Tenby Town Walls

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are major building remains

NameTenby Town Walls
Alternative NamesDinbych-y-pysgod; Tynebey
Historic CountryPembrokeshire
Modern AuthorityPembrokeshire
1974 AuthorityDyfed
CommunityTenby

There are extensive remains of the medieval town walls at Tenby which were originally built in 1245. They were re-built in 1457 after a period of neglect and are constructed from rubble stone with a crenelated parapet and arrow loops. The landwards defences are substantially complete, with five mural towers and a gate complex. Elsewhere, along the coastal cliffs, scraps of retaing walls and a turret, or tower (at SN13580033) may have belonged to the defensive scheme. (Coflein)

The walls run W along White Lion Street from corner of Upper Frog St, and then S along South Parade and St Florence Parade to the sea.

Medieval town walls extending the full original length from the cliff above the South Beach, along St Florence Parade and South Parade to the corner at White Lion Street, and thence returning towards the cliff over the North Beach. This short return is shortened by the loss of the Great or Carmarthen Gate (removed 1781), and connecting wall on the site of the Royal Lion Hotel. There were also walls around the harbour area and linking to the Castle, now gone. The walls may have been begun under the Marshals, Earls of Pembroke to 1245, replacing an earthen rampart of the late C12, and have been completed after Tenby was sacked in 1260 by Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the later work for William de Valence, Earl from 1247 to 1291. Much rebuilt in 1457 for Jasper Tudor, at which time the walls were said to have been badly built and maintained, and to require both raising and widening all around for a wall walk. The evidence of raising by some 5' (1.5m) at this time can clearly be seen, and the wall walk was mostly still intact in 1812, but largely removed in the early C19. A fragment survives behind York House, Lower Frog Street. There was a moat along the whole length. Only the Five Arches survives of the town gates

The Belmont Arch was cut through to The Paragon in the 1860s by the Earl of Limerick to give carriage access to Belmont Houses, now the Imperial Hotel.

Town walls with 6 towers and one large semicircular town gate. Rubble stone with arrow loops and crenellated parapet. Short length along White Lion Street to circular bastion at corner of South Parade and then main long length down to the sea with various towers: semi-circular bastion half-way along South Parade, Five Arches gateway opposite former R C convent, semi-circular bastion opposite the garage at S end of South Parade (the interior infilled by Tower Cottage, Lower Frog Street), square tower on St Florence Parade (backing onto garden of No 4 Frogmore Terrace), semi-circular bastion built up in C19 as round tower on W end of the Imperial Hotel and finally a small battered square tower on the cliff edge. (Listed Building Report)

There were further repairs at the time of the Spanish Armada. (Soulsby–ref Smith, 1855 p. 26-7)

During the mayoralty of Thomas White (1457), Jasper, Earl of Pembroke, granted his permission and assistance towards rebuilding and repairing the walls of Tenby, which were ordered to be made six feet broad in every part, so that there might be a walk round them for the purposes of defence. This will probably account for the succession of arches built against the inner side of the walls, on the top of which the walk was evidently constructed. (Turner, 1971)

By the early C14 Tenby had emerged as a prosperous medieval borough with a sound economy based on the fishing industry and important trading links with Brittany, France, and Ireland. (Soulsby)

Gatehouse Comments

A single murage grant in 1328 was to 'aid of the enclosure of the town and the construction of a quay' and quayage grant of the same date and wording was also granted suggesting separate taxation on goods brought by land and good brought by water. The walls already existed at this time so the proportion of money spent on the walls will have been for repair. Bristol was also important to Tenby's trade and the town was exempt from paying murage at Bristol. Clearly there was much to protect and the area is one troubled by pirates but protecting the town trade and income from smuggling may have been the day to day function of the wall.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 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 ReferenceSN133003
Latitude51.6710891723633
Longitude-4.70063018798828
Eastings213340
Northings200380
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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 182-3
  • Kenyon, John, 2010, The Medieval Castles of Wales (University of Wales Press) p. 94
  • Hull, Lise, 2005, Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire (Logaston Press) p. 211-3
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 18, 27, 30, 40, 114, 115, 124, 129, 131, 133, 135, 137, 149, 151, 168, 244, 278
  • Pettifer, Adrian, 2000, Welsh Castles, A Guide by Counties (Boydell Press) p. 175-6
  • Davis, Paul, 2000, A Company of Forts. A Guide to the Medieval Castles of West Wales (Gomer Press) p. 109-11
  • Salter, Mike, 1996, The Castles of South West Wales (Malvern) p. 83
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds), Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 400-1
  • Soulsby, I., 1983, The Towns of Medieval Wales (Phillimore) p. 250-53 (plan)
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 381
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 plan p. 67 online copy
  • Stickings, T.G., 1973, Castles and Strongholds of Pembrokeshire (Tenby) p. 125-8
  • Leach, A.L., 1937, History of the Civil War in Pembrokeshire (London) p. 73-82, 185-90
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 218-24
  • RCAHMW, 1925, An inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Pembrokeshire (HMSO) p. 395 no. 1128 online copy
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (Methuen and Co) p. 247-8
  • Edwards, Emily Hewlett, 1909, Castles and Strongholds of Pembrokeshire (Tenby) p. 29-33 online copy
  • Smith, J.B., 1855, Historical Sketch of Tenby (Tenby)
  • Lewis, Samual, 1849, A Topographical Dictionary of Wales online copy
  • Anon, 1818, An account of Tenby (clearly from Norris) online copy
  • Norris, Charles, 1812, Etchings Of Tenby online copy

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Jones, R., 2004, 'Tenby, Brechmaenchine Tower' Archaeology in Wales Vol. 44 p. 174-5 (plan and elevation)
  • Thomas, W. Gwyn, 1993, 'The walls of Tenby' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 142 p. 1-39
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 213
  • Thomas, W. Gwyn, , 1976, ‘Tenby Castle’ and ‘Tenby town walls’ The 123rd Annual Meeting in South Pembrokeshire, 1976, CAA p. 26-8
  • Walker, 1969, National Library of Wales Journal Vol. 15 p. 1-22
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Leach, 1938, Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 93 p. 278-9
  • Thomas, W.G., 1962, 'Town Walls' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 119 p. 324 online copy
  • Laws, E., 1896, 'Notes on the fortifications of mediaeval Tenby' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 51 p. 177-92, 273-89 online copy

Guide Books

  • Davies, M., 1979, The Story of Tenby (Tenby Museum) esp p. 10-12

Primary Sources

  • Brut y Tywysogion 1187 (Several transcriptions and translations exist the best being Jones, T., 1952, Brut Y Twysogion (University of Wales, History and Law series 11)–based on the Peniarth MS 20 version. There is a flawed translation Williams ab Ithel, John, 1860, Brut Y Twysogion or The Chronicle of the Princes (Rolls Series) online copy)
  • Williams (ab Ithel), John, (ed), 1860, Annales Cambriae (444 – 1288) (London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts)1260 online copy
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891, Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward III (1327-30) Vol. 1 p. 245, 248 (murage grant) online copy
  • Johnes (Trans), 1853, Chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet (Hafod Press) Vol. 1 p. 28 online copy
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/murindex.html], [petitions > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/mupindex.html ] and [other such > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/muaindex.html]. < >

Other

  • Garfi, S., 1993, Tenby Town Walls Archaeological Recording Project for Pembrokeshire District Council and CADW (NMR, Aberrystwyth)