Jo Conti: The Lampeter – Italian Connection

Those that were at SDUC Lampeter with me in the late ’70’s will remember the subject of this posting. The more astute amongst them will also recognise the the connection with the recent Lemon Boys photo posting.
We came into Jo Conti’s orbit because we loved a cafe with a Juke Box. In Lampeter that meant smoking cocktail Sobranies in Leno Conti’s cafe. And that’s how we met Welsh-Italian Jo Conti.
An occassional star of BBC Wales, her latest appearance on My Secret Wales takes on the story of how Italian prisoners of War interned in Henllan, Ceredigion, transformed a camp hut into a home-from-home Catholic Church; fresco-ed and decorated with what they could scavenge they created a  remarkable gem of transplanted vernacular architecture.
Cuttings and transplants can take and some can blossom and endure.

Paul Williams

This is the blog of Paul Williams, Ceredigion resident since 1970. I am an English and Philosphy graduate of what was once known as St David's University College, at Lampeter. I played bass in Dyfed's first punk band, and living in Llandewi Brefi, had a grandstand view of Operation Julie. Eventually, after 2 years playing bass in Brighton's 256th punk band, I returned to Wales to deal in books and then antiques. I've trained and worked as a counsellor, I am a photographer, blog and web designer and I publish the annual Wales Antiques Guide. I am married and a father of one. Apart from my family, my interests include books, maps, Nikon, Yashica and Mamiya film cameras, British Culture 1935 - 1965, Poole pottery, Welsh textiles, and Poster art. My favourite movies include anything by Pressburger and Powell favourite music includes Gene Clark, Gram Parsons, and anything form San Francisco 1965-1970. I am a late convert to 'Kraut Rock'.

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5 Responses

  1. Bernie Bell says:

    You mention Italian prisoners of war turning a hut into a chapel……..are you aware of the Italian Chapel on Orkney? Very similar idea and a wonderful place. Nothing to do with Wales, but there you go.

    • Thanks for your post, Bernie. I didn’t know about the Orkney Chapel. A Wiki search took me to this rather dry account but it looks like a splendid achievement. I’ve never been to Orkney though I have seen the lights as I ferried to Shetland. One day i hope to see more.

  2. Kay Lyne says:

    I too went to St David’s, as a mature student, and I am still living in the area. I would love to visit the POW chapel, but can’t find any info on how to obtain permission to do so. Can you advise me, please?

  3. Hi

    Not sure who to contact now but Parish Priest and Shrine Rector at Cardigan is Father Jason Jones. I belive he holds mass there from time to time. Maybe he could help?

    Father Jason Jones
    Our Lady of the Taper R.C.Church
    North Road
    SA43 1LT
    Tel. 01239 612615

  4. Helen Davies says:

    A group of us would love to visit the Italian POW chapel at Henllan, and I would be grateful if someone could let me know, how this can be arranged. It would be fascinating for our family to see, as my father’s uncle was an Italian POW in Wales during the second world war. Grateful thanks, Helen Barresi Davies.

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