St Fagans National History Museum (Welsh: Sain Ffagan: Amgueddfa Werin Cymru), commonly referred to as St Fagans after the village where it is located, is an open-air museum in Cardiff chronicling the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people. The museum is part of the wider network of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. It consists of more than forty re-erected buildings from various locations in Wales, and is set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, an Elizabethan manor house. The museum holds displays of traditional crafts with a working blacksmith forge, a pottery, a weaver, miller, and clog maker. It also includes two working water mills: one flour mill and one wool mill. Part of the site includes a small working farm which concentrates on preserving local Welsh native breeds of livestock. Produce from the museum's bakery and flour mill is available for sale. The museum was started in 1946 following the donation of the castle and lands by the Earl of Plymouth. It opened its doors to the public in 1948, under the name of the Welsh Folk Museum.
Abernodwydd Farmhouse. A timber-framed thatched farmhouse, built in 1678 as an open-hall with a fire in the centre of the floor and open to the roof. Altered in 1708 by the construction of a stone-backed fireplace and timber-framed chimney, and the incorporation of an upper floor, effectively doubling the accommodation space inside. It is typical of the timber-framed houses of mid-Wales and the Marches in both plan and construction, with the fireplace adjacent to the only doorway. The walls are set on a low stone plinth to prevent the beams rotting, with the panels between the timbers filled with woven hazel rods daubed with clay. The floors are of beaten earth. The quality of the furniture displayed in the house reflects the higher standard of living in this part of Montgomeryshire during the 18th century than would have been found further west in the poorer upland areas.
Bryn Eryr Iron Age Farmstead. Bryn Eryr was a small Iron Age farmstead near Llansadwrn in the eastern corner of Anglesey. During the Bronze and Iron Ages in Britain, roundhouses were the most common form of home. These roundhouses are reconstructions based on the archaeology of the original houses which were excavated by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust between 1985 and 1987. The excavations revealed three substantial roundhouses. The earliest and largest house was built during the Iron Age and enclosed by a timber stockade. The second roundhouse, probably built shortly before the Roman invasion was placed right next to the first while the stockade was upgraded to a more permanent rectangular-shaped bank and ditch. During the first millennium AD, as the banks were eroding and the ditch silting, a third house was built on stone footings. Bryn Eryr is an experimental reconstruction of the earliest two houses, and due to their close proximity to each other, it is quite likely they formed one building with two rooms. Such buildings, sometimes called figure-of-eight, or conjoined roundhouses, have only recently been identified, and consequently very few reconstructions have been attempted. Moreover, the Bryn Eryr roundhouses have walls of rammed clay 1.8m thick – a first for reconstructed roundhouses. Interpreting and reconstructing the archaeology of Bryn Eryr posed considerable challenges. For instance, did this building have two conical roofs - one for each room? Or, did it have a shared roof that spanned both cells? After much deliberation, a roof was built of two cones and joined by a low section of roof over a linking passage. Yet another experimental technique was used to thatch the roof. Called ‘thrust’ thatching: an under-thatch of gorse was laid onto the framework of the roof, and a layer of wheat straw (the ‘topcoat’) was then thrust into the under-thatch, hence the name.
Cilewent Farmhouse. A cruck and timber-framed house built about 1470 as an open hall. The original timber walls were rebuilt in stone in 1734 - the date being carved on the head of the entrance door frame - and all that remains of the original house are the two cruck trusses in the cowhouse and the timber-framed partition between the cowhouse and the dwelling. This is a 'long-house', with cattle being accommodated at one end and humans at the other, with a common passageway between the two parts. This type of farmhouse was once common in mid- and south Wales. In addition to twelve cattle, there was also stabling for horses, and a hay-loft above. The furniture is of about 1750. The ark lid chest in the passage was a common piece of furniture in Welsh farmhouses and, in this case, would have been used to store oatmeal. The lid was designed so that it could be turned upside-down and used to carry the contents. The existence of a dairy adjoining the main kitchen shows that butter and cheese production were an important source of income for the farmer during this period. Amongst the dairy equipment is an impressive oak cheese-press cleverly made to look like a piece of household furniture. Within the main living area stands a tridarn (three-piece cupboard) of dark oak from mid- Wales, bearing the date 1726, which was probably when the upper tier was added to an earlier deuddarn (two-piece cupboard). This is a good example of how, before mass production, furniture was adapted to the owner's requirements or to the fashion of the day.
Circular Pigsty. Circular pigsties such as this were once common in south Wales. Most of them were probably built towards the end of the 18th century and during the early decades of the 19th century. The walls are of dry-stone construction and roof is corbelled - where each circle of stonework is gradually reduced until a dome-shaped structure is formed. Nearly all of the eighty or so examples recorded in Wales to-date were found in the south of the country. Similar but smaller stone corbelled structures were also erected in Wales to house geese and ducks.
