St Fagans National Museum of History

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St Fagans Castle in the St Fagans Museum

St Fagans National Museum of History (Welsh: Sain Ffagan: Amgueddfa Werin Cymru) is an extensive open-air museum, spread over a hundred acres, by the village of St Fagans in Glamorgan, to the west of Cardiff.

The museum chronicles the historical lifestyle, culture, and architecture of the Welsh people. The museum is part of the wider network of 'Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales'.[1]

It consists of more than forty re-erected buildings from every county in Wales, and is set in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a Grade-I-listed Elizabethan manor house.[2] In 2011 Which? magazine named the museum the United Kingdom's favourite visitor attraction.[3]

A six-year, £30-million revamp was completed in 2018 and in 2019 the museum was named the Art Fund Museum of the Year.[4]


The museum covers an estate of a hundred acres, which was the estate of St Fagans Castle. It is to be found at St Fagans, just outside the urban edge of Cardiff, four miles west of the city centre.


The museum was started in 1946 following the donation of the castle and lands by the Earl of Plymouth.[5] 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.[1][6]

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.[2][5]

A redeveloped main reception building was opened in July 2017.[7] The six-year £30m redevelopment of the site, which was funded by a number of sources, notably the taxpayers' money and the National Lottery money, was completed in October 2018.[8][9]

The £30-million redevelopment project provided many benefits, including three new galleries showcasing Wales’ history, improvements to buildings such as Iron Age farmstead, Bryn Eryr, and a Mediæval Prince’s court (Llys Llywelyn), as well as a refurbished main entrance building and a new restaurant, play area and learning spaces.[10] One of the new buildings, Gweithdy (workshop) features stone age tools and stick chairs.[11]

In June 2019, St Fagans was named the United Kingdom’s Museum of the Year 2019 by the Art Fund, which cited the facility's "exceptional imagination, innovation and achievement".[12] The Art Fund is a charity which helps to support museums and galleries.[13]

Buildings and exhibits

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

The museum includes more than forty buildings which represent the architecture of Wales,[5] including a nonconformist chapel (in this case, Unitarian),[14] a village schoolhouse, a toll road tollbooth, a cockpit, a pigsty (below), and a tannery.[6]

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.[2]

The mediæval 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.[2] A Tudor merchant's house from Haverfordwest, opened in 2012, is the latest building to be added to the museum's collection.[15] Future plans include the relocation of the historic Vulcan public house from Newtown in Cardiff.[16]

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 represents later domestic lifestyles.[17]

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 theatrical calendar since its founding at Dyffryn in 1983.[18][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, supporting the study of collections and hosting demonstrations and workshops by traditional craftsmen.[7]

List of structures

Image Name Date Re-erected Original site County Listing
St Fagans Museum Main Building 2018.jpg
Main entrance and administration offices
(Percy Thomas Partnership architects).
1968–74 St Fagans Glamorgan
St Teilo's Church, St Fagans National History Museum.jpg St Teilo's Church 1100–c. 1520 c. 1100–c. 1520

(present form: c. 1520)

2007 Llandeilo Tal-y-bont, near Pontarddulais Glamorgan
Cilewent farmhouse, St Fagans.jpg Cilewent farmhouse begun 1470

(present form: 1734)

