â€œ Cardiff / CF5 6XB / Tel: 029 2057 3500 / Free entry / open 10amÂ–5pm daily â€ž
Magnificent Freebie Alert:
This has to be amongst my favourite museums ever and it is free. Did you note that magic word? It's free. A whole fun, informative, day out for free!
St Fagans National History Museum is a must if you are ever in the vicinity of Cardiff in South Wales. There is one thing though - do not go in bad weather. There is a fair weather attraction because on wet, cold, and windy days, even the word 'free' isn't going to convince me to go.
Welsh Living History:
Now that you know you can have a day out with family, friends or on your own for free, FREE, you probably want to know what this museum is about. This is the place to learn about the history and people, of yesteryear and current, Wales without being bored out of your mind. The incredible thing about this is that buildings from across the ages, which would otherwise have been demolished and lost forever have been saved by this museum. Each brick, stone and slate has been taken down and rebuilt on these beautiful grounds. Can you imagine the complexity, expense and dedication of the team involved? History is kept alive when it would have been destroyed. There are buildings all over Wales here and I find the whole exercise both breathtakingly wonderful and efficient. You can get a real sense of the different parts of Wales and how small communities would have lived without having to travel the length and breadth of Wales to search out old documents and photographs. Here, are the communities which may have been lost forever. The enormity of the project from start to finish is incredible. Imagine moving a whole building, finding the space, engineers and builders reclaiming and rebuilding, and then training volunteers to meet and greet visitors at the doors of these saved architectural gems. These people have me in awe even before I step beyond the welcoming visitor centre.
Visitor Centre of this Welsh Folk Museum:
The first building to be approached is the visitor centre area which includes the all important toilets, cafe, gifts and main tourist information. The food is okay though prices can be a bit too high. There is no reason why you can't bring a picnic as there are plenty of benches to sit on. Please note, if you have the money, there is a container for donations. The informative guidebooks cost Â£3. Paper maps are available for 30p and are very useful. The museum is spick and span and clearly loved so any public donations will keep it this way for all to enjoy. I strongly advise making use of the food and toilet area as it might be a long while before the next opportunity is available, as the grounds are extensive. There are direction signs, guides, and other staff outside, but as the place is huge and you may have decided on particular buildings to visit, then get a map from the visitor centre.
There are well over fifty building that have been relocated from places all over Wales, and this site has been here since 1947 with the purpose of saving aspects of rural life which is disappearing due to continual urbanisation. Some information boards provide photographs so that you can see the building on the original site with people from the heyday.
A Glimpse of Buildings (as can be viewed on the museum website):
Communal bread oven
Garreg Fawr Farmhouse
Hendre'r-ywydd Uchaf Farmhouse
Melin Bompren Corn Mill
Nant Wallter Cottage
Newbridge War Memorial
Oakdale Workmen's Institute
Pottery and Kiln
Rhyd-y-Car Terrace Houses
St Fagans Castle
St Teilo's church
Stryd Lydan Barn
I could write reams and reams on each building but you can breathe a sigh of relief and I'll stick to a brief glimpse of a few.
Go to Church:
There are a couple of churches on site and couples can even have their marriage blessed there. I believe there are also occasional Sunday services. To me the most interesting church is St Teilo's church which is a rescued medieval church from Llandeilo Tal-Y-Bont. It has colourful wall paintings which have been repainted just as it would have been to show the crazy brightness. The boldness of colour is unexpected when we are so used to the somewhat subdued paintings in churches. When I was there the guide was able to describe seeing this church in its original location.
The Houses of the Workers:
The museum has even reconstructed a street through the ages. You can pop into each house to see how the generations lived over a period of one hundred and eighty years, up until 1970. See how the furniture changes over time according to money and fashion. The terrace of Ryyd-y-car make up ironworkers' houses and outdoor toilets (not for your use though)! I promise you it is fascinating and do check out how even the street paving changes as you walk along from the lower to the top end of the street. For the best way to see this look backwards when you get towards the top of the street.
The woollen mill sometimes has demonstrations from people working at the looms. Last time, unfortunately, it was empty of volunteers but it still had a small fire in the corner which was fortunate on a cool but sunny March day.
I can spend silly amounts of time on the farm. It has real animals - turkeys, hens, sheep (with very new-born baby lambs in March), cows, ducks and incredibly, noisy pigs. I believe, sometimes there are pony and trap rides available. You can see the old farm machinery in the barn area. There is also a wonderful farmhouse, and like with many of the buildings, the working fireplace is alight. Don't be afraid to go in. It looks so real you feel like you are trespassing into someone's property! The smell of wood burning and the warmth from the glowing logs is wonderful. You can imagine the farmer coming in after a long day's work and resting before this fire. There will be a guide in here, as in most of the other buildings, to tell you all you need to know and informatively answer questions.
Last time, we went into the tea room above the Gwalia Stores, as we hadn't remembered to bring our packed lunches. It was way beyond our usual lunch hour as we kept being distracted by the wonderful buildings including the quaint post office. Eventually we made it, somewhat famished, and tired, into the upstairs tea room. We had a nice window seat. The tea room has an old-fashioned display of cakes and to reach the tea room you go through a shop of curiosities which includes objects like old bikes. We paid just over Â£5 for a sandwich with crisps on the side. I think it was too small and too expensive for what it was though it did taste nice and the atmosphere was pleasant. It was also a good opportunity to make use of the tea room toilets.
