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Monument to Welsh life

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 04, 2013

attraction  Kennexstone farmhouse was rebuilt at St Fagan's.

attraction Kennexstone farmhouse was rebuilt at St Fagan's.

UNTIL 62 years ago Kennexstone farmhouse in north-west Gower stood where the road from Llangennith joins the road to Llanmadoc.

In 1946 the Earl of Plymouth donated St Fagan's Castle near Cardiff, along with its garden and grounds, to the National Museum of Wales. Director Dr Iorwerth Peate envisioned an open-air Welsh folk museum there, like those he had seen in Scandanavia, with a building from each of the old counties of Wales.

The building to come from Glamorgan would be Kennexstone farmhouse. In 1950 Dr Peate visited the Rogers family in Gower, and arranged to transfer their large stone-built farmhouse to St Fagan's.

The farmhouse had been built in three stages: in 1610 a single room on the ground floor with a bedroom above, to which was later added a large kitchen with a staircase leading to the upstairs sleeping area, with in the 1750s the addition of a back kitchen with a store-room above. Downstairs the box-bed by the fire was a particular feature of Gower homes.

The Welsh committee of the 1951 Festival of Britain awarded a grant to assist with the cost. A team of surveyors and builders stayed at the King's Head in Llangennith, numbering every stone and piece of timber as the building was dismantled. It took 38 lorry loads to move the farmhouse from Gower to St Fagan's in 1951. Much skilled work was needed — to re-build the thatched roof required the expertise of a thatcher from Cardigan. The farmhouse was re-built, and furnished in a style from 1790, with the exterior painted red — customary at that time to protect the building and the occupants from evil spirits. A red-berried rowan tree was planted in the garden for the same reason.

When complete, Kennexstone farmhouse became in 1955 the fourth building to be opened to the public at what was then the Welsh Folk Museum (now known as the Museum of Welsh Life).

The barns that originally adjoined the farmhouse may yet be moved to St Fagan's, to take their places among forty buildings at the Museum of Welsh Life.