A twenty minutes boat ride will take you from the pretty harbour of Tenby to the wonderful peaceful oasis that is Caldey Island. Caldey is one of Britain's Holy Islands, with a monastic history which goes back 1500 years. The Benedictine order of Monks are still practising on the Island to this day. A pleasant 10-15 minute walk from the boat landing stage will take you to the heart of the village. As you approach, you will fail to notice the magnificent Monastery building standing high up on the hillside before you. Here the Monks go about their daily routines, starting with Vigils at 3.30am! Visitors are not allowed inside the Monastery but you can get a good view of the exterior and its' impressive architectural features from the paths around the village.
In the village you will find a gift shop, perfumery and a lovely little museum (free) situated within the post office. If you're lucky to visit Caldey Island on a nice, dry day like me, the tea rooms are a must! The cakes (especially the Bara Brith) are very nice indeed. The outside seating area is on the common, just below the Monastery so the views are outstanding.
There are walks around the Island which will take you to the Old Priory which was the home of Benedictine Monks in Medieval times. The oldest part of this building is Priors tower, thought to have been built by a Norman nobleman, Robert Fitzmartin in 1113. Near the Old Priory, you will find the Chocolate Factory sadly this was closed during our visit but you can purchase the tasty Caldey Island Chocolate from the Post Office, gift shop or if you forget, the Caldey Island gift shop in Tenby. From the Priory, we followed the lane upwards towards the lighthouse which stand on the Southern headland. The lighthouse build in 1829, is still a working light and works in conjunction with the Lundy North Light to aid navigation in the Bristol Channel. The area around the lighthouse provides a perfect picnic spot, dramatic cliff top scenery with views out to Lundy Island on a clear day. For those looking for a nice stroll, there are some lovely cliff paths and woodland walks in and around Caldey Island.
Back in the village, if you follow the path below the Monastery, you will find some steps leading upwards to the Abbey Church, where the Monks begin their daily round of services at an unearthly hour! The gallery of the Church is open to the public at all times. St Davids Church is not far away, this is an ancient Church which dates from Norman times but the foundation and possible parts of the stonework of the nave are thought to be those of a Celtic Chapel built in the 6th Century. In the churchyard are simple wooden crosses which mark the graves of monks and islanders, it is the present day cemetery. In the porch of the church you can read the obituaries of many of the people buried here. Just down the hill St Davids Church, you will find the Old School Room, here you can see a really interesting short film about the Monks of Caldey Island (the full DVD can be purchased in the shop),
The boats regularly run back to the mainland - be sure to ask the time of the last boat back. The tide was out when we chose to return to the mainland, we were transferred to the boat by a World War II landing craft which drove on the beach and then we were transferred to the boat which was waiting for us out in the bay.
All in all, Caldey Island is a great day out when visiting Tenby and is well worth the £11.00 return boat trip.
Manor House Wildlife Park was taken over by well-known British TV star Anna Ryder Richardson and her family in 2008. Since then it has been transformed from a Zoo where animals were caged up to a fantastic spacious Wildlife Park where the animals have salubrious homes and acres of space to roam in if they need it. The life and times of the Wildlife park have been well documented in the TV series - Anna's Welsh Zoo.
You can start your tour of the park in the Wallaby Walk through. The red-necked Wallabies are really friendly and will hop up to you to see if you have anything edible to give them. We visited in May so were fortunate to see lots of little Joey's. The gravel path will then take you on a tour past the Camels, Zebra's, Ostrich's, Emu's and then around to the star attraction - Lisa and Steve the Gibbons who also had a very small baby to look after. As you walk around you will also find flamingo's, Marmocet's, Ring tailed lemur's, meerkats, goats and Giant tortoises. I'm sure I've missed some out but it was great fun walking around watching these great animals. There is a lovely looking cafe in the main house, just in front of a huge picnic area if you decide to bring your own food. The picnic area is designed especially with the little ones in mind. It has space hoppers, ride-along cars, see saws and lots of little tee-pee type shelters for the children to play in. There is a nice gift shop near the cafe.
All in all we were kept occupied and fully entertained for over two hours.
Adult - £9.95
Child - £7.95 (4-17)
OAP - £7.95
Free for ages 3 and under.
