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Published: July 10th 2019
Today had never been in the planning. It was going to be castle day. There were three locally that we had pencilled in. This afternoon we planned to visit the Red Kite Feeding Station. Gabby the motorhome had other ideas. Driving her with her heavy clutch had given Glenn a very sore knee which was making walking a bit difficult. Instead we ended up at St Fagans. Now that meant a lot of walking. An outdoor museum full of reconstructed buildings that had been saved and rebuilt in the grounds. Houses and buildings from all over Wales. A sort of Blists Hill meets Eguisheim folk museum.
Gabby was parked up on a fairly empty car park. £5 for a car to park up all day. Free entry to the museum. Opposite us was a rough patch of ground full of tall purple thistles, Pink Valerian, Rose Bay Willow Herb, Yellow Loosestrife and Ragwort much loved by the red Cinnebar moth and its stripey yellow and black caterpillar. A haven for wildlife . We parked in the bus park as this was the only place we could park Gabby.
Inside there was so much to see. St Fagans was formerly
called the Welsh Folk Museum and the Museum of Welsh Life. It is part of the Amgueddfa Cymru - the National Museum of Wales. Originally opened in 1946 the concept was copied from the Skansen vernacular museum in Sweden. It was an ambitious project with a main entrance that was quite impressive . Built between 1968 and 1974 it welcomed us to the museum.
We probably should have bought a map but decided instead to just wander at will . First stop St Teilos Church moved from Llandeilo Tal y Bont. The church was built in the 12th/13th century and was once reached by worshippers who arrived by coracle after crossing the Loughor River. It closed in 1970 and it took until 1984 for the church to be dismantled and moved to St Fagans . Inside was a riot of colour - sadly all of it copied rather than the originals. The timbers for the roof were sourced from North East Wales and the rood screen made locally. It was a touch garish but interesting nevertheless . What perhaps was missing was church music and guides in period costume.
Our second stop was Cilewent Farmhouse - one of
a number on the site. Built in 1470 with additions through to 1734. Dark inside but fires were lit to air the house and create atmosphere as the smoke puthered up the chimney. Box beds, large hearths all created an atmosphere. We hunted out as best we could the quieter houses so that we could spend time on our own inside .
The third dwelling we fell upon was Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf a 16th century farmhouse with a fantastic cruck roof. Many of the roof features were odd , some thatched , some tiles and one made up of thick rope beneath the thatch. This house was described as a Denbighshire five bay house . One house a manor house was painted bright red and stood out against the landscape. This was the Kennixton Farmhouse built in 1610. Inside it was more palatial but still uncomfortable. A pigsty was in the garden but no pig and the gardens were set to vegetables. Animals and humans lived in close proximity to each other.
On the way to St Fagans Castle we passed Stryd Lydan Barn from Penley . This was built in 1550. The castle wasn't strictly a castle
but more a manor house with Victorian additions. The gardens were lovely. Terraces with pink and white rambling roses. Double pink poppies and delphiniums. , Long borders with purple Verbena, peaches and ornamental grasses.
Walking back we came across the Denbigh cockpit. Two days ago we had not seen one cockpit and now like buses they are all coming together. This one was round and built of stone rubble with a thatched roof , a single doorway and unglazed openings to the roof. We stood inside trying to imagine what the scene must have looked like when the cocks were fighting and the public were betting on them.
There was a working smithy, a tannery, a flour producing mill and a woollen mill. A tollhouse taken down from Aberystwyth. Apparently the sign told us that we could go across the road free if we were heading for church or chapel and coming back . For all else we had to pay. We passed the Melin Bompren a corn mill and a row of ironworkers cottages. Completely taken down from Methyr and re- erected on site. Each house had been decorated in a different style reflecting different ages .
The first with few comforts was the earliest . Two rooms - two up and two down. A fire which was used for everything and a box bed. The second with its narrow stairs was still sparsely furnished with pictures on the wall typical of the Victorian era . . The third was from the 20's with a small kitchen outside .By the time we got to the fourth we were finding ourselves saying "Can you remember the old black lead grate?" " Remember that cooker and that TV" Formica units and a bath beneath a make shift table Lino on the floor the house was typically 50's . The last property from the 60's had a larger TV, more comfortable furniture and a pidgeon shed in the garden . The outside loo had been replaced by one inside.
After the row as the sawmill, the prefab and the tailors shop. Gwalia stores completed the scene . Come inside with me - It was moved from Ogmore Vale and had been run by the Llewelyn family. Inside as you look around you see the bakery, the grocery shop with all the familiar tins and boxes , the ironmongers with
the corrugated sheets and galvanised buckets and finally the pharmacy. It was built in the 1880's and if like me you remember the Home and Colonial Stores or Liptons you should get the idea of what it looked like. Again perhaps what was missing was the smell of oil and brasso, the smell of food and the sawdust on the floor. We needed the shopkeeper too to serve us with something. The stores closed in 1973 but it took me back to the early 1960's shopping with mum and gran.
Finally there were the school house buildings , the green urinal rescued from Llandrindod Wells railway station, the Blaenwaun Post Office and the Working Mans Club.
After miles of walking and aching knees we settled down in the cafe - egg sandwiches and beef and salad - the best we have eaten in a long time . After our feast of sandwiches and home made lemonade it was time to move on . OUr night stop would be Erw Lon Campsite . Lets hope it is less regimented than the Caravan and Motorhome Club one.
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