There are ice cream vans around to make purchases from too. You can even buy chutney and jams in the shops.
There is a wonderful old fashioned sweetshop in the row of stores in the village centre. You can purchase sweets, stored in jars, in here. The children and adults all looked impressed and happy in there! We had some tasty fudge.
Old fashioned Bake House:
The famous St Fagin's bread and is baked in the Turogs bakery but they sell out super quickly. Later in the day, I managed to get the last gingerbread, but it seemed a bit on the small side and insubstantial. The others got the last of the jam scones and liked them very much.
There is also a mini land train ride for 50p each person though I have never tried this and it is not always in operation.
There are pretty walks along lanes and wooded areas and all the paths will take you to cottages and other buildings of varying ages.
Go To School:
The school is very small. It has old fashioned desks with ink well and a blackboard at the front. The museum guide, and us, got quite put out when a pretend (?) teacher came in and rudely chucked us out to make way for a bunch of teenagers to come and re-enact school days. We would have liked to have watched that but we were given short shrift and a cane was in sight! However, whilst we wandered around we saw the teenagers lining up to go in, listened to the bell ringing, and later heard them singing, in Welsh, in the playground. This was toward the end of our day. When we arrived at the museum we watched as primary school children, dressed in Welsh costume, made their way across the hills to the school. It was a charming sight and the boys even doffed their hats for us! That was much better than seeing the actual school, which I found small and too restrictive, as it was roped off to the rest of the public even when not in use.
Always phone or check the website before going as some visitors can be disappointed when some buildings are closed for the day or parts of the day. There are also events and lectures that are timetabled in for peak times and this is always worth consulting. Events and talks enhance the visit and add to the wonderful atmosphere. Note that some events will not be free but they are worth the expenditure. Remember costs only really begin to mount if you don't bring your own picnic.
We go there on the first bus that comes close to opening time at the museum and stay until the gates are locked. Even this doesn't allow for everything especially if you want to take a leisurely pace.
How to Get There:
St Fagan's museum is a few mile out on the edge of Cardiff city centre, on Cardiff Road. The bus journey is on a fairly straight road into a rural idyll. Buses from Cardiff are 32A, 320 and 322 which have journey times from around twenty minutes or more. Some buses have cheaper tickets than others. The bus drivers are really helpful at making sure you get on the right bus. On the bus, it can be confusing as there is a signpost for the museum on the main road. Lots of people unfamiliar with the route panic when the driver goes beyond it and they fear they have gone too far. It's okay the bus is taking you directly to the main visitor centre building which is beyond that big sign for the museum. You will be certain of arriving as you come up beside the car park and are dropped off in a bus line in front of the building. The last bus back to Cardiff from this bus stop, on the winter timetable seemed to be just before closing time. I would like to see more buses timetabled in for the end of the day so there is less rush.
The car park is busy but with plenty of room. The car park is pay and display and charges Â£3.50 per car but you can park there all day. Take the EXACT amount for the machines as no change is returned.
Waungron train station is a long two miles away and I have never attempted to come via the train station.
The riverside Ely cycle trail is very close to the museum though I have never tried it either.
Cardiff CF5 6XB, Wales (Creigiau - St. Fagans) 029 2057 3500
The grounds are vast and also hilly in many places. I don't think a wheelchair could be used to get across to the castle and landscaped area. We have aching legs at the end of the day. After heavy rain you might want to wear boots as places like the farmyard can get mucky. I saw someone struggling to push a wheelchair, and if I had either been in the chair or was doing the pushing, I think I would have gulped in trepidation at some of the hills. The person using a wheelchair did not go inside the woollen mill and had trouble with going down the slope afterwards.
Dogs on leads are allowed even if they are not for the blind.
There is the 50p per person land train, pulled by a tractor, which takes people from one side to the other but I don't know if this allows you to get off and on in different places. There are cobbled areas which could also make things difficult for the disabled and young. Prams and pushchairs cannot be wheeled through the doors as there is no room. I find the inside of the cottages crammed and some have barriers or stairs which would bar access to some. Historical buildings where never built to accommodate the disabled or young children.
The car park has a few designated disabled spaces near the entrance to the visitor centre and there are ramps leading into this building.
The museum has few wheelchairs on loan at the front desk but you can't book them in advance. When they are gone they are gone so do not come relying on wheelchair provision.
The 30p map shows designated paths for the disabled.
There is a motorised vehicle for the disabled if booked in a advance, but for no more than two severely disabled passengers at once and carries up to five passengers.
On my visit in March there were four of us and three were over sixty and one aged seventy. We all managed with bench and tea stops but I can see that it might be really restrictive for other people. This might not be the place to come if you have mobility difficulties or children in pushchairs unless you go prepared to be restricted in accessing all areas.
The museum is open from 10am - 5pm. I get here in time for opening and spend the whole day looking around.
