St Fagans National Museum of History

Coordinates: 51°29′13″N 3°16′21″W / 51.4869°N 3.2725°W / 51.4869; -3.2725
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St Fagans National
Museum of History
Sain Ffagan: Amgueddfa Werin Cymru
Logo for St Fagan's Museum of History.
The administration offices in the background
St Fagans National Museum of History is located in Cardiff
St Fagans National Museum of History
Location in Cardiff, Wales
Former name
St Fagans National History Museum
LocationSt Fagans, Cardiff, Wales
Coordinates51°29′13″N 3°16′21″W / 51.4869°N 3.2725°W / 51.4869; -3.2725
Visitors610,155 (2010)[1]
* Ranked 21st in the UK

St Fagans National Museum of History (/ˈfæɡənz/ FAG-ənz; 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 – Museum Wales.[2]

It consists of more than forty re-erected buildings from various locations in Wales, and is set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house.[3] In 2011 Which? magazine named the museum the United Kingdom's favourite visitor attraction.[4]

A six-year, £30-million revamp was completed in 2018 and the museum was named the Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2019.[5]


The museum was founded in 1946 following the donation of the castle and lands by the Earl of Plymouth.[6] It opened its doors to the public in 1948, under the name of the Welsh Folk Museum. The museum's name in Welsh (also meaning "Welsh Folk Museum") has remained unchanged since that date, whereas the English title was revised to Museum of Welsh Life, thereafter St Fagans National History Museum, and again to its current title.[2][7]

The brainchild of Iorwerth Peate, the museum was modelled on Skansen, the outdoor museum of vernacular Swedish architecture in Stockholm. Most structures re-erected in Skansen were built of wood and are thus easily taken apart and reassembled, but a comparable museum in Wales was going to be more ambitious, as much of the vernacular architecture of Wales is made of masonry.[3][6]

2017 refurbishment[edit]

A redeveloped main reception building was opened in July 2017.[8] The six-year, £30-million redevelopment of the site, which was funded by a number of sources, notably the Welsh Government and the National Lottery, was completed in October 2018.[9][10]

The £30-million redevelopment project provided many benefits, including three new galleries showcasing Wales’ history, improvements to buildings such as the Iron Age farmstead, Bryn Eryr, and Medieval Prince's court and Llys Llywelyn, as well as a refurbished main entrance building and a new restaurant, play area and learning spaces.[11] One of the new buildings, the Gweithdy ('workshop'), features Stone Age tools and stick chairs.[12]

In June 2019, St Fagans was named UK's Museum of the Year 2019 by the Art Fund, which commended the facility's "exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement".[13]

Buildings and exhibits[edit]

Interior of late 19th century terraced house (Rhyd-y-Car ironworkers' cottages)

The museum comprises more than forty buildings representing the architecture of Wales,[6] including a nonconformist chapel (in this case, Unitarian),[14] a village schoolhouse, a toll road tollbooth (below), a cockpit (below), a pigsty (below), and a tannery (below).[7]

The museum holds displays of traditional crafts, with a working blacksmith forge, a pottery, a weaver, a miller, and a 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.[3]

The medieval parish church of Saint Teilo, formerly at Llandeilo Tal-y-bont in west Glamorgan (restored to its pre-Reformation state), was opened in October 2007 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and still serves as a place of worship for Christmas, Easter, and Harvest Thanksgiving.[3] A Tudor merchant's house from Haverfordwest was opened in 2012.[15] A relocation of the historic Vulcan public house from Newtown in Cardiff to St Fagans was completed in May 2024.[16][17]

Although the museum was intended to preserve aspects of Welsh rural life, it now includes several buildings that depict the industrial working life that succeeded it, that being almost extinct in Wales. There is a row of workers' cottages, depicting furnishing from 1800 to 1985, from Rhyd-y-car near Merthyr Tydfil (below), as well as the pristine Oakdale Workmen's Institute. A post-war prefabricated bungalow (below) represents later domestic lifestyles.[18]

From 1996 to 2012, the museum hosted the Everyman Summer Theatre Festival when it re-located from Dyffryn Gardens. This festival, which includes a Shakespeare play, a musical, and a children's show, has become part of the Welsh theatrical calendar since its founding at Dyffryn in 1983.[19][20]

Scenes from the Doctor Who episodes "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood" were filmed at the museum.[21][22][23]

Based on archaeological findings, a reconstruction of Llys Rhosyr, a thirteenth-century court of the princes of Gwynedd,[24][25] was completed and opened to the public in October 2018. Called Llys Llewelyn ('Llewelyn's Court'), it was opened with the intention that schoolchildren would be able to stay in the buildings overnight, from spring 2019.[26]

