Photo by one of our guests, Darren Waters.....many thanks for letting us use it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Energy saving & eco considerations

As well as conserving the cottage and its history we want to make it efficient and sustainable. In terms of heating and hot water our current thoughts include the new, efficient wood burning stove linked to solar panels set up on land to the rear of the house.

The supply of firewood could eventually come from about one hectare of willow/poplar coppice on a 5 year rotation which would supply the 8 - 10 tonnes/annum of logs it is estimated will be required.

We are hoping to put in a borehole and establish our own private water supply and will undertake a survey of the land in coming weeks to see if there are any suitable water sources on site.

Options including bio-digestors and reed/willow beeds are being considered for sewage treatment.

Any improvements to the insulation levels of the cottage are going to have to fit in with the conservation work which will take priority. All materials used will be natural and/or recycled wherever possible. The carbon footprint of the new extension will be kept to a minimum. No concrete will be used in the build with preference given to oak frame with recycled plasterboard/wool insulated walls and reclaimed slate roof.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Field layout.....

Total area is 10.6 acres of south west sloping fieds running dow to wards the river...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Initial plans for the restoration....

Our initial plans were to significantly extend the property but as we read and researched the property and its construction we began to realise that our extension plans would actually destroy what we had spent so long looking for......

At the same time it had to be a family home which made some form of extension inevitable and we are fairly settled on a single storey extension to the north side of the cottage. We will use the window opening in the rear extension to make a doorway into the new extension which will not impact further on the integrity of the existing house.

The size of the extension will be kept in proportion to the rest of the cottage whilst still giving us an adequate size room for a kitchen. The Biggest compromise we are making is extending to the north which will limit sunlight, but the views are a compensartion point....

Researching the history........

With the help of local hisorian, Jen Cairnes we've discovered that whilst the current house dates from around 1830 the history of Pantyrhwch goes further back to 1699 at least, when records show that on 24 December 1699 Evan David of Pantyrhwch and described as a "cottager" was buried.

At this time the house was probably a single room, earth walled and thatch roof with an open hearth. A "cottager"was someone slightly better of than a pauper, life would have been hard, he would not have had any land only a small plot to grow some vegetables and maybe keep a few chickens or possibly a pig.

There are records of a mediaeval monastic grange (farm) whose lands would have been adjoining Pantyrhwch and could explain why Evan David chose to live in what is not a particularly hospitable location...there may well have been a hovel on the site for many years before his time because of the proximity of the monastry land and therefore work and perhaps charity from the lay brothers that lived and worked there.....this cannot be proven but its an interesting possibility....

Records from 1799 show local parishoners agreed to levy taxes for making and repairing the local road at 3 1/2d per is very likely that the gravel quarry on the land near the cottage was for this purpose.

Researching the history of Pantyrhwch is work in progress...we'll keep you posted!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Having spent more than 4 years looking for an unmodernised smallholding in West Wales in January'08 we eventually found what we were looking for in Cardiganshire.

Initially our plans were to extend and modernise the house to make it a modern energy efficient family home. Then whilst surfing the web for ideas we came across a restoration that had been done using traditional building techniques and materials. There began a complete rethink of our plans.......

We started to do a bit of reasearch on the history of the place which took us back to the early 1800's. Much of the original building is unchanged from the rubble stone walls, slate roof, tiled floors, doors, windows and lime plastered walls.

Pantyrhwch is a modest cottage with two rooms downstairs and two upstairs linked by an unique staircase.

Over time the cottage aquired a single storey extension to the side and another (llaethdy) to the rear. There are indication of a traditional "shimle fawr" or big Chimney where there would have been an open hearth fireplace but at some point this was replaced with the fire grate and bread oven which is currently in place