced the return of Masterpieces in Schools in 2018, as part of the sculpture project - the largest ever sculpture documentation project undertaken in the UK to date. Once again, artworks will come out of artist studios and the nation’s museums and galleries, and into schools, as sculptures are loaned for the day. The initiative also facilitates relationships between schools and collections in the area.

The Masterpieces in Schools programme is being made possible thanks to generous grants from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

About the 1588 Welsh Bible
The year 1588 saw the publication of the first Welsh translation of the complete Bible, including the Apocrypha. It was the work of William Morgan, 1545-1604, a native of Penmachno, Conwy and a graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge. This folio volume was printed in black letter by the deputies of Christopher Barker, the Queen's Printer. It was intended for church rather than home use.

By the middle of the 16th century a number of factors meant that the survival of the Welsh language was at risk and it was probable that the language would deteriorate into a despised collection of dialects and eventually die.

Largely due to the efforts of a group of Welsh scholars who were enthusiastic about the humanistic learning of the Renaissance it did not do so. Most were Protestants driven by a Protestant zeal for making the Scriptures available to all. Their dictionaries, grammars, and scriptural translations, of which the 1588 Bible is the supreme example, went far to turn this dream into reality.

William Morgan translated the Bible into Welsh by adapting William Salesbury's New Testament and translating from the Hebrew and Greek originals, consulting also the English Bishops' and Geneva versions. His volume brought the Scriptures to the largely monoglot population of Wales. Revised in 1620, it was, with some changes of orthography, the version in general use until the final years of the twentieth century.

No other Welsh book has been as influential for it is also a work of immense linguistic and literary significance. The translator not only produced a version of unfailing accuracy but also skilfully moulded the classical language of the poets into the literary Welsh known to us today. In short, the book is the foundation stone on which modern Welsh literature has been based.