Amgueddfa Blog: St Fagans Archive

A few years ago, while researching the history of St Fagans Castle during the First World War, I came across a number of oral history interviews in the Sound Archive with former tenants of the Plymouth Estate. The recordings were made in the 1970s and 1980s with people who had, for the most part, lived all their lives in St Fagans village. Although very few of the recordings yielded information relevant to my research, they did provide a vivid insight into the workings of the estate during the first half of the twentieth century, when village life revolved around the Castle and its owners the Earl and Countess of Plymouth. With Christmas almost upon us, I thought I'd use my last blogpost of 2016 to share some of the villagers' recollections of Christmas at St Fagans in the early 1900s. Nadolig llawen!

Christmas beast

Alexander ‘Bert’ Warden, born in Cirencester in 1910, moved with his family to St Fagans as a child. In an interview with the Museum in 1979, he remembered distributing meat to the villagers at Christmas:

Penhefyd Farm was the home farm in those days. Of course, the Plymouth people kept cattle there and all the rest of it. At Christmas time, they’d have a beast and it would be slaughtered, cut up into various chunks and each family in the village was allowed so much – I think it was about 5lb for a man, and 3lb for his wife and so much for each child. Now that was delivered around for the villagers by workmen from the estate. I did it myself when I was a boy. That was one of the Christmas boxes from the Plymouth Estate. Also a couple of rabbits – each person had a couple of rabbits and a load of logs. [6020/1]

Mary Ann Dodd, a housemaid for the Plymouth family at the turn of the century, remembered using the Christmas beast to make soup for the villagers. In the early 1960s, at the age of 96 and living at the Grange Home for the Blind in Hereford, she wrote an essay for the Museum about her 30 years working at St Fagans Castle:    

Every Christmas two animals were killed, and her Ladyship told Mrs Cousins to use the heads, legs and offal for soup. This was supervised by the Lady herself and was made in my biggest copper saucepan. It was so big I could almost stand in it. The Housekeeper put in the salt and seasoning, and my Lady was keen on plenty of parsley, and all five kitchen maids and myself prepared the vegetables. We cleaned celery, carrots and leeks. Once they knew that the soup was ready, the village folk came from breakfast time on with jugs and basins and all manner of things and they were all provided with meat and soup. [MS 1293]

Children’s party

Another festive tradition remembered with fondness was the children’s Christmas party. This was held in the Banqueting Hall – a large pavilion in the Castle grounds – before the end of the school term. Jessie Warden (née Mildon), who was born and brought-up in the village, described it as one of the 'perks' of living on the estate:

We were always a jolly lot. Lord Plymouth, every year, gave every child in the whole of the school – there could be a 100, there could be 50 – a Christmas party in the Banqueting Hall. Everything from the jelly to the Christmas presents at five shillings per child was paid by Lord Plymouth. And that was wonderful. It was a real Christmas party paid for by Lord Plymouth. There was a huge Christmas tree with your presents on the tree. Lady Plymouth was usually there and would give to the boys and Lord Plymouth would give to the girls. And they’d have a man with a ladder to get your particular present off the tree. The tree would then go to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary. [6020/1]

Mari Lwyd

Jessie Warden also recalled her childhood fear of the Mari Lwyd – a seasonal custom practiced without the patronage of the Plymouth Estate:

They had a Mari Lwyd every year. The Mari Lwyd used to come and that was a chap from Pentyrch, and there was one from Ely. There was one from the village, but then when he finished, his relatives in Ely came out in my day. When I was about ten. I can remember the Mari Lwyd. We were always petrified! The responses etc. were always in Welsh. [6020/1]

In 1933 the Museum acquired a Mari Lwyd for the collection from Thomas Davies of Pentyrch who would perform for one week either side of Christmas. At the time, the curator noted that he had been travelling with the Mari for 35 years and had connections with St Fagans. He probably visited the young Jessie Mildon and her family.



We met in the Museum’s car park, not quite knowing what to expect. Our 50+ Group had been asked if we fancied cataloguing more than a thousand books from the library at the Oakdale Workmen’s Institute as part of the re-interpretation of the building and all four of us had been intrigued by the request.

Sioned greeted us with a warm welcome and we were taken to the library in the ‘new’ building to meet Richard, the librarian. And so began five extremely enjoyable Thursdays.

The books had been packed into boxes and our task was to fill the spreadsheets with name, author and publication date. We noted the condition of the book and if it had come from another library or institute (e.g. Nantymoel or Aberkenfig).