Cockpit. This 17th-century circular thatched cockpit stood originally in the yard of the Hawk and Buckle Inn, Denbigh. By 1965 the building was derelict and, since the prohibition of cockfighting in 1849, had been used for a number of purposes including a pig weighing centre and, more recently, a garage. Owing to the removal of internal fittings, probably in the late 19th century, the fighting stage, and amphitheatre-style tiered seating, are reconstructions. Until its prohibition, cockfighting was enjoyed for centuries in Wales by all social classes. Crowds flocked to their local pits, be they indoor or out, to witness the gory encounters where birds fought each other to death. Cocks were bred and trained to spar and were restricted to hardy diets, including wheatmeal bread steeped in urine, in order to become champions. With gambling rife, bouts were riotous and chaotic affairs, often ending in pandemonium. A photograph of a silver tankard presented for cockfighting at the Denbigh cockpit in 1726 is held in the Museum's photographic archive.
Communal bread oven. Richard Crawshay, the ironmaster who built the terraced houses at Rhyd-y-car, also built three communal ovens for the tenants' use. Unfortunately, all three were later demolished but this example from Poplar Place, Georgetown, is identical. It is built of sandstone rubble and roofed with stone tiles like those found on four of the houses in Rhyd-y-Car terrace. The entrance would have a stone-slab door, sealed with either clay or cow-dung to ensure a good baking. Commercial bakeries were not a common sight in Welsh towns and villages until the early 20th century. Housewives were therefore expected to bake bread, often for large families, in small, inadequate ovens. Larger communal brick ovens, built on convenient locations such as the end of a terrace, and serving a specific number of houses, enabled families to produce enough bread for the household. Each family would usually be allocated a day when they could use the oven, though sometimes a person was appointed to run the oven and paid a set fee such as a penny per loaf per baking session.
Derwen Bakehouse. Derwen bakehouse was one of three small commercial bakeries that were built in Aberystwyth around the beginning of the 20th century. It was built in 1900 by Evan Jenkins, a local farmer, as a business for his two daughters. The building is in two parts: a brick-built preparation room where dough was placed in tins ready for baking, and a stone-built section containing a large brick-lined baking oven. These early bakeries were in effect communal ovens, to which housewives brought their home-prepared dough for baking, paying for the service. The oven was heated by placing faggots of wood inside it. These were then lit, and when the chamber was hot enough, the ashes were removed and the tins of dough placed inside. The building, which had been partly demolished, was moved in 1982, the preparation room being reconstructed based on surviving photographs.
Dovecote. A dovecote was recorded at St Fagans Castle by Rice Meyrick in the 1580s though we cannot be certain that this is the same building. Pigeons were once an important source of fresh meat, and their droppings were used as garden fertilizer. This example is ornamental as well as functional and the glazed lantern on top of the pyramidal roof lets light into the loft. An iron ladder inside gives access from the ground floor to the pigeon loft above, with the birds entering through an opening in the roof.
Garreg Fawr Farmhouse. Garreg Fawr ('the great rock', named after an outcrop behind the house) was built in 1544 and was the home of a wealthy farmer in Caernarfonshire. It is solidly build of large pieces of slate-stone and mountain boulders, the slated roof being supported on two pairs of stout oak trusses. Oak-board shutters enable the unglazed windows to be closed against the wind and cold. The tall chimneys were probably viewed as status symbols in the 16th century when most people had to make do with a fire in the middle of the floor, no chimney, and a smoke-filled house. All the cooking was done on the open hearth in the large hall while foodstuffs were stored in the larder behind the oak partition. The furniture displayed in the farmhouse is about a century later than the house. The ground floor is dominated by the neuadd (hall) with a large fireplace at one end. The two opposing entrance doors open onto the back of the hall, where a post and panel partition conceals a pantry and buttery. Upstairs are two rooms, one with a fireplace at the opposite end to the downstairs fire: farm produce would also have been stored in safety there.
Gorse Mill. A small, stone-built mill (built mid-1840s) that was used to prepare gorse for feeding to horses. From the 18th century to the end of the Second World War, most Welsh farmers used horses to carry out the work of the farm. Because of this it was important to feed horses well, and gorse was an important part of their diet. It was specially grown on a large scale but had to be bruised or crushed to make it fit to eat. The gorse crushing machine, with heavy metal spikes fixed to the axle, was located on the ground floor and was driven directly off the waterwheel. By about 1850, however, most such mills had been replaced by lighter and cheaper hand-operated or oil-powered machines.
