A medieval house, Hafoty, on the island of Anglesey, is a house within a house. The home, built at the end of the 14th century, was originally built of timber but was later covered in stone. Cadw (Welsh Historic Monuments) set to work to discover what the site was about, and, at the same time, restore and repair the building.
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The home was a timber framed T-shaped building, but over the centuries the timber warped and twisted—probably green lumber was used in the building. To solve the problem the owners at the time simply covered the timber in stone. In the 16th century a stone west wing addition gave the house the plan of the letter H. At the same time a carved stone fireplace was added that included the Bulkeley family crest—a Saracen and bull’s head—and their motto that reads “If God is for you who is against you.”
Like all old houses this one reflects the changes of the years, with windows and doors replacing each other or being blocked. Medieval roof timbers are protected by a slate roof. New timber flooring was installed, and, most interestingly, stainless steel plates were inserted into timber to make it strong and still retain the original appearance of the home.
A lost medieval home, Ty Mawr at Castle Caereinion, is another reclaimed discovery. The 15th century home was hidden inside a dilapidated brick barn on the Powis estate by Welshpool. The home is considered a rare example of a medieval aisled hall house. Its importance is reflected in the fact that it won the ‘Building of the Year’ award from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, beating out the Tate Modern. It is a listed Grade I building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The 12th century medieval abbey church of Ewenny Priory is a living church today, divided into the fully functioning parish church and the old abbey church—the eastern part is in the care of Cadw while the nave and western bay area serves as the church for the local people.
The church was part of a Benedictine priory of 10-15 monks. It was described as “perhaps the best specimen of a fortified ecclesiastical building”. The interior, built in Norman times, has massive piers and square-edged arches. The font dates from Saxon times. The church saw much renovation and many changes from Tudor times through the 19th century. Its interior recently underwent more work: roofing the western bay, reopening an 18th century doorway, new windows and furniture, and the restoration of medieval and 18th century plasters.
Hafoty is near Llansadwrn by Beaumaris. It is managed by Cadw.
St Quentin’s Castle is managed by Cadw. It is open 10-4pm.
Ty Mawr is at Castle Caereinion on the B4385 near Welshpool.
Ewenny Priory Church is in the village of Ewenny, off the A48 just south of Brigend. Services Sunday 9:30am. Check locally for any music nights
Ewenny Priory Church interior photo courtesy of Cadw
Ewenny Priory Church exterior courtesy The Parish of Ewenny