William Edward Chapman (Glywys Venta),
1936 – 2010

a tribute by Past Grand Bard Jori Ansell (Caradok)

Ted was initiated into Gorsedh Kernow at Perran Round in 1992, taking the bardic name of Glywys Venta. This combined two important elements in his life, the parish of St Gluvias and the village of Caerwent in Gwent (the Roman site of Venta Silurum): his Cornish home and South Wales, where he first became aware of and involved in Celtic culture and politics. He learnt Welsh and worked for Plaid Cymru whilst following his career as a lecturer in electronics at Newport College.

Born and bred in Falmouth in a seafaring tradition, Ted had trained as a radio officer in the Merchant Navy, making several deep-sea voyages and even serving on the ferry to Stornoway. To develop further his career, he had left the navy to go the university at Southampton, where he took a master’s degree in electronics. This led him to teaching posts at Brunel College in Bristol and to Newport.

Barbara, Archdruid, Ted
Welsh National Eisteddfod 2002: Barbara Shaw - Mentenor a'n Ertach, Ted Chapman - Glywys Venta, with Archdruid Dr Robin Lewis.
Photographer Keith Shaw - Kaswydh

His return to Cornwall was instigated by the illness of his mother, for whom he cared until her death. He was also close to his sister Sue and was very proud when she became a bard in 2007. His niece and nephew, Nessa and Gareth, remember him as a loving and attentive uncle. During this period he held a position at Cornwall College, Camborne, until his retirement. He then devoted his time to several areas of interest: Cornish language and culture, Mebyon Kernow in its early years, the Ecology Party (which later became the Green Party) and support for injustices throughout the world, notably in Tibet.

When the Gorsedd decided it should have a website, it was to Ted it turned for the expertise, advice, and sheer hard work which he contributed so willingly. The result has been a Web presence second to none in the bardic world and a wonderful showcase for Cornish culture at home and abroad. He also became an ever-present camera operator at all kinds of Cornish events from Lowender Perran to the Gorsedd ceremonies, from parades to demonstrations, and we should all acknowledge and appreciate the extensive archive of Cornish events we have, thanks to Ted’s work.

Ted Chapman - Glywys Venta
Photographer: Susan Davey

As a colleague on the Gorsedd Council, I can say that he was always available for support and advice, totally reliable and effective. He was absolutely dedicated to his beliefs and followed them doggedly: Positive News was always distributed at Council meetings and other events, his almost daily emails brought our attention to opportunities and injustices and encouraged our response and our support. Ted will be missed by his family and will leave spaces in various fields which will be hard to fill.

Ted, Perranporth 4th May 2010
Photographer: Helen Banks

We remember Ted,

slightly stooped, a slightly hidden smile around his mouth
as if the things we uttered tasted good.
He glanced at the speaker, long-term friend or new,
to take in more than words. We shared our food, our compass points
pointing ‘true north’ – not north but to a vision of human wholeness,
cohesion in relationships between all living things,
sea, soil, the beasts, the trees, the wheat and us;
the green wholeness of the world.

Cornwall was essence. Cornwall in its ancient heritage,
its half-seen saints and seers, its stones and sounds
of something bigger than the shouts of men and maids;
sounds in the wind, the ocean waves ruthless against the cliffs,
the growl of shingle driven up the shore,
the haunting bird-cries that were here
before ever human footstep trod this land.

Ted had a sense of that.
The sailor in him, the practiced engineer, the lover of trains,
timetables and tracks and iron roads,
and yet in those dimensions that included cogs and wheels
as outcrops of a world immensely big,
powerful and vulnerable, hidden and suddenly seen
as when the sun slides out between the clouds
to make all plainly gold
and green... and green.

Ted was green
to the width and depth of him, faithfully green,
inclusively green,
and we were lucky to have known him,
to have access to his full and furnished mind,
to have him in our small green circle on this toe of land
that steps between earth and heaven, our haven and his own beloved home.

by Audrey Theodosia Bryant



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