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Penarth Fawr Medieval House (North Wales)

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15th Century medieval house situated in Northern Wales

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      08.11.2010 22:13
      Very helpful



      Use your own imagination!

      Every year we go on holiday to a little village called pwllheli in Wales. If you have read my latest review on St Cybi's well you will know I am a lover of British and welsh history and the beautiful and delectable settings that they were placed upon, or in some cases placed around. It was on our very first holiday to pwllheli several years ago that we discovered the medieval house.

      As far as I know there are no leaflets or pamphlets describing the house or giving you directions. There are a few maps on the internet but again nothing that gives any in depth description of what the medieval house is. Lucky for us it was sign posted very near to the place we were staying and after a ten/fifteen minute drive down a country road we found it.

      It's very secluded and after being there several times, only once or twice has there been anybody else there. It is one of those places that is ideal to visit alone or within your own group. It's only a small building and it can be a little awkward if there are other people there as well. Driving down the narrow road and into the valley I couldn't help but feel exited! The house really is in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't help but feel that this was to preserve the history of the place. I mean I certainly wouldn't have enjoyed my experience if there were three story new builds built all around it. Luckily this place and a lot of other places in Wales are just clean, un-tampered country side, in my opinion just like everywhere else should be.

      The house was built in the 1450s but was restored in 1937. A lot of the original features are still in place and it was made from local stones and timber. The house was built by Madoc of Penarth as a hall house, to a design known as aisled truss. The house in terms of royally is far too none. The house doesn't represent how a famous or well off person would have lived, it is a typical welsh house for the 1450s and represents how a normal (middle class) family would have lived.

      When you arrive there is a little car park, and I mean little, we had to take up 3 spaces as our car was hanging onto the road. The first thing I noticed was that there were several buildings and I was unsure as to which was the medieval house. I was expecting ruins or at least an old abandoned looking building but what I found was neither. It is an absolutely stunning building and from the outside could be passed as being a working house. The house has a little garden situated to the front and is boxed of with a wall going all around the side of the house and a little iron gate at the front.

      Opening the gate, there is a little path leading to an old and original door which appears to be made from timber. The door its self is beautiful and I was excited when opening the large iron handle which was oversized for my hand, but then the door was oversized for the little house, creating a feel of the house perhaps being grander than expected. Once inside you then come to appreciate the not grand feel of the place. Despite being absolutely breath taking with the extremely high ceilings, original beams and fireplace the house just does not seem like a place where somebody who considered themselves higher, powerful and richer than others would live.

      Don't get me wrong, I would move in any day, but it's not somewhere you would perhaps see a lord living. The house consists only of one room, and a balcony type second floor. There is a wooden set of ladders taking you up to the second floor, all of which is visible from the ground floor, this is basically a wooden platform and I found it hard to imagine what anybody would use that space for. Whether there were beds or chairs, whatever, I couldn't help but cringe upon how unsafe it is. There is no rail or guard I could imagine waking up at night and walking the wrong way to the stairs, in all agreement it would be a quicker way down, but yet not so advised!

      The house is completely bare, nothing but the features attached to the house in some way remains. There is a huge fire place, again another feature to big for the small houses proportions. I can imagine why it's built to a large size however as the ceilings are incredibly high and I would assume that it would take a lot of heat to warm that house. I can also guess that the cooking would have been done over the fire in those days. There is a wooden beam attached to the floor of the house, this I don't know what the purpose is but it does provide a very pretty site, as does the whole house and everything in it.

      When we first visited the house there was a beautifully, very intricately carved wooden bird which was centre piece on the far end of the second floor. This I believe was an original artefact which was created when the house was first built. Unfortunately upon my last visit this was no longer there, I don't know if it has been removed permanently of has been taken away for maintenance, I am hoping the latter as this was the main feature of the house (and also a great, posing for pictures place!) apart from the large windows and extra large window ledges there is nothing else in the house. There is a basement which has stone steps leading down, you can access this if you like, there is nothing stopping you but it looks as though it is used as storage as there are stacks of tables of chairs and plus the fact there is no light down there left me running for the door. The flooring of the house is stone slabs which look like they could be part of the refurb that took place in the early 1930s. Apart from that there is nothing much, which is obvious to be new to the building. None of the original features look disturbed by the arrival of these new materials and it is done very cleverly as its not recognisable.

      All in all the house is not the most exciting place and you have to really enjoy your history to be able to take anything away from this house. The beauty is within and you really have to feel the history of the place. Me and my partner would sit there for ages trying to figure out what type of people would have lived in the house, what furniture they would have had, where it would have been placed etc. We really enjoy going there for more than what you can look at, as there isn't much. We enjoy it for the fact that it is simple, it is beautiful, it is mysterious and most of all we can imagine for ourselves what it would have looked like rather then somebody shoving replica furniture inside and charging you a fortune to see it!

      The house is free to access and wheelchair users are able to access the majority of the house but not the upper floor but that is visible from the ground floor anyway. The place does not have official opening and closing times but every time I have visited, in the day and early evening it has been open. You are free to look as you wish, there are no staff and you are allowed to take pictures as you wish. It is very highly advisable not to let children on the upper floor unsupervised and I would also advice anybody who goes up there to be cautious of where they are standing. I had a bout of vertigo the one and only time I have been up there and would not go up there again! My partner took our daughter up there and I almost had a heart attack watching from the bottom floor despite her having rains on and daddy having a tight grip, I couldn't help but feel anxious.

      On coming out of the house (or going in) there are several outbuildings to the side. One of them is a sort of gift shop. It has only ever been open once when we have visited and does not contain a lot of things. It mainly consists of locally made pottery and decorative ceramics. We went in there in the hopes to buy a drink but they don't do anything like that. As we were the only ones in the shop and the sales woman watching our every move we couldn't help but feel pressured into buying something. A useless ceramic pot later, we vowed never to go in there again as it has a very eerie feel, it's like the size of a toilet cubical and is very darkly lit, despite it going with the medieval theme it didn't half freak me out. Luckily it wasn't open on any of our other visits. I would highly recommend going to visit the medieval house, it's not something to go out of your way for but if you are in the surrounding areas I would definitely recommend you give it a visit. Possibly missing out the gift shop though! It's well worth a look!


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