Gwalia Stores. A typical general store from the south Wales industrial valleys. The shop is divided into three sections, on two floors, and includes ironmongery and grocery displays. In 1880 William Llewellyn developed his grocery business by building this shop. The original building was just the central section, flanked by the storeroom and Llewellyn's house. The shop was fitted with mahogany shelving, counters and bins by Parnalls of Bristol, and by 1912 the ground floor of the house had been taken over and a drapery established. The shop soon expanded to include the first floor and the ground floor of the adjoining three houses. By 1916, Gwalia Stores comprised a bakery, ironmongery, grocery, gentlemen's outfitters, chemist and a section selling animal feeds. Members of staff slept in the attics and were paid 8 shillings (40p) per week. Alderman Llewellyn died in 1924 and the shop has been shown as it would have been in the late 1920s in the ownership of his sons. It closed in 1973 and was moved to the museum in 1988.
Hayshed. Until the 20th century hay was normally stored in stacks and only the best landlords saw fit to build haysheds for their tenants. This example was built by the Oakley family of Plas Tan-y-bwlch, who also owned one of the world's largest slate quarries at nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog. The shed, which probably dates from about 1870, is built of rubble from the top layers of the Oakley quarry, while the slate pillars came from the same source. One-third of their length is hidden under the ground. The timber used was also grown on the estate and cut in the estate sawmill. From 1870 the marshes and river valleys of the estate were drained and enclosed to create fields. Many of the new fields were divided by cast-iron fences while some also had a hayshed like this to store food for the cattle. The lean-to against the building was a cattle shelter.
Hendre'r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse. A late-medieval cruck-framed hall-house built in 1508 and typical of the better class of Welsh farmhouse in the late Middle Ages. The building is divided into five bays, the lower two used for housing for cattle and horses, the centre bay serving as a work-room and the upper two comprising the open hall and a bedroom. The outside walls are timber-framed, the panels being in-filled with wattle and daubed with clay. Both the daubed panels and the timberwork are limewashed as was common in the Middle Ages. The open hearth is placed in the centre of the hall, smoke from the fire escaping through the roof and the unglazed windows.
Hendre Wen Barn. This barn was built using crucks, large curved timbers rising from near the ground to the apex of the roof. When first built, about 1600, it had timber-framed walls but these were replaced by stone in about 1800. Almost every farm had a barn where its corn crop was stored and threshed over winter. After being unloaded through the wide doors, the corn was threshed by hand with a flail and then the ears were separated from the chaff by throwing the corn up in the through-draught provided by the open doors. Also in about 1800, the original single bay to one side of the threshing floor was turned into a cow-house, a common feature in north-east and central Wales.
Kennixton Farmhouse. A large stone-built farmhouse constructed in three phases. The earliest, dating from 1610, was built as a gable-entry dwelling with a single room on the ground floor and a bedroom above. About 1680, a large cegin (kitchen) was added which was to serve as the main living space. Two new entrance doors were included, together with a timber staircase leading to a spacious sleeping area upstairs. Finally, about 1750, a back kitchen was added a right angles to the building. This also had a room above, which was probably used for storage. The box-bed by the fire was a particular feature of Gower homes, as was the raised area for smoking meat above the fireplace, which accommodates a platform bed in the room above. The carved tester bed has been dressed in hangings made from exact reproductions of 17th-century vegetable-dyed dornix fabric. Much of the furniture is from Glamorgan, including the dresser in the kitchen and the furniture in the parlour, which is mostly 18th century. The red colour of the walls was thought to protect the house against evil spirits, as did the berries of the rowan tree in the garden and the carved figures which can be seen just inside the front door. The house was moved to the museum in 1952, though the farm buildings associated with it were not offered at the time. 50 years later, however, the barn and calves cotts were donated, so that they could take their rightful place alongside the farmhouse.
Llainfadyn Cottage. This cottage comes from Snowdonia and was built in 1762, the date being carved on the right hand side of the fireplace lintel. It is solidly-built of mountain boulders, and a pair of stout oak trusses supports the roof of small, locally-quarried slates. In contrast to farmhouses, cottages were the homes of people who did not own enough land to live off. They were usually farm labourers, craftsmen or, as in the case of this dwelling, quarrymen and their families. This cottage was divided by furniture to make bedrooms and a half-loft for the children, a layout that was commonly found throughout west Wales. Quarrying was a dangerous but quite well-paid occupation, as the good-quality furniture of about 1870 shows. The oak dresser, originally from Caernarfonshire and dating to the first half of the 18th century, is quite typical of the type found in north Wales with its enclosed base and boarded rack. Also common in north-west Wales was the oak food cupboard, known in this area as cwpwrdd bara caws (bread and cheese cupboard). This particular example dates to the end of the 18th century and is original to Llainfadyn cottage. Most such families kept pigs, a cow or two, and poultry, which meant that they usually had a cow shed and pigsty nearby. The addition of a cow shed from Waunfawr has created a more accurate picture of how a typical tyddyn (small-holding) would have looked.
