There are many descriptions of cottages, mostly of the exterior, but a few of interiors in which tourists took shelter during bad weather.

Most tourists thought the cottages looked wretched externally unless they had been whitewashed, but were often neat and clean inside.

A mud (clom) cottage near Felin fach, Ceredigion

‘Interior of a cottage, North Wales’ about 1838 by Richard Redgrave, (1804-1888) © Victoria and Albert Museum)

There are few images of interiors of cottages in Wales, especially compared with the number of paintings of Irish cottage interiors. There are several reasons for this

  • few visitors entered cottages unless they needed to shelter from the rain;
  • few visitors could speak Welsh so couldn’t communicate with the cottagers;
  • many cottages were dark and therefore were difficult to depict accurately
  • there wasn’t a nostalgic market for images of Welsh interiors as there was, particularly amongst Americans, for Irish and Scottish interiors.
  • There were few schools of artists working in Wales (except in the Bettws y Coed area) but there were in parts of Ireland resulting in many more oil paintings of Irish interiors.

However, a number of tourists to Wales compared the interiors of Welsh cottages favourably with Irish ones.

Main published sources:
Weston, Catherine, (2001), The Ownership and Use of Welsh Vernacular Furniture: A Comparative analysis of three 19th century interiors, PhD Thesis, Brunel : list
Bebb, Richard, Welsh Furniture, 1250-1950, (2009), 2 vols
Wiliam, Eurwyn, The Welsh cottage, (2010)

Additional sources (there are many more)
Harold Hughes and Herbert Luck North, ‘The Old Cottages of Snowdonia’
(See Peoples collection Wales web site for 14 images)
Rees, T. Mardy, (1912) Welsh Painters, Engravers and Sculptors, 1527-1911 (for E.P. Owen pictures)

Comparative sources
Kinmonth, Claudia, Irish Rural Interiors in Art, (2006)
Murray, Peter, (ed), Whipping the Herring, Survival and Celebration in nineteenth-Century Irish Art, (2006)

Estate cottages
Some of the wealthy gentry built model villages which included cottages of uniform in design. Examples mentioned by tourists included those at Llandegai (built for the Penrhyn castle estate) and at Chirk, near the castle.

Cottage ornée  and fishing lodges were built by the gentry for them and their guests to use. One exceptional cottage was Plas Newydd, Llangollen, occupied between 1780 and 1831 by ‘The Ladies of Llangollen‘.

Descriptions of Cottages, in chronological order

1773-1776 Snowdon
This mountainous tract scarcely yields any corn. Its produce is cattle and sheep, which, during summer, keep very high in the mountains, followed by their owners, with their families, who reside in that season in Havodtys, or summer dairy-houses, as the farmers in the Swiss Alps do in their Sennes. These houses consist of a long low room, with a hole at one end, to let out the smoke from the fire, which is made beneath. Their furniture is very simple: stones are the substitutes of stools; and the beds are of hay, ranged along the sides.
Pennant, Thomas, The Journey to Snowdon, (1781), p. 161

1775, Carmarthenshire
The Mud Houses in these Parts are of most wretched Construction. The Walls do not consist of Lath and Plaister, as in Suffolk, etc, but are entirely of Earth, and that not of Straw wrought up with it, but with sometimes a Layer of Straw ; [note on p. 123v] the Chimnies, scarcely rising above the Roofs, are of conical Wicker-work barely plaistered over. [end of note] The Walls are often seen in a state of Vegetation ; the Roofs universally thatched, whereas in N. Wales the Cottages are of stone covered with Slate, but they want those pretty little Gardens which the poorest Hovel here always has.
Sir Thomas Gery Cullum, 7th Baronet (1741-1831), NLW MS 5446B (20th century transcript of tour journal), p. 124

1785, Jeffreston (Pembrokeshire)
Village Inn: ‘The walls of the house were about six feet high, consequently no floor could exist above ground. The roof was covered with thatch according to the common, but not universal custom … : there was no sign post. In I went – and the whole possessions appeared at first sight in a single room, as near as I could guess, about 20 feet long, by 14 wide; the naked rafters and the thatch, grown dark with age and smoke, proved that ceilings were non-essential, and that carved and gilded cornices were only the luxuries of ambition.
INVENTORY [of a cottage]
A whole dead pig hanging behind the door
Two beds in old oaken cases
A fixed fire screen, with part of the spare raiment of the family hanging upon it.
A dresser case, with pewter and culinary wares
Two large water pitchers
Three long forms
Two washing tubs
Three lock-up corn bins
Three tables
One cradle
Six wooden chairs
Two flitches of fat bacon
Several large hams, hanging by strings from the rafters over the beds
Sundry chines, chaps, and pieces of bacon against the walls
An old wig among them
Sundry other pairs of breaches, stays, petticoats etc hanging at intervals between the bacon
Bread, cheese, and drinking mugs in abundance
House dogs
Parents, both lively, conscious of prosperity, and happy.
The possessions of a Welsh curate who survived on a living of under £10 per year.
{List of books}
One ragged blue bed
Three broken chairs
Three old empty chests
One old table
One pair of breeches
One rusty church-going hat.

He dined with a local family, the daughters of which ran a ‘large handsome shop which supplied the wants of the neighbourhood’. They borrowed books from the public library at Pembroke and had books of their own, including Milton’s poems. One of them created pictures with glue and pieces of fabric.
Matthews, William, (of Bath) The miscellaneous companions. Vol. I Being a short tour of observation and sentiment, through a part of South Wales, (1786) p. 189-195

1787 Ysbyty Cynfyn
Till lately the inn at Ysbytty afforded little entertainment for man or horse; it now affords oats as well as hay for the latter; the former still bring their provisions with them. Not that the innkeeper and his family do not eat, but they eat such food as is not agreeable to travellers. The ground floor of the inn consists of one habitable room, and one for lumber. A fire was blazing on the hearth of the former, and over it was stewing the family dinner, which was composed of cabbages, turnips, and carrots. The only servant, a labouring man, was, in the meantime, eating a bowlful of vegetable broth. The grand ornament of the room was a piece of bacon suspended from a beam; and a morsel of this, occasionally, made a feast. The hostess desired our coachman to bring her a piece of beef, if he should come up to Aberystwyth again this summer. That he will not, I believe, and the family will go without beef at least another year. The upper part of the dwelling consisted of one room only, to which I mounted by a ladder, and which I entered by a small aperture left in the floor. The aperture conveyed all the light and air permitted to enter the apartment; for window and chimney it had none. It had, however, three beds, one for the master and mistress of the house, one for their servant, and one for the accommodation of any traveller who might be so unfortunate as to be obliged to sleep here. If he sleep between Llanidloes and Aberystwyth, it must be here. The entrance occupied one angle of the room, the three beds the others; and by a very ingenious contrivance, curtains were rendered unnecessary. The two walls enclosed the head and one side of the bed ; a very neat mat reaching from the roof to the floor, enclosed the other side ; the foot of the bed was left open for ingress and egress, the roof formed the tester.
Hutton, Catherine, Hutton Beale, Catherine, Reminiscences of a gentlewoman of the last century; letters of Catherine Hutton (Birmingham, Cornish Brothers, 1891). pp. 47-48

1788 between Goodrich and Bishop’s-wood-furnace on the Wye
we saw a small hut by the water side carelessly heaped together, which according to established custom, the indigent natives raise in the night; this, if they can accomplish it so as to cover in, and boil a pot within the space of twelve hours unmolested, becomes their own, and they are allowed to enclose a sufficient quantity of land around it, and to rebuild a more suitable cottage [ty Unos]; thus in a  few years, but this laudable custom and indulgence, the whole face of the country wears a general aspect of cultivation, and the most barren spots become adorned with woods, gardens and orchards.
Shaw, Stebbing, (fellow of Queen’s College, Cambridge), A tour to the West of England, in 1788, (London, 1789), p. 194

1788, Llangollen
Went into the Weaver’s garden. Never saw anything more neat and comfortable. A great quantity of thread whitening on the grass. A neat sodded hovel with a good bed of straw for the dog who guards this little property. … three little children cleanly drest playing before the door. The wife scouring her chairs and tables.
Butler, Eleanor, Journal,1.5.1788, NLW ms 22971C

1790 [Llansantffraid or Llanrhystud?]
we stopped to water and rest the horses at a miserable hut in a little hamlet [which] is particularly marked by the appearance of poverty. The good woman who was boiling her pot over a little peat fire in a room so dismal that we could scarcely see into every corner of it told us with a smile of content on her countenance “that it was a poor place”’.
Nicholson, Francis, [Diary, Tour of Wales], NLW MS15190, p. 37

1790, Llangollen
Entered a cottage on a declivity of a mountain [near their home, Plas newydd, Llangollen]. Found a very pretty young woman spinning, a weaver at his loom, a little child with a doll, two fine dogs … [and] a black and white cat.
Butler, Eleanor, Journal, NLW ms 22971C, 23 March, 1790

1790, Llangollen
Observed a little cottage roofed with stone and covered with sod. erected on the side of the Mountain. From above the little abode all the rubbishy stone has been swept away, the ground cleared, an orchard planted behind the house, a little garden secured by a box hedge from the encroachments of sheep. This garden contained flowers such as primrose,s, polianthus, snowdrops and sweet briar, jessamy, roses, all for the use of a hive of bees. A little well besides – but I could expatiate for ever on the delights of this delightful little habitation.
Butler, Eleanor, Journal, NLW ms 22971C, 18 April, 1790

1791, Cardigan to Aberaeron road
Stopped by the rain at three cottages, the first best, the last worst, but cheerful with a colt neighing in one of its divisions, the second dark as night, a spinning wheel in each.
Rogers, Samuel, Journey through Wales, 1791, Clayden, P.W., The Early Life of Samuel Rogers. (London, 1887), p. 191