In fact, last time we stayed so long, we feared we'd missed the bus, and a guide told us we could take the long walk through the gardens to a bus stop at the far end but that the gate would now be locked. He let security know that we were coming and when we arrived at the gate we could press an intercom button and they electronically opened the gates for us. I don't know if there would always be someone to let you out or if we were lucky to have been seen by a member of staff just before we walked to the other end of the beautiful park.
The good news is there are toilet facilities available on the castle grounds and very close to this exit gate that we were able to use. However, I would strongly advise to get the bus back from the same place where you were dropped off. We misread the timetable and thought we had missed the last bus but saw it at the bottom of the side road later, and rather annoyingly had to wait over an hour for a different routed bus to turn up, on the side street, outside a church. There was a bench there and it was a pretty spot. The extra plus point was that we got to see the river, lake, lawns and park land, before exiting, though on this occasion we had no time left to see the castle - yes, there is a castle here too (really a nineteenth century, upstairs-downstairs, grand country estate)!
I would recommend repeat visits because you cannot truly see everything in one day. The grounds are vast and also hilly in many places. Next visit I would love to sunbathe by the water, and go into the castle, instead of seeing everything in the reconstructed village.
There are imperfections but you get in for FREE.
The extra costs such as food and parking can be a lot but it is to be remembered that this helps keep the museum open and food costs can be avoided with advance planning.
Last March, despite having a full and fun day we found the Celtic Village empty when normally you can see a cobbler, saddler and blacksmith providing demonstrations. There was a guide in the tannery who gave a lot of explanation to how it operated and informed us about the bats that live there now. Whilst some people complain, we are aware that this is a free museum, staffed by many volunteers and that work and maintenance has to be addressed in other areas of the site. That day we saw people working on the waterwheel at the woollen mill. It was a shame not to see the wheel and Celtic village in action but we understood why and enjoyed wandering around and admiring the work that has gone into this massive project.
This museum is constantly in flux. New spaces are being made for the exciting finds from across Wales. No visit is ever the same. The whole expanse of Welsh history and current culture is covered on this land. It is amazing for living history, atmosphere, educational value, great for the outdoors type and awe inspiring. Well done to the people who make this museum wonderful. St Fagin's is a special place to visit. No one visit will ever be exactly the same which means you will want to return again and again.
I want to give this all the stars but I know that those with mobility issues and young children will struggle. I also see the food is overpriced and that wet weather could ruin your day. The museum can't do anything about the weather and probably can't change the structure of historical buildings. I think that visitors need to be aware of the access issues and if they choose to come to know that their visit will be limited in some areas. I suspect the museum could find a way to take the disabled around the site even better. Oh, and the person I saw in the wheelchair, later on I heard him whooping as he went down one of the lanes so it can't be all bad!
This museum does something quite amazing by saving the rural life and keeping it alive in a new space. I love it and so does everyone who I have spoken to about it. It is continually growing and moving forward with more and more, there's even an eco house to see and the entrance is FREE!
I have to admit that the St Fagans National History Museum is an absolute favourite of mine to go and visit. Having visited regularly since I was a child I can definitely recommend it for all of the family. What's more, there is always something new to see so no two visits are the same.
The museum is located about 4 miles outside of Cardiff city centre, on Cardiff Road. It's within quite a rural looking area, which really helps to get you in the right mood. I've always driven and it's an easy enough place to find. The car park is always busy but there are a lot of spaces so you should be fine whatever time of year you go. Although the museum is free, the car park is pay and display; Â£3.50 per car.
In terms of public transport, buses go from the city centre to the main entrance (number 32A, 320 and 322). Waungron train station is the closest, but is still two miles away. Alternatively you can use the Ely trail to cycle there. I'm definitely going to try this out at some point.
The park is usually open from 10am - 4pm. I highly recommend arriving as early as possible - famous St Fagans bread is made on the site every day and it sells out very quickly. In fact it's normally gone by the time I arrive!
The museum is free to enter, you just go through the main building (which contains toilets, cafe, gift shop and tourist information) and out through the other end. There are maps located all around the museum but I recommend picking up a paper version if you can as it's easy to get lost.
Some of the 'must-sees' are the Celtic Village, the mill, the eco-house, the old-fashioned shops and the terraced houses. Each building was previously located somewhere in Wales and was painstakingly reconstructed brick by brick on the site. Therefore these are true representations of life across Wales. I don't want to give too much away about the buildings as they can be wonderfully surprising, but there are information boards for each of them and more often than not there will be a museum guide who can tell you everything you need to know.
Children will love the school. The museum guides can show off the games that young schoolchildren used to play at breaktimes - tip: don't forget to ask about the Welsh Knot! For animal lovers, there are farm animals located all around the site.
For a more modern experience, I highly recommend the Eco House. This shows where the design of Welsh homes is headed, and has a fantastic garden for those looking to pick up tips.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF YOUR DAY
However you manage your day, you are sure to have a great time at St Fagans. However I've picked up a few tips over the years that I would recommend you take on board:
- The St Fagans website says to budget for at least 2-4 hours. If you're taking children it'll definitely be nearer the 4 hour mark.
- There are lots of events and talks held across the site on a nearly daily basis. These are listed again on the website so do take a look before you go. Some are free and some have a low cost associated with it.