Llwyn-yr-eos Farmstead. Llwyn-yr-eos was a tenanted farm on the Plymouth estate from at least the 18th century. The present farmhouse dates from the 19th century, but is displayed as a substantial farm of the 1930s, with gas lighting in the house and comfortable early 20th-century furniture. In the farmyard is a barn of about 1820, much altered in the 1890s, with an oil engine and machinery for preparing animal feed. Other outbuildings include a brewhouse, pigsties, goose shed, calf pens and a stable. The lean-to shed displays early tractors, along with the horse-drawn equipment still in use in the pre-war period. Next to the stable is a small cottage, where the farm labourer and his family lived.
Llys Llywelyn - Medieval Court. Llys Llywelyn is a recreation of a Royal Court of the Princes of Gwynedd used during the 13th century. It is based on the surviving remains of Llys Rhosyr in the south-western corner of Anglesey and excavated by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust between 1992 and 1996. To aid with the reconstruction, detailed discussions have been held with experts in Welsh history, architecture and literature, as well as research into surviving castles and religious sites of comparable age in Gwynedd. The result will be the most accurate rendering of a Welsh Royal Llys to date. The Llys was the administrative centre of princely power in medieval Wales. In Gwynedd alone there were 22 such Llysoedd consisting of enclosures containing halls, a kitchen, stables, a barn, a privy and kennels. None of these courts survive above ground, but they are known from written records and archaeological excavations. Llys Rhosyr is the most complete of these excavations and its overall plan was revealed by geophysical survey. The earliest evidence we have for a Royal association dates to 10 April 1237 when it was recorded in Brut y Tywysogion (The Chronicle of the Princes) that Llywelyn ap Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great) witnessed a charter for a grant of land to the Augustinian community of Ynys Lannog (Puffin Island, or Priestholm). The buildings probably date to the beginning of the 13th century. Following the conquest of north Wales by Edward I, and the subsequent death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd - the last Welsh Prince, in 1282, Llys Rhosyr fell into English hands and ceased performing its previous administrative role. Edward I visited the site in 1283 and gifted the estate to his wife, Eleanor of Castile. The Llysoedd of north Wales continued to be maintained and serviced until the first half of the 14th century. The last coin from Llys Rhosyr dates to 1314. St Fagans is recreating two of the most thoroughly excavated buildings – a hall and adjacent chamber – as an exhibit to help visitors understand life in medieval Wales. The finished buildings will be used as a venue for sleepovers, allowing school children from across Wales to immerse themselves in an experience of 13th century life.
Maestir School. A small country school built in 1880 comprising a single classroom, an entrance lobby and a side porch. It is built of shale-stone taken from the local quarries, and roofed with slates from north Wales. The yard was divided in two at the rear to segregate boys and girls whilst the yard in front of the school was usually used for 'drill' and exercise. A wooden water pump once stood in a corner of the school yard and provided drinking water until it was found that this water was impure, after which, water had to be carried to the school from a nearby farm. There is a small toilet block and fuel store behind the school. The small porch to the front of the school provided both a cloakroom area and access to the schoolroom. The school has been arranged as it was in the 1900 when Miss Rachel Ann Thomas was headteacher, and includes an assortment of desks for pupils of different ages, from five to fourteen, all of whom were taught in the single classroom. The school eventually closed in 1916 because of dwindling pupil numbers. The building was acquired by Cardiganshire County Council who converted it to a dwelling by subdividing the classroom to form three separated rooms.
Melin Bompren Corn Mill. A 2-storeyed water mill built in 1853, and typical of hundreds of mills in Wales built to convert corn to flour. A sluice at the head of the millpond, operated by a lever inside the mill, controls the release of water into a wooden trough and onto the overshot cast iron waterwheel. The axle from the waterwheel enters the mill through an opening in the wall. Inside, the axle supports a large iron pit-wheel which turns at the same speed and in the same plane as the water wheel outside. Set into the rim of this pit-wheel are wooden cogs which mesh with and turn a smaller horizontal wheel known as the wallower which is borne on an upright shaft. Above the wallower, also on the upright shaft, is the great spur wheel, the main transmission wheel of the mill. This in turn drives a stone nut under each set of millstones. A pair of Welsh stones was used for milling oats, barley or animal feed whilst a pair of harder French burrstones was used to mill wheat to make flour for breadmaking. Built onto one end of the mill is a two-storeyed corn-drying kiln, necessary due to the damp climate. Grain is transferred to the top floor for storage by means of a sack hoist, driven off the waterwheel. Once on the top floor, the sacks are emptied into hoppers above the stones. From here the grain falls into a smaller feed hopper carried on a wooden frame, the horse, which sits on the wooden casing (or tun) which encloses the millstones. From this lower hopper the grain is fed along a short wooden chute known as the shoe which directs it down into the 'eye' of the runner stone. A device known as a damsel shakes the corn down the shoe and into the eye. The resulting flour or meal flows around the base of the stones, and is channelled down to the ground floor by means of a spout which empties into a meal trough.