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/te/20ee44/f863a5c3accce6b6a3570ebccb60538c/#ixzz1MXlvaC73
The museum is in a lovely setting on Castle Hill in part of the ruins of a C13th castle. Very well designed displays of the local geology, archaeology and social history of the area, and has activities for children.
There is also an excellent art gallery with a permanent display of works by Gwen John, David Jones and others as well as special exhibitions.
Opening hours: Winter: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm Monday to Friday (last admission 4.30); Summer: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm every day. Will be closed over Christmas Holidays; check website for other Bank Holiday closures
The Island just off Castle Beach in Tenby is home to St Catherines Fort. This is one of the defences built in the 1860's to protect the Welsh Pembrokshire coast from the threat of French invasion. It has gun embrasures down both the northern and southern sides, with large, circular, corner emplacements at each of the seaward, eastern corners for guns on the roof.
It saw no action, and was eventually decommissioned and sold off. It has since been used, unsuccessfully for a number of purposes, the strangest being a zoo, and is now unused but still in private hands. The fort can be reached at low tide but is inaccessable.
An unknown Norman built the first Castle here. The castle dates from 1153 but the visible ruins on the cliff above the sea are from later additions. Over the years the 13th Century Town Walls took over as the main defence of Tenby. On the top of Castle Hill you can see the only remaining Castle Tower.
This is a lovely area for a stroll or a picnic on a Summers day. As you walk up to the hill you'll pass St Catherines Fort on you right hand side and will have some great views of Caldey Island in the distance. There are plenty of benches in this area for you to take in your surroundings. There is a little Museum half way up and guess what? as the name suggests, at the top of the hill you will find the remains of one of the towers of Tenby Castle.
The town walls encircle the medieval town of Tenby. They date back as far as 1260. In 1457 Jasper Tudor, earl of Pembrokeshire, made the walls stronger.
Interestingly, the arrow slots which can be seen along the top of the town walls, used to be homes for hundreds of pigeons nesting in Tenby. Unfortunately due to the damage these birds were doing to the historical walls they no longer nest there as the slots are all now blocked up. The walls were so strong that they were used for battle and substantial ruins are still here today.
The houses on the Esplanade overlooking the harbour in Tenby are painted all different pastel shade of blues, pinks and yellows. It looks really pretty and adds to the character of this wonderful seaside resort.
The Tudor Merchant's House looks like a great place to visit while in Tenby. It was closed while we were there so we could only view the exterier. The property is owned by the National trust and depicts life for the Tudor Merchant and his family some 500 years ago.
The House is open between 22-Mar - 31-Oct-10
Admission Prices: adult £3, child £1.50, family £7.50
When St Mary’s was built in Tenby in 1210, Wales was a part of Catholic Christendom, the Magna Carta had not been signed and the Normans were building castles to control the land by force.
First recognised as a church when Gerald of Wales, one of the nation’s most revered religious figures, became rector, St Mary’s celebrates its 800th anniversary in February 2010.
There are some lovely features inside, stained glass windows and lovely sculptures.
At the rear of the Church there is a peaceful memorial garden complete with Water feature. We didnt need to admire this at the time of our visit as it was raining very heavily creating waterfalls all around us!!
Tenby has seen many changes since the Normans Arrived in the late 11th Century when impressed by the fertility of the land of Pembrokeshire and realising the strategic importance of Pembroke in any plans of subjugating the region the Town became their headquarters. The Welsh fortress at Nearby Tenby was soon captured and by the mid 12th century a primitive castle had been constructed on Castle Hill, garrisoned by English and French troops. After some skirmishes with the Welsh forces the town was attacked and ransacked in 1187 by welsh troops led by Maelgwyn ap Rhys and again In 1260 when it suffered its last battering at Welsh hands and Llewelyn ap Gruffydd slaughted the garrison and the residents in protest against the Norman occupation of Wales.
After the destruction of the town the Earls of Pembroke realised that the defences of Tenby were inadequate and as the town played an important part in controlling the south It was decided to increase the towns defences so that the whole town would be secure behind a impregnable wall with towers and gateways and the castle with its cliff top location would form another defensive bulwark.
