Amgueddfa Cymru – Sain Ffagan / St Fagans National Museum

Where is the museum?

St Fagans National History Museum of Wales is located on the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom. It is known locally as St Fagans and it is the first museum I ever visited. I have such fond memories of visits to the museum as a child in the 1980s. We had a yearly family pass before all the National Museums in Wales became free entry!! Money was tight especially growing up as one of four children and it was the one thing my mother invested in each year so we could visit anytime. Visits mum would say were a godsend.

The Tollhouse – built in 1771 and originally from Penparcau, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion (Cardiganshire) St Fagans, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales (since 1962).
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker
Inside St Fagan's Tollhouse
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker

We loved to visit the old galleries, especially the textile gallery with its cool air and dark layout and we would spend hours exploring the historic buildings. With the appearance of each new additional building the site has grown and it still continues to grow today. It makes for a wonderful visit, as a solo traveller, as a couple or with family young or old. It is also a great place for school visits and many schools visit from home and abroad. There really is something for everyone to experience and enjoy.

What is St Fagans Museum?

St Fagans is a large outdoor site with many different historic buildings from across Wales dotted around its grounds. Every one of the historic buildings has been saved to tell the story of Welsh life, many have been moved brick by brick to their new location. The nostalgic interiors are evocative of times gone by and furnished in detail to represent the time period in which they were in use. You can step back into the past and explore the buildings inside and out. There is a Blacksmith, Wool Weaver, Baker and Leatherworker that work on-site in a traditional setting and farms and domestic homes from across the eras. There is a Victorian school house, Medieval church, Unitarian chapel, Gwalia stores and the impressive St Fagans Castle plus many more. Earlier recreations include the 13th century - Llys Llywelyn, a Royal Court of the Princes of Gwynedd and a replica Iron Age Village.

St Teilo’s Church – built 1200s-1500s and originally from Llandeilo Tal-y-bont now at St Fagans, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales (since 2007)
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker
Pen-Rhiw Unitarian Chapel – built in 1777 and originally from Dre-fach Felindre now at St Fagans, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales (since 1956)
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker
Inside Pen-Rhiw Chapel
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker
Prefab House – built 1947 and originally from Llandinam Crescent, Cardiff now at St Fagans, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales (since 2001)
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker

The main 1970s building (pictured at top) has recently been refurbished to house new galleries and a new crafts gallery built elsewhere on the outdoor site. Indoor exhibition galleries tell the story of Wales and Welsh Life from the prehistoric through to the present day. My favourite objects include early archaeological material from various sites around Wales, the 1915 fish chip fryer, a 1950s Caravan plus so much more. My favourite gallery is the new craft gallery dedicated to traditional crafts used in Wales to make beautiful functional everyday items both historically and now.

When did it become St Fagans Museum?

In 1946 St Fagans Castle along with 18 acres of land was donated by the Earl of Plymouth to the National Museum of Wales. The site became an open-air museum incorporating the castle and first opened to the public on the 1st of July 1948.

St Fagans Castle – built in the 16th century it formed the foundation for the Mus photograph by Heritage Hiker eum of Welsh Life – St Fagans in the 1940s.
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker
St Fagan's castle garden
PHOTOGRAPH BY Heritage Hiker

More about St Fagans Castle

St Fagans Castle is one of the finest Elizabethan manor houses in Wales. Built at the end of the 16th century the mansion house is set over three-storeys. Much of the interior can be dated back to the early 17th century with alterations made in the mid 19th century. One bedroom has an early 17th century carved frieze and an over-mantel dated 1635. Another bedroom has early 18th century painted panelling and a finely carved frieze of around 1620.

Mixed into the fabric of the Elizabethan mansion are the remains of an earlier Medieval castle that once stood at St Fagans. This includes the southern part of a stone curtain wall, thought to originally encompass a sub-circular or oval enclosure. The Elizabethan mansion was built over the enclosure, with part of the surviving Medieval walls defining its forecourt. The Medieval castle was deemed derelict around 1530.

Did you know the museum site is located next to a very important battle site?

The Battle of St Fagans took place in 1648 during the English Civil War. During the battle 11,000 men engaged in brutal combat. Hundreds of men were killed, legend says that the nearby River Ely ran red with their blood.

Today the site is covered by open fields, occasionally objects such as musket balls and buttons have come to the surface. The only marker is a nearby information board on the museum grounds, by its boundary wall that describes the background and detail to the battle.


St Fagans is an open-air site in Wales - come prepared if it’s raining. You can easily cover 5km walking around the site from building to building. Wheelchairs are available (check ahead). Dogs on leads are allowed on site grounds (assistance dogs only in houses and inside cafes).

Open 10am-5pm all year round except for a few selected days over the Christmas Holidays. Entry is free (donations and purchases welcomed). No need to pre-book at present.

Website - For opening times and current exhibitions/collections on display.

Onsite Facilities

Top Tips:

The site can get very busy in the summer months and during weekends/holidays. Weekdays during school term time and weekends during the colder months are best recommended for those wanting to avoid crowds and queues.

When visiting the site not all buildings may be open. A daily list is usually found in the main building if you want to visit a particular building check ahead in advance.

There are various shops around the site such as the bakery, goods stores and sweet shop where you can buy nostalgic and Welsh made produce and gifts. The main gift shop holds a lot of Welsh products and books, including Welsh language.

Sain Ffagan - St Fagans is part of Amgueddfa Cymru who manage and support the National Museums of Wales. These are all free to visit and make a great day out. Other sites across Wales include:

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Helen Harman

Helen is Cardiff born and Wales based museum and heritage professional with a BA(Hons) in Archaeology and MA in Museum Studies and a lifelong museum fanatic. Helen is the creator of ‘The Heritage Hiker’s Guide to…’ Blog which brings together archaeology, history, heritage, walking with exploration of the outdoors.

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