St Fagans National Museum of History celebrates 70 years

In South Wales, on the edge of Cardiff, the St Fagans National Museum of History will be celebrating its 70 anniversary later this year.

Cooking range in Iron Age Roundhouse from Angelsey

The museum, first opened its doors in 1948, after the Earl of Plymouth generously donated the 16th-century manor house and gardens in the 100-acre site, in 1946.

Originally called The National Folk Museum, St Fagans has been collecting examples of Welsh houses, barns, shops, etc ever since.

The aim was to collect the history and actual buildings of how the people of Wales lived and worked through the centuries.

St Fagans Manor House Drawing Room

The earliest examples are iron age roundhouses from the island of Angelsey

in North Wales, through schools and churches, and houses through the ages.

In 2018 the site has now acquired a new modern welcome area, shop, and restaurant with new galleries under construction. A new modern craft centre has also been finished, called Gweithdy with its iconic triangular shape.

One of the few buildings on the site still in situ is the working farm of Llwyn-yr-eos with expectant sheep on view when I visited.

The churches on site include a typical welsh chapel Pen-rhiw and St Teilo’s church as typical examples.

More modern examples include the splendid Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, where reading, choir, and brass band practice took place for the local miners and their families. Also, the Gwalia Stores are fine examples of shops from bygone ages, from where you can buy your sweets and other goods.

Other works and industrial examples include the Derwen bakehouse, clog makers workshop, a very small post office from Blauwaun, and the Esgair Moel Woolen Mill.

Inside Pen-rhiw Chapel

There are various craftsmen on site and when I visited was impressed by David Davies and his love spoons being created in the dark (lit by daylight and the fire, in the Abernodwydd Farmhouse.

Craftsman David Davies creating a love spoon

The St Fagans manor house is a definite one to visit along with its magnificent gardens, and in its heyday it was managed by over 40 staff, including the ironing of the daily newspapers!.

The expansion and additional buildings is ongoing with the Llys Llywelwyn buildings and gateway from Angelsey nearly completed along with the early footings for the Taff’s Wells Police Station and the Vulcan Hotel pub from Cardiff.

This museum is highly recommended for a visit if you are visiting the Cardiff area, and other than a £5 charge for parking the museum is free to enter, though donations are recommended along with eating in the various cafes and restaurants, which are reasonably priced.


St Fagans National Museum of History celebrates 70 years
WiderView Visual Media, Chris Roberts 2 April 2018
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