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Haverfordwest Priory

A Scheduled Monument in Haverfordwest (Hwlffordd), Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

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Latitude: 51.7975 / 51°47'51"N

Longitude: -4.9643 / 4°57'51"W

OS Eastings: 195697

OS Northings: 215142

OS Grid: SM956151

Mapcode National: GBR CL.XTKR

Mapcode Global: VH1RL.W2YV

Entry Name: Haverfordwest Priory

Scheduled Date:

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 2655

Cadw Legacy ID: PE017

Schedule Class: Religious, Ritual and Funerary

Category: Priory

Period: Medieval

County: Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro)

Community: Haverfordwest (Hwlffordd)

Built-Up Area: Haverfordwest

Traditional County: Pembrokeshire


The monument consists of the remains of a priory, a Christian monastery governed by a prior dating to the medieval period. It is situated on the banks of the River Cleddau about half a mile south of the medieval town of Haverford and was founded c 1200 by Robert fitz Richard of Haverford (d 1213), a knight in the train of William Marshall earl of Pembroke. The land was granted to the Augustinian order. In plan it is a conventional arrangement of claustral buildings constructed in the early thirteenth century, built up on made ground obtained from a quarrying the slope to the west. Constrained by both the river to the east and developing town to the north there was limited room for expansion and the site changed little throughout the life of the monastery except for some later embellishment in the mid-fifteenth century at the height of its prosperity . The priory was suppressed at the dissolution in 1536 after which the site was acquired by the Barlow family then passing in exchange for land to Sir John Perrot (d 1592) who it is believed used stonework from the site to build his home at Haroldstone. In neglect the site fell into general decay and was used for a period in the eighteenth century as industrial premises. It was thoroughly excavated and conserved during the 1980’s.

The church of conventional cruciform has much of its remains standing to roof height, built of local gritstone and limestone, imported Bath stone was used for decorative work. The main entrance was unusually in the north wall of a nave lit by a great window on the west by a series of windows on the south. The east end of the nave, between the positions of the rood and pulpitum screens, has four triangular settings of stonework in the floor the remains of the piers that supported a square tower inserted during the fifteenth century remodelling, this is known to have survived from early drawings but had fallen by the early eighteenth century. A splayed doorway in the pulpitum separated the nave from the choir on either side of which both north and south transepts had chapels built into them. That on the south retains alter, chapel wall and stepped floor and was lit by windows on the east, south and west. There are the remains of a sedile and piscina on the south wall and within the west is the door leading to the night stair from the dormitory. The north transept has an alter niche in the corner predating the insertion of its chapel. Robbed to below floor level the presbytery wall lines are modern reconstructions. Three steps raised the floor level from the crossing towards the high alter set against the east wall. There are massive buttresses on all corners of the church and within the north western a spiral stair that would have given access to the roof.

Set between the south transept and nave was the cloister around which the other monastic buildings are ranged. The walkway, now indicated by modern flooring, was covered with a pent roof, which drained into a channel separating walkway from garden. On the east side of the cloister outside the south transept is a narrow room an underfloor drain taking water away from the cloister which once covered by a plain barrel vault forming a passage exiting to a walkway to the river. It was later blocked to allow for its use as a sacristy. Adjacent to this is the rectangular chapter house, which had an ornate west door to the cloister and flanking windows. Wall benches around the interior survive together with a floor of buff and green tiles which is now covered with a layer of protective limecrete. A central plinth marks the grave of an important benefactor where pieces of a broken thirteen century effigy of a knight in armour were recovered during excavation. The chapter house was remodelled in the fifteenth century by the insertion of a vault supported by massive finely carved corbels of fragments of which were also found. Beyond the chapter house was a vaulted ground floor room likely to have been used for storage. Over the entire east range at first-floor level was the monk’s dormitory. At the south end of this a small piece of upstanding masonry indicates the end of a latrine block and beyond a small section of stonework reveals another building which may have been the infirmary. Buildings on the south and west sides of the cloister are largely unexcavated: the refectory on the south had its main door on the west flanked by a long stone basin set into the wall. Other structures further south were probably kitchens and work rooms. The buildings of the west range probably housed the prior with storage facilities at ground floor level. Between the priory buildings and the river was garden laid out in a strict grid now interpreted by a modern series of raised beds.

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of the organisation and practice of medieval Christianity. The site forms an important element within the wider medieval landscape. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a strong probability of the presence of associated archaeological features and deposits. The structure itself may be expected to contain archaeological information concerning chronology and building techniques.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and areas around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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