Tudor house rebuilt brick-by-brick opens at St Fagans

Exterior of Tudor trader's house
The medieval building was dismantled 30 years ago by a team of young apprentices. The same men have reconstructed the house Photo: St Fagans

A medieval house from Haverfordwest will be officially opened to the public today at St Fagans National History Museum.

Visitors will see re-enactors use traditional skills to cook the first meal on the hearth since the building was rebuilt brick-by-brick.

The house has been brought back to life after it was first dismantled 30 years ago by a team of young apprentices.

The very same men have now recreated it, and visitors will be able to see it furnished as it would have been around 1580, experiencing what it would have been like to live and work in a Tudor trader's house.

This is only the second building from Pembrokeshire to have been rebuilt at the museum and follows the opening last year of the clogmakers' workshop from Ysgeifiog near Solva.

Interior of Tudor trader's house
Replica items have been used to furnish the house to show how it may have looked around 1580 Credit: St Fagans

The house was originally built against a steep wooded bank behind Quay Street in Haverfordwest, and its proximity to the old quayside suggests that it may have been the home of a trader.

Its construction, with a vaulted undercroft, is reminiscent of the solid castle-building techniques found in domestic structures in many parts of Pembrokeshire at that time.

The owner probably bought and sold goods, which were traded in the busy port town of Haverfordwest. The occupants lived upstairs where there was a single room, with an open fireplace at one end. A small croglofft (half-loft) provided sleeping accommodation. Next to the fireplace was a garderobe (toilet) which discharged into a gutter outside the building. The vaulted ground floor was used a store, where valuable goods such as corn, wool, hides, salt, fish, soap, cheese or casks of wine were kept before being sold.

Replica items have been used to furnish the house to show how it may have looked about 1580, by which time goods were being traded to and from Bristol and the West Country as well as along the Welsh coast, Brittany, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal and north America. During the Elizabethan period, Haverfordwest was a bustling cosmopolitan settlement which George Owen reckoned (in 1603) was the second most important trading centre in Wales.

It is a wonderful addition to the original buildings from different historical periods which have been re-erected here at the Museum. Visitors can learn more about the historical context of this wonderful building and see how the Tudors managed to navigate the oceans and bring new goods and ideas into Wales from Europe and beyond.

– Gerallt Nash, Senior Curator, St Fagans: National History Museum