Virtually nothing remains of the medieval castle of Dale, the home of the de Vale family in the 12th to 14th centuries.
The only visual evidence of what might have been there before the modern castle was built, is some walls and an engraving of 1810 which shows what looks like a late medieval tower house south west of the main residence.
Pevsner likes the setting, which it describes as “eminently picturesque,” but the revision team that visited Dale a decade ago were not particularly enamoured of the early 18th century house, which was remodelled early in the last century.
‘Viewed from across the valley are layers of red sandstone terrace wals, with creeper-clad accents and a castellated gateway facing west towards a mysterious featureless thin stone tower which proves to be a water tank,” it records. And “the only remnants of the medieval castle are some creeper-clad walling south-west of the house.” Not much is known of the de Vale family, whose name the village may have taken, although some authorities say it derives from the Norse word ‘Dale’ for a valley.
They were evidently Norman knights who came across with William during the conquest and were rewarded with land and other privileges for their loyal service. The de Vales held the Manor of Dale and several appointments in West Wales during the period between 1131 to 1364, and one of them obtained a Royal grant for a weekly market and an annual fair in 1293 when the village was also given the important status of a Royal Borough. When the last of the male line died in about 1300, the estate and manor being divided between the daughters, one Ellen de Vale, married Llywelyn ap Owen, who had Welsh royal blood, and from that union descended the Tudor dynasty and Owain Glyndwr, a distinguished line indeed. Two hundred years later Richard Walter owned the property, a forebear of
the family who owned Roch Castle and properties in Rosemarket and Haverfordwest, one of whose members was the notorious Lucy Walter, mistress of Charles 11. The castle was owned from 1705 by the Allens of Gelliswick, Milford Haven, and John Allen married a Stepney of Prendergast Place, Haverfordwest, in the early 18th century, which may have provided funds for the remodelling of Dale Castle. The 1810 print shows a big square mansion with corner domed turrets. In 1776 Dale passed to the Lloyd family of Mabws, Ceredigion, and their descendant Mr Lloyd-Philipps, was the last of that line to live there. By the late 19th century the house was a plain battlemented two-storey block with sash-windows until Rhodri Lloyd-Philipps remodelled it between 1905 and 1911, with drab brown roughcast walls, a big canted bay window on the south front and Tudor-style porch on the west side. The castle is sited in the shallow valley running from the western edge of the village to West Dale beach, opposite the roughcast church.