Pembroke

Pembroke’s history is entwined with that of its magnificent Norman castle, birthplace of Henry VII and the subject of a bitter siege by Cromwell during the Civil Wars.

Pembroke Castle

The town and castle stand on a limestone ridge, along which runs the busy Main Street.

Pembroke was once enclosed by a fortified wall – much of which is still standing – beyond which was a natural moat. Trading vessels which used Pembroke Quay brought prosperity to the town, and merchants built fine Georgian houses in the Main Street.

The town also benefited from the building of the Royal Dockyard nearby in the 19th century.

Drill Hall (SM 983015)

Drill Hall

Built in 1913 for the Yeomanry, the Drill Hall was later used for public functions but was demolished in recent years. The original facilities included a rifle range. The limestone entrance buildings and archway are still in place.

Town Hall (SM 984015)

During the Second World War a large public air raid shelter was located at the rear of the town hall. (Other shelters in the town were at Bankers’ Row and St Michael’s Square). The two cannons guarding the main door are a form of trunnioned carronade from the 1820 to 1840 period, made by the Falkirk Ironworks. This type of cannon was often used as a weapon aboard merchant ships of the time and was also much in vogue as ornamentation outside country houses, especially in Ireland.

Barnard’s Tower (SM 988013)

This fortified tower overlooking the Mill Pond was used during the Second World War to billet American troops.

The Commons (SM 985014)

On The Commons is a commemorative stone marking the association of the German Army Panzer units with the area. It was erected on their departure in 1996.

Golden Prison (SM 986016)

During the American War of Independence (1776-1783), Golden Prison in the Green housed many American and French prisoners in conditions which were described by John Howard, the prisoner reformer, as the worst he had ever seen. He found 37 American prisoners of war and 56 Frenchmen in filthy conditions, living on sub-standard rations. Howard made a number of recommendations in order to improve conditions at the jail. Following the abortive French landing in north Pembrokeshire in 1797, over 500 prisoners of war were crowded into the prison. All that can now be seen of Golden Prison are a number of stone walls and the much-altered jailer’s house.

Holyland House (SM 998018)

This manor house on the outskirts of town was pressed into service as sick quarters for RAF Pembroke Dock during the Second World War. It is now a country house hotel.

Further reading

Pembroke for King and Parliament by Phil Carradice.

Drill Hall (SM 983015)

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Town Hall (SM 984015)

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Barnard’s Tower (SM 988013)

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The Commons (SM 985014)

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Holyland House (SM 998018)

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Golden Prison (SM 986016)

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