Llancaiach Fawr Manor was built c1550 on the site of a medieval dwelling and is now a living history museum.
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It was designed as a Tudor semi-fortified manor house. Four foot thick grey stone walls, only one entrance, small ground floor windows, narrow staircases, and sturdy internal wooden doors helped make it a secure building.
The eastern section could be closed off from the rest of the house, making it more easily defended. The house has three main floors, attics, and a cellar below the rear wing. During the 1980s restoration the white tower attached to the rear of the house was given a new staircase and lift to provide safe access to the restored attics. The slate roof was also restored.
The builders, the Prichard family, became prosperous over the next century and made improvements including the oak panelling in the parlour and, in 1628, a grand staircase. Various passages and stairways were walled up over a number of years. The furniture is reproduction, authentic to the times.
King Charles I visited the manor in August, 1645 during the English civil war. After his visit Prichard decided to change sides in the war and fought for the Parliamentarians.
Guides in period costumes play the servants of owner Colonel Edward Prichard and even speak in the 17th century style. These servants include the Colonelís valet, footman, and housekeeper. From the entry porch a tour leads into the flagstone paved ground floor with its servant hall and kitchen. From there visitors go to the panelled great hall and parlour (with 1628 cast-iron fireback), stewardís apartment, bedchambers, study, and cheese room.
The gardens are designed in the 16-17th centuries style with a pond, knot garden, walk, orchard, and vegetable garden.
Candlelight ghost tours are on offer. Strange sightings, touchings, sounds, and smells have been reported in all the manor rooms. There are ongoing events and special exhibitions throughout the year.
An exhibition is located in the visitor centre. Objects uncovered during restoration are on show and include those found under floorboards. Visitors can try on the Colonelís armour, and children can play dress-up in period costumes. They can also experience authentic crafts or try their hand at some kitchen tasks.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Nelson, Caerphilly (directions on website)
Off the B4254, south of Merthyr Tydfil
Cardiff, Coast and Valleys of South Wales
Tel. 0 1443 412 248
Open: Jan-Christmas, daily, 10am-5pm (closed Dec. 24-Jan 3)
Candlelight ghost tour: lasts approximately 1Ĺ hours. Price - £16.50 per person; time is most Friday and Saturday evenings at 7pm and 8.30pm
Web: Llancaiach Fawr Manor
Restaurant; shop; visitor centre; education block; parking
Photos (no interior ones allowed):
Guides and house exterior courtesy Visit Wales
Other photos courtesy Geograph UK as follows:
LF Manor white tower, garden, and visitor centre by MJ Roscoe