The Gweithdy ('Workshop'), a sustainable building designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, was first opened in July 2017;[27] a café was later added. The new gallery was opened in October 2018, housing improved facilities for visitors while supporting the study of collections and hosting demonstrations and workshops by traditional craftsmen.[8]

List of structures[edit]

Image Name Date Re-erected Original site County
Unitary Authority
Main entrance and administration offices
(Dale Owen of Percy Thomas Partnership architects).
1968–74 St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff Grade II
St Teilo's Church 1100–c. 1520 c. 1100–c. 1520

(present form: c. 1520)

2007 Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, near Pontarddulais Glamorgan Swansea
Boathouse and nethouse (Reconstruction)
Cilewent farmhouse begun 1470

(present form: 1734)

1959 Cwmdauddwr Radnorshire Powys Grade II
Clogmaker's workshop Ysgeifiog, near St Davids Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire
Tudor Merchant's House 16th century 2012 Haverfordwest Pembrokeshire Pembrokeshire
Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf farmhouse 1508 1962 Llangynhafal, near Llandyrnog Denbighshire Denbighshire Grade II
Y Garreg Fawr farmhouse 1544 1984 Waunfawr Caernarfonshire Gwynedd
Stryt Lydan barn 1550 c. 1550 1951 Penley Flintshire Wrexham Grade II
St Fagans Castle 1580 St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff Grade I
Dovecote 18th century St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff Grade II
Hendre Wen barn 1600 c. 1600 1982 Llanrwst Denbighshire Conwy
Hawk and Buckle Inn cockpit
(Denbigh Cockpit)
17th century 1970 Denbigh Denbighshire Denbighshire Grade II
Kennixton Farmhouse 1610 1955 Llangennith Glamorgan Swansea Grade II
Lead cistern in east forecourt
of St Fagans Castle
1620 St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff Grade II*
Abernodwydd farmhouse 1678 1955 Llangadfan Montgomeryshire Powys Grade II
Llawr-y-glyn Smithy 18th century 1972 Llawryglyn Montgomeryshire Powys Grade II
Rhaeadr Tannery late 18th century 1968 Rhayader Montgomeryshire Powys Grade II
Esgair Moel woollen mill 1760 1952 Llanwrtyd Brecknockshire Powys Grade II
Llainfadyn cottage 1762 1962 Rhostryfan Caernarfonshire Gwynedd Grade II
Nant Wallter cottage 1770 c. 1770 1993 Taliaris, near Llandeilo Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire
Southgate tollhouse
(Penparcau Tollhouse)
1772 1968 Penparcau, Aberystwyth Cardiganshire Ceredigion Grade II
Pen Rhiw Unitarian chapel
(Capel Pen-rhiw)
1777 1956 Dre-fach Felindre Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire Grade II
Cae Adda byre 18th–19th century 2003 Waunfawr Caernarfonshire Gwynedd
Pigsty 1800 c. 1800 1977 Hendre Ifan Prosser Glamorgan Rhondda Cynon Taf
Rhyd-y-Car ironworkers' cottages 1800 c. 1800 1986 Rhyd-y-Car, Merthyr Tydfil Glamorgan Merthyr Tydfil
Llwyn-yr-Eos farmhouse begun 1820 St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff Grade II
Gorse mill after 1842 1983 Dôl-wen Denbighshire Denbighshire
Melin Bompren corn mill begun 1852 1977 Cross Inn Carmarthenshire Ceredigion
Maentwrog Hayshed 1870 1977 Maentwrog Merionethshire Gwynedd
Summer House 1880 c. 1880 1988 Bute Park, Cardiff Glamorgan Cardiff
Gwalia Stores 1880 1991 Ogmore Vale Glamorgan Bridgend
Maestir School in use 1880–1916 1984 Maestir, near Lampeter Cardiganshire Ceredigion
Ty'n Rhos Sawmill 1892 1994 Tŷ'n Rhos, near Llanddewi Brefi Cardiganshire Ceredigion
Tailor's shop 1896 (extended 1920s) 1992 Cross Inn Cardiganshire Ceredigion
Ewenny Pottery 1900 c. 1900 1988 Ewenny Glamorgan Vale of Glamorgan
Derwen bakehouse 1900 1987 Thespian Street, Aberystwyth Cardiganshire Ceredigion
Urinal 1901–10 c. 1901–10 1978 Llandrindod railway station Radnorshire Powys
Oakdale Workmen's Institute 1916 1995 Oakdale Monmouthshire Caerphilly
Saddler's workshop 1926 1986 St Clears Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire
Blaenwaun Post Office 1936 1992 Blaenwaun, near Whitland Carmarthenshire Carmarthenshire
Newbridge War Memorial 1936 1996 Caetwmpyn Park, Newbridge Monmouthshire Caerphilly
Anderson air raid shelter 1939–45 c. 1939–45
Prefab bungalow 1948 1998 Gabalfa, Cardiff Glamorgan Cardiff
House for the Future/ Ty Gwyrdd 2000[28] St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff
Bryn Eryr Iron Age roundhouses 2015[29]
Anglesey Anglesey
Gweithdy 2016[25]
(opened 2018)
St Fagans Glamorgan Cardiff
Llys Llewelyn, 13th century royal court 1200s 2016–18
Rhosyr Anglesey Anglesey
The Vulcan Hotel 1853 2012-2024 Adamsdown, Cardiff Glamorgan Cardiff

