St Fagans National Museum of History
St Fagans Castle in its grounds
|Former name||St Fagans National History Museum|
|Location||St Fagans, Cardiff, Wales|
* Ranked 21st in the UK
St Fagans National Museum of History (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, a Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house. In 2011 Which? magazine named the museum the United Kingdom's favourite visitor attraction.
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. 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.
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.
A redeveloped main reception building was opened in July 2017. The six-year £30m 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.
The £30m redevelopment project provided many benefits, including three new galleries showcasing Wales’ history, improvements to buildings such as 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. One of the new buildings, Gweithdy (workshop) features stone age tools and stick chairs.
In June 2019, St Fagans was named UK’s Museum of the Year 2019 by the Art Fund, which cited the facility's "exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement". The Art Fund is a charity which helps to support museums and galleries.
Buildings and exhibits
The museum includes more than forty buildings which represent the architecture of Wales, including a nonconformist chapel (in this case, Unitarian), a village schoolhouse, a toll road tollbooth (below), a cockpit (below), a pigsty (below), and a tannery (below).
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 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. A Tudor merchant's house from Haverfordwest, opened in 2012, is the latest building to be added to the museum's collection. Future plans include the relocation of the historic Vulcan public house from Newtown in Cardiff.
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 (below). Even a post-war prefabricated bungalow (below) has been erected on the grounds.
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.
Based on archaeological findings, a reconstruction of Llys Rhosyr, a thirteenth-century court of the princes of Gwynedd, was completed and opened to the public in October 2018. Called Llys Llewelyn ('Llewelyn's Court'), it was hoped school children would be able to stay in the buildings overnight, from spring 2019.
The Gweithdy ('Workshop') also opened in October 2018, designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. It is a sustainable building housing improved facilities for visitors, supporting the study of collections and hosting demonstrations and workshops by traditional craftsmen.
List of structures
(Percy Thomas Partnership architects).
|St Teilo's Church|| 1100–c. 1520
(present form: c. 1520)
|2007||Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, near Pontarddulais||Glamorgan||Swansea|
|Cilewent farmhouse||begun 1470
(present form: 1734)
|Tudor Trader 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|
|Stryd Lydan barn||1550c.||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||1600c.||1982||Llanrwst||Denbighshire||Conwy|
|Hawk and Buckle Inn 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|
|Smithy||18th century||1972||Llawryglyn||Montgomeryshire||Powys||Grade II|
|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||1770c.||1993||Taliaris, near Llandeilo||Carmarthenshire||Carmarthenshire|
|Southgate tollhouse||1772||1968||Penparcau, Aberystwyth||Cardiganshire||Ceredigion||Grade II|
|Pen Rhiw Unitarian chapel||1777||1956||Dre-fach Felindre||Carmarthenshire||Carmarthenshire||Grade II|
|Cae Adda byre||18th–19th century||2003||Waunfawr||Caernarfonshire||Gwynedd|
|Pigsty||1800c.||1977||Hendre Ifan Prosser||Glamorgan||Rhondda Cynon Taf|
|Rhyd-y-Car ironworkers' cottages||1800c.||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||Ceredigion|
|Summer House||1880c.||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|
|Sawmill||1892||1994||Tŷ'n Rhos, near Llanddewi Brefi||Ceredigion|
|Tailor's shop||1896 (extended 1920s)||1992||Cross Inn||Ceredigion|
|Ewenny Pottery||1900c.||1988||Ewenny||Glamorgan||Vale of Glamorgan|
|Derwen bakehouse||1900||1987||Thespian Street, Aberystwyth||Cardiganshire||Ceredigion|
|Urinal||1901–10c.||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||1939–45c.|
|Prefab bungalow||1948||1998||Gabalfa, Cardiff||Glamorgan||Cardiff|
|House of the Future/ Ty Gwyrdd||2000||—||St Fagans||Glamorgan||Cardiff|
|Bryn Eryr Iron Age roundhouses||2015
|Llys Llewelyn, 13th century royal court||1200s||2016–18
|The Vulcan Hotel||1853||in progress||Adamsdown, Cardiff||Glamorgan||Cardiff|
- 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.
- The rebuilding of the Victorian police station from Taff's Well, Rhondda Cynon Taf.
- In 2012 it was announced that Raglan railway station would be rebuilt at the museum.
- "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.
- Witty, Matthew. "The history of the suburb of St. Fagans – Cardiffians.co.uk". www.cardiffians.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Clements, Laura (4 August 2018). "The story of Wales' best-loved museum as St Fagans hits 70". walesonline. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- 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.
- St Fagans National Museum of History wins Museum of the Year, BBC, 4 July 2019, retrieved 4 July 2019
- 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.
- WalesOnline (30 June 2008). "St Fagans celebrates 60 years". walesonline. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "St Fagans museum's redevelopment opens". BBC News. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- Morris, Steven (18 October 2018). "'Story of Wales': history museum's six-year revamp completed". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Bevan, Nathan (18 October 2018). "The £30m revamp at St Fagans National Museum of History". walesonline. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/news/doors-reopen-st-fagans-after-multimillion-pound-redevelopment, Doors reopen at St Fagans after multimillion-pound redevelopment
- https://www.ft.com/content/9680021e-9d9f-11e9-b8ce-8b459ed04726, St Fagans wins museum prize after overhaul
- https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/jul/03/st-fagans-history-museum-wales-wins-art-fund-museum-of-the-year-2019, Revamped St Fagans in Wales is 2019 Art Fund museum of the year
- https://www.artfund.org/museum-of-the-year, St Fagans National Museum of History
- "Opening ceremony of Pen-rhiw Chapel at the Welsh Folk Museum, St. Fagans, 21 June 1956". Peoples Collection Wales. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- BBC News, "Haverfordwest Tudor trader home opens at St Fagans museum", 2 July 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2013
- BBC News – "Work starts to move Cardiff's Vulcan pub to St Fagans museum", 12 July 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2013
- "St.Fagans: Time for Welsh History". British Heritage. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "The Power of Everyman: Cardiff's Theatre Festival". Wales Arts Review. 4 August 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- Owens, David (1 July 2010). "Everyman takes plays outdoors". walesonline. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "Details of Everyman Theatre Cardiff on the Theatre in Wales database". www.theatre-wales.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "BBC – Wales – Arts – Doctor Who in Wales – St Fagans Natural History Museum, Cardiff". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "Close encounters with the Welsh world of Dr Who – World Travel Guide". World Travel Guide. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "13 Doctor Who filming locations you can visit in South Wales". Radio Times. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
- "St Fagans £24m revamp takes a step forward". Wales Online.
- "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.
- "'Story of Wales': history museum's six-year revamp completed". theguardian.com. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 23 October 2018.
- "First tenants meet house of the future". BBC Wales. 30 September 2000. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
- Bryn Eryr: from house to home, Amgueddfa Blog (National Museum Wales), 18 August 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
- BBC News, "Plans to rebuild Cardiff's Vulcan pub at St Fagans submitted", 28 July 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014
- "St Fagans: National History Museum police station plans". BBC News. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Prior, Neil (28 November 2012), "Raglan railway station to move to St Fagans museum", BBC News, retrieved 3 August 2015
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