A Tour Around Dyland Thomas’s House in Swansea

by | May 13, 2024 | Swansea Today

Dylan Thomas needs no introduction. For the uninitiated, he was a Welshman from Swansea who composed poems, stories, and plays. Some of his immortal works include poems such as ‘Do not go gentle into the good night’,  Death shall have no dominion’, the radio play ‘Under Milk Wood’.

Dylan Thomas

In his rather short lifetime, he produced a huge body of works. More than two-thirds of his works were composed in his little house in Uplands, Swansea. This story is as much about him as it is about the house where he was born. The beautiful house No. 5 in Cwmdonkin Drive is preserved by industrious efforts of Geoff Haden and Alun Gibbard.

The Dylan Thomas House in Swansea
The Dylan Thomas House in Swansea

We met Geoff Haden, the house restorer and curator, who regaled us with interesting conversations and stories about Dylan Thomas and his house which is ‘a living museum’.

Geoff Haden, house restorer and curator
Geoff Haden, house restorer and curator

On seeing the unkempt condition of the house in 2003, Mr Haden decided to do something about it. After the city council gave up the house’s lease, Mr Haden took it over in 2005. He restored the house just as it was in 1914, taking cues from Dylan’s poems and stories, and his neighbours. The wall paint, furnishings, house layout and more were attempted to be kept closest to the original, sometimes furnishing various paraphernalia from charities, car boot sales and auctions.

After three intense years of ‘labour of love’, this house was reopened in 2008, on Dylan’s 94th Birthday, by Dylan’s daughter Aeronwy. What we see today are his tireless efforts to preserve the house of one of the most important Welshmen in history.

Dylan’s family moved to this posh part of Swansea to climb up the social ladder, although Dylan’s father was struggling with money on his meagre income as a school teacher. The house comprises:

The Front Bedroom

The Front Room

The tour begins with the front bedroom located upstairs, overlooking the road and Cwmdonkin Park, which appeared as a subject in many of Dylan’s stories and poems. The room is spacious and furnished. Dylan was born in this house. it was the best-kept room in the house, mostly reserved for visitors.

Nancy’s Room

The sewing machine in Nancy’s bedroom

Nancy was Dylan’s sister, eight years older than him. The room has two single beds and a typical built-in Edwardian wardrobe. The room also has a fireplace, Nancy’s homemade doll house and a sewing machine. She herself was an actress in the Swansea Little Theatre and initiated Dylan into acting as well.

Dylan’s Room

Dylan’s study table

Tiny, but the most fascinating room in the house, Dylan’s room is full of stories. Dylan said that the room was so small that one had to go out to turn around. The room has his table full of little things he loved– books, letters, sweets, Woodbine cigarettes and much more. The wall had pictures of his favourite writers. His coats and hats, as was customary for journalists back then, are hung on the wall as are some of his paintings.

The Parents’ Room

The view from the window of parents’ room

Situated at the back of the house, just above the kitchen, the parents’ room was a warm and cosy one. it was the warmest room in the house.  Dylan spent a lot of time in the house and mentioned it in many of his works. The room directly overlooks Swansea Bay from its window, the only room with this view. The window would also show the town and industries of Swansea, which Dylan described as an ‘ugly, lovely town’.

Father’s Study

The typewriter in Father’s study

This room is perhaps the second-most important room in the house. Dylan came to this room since the age of four and his father made sure that he understood words. Dylan read all the modern and traditional books in the room and he ‘devoured’ all of it. at the age of 12 or 13, Dylan started writing for magazines. The room has a piano, a desk, and a typewriter which particularly caught Dylan’s fancy.

The Front Parlour

The grandfather clock

This was the room best kept for visitors and events like Christmas and birthdays. Dylan was, however, not much allowed in this house, but the room features in Dylan’s Christmas story — ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’. The walls are dark green as they were back the. it still has the original curtains, doors and the grandfather’s clock.

The Living Room

The ‘hub of the house’

This room was the ‘hub of the house’ where the family met every day and had their meals. It is adjacent to the kitchen. There is a dining table, a china cupboard, a comfortable armchair and a sewing machine for Mrs Thomas, who was earlier a seamstress. She would repair the clothes of her children and also the clothes of relatives.

The Kitchen

The fine crockery

Dylan’s mother cooked twice a day with the help of maids here. we can still find the deep sink, pots, pans and the finest crockery from back then. There was a coal fire for 24 hours a day and all the cooking was done on it. There is a little pantry in which a cold stone slab serves as a refrigerator to store the dairy products and the perishables.

The house has dozens of anecdotes to share.  The well-furnished Edwardian house maintains its charm to date, thanks to Mr Haden. In further conversation, an excited Mr Haden urges everyone coming to Wales to visit Dylan Thomas’ House.

More information about the house can be found on their website. The house can be pre-booked for events and stays.