LAMPHEY, called by the Welsh LLANFYDD, a parish in the hundred of CASTLEMARTIN, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 2 miles (E.) from Pembroke, on the road to Tenby, containing 436 inhabitants. This place, which takes its name from the dedication of its church to St. Faith, was among the first of those in South Wales in which the early Normans obtained a settlement. According to Buck, as quoted by Grose, it was the head of a lordship marcher; and it anciently contained one of the princely residences of the bishops of St. David's, of which there are considerable remains. At what period it first became the property of the archiepiscopal and subsequently episcopal church of St. David's is not precisely known; but a deed dated at Lamphey, in the middle of the thirteenth century, by Bishop Carew, is still extant; and, according to Giraldus Cambrensis, it appears to have been an episcopal residence in the time of Arnulph de Montgomery, who possessed himself of this part of the principality in the reign of Henry I. At least a great part of the episcopal palace (even the whole of it according to some writers) was built by Bishop Gower, in 1335: the various styles of architecture which characterize its ruins shew plainly that it was the work of successive periods, and that it did not attain the splendour for which it was remarkable, but by the accumulated additions and improvements of its successive proprietors, of whom Bishop Gower probably built the great hall and the square tower, distinguished for their beautiful open parapets. This portion of the possessions of the see of St. David's was alienated to the crown by Bishop Barlow, in the reign of Henry VIII., by whom Lamphey was granted to Devereux, Viscount Hereford, father of the unfortunate Earl of Essex, who passed the greater part of his youth in this palace. After the attainder of the earl, in the reign of Elizabeth, this estate was purchased by Sir Hugh Owen, of Orielton, by whose descendant, Sir John Owen, Bart., it was sold to its present proprietor, Charles Matthias, Esq., who has erected an elegant modern mansion, called Lamphey Court, with a noble portico of four Ionic columns, near the ruins of the ancient palace. Besides this seat, the parish contains several genteel residences, occupied by opulent families: Portclew, a modern mansion, the residence of Thomas Parry, Esq., is beautifully situated on an eminence commanding a fine view of the sea, and having at its base some fine smooth and firm sands, well adapted for sea-bathing, and affording a delightful walk. Lamphey Park, the property of Mrs. Thomas, also occupies a pleasant situation: the grounds contain some pleasing scenery, and are tastefully disposed. North Down, the property of Colonel Kemm is a genteel residence, now in the occupation of the Rev. B. Byers. Indications of coal have been observed in this parish, from which it is concluded that strata of this fossil here extend in a direction from north-east to south-west, but no attempt has hitherto been made to work it: limestone is found in great abundance and of excellent quality, and a considerable quantity is quarried for building purposes, and also burnt into lime. All the land in that part of the parish which was alienated from the see in the reign of Henry VIII., and which constitutes a large portion of it, including the park, which alone contains many hundred acres of fine land, is tithe-free, and the great tithes of the other part, which are leased by the bishop to the lord of the manor, scarcely produce £50 per annum. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St.David's, rated in the king's books at £5. 8. 11 1/2., endowed with £600 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Bishop of St. David's. The church, dedicated to St. Faith, was thoroughly repaired in 1826, partly by subscription, and partly by an additional church rate, aided by a grant of £100 from the Incorporated Society for promoting the erection and enlargement of churches and chapels, by which two hundred additional sittings have been obtained, of which, in consideration of the grant from the Society, one hundred and thirty-five are to be for ever free and unappropriated. A National school has been established, for which a commodious school-room, with a neat cottage for the residence of the master and mistress, was erected in 1828, by subscription, aided by a grant of £70 from the parent society, with which this school has been incorporated. The ground for the school-house and garden was granted rent-free, on lease for sixty years, by Charles Matthias, Esq., lord of the manor, who contributed £50 towards defraying the expense of the building, and subscribes £10 per annum for the support of the institution. About one hundred children of both sexes are gratuitously instructed in this establishment, which is well conducted, and liberally supported by subscription. The remains of the ancient palace, which amply display its former splendour, consist of the great hall, seventy-six feet in length and twenty in width, the walls of which are surmounted by an elegant open parapet of delicate tracery; another apartment, sixty feet long and twenty-six wide; the chancel of the chapel, of which the east window, still entire, is a beautiful composition, enriched with elegant tracery; the grand entrance on the south, and the square tower above-noticed, now enclosed within the gardens of the newly erected mansion, in which it forms an interesting object. The greatest attention is paid to the preservation of these elegant remains, and every precaution has been taken by the proprietor of Lamphey Court to arrest the decay to which this venerable pile was rapidly falling from previous neglect. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor is £120. 13.
Gareth Hicks, 29 Dec 1999