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cottage at Ffos-y-ffin

Some cottages in Ceredigion and north Pembrokeshire were built with mud or clay walls. The walls had to be very thick to provide stability, but they were also warm. They were protected from being washed away by painting them frequently with whitewash. Building a cottage in this was a slow process, so it is very unlikely that such cottages were built over-night. This cottage, once at Ffos-y-ffin illustrated how thick the walls and thatch were.

Wiliam, E., Home-made Homes, (National Museum of Wales, 1993)

mud cottage near Felin Fach

Evans, E. Estyn, A Cardiganshire Mud-Walled Farmhouse, Folk Life, 7, (1969), pp. 92-100

mud cottage near Felin fach

several refs to mud cottages

Williams, Edward, (Iolo Morganwg), diaries, NLW MS 13144A, NLW MS 13156A (transcribed)

mud cottage near Felin fach

Aberystwyth. This modern fashion of sea-bathing raises towns with unexampled rapidity, and lays out streets of stone, and builds houses of brick, in places which seemed by a natural and invincible obscurity to be doomed to an eternity of unpaved lanes and mud walls.

Ayton, R., A voyage round Great Britain : undertaken between the years 1813 and 1823, p. 142

Soon after I arrived in Cardiganshire. The Mud wall cottages, the characteristic of the County appeared. It is wonderful the inhabitants should still continue to erect these dirt walls and even in places where the county abounds too much in stone. Dry stone walls, pointed with lime mortar - the inside worked with tough clay would do very well. The chimneys of these mud cottages are of the poorest sort [diagrams] wattled rods mudded over.

Davies, Walter, Notebook, NLW MS 1762B, II, p.121

Got up at 7.30, fasted at 8, and set off on inquiry after my progenitors ... we then went to the cottage inhabited by John Jones (a deceased relative) for many years, a low, mud-built, dirty, thatched hovel, his widow was out at work barking in a wood.

Jones, Jenkin, (Captain, R.N.), Tour in England and Wales, May - June, 1819, NLW, MS785A; Trans Historical Society of West Wales, I, (1911), 97-144

... the cottages were all of mud and thatched, the chimneys to which that is the part of them above the roof, are composed merely of sticks interlaced like basket work, but I presume they were plaistered within, tho' in many places we could see through them.

Martyn, T., A Tour of South Wales, [1801], NLW MS 1340C, p. 93

I made a sketch of a mud cottage which will serve as a specimen of one of the best kind [illustration of a cottage with a small square window on both sides of a central door, a chimney in the thatch on the left and window low down in the gable end at the other end].

Martyn, T., A Tour of South Wales, [1801], NLW MS 1340C, p. 115

The appearance of the cottages sometimes is miserable, built of mud, squalid and disgusting (Malkin, p. 318-322).

Newell, Robert Hasell, Rev, (1778-1852), Letters on the Scenery of Wales; including a series of Subjects for the Pencil, with their Stations determined on a General Principle; and Instructions to Pedestrian Tourists, (London: 1821)

The guide got lost, but they found a 'miserable mud house'Here the farmer and his wife and all his Family, a young man and three girls came to the door to meet us; the scene reminded me of the Descriptions in Cooke's Voyages amongst the uncivilised tribes. Except the old man and his son, the rest of the Family had never been out of the Mountains, and as nobody travels over Plynlimon in a fog if it can be avoided so the sight of a traveller who could not speak their language, mounted on a neatly trimmed horse with good furniture, was a novelty, and they examined me with strong expressions of wonder, particularly my dress, feeling with their hands my half-boots and my great coat, my new saddle and bridle and little pillion and cloak-bag equally engaged their attention - my guide interpreted that the old woman asked me to take some refreshment, I asked what, he said bread and butter and milk ... I was ushered into a miserable hut, the walls of mud, the roof of thatch and the inside divided into two appartments with hurdles only and so full of smoke that I could scarcely breath in it, a large pot was boiling, and they set before me a little brown loaf, an earthen bowl of milk and a cheese and a slice cut off which the old woman buttered ... and set before me ... Whilst I was thus employed a great pig came in, and made himself quite easy before the fire, so that I found he was a parlour guest; I made my thanks and offered a shilling; the old woman rejected it, and I found by my guide that she was above a gratuity for says the guide the farmers are men of property that dwell in the mountains. I could not comprehend this; a mud house, no shoes, no stockings and the pig in the parlour did not show the affluence of the family, I offered the shilling then to the daughter a young woman of about 20, her eyes glistened at it and she took it. The mother told me that the mother was very sorry I had given it; indeed it seemed like pure hospitality on their part and I made my gratitude as well understood as I could by dumb show - the son ... became our conductor ... with his staff and without Shoes or Stockings leading the way ...Thence to Machynlleth

Parker, Robert, 1805, Hampshire Record Office, 18M51/557

10.7.1796Morristown [To Tenby. Bad roads because carts have one pair of narrow wheels. Mud houses whitewashed]

Anon, A Tour from York into Wales in the year 1796, NLW MS 4489