The Temple of Peace: Uniting Nations, Hearts & Minds 

From the construction of Wales' Temple of Peace, to the establishment of the League of Nations and the the post-WW2 United Nations, Welsh peace builders - supported by extensive grassroots campaigning movements - have shaped Wales' role in the world.

David Davies' Legacy      Temple of Peace      Welsh League of Nations and Exhibition      Welsh Education Advisory Committee     Uniting Nations: Welsh Champions of the UN    Wales' Garden of Peace        WCIA Today       Temple Tours 

The Davies' Legacy

David Davies (1880-1944) was a Welsh MP and philanthropist whose experiences as a soldier during World War One greatly influenced his lifelong cause of championing peace. Lord David Davies of Llandinam - Wikipedia

Davies was born into a family steeped in philanthropy. His grandfather, also David Davies, was a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist and his sisters Gwendoline and Margaret became leading patrons of the arts in Wales. As WW1 broke out, the Davies sisters played a lead role in organising sanctuary for over 4,000 Belgian refugees fleeing the front.

As a soldier during the Great War - as well as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister David Lloyd George - Davies was horrified by the carnage and waste which he witnessed. He believed that war could be avoided, if its causes were properly understood, and upon his return from the continent focused his efforts into championing the cause of peace. He spearheaded the search for stable international order through the League of Nations and the League of Nations Union, and wanted to see the establishment of a strong International Police force so that international agreement and peace could be maintained.

Dept of International Politics, Aberystwyth University 

In 1918, Davies established a new academic discipline, creating the world’s first department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. The first Chair in the discipline was endowed by Davies in honour of the American president Woodrow Wilson, the man who pioneered the concept of the League of Nations, of which Davies was amongst its chief advocates. Davies was one of the founders of the League of Nations Union and the foremost proponent of the creation of an international police force to help regulate world order. He later founded the New Commonwealth Society in order to advance his vision of international law and order. The spirit of the Society is still very much alive in the form of the David Davies Memorial Institute, which through leading academic scholarship continues to honour the legacy of its founder.

Davies Papers - National Library of Wales 2017: unpublished biography by Tennyson, 1953 (digitised 2017); Lord Davies of Llandinam archive collection (catalogued 2017).

Wales' Temple of Peace and Health

  The Temple of Peace and Health (view on Wikipedia) was the brainchild of David Davies, 1st Baron Davies, and was conceived to serve two purposes. The first was to provide a home for the King Edward VII Welsh National Memorial Association, a voluntary organisation dedicated to the prevention, treatment and eradication of tuberculosis, which had been founded by Lord Davies in 1910. Davies was also the founding president of the Welsh National Council of the League of Nations Union, and in 1934 he pledged £58,000 towards the erection of a building to house the two organisations (with £12,000 coming from the Memorial Association). Lord Davies wished for the Temple of Peace and Health to be "a memorial to those gallant men from all nations who gave their lives in the war that was to end war" - and so it was dedicated to the memory of those who laid down their lives in that war. The foundation stone was laid by Lord Halifax, the Lord Privy Seal, in April 1937. 

The Temple was opened on 23 November 1938 by Mrs Minnie James of Dowlais, who had lost 3 sons in the First World War and represented the war-bereaved mothers of Wales. She was accompanied by women from across the commonwealth who since WW1 had united in campaigning for peace. View 'A New Mecca' - an account of the Opening of the Temple of Peace; view a short digital story about the Temple opening. Tragically, Lord Davies, after a ceremonial x-ray in one of the fleet of vans he had provided to carry out mass radiography against TB, was found to be suffering from a terminal disease and died on 16 June 1944 (view dedication from the LoN Union). Shortly before the end of WW2 and the formation of the United Nations, this would lead to the creation of many of the bodies of international cooperation and security Davies had spent his life advocating for. Many would be shaped by Welshmen who had been inspired by Davies' vision.

