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Journal of Welsh religious history


Vol. 4 New series 2004

John Morgan (1886-1957), Archbishop of Wales

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Martinet and Shepherd:
John Morgan (1886-1957), Archbishop of Wales*
John S. Peart-Binns
John Morgan was bishop of Swansea and Brecon (1934-1939); bishop of
Llandaff (1939-1957); and the fourth Archbishop of Wales (1949-1957). He is
not much remembered today. That is a loss, for he is an interesting and
significant figure in the life of the Church in Wales.
John Morgan was born on 6 June 1886 at the Rectory, Llandudno. His
mother was a former headmistress of the Infants School, Caernarfon. Its
name, the Feed My Lambs School, was well-known in north Wales. His father
was rector of Llandudno. In 1886 the number of people living in the rectory
increased to eight Nain, Mother, Father and five children three girls and
two boys the youngest being John Morgan. We have a description of his
childhood in his own words, when he was archbishop, contained in a B.B.C.
Children's Hour Broadcast, 'When I was a child'.
The central figure in his early life was his Nain. She was always with
him and her grandfather clock was still in his possession when he died. In his
broadcast he referred to the rectory garden full of apple trees and pear trees.
The rectory itself stood just under Pen y Gogarth (the Great Orme), with high
walls round it, a rather forbidding place. Sometimes people asked if it was a
police station. John Morgan referred to:
the clock which had charmed me for years long before I discovered how to
stop it! Above the clock face there is a painted picture of a garden; in the
garden there is a grand apple tree, with golden apples on it. And, there is an
old serpent twisted all round the tree trunk, with a golden apple in its mouth,
and it is looking round slyly. Adam stands on one side and Eve on the other;
Eve is offering an apple to Adam but, on our clock, that apple never goes
into Adam's hand. Before I understood the whole of the old story, and before
I grasped the fact that the apple on our clock wasn't a real one, I used to think
that it wasn't very fair that Adam got so much of the blame, since he got none
of the apple. Well; the same apple stays exactly where it was sixty years ago
in Eve's hand; her hand goes on moving, up and down, sixty times in a
minute: Adam's hand does exactly the same but, oddly enough, he is looking
the other way!
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