Law firm

Law firm offers legal protection to houses with historic Welsh names

NEW legal protection to prevent the loss of historic Welsh house names is being put in place by a leading law firm.

Swayne Johnson, which has branches in North Wales and Cheshire, has already used a new alliance-based system that prevents property buyers from going without historic and often evocative names, many of which date back to centuries.

The scheme is run by the Welsh-speaking organization Cymdeithas yr Iaith and was officially launched at the National Eisteddfod in Tregaron, although it has been running since last year.

In order to preserve Welsh language names, Cymdeithas yr Iaith have created clauses and documents containing standard clauses available for download from their website.

The idea is that those selling their home can easily access the appropriate documents so they can demand terms of sale that protect a name.

Swayne Johnson is a long-established law firm employing over 50 people with offices in Tattenhall, Ruthin, Denbigh, St Asaph and Llandudno and is one of the fastest growing law firms in the region.

Mared Williams, a lawyer based in the Ruthin office of Swayne Johnson, said: “I have already put this clause into practice and I am proud to play a part in ensuring that owners of properties with historic names can protect these names for generations to come.

“There are so many house names in Wales that tell the story of ownership and are part of the local history of the area. The name of the house or farmhouse adds color and information about the building, landscape, or people who once lived there.

“The name of a property is often an integral part of the history of the place and it is important that Welsh place names of historical and cultural significance are protected and not lost.”

It’s been a contentious issue for years and in June 2018 Welsh comedian Tudur Owen presented a short program on the disappearance of Welsh place names, saying that ‘history is lost when Welsh place names are changed’ .

The clip, shown on BBC Wales Live, sparked a debate on social media, with many other famous figures, as well as members of the public, having weighed in on the issue since.

BBC news presenter Huw Edwards wrote on Twitter: “This has been going on for years. Thus Porth Trecastell became ‘Cable Bay’ and the historic church at Nantcwnlle – now a private home – became ‘Dunroamin’. I propose to replace London with its old Welsh name ‘Caerludd’. Nope? Ah. I did not think.”

The new scheme, called Diogelwn, which stands for We Will Protect, was developed by Simon Chandler, of Manchester law firm Chandler Harris, to give legal support for the preservation of Welsh homes and even place names.

Simon, 58, an Englishman who learned Welsh in his 50s, said: ‘The idea that people can arbitrarily change the names of houses and places here seems to me to be an attack on the identity of Wales .

“I learned Welsh six years ago when I was already in my 50s and was inspired to write this in response to a Twitter call from poet and author Sian Northey who asked if there were any a way to protect the Welsh name of his house which was about to sell.

“I looked at it from the perspective of a specialist in commercial conveyancing, and the scheme basically allows sellers to put covenants on their properties with Cymdeithas yr Iaith as their legal custodian. A condition of the sale is that the new owner agrees that the original name be retained.

“The program was then extended to place names earlier this year after it was discovered that a few years ago in Gorslas, near Llanelli, a new house had been built at a place called Banc Cornicyll (Lapwing Ridge).

The owner called the house Hakuna Matata (from the Disney movie The Lion King, which means No problem in Swahili), and this effectively caused the Ordnance Survey to change the name of the place on the map to Hakuna Matata, which is clearly a disastrous loss of Welsh. inheritance.

Old maps show that the farmland on which Hakuna Matata was built was called Banc Cornciyll, which means a ridge for lapwing birds or plovers in Welsh.

When the Ordnance Survey updated its map for the area, it showed the house name Hakuna Matata but no longer detailed the historic Welsh name.

Welsh language campaigners have called for help to stop people buying properties and giving them English names. A desecrated church of St Cwnlle in Nantcwnlle, Ceredigion, significant in the early history of nonconformist religion, has been converted into a house and renamed Dunroamin.

Chandler, who runs a Welsh language group in Manchester, has used his expertise to help the language society’s Diogelwn (Protect) initiative preserve names using legal clauses.

Anyone selling property can now ask their solicitor or solicitor to include a clause preventing purchasers and their dependents from changing their names. They may also stipulate that any house built on the land must retain the name of the land or a Welsh title with a connection to the area.

Anyone not intending to sell can sign a contract with the language company and file it with the Land Registry to prevent a name change.

In 2017, a private member’s bill from the Senedd, the Welsh parliament, to protect historic place names in planning law failed by three votes. He proposed a system in which people who wanted to change a historical name would have to seek consent and a blanket ban on changing historical titles.

Ifan Morgan-Jones has expressed his opinion regarding the erasure of Welsh place names on Nation Cymru.

He said he disapproved of a farm, which had been called Faedre Fach for hundreds of years, had been renamed ‘Happy Donkey Hill’.

Ifan commented, “It’s a process of slow, involuntary colonization whereby names that have deep roots in a culture going back thousands of years – names that mean something and tell us something about history geographical and cultural characteristics of a region – are deleted. ”

However, he later protested against the popular village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, sharing his criticism that the name only seems to cater to the local tourist trade, at the expense of a real understanding of the region’s language and culture.

Carwyn Jones, the former First Minister of Wales, said the bill was defeated because if Welsh names were to be preserved, so would English designations. He said education was the most powerful tool to teach people the importance of place names.

“Wales’ first national poet, Gwyneth Lewis, compared Welsh place names to time capsules that tell you the story of a place.

“They are an incredible asset to Wales as even very old names can still be understood by modern Welsh speakers and so they provide a direct link to the past when English has changed so much since many places in England were named that very few English people understand what they mean.

“It is thanks to pioneering law firms like Swayne Johnson that these historic Welsh names can now be protected and preserved as they are a valuable asset to the nation whether you are Welsh or not.”

Mared, former secretary of Welsh teaching and advocacy charity Menter Iaith Sir Ddinbych, added: ‘This means that if you are selling a property and want to play your part in protecting its historic name, we can help you achieve this goal.

“As a company, we are encouraged to play our part in the community so that a sense of identity is at the heart of what we do and it fits perfectly with this philosophy.”