1959 Cwmdauddwr Radnorshire Grade II
Tudor1.jpg Tudor Trader House 16th century 2012 Haverfordwest Pembrokeshire
Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf farmhouse, St Fagans.jpg Hendre'r Ywydd Uchaf farmhouse 1508 1962 Llangynhafal, near Llandyrnog Denbighshire Grade II
Y Garreg Fawr, Sain Ffagan.jpg Y Garreg Fawr farmhouse 1544 1984 Waunfawr Caernarfonshire
Stryd Lydan Barn, St Fagans, from north-east.jpg Stryd Lydan barn 1550 c. 1550 1951 Penley Flintshire Grade II
St Fagans Castle 2008.jpg St Fagans Castle 1580 St Fagans Glamorgan Grade I
St Fagans National History Museum (cropped).JPG Dovecote 18th century St Fagans Glamorgan Grade II
Barn, National History Museum of Wales.jpg Hendre Wen barn 1600 c. 1600 1982 Llanrwst Denbighshire
The cockpit at St Fagans - - 631971.jpg Hawk and Buckle Inn cockpit 17th century 1970 Denbigh Denbighshire Grade II
Kennixton Farmhouse April 2012.JPG Kennixton Farmhouse 1610 1955 Llangennith Glamorgan Grade II
Courtyard Castle St Fagans 01.JPG Lead cistern in east forecourt
of St Fagans Castle
1620 St Fagans Glamorgan Grade II*
Abernodwydd Farmhouse, St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life.jpg Abernodwydd farmhouse 1678 1955 Llangadfan Montgomeryshire Grade II
Walesi kovács2.jpg Smithy 18th century 1972 Llawryglyn Montgomeryshire Grade II
Tannery - National History Museum of Wales, St Fagans - - 659437.jpg Tannery late 18th century 1968 Rhayader Radnorshire Grade II
Melin wlân Esgair Moel, Sain Ffagan.jpg Esgair Moel woollen mill 1760 1952 Llanwrtyd Brecknockshire Grade II
Llainfadyn Cottage, St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life.jpg Llainfadyn cottage 1762 1962 Rhostryfan Caernarfonshire Grade II
Nant Wallter Cottage St Fagans.jpg Nant Wallter cottage 1770 c. 1770 1993 Taliaris, near Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
Penparcau tollhouse, St Fagans.jpg Southgate tollhouse 1772 1968 Penparcau, Aberystwyth Cardiganshire Grade II
Pen Rhiw chapel, St Fagans.jpg Pen Rhiw Unitarian chapel 1777 1956 Dre-fach Felindre Carmarthenshire Grade II
Cae Adda byre, St Fagans.jpg Cae Adda byre 18th–19th century 2003 Waunfawr Caernarfonshire
Corbelled Pigsty.jpg Pigsty 1800 c. 1800 1977 Hendre Ifan Prosser Glamorgan
St Fagans, Cardiff CF5, UK - panoramio (6).jpg Rhyd-y-Car ironworkers' cottages 1800 c. 1800 1986 Rhyd-y-Car, Merthyr Tydfil Glamorgan
Ffermdy Llwyn-yr-Eos.jpg Llwyn-yr-Eos farmhouse begun 1820 St Fagans Glamorgan Grade II
Gorse mill, St Fagans.jpg Gorse mill after 1842 1983 Dôl-wen Denbighshire
Melin Bompren, Sain Ffagan.jpg Melin Bompren corn mill begun 1852 1977 Cross Inn Cardiganshire
Sied wair Maentwrog, Sain Ffagan.jpg Hayshed 1870 1977 Maentwrog Merionethshire
Tŷ haf, Sain Ffagan.jpg Summer House 1880 c. 1880 1988 Bute Park, Cardiff Glamorgan
Gwalia Stores and Moss-Vernon's Portrait Studio, St Fagans.jpg Gwalia Stores 1880 1991 Ogmore Vale Glamorgan
Maestir school, St Fagans.jpg Maestir School in use 1880–1916 1984 Maestir, near Lampeter Cardiganshire
St Fagans sawmill.jpg Sawmill 1892 1994 Tŷ'n Rhos, near Llanddewi Brefi Cardiganshire
D. Thomas tailor's shop, St Fagans.jpg Tailor's shop 1896 (extended 1920s) 1992 Cross Inn Cardiganshire
Pottery St Fagans 2.JPG Ewenny Pottery 1900 c. 1900 1988 Ewenny Glamorgan
Derwen Bakehouse.jpg Derwen bakehouse 1900 1987 Thespian Street, Aberystwyth Cardiganshire
Gentlemen's Urinal, St Fagans National History Museum - 1136856.jpg Urinal 1901–10 c. 1901–10 1978 Llandrindod railway station Radnorshire
Workers Institute St Fagans 1.JPG Oakdale Workmen's Institute 1916 1995 Oakdale Monmouthshire
Saddler's workshop at St Fagans.JPG Saddler's workshop 1926 1986 St Clears Carmarthenshire
Swyddfa bost Blaen-waun.jpg Blaenwaun Post Office 1936 1992 Blaenwaun, near Whitland Carmarthenshire
War memorial at St Fagans.JPG Newbridge War Memorial 1936 1996 Caetwmpyn Park, Newbridge Monmouthshire
Anderson shelter at St Fagans.jpg Anderson air raid shelter 1939–45 c. 1939–45
Prefab, St Fagans.jpg Prefab bungalow 1948 1998 Gabalfa, Cardiff Glamorgan
House for the future, St Fagans.jpg House of the Future/ Ty Gwyrdd 2000[28] St Fagans Glamorgan
Iron Age roundhouses at St Fagans.jpg Bryn Eryr Iron Age roundhouses 2015[29]
Gweithdy (2), St Fagans National History Museum (geograph 5110706).jpg Gweithdy 2016[25]
(opened 2018)
St Fagans Glamorgan
Llys Llewelyn, St Fagans National Museum of History.jpg Llys Llewelyn, 13th century royal court 1200s 2016–18
Rhosyr Anglesey
The Vulcan Hotel, Adam St, Cardiff.jpg The Vulcan Hotel 1853 in progress Adamsdown, Cardiff Glamorgan

