The Spilman Hotel, Carmarthen

button-theme-womenThe Spilman Hotel, Carmarthen

A plaque on this building, now the Spilman Hotel, commemorates education pioneer Elizabeth Phillips Hughes, who was brought up here.

The Georgian building was probably a post office initially. For over a century, it was associated with surgeons and doctors.

Elizabeth was born in nearby King Street in 1811 and moved here as a toddler. In her early teens, she went to Hope House School, Taunton, for her first formal education. She later attended Cheltenham Ladies College and Newnham College, Cambridge, where she gained the only First in Moral Sciences awarded in 1884. However, the degree was not conferred on her as Cambridge did not award women degrees until 1948. By 1885 she was the first principal of the Cambridge Training College for Women (CTC).

Her ideas on university education for Welsh women came to prominence through an essay the entered for the 1884 National Eisteddfod. Two years later Elizabeth was a founding member of the Association for Promoting the Education of Girls in Wales (APEGW). This was a response to the lack of effective secondary education for girls not being mentioned when the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill had its first reading in Parliament in 1885. Elizabeth addressed a House of Commons committee on education in Wales in 1887.

When the APEGW was disbanded in 1902, The Cambrian News reported that “the girls of Wales now possess a system of education extending from the Elementary School to University” and a “remarkable change” had occurred since the APEGW’s formation.

Elizabeth was visiting professor of English in Tokyo for two years, forging links between Japanese colleges and the CTC which continue today. She travelled home via the USA, where she spoke on education, visited schools and studied prisons and probation systems.

Having settled in Barry, she helped to found the town’s Teachers Training College and its Red Cross hospital for wounded soldiers (the first in Wales). She was the first woman in Wales to receive the MBE honour.

She joined the University of Wales’ court of governors and received, in 1920, the degree of Doctor of Laws, in recognition of her life’s work. She died in 1925 and is buried in Barry Town Cemetery.

With thanks to Dr Mary Thorley, of Women’s Archive Wales

Postcode: SA31 1LQ    View Location Map

Women’s Archive Wales website - download the Carmarthen Women’s Heritage Walk leaflet

Website of the Spilman Hotel