Slebech Commandery

Has been described as a Possible Fortified Ecclesiastical site

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameSlebech Commandery
Alternative Names
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed

Site of a commandery of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, the largest and richest of the 3 provincial houses in Wales, fully established at Slebech by 1176 from foundation donations by, possibly, Walter, son of Wizo the Fleming of Wiston. The Order's estates in Wales were grouped into bailiwicks or commanderies which broadly followed Diocesan boundaries and in due course the Commander or Preceptor of Slebech administered estates in the large medieval Diocese of St David's. Apart from the Church (4333) nothing remains of the medieval hospice. The Slebech estates were leased to Roger Barlow at the Disolution and purchased by him in 1546. HJ April 2000 (Dyfed Archaeological Trust HER)

Since the demolition of the adjacent commandery in the late C18, St John's Church has been the principal remaining monument of an important establishment of the order of knights hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem. The visible fabric of the church now is mostly of the late mediaeval period with some subsequent alterations.

The benefice of Slebech with its church were first granted to the Order in the mid C12 by Wizo, Lord of Wiston, as a perpetual curacy. After the Dissolution the building became the parish church. (Listed Building Report 6101)

Slebech Park is built on the site of the commandery of the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John. After the Dissolution the commandery became the seat of the Barlow family, and was demolished for the construction of the present house by John Symmons, formerly of Llanstinan, who became the second husband of Anne Barlow in 1773. (Listed Building Report 6102)

The land at Slebech was donated to the Knights Hospitaller at some time between 1148 and 1176. It became a Commandery and was duly the headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller in West Wales

Slebech was the third richest of the religious houses in Wales and amongst the wealthiest of the Hospitaller's houses in England and Wales.

The Commandery possessed two mills and a quay on the Eastern Cleddau and received lands and churches throughout West Wales during the medieval period. Some of these still stand, such as St Michael’s Church in Rudbaxton. A literary source comments on the fine stained glass window at Slebech.

The Commandery was a stop over for pilgrims on their way to St David’s and this requirement to offer hospitality was sometimes a burden to the community at Slebech.

Following the dissolution of the Commandery the Barlow family took possession of the house which became Slebech Park and estate. (Monastic Wales website)

Gatehouse Comments

The church of the Hospitallers commandery survives as a ruin. Nothing survives of the commanderies other buildings upon which is built grade 2star listed Slebech Park. The location, although relatively far up the Eastern Cleddau, was still vulnerable to pirate raids. It would not be unreasonable to suppose these buildings had some defensive element to them, both in response to this physical danger and as a symbol of the knightly status of the monastic order. However there is nothing 'defensive' about the surviving church ruins. Unlike other monastic houses these house did also have within them men trained and, often, experience in fighting making these actually defensible.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic Wales CADW listed database record number
The National Monument Record (Coflein) number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSN031139
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  • Salter, Mike, 2012, Abbeys, Priories and Cathedrals of Wales (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 80
  • Parry, John Meredydd, 1996, The Commandery of Slebech in Wales of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem (Fairwinds Publications: Pembrokeshire)
  • Rees, Wm, 1932, Map of South Wales and the Border in the 14th century (Ordnance Survey) (A handbook to the map was published in 1933)
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 384 no. 1085n online copy
  • Laws, E. and Owen, H., 1908, Archaeological Survey of Pembrokeshire 1896-1907 (Tenby)
  • Rees, J. Rogers, 1900, Slebech Commandery and the Knights of St John (London: Bedford Press)
  • Fenton, R., 1811, A historical tour through Pembrokeshire (Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & co.) p. 10-11, 285-92 online copy


  • 1914, Historical Society of West Wales Transactions Vol. 4
  • J. Roger Rees, 1897, 'Slebech Commandery and the Knights of St John' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 14 p. 101