Lamphey - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
LAMPHEY (called by the Welsh LLANFFYDD), a parish, in the hundred of Castlemartin, union and county of Pembroke, South Wales, 2 miles (E.) from Pembroke, on the road to Tenby; containing 407 inhabitants. This place, commonly called Lampha, and so spelled on a communion salver bearing date 1743, seems to owe its name to the title of the church; the compound Welsh word Llanffydd, "the church of the faith," having been perhaps corrupted by the Flemings to Lanfoi, and gradually to the modern orthography Lamphey. It was probably among the earliest of the settlements of the Normans in South Wales: according to Buck, as quoted by Grose, it was the head of a lordship marcher; and it anciently contained one of the princely residences of the bishops of St. David's, of which there are considerable remains. At what period it first became the property of the archiepiscopal, and subsequently episcopal, church of St. David's is not precisely known; but a deed dated at Lamphey, in the middle of the thirteenth century, by Bishop Carew, is still extant; and, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, it appears to have been the residence of a bishop in the time of Arnulph de Montgomery, who possessed himself of this part of the principality in the reign of Henry I. At least a great part of the episcopal palace (even the whole of it, according to some writers) was built by Bishop Gower, in 1335. The various styles of architecture which characterize its ruins show plainly that it was the work of successive periods, and that it did not attain the splendour for which it was remarkable, but by the accumulated additions and improvements of its successive proprietors, of whom Gower probably built the great hall and the square tower, distinguished for their beautiful open parapets.
This portion of the possessions of the see of St. David's was alienated to the crown in the time of Bishop Barlow, by Henry VIII., who granted Lamphey to Devereux, Viscount Hereford, father of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, whose youth was passed in this place. After the attainder of the earl, in the reign of Elizabeth, the estate was purchased by Sir Hugh Owen, of Orielton, by whose descendant Sir John Owen, Bart., it was sold to Charles Matthias, Esq., who in 1823 erected a handsome mansion, called Lamphey Court, with a fine portico of four Ionic columns, near the ruins of the ancient episcopal palace. Besides this seat, the parish contains several genteel residences belonging to other families. Portclew, a mansion rebuilt some years ago, is beautifully situated on an eminence overlooking Freshwater bay, where the fine smooth and firm sands are alike inviting for walking or riding. Lamphey Park occupies a pleasant situation on the north side of the valley, in grounds which contain some pleasing scenery and are tastefully disposed; and North Down is also a genteel residence. The house of Lamphey Park is situated in the midst of what was formerly the deer-park, of which the boundary wall remains: the view hence westward is singularly fine, embracing within half a mile both the venerable ruins of the palace and the adjacent modern mansion of Lamphey Court, and further on, the town of Pembroke, its magnificent castle towering over it, and the river, as an expansive lake, stretching beyond it in the distance.
The parish, which in form is nearly a parallelogram, is washed by the sea on the south side, where is the picturesque little bay called Freshwater bay, with a good bathing place. It comprises about 2000 acres of meadow and arable land in nearly equal quantities. The village, with its lofty-steepled church built by the Flemings, stands in a fine valley, screened on the south from the Atlantic storms by gradually rising ground, whence a noble view is obtained of the Bristol Channel, and in tolerably clear weather, of the opposite coast of Somerset and Devon, together with Lundy Island: steamers and coasting-vessels pass close by the rocky promontory forming the west side of the bay. Limestone of excellent quality is quarried to a considerable extent for building purposes, and also burnt into lime.
The living is a discharged vicarage, rated in the king's books at �5. 8. 11�., and endowed with �600 royal bounty; present income, �115; patron, the Bishop of St. David's. No tithes are payable from the land in that part of the parish which was alienated from the see in the reign of Henry VIII., and which constitutes a large portion of it, including the park, which alone contains many hundred acres of fine land. The titheable portion, under the Commutation Act, is subject to a rent-charge of �60 payable to the bishop, and one of �73 to the vicar, who has also a glebe of four acres, valued at �12 per annum. The church was thoroughly repaired in 1826, partly by subscription, and partly by an additional churchrate, aided by a grant of �100 from the Incorporated Society for promoting the erection and enlargement of churches and chapels. Two hundred additional sittings were obtained, of which, in consideration of the gift from the society, 135 are for ever free and unappropriated. A National day and Sunday school has been established, for which a commodious room, with a neat cottage for the master, was erected in 1828, by means of a grant from the National Society of �70, and �50 given by Mr. Matthias, the deficiency being made up by the vicar.
The remains of the ancient palace, nearly adjoining the village, amply display its former splendour. They consist of the great hall, seventy-six feet in length and twenty in width, the walls of which are surmounted by an elegant open parapet of delicate tracery; another apartment, sixty feet long and twenty-six wide; the chancel of the chapel, of which the east window, still entire, is a beautiful composition, enriched with elegant tracery; the grand entrance on the west; and the square tower above noticed, now inclosed within the gardens of the new mansion, in which it forms an interesting object. The greatest attention is paid to the preservation of these fine ruins, and every precaution has been taken by the proprietor of Lamphey Court to arrest the decay into which this venerable pile was rapidly falling from previous neglect.