- Lastly, if you're a twitter user, follow @StFagans_Museum and also @StFagans_HBU. The last one is the twitter account of the team who move the historic buildings to the museum, so it's a great way to find out what you might see in a few months time.
The St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff is a large open-air attraction, designed and put together to educate visitors about Welsh history. We found it while having a short break to South Wales with two of our children, only spotting it after driving along the motorway in search of something to do that we'd all enjoy.
After parking the car we followed the 'entrance' signs which took us through a large building; this building houses a restaurant, gift shop and the beginning of your Welsh experience in the form of decorative pieces along the walls, plus a few select statuettes displayed en route to the main area of the museum. Before you leave this building you walk through a display called Oriel 1 - this is an interesting look at Welsh dress, farming equipment and other displays designed to give visitors an insight into not only Wales of long ago, but also how the language and some customs have managed to survive to the present day.
Much of the display in Oriel 1 is kept behind glass so my (then) three year old wasn't very interested, her twelve year old sister enjoyed looking at the various Welsh costumes and fashions through the ages - and so did I actually, even though many of them were slightly too puritanical to really have any meaning in the 21st century!
We didn't linger in Oriel 1 for long as the sun was shining and we wanted to get outside and enjoy it! As we stepped outside I was shocked at how large and sprawling the outside of the museum is, it spreads as far as the eye can see and I decided to sent my daughter back inside to grab one of the free maps we'd spotted on the way in! The whole area is very green, peaceful despite the fact that there were hundreds of people walking around and extremely beautiful - even though the museum is located near a busy motorway hardly any traffic noise filtered through which gives the impression of being in the countryside.
The open air museum is amazing from the moment you clap eyes on it. Whole buildings have been uprooted and re-built here, made to look (and even smell sometimes) how they would have done in days gone by. The chapel with its striking colourful frescoes against pure white walls, this is a beautiful building and I can understand how awe inspiring it must have been as a working church in the middle ages. It has that air of peace that all places of worship have; it's not exactly spiritual feeling, but there's a define sense of 'something' in there.
The farmhouse is stunning; painted a fiery red colour, you can go in and see how the animals shared the home (to a point) and view for yourself how little room there was for the farmer and his (undoubtedly huge) family. I wasn't so keen on the tannery shed, the building having an air of bleakness about it - the way animal skins had been draped around made it believable, but it just wasn't my kind of building. My four year old enjoyed the ancient round huts, which we found out were Iron Age structures after sitting in on a talk inside one of the huts - we didn't stay inside for too long as there was an almost overpowering smell of earth,
After this we walked up the hill to see the more recent history of Wales - the ironmonger's shop, a sweet shop and store selling delicious looking Welsh goodies. This area of the museum is decidedly less twee and wandering around here you get a sense of how industrialisation hit the hills and valleys of Wales. Here we bought sweets for the kids (and daddy!), the most delicious scone I've ever eaten and a few sweet treats for when we went back to the hotel - everything was perfect and in these days of plastic wrappers my youngest was highly impressed to be given her selection of sweets in a paper bag. I personally enjoyed the Welsh foods shop and was surprised to find the prices weren't much different to modern food shops I'd been mooching around on previous days. I bought a few small souvenirs, Welsh Cakes and some delicious chocolate eggs which had been made locally to the museum.
Within this row of 'shops' is a photography studio which has been made to look 'of the times'. Here you can dress up in a variety of olden days Welsh costumes and have a black and white family portrait taken. I'd have loved to have had this done but unfortunately my partner doesn't like having his photo taken and one of the girls' was sick (and therefore not in the mood) so we had to miss out on this this time. I did, however, speak to an elderly lady who had just collected her photograph and the quality and posing of her and her two granddaughters made for an excellent memento of their visit to Wales.
In every corner of the museum there's something to look at or do, just when you think you've seen everything you'll walk around the side of a building and find something you hadn't noticed before. My youngest daughter loved the small woodland and after joining a talk (which we later found out she shouldn't have!) she was given a gift bag with a magnifying glass, book on English wildlife and pencil inside - which she was surprisingly thrilled with! Dotted around the woodland are interactive information boards designed to teach children about their surroundings. My daughter obviously enjoyed the one showing various 3D animal poo's the most, while I had to physically move her older sister away from the one showing lots of different butterflies and telling you where in the woodland to look for them.
The museum is set within the grounds of St Fagan's Castle, which was closed for restoration work at the time of our visit. This was no hardship as I hadn't even been aware of the castle until I heard it was closed! I've since looked at photos on the internet and it looks very pretty, but a bit too 'stately home' for me - I like my castles as the huge stone defence types, not this (admittedly beautiful) chocolate box building. I'm sure it's a lovely place to look round though, and if we ever visit the museum again we'll no doubt go and have a look.
We spent a good five hours in the National History Museum and all agreed that it had been a good choice of activity. It was an interesting day, I felt I learnt lots about the Welsh culture and how it's been shaped through the centuries - the fact that it's so hands on helps you to really absorb the details. As an adult I was impressed, but I was surprised by how much effort the museum has gone to to engage children. In Oriel 1 there are several points where children can play with masks, colour in pictures of the exhibits or choose from a variety of other fun activities - things like this are so simple to include in an exhibition such as this, but can make all the difference when it comes to capturing the attention of a young child.
