Europe Tradition Travelling United Kingdom

St Fagans: a Slice of Welsh Life

St Fagans National History Museum stands in the shadow of Cardiff’s Millennium stadium, and is only a stone’s throw from the uber-trendy Mermaid Quay bay area. It is a gem of a museum chronicling Welsh Life through the ages.

Thatched exhibits at the museum

A complete Welsh village, St Fagans comprises of original buildings dating back through the centuries. Many of the buildings were transported from around Wales and rebuilt brick-by-brick. The museum features houses, farmland, a school, chapel, post-office. In addition, there’s an on-site bakery selling freshly baked bread, scones, and Bara Brith, a traditional Welsh bread.

One of two on-site chapels

What to do inside St Fagans

Once inside the grounds, visitors can see the museum, the St Fagans castle, the restaurant and a gift shop. Costumed craftspeople demonstrate their trade – be it farming, wool-making, pottery, or glass-blowing.

St fagans
Celebrating May Day in traditional Welsh costume 
May Day exhibition – a man in a dress is always a good lark
May Day exhibitions

Each building has a story to tell, such as the 17th Century farmhouse that is painted terracotta red to ward off evil spirits. If you have been particularly badly behaved you might be scolded by a severe-looking Victorian school ma’am in the school house. Or you may prefer to find some peace and quiet inside the chapel, or buy some welsh cheese in the traditional village store. One of my favourite parts of the museum is a row of terraced houses, chronologically depicting different ages of Welsh life, and with each house featuring a respective garden.

Inside a 19th century farmhouse
A house from the 80s. I love the fish and chip dinner in front of the TV!

Once you have visited the main buildings and exhibits you might wish to look around the beautiful grounds of the 16th century castle and gardens. More a manor house than a castle, the building was donated by the Earl of Plymouth.

The grounds of the castle

As Cardiff is popular with tourists, St Fagans National History Museum is an attraction worth visiting if you are in the area. Visiting the museum takes at least a few hours, but it is possible to spend much longer onsite.

The museum has free entrance (although there is a small charge for the car-park) and is suitable for the whole family, with wide pathways providing easy access for prams or wheelchairs, and with plenty of activities provided throughout the year.

If you have time to plan your trip then you should check the What’s On section of the website so that you can attend special events, such as the May Day festival, food festivals, or the outdoor Everyman Theatre Shakespeare performance.

Wandering through a daisy-strewn meadow

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the museum so please leave a comment below. Have you been to the museum? Do you like visiting museums?

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2 Comments

  1. Jordan says:

    How quaint! I love Wales and their enormous place names. Did you ever pick up any Welsh?

  2. I know, isn’t it cute? No, I wasn’t really in Wales long enough and as it’s not particularly widely spoken (i.e. not even my Welsh friends can speak it) I decided not to bother 🙂

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