Minor exhibits

Future developments

  • 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, Glamorgan.[31]
  • In 2012 it was announced that Raglan railway station would be rebuilt at the museum.[32]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about St Fagans National Museum of History)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Witty, Matthew. "The history of the suburb of St. Fagans –" (in en-gb). 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Clements, Laura (2018-08-04). "The story of Wales' best-loved museum as St Fagans hits 70". walesonline. 
  3. 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. 
  4. St Fagans National Museum of History wins Museum of the Year, BBC, 4 July 2019,, retrieved 4 July 2019 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Pyke, Chris (2014-10-09). "Welsh History Month: St Fagans’ 100-acre site now contains more than 40 original buildings that demonstrate many aspects of Wales’ architectural history". walesonline. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 WalesOnline (2008-06-30). "St Fagans celebrates 60 years". walesonline. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "St Fagans museum's redevelopment opens" (in en-GB). BBC News. 2017-07-13. 
  8. Morris, Steven (18 October 2018). "'Story of Wales': history museum's six-year revamp completed" (in en). 
  9. Bevan, Nathan (2018-10-18). "The £30m revamp at St Fagans National Museum of History". walesonline. 
  10., Doors reopen at St Fagans after multimillion-pound redevelopment
  11., St Fagans wins museum prize after overhaul
  12., Revamped St Fagans in Wales is 2019 Art Fund museum of the year
  13., St Fagans National Museum of History
  14. "Opening ceremony of Pen-rhiw Chapel at the Welsh Folk Museum, St. Fagans, 21 June 1956" (in en). 
  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. "St.Fagans: Time for Welsh History" (in en). British Heritage. 
  18. "The Power of Everyman: Cardiff's Theatre Festival" (in en-US). Wales Arts Review. 2015-08-04. 
  19. Owens, David (2010-07-01). "Everyman takes plays outdoors". walesonline. 
  20. "Details of Everyman Theatre Cardiff on the Theatre in Wales database". 
  21. "BBC – Wales – Arts – Doctor Who in Wales – St Fagans Natural History Museum, Cardiff" (in en-GB). 
  22. "Close encounters with the Welsh world of Dr Who – World Travel Guide" (in en-US). World Travel Guide. 
  23. "13 Doctor Who filming locations you can visit in South Wales" (in en). Radio Times. 
  24. "St Fagans £24m revamp takes a step forward". Wales Online. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 "One of Wales' favourite 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". 
  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
  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 

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