CAREW, a parish in the hundred of NARBERTH, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 5 miles (E. by N.) from Pembroke, on the road from Narberth, containing 1020 inhabitants. This parish probably derives its name, which was perhaps originally Caerau, from several ancient British fortifications, upon the site of some of which a magnificent castle in the Norman style was erected by Gerald de Windsor, lieutenant to Ralph de Montgomery, and who, on the subsequent disgrace of that baron, was appointed by Henry I. castellan of Pembroke. Gerald married Nêst daughter of Rhys ab Tewdwr, Prince of South Wales, with whom, among other manors' he obtained that of Carew, on which he built a strong and superb castle, equally adapted to the purposes of a military fortress and a splendid baronial residence. Before Gerald was well fixed in his new palace, it was attacked by Owain, the son of Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, who, being informed of the surpassing beauty of Nêst at a banquet given by Caêdwgan, at the castle of Aberteivy, or, as some think, at that of Eare Weare, in the parish of Amroath, became enamoured of her, and assaulting the castle at night, with a party of his adherents, carried her off by force. This celebrated structure, of which the ruins plainly indicate its pristine grandeur, descended to William, the son of Gerald, who first assumed the name of Carew, probably corrupted from Caerau and continued for several generations in his family, till the reign of Henry VII., when Sir Edmond Carew mortgaged the estate to Sir Rhys ab Thomas, who, it is generally believed, added the noble suite of state apartments on the north-east, and made it his residence during the latter period of his life. Sir Rhys being a knight of the most noble order of the garter, and unable from age and infirmity to attend his sovereign in London, on the celebration of St.George's day, kept that festival with princely magnificence at his castle of Carew, upon which occasion he entertained with sumptuous hospitality six hundred of the principal nobility and gentry of the surrounding country, whom he feasted for a whole week, and diverted with jousts, tournaments, and other exercises of chivalry. On the attainder of Grufydd ab Rhys , son of the above nobleman, in the reign of Henry VIII., the estate was leased for a term of years to Sir Andrew Perrot and others, from whom the remainder of the term was subsequently purchased by Sir John Carew, lineal descendant of Sir Edward Carew, to whom the whole was granted in fee by Charles I. Thomas Carew, Esq., great grandson of Sir John, dying in I760,without male issue, the estate was divided between his two daughters and coheiresses, and is now the property of John Warrington Carew, Esq., of Crocombe Court, in the county of Somerset. The castle was erected on a peninsular promontory of inconsiderable elevation, in the southern branch of Upton creek in Milford haven, and occupies a quadrangular area of considerable extent, defended at the angles with massive circular towers: the more ancient part, built in the reign of William Rufus, is in the Norman style of architecture, and the splendid range of state apartments, on the north-east, is in the most elaborate and finished style of the later English. The ruins are extensive, and may be regarded as among the most interesting and beautiful in the principality: the walls of several of the noble apartments and of the chapel are still remaining, and are replete with elegant detail; the former consisted of a noble range two stories in height, lighted by lofty square-headed windows of elegant design, and enriched with beautiful tracery; and the exterior of the front was decorated with two lofty and spacious oriel windows. From the towers, to the summits of which an ascent is afforded by staircases in a dilapidated condition, an extensive and pleasing prospect is obtained of the haven, on one side, and of the surrounding country on the other, which abounds with interesting scenery, enlivened by numerous seats in the vicinity. Within the parish are several gentlemen's seats, of which the principal are, Milton House, formerly part of the extensive estate belonging to Upton castle, and now the property and residence of William. Bowen. Esq., an elegant modern mansion, pleasantly situated within grounds tastefully laid out and comprehending some interesting and diversified scenery; Freestone Hall, the residence of J. Allen, Esq., commanding from the grounds some of the finest views in the county, embracing Lawrenny and its fine estuary Clareston, and the hundred of Rhôs, to the west; and Wilsdon, a substantial modern house, the seat of George Donne, Esq. This last was erected on the site of an ancient family mansion, in which Oliver Cromwell took up his quarters, while besieging the castle of Pembroke: during his abode here, he was confined to his bed by an attack of the gout, and, in writing a despatch to the parliament, is said to have spilled some ink upon the coverlid, which is still preserved in the family. The parish contains a vast quantity of excellent limestone, which is conveyed in small craft of twelve or fifteen tons' burden to the upper parts of this county and of Cardiganshire. Coal of inferior quality is procured on the north side of the parish, but only for the supply of the immediate neighbourhood. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St.David's, not rated in the king's books, endowed with £200 private benefaction, £400 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St.David's. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is a spacious and venerable structure, in the early style of English architecture, with a lofty square embattled tower, comprising a nave and aisles, a chancel, and a north transept; the floor is paved with bricks, several of which bear curious inscriptions. In the north transept, which was the sepulchral chapel of the owners of the castle, is an altar-tomb, on which are the recumbent effigies of Sir John Carew and his lady, with the date 1637; and in the south aisle are the effigies of a crusader and a priest, but without either date or inscription. In the churchyard is an ancient building, apparently coeval with the church, which is occasionally used as a parochial school, the master being appointed by the vicar. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. Near the turnpike gate is a perfect cross, of that kind usually called St. Catherine's, of which the circular head is fixed into a tall shaft, ornamented with scrolls and tracery, rising from a substantial pedestal; in one of the compartments into which the shaft is divided there is an illegible inscription. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £406.13.
Gareth Hicks, 19 Dec 1999
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