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LIVES OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
The E.J. Boys Archive

Added 25th July 2012.

IN PROGRESS — NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Captain Godfrey Charles MORGAN (later 1st Viscount Tredegar) - 17th Lancers

"SIR BRIGGS"

Painting of 'Sir Briggs', Captain Godfrey Morgan's mount in the Charge
Sir Briggs, Captain Morgan's mount in the Charge, with his groom. In the background, the 17th Lancers' camp in the Crimea.
The NAM Inventory description reads: "Sir Briggs, horse of Lord Tredegar, 17th Lancers, ridden at Balaclava, 1854, in camp in the Crimea, 1854. Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower left 'A F De Prades/ 1856', by Alfred Frank de Prades (fl 1844-1883), 1856; full-length, in profile to left, standing by a tent with his groom; in gilt wood frame." [accessed 10 December 2012]

"Sir Briggs"

"Sir Briggs" was wounded at Balaclava, receiving a sabre cut on the head just above the right eye. The charger was brought back to Wales, where he lived to be 28 years old.

He was buried in the grounds of Tredegar House, where now stands a 7-foot-high stone monument. On it is an effigy of a horse and a dismounted Lancer. It bears the inscription:

"In memory of Sir Briggs A favourite charger. He carried his master, the Hon. Godfrey Morgan, Captain 17th Lancers, boldly and well at the battle of the Alma, in the first line of the Light Cavalry Charge at Balaclava, and at the battle of the Inkerman 1854. He died at Tredegar Park February 8th 1874 aged 28 years."

[PB: some sources say "front line".]

Cabman cartoon
"Oh, that's where Lord Tredegar buried his charger."

"[A] cabman is always supposed to be a driving encyclopedia. When Newport cabmen are driving along Caerleon Road or Chepstow Road, credulous individuals ask them the name of every house and place they pass, what it means and what it is. Strangers want to know, and you must tell them something.

There is an extraordinary tradition about a cabman driving along a road, when a lady fare asked him what "that mountain was with the tump on the top." "But what is the tump for?" persisted the lady. "Oh, that's where Lord Tredegar buried his charger; he made that mound himself," was the reply. Such stories are very interesting and amusing, but they spoil history, and that is why I think we are indebted to cabmen for the extraordinary traditions that go about the country."

Cabmen's Dinner, Newport, November 5th, 1898

["Wit & Wisdom of Lord Tredegar", 1911]

__________

The remarkable Charge of the Light Brigade warhorse and the Welsh stately home

by James McCarthy, WalesOnline

Dec 9 2012

Painting by John Charlton of Captain Morgan riding Sir Briggs at the Russian Guns

Godfrey Morgan and horse Sir Briggs at the Charge of the Light Brigade, by John Charlton (1847-1917), c.1905.

He was the real life War Horse that helped inspire Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade.

The remarkable Sir Briggs was just one of scores of animals to find a home with the eccentric Morgan family at Tredegar House, one of Wales' grandest mansions.

But the beast was without question the bravest - and the only one to be honoured with knighthood.

His remarkable tale has been recalled by Steffan Ellis, a former tour guide at Tredegar House in Newport. He said:

"They were in the front line of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Godfrey Morgan got back out again more or less unscathed. He came out commanding his regiment because everyone else had been killed or wounded and he put his survival down to his horse.

"Sir Briggs returned a little later and Godfrey made him a Sir. He returned to Tredegar Park and lived there for another 20 years."

The creature is now buried in the cedar garden behind the stately home in south east Wales.

Nearby is the grave of Eton-educated Godfrey's Skye terrier, Peeps.

"When his poor old dog died it seemed natural to bury him next to his other favourite animal," said Steffan. "That sounds a bit sentimental but that was the way he thought."

Sir Briggs "is supposed to be buried standing up."

"I don't think we'll be checking," Steffan said.

Before the Crimean War the stallion was a champion racehorse. "He won the Cowbridge steeplechase," said Steffan. "This meant he could jump over the Russian cannons in the Charge of the Light Brigade," he said.

Sir Briggs even raced after the 1854 battle.

"He was a hell of a horse," said Steffan.

Thomas Derw is the acting house manager at Tredegar House.

He dubbed Sir Briggs the "best known" of the animals buried in the cedar garden.<.p>

"There are also dogs buried there," he said. "The headstones for two of them, Barry and Friday, were removed. However, the headstone of Peeps, a Skye terrier belonging to Godfrey Morgan, Second Lord Tredegar, is next to the monument to Sir Briggs."

Artist John Charlton painted a picture of the canine with Morgan a few years before it died,

"Peeps was so named because of the fur that grew over his eyes, making him peep from under it," Derw said.

Pip Dodd works at the National Army Museum. He said: "Briggs was named after a family servant, but after showing remarkable bravery during the battle, he was unofficially knighted 'Sir' Briggs by his grateful owner."

The animal features in the museum's War Horse exhibition - inspired by the play that is coming to the Wales Millennium Centre in 2014.

Sir Briggs and Peeps were not the only animals at the huge house. When Godfrey lived there, there were also scores of hounds used for hunting. There were ample stables for other horses.

But Godfrey's collection paled next to that of his grandson, Evan Frederic Morgan [PB: Actually, his great-nephew. Godfrey Morgan did not marry, and had no children or grandchildren. EFM was the son of Courtenay Morgan, who inherited on his uncle's death, and the grandson of Godfrey's brother Frederic Courtenay Morgan, who also fought in the Crimea.].

A honey bear, a baboon, a macaw and a boxing kangaroo named Somerset - which he tried to teach to dance - were among the menagerie he kept.

His extravagant lifestyle was notorious. It included hosting parties for writers Aldous Huxley and HG Wells, painter Augustus John and occultist Aleister Crowley.

Steffan, who doesn't have any pets, said: "The pet kangaroo he rescued from a circus. The honey bear, that would be out in the gardens climbing trees. That was named Alice. Then there was Bimbo, the dog-faced baboon," Steffan said.

"They could make a film about this lot. No-one would believe it. There were birds everywhere: Inside the house and outside," Steffan said. "He kept them in cages and they would be flying around the house and in the stables area. His favourite was Blueboy, a blue hyacinth macaw."

It would sit on his shoulder at parties.

"I've heard he had an anteater in his bedroom," Steffan said. "The theory is he got it from his mother who would make bird nests for herself to sit in."

[Source: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/need-to-read/2012/12/09/the-remarkable-charge-of-the-light-brigade-warhorse-and-the-welsh-stately-home-91466-32377053/#ixzz2EdtNFntu (accessed 10 December 2012)]

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