Far away from passing traffic and bustling tourist hotspots nestles a 250-year-old thatched cottage described by historians as ‘the hidden jewel in Pembrokeshire’s crown’.

Penrhos Cottage – believed to be the last thatched original cottage in Pembrokeshire – was built in Maeclochog around 1800 following the ‘ty un nos’ tradition.

This allowed any cottage built on common land in just one night to be handed over to the person who constructed it as a freehold.

Once built, Penrhos became an important feature in village life, serving as a home to a family of 12. 

Later rebuilt in stone, it has remained virtually unchanged to the present day after its previous owners, two elderly sisters, locked its oak front door for the final time in 1967.

Since then, the cottage has sadly remained empty and, in recent years, largely forgotten.

“This is why we’re determined to do everything we possibly can to protect it and ensure that it continues to remain here in Maenclochog for many more centuries to come,” said Shan Harries, clerk of Maenclochog Community Council.

“A few years ago we were told that the cottage was going to be restored by its owners, Pembrokeshire County Council, which would allow it to be opened once again as a museum. But we were recently told there is insufficient funding available for this to happen.

“Our main concern is that we don’t want to lose Penrhos because it’s an important architectural landmark here in north Pembrokeshire and has been described by Visit Pembrokeshire as a hidden jewel.”

Recently Shan re-visited the cottage with Pembrokeshire County Council’s Museum Collection Officer, Cait Hilditch, to find out how much it has structurally deteriorated in recent years.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” she continues.

“One of the small sash windows isn’t closing properly and recent roadworks outside has resulted in an uneven frontage which means that surface water is now running back into the house.

“And naturally it has to be re-limed. The roof was re-thatched just a few years ago but all in all, it’s in reasonably good condition.”

Maenclochog Community Council is now looking at ways of securing funding as well as the guidance of traditional craftspeople to help restore Penrhos to its former glory once again.

To help them move forwards, they have organised a public meeting in Maenclochog Community Hall on Thursday, November 2 at 7pm where people are invited to offer their ideas on how the project can proceed.

“Naturally, because Penrhos is a Listed building, any work that’s carried out must be done very sensitively and correctly” she explained.

“So if there are any traditional building experts in the community who may be able to advise us on how to proceed, we would love to hear from them.”

The team are also looking at possible volunteers who can help oversee the Penrhos museum once it is able to re-open.

“Previously, when it was operated as a museum by Pembrokeshire County Council, many of the villagers used to help out as volunteers, opening it up every morning and locking it up again at night. But sadly, none of these people are left.

“I remember as a child and later as a primary school teacher, realising just how important Penrhos was to so many people. And I’m certain that this can be achieved once again because everything remains in the cottage exactly as it was when it was left back in 1967.

“Penrhos is a cottage that mustn’t be left to fall by the wayside.

"We must fight to do as much as we can to allow it to remain in the village where it can be visited and enjoyed for many more years to come."