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Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

Historical Description

Haverfordwest, a market-town, a municipal and parliamentary borough, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, in Pembrokeshire. The town stands on the river Oleddau, at the top of a creek of Milford Haven, 7 miles NNE of Milford, 31 W by S of Carmarthen, and 262 by rail from London. It has a station on the G.W.R. and a head post office. It was anciently called Haverford, and bears the name Hwllfordd among the Welsh. It was settled in the time of Henry I. by the Flemings, under Gilbert de Clare, first Earl of Pembroke; it figured for ages as the capital of the Welsh Flemings; and it was protected by a strong castle, supposed to have been erected by Gilbert de Clare. It was besieged with some injury in 1219, by Llewelyn-ap-Jorwerth; it made a gallant resistance to a French force which came to the aid of Owen Glendower; and it was garrisoned for the Crown in the wars of Charles I., and suffered the dismantlement of its castle by the Parliamentarians in 1648. Cromwell's letter relating to the demolition of the castle is still preserved by the corporation. The lordship of it was given by Gilbert de Clare to Robert de Hwllfordd, son of Richard Fitz Tancred; passed soon to the Crown; continued for several centuries to be held by the kings of England or by members of their family; was given by Edward IV. to Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, and at Jasper's death reverted to the Crown.

Haverfordwest occupies a steep eminence, presents a picturesque appearance, and commands fine views, and is a clean well-built town, with steep, narrow streets. There are two stone bridges over the river. Of the castle little remains but the keep. The shire-hall is a handsome modern edifice; the petty sessions and assizes are held here, and the hall is also used for public meetings, &c. The masonic hall, opened in 1872, is also used for meetings, concerts, &c. A temperance hall was built in 1888. St Mary's Church, at the end of High Street, is one of the finest in South Wales; presents a cathedral-like appearance, with a heavy tower, formerly surmounted by a lofty spire; has a lofty arch between the nave and the chancel, a beautifully carved roof and finely traceried windows; the nave is separated from the aisle by massive clustered pillars, with grotesquely sculptured capitals. The church was admirably restored in 1844, and further improved in subsequent years. It contains monuments of the Picton family, including one of Sir John Philipps. St Thomas' Church, on the summit of the hill, stands in the midst of a spacious churchyard, which formerly was the playground of a public school, but is now enclosed. It was rebuilt in 1855, with the exception of the tower. It has been since enlarged by the addition of a north aisle. St Martin's Church appears to have been an appendage to the castle; it consists of chancel, nave, S aisle, lady chapel, and tower; the chancel contains sedilia. A priory of Black Canons, on an elevation over the river, was founded by Robert de Hwllfordd; and appears, from remains of it which still exist, to have been very large, with a cruciform church about 160 feet long from east to west, with transept measuring about 90 feet; it was surmounted by a central tower, supported by four pointed arches. A monastery of Black Friars also stood near a lane to which it has bequeathed the name of " The Friars," and, together with the priory, was given, at the dissolution, to the Barlows; but it has entirely disappeared. There are Roman Catholic, Congregational, Baptist, Moravian, Calvinistic Methodist, and Wesleyan chapels. The Baptist College, instituted in 1839, occupies a good block of buildings. St Martin's parish has a cemetery, managed by a board. There is an endowed grammar school, with scholarships to some university or other place of education approved by the governors. It was founded in 1613. There is also a high school for girls, very liberally endowed. There are a county club, an infirmary, and corn, provision, and fish markets. Some fragments exist, near Prendergast suburb, of Prendergast Place, an old moated mansion, the residence of the Stepney family from the time of Elizabeth till that of Charles II.

The town is a seat of assizes and petty sessions, and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and fairs are held monthly, the wool fair being in June, and the hiring fair on 5 Oct. Cotton and woollen manufactures were once carried on, but are extinct. The chief industry now is connected with a paper-mill, with handicraft employments, with a coasting trade, and with the markets. Vessels of 150 tons come up to quays at the town, and carry imports of timber and groceries, and exports of oats and coal. The town was chartered by Edward V., who created it a county and granted it great and ample liberties; it is now governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; and, together with Fishguard, Milford, Narberth, Pembroke, Tenby, Wiston, and Llanstadwell, sends one member to parliament. The municipal and parliamentary boundaries are co-extensive, and include the parishes of St Mary and Furzy Park and Portfield, and parts of the parishes of St Thomas, St Martin, Prendergast, and Uzmaston. The borough has a separate commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions. It has a lord-lieutenant, who is appointed by the Crown, and in this respect enjoys a privilege not possessed by any other county town in the kingdom. Acreage, 1382; population, 6179.

The three parishes are St Mary, St Thomas, and St Martin. Area of St Mary, 32 acres; of St Thomas, 1024; and of St Martin, 2052. Populations-St Mary, 1286; St Thomas, 1815; and St Martin, 1688. Fnrzy Park and Portfield, formerly extra-parochial, is now a parish; acreage, 649; population, 222. The living of St Mary is a vicarage, that of St Thomas a rectory, and that of St Martin a vicarage, in the diocese of St David's; net value of St Thomas, £307 with residence; of St Mary, £176; gross value of St Martin, £175. Patron of St Thomas, the Lord Chancellor.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Pembrokeshire is available to browse.

Newspapers and Periodicals

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