Sadly there is not much remaining of The castle but it is still worth visiting just for the magnificent views of the town and cliffs. Hopefully if you visit it will not be Raining or if it is then hopefully not quite as hard as it was when i went.
This lovely Parish church in the middle of Tenby has a tower that dates over 700 years and is older than most of the other parts of the present church. Although the Church dates back to at least 1210 there are only some slight traces of a building from that period remaining, and was probably a rebuild of a much earlier church. This early 13th c Church consisted of a small chancel and a nave with a narrow south aisle that survives at the base of the west wall. The Church was extensively rebuilt before the end of the century when the tower and part of the present chancel was erected probably after the town was sacked in the 1260 uprising by the Welsh led by Llewelyn ap Gruffydd.
When the tower was first constructed it would have looked much different as the spire was added some 200 years later, originally the flat semi fortified 83ft high tower would have provided a belfry and a chapel above the vaulted ground floor, but would have served as a lookout post and as a place of safety if the town was under attack.
In the 15th c Tenby's prosperity increased and this is reflected in a series of additions to the Parish church which doubled in size in less than a hundred years and started to look much as it does today. The windows were changed in the Victorian period in order to fit in with the recent fashions.
The Town walls of Tenby are really well preserved and our stay in the Royal Lion Hotel left us in an ideal position to walk around the walls as it is built upon what would once have been the largest gate to the Town, The North Gate. So by going out of the Bars Stage Door exit you are on Little Frog St which contains some of the oldest buildings in the town. You can pick the wall up at the bottom of little Frog St or from various points around the town and follow them around. They are certainly worth looking at. It must have looked more like a massive castle from a distance and would certainly have been formidable.
Construction of the walls was begun around 1264 and when in 1328 King Edward III granted Tenby the right to tax all goods entering the town for a period of 7 years to help with the construction and maintenance of wall defences extra towers were built into the Curtain wall and the Outer barbican Tower was constructed (Now known as the Five Arches) over the West Gate.
The walls were then increased again when in 1457 the mayor and burgesses of the town were made wholly responsible for the upkeep of the walls and defences of the town and so the lower wall sections were increased to 6 feet thickness and heightened considerably with parapet walks being added to aid in any defence. In order to further strengthen the town’s defences a ditch was dug outside the landward walls that was some 30 ft wide. (In the area that is now south parade and St Florence Parade.
In 1588 when the Spanish Armada was threatening Britain the wall to the south of the West Gate was demolished and rebuilt.
More changes were made over the years mostly with the two large gates that led through the walls The largest gate was The North gate but it's arch and the walls over it had been removed by 1707 and then on the 19th of June 1781 a council order stating 'that part of the gateway' by projecting into the street is a great nuisance and ought to be removed. 'It is hereby unanimously agreed that the said gateway be taken down'. And so the largest gateway was demolished. (Now the site of the Royal Lion Hotel)
The ancient church of St Mary's is located right in the centre of the town and is a pleasant place to visit. Its history stretches back to the early thirteenth century. Instead of leaflets or books about the church, inside you will find wooden paddles with information on both sides, which you can carry around with you then replace on a hook before you leave!
I was fortunate to visit the church during a flower festival, which gave added delight. But I found the memorials and tombs fascinating. Tenby became a holiday centre for the wealthy middle classes from the west of England and there is plenty of evidence of this with memorials and graves of people from Monmouth, Bristol, Somerset and further afield. In the north chapel is a large colourful tomb of a local woman, already mother of ten, who died in childbirth aged 30!!
Open from 9am to 5pm, admission free but donations encouraged
Tenby's boasts the oldest independent museum in Wales, opened in 1878 and housed in a building which was once the local school. Because it is an independent museum, it charges admission - £4 for adults (2008) - but there is a surprisingly large amount of things to see on three floors. There is also a small coffee shop with splendid views over the South Beach.
The museum describes the history of the the whole of the Pembrokeshire area and, on the top floor in particular, has lots of interesting history about Tenby itself. The Art Gallery is large and modern, with a permanent exhibition of famous Welsh artists and a second room of temporary (modern) exhibitions.
Unfortunately I only had half an hour to spend in the Museum, which was no where near enough, at least an hour would be far more realistic.
Generally open 10am to 5pm