databas cerddi guto'r glyn

The hall-house

Egryn is a medieval hall-house.
A drawing of the hall at Egryn
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The majority of vernacular houses built in Wales during the fifteenth century were undefended hall-houses. The hall-house had one large main room which was open to the roof (see Architecture: Plan). There were three types of hall-houses:

houses of lordship status with large halls of three or more bays, sometimes with the addition of wings to form an 'H' plan;
houses of the local gentry, generally having a two-bay hall with other rooms at either end;
peasant houses, with a single-bay hall set between a parlour and cow-house; these are regarded as the ancestor of the later longhouses.[1]

It is very likely that most of the houses Guto’r Glyn visited were hall-houses of the first two types. We know that Cochwillan was a substantial hall-house, in keeping with the status of its owner, Wiliam ap Gruffudd. Some of the bishops’ houses were also substantial, such as the Bishop’s Palace in Bangor, and although houses such as Hen-blas and Lleweni have now been demolished or rebuilt there is enough evidence to indicate that these were also large hall-houses in Guto’s day.[2]

Plas Uchaf, Cynwyd has been dated to 1435.
The interior of a 15th century hall
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In the case of other patrons’ homes we only have the evidence of the poetry to indicate that they were hall-houses. References in poems by Guto and his contemporaries suggest that Vaynor in Berriew (poem 38) [3] and Nannau in Llanfachreth (poem 49) [4] were substantial hall-houses (both of these were later rebuilt) and Moeliwrch in Llansilin (poem 90) was also an impressive hall-house according to Guto’r Glyn and Ieuan ap Gruffudd Leiaf.[5]


[1]: P. Smith, Houses of the Welsh Countryside (London, 1975 & 1988), 38; R. Suggett & G. Stevenson, Cyflwyno Cartrefi Cefn Gwlad Cymru: Introducing Houses of the Welsh Countryside (Aberystwyth & Talybont, 2010), 35-7, and E. Wiliam, The Welsh Cottage: building traditions of the rural poor 1750-1900 (CBHC, 2010), 47-8.
[2]: P. Smith, Houses of the Welsh Countryside (London, 1975 & 1988), 100.
[3]: A.E. Davies (gol.), Gwaith Deio ab Ieuan Du a Gwilym ab Ieuan Hen (Caerdydd, 1992), poems 4 and 5; R. Haslam, ‘A Note on the Architecture of Vaynor Park’, Montgomery Collection 65 (1977), 43-46, and R. Silvester & J. Alfrey, ‘Vaynor: A Landscape and its Buildings in the Severn Valley’, in J. Finch & K. Giles (eds.) Estate Landscapes: Design, Improvment and Power in the Post-Medieval Landscape, (Woodbridge, 2007), 39.
[4]: C. Thomas, ‘The Township of Nannau, 1100-1600 A.D.’, Cylchgrawn Hanes Sir Feirionnydd v (1966), 97-103; M. Vaughan, ‘Nannau’, Cylchgrawn Hanes Sir Feirionnydd iv (1962), 119-21, 207-7, and T.J., ‘Notes on the House of Nannau by Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt, 1649’, Archaeologia Cambrensis ix (1863), 129-33.
[5]: B.O. Huws, ‘Ailadeiladu Bywyd ar ôl Gwrthryfel Glyndŵr: Tystiolaeth y Canu i Foelyrch’, Dwned, 13 (2007) 97-137.
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