Court Cupboard

This piece of furniture is made from oak and dates from the mid 17th Century. It has ‘1571’ carved into the front making the date of the piece possibly over a hundred years after this date. This could have been done to make the item appear older than it was, ultimately making it more valuable.

This court cupboard is part of a collection of furniture and artefacts from Ynysgain Uchaf near Cricieth. The collection was left to the Museum in 1959 by Anne Eaden, friend and companion of Dorothea Pughe-Jones, the last of the Jones family to live at Ynysgain. Although the family lived there since 1669, the house is a little older for there is a record of gold hidden in one of the walls in 1646 during the Civil War.

The word tridarn means ‘three pieces’. The bottom and middle sections were used for storing clothing, kitchen utensils and food whilst the top part was used to display pottery, pewter and other family treasures. Traditionally the top piece could be lifted down and used as a bench. The cwpwrdd tridarn was one of the most prestigious furniture in the house and it was common for it to be handed down from one generation to the next.

The court cupboard was introduced originally in the form of a storage cupboard during the sixteenth century and became popularly known as the cwpwrdd deuddarn, ‘two piece’ in Welsh. This piece of furniture evolved into the cwpwrdd tridarn by the adding of another tier on top. The cwpwrdd tridarn is essentially Welsh in character, with the cwpwrdd deuddarn being more popular in England. Cypyrddau tridarn were unique to Snowdonia and the surrounding area, and were found in the homes of wealthy farmers and the gentry. The production of the cwpwrdd tridarn was over by the 1770s, although they remained in the homes.

This court cupboard is on display in Gallery 3, and other furniture from the Ynysgain collection is on display in a temporary exhibition at Storiel.