Roch Castle

The lofty tower of Roch Castle, perched on a rock outcrop just off the A487 Haverfordwest to St Davds road, is visible from high ground all round the county.

It has recently been given a facelift and a coat of light limewash, which make it stand out even more clearly on the flat landscape overlooking St Brides Bay.

Of late 13th century origin, probably built for a descendant of the Norman knight Adam de Rupe or de Roche, there are the remains of an earlier fortification in the grounds.

The castle was ruinous at the turn of the 20th century and was made habitable for Sir J. W. Philipps, later Viscount St Davids, in 1902-5, with further renovations in 1910 and after World War One.

The modern castle is described as a single keep square building with a curved south-west side and angled south-east walls joining a slightly projecting square tower.

It was built on a rock for a good reason. The legend goes that Adam de Rupe was told by a seer that he was destined to die from the bite of a viper, so he built the castle on the bare rock to avoid this fate. But an adder was, in fact, brought into the castle inadvertently in a basket of faggots for the fire, and he succumbed to his predicted fate.

In 1601 the castle was bought by a wealthy Haverfordwest shoemaker and merchant, William Walter, in a deal that included the advowson of the Church of St David near the castle and a quarter share in Dale Castle and the manor of Eweston, near Brawdy. William Walter was the father of the infamous Lucy Walter, mistress of Charles 11, both of whom were born in 1630, and who it is claimed married her in St Thomas-a-Becket Church. Haverfordwest. but this was never proven. Lucy was one of several mistresses of the future King, who had 11 illegitimate children but not one legitimate heir, his marriage to Catherine of Breganza being childless.

In 1665 Richard Walter mortgaged the castle to the local landowner Anthony Stokes  and in 1735 Joseph Walter’s sister Bridget married Anthony Stokes and it eventualy passed to John Rhys Stokes of Cuffern, who held it until the Philipps family acquired in the 1890s. They sold it to Lord Kenswood in the fifties, and for a brief period in the sixties it fell into American hands, when Hollis T. Baker, President of the Baker Furniture Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan, bought it on a whim for £15,000 after seeing it advertised in a Real Estate magazine. He renovated it, introduced some replica four-poster beds and flew the Welsh flag during his  holiday visits, before tiring of his new toy and selling it to a local man who turned it into a holiday let managed by Hoseasons. Now owned by a St Davids-born millionaire businesman, it has been renovated as a high-class holiday apartment facility.

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