Scolton Museum, Country Park and 19th-20th century Manor House make for a great morning or afternoon out. For those interested in ‘green’ issues there is an interesting visitor centre with exhibits full of information on the issues. Unfortunately, because it was pouring in torrents, I didn’t get a chance to walk on the nature trails or enjoy the picnic I had planned. I did thoroughly enjoy the rest of the attractions.
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The house isn’t a fancy one, which makes it more interesting as it shows the way of life of an ordinary gentry family, and it is authentic. The house, built in 1842, is an excellent indication of the cultural level of a country squire. The house belonged to the Higgon family whose estate was considered modest in Victorian times. Three of the four floors are open for touring, showing off eleven period rooms. A stone flagged outer hall leads into the inner hall with a cantilevered stone staircase and, from there, into a drawing room, library, and dining room. The butler’s pantry, servants’ hall, kitchen and scullery are all close at hand on this floor.
In the hall look for the portrait of the last Higgon family member to own Scolton, Lt Col John Henry Higgon, who lived here until 1972. There’s a wonderful hall stand in the entrance hall, used for hats, coats, umbrellas and walking sticks. The drawing room was always the finest in any Victorian house as it is where entertaining took place. For those interested in Arts and Crafts décor, the writing desk, made in 1892, is of special interest. The library was the room the family actually lived in during the day. There is a magnificent mahogany press cupboard with secretaire in this room, a piece original to the house. Also in this room is a horse’s hoof that has been made into a tobacco pouch. The dining room contains Chippendale-style mahogany chairs and a George III bow-fronted mahogany corner cupboard.
In the Butler’s pantry look for the wooden circular drum on the table. It’s a knife-cleaning machine. The kitchen at Scolton has a large dresser, original to the house. Narrow shelves hold crockery and copper, and hooks held jugs. Drawers stored other kitchen utensils and equipment. There’s a strange looking object on the shelf above the fireplace. It is a bottle-jack, what was used at the time instead of a meat thermometer to check if the meat was done. In the scullery is an early vacuum cleaner. There’s a wine cellar, larders, and a laundry room (look for the box mangle).
Upstairs a nanny’s room, bedroom and day nursery complete the picture. My favourite display was a room filled with every conceivable kind of iron, a different one seemingly used for each part of a garment: an Italian iron for collars and ruffs, a glossing iron to polish hard starched shirt fronts, a hatter’s iron for the brim of hats, tailor’s irons with twist handles to press seams flat, square irons to iron the baize on billiard tables, and many more. There are changing costume displays in the upstairs rooms.
The excellent museum, in a separate building, has information on the Pembrokeshire landscape and videos on railroads, coracle fishing, and much more. The exhibitions highlight early industries of the area, including butter making, leather working, and fashioning corn dollies. There is an archaeology gallery and a coal mining interactive section. Farm machinery—from hand hoes and scythes to 1938 tractors—and a World War II exhibition are just part of what’s available in this fascinating museum.
The Stables house a carpenter and wheelwright’s workshop, a blacksmith’s forge, and a stable. There’s a collection of carts and a restored locomotive. The restaurant on the site had some of the most reasonable prices for good food that I found anywhere in Pembrokeshire. All in all, there was something of interest to everyone and every age at Scolton Country Park.
Scolton Country Park is on the B4329 Cardigan Rd, 5 miles north of Haverfordwest
Tel. 0 1437 731 457
Open: park, daily except Dec 25,26; April-Oct, 9am-6pm; Nov-March, 9am-4:30pm; manor house and museum, April-Oct, daily, 10.30am-5.30pm
Woodland Centre; children’s play area; maze; picnic area; parking; garden centre; gift shop; special events