1791 Devil’s Bridge
The guide, who conducts strangers to the spot, is a female, and lives in a mean little hut, built entirely of dirt and weeds. It is easily known from other cottages, by its distinction, in having a tree upon the top of it.
It consists of two apartments, in one of which I found a horse and a cow, and the other the whole family of pigs, ducks, dogs, cats, men, women and children. The hole by which we entered, served both as a window and a door, and a small opening at the top, suffered the smoke to pass out. In one corner of this miserable hovel, sat the jolly damsel who was to conduct us to the bridge. She accosted us in broken English, begged we would be seated upon the bed, which served both as a table and a chair to the whole family, and promised to attend us as soon as she had finished peeling her turnips. I assisted her in this operation, and we soon finished them all, upon which she dropped a thick woollen petticoat, put on her beaver, curtseyed, and said she was ready to attend us.
Clarke, Edward Daniel, A Tour through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland, made during the Summer of 1791, (London: 1793), p. 260

I have sometimes heard the Welsh accused of want of cleanliness, an accusation they by no means merit; on the contrary, they are remarkably neat and tidy in their houses, and while I was among them, during which time I had an opportunity of observing a great deal of their manners and appearance, I found a sufficient degree of neatness to be admired even in the meanest cottages. Indeed if there is a part of Wales where this is not the case, it is in their principal towns, where they ape the manners of other countries, and attempting to be finer than the rest of their people, neglect their native characteristic of cleanliness and decency. To set a Welsh cottage in an advantageous point of view, one has nothing to do but to place beside it an Irish cabin. What a contrast! In one we behold industry and cleanliness predominant over poverty ; in the other lousiness, laziness, licentiousness, and every species of misery.
Clarke, Edward Daniel, A Tour through the South of England, Wales and Part of Ireland, made during the Summer of 1791, (London: 1793), p. 350

1791 between Hay on Wye and Brecon
One cannot but observe the extreme wretchedness of the poor, their vile dirty cottages for the most part only a ground floor, that miserably paved with stone, the front windows blocked up to save window lights & the little they have is admitted through a small opening behind.
Ward, Sophia, Tour Through South Wales, NLW 19758A, 28th August, 1791

1795, Bala
Suppose, therefore, by way of shewing you a specimen of the hardy manner in which the poor natural inhabitants of these craggy abodes live, you step with me into a hut belonging to one of the Barmouth peasants. In point of situation it might vie with any hermitage, cot, or palace, that priest, peasant or prince ever fixed on for residence. A noble beach of the finest sands spreads itself at the bottom; the ocean, yet nobler, extends in front, with all the scenery that moves of the face of the waters; the cliffs of Cardiganshire bounds the prospect to the right, to the left are seen those of Caernarvonshire. Close at its foot a rill which is forever heard but never seen, the shrub wood and weeds of a little half-cultivated piece of garden ground bidding defiance to the most narrow inspection; and close at its back is part of that immense and continuous rock on which one half of the village is erected; but as those are on the summit, this is at the bottom. The sides, and far the greater part of this hovel (for it is little better) are so thick with ivy, that, at a small distance, nothing but that romantic evergreen is to be discovered. A novel writer, or a lover, or a misanthrope, could imagine nothing half so congenial to their pensive dispositions: it belongs to neither of these personages. Enter it, and survey the inhabitants. Perhaps there never was contained, in so small a space, such a variety of occupations going on at the same time; nor, probably, such a number of living beings crowded into one cottage, consisting not only of one floor, but one very contracted room. That room was built barn fashion; had more light from the large gaps in the roof, which was of thatch, than from the window. Its walls are of avowed mud, for not so much as a common whitewash ever attempted to conceal their real compositions. The family consisted of fourteen persons, of which three were too young to relieve their poverty, though just old enough to smile at, and disregard it – the rest were, as I said, busily employed. The father of the family was making nets, the mother of it was shaving one of the inn keepers of the place – of her more anon – the eldest son was weaving ribbons – the eldest daughter weaving cloth – the second son was mending a petticoat, that for variety of patchwork, might triumph over Otway’s Hag-the second daughter was attempting to repair, what I guess, might have been intended for her father’s breeches, in his younger days, and was now to be converted into a pair for his heir apparent- the third daughter (he had but three sons) was combing the head of the fourth, who was, with no less industry, knitting a pair of stockings-the sixth girl was making bread – the seventh was making broth, that is, a collection of potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables – and the eighth and last, was rocking the cradle of the youngest child with her foot, and dandling another in her arms – while the fifth was making first experiments at the spinning wheel.
The tatters, which were thrown over these poor artisans, were even more bare and ragged than the furniture, which consisted of only three miserable beds, of which one only had curtains, and those of yellow stuff, in so ruinous a state, that, (as the Copper Captain says of the rats) – the moths, and other vermin, ‘had instinctively quitted it’ – There was a fourth bed, of a little dirty looking straw, in a corner of the room, with a covering of old sacks. Never did I see so much indigence, and so much industry united; for though the latter was unremitted, the low price of labour, and the number to be supplied from it, and tender years of most of the labourers, made the source inadequate to the demand upon it; but neither the industry, nor the indigence, had banished the virtues, or the felicities; They were, indeed, within this lowly residence, in a more flourishing state, than is generally to be found in prouder dwellings. All the varieties, which characterise happiness, in different minds, and ages, were presented before me. The father, while he constructed his net, taught the alphabet to one of his smaller children, who was armed with a horn book – the matron strongly recommended the last piece of cloth of her eldest girl’s making, to the inn keeper, whose chin she was reaping; thus contriving to carry on two bargains at the same time; and it is not easy to describe to you, the satisfaction with which the good man of the house kissed the dirty face of the child, on her getting through her letters without miscalling, or forgetting, more than sixteen out of twenty four; or how the good woman chuckled, when her encomia of the linen, conquered the reluctance of mine host, who not only promised to become a purchaser of the cloth, then under hand, but to speak favourably of her daughter’s handy-works, to the gentry at his house. The joke, however, which was, meanwhile, carrying on between the second son and daughter, about the inversion of their usual occupations, which was a thing agreed on, out of pure sport, supplied a mirth, yet more ardent. The convention was. ‘Sister, if you will repair my breeches, I will men your petticoat – One good turn deserves another.’ Accordingly, both went to work, during which a thousand rustic repartees, and sallies of uncultivated wit, which made up in harmlessness, what they wanted in brilliancy, passed in rebound; but the jet of the joke, lay in a struggle, that happened between them, in the progress of their business; the brother declaring his sister was a bungler; whereupon there rose a pleasant contention, which was of serious consequence to the breeches; for they were torn in twain, and furthermore, so rent as to be unfit for either father or son; this, though no trifling loss to a family under such circumstances, made the jest so much better, that the father forgave the misfortune, for the sake of the pleasant manner, with which it was brought about, assuring me that there was more with in that girl, who had torn the breeches, and more slyness in the young dog, that was laughing at it, than I could believe. The mother shook her head, saying, they were always at some mischief, and would be the ruin of the family; but patted the girl on the cheek, and clapped the boy on the back, while she passed the censure on to them. ….
Pratt, Samuel Jackson, (1749-1814), Gleanings through Wales, Holland and Westphalia (London, 1795), vol 1 p. 48-52
[This description was considered by a number of his contemporaries to be fanciful, particularly ‘Cymro’ (Theophilus Jones) who reviewed the book in the Cambrian Register, 1796, pp 423-435]

1795 Kenilelvit [Cynwyl Elfed]
A striking proof of the indigence of the cottagers in this county is that their chimneys are constructed of twigs twisted in basket work, and have on the outside the appearance of a rook’s nest: I infer that their fires never raise to a flame and consequently their repasts must be chiefly vegetables as meat could never be dressed by so feeble a heat.
Eardley-Wilmot, Sarah, (nee Haslam), National Museum of Wales, Library, Cardiff, MS179554, typed copy, pp. 154-155

1796 [review of Mrs Morgan, A Tour to Milford Haven, in the Year 1791, (London, 1795)]
but very frequently, after a cold wet ride, they have to tumble into a bed, into a fireless house, scantily covered with thatch, through which the rain penetrates, and drops upon that very bed during the whole of the night.
‘Cymro’, [Theophilus Jones (1759-1812)] Cursory Remarks on Welsh Tours or Travels (1799), Cambrian Register II, (for 1796), p. 440

The cottages have been dwindling away, almost to a Scotch hut, but they are made something higher, wider and lighter, and more square than the Highlanders.
Sykes, Christopher, Sir, Journal of a Tour In Wales, 1796, NLW MS 2258C (Typescript copy, p. 45)

1796 North Ceredigion
Drawing of Two cottages of the worst sort in south Wales, one with lattice windows and the other without any, both have shutters within. In general the cottages are not bad, there are but few of this sort.
Sykes, Christopher, Sir, Journal of a Tour In Wales, 1796, NLW MS 2258C (Typescript copy, p. 50)

The cottages that we met with here, were the rudest of any that we saw during our whole tour; their walls are formed of large rounded blocks of quartz and other stones piled one upon the other, having the interstices filled up with smaller fragments and lumps of peat: the roof is composed of broad irregular pieces of coarse slate, in which a large hole, encircled by sticks that are fastened together by a straw a straw rope, serves the purpose of a chimney. The forlorn appearance without corresponds to the wretchedness within, where a timid, reserved, and suspicious race of men, subject to the mischiefs, without participating in the benefits of civil union, with difficulty contrive to keep up an existence, cheerless as their own mountains, shrowded in snow, and clouds, and storms.
Aikin, Arthur, Journal of a Tour through North Wales and a part of Shropshire with observations of Mineralogy and other branches of natural History [1796], (London: 1797) p. 32

1797 Caernarfon
The poor people live in wretched huts, in the suburbs, though they join each other, and form a street. They often contain but one room, which holds the family night and day. The floor is unpaved, or rudely laid with stones, and the light is admitted by one sorry window, but the door is always open; and the mother and grandmother are frequently seen spinning and knitting, surrounded by a brood of the finest rosy children that imagination can conceive- to say nothing of the pigs, for they are joint tenants, as well as free of the city.
Hutton, Catherine, letter 11, Caernarfon, 13.9.1797, The Monthly Magazine and British Register between July and November, 1816, [page numbers unknown]

