First-time buyer 'excited' to discover her home is an old abbey

Moving into your first home can be a busy time, especially if the place needs a bit of sprucing up.

But Kirsten Markham got a bit more than she bargained for from her house in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, when she discovered it was actually a former abbey.

The 23-year-old realised something was up when she started renovations at the empty property in the town, appropriately located on Abbey Street.

"I started uncovering amazing features, and so much history," she said. "So that's when the journey began. It was amazing to discover a house with a story."

Things took an unexpected turn when a neighbour suggested the terraced house might once have served a religious purpose.

"The neighbour came over and started talking about the cellar," she explained.

"The first thing people would say was it was an abbey, but I couldn't find a lot of history on the house and the street itself. So it's very hard to to sort of determine what it actually was.

"But now the house is fully stripped, you can see all of the lovely old features and the history."

Kirsten was intrigued to learn about her home's past

Keith Evans, of the Kidwelly History Society, says the building may date back to the 12th century.

"We think this site would have been agricultural to start off with, used by the church for growing crops, sheep, having cattle and dairy," he said.

"And then over the centuries, from around about 1110 to when it closed in 1544 under Henry VIII, buildings like this would have gone up with different uses, perhaps for storage."

Local historians think Kirsten's experience could be the tip of the iceberg, with much more undiscovered history in Carmarthenshire and beyond.

"There's a lot of archaeological work that hasn't been done in Kidwelly, and yet Kidwelly is one of the principal mediaeval settlements for Wales," added Mr Evans.

"We would hope that Kirsten's experience would encourage other local people to have a look at the structures that lie behind years of different alterations [to their homes].

"We just hope that events like this will encourage people across the whole of Wales to start looking into the history of their own communities."

Local historians think the original building dates back to the 12th century

For now, though, Kirsten is just looking forward to uncovering more of the unique secrets of her new home.

"I'd say don't be scared - just jump in," she added.

"I would definitely encourage buying a house like this that has history and just stripping it and working with what you have.

"Now I can begin to start discovering more history about the house, and I'm really excited about that."