On 11 April, the University was delighted to receive two descendants of the Vivian family, Deborah Hinton and Lavinia Graham Vivian to Swansea University. Lord Swansea and the Vivian family were the owners of Singleton Abbey before it was given to the College in 1920.
Deborah and Lavinia met and spoke with Professor Hywel Francis, who is a strategic adviser for the University on Archives, Dr Sam Blaxland, who is currently writing a history of Swansea University ahead of its Centenary in 2020, and Richard Lancaster and Delyth Thomas from Global Advancement’s Development and Engagement department.
Steve Littlejohns, who has profiled Singleton Abbey and created three-dimensional renders to demonstrate what the building looked like at various stages of its existence gave a fascinating presentation on his research into the development of the Abbey. The visit also provided University staff with the opportunity to learn more from Deborah and Lavinia about their ancestors, their own personal histories and their connections with the wider family.
The group initially met in the Abbey’s Council Chamber (once the house's dining room) which still contains its original fireplace and has several of the family coats of arms on the wall. The guests were then given a guided tour around the outside of the Abbey building, viewing the gardens, the Orangery, the Stable Block and the main entrance. They also saw the Foundation Stone and the 'new' 1937 Library. They were then shown around the inside of the Abbey, including the former guests' rooms, Lord Swansea's study and the kitchens.
A presentation of David Dykes' illustrated history and the Swansea University monopoly board was made and lunch was taken in the Council Chamber - a fitting venue, considering this was where Deborah and Lavinia’s ancestors used to dine.
As well as visiting the University, the Vivian family were in Swansea to attend the Man Engine Cymru tour which held its finale in Swansea on 12 April and included a presentation of copper ore for smelting to John Henry Vivian at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks in an after-dark fire and light show.
Top: Deborah Hinton and Lavinia Graham Vivian (right) on the staircase in the Abbey Building.
Bottom: (from left): Steve Littlejohns, Lavinia Graham Vivian, Deborah Hinton, Dr Sam Blaxland and Richard Lancaster outside the Abbey.
- Monday 30 April 2018 13.52 BST
- Monday 30 April 2018 14.15 BST
- Mari Hooson