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St Fagans
National History Museum

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St Fagans National History Museum

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St Fagans Castle. Photograph © lhourahane

The St Fagans National History Museum (Welsh: Amgueddfa Werin Cymru), commonly referred to as St Fagans, is an open-air museum chronicling the lifestyle, culture and architecture of the Welsh people.

Located in the grounds of St Fagans Castle near Cardiff, the museum is part of National Museum Wales, formerly the National Museums and Galleries of Wales. It is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in south Wales. 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 has been modified once to Museum of Welsh Life, and again to its current nomenclature.

The brainchild of Iorwerth Peate, the museum was modeled 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 naturally going to be more ambitious as much of the vernacular buildings in the country are built of masonry.

The museum includes over forty buildings which represent the architecture of Wales, including a Celtic village, a nonconformist chapel (in this case, Unitarian), a school house, a tollbooth, a cockpit and even a cow shed. Apart from the Elizabethan manor house of the castle and the Celtic village and 'House of the Future' (a Millennium project), which were built from scratch, all the buildings have been transported from various locations around Wales and painstakingly reconstructed on the site.

With the reconstruction of the medieval church of Saint Teilo formerly at Llandeilo Tal-y-Bont in western Glamorgan (restored to its pre-Reformation state), all that is missing from the Museum as Peate envisaged it is a pub. Though the museum was intended to preserve some of Welsh rural life, it now includes several buildings that depict the industrial working life that succeeded it, itself almost extinct in Wales. There is a row of workmen's cottages from Rhyd-y-car, near Merthyr Tydfil, as well as the pristine Oakdale Workmen's Institute. A post-war prefabricated bungalow has even been erected on the grounds.

Especially on weekends, the museum holds displays of traditional crafts with a working blacksmith's forge and a cooper. Other buildings are staffed by people in period costume. All staff are required to speak Welsh. Part of the site includes a small working farm which concentrates on preserving local native breeds of livestock. Much of the produce from the museum is available for sale.

llustration(s) or photograph(s) viewable Photographs by Peter W.
Click on an image for a larger view

    The cockpit

    Pan and weights etc

    Blacksmith

    A large coffee mill

    Blacksmith at work

    Just tall enough

    Address Address:

    St Fagans National History Museum
    Cardiff
    CF5 6XB

    Telephone Telephone:

    029 2057 3500

    Wensite Website:

    http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/stfagans/

    Admission Charges Admission Charge:-

    Free

    Opening Hours Hours:

    Open 10am5pm daily

    Facilities for the Disabled Facilities for the Disabled:

    Physical Mobility

    • Dedicated parking spaces for disabled visitors are provided in the car park, adjacent to the main entrance to the museum. Ramps provide access to the entry point and shops.
    • Ramped access is provided to the galleries, open-air park and restaurants.
    • Wheelchairs are available on request, free of charge, in the main foyer entrance. Although these chairs cannot be pre-booked and are provided on a first come first served basis, we will notify the Ticket Office if an advance request is made.
    • Wheelchair access is possible to most parts of the site. However, it should be noted that the historic nature of some of the buildings in our collection means that access may be difficult.
    • It is also worth noting that the terrain on the Castle side of the Museum is steep in places and may prove difficult for some wheelchair users and their helpers. The easier routes have been marked on signposts.
    • Moveable ramps and a lift are available at the Oakdale Workmen's Institute. A wheelchair lift is installed in the House for the Future.
    • A land train service is available, Easter to October. The vehicle has a ramp with space for one wheelchair. The train runs between Llwyn yr eos farm and the Castle Gardens with various stops en-route.
    • A motorised Disabled Tour Vehicle (DTV) is available to transport visitors around the site. The DTV can carry up to a maximum of five passengers. However, only two severely disabled people can be transported at any one time and, for Health & Safety compliance, they must be accompanied by one carer each. As a trained driver is required we request that bookings for this free service are made two weeks in advance by 'phoning 029 2057 3500 and asking for Site Activities.

    Visually Impaired

    • One of the pleasures of visiting St Fagans is to experience the sounds and smells on such a varied site, from fresh bread being baked and leather being worked in the Saddler's Workshop to the sounds and smells of our farm animals.
    • Most buildings are manned and in addition many crafts and demonstrations are displayed on site. Our staff will be happy to explain the techniques and skills involved.
    • Some parts of the site may present orientation difficulties to visually impaired people, such as the stream and ponds. Advice can be sought at Information desk in the entrance hall before going out on site.
    • Large print guide books are available free on loan. Please ask at the entrance.

    Hearing Impaired

    • Most of the exhibits in the galleries are clearly labelled and all the buildings have large information boards.

    Dogs

    • Dogs are allowed on site provided they are kept on a lead.
    • Assistance dogs for both visually and hearing impaired visitors are welcomed and are allowed into the buildings.
    • Drinking water is available on request in the restaurant, at Oakdale and the Castle.
    • All dog owners are offered pooper-scoopers when entering the museum and we appreciate your co-operation in keeping the museum clean and safe.

    Learning Difficulties

    • The guidebook, which includes a site plan, presents the collection in a clear and concise manner with several pictures and diagrams.
    • There are also large-scale site plans at key points around the museum.


     

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