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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 19:04 GMT
Arthurian link to museum windfall
King Arthur
An annual lecture will now be held in Carmarthen on Arthurian legend
A Carmarthen museum has received a 110,000 donation from a doctor fascinated with Arthurian legend who died almost 60 years ago.

George Arbour Stephens, who practiced in Swansea, had an interest in the town's connection with stories about King Arthur and wanted to fund an annual lecture in the town on the subject.

But his bequest, the largest the museum has ever received, has only recently come to light.

More is known about Carmarthen's links with Arthur than about Dr Stephens, who died in 1945, but museum managers say they are delighted with the windfall.

We are always grateful for things like furniture and paintings, but we have never had such a huge cash donation before
Heritage manager Chris Delaney

Legend has it that Carmarthen was the birthplace of Merlin - King Arthur's wizard.

The name Merlin is a corruption of Myrddin and some believe Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen) was named after the wizard.

The 'Black Book of Carmarthen', written over 750 years ago in the Priory at Carmarthen, includes some of the earliest Welsh literature, including references to King Arthur and Myrddin/Merlin.

Dr Stephens' interest in the legend is unclear but it is thought his grandfather was once the governor of Carmarthen Jail, where County Hall now stands.

Councillors are putting aside 40,000 to generate income for the annual lecture and the remaining 70,000 will go towards funding projects at Carmarthenshire County Museum at Abergwili, on the outskirts of the town.

Staff at the museum are to carry-out research to try and find out more about Dr Stephens.

Councillor Mary Thomas said: "We are lucky Dr Stephens was such an avid supporter.

"This is an absolutely fantastic windfall for the museum.

"Not only does it help improvement projects now being undertaken, but will also go a long way to help funding the in the future."

The council's heritage manager Chris Delaney said the museum is often left historical artefacts but monetary donations are rare.

"We are always grateful for things like furniture and paintings, but we have never had such a huge cash donation before," said Mr Delaney.

"It is obviously going to prove very useful, especially as we are now in the process of making some big improvements to the museum and other heritage projects."


SEE ALSO:
Museum left 453,000 in will
13 Oct 03  |  Mid
Welsh archive goes online
04 Sep 03  |  Mid


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