Over the past 5 years, a huge £30 million project has been underway to refurbish St Fagans Museum of History, Wales’ most popular heritage site. The 14th July 2017 has marked the next step of this monumental redevelopment- the opening of the brand new main building and shop.
Some of you may know that Valley Mill supplies Welsh slate, soy wax candles and natural soaps to over 100 stores up and down the UK, and we are really pleased to add St Fagans to that list. You can now find a range of our Soy Wax candles in the museum’s brand new shop; so we decided to go the opening of the new shop and have a look around.
Having never visited St Fagans before (I know, shocking isn’t it!), I was really excited to visit the museum and see what it had in store for me. Wales’ history thrives on its traditions, heritage and culture, so I knew that a place that celebrates and embodies what makes Wales so great would not disappoint.
The main aim of their exciting redevelopment project is for the museum to be able to extend the timeline of their stories; to tell the story of the earliest humans in Wales to the present day. A huge amount of support has been given to this project, with the majority of the funding coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Welsh Government, with that hope that it will have a huge impact on tourism and other related industries in Wales. Work began in 2014 on the Main Building and the new Gweithdy building; an eco-friendly hub of creativity, designed to hold exhibitions, workshops and performances. On my way around the site, there were a number of brand new buildings being constructed and this, along with conservation of current buildings and the land they sit in, is planned to continue until 2018.
You can find out more about the amazing plans here.
Entering St Fagans…
The front of the museum seems very unassuming and modest, so I was really surprised by the size of the new atrium. Even though the museum celebrates the history of Wales, the main building is very contemporary; filled with research and exhibition spaces, and the new shop and cafe.
Obviously seeing our Soy Wax Candles in the new shop was one of the main reasons for my visit to the museum so that was my first stop. The shop is light and open, and bursting at the seams with products that are all made in Wales. You can find our candles in amongst a huge variety of different products, including food and drink, traditional Welsh throws and love spoons, jewellery and much much more!
I had the chance to speak to a few members of staff in the shop about our candles and they are already love them- so much so that one of the ladies has already bought a Hoffi Coffi candle! You can currently find our Cwtch, Cariad, Hoffi Coffi candles in store and we really hope that this range will expand over the next few weeks.
The Perfect Family Day Out…
A trip to St Fagans is the perfect way to entertain your children during the school holidays, as you can get them outdoors and learning in a relaxed and fun environment. Something that I wasn’t expecting is that dogs are allowed in the museum, which makes it a great day out for the whole family- including your four-legged friends.
Entrance to the museum is free and it is open from 10am until 5pm. I arrived at around 10am and spent about 4 hours exploring all of historic buildings, starting at St Fagans Castle and its beautiful gardens. I definitely could have spent all day there but this blog post wasn’t going to write itself!
It’s incredible to think about the amount of work that has gone into creating St Fagans. The majority of the buildings have been very carefully deconstructed in the original location and relocated to the 100 acres of land at the museum, for us all to peruse and enjoy.
From the oldest building and definitely one of my favourites, St Teilo’s Church (built in the 12th Century), to the village shops from the early 20th Century, we are given an incredible insight into the way Welsh people have lived for the last 900 years.
Each building has an amazing backstory, detailed on signs around the museum. Some of the buildings even have these helpful info cards for you to take around with you- a lovely touch to get the kids involved.
With the museum being outdoors, another interesting thing that I noticed about St Fagans is the amount of animals I saw. Some, like the Farm animals, are part of story of how, in Celtic times (and even now), Welsh people have thrived by farming and living off of the land. However, there is a lot of wildlife for the whole family to enjoy watching, including these beautiful cranes.
It is only £5 to park all day, which seems really reasonable (make sure to take all of that loose change you have lying around the house though, as the ticket machines only accept coins).
As I walked into the atrium I decided to buy a map and visitor guide, to help make the most of my day there. The map is only 50p and definitely handy to have to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the amazing buildings. The museum covers a huge area in the grounds of St Fagans Castle and the map helped me plan my day better.
The visitor guide is £4 and, although not essential, was very useful. The visitor guide has information about each exhibit, meaning that you read can about each building in your own time and take your time exploring the museum. It also has some really helpful information about all of the facilities that are available at the museum including where to buy food, where the First Aid points are and the locations of all of the small shops.
There are plenty of places to stop for food, from the new cafe for a good hearty meal, or the Gwalia Tea Rooms for a light lunch. There also plenty of picnic areas in beautiful spots in the grounds to enjoy a packed lunch.
All-in-all, I had a wonderful day exploring St Fagans Museum of History, and can just imagine how a lovely a day with the whole family there would be; I would definitely go again with my nieces and nephews! I highly recommend it as a summer holiday day-out. If you decide to venture there, enjoy! And don’t forget to find our Soy Wax candles in the shop on your way out!