The museum is (amazingly) free to visit, although there is a flat Â£3.50 car parking fee. This, in my opinion, is fantastic as we have a similar outdoors museum near where I live which charges an exorbitant entrance fee!
Disabled access is fine to a point. The museum is hilly in parts and the natural landscape means there will be parts that less mobile visitors will not be able to reach, this is a shame but I can understand it as the museum is kept so 'real' that a modern pathway would just spoil the effect they have so cleverly mastered. The same is true for pushchairs, which probably explains why I didn't notice many babies in prams while we were there.
I thoroughly, completely and utterly recommend a visit to the St Fagans National History Museum. It's one of those places that will grab you as soon as you walk in, and you don't even have to be terribly interested in Welsh history to enjoy the walk round. We all loved the day and the atmosphere made it perfect to have a natter as we were walking, away from the distractions present when doing a more modern activity - it made for an ideal family day for us, my only regret is not taking my mum as (as a real history buff) she'd have enjoyed it far more than babysitting our other two children back in Birmingham!
One place that never fails to impress both myself and my family is St Fagans national history museum. It is both an intresting and fun day out for all the family. We often go here for the afternoon, as we all love the general ambience of the place. I am proud to say that this open air museum is situated in Cardiff. which is only a 20 minute drive from my home.
This museum which is a tribute to Wales and its heritage. Was first opened in 1948. However many attractions have been added over the years in order to make it the vast, impressive museum it is today. The museum used to charge entry fees, but now it is free to visitors, which considering its vast grounds and exhibits is somewhat amazing. There is a huge carpark, which you will have to pay for. Last time I went there the car park charges were Â£2. Which again is excellent value. There is two overflow car parks, which do indeed get used on bank holidays. There is also designated disabled parking, which I would recommend using if needed. As one of the overflow car parks is quite a distance from the entrance.
When you walk towards the entrance, There is not much in the way to prepare you for the grand scale of the park behind. The entrance itself is rather unimpressive. There is a customer service area, where you can have any queries answered. There is also a gift shop to both the left and right of the reception area. However I would advise that you leave this shopping until the end of your visit.
All staff are dressed smartly, all are very polite and desperate to help and ensure that you gain the most out of your visit. When You go through the top doors and into the park, you will be struck by how expansive the grounds are. There is so much to see, that you really do become a little overwhelmed. I would strongly suggest that you pick up a free information booklet. This booklet includes a map of the park. It is also worth noting that there are usually little quizes for the little ones in these booklets. This really does encourage the children to take intrest as the questions ask them about certain aspects of the exhibits.
Dotted around the grounds are old buildings. Steeped in Welsh history. These buildings include an old welsh chapel, a farm house, a school, a street of cottages and a courthouse. All these houses allow the public access. It really does give you a sense of how people lived in Wales many years ago. It never fails to stir up patriotic feelings within my veins.
All the stops have been pulled out in order to make the houses as informative and intresting as possible. The smell of smoke from the roaring fires encourage the visitor to take a peak inside the houses. The ornaments and layout of the houses have been re created to exactly how interiors were in bygone days. There is always a museum guide situated in every house. They are very knowledgeable. In high season they will dress in period costume. They often get into character too which further adds to the experience. Last time we visited, there were ladies dressed in traditional welsh costume churning milk into butter. My daughter was able to have a go which she really loved.
In term time, the welsh school within the park can be booked for school trips. The children attending from local schools will be transformed into victorian children for the day. They will be changed into period costumes and taught within the school, by a school master who will give them a true experience of what school was like in victorian times. I think this is truly amazing. What better way to encourage childrens intrest in History, than offering them the opportunity to experience it themselves.
As you walk through the park, you will hear the distinct noise of horses hoofs. As you turn around you will see a horse drawn carriage approaching. These rides run every five minutes throughout peak season. There is an additional charge for this though. It isnt particualrly expensive though, and in my opinion it further adds to the enjoyment of the day.
The farm is also worth a visit, it is still a working farm and inhabits pigs, chickens, ducks and horses. It is quite whiffy though so nose pegs are recommended!! The actual farmhouse is rather huge. Visitors are again encouraged to wander through, taking in the large victorian kitchen with its stove and pantry. There is also a furnished drawing room and study. Plus a rather large bedroom to view, with a massive four poster bed.
Outside the farmhouse, there is a tractor ride, which will take you all around the park. This again is offered at an extra charge. I would warn though that this can work out quite expensive, but agin it is a great experience.
I would recommend that if you intend to stay for the day, you take a packed lunch. There is a cafeteria. But in all honesty, the grounds are so beautiful it would be a shame not too take the oportunity to have a family picnic. If you are looking for a cup of tea and a snack, there is a delicious old fashioned bakery in the museum grounds. They provide tea and coffee and a selection of freshly made welsh cakes and bread. These are in my opinion totally delicious. The waft of the baking bread oozes around the park grounds enticing visitors.
There are a few things I feel I should mention in regards to the park. Firstly there is a heck of a lot of walking. So if you have any problems I would suggest taking a wheelchair. There is excellent disabled facilities in the park. However access to the houses may be some what limited. Also worth noting that in high season the museum does get very crowded, which can cause some congestion in the houses.