1797 between Brecon and Rhayader
[Warner got lost and met Robert Lewis who offered to act as a guide for part of the way] But,” continued he, “I cannot think of doing this, gentlemen, till you have visited my cottage hard by, and tasted my ale, of which I keep a good bottle for the refreshment of “my friends.” … It was an humble dwelling, standing in the midst of a small but neat garden, under the side of a steep hill, sheltering it from the blasts of the east and north. On entering the tenement, which consisted only of a ground floor, we found that it was divided into two apartments; the inner one containing a bed and four chairs, the outer displaying an infinite variety of heterogeneous articles; implements of destruction, and books of divinity; culinary utensils, and apothecary’s drugs; cobler’s tools, and English classics; a cabinet and a cupboard, tables and stools, chairs and benches.  … our friendly conductor, opening the cabinet, produced a bottle and glasses, the shell of a good cheese, some brown bread, and oaten cake.
Warner, Richard, Rev (1763-1857), A Walk through Wales in Aug, 1797, (Bath, 1798), pp. 45-46

1798 near Barmouth
As I farther ascended the hill, a hut, little better than the cote [cottage] I had left, forbade my approach. At the entrance, for door there was none, stood a tall female figure, which from her tattered dress and sallow countenance, you would scarcely have supposed to have been human; with a distorted figure at her breast. I spoke, but she, not understanding my language, and little supposing I would enter such a dwelling, still kept her post. I then took the child by the hand and pointed for admittance. The hut consisted of one room upon the ground floor; divided by a partition of lath and reeds. The floor was the native soil, rendered very hard and uneven from long and unequal pressure. At the farther end was a fire of turf, laid upon a few stones; near which stood a three-legged stool, a small cast iron pot, some branches of broom tied up for a besom, and a few bundles of rushes thrown down for a bed. These constituted the principal furniture. {description of the inhabitants}
Evans, John, Rev., (1768-1812), A tour through part of North Wales, in the year 1798, and at other times : principally undertaken with a view to botanical researches in that Alpine country: interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, manufactures, customs, history, and antiquities, (London, 1800), p. 115

The habitations of the poor are generally a cottage, thatch covered whose walls are composed of clay and rude timbers and wicker work with mud plaster to combine it; to each of these little tenements a little garden is annexed …’ {the numbers of people in a hut at rest time is greater than any animals we saw}
Anon, Sketch of a pedestrian Tour thro’ parts of North and South Wales etc. Begun September 3rd, 1798 by GN, DJJ, RP., NLW 4419B, f. 38

1798-1801 Nant Ffrancon / Penrhyn quarry
In different parts around are scattered the white-washed cottages of the work-men, built from the designs of Mr Wyatt [architect], and on the exterior, affording at a little distance, an air of considerable neatness and comfort; but from the broken windows, and the ragged and filthy appearance of the children of two or three into which I ventured to put my head, nothing but the extreme of wretchedness and poverty could be supposed to reign within.
Bingley, William, North Wales including its Scenery, Antiquities, Customs and Sketches of its Natural History, delineated from two excursions through all the interesting parts of that country during the summers of 1798 and 1801, 2nd edition, 1804

1799 Aberarth
[We] rode through the village of Aberarth, which was the neatest, most rural and interesting I saw in Wales. The cottages are placed in the simplest style of irregularity that can be imagined. They are all accurately clean, built with stone, and not like Welch cottages in general, covered with turf, but with the smoothest thatch, remarkably well laid on.
George Lipscomb, G., Journey into South Wales…in the year 1799 (London, 1802), p. 167

1799 Pumlumon
Here we saw a cottage, or rather cairn, completely formed of turf and covered with the same. A stone served for the window shutter, and the door was of wicker work.
{Looked for a guide to Plynlimon. Found a cottage, with only 4 or 5 children} ‘in a state of the extremest poverty and filth which can be imagined, not one of whom could speak a word of English’. {Began journey back to Hafod, but found a shepherd who, once his sheep were secure, put his shoes on (he had been barefoot), and took them up the mountain.}
‘The inside of this hut was a melancholy specimen of poverty, filth and idleness, there being scarcely a pane of glass in the small window, which if entire, would have admitted only a few rays of light; – not a chair to sit on, – not, in short, one single comfort to cheer the wrenched existence of its miserable inhabitants.
A fire of turf indeed there was, which nearly produced suffocation; but such a picture of wretchedness I scarcely ever beheld. And yet this man should not be accounted poor, for he told me that he had more than one hundred sheep, and no rent to pay.
Lipscomb, George, Journey into South Wales…in the year 1799, (London, 1802), pp. 152-4

1800, Plinlimon
According to our directions, we enquired at the foot of Plinlimon for Rees Morgan, as a proper man to be our conductor over the heights of the ‘fruitful father of rivers’ [is he quoting Warner who uses this phrase, or are they both quoting a poem?]. This man being absent, the whole family appeared thunderstruck at our appearance, and run with all haste imaginable into the miserable cot [cottage], or what might be dignified with the appellation of a pig-stye; as that filthy animal seemed to claim, with the wretched family, an equal right to a share of the hovel. One apartment served for the inhabitants of every description, with only a small hole to admit the light; the entrance, unprotected by a doorbut with a blanket as a substitute, was exposed to the pitiless blasts of the winter’s storm.
Reviewing this despicable hovel, I recalled to my mind a very justified observation of Goldsmith’s ‘That one half of the world are ignorant how the other half lives.’ [he quotes Thompson’s poem on the same subject]
Cliff (of Worcester) or Cooke, C., The Cambrian Directory or Cursory Sketches of the Welsh Territories. (Salisbury: 1800), p. 78-9

1800, base of Snowdon
Arrived at the guide’s cottage ‘the filth and dirtiness of which can better be imagined than described; a worm-eaten bed, two small stools, and a table fixed to the wall, composed the whole of his furniture, – two fighting cocks were perched on a beam, which Thomas seemed to pride himself in the possession of; the smoke of the fire ascended through a small hole in the roof of this comfortable mansion, the door of which did not appear proof against the “churlish chiding of the winter blast.”
Cliff (of Worcester) or Cooke, C., The Cambrian Directory or Cursory Sketches of the Welsh Territories, (Salisbury: 1800), p. 104

About 1800, Llandeilo Fawr
It is wonderful that the inhabitants of this district should be of all others in Wales the rudest and most inelegant in their manners, habits of living, houses etc, etc, living in a Country where nature has exhibited all her elegancies in the superlative degree. And where (not to be wondered at) numerous Gentlemen’s seats set example of a better taste, however I am told it is but very lately even amongst these higher classes that elegant improvement has been introduced … and yet they aim at finery in their houses, amongst other instances of the curious taste displayed on such occasion may be mentioned their custom of hanging on nails all round the rooms of their houses great numbers of jugs from one to two quarts each of all the colours that our various Potteries produce. it is no uncommon thing to see a hundred at least thus hanging round the walls of a mud built cottage, and commonly so covered in dust that their fineries are all hidden. nothing more common than for a stranger seeing thro an open door so many Jugs hanging about the room, to call for a pot of ale, this always gives offence, but the appearance to anyone not acquainted with their custom, would naturally be that of an alehouse. and this is one of the principal ornaments of the houses of person of very considerable property – other ornament equally curious may be frequently met with …
Williams, Edward, (Iolo Morganwg) Tour of Carmarthenshire area in about 1800 (NLW MS 13156A) p. 158-160 Transcribed from Muriel Bowen Evans, ‘Sir Gaeriaid: Some Comments on Carmarthenshire and its people by Iolo Morganwg, Carmarthen Antiquary, (1988), 33-55.

The people in the Country, not even opulent Farmers, never build any temples to Cloacina [toilets], but sacrifice to that Goddess in the open air, the place generally appropriated for the Altar is the gable end of the House, and therefore it often happens that you are rudely taken by the Nose on your approach to it, and to complete the business the pig stye is frequently attached to the other end.
Mr Martyn, A Tour of South Wales, [1801] NLW MS 1340C, p. 125

1802 near Mallwyd
cottages of the most rude and miserable appearance, built of unhewn stone with wicker chimneys and ragged thatch are discovered here and there in deep glens bordering the waterfall.
A., L., Journal of a Welsh Tour, Monthly Magazine; or, British Register, vol. 14, (October, 1802), pp. 227-232; 303-307

Soon after I arrived in Cardiganshire. The Mud wall cottages, the characteristic of the County appeared. It is wonderful the inhabitants should still continue to erect these dirt walls and even in places where the county abounds too much in stone. Dry stone walls, pointed with lime mortar – the inside worked with tough clay would do very well. The chimneys of these mud cottages are of the poorest sort [diagrams] wattled rods mudded over.’
Davies, Walter, Journal no VII, diary 1802, NLW, p. 121, p. 15

1803 Cardiganshire
A stranger, in crossing this county, is much disgusted with the squalid appearance of the mud cottages, the undistinguished abode of the whole family, human and bestial, and by no means too good for the latter branch. The reason why the general scale of farm houses and cottages is so much inferior to that of similar buildings in Glamorgan, may be found at first sight in the circumstance of Cardiganshire having little stone of a good quality for architectural purposes, and neither lime nor coals but what are brought by sea from afar, and consequently very expensive. Yet are the peasantry perfectly satisfied with their accommodations; and though Mr Johnes has built many cottages about his estate, in a style of neatness and convenience, befitting his taste and liberality, but generally unattainable, they are far from considering this among his highest favours, or giving them any decided preference, above the hovels to which they have been accustomed.
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), vol. 2, pp. 32-33

1803 Between the Teifi Lakes and Tregaron, across the hills
Here was the cottage of my guide who was a shepherd. I found it a more wretched hovel than any I met with excepting in the upper part of Carmarthenshire, where human accommodation seems to be as low a scale as possible. Still, however, he appeared content.
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), vol. 2, p. 131; (2nd edition, 1807) p. 386

1803 Pembrokeshire
The prices of provisions and the rate of labour are much lower than in any part of Wales, or probably of England; In October, 1803, beef in Pembroke market was fourpence a pound, and labourers wages eightpence a day. … Yet there is nowhere a more contented set of cottagers than in Pembrokeshire because they have many privileges conceded by their employers which place them on a level with the increased demands of their times without raising their pride or tempting their morals by an addition of pecuniary payment.
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), vol. 2, p. 197

1803 Pembrokeshire
‘the cottages are good and comfortable’
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), vol. 2, p. 199

