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Slebech Commandery

In the community of Slebech.
In the historic county of Pembrokeshire.
Modern authority of Pembrokeshire.
Preserved county of Dyfed.

OS Map Grid Reference: SN03141397
Latitude 51.78971° Longitude -4.85577°

Slebech Commandery has been described as a probable Fortified Ecclesiastical site.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


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)

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.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 10/07/2016 04:43:18