Purcell has completed a £3m restoration of Yr Ysgwrn, the historic Snowdonian farmstead of Welsh-language poet Hedd Wyn, along with a new exhibition space, visitors’ centre and cafe. Originally built in 1830, the building has been carefully repaired and conserved, retaining many of the features and details that existed when Hedd Wyn inhabited it in the early 1900s.
The farmhouse’s collection of chattels, furniture and objects were taken away for repair before conservation work started. Samples of the many fragile layers of wallpaper were taken and research made prior to restoration. New environmental conditions within the farmhouse are designed to safeguard the returned bardic chairs and other sensitive artefacts.
Beudy Llwyd and Beudy Ty, a pair of barns set away from the house, have been transformed into new visitor spaces. The former houses an exhibition space, visitor centre and cafe, while the latter contains a display in memory of soldiers killed in the first world war (Hedd Wyn was killed on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele). This includes an audio-visual experience projected onto the barn’s stone wall, illustrating Hedd Wyn’s experiences on the battlefield. Modern elements, such as floor-to-ceiling windows have been integrated between the large stone piers, allowing daylight into and views out of the cafe. The subterranean extension, which incorporates a pitched grass roof, houses a gallery focused on farming traditions.
The biggest challenge was developing sensitive designs that would provide a welcoming visitor experience, while not impacting on the historic fabric of the site, says the architect. Particular care has been given to controlling the flow of visitors around the farmhouse. This has been achieved by creating new internal routes through a new opening in one wall. The project also includes a new grass roofed agricultural barn for the tenant farmer who still works the farm.