1803, between Ystrad Meurig and Strata Florida, Cardiganshire
It was one of those poor huts that are thinly sprinkled by the sides of the hills, inhabited by peaters and shepherds. As we approached, first one, and then two more fine children, almost in a state of nudity, ran out …
A stout fresh-coloured woman, with dark sparkling eyes and black hair, made her appearance. Habited in a striped gown and flannel petticoat, who seeing our condition, welcomed us by the most inviting sounds in her language to her little cot. It was partly formed by an excavation in the slate rock, and partly by walls of mud mixed with chopped rushes, covered with segs, and having a wattled or basket-work chimney. The entrance was at the gable end, facing the south east, which was defended during the night, or in very cold weather, by a wattled hurdle, clothed with rushes. A wall of turfs for fuel served as a partition for the bedroom, furnished with a bed of heath and dried rushes in one corner. The furniture was such as necessity dictated : some loose stones formed the grate ; two large ones, with plank across, supplied the place of chairs ; a kettle, with a back stone for baking oaten cakes, answered every culinary purpose ; and two coarse earthen pitchers stood by for the preserving or the carrying of water and dodgriafel [sic] , the usual beverage of the family.
{husband was a peater [man who dug up peat] and might earn six shillings a week and sometimes three or four. They had a cow and a few sheep.}
Her work was knitting, at which, with the assistance of her two eldest girls one five and the other seven, if not interrupted, they could earn five pence a day… The mother looked in health and the children, though thinly clad, ruddy and smiling.
{Quotes Mason’s Garden re poorly dressed children}
Inside, there did not appear anything like the misery and filth observable in the dwellings of many of the English poor, whose weekly income is four or six times as great. Though the floor was formed of the native rock, it was regularly swept with a besom made of segs, bound with a band of the same; and the fuel was regularly piled as bread on the baker’s shelves. All appeared in order and the air of content apparent in the looks of this humble peasant and her family put us all justly to the blush.
{thoughts on the lives of the poor} {She said that she was educated at church and sincerely believed in the Redeemer}
Evans, John, B.A., 1768-1812 (Jesus College, Oxford), Letters written during a tour through South Wales, in the year 1803, and at other times : containing views of the history, antiquities, and customs of that part of the principality; and interspersed with observations on its scenery, agriculture, botany, mineralogy, trade and manufactures, (London, 1804), pp. 348-351

1804 (or later) Carmarthenshire
Cross the Tywi in Carmarthenshire and the contrast between the cottages and those of Glamorganshire is striking – instead of the limewash stone wall you have here a bank of mud about 5 feet high and over that a deep roofing of straw – the chimney of twigs making an obtuse angle with the mud walling of the gable end so that in general a Carmarthenshire cottage brings to the mind of a stranger an idea of a hen (iar goppog / gossog? [gorllyd is to be broody, amongst other things)]) brooding over her chickens. [Very small sketch of a thatched cottage.] ‘Cardiganshire cottages much in the same style. See Malkin, II, 32, 33, 131, 197, 199. Pembroke “cottages are good and comfortable”, [Malkin] p. 199 [This is the case in all limestone counties WD]’
Walter Davies, Diary NLW, MS 1759B, f. 67v [The whole of the above is exactly as written in the original, including the references to Malkin]
An almost identical description appears in Edward Williams’ notebook
[Cottages of Carmarthenshire- , instead of the limewashed [white-washed] stone wall you have here … a bank of mud about 5 feet high and over that a deep roofing of straw, the chimney of twigs making an obtuse angle with the end walling of gable end, so that in general a Carmarthenshire cottage brings to mind of a stranger an idea of a hen [?] – over her children [the page is badly worn]
Edward Williams’ (Iolo Morganwg), NLW MS 13156A, Journey 3 Llandeilo to Cardiganshire and the north, p. 272 entitled ‘Miscellaneous enquiries, 1802 from WD [Walter Davies, (Gwalter Mechain)]’.]

1805, Plinlimon
I was ushered into a miserable hut [cottage], the walls of mud, the roof of thatch and the inside divided into two apartments with hurdles only and so full of smoke that I could scarcely breath in it, a large pot was boiling, and they set before me a little brown loaf, an earthen bowl of milk and a cheese and a slice cut off which the old woman buttered … and set before me … Whilst I was thus employed a great pig came in, and made himself quite easy before the fire, so that I found he was a parlour guest; I made my thanks and offered a shilling; the old woman rejected it, and I found by my guide that she was above a gratuity for says the guide the farmers are men of property that dwell in the mountains. I could not comprehend this; a mud house, no shoes, no stockings and the pig in the parlour did not show the affluence of the family, I offered the shilling then to the daughter a young woman of about 20, her eyes glistened at it and she took it. The mother told me that the mother was very sorry I had given it;
Parker, Robert, Hampshire Record Office, 18M51/557

1805 On the road between Llanidloes and Devil’s Bridge
There is no house or tree to be seen, save the miserable hovels inhabited by the shepherds, of one story and holes made for windows, and yet we were told that many of these people were worth £1000.
Hon Anne Rushout, Extracts from a diary in the possession of G.A. Bright, Bright, G.A., Tour in Central Wales in 1805, Radnorshire Society Transactions, xxvii, 1958, 7-10

1805 Denbighshire, near Bala
The cottages had a more wild and uncomfortable appearance than those in Caernarvonshire; and instead of being covered with slates and furnished with chimneys, they are miserably thatched, and have the same curious apertures for the smoke to pass, as we had before noticed in Carmarthen[shire] and Cardiganshire.
Mavor, William Fordyce, (1758-1837) A tour in Wales, and through several counties of England: including both the universities ; performed in the summer of 1805, (London : 1806), p. 126

{route to the Skirrid}
When crossing a field we observed some little rosy-faced children with a scanty covering of rags, playing at a cottage door. The smallness of their humble habitation, and its bad state of repair induced us to step into it. The inside was mean and pitiful beyond the ability of language to express. The window was entirely blocked up, and light only admitted through the many holes in the broken walls, and a few gleams which shot through the old crumbling thatch of the roof. It was filled with a woman and several children, who exhibited a lively picture of poverty and contentment. The husband who had just gone to his usual employment, earned all he could for his family by daily and hard labour, and the industrious mother used every means in her power for the maintenance of her children. We made them a small present in silver and departed. After leaving this abode of health and innocence, …
My mind here was naturally filled with reflections upon the useful lesson which the contented and healthful countenances of the poor woman and her children, would afford to many, moving in the circles of fashion and dissipation, surfeit of pleasure and habitual indolence renders many incapable of such real happiness as the peasant enjoys. The inhabitants of the humble cot enjoy their coarse meal, well earned by honest industry; their daily work finished, sweet sleep refreshes their weary limbs – Not so the possessor of the lofty palace …Many there are wracked with cares and worn down by the incessant routine of the pleasures and midnight revelry of high life, would gladly exchange conditions with the labouring poor.
Anon, A Tour in Monmouthshire and part of Glamorganshire. By a Gentleman, in July 1806 (Halesworth, 1807), pp. 23-26

1807, Breconshire
The farm buildings in the part of Breconshire which I have visited, are generally arranged in a line – and the habitations of men and cattle under one roof. A wide passage commonly separates the cow-house from the kitchen – which in most houses is approached by two or three steps with a porch at the principal entrance opposite to which is a door communicating with the yard. The dwelling for the most part consists of a spacious kitchen out of which are two small rooms – one of which is a bed chamber – and the other a pantry – the room above is frequently used as a common bed-chamber for the whole family – The Master and Mistress sleeping on a raised bed-stead and the servants on the flock mattresses on the floor round the room – {as in Giraldus}. The cottages are generally small and thatched, excepting where they happen to stand near a common, where slate is easily procured – and the windows are furnished with lattices made of split willow instead of glass which is seldom seen in such buildings.
A.M. Cuyler (The section on Welsh peasants (p.166) is the same as that in Powys County Archives Office A104/1/1(1) written by Henry Thomas Payne.) Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Piecefield, Raglan etc by A.M.Cuyler 1807, NLW add MS 784A, pp. 165-166

A stranger, in crossing this county, is much disgusted with the squalid appearance of the mud cottages, the undistinguished abode of the whole family, human and bestial, and by no means too good for the latter branch. The reason why the general scale of farm houses and cottages is so much inferior to that of similar buildings in Glamorgan, may be found at first sight in the circumstance of Cardiganshire having little stone of a good quality for architectural purposes, and neither lime nor coals but what are brought by sea from afar, and consequently very expensive. Yet are the peasantry perfectly satisfied with their accommodations; and though Mr Johnes has built many cottages about his estate, in a style of neatness and convenience, befitting his taste and liberality, but generally unattainable, they are far from considering this among his highest favours, or giving them any decided preference, above the hovels to which they have been accustomed.
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), Vol. 2, pp. 31-32 [2nd edition, 1807 with additions]

1804 Teifi Pools, Cardiganshire
{Visited his guide’s cottage – a shepherd} I found it a more wretched hovel than any I met with excepting in the upper part of Carmarthenshire, where human accommodation seems to be as low a scale as possible. Still, however, he appeared content …
Malkin, B.H., The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales from materials collected during two excursions in the year 1803. (London: 1804), p. 386 [p 131 in vol 2, 1804] [2nd edition, 1807 with additions]

‘Food management etc’
The economy of these people is of the very best kind [and it may be added that upon occasionally an inferior scale it is very generally imitated throughout the country. (Bangor ms, printed version, p. 104)] Their houses are well furnished, and a clock and chest of drawers with presses for clothes, crockery ware and pewter all shine in their proper respective place , being brightly and cleanly kept. Their beds are rendered weatherproof in this boisterous region by being boarded above and on three sides so that they represent an open chest laid upon its side / it resembles a sort of trunk.
Hall, Edmund Hyde, (1760s?-1824), A Description of Caernarvonshire (1809-1811), University College of North Wales, Bangor, Penrhyn add. ms. 2942; Jones, E Gwynne, (ed.), A Description of Caernarvonshire, Transaction of the Caernarfonshire Historical Society, (1952), pp. 104-105
A version of part of this is in ‘An account of the parishes of Llandygai, Llanllechid and Aber forming part of a preparatory draft of ‘A Description of Caernarvonshire’ written 1809-1811 by Edmund Hyde Hall, which forms Bangor MS 908.’ which contains slightly different wording to the Bangor ms. NLW add MS 839C, pp. 14-15