Delving into each box, not knowing what we might discover, was like plunging into a box of chocolates. Mining and engineering books were obviously very popular in Lewis Merthyr Library – were they borrowed by young men keen to further their careers? There were many books on mathematics, science and architecture – all well-used according to the date stamps on page three. And then there were novels by popular authors like Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe and Charles Dickens – read and enjoyed in a time before television and computers. A few books, with risqué titles, were obviously well-thumbed and our work stopped as we contemplated why they appeared to be more popular than ‘Advanced Algebra’ or ‘Modern Mechanics’.

It was a fascinating insight into a random selection of books, some dating back to the 1870s, and we are so grateful to the Museum for including us in this work. Richard was on hand to answer questions and solve mysteries – why did so many Welsh preachers write books about themselves? Who bought them? And who decided to write ‘The Life of the White Ant’ (and did anyone ever read it)?

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our five days ‘work’, have learnt new skills, met lovely people and, also, become better acquainted after visiting all of the eateries in the Museum for lunch. If there’s any more volunteering on offer – please put our names on this list.

The re-interpretation of Oakdale Workmen’s Institute is supported by the Armed Forces Community Covenant Grant Scheme.

I’m finding it hard to believe that the St Fagans Food Festival will be soon upon us – where has the year gone? Last year, we asked you to tweet your favourite family recipes to us. We had an amazing response, thanks again to all who took part, enabling us to create a lovely exhibition at Oakdale Workmen’s Institute over the Festival weekend.

As part of this year’s Festival, we’re launching a digital version of Welsh Fare, a collection of traditional recipes collected by Minwel Tibbott. When she started at the Museum in 1969, the study of traditional foods was a very new research field. She realised very early on that the information would not be found in books and she travelled all over Wales in order to interview, record and film the older generation of women. They recalled the dishes prepared by their mothers, and their memories harked back to the end of the 1880s.

With the digital version, not only can you read the recipes, but also hear the women explain the processes and see them prepare the dishes. We’re also keen to add to this collection, and as the Great British Bake Off fever grabs us once again, we’re asking you to share with us your favourite family recipes. We’d also like to add to our images of people feasting - people enjoying your showstoppers, a family celebration or a gathering of friends.

Tweet recipes, images and information to @archifSFarchive or post them on the St Fagans Facebook page using the hashtag #Ryseitiau #FoodFestival. Another option is to bring them along to Oakdale Workmen’s Institute during the Food Festival and we’ll scan them. All the recipes and photos, as well as last year’s collection will be uploaded on to the People’s Collection Wales.

For the latest on this project, follow tweets by @archifSFarchive and @SF_Ystafelloedd and the hashtags #Ryseitiau #Food Festival #WelshFare #AmserBwyd.

Mae’n ganol Gorffennaf.  Mae’r ardd yn ei blodau, y llysiau yn wyrdd ac yn iachus a brwydr flynyddol y garddwr (neu’r archifydd yn yr achos hwn) a’r falwoden ar ei hanterth. 

Mae’n debyg bod gan y falwoden gyffredin tua 14,000 o ddannedd (neu rychau ar ei thafod i fod yn fanwl gywir) ac wedi iddi dywyllu, o dan olau lleuad, gall y gelyn gwancus hwn a’i ffrindiau achosi armagedon yn y borderi gan ddinistrio misoedd o dyfiant mewn un noson o wledda.

Rhaid cymryd camau dybryd i arbed hyn rhag digwydd!

Felly, i ymddiheurio i’r malwod hynny sydd efallai wedi cwrdd â’u crêwr ychydig yn gynharach na’r disgwyl trwy amryfal ffyrdd yn yr ardd eleni - dyma bedwar pwt diddorol o Archif Sain Amgueddfa Werin Cymru am y lladron llwglyd llithrig.


Sbaddu Malwod yn Abergorlech

Yn ôl Garfield Evans a anwyd yn Abergorlech yn 1909 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1977, roedd hi’n arfer yn yr ardal ar ddechrau’r ganrif i chwarae tric ar unrhyw blentyn dieithr a fyddai’n dod i’r ysgol.  Byddent yn gofyn iddo  “Wyt ti wedi gweld sbaddu malwed?”.  “Na” fyddai’r ateb bob tro.  Wedi dal sylw y plentyn newydd byddai un o’r bechgyn yn codi dau ddarn o bren ac yn mynd i chwilio am falwoden.  Wedi dod o hyd i’r falwoden, byddai’r bachgen yn ei chodi a’i gosod i orwedd wyneb i waered ar y ddau ddarn o bren.  Wrth i’r plentyn newydd syllu ar y falwoden, ac agosáu yn gegrwth ati, byddai’r daliwr yn taflu’r anifail druan yn sydyn i’w geg.


