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Glas-Hirfryn: recording and reconstruction of an Elizabethan half-timbered hall

Note that the site lies on private land and that permission to visit should be obtained from the owners. Get in touch (tel. 01938 553670) for contact details.

Building restoration work and recording is being grant-aided by Cadw and Powys County Council.

The architect for the project is Graham Moss, Moss Co. Repairs and restoration work is by Colin and Roger Morris of Manor Joinery.

Let us know if you have any further information about the early house or its inhabitants.

Glas-hirfryn, Llansilin, Powys

Glas-hirfryn is a late medieval timber-framed listed building at Cwmdu, in the community of Llansilin in northern Powys (formerly southern Denbighshire). It lies on the southern side of the Berwyn mountains with views looking southwards towards the Tanat valley.

The image alongside shows Glas-hirfryn from the south, sheltering in the lee of the Berwyn hills. The Elizabethan hall lay at what is now the centre of the farm complex.

Find the house on Google Earth

Note that the aerial photograph is interactive and that you can zoom in, scroll around it and toggle between satellite imagery and map by clicking on the box towards the bottom left.

Background to the Glas-hirfryn Project

Over the years the condition of the house has gradually deteriorated and in 2011 it all but collapsed. In 2012 a scheme of works was put in place to restore the building, so that it can be lived in once again.

In this project diary we intend, over the course of perhaps the next couple of years, to follow the progress of the taking down of the original building, building-recording work, archaeological excavation, timber repair and eventual reconstruction.

On the way we will also be covering continuing research into what the original looked like, how it developed over time and the people who have lived in it.

Above, view of Glas-hirfryn from the south in the 1960s ( Crown Copyright, RCAHMW). Below, the collapsed house in July 2012 (CPAT)

Architect's drawing of Glas-hirfryn ( Moss Co.), drawing by Tony Rowland

Why the house is important

Glas-hirfryn is particularly interesting because it is potentially one of the earliest storied timber-framed houses known in mid-Wales, dating to the sixteenth century. Medieval timber houses built in the region in the preceding century or so were generally cruck-built hallhouses with a central hall open to the roof and with an open hearth in the middle, though often with upper storeys at each end. At about the beginning of the sixteenth century floors were often being inserted above these open halls in order to create more sleeping accommodation on the upper floor. Stone or timber-framed chimneys were also built for the first time. Glas-hirfryn appears to be one of the earliest houses in the region that was built from the outset with upper storeys and with a stone chimney built onto the side of the house rather than with an open hearth. Like other early storied houses in the region, the upper floor of the house was jettied, jutting out above the lower floor on at least two sides. In the top photograph alongside, taken in the 1960s, it is just possible to see the jettied first floor and some of the original half-timbering, hidden below later rendering.

Timelapse video

Bill Britnell, Research Associate, CPAT

Follow these links ...

When was the house was built?

Who built it?

Later history of the house

Rescuing the fallen timbers

Archaeological excavation

Building recording

Repairing the timberwork

Rebuilding the house

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