1809-1811, Llanbedr Cennyn
observed ‘an itinerant dealer in crockery and the display of his wares. This sort of traffic has now pretty generally fallen into the hands of native dealers, but upon its first introduction into the country, the importers were chiefly Englishmen from the potteries in the Midland counties.’
Hall, Edmund Hyde, (1760s?-1824), A Description of Caernarvonshire (1809-1811), University College of North Wales, Bangor, Penrhyn add. ms. 2942; Jones, E Gwynne, (ed.), A Description of Caernarvonshire, Transaction of the Caernarfonshire Historical Society, (1952), p. 78

1810 Cardiganshire
The farm buildings throughout this county, with very few exceptions, and those mostly of modern erection, are of a miserable description. The dwelling house is generally a wretched hovel, divided into two apartments on the ground floor, with sometime two or three small chambers above stairs, or on a loft which is accessible only by a ladder ; and the whole is so blackened by the peat smoke, and by filth, as to be hardly tenantable for human beings. The stables, beast houses and barns are in unison with the principle buildings, and equally as ill-suited for their several purposes.
The cottages of the labourers, and other poorer inhabitants, which are mostly constructed of mud, exhibit an exterior aspect of squalid wretchedness which is in many instances but too faithfully indicative of the poverty and disease that dwell within. It was impossible that this crying evil could long escape the searching and benevolent eye of improvement which of late has been opened in this county. Accordingly, where new cottages have been erected, suitable attentions has been paid to the comfort and health of the tenants. Of this, numerous examples may be seen on the Hafod estate, and on some other properties. The farm houses of recent erection are also on an improved construction, and the out-houses generally are built with more regard to the important uses for which they are intended.
Rees, Thomas, (1777-1864), A topographical and historical description of Cardiganshire : containing an account of its towns, castles, antiquities, churches, monuments, public edifices, picturesque scenery, the residences of the nobility, gentry, & c. ; accompanied with biographical notices of eminent and learned men to whom this county has given birth, (London, 1810); A Topographical and Historical Description of the Counties of South Wales, (London, 1815), for ‘The Beauties of England and Wales: or, original delineations, topographical, historical and descriptive of each country’, (complete edition 1815), pp. 407-408.  The Cardiganshire volume was also produced as a separate volume and contains only p. 385- 538 of The Beauties of England and Wales.

1810 (about) Fishguard
Curate’s cottage at Fishguard – all open to the roof – boundaries of rooms like those of a sheep fold. [Ground plan of the cottage]. The roof is thatched and within it is wicker worked with hay ropes which are rendered glossy with glutinous soot.
Davies, Walter, NLW 1759 Bii, 2nd set of notebooks, f. 292v

1811 Wales
cottages: the ‘worst mansions for human beings this side of the Tweed’
quoted in Lewis, W.J., Labour in Mid Cardiganshire in the Early 19th Century, Ceredigion, IV, 325 without source

1813 Caernarvonshire
The peasant’s Habitation in general are as rude as their food is coarse. In some parts, particularly the Llyn, they consist of walls, built of, what in Devonshire is termed Cobb; that is, an argillaceous earth having straw and rushes mixed with it, while in a state of paste; and then laid, layer upon layer, between boards, till the whole are ready for the formed roof, composed of thatch, either of straw or heath.
Many of these hovels, for little else can they be considered, are destitute of chimneys; the smoke making its escape by an aperture, at the extremity of the building. In the more mountainous parts, the cottages are constructed of loose stones, such as are found in abundance about the basements of the mountains. These are piled on each other, and the interstices caulked, or stuffed with moss, to prevent the ingress of winds and driving rains.
The houses of the small farmers, however, have openings, filled with mortar ; and in some instances, plastered and whitewashed over. In the more frequented parts of the county, between Caernarfon and Conwy, both cottages and superior dwellings are chiefly built of stone, quarried for the purpose; and though these consist of very shapeless masses, they are … artfully put together. The roofing is generally formed of the fine blue slate dug in the vicinity.
Evans, John, The Topographical Description of North Wales by Rev Mr Evans for the Beauties of England and Wales: delineations, topographical, historical and descriptive. Vol.17, (1813), p. 322

Between 1817-1821 North Wales
Cottages. A great part of the counties of Anglesey, Meirionedd and Montgomery, have been disgraced with some of these, where one smoky hearth which could not be called a kitchen, and one litter cell, not a bedroom, were frequently all the space allotted to a labourer, his wife and four or five children; but near the limeworks, mines, collieries etc. the example of one neat cottager has been followed by others. Three sets of cottages are described as a striking contrast to those of the first description. The late Arthur Blayney, Lord Penrhyn, and others, built a number of comfortable cottages for the labouring classes.
Evans, Thomas, Walks through Wales : containing a topographical and statistical description of the Principality : to which is prefixed, a copious travelling guide, exhibiting the direct and principal cross roads, inns, distances of stages, and noblemen and gentlemen’s seats, North Wales, (no date, but between 1817 and 1821), pp. 67-68
[This might be derived from one of his earlier works, or from the reports on the state of Agriculture in counties or North Wales.]

Between 1817-1821 South Wales
Farm-houses, Buildings and Cottages. Cottages in south Wales are divided into three sorts: The cottages of the Vale of Glamorgan, those of the Fleming race in Pembrokeshire and those of the Welsh Dimetae in the three counties of West Wales. The antiquity of the cottages is a strongly marked feature of Glamorganshire. There is little doubt that many of them are as ancient as the castles to which they were attached. The pointed doorways and windows sufficiently evince their date; and though Welsh towns are censured for their inelegance, and inconvenience of their houses, the direct reverse is the fact, with respect to the habitations of the peasantry here. The ancient Gothic cottages have a venerable exterior, and a portion of interior room, with comfort, and security from the elements, rarely enjoyed by their equals in any other part. In many cases, it may be truly said, the labourer is better lodged than his employer. These cottages are constructed of stone, well laid in mortar, and universally thatched with wheat straw. The continuing predilection of the Flemish cottage builders for mud walls, after a lapse of 600 years, with round wattles, and daub chimneys, is really surprising; and these generally start up from the front wall close to the door. The inhabitants of Gower, though of the same Netherland Race as their neighbours in Pembrokeshire, have well-built houses of stone regularly whitewashed; and they are besides cleanly and neat in their persons and cheerful in their demeanor. The Dimetiaen [Dyfed] cottages are known by their mud wall, about five feet high, a hipped end, low roofing of straw, and a wattle daub chimney, kept together with hay rope bandages, and not infrequently in a declining posture.
Evans, Thomas, Walks through Wales : containing a topographical and statistical description of the Principality : to which is prefixed, a copious travelling guide, exhibiting the direct and principal cross roads, inns, distances of stages, and noblemen and gentlemen’s seats, South Wales, (no date, but between 1817 and 1821), pp. 51-52
[This might be derived from one of his earlier works, or from the reports on the state of Agriculture in counties or South Wales.]

1817 Cottage on way from Beddgelert to the summit of Snowdon
After proceeding about 3 miles up the valley by a gentle ascent on the road to Caernarvon, we turned out of it into the hill on the right hand, and soon arrived at a low farm-house, or rather cottage, where we halted for a few minutes, whilst the guide procured some milk, and a lad to hold our horses when we should be obliged to leave them and proceed on foot to the summit of the mountain. Its external appearance was mean, and the surrounding pasture was very poor; yet there was an air of comfort within which surprised and pleased us. The house was clean; the furniture, though old-fashioned, was in good condition; a handsome clock stood opposite the door; the plates and dishes were carefully displayed, in useless abundance, on the shelves above; and the brass and tinware glittered in labored brightness below.
Fisher, Paul Hawkins, A Three weeks tour into Wales in the year 1817, (Stroud, 1818), p. 34

1819 between Dolgellau and Beddgelert
During one shower we stepped into the shelter of a cottager’s doorway. A poor woman was within with her family and seeing us she used all the English in her possession and bade us ‘sit down’. Her little boy got us chairs and we entered and rested ourselves. The hut was a little place made of stones and thatch standing on a very few yards of ground. The rooms we were in were occupied by far the greater part of it and extended upwards from the foundation to the roof. Still, however we almost filled it from side to side and from top to bottom. There were two or three pieces of wonderfully clean and bright oaken furniture about as a clock, a chest of drawers, a dresser and shelves, etc., and the crockery ware and other small things arranged in their respective places were in the nicest order. Even three legged stools looked respectable from the care taken of them. They were either white as milk or bright as hands could make them. The air of comfort about these little places is astonishing. A thousand conveniences present themselves which have either been purchased at the expense of hard labour or contrived and executed with much judgement and there appears to be no cessation in their endeavour to make all complete. It is true their means are very humble and their production so too. but they have the true merit of being useful and they are the best ornaments cottages can have for they are proof of their virtues and powers and proclaim the value of their character. All too is so clean. The outside of the houses are either painted or limewashed and the insides are rubbed and scoured until they surpass anything I have seen in London. At first sight of a female cottager out of doors we would hardly suppose them to merit this character but they have the greatest right to it. They are bare legged and bare footed, sometimes bare headed. Their clothes are coarse and hang loosely and they have not the appearance at first of being remarkable for cleanliness or order. But this erroneous judgement must be rectified. In their houses and their persons, they are equally orderly and the very custom of walking bare legged and footed is a proof of it. Every girl and woman in going from their houses to the town takes her shoes and if she has stockings, them also with her. She walks however without them on, but on nearing the town washes her feet in a brook, puts herself in order and them makes a respectable appearance.
The mistress of the hut into which we had entered was sitting on a low stool knitting, and surrounded by her family, a stout chubby boy and two little girls. One of them, and infant, was ill and the others were trying to amuse it or administering to its wants. The woman, with all the care she had could still entertain pity for us and showed her sorrow at the weather in a very expressive manner. Her little boy gave us seats and took my hat and then retired to the window and we talked with each other and the woman with her little ones each set smiling when by some easy word they found the other was speaking of them. Another traveller, a man of the country, came up whilst we were there and she asked him also to come in seeming to mind nothing how much trouble she caused herself nor how much we dirty her clean house, but he rested himself in the porch … When the storm had subsided, we prepared to be gone and the woman appeared to be astonished when we offered her anything like recompense to her little boy for the trouble we had given her. We left them very happy ourselves and they very much surprised’.
Faraday, Michael, in Dafydd Tomos, Michael Faraday in Wales : including Faraday’s journal of his tour through Wales in 1819 [1972], p. 73

