Monday, 23 June 2008
Once hidden within a tumbledown brick barn, the remarkable Ty Mawr medieval house was first discovered in 1971 by Dr Peter Smith of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and
The most important feature at Ty Mawr is the spere truss which forms the entrance into the hall. The posts are carefully chamfered and stopped and the side panels have large quatrefoils as decoration. There may have been a moveable screen in the centre, matched by a canopy over the far, or dais end of the hall, where the head of the family would have sat.
The position of the hearth is marked by the brick paving in the floor. The smoke would have risen and percolated through what must have been, originally, a thatched roof; the original timbers are still smoke-blackened. On the opposite side of the cross passage is a staircase leading to a loft above the cow byre.
In about 1594, a floor was inserted in the upper chamber and the hall. Not only did this create two new rooms at first-floor level, it also expressed this period’s increased valuing of, and desire for, privacy. The work is of a good quality and the joists are neatly chamfered, yet these changes may also indicate a decline in status to a yeoman’s farmhouse. The hearth was moved to the upper end of the hall and the family would have gathered around it, rather than dined with their retinue and guests in the medieval open hall. In 1631, the existing fireplace with its wattle-and-daub hood was built. Miraculously, this has survived for over 350 years. Soon after the aisles were removed, and certainly by the middle of the eighteenth century, the house was partly encased in brick. A brick bread oven was contrived at the back of the fireplace. Ty Mawr then remained a farmhouse until the nineteenth century. Modern partitions now subdivide the upper and lower bays.
Ty Mawrs' extraordinary timber trusses – which have survived for over 530 years – form the centrepiece of the restoration work undertaken by the Powis Estate with grant aid from Cadw Welsh Historic Monuments. The building appears now much as it would have done in about 1635.
Copyright 1998 Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments (Crown Copyright).