More strictly these buildings should all be called house-and-byre homesteads, indicating simply that they had the living quarters for the family at one end and a byre for the animals at the other. Usually, though not necessarily, one continuous roof covered both parts. And it is within this wider categorisation that both the true Long-house, and Stockwell belong.
Stockwell Farm has been described as a Long-house but it does not in fact conform in at least one major respect to what are now usually regarded as the main characteristics. I.C. Peate, who first formulated the term "Long-house" in his book The Welsh House threw the net wide and said that the only essential feature was that of internal access to the cow house. On the other hand, Peter Smith, author of Houses of the Welsh Countryside considers a far more important distinguishing feature to be that the house was actually entered through the byre, along a feeding walk which acted as a division between men and animals. He writes on one occasion 'if we allow any house with internal access to the byre to be described as a Long-house, much confusion will arise, and many fundamentally dissimilar types of plan will be placed in the same category'.
So if we follow Iorwerth Peate, Stockwell Farm is a Long-house, since at one stage the door between house and byre was there - although it was later blocked up. In fact, recent archaeological evidence suggests that this door was not an original element of the frame as a new lintel had been slotted into the frame and this was topped by a contemporary gable truss.
Common also to the Long-house are the steps up from byre to kitchen level, a means of preventing the accumulated manure of the cows from spreading into the upper end or "pen uchaf".
But if we follow Peter Smith it is not, since the living quarters always had their own entrance, quite separate from that leading into the byre.
The date of the house
Vernacular buildings such as this are extremely difficult to date, since the same methods of construction and plan types continued to be used until surprisingly late dates. However, from the fact that Stockwell Farm was not built with a chimney, and that the timbers of the original roof, one of which can be seen in the bedroom, look medieval, we can surmise that it was built in the late Middle Ages or, more probably, the 16th or even the early 17th century.
Richard Morriss states that this is likely to be a cruck frame, which would suggest an earlier open hall. However, this type of design continued to be used in vernacular buildings well into the 16th century and so accurate dating is difficult without timber analysis. At this time the living end would simply have consisted of a single ground floor room, with a loft above for sleeping. The floor of the kitchen was of stone flags, as it still is. The floor of the byre was of cobbles.
Later, perhaps about 1700, a parlour or sitting room was added onto the western end, with a bedroom above; also the south west bedroom and the stairs. The pale oak floor beams can be seen in the sitting room. The addition was built of stone up to the first floor, to match the earlier part of the house; above that it was timber-frame and plaster.
Sometime around 1830 the gable end of the newer part was re-faced quite grandly with dressed stone. The windows were given stone arches. The fireplace in the sitting room was probably put in then. It was possibly at about this date that it was no longer considered healthy to have the animals living immediately next to the house and access between the two was blocked off. Whether cows were still kept in the byre, or whether it became a barn at this point, we don’t know.
The whole roof of the long house would have been of stone tiles, as the north side is now. The west end was probably re-roofed in slate at the same time that the stone facing was added.