A brief 

History of Caerfallen

 

by Zoë Henderson

Caerfallen is our family home and farm, and I am the third Henderson generation to own and live there. Grandfather bought the draughty old farmhouse and ancient farm buildings with 70 acres in 1955 after he retired from a career in insurance in Liverpool. Our father set about farming at the age of 23, initially milking, but later concentrating on rearing calves and store cattle for the beef market. He still farms the land, although the pastures are now grazed by sheep, and wheat is grown in the rest of the fields.

Caerfallen is listed Grade II* as ‘an exceptionally fine, sub-medieval, timber-framed farm-house of high-status,’ and the farm buildings – which include The Longbarn – are also listed as Grade II.

The earliest mention of Caerfallen is as ‘Cayvelyn’ in a survey of Ruthin Lordship in 1324. That’s not the house which stands here now, but of course the stunning prime location would have been just as attractive then.

Using the dating technique of dendrochronology, we have established that the existing main house of ‘Caerfallen’was roofed in 1560, which fits well with its known family history of being a house of the local Turbridge Estate.  It is believed that Caerfallen was renovated and extended by Robert Turbridge in the early 1560s to reflect his position as Baron of the North Wales Exchequer and his appointment in 1562 as the Queen’s Surveyor of North Wales. It is wonderful to live in a house so closely linked to Queen Elizabeth 1.

With the help of a fabulous local organisation called Discovering Old Welsh Houses, we have researched much of the fascinating history of Caerfallen which you can find ‘here‘.

The main house and the other farm buildings at Caerfallen are an ongoing restoration project; work began in 2013 to carefully replace rotten timbers in the roof and the front of the main house to which we then had fun applying wattle and daub.  Meanwhile, sheep’s wool, cork board and traditional lime plaster have added insulation to our once chilly home, now heated by renewable energy from a biomass boiler.

The traditional farmyard at Caerfallen was no longer fit for modern farming, so my sister Susan and I embarked on a project to conserve the buildings.  With the support of the Conservation Architect for Denbighshire County Council, who took a pragmatic approach –  ‘these buildings need a job,’ – we set about designing a scheme sympathetic to the setting.  We project managed the build, employing local trades and craftspeople to breathe new life into the 450-year-old barn which, over the years, had lost most of its original walls and was therefore very unstable. The renovation has taken over four years, but the stunning Longbarn at Caerfallen is the result.

We feel so lucky to have grown up at Caerfallen, close to the lovely town of Ruthin in the beautiful, tranquil Vale of Clwyd. We hope that by transforming The Longbarn at Caerfallen into a comfortable, modern home while honouring its history and traditional features, we can share this wonderful part of the world with our guests in the years to come.

The meaning of 

Caerfallen

Over the past 600 years there have been many different spellings of ‘Caerfallen’- often due to misspelling by English scribes struggling with the Welsh word!

These spellings obviously affect the meaning and we don’t know which one is correct:

Caerfallen has a number of connections with local mills. The 1324 Cayvelyn could be a corruption of Caevelyn – ‘Field of the Mill’ or ‘Mill Field’.

Caerafallen could derive from Cae yr Afallen – ‘Field of the Apple Tree’.

book “The Foundations of Ruthin 1100 – 1800” written in 2017, explores the name in relation to the medieval Ruthin Park.

It states: ‘caer’fallen is just outside the Park and its name may derive from

‘Caeraf’to fortify or encompass with walls; ‘Allan’outer’

 My favourite, though it may be the least likely, is ‘caer’ meaning castle, wall or fort and ‘fallen’ or Afallon which is the Welsh word from which Avalon is derived.  So, Caerfallen could be King Arthur’s final resting place and where the great sword Excalibur was forged!

A brief 

History of Caerfallen

 

by Zoë Henderson

Caerfallen is our family home and farm, and I am the third Henderson generation to own and live there. Grandfather bought the draughty old farmhouse and ancient farm buildings with 70 acres in 1955 after he retired from a career in insurance in Liverpool. Our father set about farming at the age of 23, initially milking, but later concentrating on rearing calves and store cattle for the beef market. He still farms the land, although the pastures are now grazed by sheep, and wheat is grown in the rest of the fields.

Caerfallen is listed Grade II* as ‘an exceptionally fine, sub-medieval, timber-framed farm-house of high-status,’ and the farm buildings – which include The Longbarn – are also listed as Grade II.

The earliest mention of Caerfallen is as ‘Cayvelyn’ in a survey of Ruthin Lordship in 1324. That’s not the house which stands here now, but of course the stunning prime location would have been just as attractive then.

Using the dating technique of dendrochronology, we have established that the existing main house of ‘Caerfallen’was roofed in 1560, which fits well with its known family history of being a house of the local Turbridge Estate.  It is believed that Caerfallen was renovated and extended by Robert Turbridge in the early 1560s to reflect his position as Baron of the North Wales Exchequer and his appointment in 1562 as the Queen’s Surveyor of North Wales. It is wonderful to live in a house so closely linked to Queen Elizabeth 1.

With the help of a fabulous local organisation called Discovering Old Welsh Houses, we have researched much of the fascinating history of Caerfallen which you can find ‘here‘.

The main house and the other farm buildings at Caerfallen are an ongoing restoration project; work began in 2013 to carefully replace rotten timbers in the roof and the front of the main house to which we then had fun applying wattle and daub.  Meanwhile, sheep’s wool, cork board and traditional lime plaster have added insulation to our once chilly home, now heated by renewable energy from a biomass boiler.

The traditional farmyard at Caerfallen was no longer fit for modern farming, so my sister Susan and I embarked on a project to conserve the buildings.  With the support of the Conservation Architect for Denbighshire County Council, who took a pragmatic approach –  ‘these buildings need a job,’ – we set about designing a scheme sympathetic to the setting.  We project managed the build, employing local trades and craftspeople to breathe new life into the 450-year-old barn which, over the years, had lost most of its original walls and was therefore very unstable. The renovation has taken over four years, but the stunning Longbarn at Caerfallen is the result.

We feel so lucky to have grown up at Caerfallen, close to the lovely town of Ruthin in the beautiful, tranquil Vale of Clwyd. We hope that by transforming The Longbarn at Caerfallen into a comfortable, modern home while honouring its history and traditional features, we can share this wonderful part of the world with our guests in the years to come.

The meaning of 

Caerfallen

Over the past 600 years there have been many different spellings of ‘Caerfallen’- often due to misspelling by English scribes struggling with the Welsh word!

These spellings obviously affect the meaning and we don’t know which one is correct:

Caerfallen has a number of connections with local mills. The 1324 Cayvelyn could be a corruption of Caevelyn – ‘Field of the Mill’ or ‘Mill Field’.

Caerafallen could derive from Cae yr Afallen – ‘Field of the Apple Tree’.

book “The Foundations of Ruthin 1100 – 1800” written in 2017, explores the name in relation to the medieval Ruthin Park.

It states: ‘caer’fallen is just outside the Park and its name may derive from

‘Caeraf’to fortify or encompass with walls; ‘Allan’outer’

 My favourite, though it may be the least likely, is ‘caer’ meaning castle, wall or fort and ‘fallen’ or Afallon which is the Welsh word from which Avalon is derived.  So, Caerfallen could be King Arthur’s final resting place and where the great sword Excalibur was forged!