At the start of October we took advantage of a rare sunny and unseasonably warm Autumn’s day to visit the National History Museum at St Fagans located just outside Cardiff, South Wales.
St Fagans museum shows the history and buildings of the Welsh people. It is set in a 100 acres of parkland with over 30 historic buildings which have been moved from various parts of Wales and re-erected in the grounds.
Like most of the museums in the UK, admission is free although you do have to pay £5 to park. The carpark ticket machine itself should be a museum exhibit as annoyingly it only accepts the correct change, no notes or change given and definitely no cards.
If you live in South Wales then you probably remember St Fagans Museum from an old school trip and it may not be your best memory. I remember being wet, cold and forced to complete a badly photocopied worksheet.
Luckily things have changed, museums have improved, I am no longer 13 years old and I don’t have to go on school trips in the rain.
At the moment the original visitors centre and galleries are closed as they are undergoing a major improvement courtesy of Heritage Lottery Funding however all the historic buildings, castle and gardens remain open.
St Fagans museum is a great day out for kids and adults. There are play areas, animals and activities for kids as well as historical houses and vintage shops which will prompt the older members of your party to keep saying – ‘I remember that‘, ‘I remember this‘. However, it was quite funny to see our kitchen units in an exhibit of an old ironworkers house adding much weight to Mrs W’s argument that we need a new kitchen!
The unexpected interior of St Teilo’s church, the rediscovered and restored 15th Century wall paintings which were limewashed over during the Reformation.
You are allowed in to wander around most of the buildings and you can really immerse yourself in the atmospheric surroundings. Open fires, clay and mud walls and low ceilings so watch your head. Fortunately, apart from the wood fires, you don’t get the smells of the 18th century and luckily there’s not much chance of getting smallpox or cholera.
As well as the buildings and gardens there are also many special events at St Fagans such as a food market, ghost walk and even ‘Burning the Wicker Man’ which I hope is a little less sinister than the 1973 film, I don’t really fancy reenacting the Edward Woodward role!
St Fagans National History Museum is easy to get to, it’s just off junction 33 of the M4 and only 4 miles from Cardiff. So if you’re visiting Wales, it’s definitely worth a trip or if like us, you haven’t been for years then give it another go and rediscover what’s on your doorstep. If you have kids it’s also worth checking out these top free family-friendly places in South Wales.
Are there attractions on your doorstep that you have recently rediscovered?