Reviews

Pembrokeshire County History

Volume II Medieval Pembrokeshire
(This review first appeared in Volume 13 of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Edited by R.F. Walker (General Editor Brian Howells)
(Haverfordwest: The Pembrokeshire Historical Society, 2002).
Pp. xxviii, 611. £25.00.

The medieval volume of the Pembrokeshire County History, written by a team of authors invited to the task by the General Editor, Brian Howells, and edited by the late R.F. Walker, marks the completion of an important stage in the progress of the comprehensive history of the county envisaged by the Pembrokeshire Historical Society. Members of the Society and the people of Pembrokeshire as a whole can feel very well pleased with the present volume, a collaborative endeavour that brings out the richly varied aspects of the county’s medieval experience and contributes significantly to its broader historical interpretation. Its starting point is naturally the founding by Arnulf of Montgomery in 1093 of a marcher lordship centred on his castle at Pembroke. Elucidating the first half- century of its history I.W. Rowlands conveys both the striking military achievement of the Montgomery family and the fragility of the Norman position

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Pembrokeshire. The Concise History
(This review first appeared in Volume 18 of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Author Roger Turvey
University of Wales Press, Cardiff 2007. Pp. 160 illustrations. £9.99
This book is part ol’ the successful series of regional studies on The History of Wales under the series editor Catrin Stevens. The format is compact and suits the author‘s concise style. He has also achieved a good balance between the seven chapters, tempting though it must have been to dwell on his own specialisms. Pembrokeshire has a rich roster of antiquarians and historians on account of the abundant remains of its past.

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Pevsner Architectural Guides – The Buildings of Wales: Pembrokeshire.
(This review first appeared in Volume 14 of the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Authors Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield.
Yale University Press. New Haven and London, 2002. Pp. 549. £30.00.

Some seventy years after the art historian Nicholas Pevsner brought his young family away from the dawning horrors of a Nazi dominated Europe, and turned his attention from the Baroque of its central countries to making a kind of catalogue of the interesting buildings of Britain, a publication on the buildings of Pembrokeshire has appeared, with his name more or less attached. One can see, we must suppose, why it has taken so long. To one who had sought refuge first in Cambridge and subsequently in Bloomsbury and Camden Town, Pembrokeshire must have seemed a terra incognita hid from sight by the Welsh hills. It was a place whose buildings could be disregarded while more famous and infamous buildings in his immediate neighbourhood were described. The publication, now that it has appeared, reveals however, that there was also another cause.

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A History of Haverfordwest
(This review first appeared in Volume 9 of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Author Dillwyn Miles (ed.)
Gomer Press, Llandysul, I999. Pp. 272; illustrations. £17.50

In the second half of the twentieth century, heavy emphasis has been laid by writers of Welsh history on the profound changes that sprang from industrialisation, especially in southern Wales. Pre-industrial society, prior to the late-eighteenth century, has correspondingly been viewed by Wales‘s historians as overwhelmingly rural and agricultural. The relative neglect of urban Wales runs the risk of sustaining a myth that the Welsh were a rural people for whose forebears the industrial revolution was a shattering experience that turned many of them reluctantly into town dwellers: Gerald of Wales‘s jaundiced view of the Welsh at the end of the twelfth century, as a people who avoided towns, has long persisted. One consequence has been that relatively few historians have turned their attention to urban Wales and to the impact which the growth and decline of towns have had on the country’s history. And yet by about 1300 Wales had about as many towns per square mile as had Spain or England.

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A History of St. Mary’s Church Haverfordwest in the Nineteenth Century
(This review first appeared in Volume 13 of the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Patricia A. Barker
(The Friends of St. Mary’s Church, Haverfordwest, 2003). Pp. vi + l l3. Price £5.

Haverfordwest, like so many Pembrokeshire towns, is still awaiting the publication of a major academic study of its community. In this book, Pat Barker gives an insight into just how substantial such a work might be. Her study of one of the town’s three parishes, that of St. Mary’s in the nineteenth century, was part of a dissertation submitted for an MA in Local History. She sets a standard of rigorous research and the depth of focus on the parish church amply reflects the teeming life of a thriving town. At the same time she manages to tease out many of the nuances and foibles in both church and civic life, turning this study into a remarkably good read.

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David Howell: A Pool of Spirituality
(This review first appeared in Volume 10 of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Author Roger L. Brown
Gee and Son, Denbigh, 1998. Pp. 318. £17.50.

Roger Brown will be known to regular readers of the Journal for his excellent article on Sir Erasmus Williams Bt. in volume 8 (I998-99) and for those wishing to follow it up by reading his latest publication will not be disappointed. He has earned a deserved reputation for sound research and incisive writing and is an acknowledged authority on Welsh religious history. He has brought his considerable experience and expert skill to bear in this work which pays homage to the life of a remarkable, if now largely forgotten, man David Howell.

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Treasury of Historic Pembrokeshire
(This review first appeared in Volume 8 of the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Francis Jones (Edited and compiled by Caroline Charles-Jones and Hugh Charles-Jones)
Brawdy Books, 1998. Pp. 332. £29.50.

Francis Jones, formerly Wales Herald of Arms Extraordinary and president of this Society, was a family historian who produced a great corpus of valuable work, much of which appeared in print and much more remained unpublished at his death. Treasury of Historic Pembrokeshire also entitled “The Francis Jones Treasury of Historic Pembrokeshire’, is therefore a long awaited collection of his works.

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Saints and Stones: A Guide to the Pilgrim Ways of Pembrokeshire
(This review first appeared in Volume 12 of the Journal of the Pembrokeshire Historical Society)

Authors Damian Walford Davies and Anne Eastham.
Gomer Press, Llandysul, 2002. Pp. xx, 123. £7.95.

Saints and Stones trails have been set up to give both holiday visitors and residents in the county access to some of the more remote and beautiful comers of Pembrokeshire and to the deep spiritual quality of these ancient places of worship. Thus the authors in their introduction explain the origins of this inspired little book. ln the mid-1990s the Saints and Stones Group, funded with European money through Menter Preseli, began researching and planning routes for modem pilgrims seeking Christian heritage in the ancient places of north Pembrokeshire. The evidence, derived from the early Celtic and Norman church in west Wales and from vestiges of the medieval routes of pilgrims, inevitably leads to St David’s, the Cathedral and the shrine of the saint.

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