Nant Wallter Cottage. This cottage is built of clay or mud, known locally as clom. The clay was dug on the site and mixed with straw, earth and small stones and then laid in layers, which had to be allowed to dry for several days before the next one could be added. The roof is supported by timbers joined together to form two sets of scarfed crucks, on which wattle, gorse and finally straw thatch were laid. The half-loft, partition and chimney-breast are also made of wattle-work. The original occupants worked on the nearby Taliaris estate, on whose land the cottage was built, probably about 1770. The plain furniture depicts the home of a farm labourer at the end of the 18th century. The settle placed by the fireside was an important piece in the cottage, providing a draught-free sitting area for the family. The table was also a practical piece, being long and narrow to provide more living space and fitted with deep drawers for storage. In the sleeping area are two post beds - the posts would have originally been used to hang sacking in order to keep the warmth in at night. Outside is a small stone-built pigsty with hen loft above, with a stone-tiled roof.
Oakdale Workmen's Institute. The Oakdale Workmen's Institute was built in 1917 to serve as a focus for social, educational and cultural life within the newly established coal mining community there. It was funded by a loan from the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, which the miners then repaid over the following years. The building contains a Library, Reading Room, and Committee Room on the ground floor, and two small offices for the Institute's Secretary and Manager. A Concert Hall, originally seating more than 200 people, occupies the whole of the first floor. A separate, but linked, Billiards Room was housed in a flat-roofed building behind the Institute, on top of which (in 1927) was built a larger public hall, which was later adapted for use as a cinema. The Institute closed in 1987 and two years later the building was dismantled and transported to St Fagans. The cinema was too large for the site and was not moved.
Pen-rhiw Chapel. Probably first built as a barn during the mid-eighteenth century, the building was acquired in 1777 by the Unitarians for use as a meeting house or chapel. The original loft was removed or altered in the 19th century to create the present gallery, greatly increasing the seating capacity. The pews downstairs are all slightly different, showing that they were originally built for the families who then took responsibility for them. The chapel deacons sat in a pew to the side of the high pulpit, which was raised when the gallery was built. The floor of the building is of beaten earth except for the communion area which is boarded. The stone seats which are seen in the bank outside were used during preaching festivals. Unitarians have always valued learning and the chapel housed both elementary and grammar schools during its history; ink bottles, quill pens and a 'Welsh Not' were found under the floor when it was dismantled. The chapel was dismantled in 1953 and moved to the museum. It is still used as a place of worship with services being held at taking place at Christmas, Easter and Harvest Thanksgiving.
Post Office. This tiny two-roomed building, built of brick in 1936, is claimed to be the smallest free-standing post office in Wales. It was built by Evan Isaac, a local stonemason, and his cousin David Williams, a carpenter, and was run by Mr Isaac's daughter and her husband, who also operated the village pub, which stood across the road. The mail was delivered from Whitland, the local town, and was sorted here by Mrs Beatrice Griffiths who would then deliver it by bicycle to the surrounding farms and cottages, a journey of eight miles every day. The post office counter was located in the main room, whilst the second room (with fireplace) served as a wireless repair workshop. The business was moved to a nearby bungalow in 1963 and the building was moved to the museum in 1992 where it has been refurbished as it would have looked during the Second World War.
By the 18th century there were as many as fifteen potteries operating in the Ewenny, Glamorgan area. This kiln was first built about 1800, but was converted in about 1900 from an open-top type to its present appearance. The adjoining pottery shed is a reproduction based on a building surviving in its original location. The potteries mostly produced useful items for farm dairies and kitchens, such as milk pans, churns, bowls, chamber pots and other utensils. In addition there were slip-decorated wares for gifts and keepsakes such as money boxes and puzzle jugs. By the end of the 19th century, production of domestic ware had ceased because of competition from cheap mass-produced goods. Decorated wares kept some of the potteries going, although only two survive today. The kiln was moved to St Fagans in July 1980.
Prefab. The prefabricated bungalow, or prefab as it became popularly known, was designed as a means of providing large numbers of houses quickly after the Second World War, to replace some of those lost through bombing. Each dwelling contained two bedrooms with built-in wardrobes, a living room, entrance hallway, fitted kitchen and bathroom. It boasted hot and cold running water, a cooker (gas or electric), a 'copper' for washing, as well as a built-in refrigerator. In all, more than 153,000 prefabs were manufactured, as well as prefabricated two-storeyed houses. Four different versions were produced, all using more or less the same layout, but made of different materials. The aluminium bungalows, like the version at the Museum (the 'Type B2'), were made in factories that had produced aircraft during the War. This was one of forty such prefabs that were built in Llandinam Crescent in 1948. Designed with a life-expectancy of about 10 years, very few still survive today. This building may be the only aluminium prefab left in Britain.