Apart from when you are inside the houses, all of the museum is based outdoors. It is also quite open to the elements. Therefore I wouldnt really recommend this museum on a rainy day as you will no doubt get soaked through. If you are not put off by the wet weather then make sure you take waterproofs with you.
Another thing that I feel is important to mention, is that there are not a huge number of toilets in the museum. There are a sufficient amount but they tend to all be in the one area. This can prove quite difficult if you are over the other end of the grounds. So be prepared and take advantage of the toilets when you see them.
The mother and Baby facility is very good. However as far as I remember there is only one in the park. The facility is a very large, comfortable room, with baby changing facilities and soft seating area in order for you to feed baby in comfort.
I could indeed go on for pages, informing you of all the exhibits. But I fear that that this may get boring. What I would state is that It is truly an excellent day out. Offering educational information but provided in a fun and exciting way. The park is very well maintained and the gardens outside the large manor house are beautiful.
I think this museum offers something for every generation. It truly is a fantastic day out and one which I would certainly recommend. It is worth checking before you plan your visit. As on some weekends through out the year they have a wonderful open air, victorian fair ground. This is a fantastic addition to a truly amazing day out.
The park is also very close to Cardiff bay, which hosts a great number of hotels and resteraunts. This is very handy if you are planning to travel from further afield and make a weekend of it.
Park is open from 10am-5pm daily through out the year. Please check the saint fagans website for details of extended opening hours and upcoming events. I really hope I have done this museum justice in this review. As it deserves high praise. It is a brilliant, fun and intresting day out.
One last thing the gift shops are well stocked with a variety of welsh fair from welsh literature and cookery books, to celtic jewellery. There is also the usual museum tit tat such as pencils notebooks and pens for the childen. I have to say though these offerings are very expensive and although very nice to look at can be picked up at a fraction of the price from welsh markets.
St. Fagans National History Museum ( Amgueddfa Cymru), the National
Museum of Wales is a very special and unique place. I speak as an English person, originally from Yorkshire , but I have enjoyed the way that Welsh history is revealed, and brought to life, in a really inspired way here.
Where do I start in writing a review. Well I'll be honest I can't do a fully comprehensive review, St. Fagans is just too big for that. Each building deserves an individual review of its own, plus theres the other attractions, the road train, the horse and trap rides (recommended),the cafe, the bakery, the pottery, the numerous seasonal activities, the indoor museum, the childrens play area.........and that is not all by any means.
One tip. Don't "do" St Fagans ie: Don't arrive at 9am and gallop around it all day, you 'll end up with cultural indigestion, and be really tired.If you live a long way away, ofcourse you will want to see all you can, even then I'd take time, and not expect to see everything.
All I intend to do is give you an incomplete snapshot of my own impressions as a fairly frequent visitor, especially on a Sunday afternoon.
As I live locally I can do this.
There is a bus service to the museum , but assuming you arrive by car, Parking costs around Â£2 50, or you can purchase a season ticket inside,which may be worthwhile if you visit regularly.
You then walk up some shallow steps to the main entrance. As you would hope there is full wheelchair access. Entrance itself is free. On your left as you enter is a well stocked shop ,you may decide to call here on the way out. The shop sells books in Welsh, and about Wales, Welsh products, soaps, textiles, pottery, jewellery, Welsh cakes,and other food and alcohol items, paintings and ornaments, something for everyone, but definitely on the expensive side.
On you right is the "Bardi" cafe. The result of a recent naming competition, this refers not to some eisteddford connection as you would expect, but to the influx of Italian immigrants into Wales, some from Bardi in Italy, who set up many Italian coffee bars within Wales, especially the South Wales valleys.Again, good quality, but rather expensive, there is a nice play corner for young children there by the way. Any way leave your coffee for later, and after collecting a bit of information from reception ,proceed on up the steps. or the parallel passageway if you have a pushchair or wheelchair.
Next you come to the indoor museum on your right. Should it be raining (it is Wales after all) or you want a walk down memory lane, something to explore , good facilities for young children here with colouring, and traditional dress up clothes, can you put on a Welsh shawl--these were still a common sight in the early 1980's in valley areas when I first lived here, said to be very comfy for mothers and babies.Most interesting are some of the wonderful works of art produced by community groups in recent times.
Outside, up a pathway, then you have a choice, left or right? Two very different areas. Usually left wins for me. Because this way leads on to the historic buildngs which have been rescued from dereliction,dismantled, and painstakingly rebuilt, stone, by stone.Never quite as good as seeing the originals in their proper settings but pretty good.On the way you pass by a large field where sheep graze peacefully,on a winters day it is nice to see the smoke rising from the chimney of the thatched building opposite. Apparently in 1992 the thatch caught fire, caused by a spark from some ashes taken outside on a windy day. This is a lovely view bordered by trees. There are several buildings to visit,as you progress through. I am always interested to see the old Toll House from Aberystwyth, as I can remember(just) when it was removed from its original position, due to partially blocking a
The bakery is one of my favourites. I would far rather sit outside here, enjoying a cup of tea from a polystyrene cup in the fresh air than in the cafe. You can see into the bakery, and buy some bara brith (Welsh fruit bread). A loaf from the bakery costs Â£1.90, but is a bit special.Beware of wasps in summer.
