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St.Fagan's Museum of Welsh Life.

Page 1.

St.Fagan's Castle in Cardiff houses the Museum of Welsh Life, with exhibits of agricultural implements, historical costumes, lovespoons etc.

The "Castle" is an Elizabethan mansion with grand furniture and tapestries, but photography is not permitted inside.

St.Fagan's Castle
St.Fagan's Museum

In the wide grounds many cottages from around Wales have been rescued, painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed in their original style. Most have been furnished in the traditional Welsh rural style.

Buildings include a chapel, a medieval church, a school, miners' cottages and numerous farmhouses and cottages.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Kennixton Farmhouse

 

Kennixton Farmhouse was originally built in 1610 in the relatively propersous region of the Gower, near Swansea

 

The garden around the house is planted with herbs. The stone structure houses straw beehives

 

The deep red is allegedly supposed to have averted evil spirits. However it is typical of deep earth colours common at the time: madder, cinnabar, ochre, verdigris

 

Cooking was done in an open hearth.
Furniture, including a settle and box bed was built in on either side to capture the heat

Table.
Typically, Welsh tables had loose tops, one side polished for dining, the other side a rough work surface. Settles were often built in as room dividers or draught-excluders

 

Dresser.
A typical South Wales "seld" with open shelves and potboard

Box Bed.
Beds enclosed within cupboards, with sliding doors and fretwork panels for ventilation, provided some privacy and extra warmth where there was no room for separate bedrooms

 

Bacon Cupboard.
Smoked meats were stored in the back, but the cupboard also provided extra seating.

 

Cricket Table.
Small round tables were commonly used. Three legs ensured that the table stool steady on an uneven floor.

 Chair.
Typical Welsh chairs were often primitive 'windsor' stick chairs

 

Cupboard.
Families would prize and preserve good quality oak furniture, although decoration would be minimal

 Corner wall cupboard.

 

Kitchen implements.
Oven pales, irons, dairyyoke (for carrying pails).

 

Bureau.
Another piece of fine but plain furniture in the parlour. Plastered walls were decorated with stencils to imitate expensive wallpaper

 

Cwpwrdd Deuddarn.
A prized Welsh survival of the Tudor Press cupboard. The name means 2 tier cupboard.

 

Tester Bed.
Elaborately turned posts and carved panelling in imitation of the elaborate beds of great houses. Curtains and canopies around a bed kept out draughts and provided privacy when bedrooms were usually shared.

 

Tester
Carved panels on the canopy (tester) of the bed. Welsh carving was often primitive, attempted by local craftsmen

 

Bedhead.
The best carving available

Platform bed.
More common than a grand tester bed. It could fit under low eaves

 Cradle.

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Chest with drawers.
Another prized piece

Roof matting.
Kennixton has, unusually, finely plaited straw mats laid over the rafters, upon which the thatch of the roof was laid. 

Cilewent Farmhouse
 
Cilewent Farmhouse was built about 1470 in the Elan Valley in the uplands of central Wales. It is a typical longhouse, with the living quarters on one side and the animal shed on the other (lower down the slope).
 
People and cattle shared the central entrance. An old man, in the 1980s, remembered a similar longhouse in the village of Cilgerran, where the long hrned cattle were trained to tilt their heads one way and then another when entering, in order to avoid distubing the pictures hanging in the entrance passage.

Grain hutch.
The chest for storing flour or fodder stands in the central entrance hall. The partition on the left shows the cattle byre

Open hearth.
Huge chimneys usually had simple open hearths on which all cooking was done. A typical Welsh stool is by the fire, along with a simple comb-back settle

 

Table.
In the principle living room, or hall, stand a well polished table for dining, and a simple bench, along with the cwbwrdd tridarn

Cwpwrdd Tridarn.
The two-tier press cupboard, common since the 16th century, developed in North Wales into a three-tier cupboard, which allowed extra space to display plate. It eventually gave way to the North Welsh dresser.

Dairy.
Cilewent would have been a cattle farm with dairy produce an important income. A separate room with its own large hearth houses the dairy implements.

 

Cheese Press.
Liquid was pressed from the curds to form hard cheese. The barrel is a butter churn

 Draining table.
Curds could initially be strained into this trough with a central plug hole. Lined with lead!

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Cwpwrdd Tridarn
The third tier was often added to an earlier cwpwrdd deuddarn, perhaps later than the date shown

 

Cwpwrdd Deuddarn.
A less lovingly cared-for example in the dairy...
Grateful thanks to Carolyn Cassady for the photographs
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