Friday 17 June 2016

St Fagans Castle and Gardens - A Toddler Explores


Not far from Cardiff is St Fagans National History Museum. It is loved for its historic buildings. cottages, toll houses, school, shops and more. What people often miss is St Fagans Castle and Gardens. The Castle is an Elizabethan Manor House dating back to the 16th century.

We had visited St Fagans back in October and decided to visit the castle and gardens this time. 

The lake and terraced gardens

St Fagans Castle and  Formal Gardens

Bear begins his tour with the manor house

View from the entrance of the castle to the gardens

Bear explores very quickly. Follow me!

The house has lots of rooms furnished in the style of the time. They are roped off so no "hands on" experience. A word of warning, Bear was shaking the rope barriers and I didn't give it a moments thought. A guide quickly came up and told us there was very sensitive alarms on them all and if they go off the noise is very, very loud! How he did not set them off I'll never know.

The guest bedroom

The Butlers pantry

Bear testing the alarms

Up here!
The house was lovely but our toddler explored in a hurry so we only managed  glimpses of each room. He wanted to go into them to explore further but they are all roped off so not very interesting for a 20 month old.

The gardens were a bit disappointing. We did visit between seasons, towards the end of May. The beds were bare and being made ready for the summer planting and even the Wisteria wasn't as spectacular as I remember it in past years. It all looked forgotton and as though it needed some attention. We visited Dyffryn Gardens the following week and the difference was huge. Dyffryn had lots of gardeners and volunteers all working hard in the gardens, here we didn't see any.

There were some lovely parts too. The terraced gardens and the lakes were beautiful and the arbour of Hornbeams was just magnificent.

The formal garden bare and waiting for some attention

These are weeds not annual flowers. Chickweed and grass amongst them.

The magnificent tunnel of Hornbeams.

Close-up of the lovely gnarled branches

The Wisteria
Below the Castle is a lake and paths leading to an old barn that is closed but looks like it is home to nesting birds and drying timber. Just around the corner was a weaver at work with the dyed wool drying outside.

Islands in the lake have lots of planting and some beautiful statues

The old barn

Bear looking into the old barn

Watching the weaver at work

This way, follow me.

The loom

Dyed wool drying in the sun

Quick pose before we go home


We did have a lovely time but the more popular part of the open museum is more fun for a toddler. Maybe in the summer the gardens will look better. It is free like all museums in Wales so definitely worth a visit with just a small charge for parking and plenty of space for a picnic too.

At the moment there is a new visitor centre being built. This does mean a little disruption but Bear loved it. He spent ages watching the diggers!


Have you visited the castle and gardens recently? What did you think?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
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  1. The old house looks very grand even if they are struggling to keep up with the gardens. Coombe Mill also dates back to the 16th Century and our two original cottages have the same slate flooring as the castle with one or two steps between rooms that look just the same. I have to say we are on a much smaller scale and there the similarity probably ends!
    My boys would have been just like Bear at his age and more excited by the action on the building site than the castle. It does look a great experience and I hope the gardens flourish again soon.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. Yes me too. I'm hoping it was just in-between seasons and when we return it will be glorious!

  2. Looks a fabulous place to explore. Once he can do the hunts and trails these places offer it will slow him down a little...

  3. I visited St Fagan's in April but only had time for the open air Musuem side and a quick walk around the lakes. It was a beautiful day and there were still plenty of daffodils in bloom so it was much more attractive. The castle does look really interesting but I think I'd have trouble keeping my two interested as well :) #countrykids

    1. The Open air museum is wonderful and Bear usually likes castles and things but he wasn't too impressed here Lol! He wanted to go into the rooms but they were all out of bounds. We will revisit agin and see the gardens in the summer

  4. Bear is the boss! Haha always leading the way and looks so cute!

    This is such a lovely place and that tunnel is my fave! #countrykids

    1. He's definitely the boss! And the tunnel was great

  5. We visited St Fagans last year but mostly looked around the buildings. We did have a quick wander around the gardens but it was early March so not much in the way of flowers (I don't even recall seeing daffodils but there must have been some). #countrykids

    1. The buildings are fab aren't they? We will visit again as its very close to us and see how the gardens are doing.

  6. I had no idea that the museums are free in Wales how cool is that?! monkey is the same at the age of 4 when it comes to houses although we are preserving! Love all your photos :) #CountryKids x

    1. Thank you. Yes we are very lucky, St Fagans we have to pay for parking but its not expensive, or we could go by bus but that would cost more :-)


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