Llafarganu i’r Falwoden

Yn ôl Sian Williams a anwyd yn Nhyn-y-gongl, Môn, yn 1896, ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1973, nid oedd ganddi hi a’i ffrindiau lawer o deganau pan yn blant.  “Efo malwod oeddan ni’n chwarae’n blant, toedd gynno ni ddim byd arall.”  Byddent yn dal malwoden yr un, gosod y malwod ar garreg y drws a llafarganu iddynt:  ”Horn, horn, estyn dy bedwar corn allan, neu mi tafla’i di i Bwllheli, at y neidr goch i foddi” . Y plentyn â’r falwoden a fyddai’n tynnu ei phedwar corn allan yn gyntaf oedd yr enillydd. 


Meddyginiaeth ar gyfer Llyfrithen

Yn ôl Blodwen Gettings a anwyd yn 1911 yn Llangwm ac a recordiwyd yn Saesneg gan yr Archif yn 1983, roedd gan y gymuned hon ger Hwlffordd feddyginiaeth wahanol iawn i’r cyffredin ar gyfer cael gwared o lyfrithen ar y llygad.  I ddechrau, gellid rhwbio’r llyfrithen â modrwy briodas neu â chynffon cath, ond os na fyddai hynny’n gweithio, roedd un awgrym arall.  Rhaid oedd dod o hyd i ddraenen o lwyn y ddraenen wen ac un falwoden dew o’r ardd.  Wedyn aed ati i bigo’r falwoden â’r ddraenen ac arllwys yr hylif a ddeuai allan ohoni i mewn i’r llygad.


Pennill i’r Falwoden

I gloi, dyma bennill i’r falwoden gan Robin Lewis y Craswr o Felin Glasfryn.  Clywodd William John Edwards, a anwyd yn 1898 ac a fagwyd ym Mhentrellyncymer, y rhigwm hwn gan ei fam pam oedd tua 15 oed ac fe’i recordiwyd yn ei adrodd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1973.

Malwen Ddu ar ochr wal,

Slip a meddal a annodd ei dal.

Well gen i un ddu nac un wen,

A dau gorn o boptu’i phen.

Teclynnau Pren

Mae’n siwr y gallwch restri llawer o’r delweddau sydd o’n cwmpas mewn siopau ac yn y cyfryngau yn ystod adeg y Pasg:  wyau siocled lliwgar, cywion a chwningod bach fflwfflyd, y lili wen a theisennau simnel i enwi rhai ohonynt.

Ond tybed a ydych chi’n gwybod beth yw’r ddau declyn yn y lluniau ar y dde?


Arferion y Pasg

Yr wythnos hon bûm yn gwrando ar recordiadau yn yr Archif Sain yn ymwneud ag arferion y Pasg.  Ceir sôn am ystod eang o draddodiadau:  eisteddfota; “creu gwely Crist”; canu carol Basg; torri gwallt a thacluso’r barf ar ddydd Iau Cablyd er mwyn edrych yn daclus dros y Pasg; bwyta pysgod, hongian bwnen a cherdded i’r eglwys yn droednoeth ar ddydd Gwener y Groglith; yfed diod o ddŵr ffynnon a siwgr brown ar y Sadwrn cyn y Pasg; dringo i ben mynydd i weld yr haul yn “dawnsio” gyda’r wawr a gwisgo dillad newydd ar Sul y Pasg; chwarae gêm o gnapan ar Sul y Pasg Bach (sef y dydd Sul wedi’r Pasg).


Clapio Wyau

Ond y traddodiad a dynnodd fy sylw fwyaf oedd yr arfer ar Ynys Môn o fynd i glapio wyau.  Byddai mynd i glapio (neu glepio) cyn y Pasg yn arfer poblogaidd gan blant yr ynys flynyddoedd yn ôl, a dyna yw’r ddau declyn y gellir eu gweld ar y dde:  clapwyr pren.

