Bwlch y Garreg Wen

Bwlch y Garreg Wen, is a two unit type cottage of the type built in Wales in the early eighteenth century and is typical of houses built before 1816. It was built originally in 1731. Even though farm buildings have been added it is typical of a workers house. In 1841 Humphrey Rowlands an agricultural worker lived there along with his wife, their two young children and an 80 year old, woman, probably the grandmother. The house is a classic example of a North west Welsh building. It has one door, roughly in the center of one long side. Flanking the door are two small windows, again roughly but not symmetrical in size and position. The rubble stone walls have massive boulders at their base and the roof was covered in small slates and the ridge line ended in a solid square stone chimney.

Another small cottage standing a few hundred meters from Bwlch y Garreg Wen, was described thus in 1937 ‘As you enter the door, the kitchen is on your right: a small room with no ceiling between the floor and the roof. On the right of the door as you enter is a wooden partition, three feet wide and six feet high, to keep out the cold. On the left as you go in there is a wooden partition running up to the roof with two doors in it, one vertically above the other. Through the lower door you enter the bedroom this has a wooden ceiling which serves as a floor to the attic above. To get into the attic bedroom you pull down a ladder which normally lies on the attic floor. These are the three rooms of the cottage’. Bwlch y Garreg Wen, following this layout, thus has two rooms in the sleeping unit, one above the other.

There was a need for one more space, a food store ‘bwtri’. In Bwlch y Garreg Wen, this space was partitioned off beside the downstairs bedroom but in other two –unit houses it is placed in the corner next to the fireplace. The upper sleeping is known as the croglofft. House of this type are known as croglofft cottages.

Isaac Rowlands, and his wife family lived in the cottage according to the 1861 census, he had seven children. He was a farmer and part owner of a small manganese mine in Rhiw. And in the diaries of Griffith Thomas there are quite a few references to Bwlch y Garreg Wen, when Daniel Rowlands was farming there, he lived at nearby Rhiwlas and also farmed land at Congl Cae Hen, as well as being a prominent member of the Rhiw LSA (Coastguards).

Footnote; We think the other cottage mentioned could be either Tangraig (now Bwthyn Ysgaw) or Ffor. Both are typical croglofft cottages, and are in close proximity to Bwlch y Garreg Wen. Recently Bwlch y Garreg Wen has been tastefully restored by the descendants of Isaac Rowlands and still retains it’s original character and is one of the best, if not the best house renovation in Rhiw, and the owners and builders are to be applauded for their efforts.


Plan from the publication, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Caernarvonshire, Vol III: West, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments in Wales and Monmouthshire, 1964



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