St Florence

St Florence, in the Ritec Valley, is an attractive medieval village grouped around an impressive Norman church. At one time St Florence was at the head of a tidal inlet and several ancient route-ways pass through the village. Regular agricultural fairs were held here in medieval times.

The Civil War in St Florence: There are indications that St Florence played its part in the Civil War action of 1644 when Parliamentary forces led by Rowland Laugharne marched from Pembroke to attack the Royalist garrison at Trefloyne on the northen slope of the Ridgeway between St Florence and Tenby. It is recorded: ‘As Laugharne drew near Trefloyne, Lord Carbery led a body of horse and foot from Tenby towards the ford over the river Ritec and led them back again to Tenby when the Parliamentarian gunners sent a few cannon balls across the water’. The ford mentioned above is thought to be the ford which still exists in St Florence. If Laugharne had come from Pembroke over the Ridgeway and Carbery had come from Tenby via Gumfreston then they would have been treading common ground from this point to Trefloyne. Carbery could have reached St Florence first and watched Laugharne’s forces descending from the Ridgeway, waiting for them to pass before ambushing them from behind. However it seems that Laugharne was aware of this and fired some cannon balls over the Ritec and into the village.

Cannon balls were found in 1964 in the roadway around the Sun Inn, while in the late 1990s the owner of Shirley Cottage found a three-inch diameter ball in the gable end, indicating that the shot was fired from the direction of the ford in the river Ritec. Significantly, one of the field pieces which Laugharne had with him fired three inch shot.

WW2 Air-raid shelters: An air-raid shelter was built in the playground of what is now the old school. The construction used bricks with holes, the holes being filled with concrete to give extra strength. The roof was a concrete slab. The building was rectangular in shape and followed the length of the roadside wall. part of this wall had to be removed during the construction of the shelter and replaced later; this area can still be seen as a darker colour than the rest of the wall. This shelter superseded an earlier one dug by local villagers in the area of the present school. This shelter was a simple trench covered with corrugated iron sheets which were in turn covered with grass.