Rhyd-y-Car Terrace Houses. This small terrace was built by Richard Crawshay around 1795 to provide housing for the workers in his iron-ore mine. Originally there were two rows of houses, at right angles to each other, these being the first six houses to be built. Each dwelling contains a living room with bedroom above, accessed by a steep circular staircase next to the fireplace. A second bedroom and small pantry are located at the back beneath a 'cat-slide' roof. The six houses have been displayed at different periods of their history, namely 1805, 1855, 1895, 1925, 1955 and 1985. In this way the changes in the buildings, their contents and their gardens can be shown. Merthyr was the largest town in Wales between 1800 and 1860 but there were no basic facilities like piped water and toilets. From about 1850 living conditions improved; coal took over from iron as the most important industry. The pigeon-cot in the garden of the 1925 house and the living-shed in that of 1955 are both typical of the area. Behind the living shed can be seen an Anderson Air Raid Shelter. Thousands of these small corrugated iron structures were erected throughout south Wales during the early years of the Second World War when the threat of aerial bombing was greatest. Later, they were re-used as garden sheds, as shown in this example.
Saddler's workshop. This simple two-roomed workshop was built by Alfred James in 1926. He was the third generation of his family to work as a saddler. The building is timber-framed and clad and roofed with corrugated iron. The main room served as a shop with a small workroom behind. It was moved to St Fagans in 1985. It took a lengthy apprenticeship to learn the craft of saddlery, and required mastery of a wide range of tools, great skill and much experience. There were three specialised branches of the craft, namely harness-making, collar-making and saddle-making. The late Fred James, who was the last member of the family to work the craft, combined the dwindling trade of harness-making with boot and shoe repairing, and the back room of the workshop became an informal meeting place for many of his customers.
Sawmill. A sawmill was established at Ty'n Rhos in 1868 and this building was erected to house a new water-powered circular saw in 1892. The water wheel to operate the machinery cost £15, but during the early 1930s an old model-T Ford car engine was installed as an alternative source of power. John Williams and his sons, who owned the business, were highly regarded as makers of quality joinery work, furniture, carts and wagons. A paint shop which specialized in signwriting and spraying commercial vehicles was soon added, as was a petrol pump to serve the needs of the increasing number of customers who owned motor cars.
Smithy. A simple single-storeyed stone-built structure, consisting of a shoeing area, the smithy itself and a stable, which was originally used to house horses awaiting shoeing. This was later adapted into a half-loft for the storage of iron. It ceased being a working smithy in 1963 and was moved to the museum in September 1970. Until the mid-20th century, every rural community depended heavily on its smithy. Here horses were shod, household items made and mended, metal bands put on wagon wheels, amongst many other tasks. Many smithies developed into centres of rural industry, manufacturing ploughs and other farm implements, domestic utensils, tools and nails. The smithy was also an important social centre where local people would meet and talk.
St Fagans Castle. St Fagans Castle is a Grade 1 listed building and one of the finest Elizabethan manor houses in Wales, though much of the interior was remodelled during the 19th century. In 1946 the Castle, together with eighteen acres of land, was donated by the Earl of Plymouth to the National Museum of Wales as a site for a national open-air museum. The present house was begun by a local lawyer, Dr John Gibbon, in 1580, though he may never have actually lived here. The house and estate were purchased in 1616 by Edward Lewis of Y Fan, Caerphilly, and it was Edward and his wife Blanche who completed many of the internal fittings of the building in 1620. Their initials EBL and the date 1620 can be seen on panelling and on firebacks within the building. The Lewis heiress Elizabeth married Other, 3rd Earl of Plymouth in 1730, and the estate was inherited by their infant son in 1736. The house was rented out to various tenants during the 18th century, and was later used for temporary accommodation by local people, including the local schoolmaster, who kept school in the withdrawing room. In 1850 a huge refurbishing scheme was begun to provide a home for the heir to the Plymouth estate, Robert Windsor-Clive, and his new bride. They married in 1852 but lived in St Fagans for a short time only, until his early death. It was not until later in the century that St Fagans was to see a family living within its walls. From the mid-1880s Lord Robert Windsor, later to be Earl of Plymouth, spent part of every summer at St Fagans with his wife, three sons and daughter, and their many guests. The rooms are furnished to reflect the lives of the family in residence at the beginning of the 20th century.
St Teilo's Church. St Teilo's church is believed to have been built during the late 12th or 13th century on the site of an earlier Celtic church. Over the ensuing centuries the building was altered and extended. The oldest parts of the present structure are the nave and chancel. During the 14th century, small chapels were built onto the north and south sides of the chancel, and during the late 14th or early 15th century the church's capacity was increased by the addition of an aisle to the south side of the nave. The old south wall was replaced by two arches, with a third arch opening into the chancel, and finally, a porch was added to the entrance door leading into the south aisle of the church. The roof timbers are of typical early fifteenth century design (arch-braced collar-beams), though they may in fact be slightly later in date. The west wall of the nave was altered in the early 18th century (datestone 1736) and in 1810 the interior was furnished with box pews and a three-decker pulpit. Most of the stone-mullioned windows appear to have been blocked up at this time, and were replaced by new 'Georgian gothic' lancet-shaped windows. One original two-light stone-mullioned window (14/15th) survived in the south aisle. Probably the oldest surviving feature of the church is the stone font which is believed to date from the 13th century or earlier. St Teilo's church has been refurbished as it may have appeared about the year 1530, complete with all the elements associated with a late medieval Catholic church, including a rood screen and loft (between the nave and chancel), altars, carvings and brightly-coloured paintings on all the walls.
