databas cerddi guto'r glyn


A reconstruction of a fifteenth-century cupboard at Cochwillan.
A cupboard at Cochwillan
Click for a larger image

Cupboards, chests and coffers were used in hall-houses to store small items such as linen for the tables, vessels and food. These were usually commissioned by a patron and made by a local carpenter. Beautifully carved with decorative patterns and heraldic images, they reflected the owner’s wealth and status.

Cochwillan is described by Guto’r Glyn as a house furnished in the most appropriate way for a man of high status:

Mae yno i ddyn mwyn a ddêl 
Fwrdd a chwpwrdd a chapel 
A gwych allor Gwchwillan 
Ac aelwyd teg i gael tân; 
There are for a gentle man who comes there
a table and cupboard and chapel
and Cochwillan’s brilliant altar
and a fair hearth for a fire;

(poem 55.13-16)

Guto’r Glyn also suggests that Sieffrai Cyffin had a cupboard to store items in his hall in Oswestry castle:

Ni bu gwpwrd y gwrda, 
Ni bydd un dydd, heb win da; 
The nobleman’s cupboard was never
without excellent wine, nor will it be one day;

(poem 97.61-2)

A word used for a cupboard in the poetry is almari, borrowed from the Middle English almarie, ‘A place for storing things, as a cupboard’.[1] Guto does not give a description of an almari, but a sixteenth-century poet, Sir Dafydd Trefor, composed a poem to request an almari from William ap Maredudd ap Rhys of Llanfairfechan on behalf of Dafydd ap Gwilym. It seems that his patron needed a cupboard to keep his food and drink safe and away from mice![2]

Some cupboards have survived from the Tudor period and perhaps the most significant one is the 'Cotehele cupboard', which has been connected to Henry Griffith of Newcourt.[3]


[1]: ‘The Oxford English Dictionary’, s.v. aumbry, n.².
[2]: Rh. Ifans, Gwaith Syr Dafydd Trefor (Aberystwyth, 2006), 7.
[3]: R. Bebb, Welsh furniture, 1250-1950: a cultural history of craftsmanship and design, Vol. 1 (Aberystywth, 2007), 161-2.
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