Tuesday, 10 May 2011
Tŷ-mawr, Wybrnant, Penmachno, Caernarfonshire
The Wybrnant valley feels as remote as it is possible to get in Wales today, yet in the sixteenth century it was on a main drovers’ road from Llŷn through Dolwyddelan and on to the cattle markets across the border. Famous as the birthplace in 1545 of William Morgan (the first translator of the whole Bible into Welsh), it is equally important as a well-preserved and restored sixteenth-century Snowdonian House. The name (Tŷ-mawr or ‘Great House’) suggests that this was no ordinary farm in its day. It is considered to have been home to a wealthy farming family.
What is interesting here is that a former hall (from William Morgan’s time) was modified to create a building that externally at least follows the classic ‘Snowdonian house’ pattern. This shows the strong appeal of the new kind of storeyed house that was being built locally by the middle classes, and that even existing homes were modified to conform to the latest fashion.
Little remains of the early hall aside from two cruck fragments in the east wall and the lower section of stonework, and the hall was remodelled in the later sixteenth century or possibly early seventeenth century. The new plan followed the Snowdonian house pattern with fireplaces in the gable-end walls rather than in the middle of the house, as was then common on the Welsh borders. It lacks a stone mural stair, a feature still seen in some of the neighbouring properties in Penmachno, and a ladder stair was probably used to reach the new first-floor chambers. The National Trust restored the property in 1988 to mark the fourth centenary of the Welsh Bible, stripping out many nineteenth- and twentieth-century alterations and creating the simple interior seen today.
Peter Smith, National Trust Guide to Tŷ-mawr.
Houses of the Welsh Countryside
By Richard Suggett, Greg Stevenson, 2010
Thanks are due to Fflic and See3D.
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