Stryd Lydan Barn. A cruck and timber-framed barn created by linking two separate structures. The earliest part, a cruck-framed barn, dates from about 1550. A timber-framed structure was built nearby about 1600, the two later being linked to form a single building with a large central open bay. The walls are wattled using flat chestnut laths woven vertically through horizontal staves. The building is thatched with wheat straw. Carpenters' marks can be seen on many of the timbers, showing that the building was first made on the ground in the carpenter's yard, the timbers numbered, and then finally assembled on site. The circular mound outside holds a horse-engine used for driving a threshing machine. The building was dismantled and moved to the museum in 1950.
Tailor's Workshop. The original building at Cross Inn, was built in 1896 and was first used as an animal feed store. The shop was added in the early 1920s after the tailor, David Thomas, took over the premises. The building is timber-framed, match-boarded on the inside and clad with horizontal timber boards on the outside; the roof covering is corrugated iron sheeting. David Thomas worked here, assisted by various apprentices, including at one time his daughter. Electricity was installed in 1938. The shop closed in 1967 and the building was moved to the museum in September 1988. The shop itself has been stocked as it would have been during the early 1950s with the actual materials left on the shelves after the business closed. The workshop area has been furnished with equipment not only from Cross Inn, but also from the shops of D.J. Rees in Brechfa and Daniel Davies in Rhydlewis.
Tannery. This Tannery, from Rhayader, was built in the late 18th century. It was used for converting hides into leather. It was the last traditional tannery to work in Wales and specialised in producing heavy leather for boots and horse harness. Oak bark was the main ingredient used, being stored and ground into powder in the large barn: the original waterwheel can be seen on the gable wall of the bark mill. The raw hides were soaked in an increasingly strong bark solution in the pits before being scrubbed on the stone table. They were then dried and rolled flat. The whole process took eighteen months.
Tollhouse. This tollhouse was built in 1771 on the southern outskirts of Aberystwyth, at a time when local gentry began to build private or turnpike roads for which tolls were charged. This building and its gates cost £40 to erect, nearly four times what a mud and thatch cottage like Nant Wallter would have cost. It was built of local slate-stone and was roofed with Pembrokeshire slates. David Jones of Dihewid was appointed as the first gatekeeper in November 1771, the first tolls being charged on 23 March 1772. The building contains just one room, one end being used for the collection of tolls. A single fireplace at the opposite end of the house was used for heating and cooking. The house has been furnished in the style of 1843, the period of the Rebecca Riots, when many tollgates were destroyed. Tollhouses were very unpopular with people in rural areas, who had to pay to travel along the roads; the ensuing riots resulted in the eventual abolition of most of the Turnpike Trusts in 1864, with county councils taking over responsibility for building and maintaining the roads.
Tudor Trader's House. This small late-medieval house comes from Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Its original location near the old quay on the tidal River Cleddau suggests that it may have been the home of a trader. Its construction, with a vaulted undercroft, harks back to the solid castle-building techniques found in domestic structures in many parts of Pembrokeshire at that time. The owner probably bought and sold goods which were traded in the busy harbour town of Haverfordwest. The family lived upstairs where there was a single room with an open fireplace at one end. Next to the fireplace was a garderobe (toilet) which discharged into a gutter outside the building. The vaulted ground floor was used a store, where goods such as rope, salted fish, cheese and casks of wine were kept before being sold. The building was donated to the Museum in 1983, and opened to the public in 2010.
Urinal. A cast iron gents' urinal, from Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, given to the Museum by Brecknock Borough Council in 1978. It was made by Walter MacFarlane Ltd. of Glasgow. They were world-leaders in producing cast ironwork for architectural purposes. Their product range included lamp standards, railings, bandstands, verandas, drinking fountains, prefabricated buildings as well as urinals.
