Mynachlog Fawr in 30 Objects
The Strata Florida Trust have successfully opened the Mynachlog Fawr in 30 Objects exhibition, the first permanent public display at the site. Visitors of all ages can expect a rare insight into the lives of the people who lived and worked on the farm, by exploring a collection of personal objects and documents found in the farmhouse and farm buildings. Among the exhibits are tools which show the labour intensive manual work on the farm before electricity, alongside letters and documents which tell the story of the Arch family, the last family to live and work on the farm.
Further items include peat cutters used to harvest a fuel once common in the area, a mangle used by the Arch family to squeeze water out of clothes and sheets on wash day before being hung out to dry, an 1896 cheese press restored to its former glory, school slates used by children for handwriting practise in the 19th century and early 20th century, a local Eisteddfod chair won by Dafydd Jones in the Pontrhydfendigaid eisteddfod in 1943, leather side saddles and a US training grenade used when troops were based near Strata Florida.
A large and remarkable item connected to the exhibition is a restored 19th century Welsh Gambo used by the Arch family, which will be displayed in the car park. The Gambo was built with two wheels and a low platform to suit the narrow lanes of Ceredigion and the constricted entrances to fields. When the Gambo was fully loaded the cart would be invisible beneath a mountain of hay, with just the wheels kept clear by the side ladders. The English equivalent of the Gambo is the Hay wain.
Within the exhibition visitors will also be able to time travel, using a virtual reconstruction of the site to visit the farm in its heyday of the 1940s and the abbey in its golden age in 1238. Visitors will meet the characters, explore the buildings and landscape, and experience life on the farm through all four seasons. They can watch Thomas Arch and the farm labourers on shearing day for example, or the Welsh princes visiting the abbey in the medieval era.
While visiting the exhibition everyone is welcome to relax on one of the chairs in front of the historic fireplace, enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, and browse a selection of reference books, magazines and second-hand books. There are also benches outside to relax on and enjoy this beautiful location.
The Strata Florida Trust has worked closely with Headland Design on the planning and design of the exhibition space, to create an informative and immersive exhibition for visitors in a unique historic building. Consistent with Strata Florida’s aim of supporting learning and volunteering, Headland Design have also run a workshop for local volunteers to give an insight into exhibition design and the process of selecting and presenting objects.
Tŷ Pair Restoration
The exhibition is situated in the converted Grade II listed Tŷ Pair (cauldron house) and cart shed. Parts of these buildings date from as far back as the 1600s and 1700s and remained in full use until the 1990s. Until 2020 both buildings were in a very poor condition and required significant restoration. These historic buildings have now been carefully and sympathetically brought back into use by ELM Wales, through reroofing, resetting of the stone floor, internal and external lime pointing, and fitting of doors and glazing. As part of the process archaeological excavations revealed the medieval walls of the refectory of the Cistercian abbey of Strata Florida. The whole site is special in that it contains many eras of history, archaeological layers and features existing close together. Thanks to the generous donations from supporters, World Monuments Fund Britain successfully supported the restoration of the Tŷ Pair.