Bosherston Lily Ponds

Bosherston Lily Ponds need no introduction, for they are far-famed among visitors to the County as an unusual beauty spot to be seen and enjoyed.

They were the brainchild of one of Pembrokeshire’s main noble families, The Cawdors, who owned thousands of acres of prime parkland and farmland in South Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and in Nairnshire, Scotland.

The Cawdors are the direct descendants of the Thane of Cawdor featured in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Thane is a title in the Peerage of Scotland, a senior nobleman, and the Cawdors were Chiefs of the Campbell Clan, who succeeded to the rank of Baron. In the play, the rank was given to Macbeth after he captured the previous Thane, although historically King Macbeth fought a Thane of Cawdor who died in battle, but did not acquire the title himself. It is an indication of the age of the title that the current 7th Earl of Cawdor is the 26th Thane.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Cawdors owned estates in Wales at Castlemartin, near Pembroke, and at Golden Grove, near Llandeilo, Carmarthen. They were very much into the encouragement and improvement of agricultural development, which George 111 was extremely interested in during his reign. Indeed, his zeal for agricultural improvement was such that he was nicknamed ‘Farmer George’, and gave Royal support and patronage to the big farming nobles of his day, such as the Duke of Bedford and Thomas William Coke of Holkham in Norfolk. Certain politicians such as Edmund Burke and Charles Fox were also promoting agricultural improvement and the Cawdors were applying new methods on their 15,000-acres estate at Stackpole and Castlemartin in South Pembrokeshire.

At Castlemartin Corse the Cawdors drained several acres of wet wasteland, described as “a perfect bog” into good, productive farmland.

They also turned their attention to the improvement of their estate in the form of ambitious landscaping, damming the valley of two rivers to form ornamental lakes, and building a splendid new mansion on a site overlooking the water. They also had an eight-arched stone bridge built across one lake, and created the lily pond where a footpath takes the walker down to Broad Haven South beach, crossing the pond over a wooden bridge which gives a close up view of the beautiful blooms. There, visitors may see magnificent irridescent dragonflies speeding like mini helicopters over the lily pads round the fringes of which lurk moorhen and otter.

Visitors to the village of Bosherston usually take the walk all the way to the beach.

The Cawdor land was acquired by a large pension trust when the Cawdors left in the 1961, and, after their mansion, overlooking a lake stocked with huge pike, was demolished in 1976 to escape crippling taxes, the estate was taken over by the National Trust who have developed an activity and outdoor eco-centre there, having restored the old farm buildings and cleared the neglected woodland of invading Japanese Knotweed and Rhododendron. There is an important colony of horseshore bats.

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