Camrose Castle

Not a lot of people would know or even realise the presence of a castle in the little village of Camrose.

It is highly likely that, if present day residents of Camrose, even those who were born and bred there, were asked for directions to the castle, a high percentage wouldn’t have a clue where or whether it existed.

It may surprise them to know there is one; it is still there, though heavily disguised, and it has quite important associations with a noted medieval priest and scribe and a bloody revenge killing in the dim and distant past.

To set the scene, Camrose is a quiet little village some four miles north-west of Haverfordwest as the crow flies, which in recent years has become a popular dormitory for commuters working in the town.

It has a 14th century church dedicated to St Ismael, two chapels, if you add Wolfsdale United Reformed a mile away north-north-east to Lebanon Baptist Chapel just outside the village, a large mid-18th century mansion, a 19th century farm and a mill of the same age on an older site, still with its overshot wheel but now converted into a house. It also has a country store selling a wide range of farm and country products and equipment, which is owned by a family whose concrete products business is situated a mile or so outside the village, and a workshop run by a highly skilled engineer who can fix anything from a clock to a tractor. The Georgian Mansion is Camrose House, in the trees across the millstream south of the church. It was built by a long-established member of the local gentry, Mr Hugh Webb-Bowen, whose family had settled in the area in the early 14th century at Roblinston and Wolfsdale. The antiquarian and historian Richard Fenton referred in 1811 to a visit he made to his friend Hugh Webb-Bowen at Camrose House. So now the mystery of Camrose Castle is solved. Fenton states: “ Almost in front of the house between it and the brook, and adjoining his gardens, stands an immense tumulus, or tumulus-shaped mound, now converted into a shrubbery, with spiral walks round it.” He adds: “I strongly suspect it to have been a tumulus, or one of those elevations on which a wooden or other temporary castelet might have been perched to guard this pass. If a tumulus, it is perhaps the largest in the kingdom but Silbury Hill.” Pevsner describes it as “a Norman Motte” north-west of the house.

Fenton says that Giraldus Cambrensis, the medieval priest and writer, diverted to Camrose on his way to St Davids with Archbishop Baldwin on his Welsh itinerary promoting the Crusade in the 12th century. It is said that Giraldus went through Camrose to see the place where his forebears had wreaked savage revenge on the men of Roos (or Rhos) for the death of a kinsman of Giraldus.

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