1819 Lampeter to Llanrhystud road
Walked to Plas Cilcennin which is inhabited by a farmer of the name Evan James, whose father had the house about 20 years ago, it is a new house [since my grandfather’s time], but as the man could not talk English, I was forced to wait for information through the vicar of Llanbadarn Trefeglus, Mr Timothy Evans. ……I was pleased with the countenance and manner of [his wife at their house], she was a stout middle sized woman looking as if she had worked hard, dressed in a homely woollen cloth of her own making and the round hat. I had my seat by the fireside in a kitchen well stored with sides of bacon, hams, hung beef and smoked herrings, ornamented in the fashion of all Welsh cottages, with the large well-polished pewter dishes and plates, and the brass dairy utensils, the which are always supplied by the bride’s friends on the day previous to the marriage. A large mill-stone was let into the floor formed of round stones brought from the sea-side and on this mill-stone was heaped the comfortable blazing turf, as black and hard as coal, which is stored up in large ricks in the yard, each turf formed like a brick. I was a good deal annoyed by their courtesy, as it drew me from this comfortable kitchen to take my tea in the parlour, a little uncomfortable, half-painted, unfurnished room; the tea and good bread and butter was forced down my throat by the attacks from husband and wife of ‘ a little bite more’. After tea, by my desire, (as they insisted on my sleeping there), the old registers of Llanbadarn and Cilcennin were produced, but the Vicar of many years back had in a drunken fit destroyed them before 1732. [There follows some family history based on the registers]. After this research, we had bread and cheese, a jug of ale and went to bed at 11.
Jones, Jenkin, (Captain, R.N.), Tour in England and Wales, May – June, 1819, NLW, MS785A

About 3 miles from Aberystwyth I was driven for shelter from a heavy shower of rain, to what by its outward appearance, being built of stone, I took for a superior cottage for a Welsh peasant; when I entered it the poor woman, whose countenance bore evident marks of grief, handed me a chair, and went on scraping her few potatoes for her own , husbands and six children’s supper. I had the only chair offered me but preferred standing; there was every proof of the poor woman’s exertion to keep this hovel and her children clean, but the little things, the eldest a boy of 10 years old, looked half starved and ready to snatch the raw potatoes from their mother. Presently I heard from the adjacent room a plaintive voice and the mother ran in with a little milk in a cup. On her return I asked if there was any one sick there. She answered Yes, my little girl, very, very ill. I went into the room, and the on the only thing in the shape of a bed for the whole family, which was some straw laid on a few boards and covered with a blanket, was a poor little girl about 5 years old, covered with a scarlet eruption. However, on feeling its pulse I found that with a clean tongue and pretty moderate pulse, I ventured to assure the poor mother to her great delight of its speedy restoration and I thought it no harm to let the mother deceive herself into the belief that a doctor had told her so. He husband only earned 12 shillings a week. Just before, I had been grumbling that I could only afford dinner of meat every two or three days, now with sincerity I thanked God for my unmerited abundance.
Jones, Jenkin, (Captain, R.N.), Tour in England and Wales, May – June, 1819, NLW, MS785A, pp. 72-73; selected transcripts in Transactions of the Historical Society of West Wales, I, (1911), pp. 97-144

1819 Llanelli
The houses of the poor about here still continue to appear neat to a degree that is seldom observed in England.
Dewing, Lynn, Third Tour commencing from Bristol, 29.5.1819, revised April, NMW 163680, p. 18

1822 Dolgellau
the cottages miserable, tho’ apparently of the better sort for North Wales – mud floors – the smell of the peat fires is strong & disagreeable to those not accustomed to it – & the large masses of the dark mountain stone used for building, the unevenness of them in all but the better kind of houses filled up with lesser fragments give the buildings an unusually dark rude appearance which, with broken windows, completes the shabby look of the cottages in North Wales – But the fine blue roofing slate very commonly used is remarkably neat, & seems oddly contrasted with the rest –
Lister, Anne, diary, West Yorkshire (Calderdale) Archives (Halifax) SH, 7/ML/TR/11; RAM 52-76 and 78-9, f. 53, Transcribed by Kirsty Anne McHugh for the Curious Travellers project.

1825 Waterfalls near Dolgellau
At length we came to a miserable cottage, called a farmhouse, where we got off our ponies, & went in to take off some of our things which were wet. This farmhouse, rather a contrast to the Nottinghamshire palaces, so called, consisted of one wretched room, with a closet or two, divided from it, one as a bedroom. Such a bedroom! & others nameless holes containing nameless rubbish, and all filthy. The chief apartment so dark that we can’t see anything till we had been in it a few minutes, even with the help of a fire of sticks made upon a miserable hearth at one end, nearly upon which a dog was lying and a cat came out from different quarters to greet us in the familiar friendly way, which all animals in Wales learn from their good-natured masters.
Atherton, Ann, Tour of North Wales and Cardiganshire , 1825, NLW, 20366B, 19th October, 1825

1825, Llanberis
houses are miserably poor, and scarcely distinguishable from the huge rocks and fragments near and under which they are built.
Jadis, Henry Fenton, Journal of a pedestrian tour in North Wales: through the counties of Montgomery, Merioneth, Caernarvon, and part of Denbigh, (London, 1826), p. 77

1826 Llanberis
at the door of her cottage we accosted a little merry-looking Welshwoman, who freely supplied us with some milk and genuine brown bread, the darkest in colour I ever saw, but truly sweet and good. A well, though antiquely-furnished cottage, of one story only, was her habitation ; the greatest cleanliness was apparent, and the rude ornaments which were placed upon the chimney piece, or in different parts of the house, were all disposed with the greatest order. The air of neatness and comfort apparent, was quite delightful.
Anon, A Trip to the Suspension Bridge over the Menai Straits, to Caernarvon, the Lakes of Llanberis, Snowdon, Beddgelert, Capel Curig, Llanrwst, Conwy and Beaumaris. Printed in the Stockport Advertiser, 21.7.1826 and four following weeks, now reprinted with corrections, (1828), p.  17

At Neath … The women carry on their heads, their mob caps white and not tyed under the chin- round beavor [sic. beaver] hats – bear footed but pretty featured, dark eyes … and wear bed gowns of wool and cotton manufacture – In general they can speak English and are very civil – every Saturday all the furniture is taken out of the cottage for to whiten the inside walls and then the cleansing concludes with whitening the outside, their rooms are stuck full of pewter plates, or blue and white ones in a row with little pictures and trays all to make them look smart … The cottagers border their floors all round with lime put on by glue so as to imitate flowers.
June 20th possibly New Inn between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth
The cottagers were at dinner, a bason of barley broth and some potatoes and a slice of bacon our landlady had her ceiling well hung with bacon and dried beef- the peasantry are very proud, in the humblest dwelling you will see china plates and cups and saucers ranged on shelves and if there is a second room then the beaufet or corner cupboard is grandly set forth.
Beecroft, Judith, (of Norfolk), Cardiff Central Library, 2.325

1828, Llanbadarn Fawr, Cardiganshire
{a shower drove them into a cottage} A poor woman’s cottage, the first in the village, the smiling and healthy looking peasant asked us to come in in good English, and gave us chairs, here we rested sometime. I was interested in the scene. The cottage of mud was clean and even comfortable, the walls were plastered and in the high chimney was a bright fire where the water was boiling for the family supper, the father sat by its side holding his youngest child in his arms, the good dame was busily employed in getting supper, there was a nice wooden cradle for the baby, and the adjoining room contained a good bed with curtains.
… one would not have expected to see so much comfort in the interior.
Waddell, Amelia [Emily], (later Lady Amelia Jackson) diary of a tour in Wales, 1828, Royal Geographical Society, SSC/79, p. 52  and her brother George Waddell (Junior) GB 0402 LAJ, p. 158

1828 Elan Valley
A few huts we met with in this day’s walk were the most antique and wretched we saw in Wales usually composed of loose stones cemented with mud and a yard in thickness, the chimney of sticks and mud, terminated with a wisp of straw, no gardens or fruit trees, but pig cots and piles of peat.
Anon, A journal, with sketches, of a walking tour from Kington to Aberystwyth and through parts of North Wales, NLW MS 6716D

1830, Devil’s Bridge, Cardiganshire
we entered a Welsh cottage – a miserable hovel. The same room is their parlour, kitchen, dressing room and frequently pigsty. Mud floors and smoke black walls shock the eyes of an Englishman. The people however seem happy.
Aldam, William, Tour in Wales, Doncaster Archives, DDWA/D/2/18, f. 5

1830, Dolgellau
arrived at a cottage at the foot of the mountain [Cader Idris]. … We remained half an hour in this truly Welsh hut and as it may serve as a type of the others I shall describe it. The floor was composed of mud terribly affected by the moisture of the atmosphere. That side of the hut most remote from the door, was divided into two unequal parts by a wall projecting upwards of a yard from the main wall. The larger division was occupied by the indefinitely ?latending hearth and a board of a piece of canvas was placed joined from the wall of the hut to the projecting wall to form a prolongation to the chimney. The chimney at its commencement is consequently some yards wide but gradually tapers to little more than a foot. The smoke is very apt to wander from its course and fill the cottage. A few sticks are placed upon the hearth and lighted. The dogs, pups and cats take their recumbent station so near these that it is wonderful how their tails retain their natural length. On the side of the hut opposite the fire, are placed shelves for containing plates, knives, forks etc. These huts are only one story high; and in what we should called [sic] the roof of the house, the beds are usually placed on a rough kind of floor formed by boards resting on the opposite walls. Pigs, dogs and other animals called domestic are here domestic in the strict derived sense of the word. (domus, a house).
Aldam, William, Tour in Wales, Doncaster Archives, DDWA/D/2/18,  f. 10v

1830 Machynlleth
Poor people’s huts are really very miserable, a room (if it deserves that name) serving for pigs, fowls, eating & in some places manufacturing. The beds are put on planks in the roof of the house. However they are as happy as the day is long.
Aldam, Isabella, An account of a Journey in Wales, Doncaster Archives Department, DD/WA/D2/2, p. 5

1831 Rhuddlan
We remarked here several cottages built wholly of turves laid flat on one another.
Anon, An Account of a tour through certain counties of England and Wales, with illustrations, 1831, NLW MS 5598, p. 325

