Crediton & District

St Fagans

Visit to St Fagan’s open-air museum 6th September, 2017

History & Local History Group and Churches & Historic Buildings Visiting Group

The weather was excellent and got better as time went on. Everyone was on time at every critical point, which made my job a lot easier. Our driver, Wesley, must be about the best locally available – we arrived early both in getting to Cardiff and in returning home to Crediton.

I think all of us found the museum fascinating. The diversity of buildings gathered on a 100 acre site is incredible, from a circular pigsty to a dovecote, a cockpit to smithy together with cottages, sawmills, farmhouses, churches, a school & a castle There are almost 50 of them; most of them furnished as they would have been at the time of their construction staffed by knowledgeable attendants. We found it impossible to see everything in the 5 hours available to us and most of us were dog-tired by the end of the day. Wesley got us back to Crediton by 7.30pm – allowing most of us to get home in the light. I have already had quite a number of requests for a return visit.

The two buildings that I found most interesting were
i) the C12th or C13th St Teilo’s church (originally in Tal y Bont, Glamorgan) which has been redecorated as it would have been just before the Reformation. The resident guide was incredibly knowledgeable about everything contained in it.

ii) the line of cottages from Myrthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan built in 1795. The six houses have been displayed at different periods of their history, namely 1805, 1855, 1895, 1925, 1955 and 1985. In this way the changes in the buildings, their contents and their gardens can be shown.

There is quite a bit of ongoing work at the museum, but the big – and very impressive – visitor centre, seems to have been completed. It was interesting to compare St Fagan’s with another open air museum – Beamish in County Durham. They are very different places., Beamish has a lot more concentrations of buildings in the form of complete streets, but St Fagan’s has more diversity. Beamish has a lot more staff visible – mostly dressed in periodic costume. The biggest difference between the two places as that Beamish costs £19 per adult visitor and St Fagan’s is absolutely free.

Keith Barker

Photos courtesy of Keith Barker, Anne Logan and Geoff Mangan