Philbeach Farmhouse is as close to my heart as it is to my home. It is best known for its conical chimney. These chimneys were once common in Pembrokehire and take different forms. Surviving examples can be seen on the St David’s Peninsula and in South Pembrokeshire, but Philbeach is the only known conical chimney in the Dale and Marloes area.
The Philbeach chimney is thought to date from the 1600s, in 1811 Richard Fenton wrote that ‘in this old house till very lately remained the old baronial hall, with a long oak table placed across the floor at the upper end, raised as in college halls, on a dais or steep’. I am hoping to write a post about the history of the building soon.
When I first visited the property over 21 years ago it was in a really poor state of repair. I was working for the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park as their Building Conservation Officer and the owner had heard that it was better to use lime mortars that cement to repair old stone walls. This was the beginning of a journey which lead to the restoration of the building using lime on the roof, walls, floors, renders and plasters and of course, for the final finishing coat of limewash.
Like many historic buildings Philbeach had made its way down the social hierachy from what was once a high status house into a large storage barn – in this case for storing and sorting potatoes. It had lost its floors and some of the door openings had been widened to accommodate fork lift trucks and other machinary. It was the good condition of the roofs and the solidity of the stone walls which had held the building together for so long.
As part of the restoration process the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park made a series of short films called At Home in the Park which you might find interesting. You can also learn more about Philbeach and Trehill Farm here.