In the late 13th century Newtown in Powys was established by an act of the then fledgeling parliament in a bid to stem the rising tide of tax havens “erupting like a plague that dwelleth not in harmony with the Kyngdome” as the high sheriff of Llanfair-yng-Nghedewain succinctly put it.
Edward the 1st charged Roger de Montgomerie with “erecting a temple to righteousness and pious enactment of gods will to the Kynge and his merciful taxationne of realms to the west, for the future protection of the Christ against the heathen” in a somewhat less succinct statement. The name of Newtown was to stand testimony to the might of Edward and his ability to commission a vast settlement seemingly at will.
If you pass through Newtown heading north you will notice to your left a small road by the name of Frolic street. The origins of this name were lost to history until 1969 when a local historian by the name of Dafydd Ap Dafydd stumbled across parish records for the earliest years of the town. He had been researching the delicate and at that time under threat, yellow brickwork of St Davids Church in the centre of town.
His studies brought him to the basement of the church where he found a statement of intent by the town’s founding fathers. To this day not a soul knows how it got to be in the basement of a church built in the 1840s. The statement was signed by by Roger De Montgomerie himself; who by the time the town was finished had gone native to the extent of taking up with a local girl and siring three sons. Such was his disdain for Edward the 1st by this point, he dedicated a street to the defiance of his will.
The statement read “In the parish shall there be unto the cytizeines a place of wellness and harmonies so that the Froliking essential to the freedome of spirit will not be extinguished. To this end a street shall be named and sanctioned wherein the frolic takes place without persecution nor taxationes”.
Roger himself lived there for two decades with his mistress Evonda and their three sons Dwayne Chapelle and Raoul. Eventually they were evicted after repeated warnings about keeping a disused cart up on blocks of stone on their front lawn. Their dogs were also a problem.