Aberconwy House

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This is the oldest house in Conwy dating from the C14th and one of the few surviving medieval merchant houses in Britain. It has a stone base with a jettied timber frame upper floor. The timbers used to be painted black, but have now been painted white. It was in a strategically important position at the junction of the two main streets in Conwy; Castle Street and High Street and close to the gateway through the walls to the quay. The owner must have been an important merchant connected with the shipping trade.

Nothing is known about the early owners. By the C19th, railways were taking over from the shipping trade. Aberconwy House became a coffee house and temperance hotel with a bakery on the ground floor. Later it became an museum and antique shop. It eventually passed into the care of the National Trust following a threat to dismantle and re-erect in the United States.

The house has been carefully restored. The ground floor is now a National Trust shop. The upper floors are furnished, with much of the furnishings on loan from the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans.

External stairs which were added later, lead to the first floor, with kitchen and dining room. These rooms have been restored as they might have looked in the late 18th/early 19th centuries when the building was still a merchant’s house. The 1797 oak Welsh dresser in the living room is unusual as it has a clock in it. The top two drawers are false as the weights come down here. Displayed on the shelves are blue and white plates. By the window is a drop leaf table set for tea.

The kitchen has a large open fireplace with a high backed wooden settle by it. Hanging from the ceiling is a bread cage. On the wall is a brass warming pan.

Modern stairs lead to what is described as the Great Loft with a massive wood beam ceiling and wattle and daub partitions. The small fireplace was a later addition. The first room is furnished as it might have been in the mid C17th at the time of the Civil War. The table has bench seating and is laid with pewter plates and horn beakers. Round the walls are wooden cupboards and chests.

Beyond is a small bedroom furnished as it might have looked around 1890 when William and Jane Jones ran a Temperance Hotel here. The temperance movement had close link with the non-conformist chapels and the hotels had a reputation for cleanliness, wholesomeness and simplicity. It is furnished with a brass bed, peg rug, wash stand and towel rail.

The furthest room is now a video room with a short video about the history of the house. It would originally have been used as a storage space.

There isn’t a lot to see in the house. Allow time to talk to the custodian who is very knowledgeable and brings the house to life. The entry ticket is £4 but that also includes entry to the Suspension Bridge and Toll House. There are no reductions for seniors.

There are steps down into the NT shop. The website states that there is accessible access to the first floor via the internal stair, but I didn’t check this out.

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