Vulcan Hotel. The Vulcan Hotel is one of the museum’s on-going building projects. The Vulcan was built on Adam Street in Cardiff in 1853 to serve the mainly Irish community of what was then called New Town. During its long history it saw major changes as Cardiff grew to become an industrial powerhouse and then the nation’s capital, finally closing its doors for the last time in 2012. They will display the Vulcan as it was in 1915, an important year for the pub. It had just undergone a major refurbishment that saw its distinctive green tiles added to the frontage, as well as a redesign of its interior. The landlord at the time was Dennis McCarthy who lived upstairs with his family, including their baby, Elen McCarthy, who was born in that year. They interviewed Elen in 2012 and she told them about her life growing up in the pub. The Vulcan was one of several along Adam Street – a few doors down was the Wheat Sheaf and a few doors up was the Forester’s Arms. It was a colourful place to live but one with a great sense of community. Elen has told them about the two sisters who used to stand and drink in the passageway, avoiding the crowd in the main bar; about the half-filled glass of beer her father kept on the bar while he served, so it looked like he was drinking with the rest; and about the bread and cheese served from the counter. Newspapers tell of the night that Paul Begley broke the pub’s windows when his drunken behaviour got out of hand, and about Mary Ann M’Namara who tried to steal whiskey from the bar when it was empty.
Woollen Mill. This building is typical of the many small factories which were found throughout Wales where farmers brought their wool to be processed into cloth for their own use. The mill was built in 1760, but was extended to accommodate new machinery in the 19th century and continued in production until 1947. It was moved to the museum in 1949. All the processes of wool production are undertaken under one roof, from dyeing the fleece to finishing the fabric. There are two handlooms, dating from the mid-18th century, which were converted to flying shuttle shortly afterwards. The spinning jack, probably the only one in its kind still working, was made by John Davies of Llanbrynmair in about 1830 and the carding engines were purchased second-hand at the same time from a mill in Yorkshire. The internal water wheel, which powers all of the machinery, is located on the ground floor, next to the hammers of the fulling stocks. The mill continues to produce traditional shoulder shawls and Welsh carthenni or blankets, which are often to be seen stretched on the tenter frame outside. The water that is used to power the water wheel is pumped from the pool below, built in 1904 as a swimming pool for the Earl of Plymouth and his family.
Dedicated parking spaces for disabled visitors are provided in the car park, adjacent to the main entrance to the museum. Ramps provide access to the entry point and shops. Wheelchairs are available on request, free of charge, in the main foyer entrance. Although these chairs cannot be pre-booked and are provided on a first come first served basis, we will notify the Ticket Office if an advance request is made. Wheelchair access is possible to most parts of the site. However, it should be noted that the historic nature of some of the buildings in our collection means that access may be difficult. It is also worth noting that the terrain on the Castle side of the Museum is steep in places and may prove difficult for some wheelchair users and their helpers. The easier routes have been marked on signposts. A map clearly displaying a suggested path for wheelchair users, and identifying steep gradients, is available from the Main Entrance at a cost of 50p. This information is also reproduced on large-scale panels throughout the site. Moveable ramps and a lift are available at the Oakdale Workmen's Institute. A motorised Disabled Tour Vehicle (DTV) is available to transport visitors around the site. The DTV can carry up to a maximum of five passengers. However, only two severely disabled people can be transported at any one time and, for Health & Safety compliance, they must be accompanied by one carer each. As a trained driver is required they request that bookings for this free service are made two weeks in advance by telephoning 029 2057 3500. For the visually impaired One of the pleasures of visiting St Fagans is to experience the sounds and smells on such a varied site, from fresh bread being baked and wood fires burning to the sounds and smells of our farm animals. Most buildings are manned and in addition many crafts and demonstrations are displayed on site. The staff will be happy to explain the techniques and skills involved. Some parts of the site may present orientation difficulties to visually impaired people, such as the stream and ponds. Advice can be sought at Information desk in the entrance hall before going out on site. Large print guide books are available free on loan. Please ask at the entrance.
A 'Changing Places Unit' is available at the Museum which includes an electronic bed and hoist in addition to the toilet and other facilities there. The unit can be accessed using a 'radar' key, a key is available on request from the Main Entrance Desk. Dogs are welcomed on site provided they are kept on a lead. Please note that only assistance dogs are allowed into the buildings. Assistance dogs for both visually and hearing impaired visitors are welcomed and are allowed into the buildings. Drinking water for dogs is available on request at the Cafe, at Oakdale and the Castle. All dog owners are offered pooper-scoopers when entering the museum and we appreciate your co-operation in keeping the museum clean and safe. The guidebook, which includes a site plan, presents the collection in a clear and concise manner with several pictures and diagrams. There are also large-scale site plans at key points around the museum. The food outlets, Yr Odyn and the Castle Buttery are accessible to wheelchair users. Accessible toilets are available at the Main Entrance, adjacent to the Rhyd y car cottages and in the Castle Yard. Baby changing facilities are available near the Main Entrance. If you have any access requirements - physical, sensory or regarding the presentation of information please ask at the Reception Desk. Children under 11 must be accompanied by an adult.
Location : St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff CF5 6XB
Transport : Waungron Park (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 32, 32A and 320 stop outside.
Opening Times : Daily 10:00 to 17.00
Tickets : Free. Parking £5.00 per day
Tel. : 0300 1112 333