Posted by: marymarthatours | January 8, 2013

The National History Museum of Wales

On our 2013 Quilts and Textiles of England & Wales tour, we will spend two nights and three days in Wales.  Not nearly long enough for me, but we hope to remedy that in 2014 with a garden tour covering all of Wales.  This year’s brief visit will be an introduction to this wonderful part of the British Isles.

welsh quilt ctr website

Welsh countryside and quilts

 In addition to seeing quilts in Lampeter and visiting Cardiff Castle, we will have an opportunity to learn more about the long history of Wales with a stop at the National History Museum of Wales at St. Fagans near Cardiff.  When I first visited St. Fagans, more than 25 years ago, the site was known as the Welsh Folk Museum, or Amgueddfa Werin Cymru in Welsh.  Today we English-speakers call it the National History Museum.

St. Fagans Castle, National History Museum 

 Amgueddfa Werin Cymru came into being through the generous gift of Lord Robert-Windsor, Earl of Pembroke, and the imagination of Welsh poet Iorwerth Peate.  In 1946, the Earl of Pembroke donated his 16th century home, St. Fagans Castle, along with 18 acres of land to the people of Wales.  Under the leadership of Iorwerth Peate, the museum was modeled on Scandinavian outdoor museums with a collection of buildings from all over Wales depicting and preserving many aspects of Welsh rural life.

main entrance, Zureks, CCASA3.0

Main Entrance, National History Museum 

Today the museum includes over 40 buildings representing many centuries of rural and industrial-era domestic architecture in Wales.  The story begins in the Celtic village, a reconstruction of iron-age round houses containing articles of everyday life such as weaving looms.  There are farm houses from many periods, as well as churches, shops, mills, and St. Fagans Castle itself with its lovely interiors.


Abernodwydd farmhouse, c. 1678 and Gwalia Stores, c. 1880

One of the buildings that I am especially eager to see is St. Teilo’s Church which opened at the museum in 2007.   St. Teilo interior, Wolfgang Sauber, CCASA3.0

        WFM St Teilos

 St. Teilo’s Church, or Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, was brought to the museum from Pontarddalais, near Llanelli, where our group will be staying.  It dates from the late 12th or 13th century with a number of alterations over the centuries.  The church has been furnished as it would have been in pre-reformation 1530 and includes a rood screen, altars, carvings, and gorgeous late-medieval wall paintings.

Another must-see for me will be the row of iron-worker cottages which came from Rhyd-y-car, near Merthyr Tydfil.  These six connected homes with their small front gardens have been furnished to represent six different periods of occupancy from 1800 to 1985.  I’m sure that we’ll see examples of Welsh textiles in some of these cottages.

   WFM219C terraced hs interior, Rudi Winter, CCASA2.0

Rhyd-y-car iron-worker cottages and 19th century cottage interior

We’re planning to have time for lunch at the museum, but I may have to get a “take-away” to eat in one of the Castle gardens, perhaps the 18th century garden or the recently restored Italian garden.  We’ll have a wonderful time at the National History Museum of Wales, but I know that someone from the tour will be saying, “Can’t we stay longer, we haven’t had enough time here”.  Oh wait, that’s me.

(by Mary)

Photo credits:  Welsh quilts, copyright Jen Jones Welsh Quilts, used by permission: 

National History Museum main entrance, copyright Zureks and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license 3.0:  

St. Teilo Church interior, copyright Wolfgang Saub and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license 3.0: 

Interior of terraced house, copyright Rudi Winter and licensed for reuse by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike license 2.0: 

All other photos from the website of the National History Museum and used by permission.  



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