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Tenby Town Walls

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Dinbych-y-pysgod; Tynebey

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SN13340038
Latitude 51.67109° Longitude -4.70063°

Tenby Town Walls has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are major building remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.


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)

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.
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This record last updated 03/07/2016 20:49:26