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Description

Pen and ink cutaway drawing of a typical Snowdonian house. (click on the image to enlarge).
The Snowdonian house has some claim to be the earliest type of storeyed house in Wales, it is regionally distinctive and concentrated in the historic counties of Merioneth and Caernarvonshire. The main features are shown in this cutaway drawing by Peter Smith. The first features to note are that the house is stone-built fully-storeyed; there are no surviving timber-built Snowdonian houses, although their medieval predecessors may well have been constructed from timber. The house is a 'two-unit' dwelling, that is, the ground floor is divided into two parts on either side of the entrance passage. Characteristically the ground floor has a large hall or kitchen on one side of the entrance and two smaller screened outer rooms, cold parlour and dairy/pantry, on the other side of the entry. The hall/kitchen has a large gable-end fireplace which is the focus of the room. Typically, to one side of the fireplace there is a winding stone stair that leads to the upper floor. There are two chambers on the first floor: the first or inferior chamber at the head of the stairs leads to into the principal chamber beyond. The principal chamber is heated by a gable-end fireplace and the room may have an ornate open truss and (as in the drawing) cusped windbraces. The combination of stone walling with robust and high-quality interior carpentry is one of the characteristic features of the Snowdonian house. With its end chimneys, offset doorway, and diamond-mullioned windows it presented a very distinctive elevation, especially when contrasted with its long and low hallhouse predecessors.

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