Hymn writer Isalaw’s birthplace
Hymn writer Isalaw’s birthplace, Beach Road, Bangor
The prolific Victorian hymn writer John Richards, whose bardic name was Isalaw, was born in this house in 1843. As a young man he and a friend, Thomas Williams, set up Bangor’s first music class which taught people to sing using sol-fa notation. His hymns were popular with congregations of various denominations, and some are still performed in services and concerts.
Perhaps his best-known hymn today is Sanctus. To hear an excerpt from Sanctus, courtesy of Sain Records, press play: Or, download mp3 (551KB)
“Isalaw” is Welsh for bass, or a melodic line that underlies the main tune. Isalaw died in September 1901 and was buried at Glanadda Cemetery, Bangor. Maes Isalaw, a street near his former home, was named in his honour.
The commemorative plaque above the doorway to the house was placed there in 1943. The late-Georgian building is known as the King’s Head and fronts onto two streets.
Postcode: LL57 1DG
With thanks to Matt Tapping and Sarah Andrews of Bangor Civic Society, also Rhidian Griffiths and Sain Records.