1831 south Wales
The traveller must not judge of the cleanliness of the Welsh from the exterior of their abodes. The whitewashed roofs and walls are only a screen to the dirtiness of the interior; but in this they are kept in countenance by their Scotch and Irish neighbours, who have not even a clean outside to recommend them.
‘Vyvyan’, The Topographer, Travelling notes in South Wales. The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, Volume 18, no. 501, (1831), p. 136

1832 near Dolgarry [Dolgarog] falls, near Llanrwst
Visited a cottage … The hut was rudely built of large misshapen bits of rock piled one above another and excited wonder to surmise how they could fix a casement, or a door; but these seem to be put together, first in a sort of frame and then plastered in with clay. The interior was equally devoid of any show of comfort, and yet strange as it may appear a good and hansom clock stood clicking in the corner and this was not the only inconsistency of a like character that we saw in Wales; but here it was most remarkable from the very scanty supply of what most folks would deem the necessaries of a civilized existence. The greater portion of light was admitted through the open doorway (for one little window was all else that gave a glimpse of day); one basin was the only vessel they could bring us water in (the guide had his butter milk in t’other) and the water was fetched as we wanted it from a spring hard by; no article of furniture concealed the bare walls unless I call such a cloak bonnet, or pair of shoes, with a few culinary articles; the woman was washing in an earthenware pan and as far as I could judge, their sole comfort must have been derived from a contented disposition and almost utter ignorance of any kind of luxury.’
Letts, Thomas, Tour of North Wales (1832), NLW MS 21690B, ff. 61r-62r

1832 Maentwrog
Cottage near Maentwrog ‘the interior of this cottage was a specimen of real neatness industry: a handsome clock stood in one corner; the stools and tables were all washed clean and so was the stone floor; the neat shawl and hat hung against the whitewashed wall, a young woman (who could talk English well) was making some article of apparel, her mother, an handsome old dame, as neat as a new made pin, between 70 and 80 years of age, was knitting, and another female, equally old, upstairs working away at the spinning wheel, while five little children, the cleanest I had seen in Wales, were running about enjoying their innocent gambols.
p. 101, pencil sketch of cottage ‘near Maentwrog’
Letts, Thomas, Tour of North Wales (1832), NLW MS 21690B, f. 100v

1833 [where?]
a group of miserable cottages … although substantially built a Welsh cottage is the last I should instance as a place of comfort – so they get their Bodies through a doorway and keep themselves warm within, in the highlands they seem to care for little more.
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour of Wales, 1833, NLW MS 22340B, f. 112v

… it remains still to say something of the cottages of the humble. Less architectural externally than those in England, but superior to the hut of the Irish labourer, the cottages of the poor are inferior to none in internal neatness and comfort. They are supplied with a variety of furniture, amongst which a clock, oak dresser, and settle (settee), or pannelled sofa, are always to be found. The spinning wheel has disappeared since the introduction of machinery into the little woollen factories erected on the rills amidst the mountains; and the brass pan for brewing “cwrw dda,” presents its broad bright disk beneath the dresser of every respectable farm-house.
Wright, George Newenham, Scenes in North Wales, (1833), p. 150

1833 Bangor
Near Bangor, in the afternoon, being caught in the rain, we stepped into a cottage, where the inhabitants welcomed us in Welsh, while we returned thanks in English … The interior was a clean and comfortable room, quite a study for Ostade or Teniers, with the dog, cat, poultry, and pigs, exhibiting a great appearance of cheerfulness and plenty. I observed a broad flat loaf of brown bread, like a tea-tray, suspended from the roof, with a carving-knife dangling beside it, wreaths of onions, and graceful draperies of herrings.
Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864), Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales 1833, 1st edition, New York, 1838, p. 118, 2nd Edition, Whyte and Co, Edinburgh, 1839, p. 146

1834 [Dolwyddellan]
A very old woman (89) in true Welsh costume, sat upon a stool with elbows on her knees and pipe in mouth “putting all sorrows away” in one chimney corner and in the other, a man nearly as old, bald pated and very infirm, but reading. Neither did more than move their heads as I entered. In a few minutes a nice looking girl about 18 went upstairs (round the chimney), and was followed down again by another old woman (see page end) [sic – there is a drawing of an old woman at the end of the diary, p. 119] perfectly blind, but nevertheless possessing a countenance so kind and cheerful as to shew an eager and well regulated mind within. She continued to knit as she approached, went to the cupboard with the most perfect readiness, took out this thing, that and t’other, but never let go of her knitting pins any more than the smoking old trot in the chimney corner.
{He wanted food but couldn’t make himself understood, so drew bacon, then pointed to some, then looked for a pig in the yard, and finally grunted like a pig and the girl understood} [Drawing of the interior of the cottage with the two old people as described]
Letts, Thomas, NLW MS 22341B, p. 46v – 48

1834 Conwy valley
[sort shelter] The place selected was a wretched hovel of a cottage where industry was the only recommendation and yet I do injustice for there was no lack of cleanliness as far as it went. The hostess was, I think, nursing a child and attending to a dinner contained in a ponderous cauldron suspended over the fire the eldest girl was ironing her father’s cheque handkerchief and 5 other children looking on or otherwise employed; the floor as usual was the bare ground here and there relieved with a surface of stone, but I had a comfortable table set before me and a good chair of oak.
Letts, Thomas, My third excursion into north Wales, NLW MS 22341B, f. 20r

1834, Near Llanidlos
The interior of the chalet [cottage] did not belie the wretchedness of the outward appearance. It consisted of only one room, without windows. The doors were of such rough carpentry that the wind passed through them, above and below, at will. They possessed, however, the advantage of giving admission, through the crannies, to the light, that also came in a flood down the huge chimney. Within, huddled together round a miserable turf fire, was assembled a family party, consisting of three generations; the last a numerous one ; the floor, filthy as that of an Irish cabin, was half paved with loose flags, and here and there full of puddles, and the mud walls ran down with damp, against which stood in rows, several truckle-beds without curtains.
Medwyn, Thomas, The Angler in Wales: or Days and Nights of Sportsmen,  (London, 1834), Vol. 1, p. 76

1836, south Wales
We saw enough of the Welsh to convince us that they are not remarkable for cleanliness. Many of their cottages are miserably dirty within, while the exteriors always look clean, being whitewashed every Whitsuntide. … The exterior of their houses certainly does them credit. The neatly thatched roofs and white cottages of Wales from a very pretty feature in the landscape.
Williams, Esther, Cardiff Central Library, MS1.521     

1837 Welsh cottages
Welsh cottages
Though poor the peasant’s hut, his feasts though small,
He finds his little lot the lot of all;
Sees no contiguous palace rear its head,
To shame the meanness of his humble shed;
No costly lord the sumptuous banquet deal,
To make him loathe his vegetable meal.
If this were an age of black-art and gramoury instead of enlightenment and steam, and the wandering traveller likely to be whisked from place to place by the powers of enchantment instead of the more straight-forward aid of railroads and stage coaches, we might well imagine the amazement of some economical, orderly English farmer, on being suddenly introduced to the scenes of wild, uncultivated mountain-land, which the rambler in Wales is ever familiar with. But not even the change in the general aspect of the country would astonish him so much, as the squalid misery and dirt of the cottages, or rather cabins, of the peasantry. They may be placed on an equality with the worst specimens of Irish habitations, at least very many of them.
In the districts of Cardiganshire, the dark slate rock of the mountains furnishes a good material for the walls of these hovels, and of such they are mostly built, with apertures of the smallest possible dimensions for windows, which may or may not be supplied with a pane or two of green glass, but if they are, they are permanently fastened up, an opening window not being found in a cot of this degree, and the accumulation of dirt renders them nearly useless in admitting light The floor, either mud or rough slate pavement, is generally the abiding place of as many pigs, ducks, and sheep dogs as the owners possess, all lying at ease, or walking freely in and out;—pigs and children, be it understood, partaking the comfort of the hearth, and nestling in affectionate companionship among the heaps of unswept ashes that lie around the turf fire,—the smoke from which always declines going up the chimney, when there is one; for these things, deemed necessary with us, are here quite matters of taste, some cabins being decorated with low wattle appendage to the gable, while others have only a hole in that quarter which serves to let in the wind and rain, without letting out the smoke, which invariably makes its exit by the door; and in passing through a “village” of these cottages, the vapour from opposite doors rises into an aerial archway, beneath which the uninitiated traveller coughs and grumbles along. The wattled chimneys I have mentioned, are sometimes truly ludicrous in their position; no doubt they are originally as erect as the rest of the building, but their general condition is such as to remind one of opera dancers, striving to preserve their equilibrium in most extraordinary deviations from the perpendicular. Sometimes, fairly twisted round by the wind, they stick in the roof by one peg of the basket-work, and look very like a pirouette; at others they may be seen lifted from their proper place, and seeming in the act of a coupé, and so happily are things managed, that opposite or next-door neighbours nod and set to each other with all the friendliness imaginable, seeming ready to change sides the first opportunity. Yet amid all this filth, and, as we consider, misery, the female part of the cottagers are as spruce in their national costume on Sundays and holydays, and as proud of their assortment of crockery-ware, of which an unnecessary number of jugs forms an indispensable part, as if surrounded with all the more substantial comforts of life. To look at the habitations one would marvel how a clean mob-cap, or a decent coat, could belong to people so apparently lost to all notion of comfort and neatness. Their cheerfulness and content under privations that would not be endured by an English labourer, while it surprises, almost provokes us, as seeming to place a formidable bar in the way of future improvement.
Roscoe, Thomas, (1791-1871) Wanderings and Excursions in South Wales, (1st edition 1837), (1844 edition), pp. 38-40

1837 near Aberystwyth
In this district especially, the farming buildings bespeak poverty, and the cottages, or rather huts, are generally miserable, being chiefly built of mud walls, roofed with turf. … the squalid misery and dirty state of many a vile hovel which we here encountered would surely vie with the worst specimens [of Ireland]. The floor of this comfortless abode is often the mutual resort of their pigs, ducks, and children together sharing the warmth of a turf fire, the smoke from which usually finds its way through the door, near to which is situated the pigsty and dunghill, and a stagnant puddle is commonly an addenda to this filth. From this description of their huts it would hardly be supposed that the inmates could at any time make a decent appearance; at home, such is the fact: see them, however, abroad on Sundays, market days, or upon holidays, and the cottagers, especially the females, with their clean national costume, look neatness itself.
Turner, Thomas, Narrative of a Journey associated with a Fly, from Gloucester to Aberystwith and from Aberystwith through North Wales, July 31 st to September 8th 1837, (London, 1840), pp. 30-31

