Pembroke Town Walls, and the Town Walls Trust Project
Pembroke's Town Walls are not just of national importance - they and the unchanged situation they lie within are of international importance.
These town walls are not high, but are unique in surrounding the old part of town whose layout remains virtually unchanged since the 1300s with the Millpond to the north, the Commons (once a tidal inlet) to the south, and the Castle and water below dominating the western end. Tho 'old town' consists of one single street - Main Street - which runs west to east from the Castle to the East End where the great East Gate would have stood. The gate was situated roughly where The Royal Oak public house is today, and would have been similar to the 5-arched gate in Tenby (as seen in the photograph lower down the page). It is not known when Pembroke's East Gate was destroyed but the road or track that went through it probably was in use in pre-roman times.
Barnard's Tower on the north side at the top end of the Millpond Walk is the best preserved of the towers that were part of the walls, and it has an interesting history set as it is on the external side of the wall.
Click here for a detailed description of Barnard's Tower ........ situated at the top end of the Millpond Walk
Click here for a detailed description of the Medieval Gun Tower ..... to the rear of 99 Main Street (south side of walls along Gooses Lane)
Click here for a detailed description of the Medieval Tower with gazebo ........ to the rear of 111 Main Street (south side of walls along Gooses Lane
Pembroke Commons lime kiln set into the rear of Tabernacle's burgage garden
This massive, D-shaped lime kiln was inserted through a (pre-existing) gap in the town wall, during the later 18th century when the Commons to the south had been partly drained from Monkton Pill. Its rear (north) wall is approximately 4 metres north of the town wall-line, with which its curved southern flank lies flush, and it is therefore unlikely to be an adaptation of a medieval flanking tower as has been suggested.
The kiln is 6 metres in diameter and about 3 metres in height from the present road level; and was constructed in medium-sized, fairly regular rubble with original buff mortar and some 20th century repointing. The kiln was cleaned in 1979 and, with the walls either side, capped with cement. The pot was overgrown and inaccessible in April 2001, but in 1979 was described as ‘completely choked up with earth’. The two draw-holes, lying to the east and west, are no longer open, lying beneath the present road level, indicating that at least a quarter of the structure is buried. However, their external openings can be seen - top photograph, left hand side.
The town walls were completed by approximately 1250. The two separate parish churches were established then too.
John Speed's map of 1610. Also: an early French sketch from around 1650. And: an aerial view from the 1950s
The three Town Gates
None of the old gates to the town remain today. However, on Westgate Hill you can see the remains of the 'springing arch' - it is likely that this was a simple gate without a portcullis because in those days the hill at that point was even steeper than it is today. The old East Gate was the mightiest of the gates and evidence suggests that it was similar to the the five-arched gate which still remains today in Tenby. North Gate is the gate we have an image of from a print prior to its demolition around 1820 when the 'New Quay' was built. The bridge was narrow, the Dark Lane above was dark and narrow too, and with the new town and Dockyard being established in nearby Pembroke Dock transport through the gate and over the bridge was increased to the point where accidents became numerous.
The image below is a late 18th century print showing the old Mill Bridge, a small former corn mill, buildings along the south but behind high walls, continuous walls from the bridge to the east, and the great Northgate still intact.
The Town Walls Trust Project - of huge importance to Pembroke's future
"Pembroke's Town Walls are of National and International importance" declares the Prince's Foundation.
Pembroke’s historic Town Walls offer our unique town a unique opportunity for regeneration
The Trust was formed at the end of 2012 by a group of like-minded people passionate about Pembroke, its town walls, and the burgage plots within the wall. There are huge hurdles to be overcome - most of the walls are in private ownership which makes applying for funds for renovation complex; but one by one solutions are being sought and found. The Trust seeks a better future for the next generation. It will be a long term project starting with.....
Click here to learn more www.pembroketownwallstrust.org.uk and please support the Trust by becoming a member
The Pilot Project
A suitable site for a pilot project has been identified to the rear of the Tabernacle United Reformed Church on Main Street. The church is currently being used for a number of community-based activities; and Pembroke 21C Community Association have established it as a base for The Pembroke Story heritage project.
The Pilot Project will be linked to:-
A Journey Through Time. This is an innovative and important project for Pembroke being developed by Pembroke 21C to enhance The Pembroke Story.A suitable site for a pilot project has been identified to the rear of the Tabernacle United Reformed Church on Main Street. The church is currently being used for a number of community based activities, and Pembroke 21C Community Association have established it as a base for The Pembroke Story heritage project. community garden.
Based within the burgage walls of the Tabernacle Church, and incorporating a section of Town Wall, the limekiln and a cave, this project is a partnership which will link the Commons with the Main Street through the town walls, the garden and the church.
Building on the pilot project experience the long term outcomes will include
- Raising Pembroke’s profile nationally
- Provide training
- Teach new skills
- Create jobs
- Help regenerate the town
- Restore unsafe walls
- Raise the profile of the town’s burgage walls
- Help to bring people into the town
- Create pride in Pembroke locally
- Help to create a day experience for tourists rather than ‘visit the castle and go’
This is an important and exciting project and we want everyone to be on board - if you want to be involved in some way please do get in via the Contact link at the top of this page.
PEMBROKE TOWN WALLS TRUST
Working in partnership with a wide range of partners and stakeholders the Trust aims to protect and conserve the archaeology of the town walls, promote understanding and access, and realise the potential of the historic site. It is anticikpated that this will contribute to the social and economic benefit of our local community through local skills development, sustainable tourism development and sense of place.
The Trust aims:
- to repair and consolidate the remains of the Pembroke Town Walls
- to identify and maximise funding opportunities for the project
- to raise awareness of the significance of the Town Walls locally, nationally and internationally
- to realise the potential of the project for local skills development, educational purposes, heritage, tourism and the local economy, promoting sustainability and the use of local material and resources.