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Unique celebration of Welsh History
St Fagans National History Museum (Cardiff)
Member Name: pencoedcharlie
St Fagans National History Museum (Cardiff)
Advantages: Loads to experience
Disadvantages: Too much for one visit
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 £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 £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 £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!
Summary: Welsh National Museum has loads to see and do
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