There is a row of old cottages shops including Gwalia Stores, as it was and a prefab.There is also a miners institute from Oakwood housing an interesting slide show of its history.
Further on, and you come to one of St. Fagans jewels St. Teilos church.This is displayed in the style of the mid 1500's. During the restoration, some medieval paintings were discovered within the crumbling plaster.These were removed and stored safely, and the paitings copied as faithfully as possible on the new plasterwork.New paintings were also made in the same style. Hundreds of years ago,before most people were able to read and write these paintings would have been used as an aid to prayer,rather than reading from a prayer book. It is such a beautiful building, and would have been lost forever if not moved to St. Fagans.
If your offspring are feeling a little bored, they can visit the pottery, and throw a pot to take home ,very popular.About Â£4.
As I said before, as you enter the grounds of St Fagans you have a choice, left or right. Turn right, and, passing the house of the future, you come to the steep and ornamental gardens surrounding St Fagans Manor house, a fully furnished building, opened to the public in 1948.This used to be owned by the Earl of Plymouth. Incidentally, if you stray outside the grounds, you can visit The Plymouth Arms across the road, a lovely pub with meals.
So, theres much more to discover.Have a nice time when you go!
St Fagans is an open air museum and was opened on 1 July 1948. The museum has over forty original buildings, moved from various parts of Wales and re-erected to show how the people of Wales lived, worked and spent their leisure time over the last five hundred years. The Museum stands in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house which was donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth.
I first visited St. Fagans about 25 years ago as a child. The place had appealed to me and for some time I had wanted to return. The problem is a small matter of 250 miles. So recently, when hubby and I decided to spend a weekend in Wales celebrating our anniversary St Fagans was one of the places we visited.
St Fagans, Cardiff, CF5 6XB.
The Museum is 4 miles from Cardiff City Centre and so easy to reach.
By CarÂ…Follow the signs from junction 33 of the M4 motorway onto the A4232. The Museum entrance is a short way along this road.
By BusÂ…Buses operate between Cardiff Central Bus Station (immediately outside Cardiff Central rail station) and St Fagans throughout the year. Buses Nos. 32 and 320 from Stand B3 to St Fagans at least hourly during the Museum's visiting hours, sometimes more frequently subject to seasonal variations.
Â£2.50 per car per day. No charge is made for disabled badge holders* or motorbikes.
There is also a cycle rack adjacent to the car park for anyone wishing to cycle to the museum.
*Most of the museum is accessible to those in wheelchairs, but some areas such as the castle are up steep hills.
10am - 5pm daily.
Free, Free, Free!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't remember much about my previous visit only how fascinating I found it and how for once I was actually interested in learning some history. But even with these few memories I was eager to visit once again.
Finding it easily and having no problems parking in the large car park, we headed to the entrance. It was not yet open as it had been much quicker to reach than we had expected, but there was plenty to look at and read outside.
Once open we ventured inside. At the time of visiting they were rebuilding the entrance but it didn't seem to be causing any problems. With no entrance fee we walked straight in. You are immediately faced with the gift shop, and a couple of well placed donation boxes. We were happy enough to contribute and did so before continuing to the temporary information desk. Here we purchased a guide book for Â£3. It basically contains information on every building in the museum which can be read outside each building, (In English or Welsh) but it is a nice keepsake and shows pictures that you could never achieve with a camera.
On leaving the rear of this building you enter the museum. There is no set route but as each building is numbered we decided to try and see them in order. Sometimes this meant doubling back on ourselves but at least we knew we had not missed anything out. We deviated slightly as it was raining a little and also there was a wedding reception in the afternoon meaning one of the buildings was to be closed, so we made sure we went there early.
Unfortunately my camera batteries packed up just after we arrived and although we went back to purchase some from the shop, they turned out to be a bad batch. They happily replaced them but as I said it was a bad batch so not wanting to go back again we continued just grateful that we had bought the guidebook to take home.
You can go inside most of the buildings, which is really nice. The exceptions being the smaller ones such as the bee house and the pigsty. In each of these buildings is a member of staff who seemed to be able to answer all questions thrown at them. They varied in age but all seemed to have a very good knowledge of the particular building they were in and were more than happy to chat.
I'm not going to discuss every one of the forty buildings you will be glad to read, but I have picked out my five favourites.
This area is like walking into a real farm as it has all the buildings you would expect. The farmhouse dates from the 19th century but is displayed as a farm in the 1930's with gas lighting and 20th century furniture. It was rebuilt at St fagans in 1989 so was not at the Museum on my first visit. The kitchen is used to demonstrate traditional cooking, using both the coal fired range and the gas oven, but sadly not the day we visited.
There is a small laundry room outside which houses a washing machine and ironing equipment from that period. Other buildings include a barn and lean to that house machinery and horse drawn equipment. A pigsty, a calf pen, a brew house and a farm labourers cottage almost complete the look. But the addition of animals does the trick. The animals themselves aren't from the 19th century but are the breeds that would have been kept at the time. However this didn't stop one of the Geese from chasing my hubby along the lane.
This village consists of three round houses recreated from the Iron Age. There is a stone walled house, a wattle walled house and another house with it's roof supported on posts. All three have a straw roof.