Yn ôl Elen Parry a anwyd yn y Gaerwen yn 1895 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1965:

Fydda ni fel rheol yn câl awr neu ddwy dudwch o’r ysgol, ella rhyw ddwrnod neu ddau cyn cau’r ysgol er mwyn cael mynd i glapio cyn y Pasg.  Fydda chi bron a neud o ar hyd yr wsnos, ond odd na un dwrnod arbennig yn yr ysgol bydda chi’n câl rhyw awr neu ddwy i fynd i glapio.  Bydda bron pawb yn mynd i glapio.  A wedyn bydda’ch tad wedi gwneud beth fydda ni’n galw yn glapar.  A beth odd hwnnw?  Pishyn o bren a rhyw ddau bishyn bach bob ochor o bren wedyn, a hwnnw’n clapio, a dyna beth odd clapar.

Byddai’r plant yn mynd o amgylch y ffermydd lleol (neu unrhyw dyddyn lle cedwid ieir) yn curo ar ddrysau, yn ysgwyd y clapwyr ac yn adrodd rhigwm bach tebyg i hwn:

Clap, clap, os gwelwch chi’n dda ga’i wŷ

Geneth fychan (neu fachgen bychan) ar y plwy’

A dyma fersiwn arall o’r pennill gan Huw D. Jones o’r Gaerwen:

Clep, Clep dau wŷ

Bachgen bach ar y plwy’

Byddai’r drws yn cael ei agor a’r hwn y tu mewn i’r tŷ yn gofyn “A phlant bach pwy ’dach chi?”  Ar ôl cael ateb, byddai perchennog y tŷ yn rhoi wŷ yr un i’r plant.  Yn ôl Elen Parry:

Fe fydda gyda chi innau pisar bach, fel can bach, ne fasgiad a gwellt ne laswellt at waelod y fasgiad.  Ac wedyn dyna wŷ bob un i bawb.  Wel erbyn diwadd yr amsar fydda gyda chi ella fasgedad o wyau.

Fel arfer, byddai trigolion y tŷ yn adnabod y plant ac os byddai chwaer neu frawd ar goll, byddid yn rhoi wŷ i’r rhai absennol yn un o’r basgeidiau.  Dyma ddywedodd Mary Davies, o Fodorgan a anwyd yn 1894 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1974:

A wedyn, os bydda teulu’r tŷ yn gwbod am y plant bach ’ma, faint fydda ’na, a rheini ddim yno i gyd, fydda nhw'n rhoed wyau ar gyfer rheini hefyd iddyn nhw.


Wyau ar y Dresel

Ar ôl cyrraedd adref byddai’r plant yn rhoi’r wyau i’w mam a hithau yn eu rhoi ar y dresel gydag wyau’r plentyn hynaf ar y silff uchaf, wyau’r ail blentyn ar yr ail silff ac yn y blaen.

Gellid casglu cryn dipyn o wyau gyda digon o egni ac ymroddiad.  Yn ôl Joseph Hughes a anwyd ym Miwmaris yn 1880 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1959:

Bydda amball un wedi bod dipyn yn haerllug a wedi bod wrthi’n o galad ar hyd yr wythnos.  Fydda ganddo fo chwech ugian.  Dwi’n cofio gofyn i frawd fy ngwraig, “Fuost ti’n clapio Wil?”, “Wel do”, medda fo.  “Faint o hwyl ges ti?”, “O ches i mond cant a hannar”.


Math o Gardota?

Er bod pawb fel arfer yn rhoi wyau i’r plant, mae’n debyg y byddai rhai yn gwrthod ac yn ateb y drws gan ddweud “Mae’r ieir yn gori” neu “Dydy’r gath ddim wedi dodwy eto”.  Byddai rhai rhieni hefyd yn gyndyn i’w plant fynd i glapio gan eu bod yn gweld yr arfer fel math o gardota.  Dyma ddywedodd un siaradwr:

Fydda nhad fyth yn fodlon i ni fynd achos oedd pawb yn gwybod pwy oedd nhad.  Wel fydda nhad byth yn licio y byddan ni wedi bod yn y drws yn begio, ond mynd fydda ni.



Mae’n fendigedig gweld fod yr arfer o glapio wedi ei adfywio bellach ar Ynys Môn ac felly, mae’n debyg am un wythnos o'r flwyddyn, unwaith eto yng Nghymru, mae’n ddiogel ac yn dderbyniol i roi eich holl wyau yn yr un fasged!