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AN APPRECIATION OF THE LIFE AND WORK OF STEPHEN WILLIAM WILLIAMS (1837-99) To Commemorate the Centenary of his Excavation at Strata Marcella Abbey (1890) DAVID H. WILLIAMS With a Re-appraisal by C.J. ARNOLD Synopsis (Born 7 June 1837, Lower Mellington, Churchstoke; married 11 September 1862, Maria James (of Rhayader) in Liverpool Parish Church; an archaeologist, antiquary, numismatist, photographer, and territorial soldier, of note; he was County Surveyor of Radnorshire from 1864 until 1899; he died, whilst High Sheriff of the County, at Sandown, I.O.W. on 11 December 1899, and was buried in Rhayader Churchyard. He had no children). (Much of this appreciation is based upon the papers of Stephen Williams which are widely dispersed. The most fruitful sources are the National Library of Wales (Dept. of MSS-Birmingham Corporation Waterworks boxes, the Penralley Papers, and Radnor Quarter Sessions Order Book No. 10; and Map Room-see card index of surveyors' plans and maps); Birmingham Public Reference Library (Records of the Elan Valley Waterworks Committee); Powys County Council Record Office, Llandrindod Wells (in R/D/WWA and 8R/D/WWA); and various items in Rhayader Museum. Other sources are listed in the footnotes. The writer would like to record his appreciation of help afforded by, amongst others, Mr Cliff Walton, Mr David Evans, and Mr and Mrs Brian Lawrence of Rhayader, by the Rev Dr R.W.D. Fenn, and by Mr R.F. Suggett of the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales, as well as by the archivists and staff of the several repositories visited. The photographs are mostly from albums kindly loaned by Mr Cliff Walton. An important complementary article is that entitled 'Our Ubiquitous Friend', written by R.W.D. Fenn andJ.B. Sinclair, and published in the Radnorshire Society Transactions for 1989). This anniversary paper endeavours to pay attention to the life and work of one who, exactly a century ago, was an assiduous investigator of Cistercian and other monastic sites,and who in some respects can be regarded as 'the father of Cistercian archaeology in Wales'. To pay tribute to him, as well as to fully appreciate his role, the talents he brought to it, and the time he gave to it, there is a need to look at all he accomplished. Early Life Stephen William Williams was the eldest of four children born at Lower Mellington in the border parish of Churchstoke. His father, and his grandfather, were named Stephen before him, a later descendant was also to bear the name. The family, described by one source as 'a thoroughly good old yeoman family" seems to have settled at Lower Mellington by the early nineteenth century, and had their burial plot in Churchstoke churchyard. The exact date of Stephen Williams' birth is uncertain; his obituaries and the 1 Radnorshire Standard, 20 December 1899. Shropshire Record Office: Churchstoke parish registers.