Welsh League of Nations Union

The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organisation founded on 10 January 1920 as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. The aims of the LoN were supported by civil society associations worldwide, and as a nation grappled with the grief of losing a whole generation of young men and women from WW1the Welsh League of Nations Union was particularly active (view Cardiff University Collections references), with 280 local branches by 1922 which by 1926 had grown to 652.  
"Welsh Efforts for World Peace" - rear cover from the 1927 Report of the Welsh League of Nations Union, digitised on People's Collection Wales. This yearly reports contain great detail about the peacebuilding activities and growth of Wales' LoN movements through the 1920s and 30s. 
Communities and committees throughout Wales organised 'Daffodil Days' to raise funds for peace building efforts; The first International Youth Message of Peace & Goodwill was broadcast to the world, alongside the founding of the youth peace movement Urdd Gobaith Cymru; a Welsh Advisory Education Committee took an international lead on championing teaching on world peace; the Women's Appeal to America was followed by the North Wales Womens Peace Pilgrimage and a Peace Appeal from the Faith Leaders of Wales.
Digital story from Peace Heritage Volunteers training, May 2016 - the 1927 League of Nations Report (from Temple of Peace Library).
League of Nations Exhibition, 2016
In 1926, Wales hosted the International Peace Congress itself in Aberystwyth, stepping in at short notice following the collapse of plans to host in Dresden. The 90th anniversary of this incredible gathering - placing Wales at centre stage of world peace talks - was marked in Summer 2016 with a League of Nations Exhibition in Aberystwyth University's Hugh Owen Library, supported by Wales for Peace. Annual 'Gregynog Peace Conferences' were held from 1922 to 1939, organised by prominent peace builder Gwilym Davies. Even by 1935, with WW2 looming on the horizon, a 'Peace Ballot' on Disarmament garnered over 85% public support. Following WW2, Welsh proposals for an international education organisation heavily influenced the creation of UNESCO, the UN's education, scientific and cultural organisation.

Welsh Education Advisory Committee, 1922-39

The Welsh Education Advisory Committee (view on Flickr) was established through the Davies' sisters and the Gregynog Press in 1922, to advance the teaching of peace and the principles of the League of Nations in schools throughout Wales. It was the first such teachers' initiative in the world, produced a 'Teachers and World Peace' Manifesto ahead of the 1929 General Election, and was a forerunner of peace education and global citizenship today - but little is as yet known about the WEAC's work, even though Welsh proposals for an international education organisation are said to have heavily influenced the creation of UNESCO, the UN's education, scientific and cultural organisation, in the 1940-50s . Could you help us uncover this hidden history further? WCIA hope that by uncovering and understanding more about how previous generations of teachers developed such a highly regarded peace education programme, we might inspire teachers today seeking to tackle current affairs in the classroom through our developing Peace Schools programme.     
"History properly taught may become a healer of nations... the part Wales may play in the pacification of Europe through flexibility of might and sympathy of her sons... is a fine ideal to set before teachers of history in the schools of Wales". W Hammond Robinson, Welsh County Schools Association address, 1926. 

Uniting Nations: Welsh Peacebuilders shaping the UN

A number of prominent Welsh peace builders played instrumental roles in founding organs of the United Nations from 1946 onwards that endure in international affairs to the modern day. WCIA are seeking volunteers and community groups who can help us draw together more histories around the contribution of Welsh figures to United Nations initiatives worldwide, from 1946 to the present - from 'prominent figureheads' to ordinary humanitarian and development workers on the ground.  
Lord David Davies of Llandinam – his proposals for a global peacekeeping force were realised after his death with the creation of the UN Security Council and UN Peacekeeping forces.
Sir David Owen of Pontypool – founded the UN Secretariat, UN Assistant Secretary General and first Co-Administrator of the UN Development Programme.
Guildhaume Myrddin-Evans of Abertillery – UK representative in founding of the International Labour Organisation
Ben Bowen Thomas of Ystrad Rhondda – Chairman of UNESCO
• Arthur Davies of Barry – 2nd Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation, 1956-79.

Wales' Garden of Peace: Remembering Wales' Peacebuilders


Download 2018 Peace Garden Memorials Pamphlet - Eng / Welsh

Founded in 1988 by UNA Trustee Robert Davies (an international service volunteer since the 1950s) , the Peace Garden was created by a series of youth work-camps to celebrate the values of the Temple of Peace & Health, and to mark the building’s 50th anniversary. International volunteers planted the first trees and laid a mosaic around the central flagpole, designed around the UN blue laurel and dedicated to the ideals of the United Nations. The Garden provides a place of tranquillity and reflection in the city centre. See some photographs of the garden.

Growing Peace Stories: International Youth Volunteer Peace Camps

In 2015 and 2016, working with UNA Exchange, Wales for Peace supported two 'Peace Camps', bringing international volunteers together with youth volunteers from across South Wales to work on the peace garden. 

  • The Summer 2015 peace camp focused on clearing and renovating the Peace Garden, producing new mini-mosiacs for the entrance portico, and sharing youth views on current peace issues. Feature article.
  • The Summer 2016 peace camp worked with BME Women from the Riverside Community to build relationships and gather stories through growing food together, producing a series of digital stories - collected together on the 'Growing Peace Stories' blog.


New Interpretation for the Peace Garden Memorials
The Peace Garden is a space where the contribution of the people of Wales to peace and social justice can be remembered. Many trees and shrubs have been planted in memory of special people, movements or events, identified by commemorative plaques and monuments. Between 2016-18, Wales for Peace is seeking volunteers to help us gather together the 'hidden histories' of these peace memorials (download list) into an interactive guide, with interpretation for visitors. Examples of memorials include:

With financial investment from the Tesco Community Fund 'Bags of Help' scheme, and participation from UNA Exchange international volunteers, Wales for Peace are supporting the renovation of the garden in readiness for its 30th anniversary in 2018 - including the dedication of new art / installation ideas from young people across Wales on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, that are defining world development challenges for current and future generations. 

The Welsh Centre for International Affairs: Wales in the World Today

The Welsh League of Nations Union from 1918 to 1945 was widely supported, though financially vulnerable; and its successor after the Second World War, the United Nations Association (UNA) Wales, fared little better. Supporters of work at the Temple of Peace were concerned that something had to be done, as UNA Wales was short on members and money. It had difficulty in providing the leadership needed for Wales’ response to major campaigns, such as International Co-operation Year in 1965 and International Human Rights Year in 1968. The idea came about to form a ‘Welsh Centre for International Affairs’.

In 1968 a Western Mail editorial commented that this idea was “exciting and interesting” and would “encourage Welshmen to look beyond the confines of Wales and Britain to extend their knowledge and understanding of the rest of the world”. In 1970 a proposal to form the WCIA was formally adopted by a Committee set up by the then Secretary of State for Wales, George Thomas MP (later Viscount Tonypandy), to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN. The organisations on that 25th anniversary committee – the Welsh Office, local authorities, the University of Wales and colleges of education, MPs, trade unionists, industrialists, the churches, political parties the media and voluntary organisations – became the WCIA’s Standing Conference, thereby also extending the range of organisations associated with the Temple of Peace.

The WCIA was officially opened on 11 October 1973 by Lady Tweedsmuir, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Hywel Francis, MP for Aberavon, once said in the House of Commons: “The Welsh Centre for International Affairs… has for decades played a vital role. Its quiet, educational voice of tolerance and reason needs to be listened to and valued in Wales and beyond. It deserves our full support and we should be proud of its work.”
About the WCIA        WCIA and Temple History      Temple Venue      Current WCIA Work & Projects    


Temple Tours: Exploring Wales' Peace Heritage

WW1 War Memorial, Alexandra Gardens The Crypt and the WW1 Book of Remembrance The 'Hall of Nations' Council Chamber & Davies' Library Wales' Garden of Peace

WCIA have been offering 'Temple Tours' to groups and visitors interested in exploring this unique building and discovering more about the history of the organisations and movements who have worked from the Temple of Peace since its opening in 1938. The Tour - developed with TV Historian James Cowan of Cardiff's Hidden Histories - is delivered by trained volunteers, starting from the WW1 War Memorial and taking in the Crypt and Book of Remembrance, the 'Hall of Nations', the Library and Wales' Garden of Peace.

The tours were launched in July 2016 to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, alongside the Remembering for Peace Exhibition (throughout Summer 2016) and a 'Challenging Histories' Conference in partnership with Cardiff University and Voices of War and Peace.  

To book a visit or to request a bespoke tour, please email 

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