Non Thomas. washer woman at Nant Clwyd

July 1450

Because we go to Ruthin quite often we thought it would be pretty cool to see what the place was like over six hundred years ago! I saw a newspaper article a while back about Nant Clwyd House in the chronicle that said it had been restored to its former medieval glory with a European grant. But we wanted to see for ourselves, you know, the real Mc Coy, so we hopped into the time machine and dialed the year 1475 into the navi-computer.

A whoosh of smoke and a stream of stars and all of a sudden we found ourselves in a field just behind the town square. The first thing we noticed was how overwhelmingly noisy it was, and the smell, uurgh!!!, rotten fruit and veg mixed with steaming farm animal dung. Was this the right place? Ruthin then was a completely different place to the one I visited back in the future. Never the less, Tesni and I decided to hang out on the square for a bit.

It seemed, by all the people shouting and jostling about the square, that it was market day. Suddenly, from out of the chaos, we saw a chicken running as fast as its busy feet could carry it; between the shoppers legs and across the market place. A flustered young girl was hot on its heels and without stopping to think I ran after to help her catch the runaway poultry. After a quick rush I managed to get close enough to dive on the chicken (with a bit of a rugby tackle manoeuvre that I had seen in the six nations) and proudly presented it to the girl.

She looked embarrassed at first but was very grateful of my help and couldn’t thank me enough. My names Nia, she said, sorry ’bout that but I’m all of a fluster this morn’ what with it being laundry day at Nant Clwyd and that blasted pig eating all the soap again. Anyway, she looked at the chicken, got to deliver madam ‘ere to a neighbour, and then she rushed off into the chaos of the market square once again. Well, after hearing her say that she worked in Nant Clwyd Tesni and I exchanged looks and chased after her.

Nia was hard to keep up with and the town’s folk kept getting in our way but when we finally got to Nant Clwyd we peeped over the wall and watched for a bit. Washing day was well under way and the whole yard was filled with laundry and activity. We spotted Nia talking to another lady and we could over hear them complaining about their lack of soap to finish the laundry. Tesni and I looked at each other and we knew there and then what to do.

We decided to make a quick visit back to the future to collect some soap from under Nain’s well stocked sink and surprise Nia and the other washer women with it. Nia and the others were delighted with the quality of the soap and we even helped them for a bit by scrubbing and wringing the clothes and hanging them up.

Washing Day

You know, they had their work cut out for them back then. Our arms were aching and our hands were chapped and sore, and that was just after a few hours. These women did it nearly every day and were laughing and talking as they worked. When we were about to leave they awarded us for our kindness with an enormous, delicious game pie. It was finished by the time we got back to the time machine.