1838 Llangurig
Llangurig … is a genuine Welsh village – that is to say, there is a string of straggling, crazy, dirty cabins, some with scraps of glass stuck in the walls for windows, and some without ; some with chimneys, some with none ; but all having pig sties and dung hills in front, varied by a collection of little stagnant puddles, wherein ducks, pigs, and children assemble for their particular delectation , add to all these odoriferous matters, the fumes of peat smoke ; and no one will marvel that I, but most especially my nose, was exceedingly glad to escape into a purer air.
Twamley, Louisa Anne, The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London :  1839),  pp. 146-147

9.11.1842, St David’s 
I have some thoughts … to make an excursion into distant parts of Pembrokeshire to inspect the condition of the churches …  Though the cottages of the peasantry look very wretched find that the owners are in general by no means badly off. They have the advantage of a peculiar kind of fuel called culm, a preparation of coal-dust and earth in balls, or bars, which, when once heated, last a very long while, and diffuse uniform warmth, to which, by the way, it is said the Pembrokeshire hot-houses owe their celebrity. The preparation is very cheap and is used by some gentlemen in their houses. The poor people live hardly, but contrive to save a little, and very often become owners of a few fields; and as this improvement in their station produces no change in their habits, they are as small farmers in less jeopardy from the vicissitudes of seasons and fluctuations of prices than others who make better show. But even in the cabins of the labourers you seldom look in without seeing a pig or some fowls, which, though not cleanly, are profitable inmates … [ellipses in the printed text].
Thirlwall, Connop, [1797-1875, Bishop of St David’s], Letters literary and theological of Connop Thirlwall‎ (1881), pp. 179-180

1842 Llanberis
We visited, on our return, the huts of some mountaineers, who, declaring themselves to be “Cymrag [sic],” affected perfect ignorance of the English language. Though despised by the English, these huts are superior to the Irish cabins or those of the Scotch Highlanders. They remind me of the Russian houses in the Ukraine, being white-washed all over a practice I was told derived from the Silures their forefathers. The operation being repeated every year gives them an air of great neatness, and so great is the zeal of the people, in the performance of this process, that they often white-wash walls, roof, window-frames, and door; and sometimes extend the same care to fence, pigsty, and every other appurtenance.
Kohl, Johan Georg, Reisen in England und Wales, (Dresden and Leipzig, 1844)
J.G. Kohl, England, Wales and Scotland, (Chapman and Hall, London, 1844), 3 vols (abridged translation)
Kohl, Johan Georg, Travels in England and Wales [1845], (Translated into English by Thomas Roscoe), p. 105

Dwellings of the People …
On the State of Education in Wales (Blue books), p. 293

1844, Llanidloes
‘humble attempts at tessellated pavements which adorn cottage floors, little stones are inlaid with much ingenuity, and in some cases with tasteful design.’
Anon, An Account of a Tour in Wales, NLW MS 10566, f. 45

Cottages … In Cardiganshire, entered a miserable and primitive dwelling …
Cliffe, Charles Frederick, The book of South Wales, the Bristol Channel, Monmouthshire, and the Wye, 1st edition, 1847, p. 300; 2nd edition (enlarged) 1848; 3rd edition 1854 edited and revised by the Rev George Roberts

Description of the inside of a cottage
Lane, Amy, of Clifton, Sketches of Wales and the Welsh (1847), p. 47
description of cottage in St Clears area, 1847 (transcribed by Wiliam, Eurwyn, for ‘Home-made Homes’, (1993), p. 17)

‘It is a curious fact that in almost every cottage, however poor, you will be sure to find two things, viz a Bible and an 8 day clock.’
Goodall, Josiah, Journal of a Trip through North and South Wales, NLW, MS 676 (Facsimile),

The Condition of the miner’s home, his wife and family, is something better than that of the agricultural labourer and his dependants in Cardiganshire. House accommodation is almost everywhere insufficient and bad, and the provision of education is too much neglected.

Letters to Morning Chronicle, in Ginswick, J., (1983) Labour and the Poor in England and Wales, 1849-1851, p. 214

1849 [near Orme’s Head]
‘I met the ladies near a Welch cottage which we entered to see its economy. The rough ground was the floor, yet though one chamber deemed to serve for kitchen and parlour and all, yet the place was not without its comforts, among which I noticed a clock and a large brown loaf. Indeed it is remarkable that a Welch cottage, however humble has generally its clock, a striking proof that the Welch keep, but do not kill time! The inhabitants of this humble, low-roofed dwelling were a hearty looking, flat-bottomed woman as all the married Welch women are, and a sleeping child … in a rude chest like cradle not very dissimilar … to what Caractacus was rocked in. The good-humoured dame was washing at her tub and smiled to see us enter, but she could do little more than smile, having a very scanty proportion of the queen’s English at her command.
Lees, Edwin, Notes on a Tour among the Scenery of North Wales in the Summer of the Year, 1849, By Edwin Lees, F.L.S., NLW MS 1250D

1852 Llanberis
The people of Wales are naturally industrious and frugal, and although few of them can be called rich, they are generally independent, relying exclusively upon their own labor for support. The houses of the peasantry in this country are more substantial and comfortable than you find in England, being built entirely with slate-stone, and covered either with the same material or wheat straw. They have no floors but the hard clay, and no chimney save a small aperture in the roof, through which the smoke from the peat fires gradually finds its way out after smoking the inmates almost to suffocation. But around a Welshman’s house everything is kept pretty clean and healthful; here no poverty or beggary meets the stranger’s eyes, but on the contrary every one seems to be blessed with plenty and contentment.
MacGavock, Randal William, A Tennesseean abroad; or, letters from Europe, Africa, and Asia (New York, 1854), p. 78

1854 Anglesey
the cottages of the peasants, enliven the wild and primitive landscape. Many of them are whitewashed to the top of the chimney, and all of them are exceedingly neat.
Benedict, Erastus Cornelius, A run through Europe, (New York, 1860), p. 542

1862 north Wales
The Welsh are a scrupulously clean people. The humblest cot, however meanly furnished, will be found to have a well scoured floor, and recently whitewashed walls;
Bigg, William, The ten day tourist, or Sniffs of the mountain breeze: comprising, Ten days in North Wales, (1862)

1866 Devil’s Bridge
The next morning (Saturday) we rambled about the neighbourhood [of Devil’s Bridge] and found out the Post-office, a very primitive shop-keeping affair, yet a great boon to the locality notwithstanding. Further up the road we were struck with the miserable appearance of some dilapidated dwelling near. Fast going to decay, they could scarcely be considered to surpass some of the lowest description of Irish cabin or Scotch bog-hut in the peat-cutting districts the wretched thatch was torn, hanging, and falling to pieces the one or two diminutive windows broken and filled in with rags in every stage of discolouration whilst the only outlet for the smoke was through an aperture in the roof, where a few barrel staves, held loosely together by a faggot band, or hoop twisted round them, or in some instances a few rough slates, did duty for a chimney. Accepting a kindly invitation, we entered one of the worst of these huts, and found it to consist of a single apartment, literally on the ground floor, the sleeping- place partitioned off by a screen reaching not quite to the roof; and by the fire on the low hearth were the occupants, an old man and woman, courteously civil to the strangers, and, like most of their compatriots, scrupulously clean in their apparel, as, in fact, was the place itself, far more so than could have been imagined from the unpromising exterior. For these tenements a rent of from 40s. to 50s. a year is paid, as we were told by a young woman who was able to speak both English and Welsh, though in our attempts at conversation amongst the aged we continually met with the Dim Saesneg,” which more than once proved a very extinguisher to the conversational inclinations of a mirthful member of our little party, whose crest-fallen looks always made us acquainted with the unhappy fact that he had again come to the word “Dim.” But in the Sunday and most of the other schools for the poor, the young have now the advantage of being taught to read in both languages.
S.B.H. ‘Wanderings in Wales’, Aberystwyth Observer, 27 October 1866

1869 Cardiganshire
The great blot upon this county is the condition of the cottages. The exteriors sometimes promise well, but are deceptive. There is an appearance of neatness in the thatched roof and whitewashed walls which creates at first a favourable impression. The practice of whitewashing the walls, and not unfrequently the roofs with lime … is still very frequently practiced. In some places it is common to mix clay with the lime for colouring the walls yellow, and the slate roofs are washed white.
Nothing, however, can be conceived more wretched than the interior of most of these habitations. The cottage has often only one room, which is divided into two compartments, in one of which the cooking is done; the other is used for meals and contains the beds which are simply boxes, and five or six of these box beds are often packed together within the compass of a few square yards. The windows have no apertures; ventilation is supplied by the chimney and the door; the floor is of clay, and in this close, damp, dreary hovel; are often housed a labourer, his wife, and six or eight children.
{Cause of the inferior cottage
1 squatters building on waste ground
2 long lease of land, on which a tenant can build his own house.
Lack of privies
Mt Loxdale of Castle Hill, Llanilar built a considerable number of cottages with kitchen and pantry below and three bedrooms above for £120 each , and rented at £5 a year, and was told by labourers to include privies.
Report of Mr J Henry Tremenheere on Cardiganshire, Montgomeryshire, and Merionethshire, Visited in 1869, report dated 20.11.1869 British Parliamentary Papers, XIII, Commission on the Employment of Children, Young Persons, and Woman in Agriculture, Third Report (1870), pp. 53-54

1871, Conway
There are scarcely any poor in Wales, The interior of the very poor cottages in the ….. villages and there are some poor ones – does one good to see – neat, clean, comfortable and an abundance of useful household goods, especially good complete sets of crockery in which all look to adorn the entire face of a large brown “dresser”, which in nearly every case we have noticed to be facing the front door in the sitting room.
New, Charles H., [Tour of north Wales] 1871 ‘Wedding Trip’, NLW MS 22021, p. 9

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