Minor exhibits[edit]

Future developments[edit]

  • The Vulcan Hotel will be rebuilt on the site. Originally located in Adam Street, Cardiff, the hotel first opened in 1853. It closed in May 2012 and was dismantled in 2013 to be placed in storage. It is hoped to restore the building as it would have looked in 1915.[30]
  • The rebuilding of the Victorian police station from Taff's Well, Rhondda Cynon Taf.[31]
  • In 2012 it was announced that Raglan railway station would be rebuilt at the museum.[32]


  1. ^ "Visits made in 2010 to visitor attractions in membership with ALVA". Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b Witty, Matthew. "The history of the suburb of St. Fagans". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Clements, Laura (4 August 2018). "The story of Wales' best-loved museum as St Fagans hits 70". walesonline. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  4. ^ Clare Hutchinson (29 September 2011). "National History Museum at St Fagans soars to the top of UK's favourite tourist sites". WalesOnline. Retrieved 22 October 2011.
  5. ^ St Fagans National Museum of History wins Museum of the Year, BBC, 4 July 2019, retrieved 4 July 2019
  6. ^ a b c Pyke, Chris (9 October 2014). "Welsh History Month: St Fagans' 100-acre site now contains more than 40 original buildings that demonstrate many aspects of Wales' architectural history". walesonline. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  7. ^ a b WalesOnline (30 June 2008). "St Fagans celebrates 60 years". walesonline. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  8. ^ a b "St Fagans museum's redevelopment opens". BBC News. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  9. ^ Morris, Steven (18 October 2018). "'Story of Wales': history museum's six-year revamp completed". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  10. ^ Bevan, Nathan (18 October 2018). "The £30m revamp at St Fagans National Museum of History". walesonline. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Doors reopen at St Fagans after multimillion-pound redevelopment | The National Lottery Heritage Fund". Heritage Fund. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  12. ^ Pickford, James (3 July 2019). "St Fagans wins museum prize after overhaul". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  13. ^ Brown, Mark (3 July 2019). "Revamped St Fagans in Wales is 2019 Art Fund museum of the year". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Opening ceremony of Pen-rhiw Chapel at the Welsh Folk Museum, St. Fagans, 21 June 1956". Peoples Collection Wales. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  15. ^ BBC News, "Haverfordwest Tudor trader home opens at St Fagans museum", 2 July 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2013
  16. ^ BBC News – "Work starts to move Cardiff's Vulcan pub to St Fagans museum", 12 July 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2013
  17. ^ "Historical Buildings at St Fagans - The Vulcan Hotel". Retrieved 09 May 2024
  18. ^ "St.Fagans: Time for Welsh History". British Heritage. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  19. ^ "The Power of Everyman: Cardiff's Theatre Festival". Wales Arts Review. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  20. ^ Owens, David (1 July 2010). "Everyman takes plays outdoors". walesonline. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  21. ^ "BBC – Wales – Arts – Doctor Who in Wales – St Fagans Natural History Museum, Cardiff". Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Close encounters with the Welsh world of Dr Who – World Travel Guide". World Travel Guide. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  23. ^ "13 Doctor Who filming locations you can visit in South Wales". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  24. ^ "St Fagans £24m revamp takes a step forward". Wales Online.
  25. ^ a b "One of Wales' favorite museums is having a big revamp and this is what you can expect". Wales Online. 5 December 2016. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  26. ^ "'Story of Wales': history museum's six-year revamp completed". 18 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
  27. ^ Joshua Knapman (13 July 2017). "This is what St Fagans looks like after the latest part of its £30 million makeover is complete". WalesOnline. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  28. ^ "First tenants meet house of the future". BBC Wales. 30 September 2000. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  29. ^ Bryn Eryr: from house to home, Amgueddfa Blog (National Museum Wales), 18 August 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  30. ^ BBC News, "Plans to rebuild Cardiff's Vulcan pub at St Fagans submitted", 28 July 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014
  31. ^ "St Fagans: National History Museum police station plans". BBC News. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
  32. ^ Prior, Neil (28 November 2012), "Raglan railway station to move to St Fagans museum", BBC News, retrieved 3 August 2015

External links[edit]