A Forden farmhouse was transformed into a film set for an atmospheric short film during the last weekend in July. The film, The Bullcalf, is destined for film festivals around the world. London-based graduate film producers Tomm Coles and Tristan Upton made contact with Montgomery residents via the VisitMontgomery.co.uk website and the Montgomery Wales Facebook page, asking for help with actors and extras. The creative team was overwhelmed with offers from talented locals as their call for help was received with enthusiasm on social media. Town Crier Sue Blower ensured that the film team experienced the full force of Montgomery’s hospitality and community spirit. The Bullcalf is written and directed by Owen Neve, who spent much of his childhood staying with his grandmother on the farm where the story is set. He remembers fondly the ‘macabre tales’ his grandmother told him, instilling a deep sense of mystique and superstition. Owen wants his story to become ‘knitted into the lore of these hills’ to spark the imagination of future generations. It is not only local people making an appearance; the landscape is integral to the story. Indeed, local farmers allowed the team to film the birth of a calf and to film landscape shots on their land. The eager volunteers from Montgomery dressed in sombre outfits to participate in a funeral scene. After hours of preparation, filming commenced in a darkened room filled with ‘stage smoke’ to thicken the tension. Leading lady Bea Bowles-Bray played her role perfectly as a pregnant woman holding a dark secret. Tomm remarked that the filming success ‘was truly only made possible by the generosity and spirit of the local Montgomery people. With their support we were able to produce an incredibly high quality piece of work.’
About 80 people turned out on a warm humid evening to witness Montgomery’s Mayor Making ceremony in the Town Hall. Town Crier Susan Blower, dressed in her familiar blue cloak and feather-rimmed hat, welcomed everyone. Chair Cllr Lionel Weaver officially opened the meeting, and Chaplain Mary Turnock led prayers. Cllr Mike Mills once again nominated Lionel Weaver to be Mayor for a second year, praising both the Mayor and his wife Pat for their excellent service and their engagement with the community. Mike declared, ‘Quite simply, they are an asset to the Council and the Town’. Lionel reported that he had had an enjoyable year, containing both challenges and ‘good times’. Particular highlights included the re-enactment of the 750th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Montgomery last September and the first Walking Festival held in October. The Walking Festival was a resounding success, and places are already booking up quickly for this year’s Festival. £1000 had been raised during the year for the Mayor's charities, Wales Air Ambulance and the Town Hall Trust (MCBPT), including some match funding from Barclays Bank. Lionel thanked all the volunteers who had given their time to the town's clubs and events, and gave a special thankyou to the local firefighters. The Mayoress and the Town Clerk received bouquets for their contributions to the Town Council throughout the year. Sue Blower was re-appointed as Town Crier. Cllr Jill Kibble explained that Town Crying is an ancient craft dating back to Cromwellian times with its own Guild protecting the 'messenger' from accusation of treason. Cllr Kibble says "Montgomery is exceptionally fortunate to have had a master of this craft for 15 years; someone who has probably done more to promote the town, welcome visitors and make residents feel part of the community than anyone else, and who never fails to give above and beyond, whatever the occasion and at the drop of a feather. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: 'Over Hills, Over Valleys, over Mountains and Dales God Bless our Town Crier'." The evening ended with light refreshments.
Above: Montgomery Mayor Lionel Weaver & Town Crier Sue Blower tests out the new wi-fi provision Visitors to the centre of Montgomery can now access free wi-fi thanks to a decision by the Town Council to make Broad Street a broadband street! Broadband has been established at the town’s handsome Georgian Town Hall, with the wi-fi extending to the rest of Broad Street, providing free access to the internet and its wealth of information. Cllr Lionel Weaver, Montgomery Mayor said “We needed to install wi-fi for our council meetings and other events in the Town Hall, and this has given us the opportunity to extend it to the whole of Broad Street”. Whether you’re in town for a visit, a street event, a meeting or a wedding – or just waiting at the bus stop! – “Montgomery Free Wifi” is available when you need it. Cllr Weaver added “we hope this will benefit both residents and visitors to Montgomery”. Superfast Broadband is due to reach the whole of Montgomery by the end of 2017, which will enhance the town’s service even more.
On the morning of Friday 29th September, the English court, led by King Henry III (Cllr Mike Mills) and the Welsh court led by Llewelyn, Prince of Wales (Hywel Lovgreen) met at Rhydwhyman Ford to re-enact the signing of the Treaty of Montgomery in 1267 on its 750 th anniversary. Ottobuono, the Papal Legate (Cllr Stephen Hayes), who negotiated the settlement, witnessed the agreement. In costume and armed with shields made especially for the event, school children from Ysgol Dafydd Llwyd, Newtown, Montgomery Church in Wales School and Abermule Community Primary School processed from the English and Welsh camps banging drums in support of their King and their Prince. Specially invited guests included Lord Lieutenant Hon. Shan Legge-Bourke, Glyn Davies MP, and Dai Davies Chair of Powys County Council. Later that evening, decked with heraldic banners and lit by candlelight, Montgomery’s beautiful Georgian Town Hall was packed to the rafters for a Banquet with over 100 guests in period costume. King Henry III and Llywelyn, Prince of Wales played host to visitors and residents with an evening of medieval fare, music and merriment. King Henry III’s personal jester, Mark Harding, entertained guests with his music and tomfoolery, occasionally dragging unfortunate revellers to the stocks as punishment for wearing the wrong hat, looking in the wrong direction or just because the King thought it was a good idea. The King’s Herald (Sue Blower - Town Crier) announced the proceedings. Serving wenches from the Dragon Hotel served hearty dishes, typical of the medieval period, made with locally sourced produce from members of Taste Montgomery, while guests toasted the Treaty Signatories with a specially brewed ale – 1267 from Monty’s Brewery and wines from Kerryvale Vineyard. Once the feasting was over, Claire Weston and Lydia Bassett of Monty Folk, Montgomery’s Community Ceilidh Band, led the revellers in the dancing. Cllr. Mike Mills said; “This was a magnificent community event bringing residents and local businesses together and showcasing Montgomery at its best.” No sooner had the weary revellers made it home to bed – when Cwmwd Ial, the living history re- enactment group, pitched camp at Montgomery Castle. Over 500 people visited the Castle on Saturday to watch members of the re-enactment group demonstrate life, cooking, herbal lotions and potions and battle tactics from the 13th century. Children were eager to try on chain mail and parents particularly keen to wield period swords and daggers. Among the most popular activities were the skirmishes where Norman knights were set upon by the Welsh forces and had to fight to the "mock death". These choreographed but convincing sword, spear and axe fights delighted the crowds. Montgomery’s children stormed to a noisy victory each time they were invited into the arena! To round the day off the crowds were entertained by a story teller telling tales of Charlemagne. The Old Bell Museum was open over the weekend with a special exhibition commemorating the Treaty. The Civic Society said, “We had a significant number of people in to see the exhibition, and we will be opening the museum and the exhibition specially during the first weekend of October, meaning that people who missed it last week will have a second chance to catch up!