Archaeology of Home exhibition at Dinefwr

Visit the Archaeology of Home exhibition at Newton House, Dinefwr

Our homes are place for living, loving and growing, from their original construction to the alterations made by occupants, we can learn much from the incidental ephemera and materials left behind. The odds and ends found beneath the floorboards add to the story, informing and revealing the Archaeology of Home.

Our new exhibition features fragments and materials from our collections that offer a fascinating glimpse into the historical building materials and decorative techniques used at Newton House since it was built in the mid-17th century. From a rusty hand-forged nail or a scrap of hand-printed wallpaper, to a piece of decorative plaster work from an ornate ceiling, these objectsm not previously shown to the public reveal much about the 'Archaeology of Home'. 

When our National Trust team first came to Newton House in 1990, we catalogued and stored everything that was found, in the building. This work and the subsequent renovations revealed much about the building and its construction which, in turn, informed the techniques used to repair and refurbish the house. 

The objects within the Archaeology of Home exhibition are drawn from these originally catalogued collections and have not previously been shown. 

Delightful wallpaper

We are delighted to be able to feature a collection of wallpaper samples from Newton House, many simple fragments or scraps that were retrieved from the detritus of the house. We can learn so much about the decorative techniques, and schemes from these tiny fragments saved during the renovation. 

They range from 18th century examples of flock and hand block-printed wallpapers to 20th century examples from Aberdeunant Farmhouse, another Carmarthenshire property in our care. 

Look up – celebrating the ceilings

It’s not often that we remember to look up and admire the beauty of the ceilings within our historic houses. Within the exhibition we’re celebrating the remarkable decorative plasterwork and papier mache ceilings of Newton House. You can see samples of 17th century plasterwork and plasterers’ tools as well as mould and samples from the renovation work in the 1990s, telling the story of historical fashion and taste, revealing the techniques used by the original artisans as early as the mid-1600s as well as the skilled conservation experts who restored the house to its current day condition. 

The story of the Dinefwr estate reflects the history of Carmarthenshire and the nation of Wales. The mid-17th century Jacobean mansion, from which the current house evolved, was built on a site that has been occupied for two thousand years. 

A new commission celebrating our decorative ceilings

Continuing the theme of discovery and renewal at Newton House, a collection of new works by contemporary ceramic artist Hannah Walters has been installed as part of our new Y Cabinet series of works by Welsh artists, craftspeople and designers. The work is inspired by the decorative plasterwork ceilings at Newton House. 

In our first feature, Cardiff based ceramic artist Hannah Walters reflects upon the remarkable decorative ceilings in the house. These ornate period ceilings display a range of historic decorative styles and the 17th century ceilings that remain use both Jacobean and classical motifs in their designs. Hannah also enjoys mixing styles, techniques and materials in her work, playfully combining delicate naturalistic shapes with more naively styled contemporary forms in a process called ‘sprigging’. The work is made from a mixture of fine porcelain and crank clay – a much more crude and heavy material – with a white tin glaze. Drawing on a deep love of history, these pieces bring a fresh eye to formal and classical ceramic conventions. 

Find out more about Hannah and her work by visiting her website 

What is the ‘Y Cabinet’ series

A new feature at Newton House, Dinefwr, showcasing the work of contemporary Welsh craftspeople, artists and designers. Launching with Hannah Walters as our first artist. Y Cabinet will become a permanent feature within Newton House. This ongoing programme will feature work shown in an elegant Victorian display cabinet that came originally from the V&A Museum in London.