Inside one of the houses it is done out to show how it would have been all those years ago with all the everyday utensils of the Celts. We chatted for some time to the man in here who was even dressed for the part. It was quite fascinating all the things he told us, I just wish my memory was slightly better so I could pass it on. We did wonder how people managed to live in those days, all packed into one room, which was used for sleeping, eating and everyday living, but somehow it also seemed very cosy and amazingly much bigger than I would have expected.
This small rural school was used from 1880 to 1916 in an area not too far away. This was one of the buildings I had remembered from my first visit. I think it was because there were lots of people dressed up and in the playground the sorts of toys that children of that time played with. Sadly these had all gone. It might be that they do this on certain occasions only and we just happened to catch one last time. Another thing I was disappointed about was that before we had been able to wander around the classroom and sit at the various sized desks. This was now not possible as it had been roped off. It also meant you could not look in the display cabinets that housed some very interesting pieces.
~Rhyd-Y-Car Iron Workers' Houses~
This row of terraced houses have been moved from Merthyr Tydfil. They were built around 1800 for the workers in the iron ore mine. There are six hoses here and each has been displayed to illustrate a different period from their history, ranging from 1805 to 1985. I found these houses really fascinating and we spent some time looking around the homes and the small gardens opposite. The funniest thing was the bath in the kitchen which had a very clever piece of worktop over it so that it could be used as a table when not in use. The last house from 1985 was very interesting as suddenly I felt so old. I recognized many of the items from my own childhood and teen years and found it very eerie that things from 'my era' were deemed old enough to be in a museum.
~Aluminum prefab Bungalow~
My mum has often mentioned the prefab house she lived in as a child s I was intrigued to see these. Again the member of staff was happy to give us part of his vast knowledge of the buildings and the type of life those who lived there had. The bungalows date from 1948 and were designed and developed as a way of providing large numbers of houses quickly after the Second World War. The layout of the bungalows reminded me of some of the chalets we used to stay in as a child on holiday camps, and the 1950's look gave me a good insight as to how my mum lived when she was a child.
They were my five favourites but one other building I remember well too. Unlike the others which have been recreated or re erected from other areas of Wales this one was actually built on site and it only six years old.
~The Ty Gwyrdd~
This building is very different from the others in the museum. It was part of a competition to design a house showing how a house in Wales might look in 50 years time. It is as expected, energy efficient, and is built with local materials in a traditional way. Wool is used to insulate the walls. Central heating and hot water is provided by means of an electric ground -source heat pump, which works like a fridge in reverse. The house is practically self sufficient and it would be nice to think that maybe one day we will all live in homes like this.
The museum also includes a chapel and a splendid Workmen's Institute as well as several workshops where craftsmen demonstrate their traditional skills to the public. Their produce is usually on sale.
After walking around the buildings we decided to go and have a look around the castle. The castle is surrounded by large gardens and fishponds. It involves a lot of walking but is really worth it. The Castle itself is a Grade 1 listed building, built in 1580 and remodeled during the nineteenth century.
Not only can you walk around the large rooms used by Lords and Earls over the years but you can also go downstairs and see just what life was like for the servants and maids.
Somewhere in the Castle is a tea room but despite wandering around several times we never found it.
By now we were thoroughly exhausted, as well as wet through and hungry. Fortunately having followed the buildings in order we had done a full circle and were now back at the beginning, the main building.
Not having found the tea room we headed upstairs in the main building to the self service restaurant. After studying the menu we decided to ask exactly what each meal was as the menu contained a lot of Welsh. It turned out the meal we had decided on was simply steak and ale pie. It was just that the name of the ale was in welsh. I think it was about Â£6 for the meal. Not the cheapest, but not the dearest I have come across either. It was however very tasty and we did get a very generous portion.
There is a snack bar also which is just as you leave the main building, but was not open the day we went. There is also a tea room above the stores in the museum, which served traditional welsh cakes and a few other delights.
The Bakery in the museum sold bread and cakes too which have been baked on site.
A special area has been set aside for picnics, which is ideal if you have a young family, or are on a tight budget.
Back in the main building upstairs, there are also large galleries housing exhibitions of costume, daily life and farming implements. Special exhibitions are held at regular intervals.
By now we had no energy left and so missed these out but we hope to go back and see them one day.
Somehow it seemed very different to how I remembered but it was still a great place to go. We are determined to go back, next time with the children as we think it is an excellent way of teaching history. Hopefully it won't be a couple of decades before we return but as the museum is changing daily I am sure there will be lots of new things to see.
The Museum has lots of events throughout the year and celebrates many of the local festivals. Hopefully we will be able to go on one of these days as I think that will really help to make history come alive and will give my children a memory just like I had so that maybe one day in the future they will return with their children. And who knows they may even look at the house of the future and wonder how we ever lived like that!
St Fagans opened on 1 July 1948. Since then, it has established itself as one of Europe's foremost open air museums and become Wales's most popular heritage attraction. The Museum shows how the people of Wales lived, worked and spent their leisure time over the last five hundred years, and over the past fifty years it has inspired generations of visitors with its exploration of Welsh history and tradition. The Museum stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house generously donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth.