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The Historic Buildings Unit (HBU) at St Fagans National Museum of History have recently welcomed a new member of the team - Jen Farnell.

Jen joined HBU in January 2020 on a placement with The Prince's Foundation Traditional Building Skills Programme to learn traditional carpentry skills.  The bursary programme provides 8 months training in traditional skills for tradespeople already qualified in their field, but who want to train in traditional techniques.

Jen had completed her NVQ level 3 in Site Joinery and worked her apprenticeship with Persimmon Homes in south east Wales, when she heard about The Prince's Foundation Programme from a friend who had completed it and gained his NVQ level 3 in Carpentry Traditional Skills. The first 4 months of Jen's training were spent at Dumfries House with 11 other students, building an arbour in the grounds with a curved hip roof. Previously, Jen has volunteered in Swaziland teaching local women carpentry skills and worked for Wild Creations and NoFit State Circus.

At St Fagans, Jen has been working with Ben Wilkins (HBU Senior Traditional Carpenter) and Tom James (Apprentice HBU Traditional Carpenter) on the windows for The Vulcan Hotel. 

For the Castle Gardens, Jen has repaired the Mulberry Garden gate using traditional scarfing techniques to replace damaged sections of timber with new. She is also making a new gate for the Rosery replicating the trellis pattern from the Mulberry Garden gate.

Jen is originally from Aberystwyth and is a first language Welsh speaker. She is enjoying her time at St Fagans with the HBU team and said that “it is such a thrill to be at St Fagans, the home of Welsh culture, working with hand tools learning traditional techniques”.

Janet Wilding

Head of Historic Buildings Unit

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