NICHOLAS' (ST.), otherwise MONKTON, a parish in the hundred of CASTLEMARTIN, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, adjoining the town of Pembroke, and containing 1128 inhabitants. This place appears to have derived the name of Monkton from the circumstance of Arnulph de Montgomery, the founder of Pembroke castle, having, in 1089, granted its church, situated within the precincts of that fortress, together with twenty carucates of land in this parish, to the abbey of St. Martin at Seyes in Normandy; soon after the date of which grant, a priory of monks of the Benedictine order, dedicated to St. Nicholas, was founded at this place, and made a cell to that foreign abbey. William and Walter Mareschal, Earls of Pembroke, were great benefactors to this establishment, which continued to flourish till the reign of Edward III., when that monarch seized it, with the other Alien establishments, into his own hands. It was restored by Henry IV., but, being again seized, it was granted by Henry VI. to Humphrey Duke of Gloucester, who, in the 21st of that reign, gave it as a cell to the abbey of St. Albans, which grant was confirmed by Henry, in the 27th of his reign. It continued subordinate to that abbey till the dissolution, when its revenue was estimated, according to Speed, at £113. 2. 6., and, according to Dugdale, at £57. 9. 3.: it was granted, in the 37th of Henry VIII., to John Vaughan and Catherine his wife. The parish, which is bounded on the north by a creek of Milford Haven, extending up to the town of Pembroke, is situated to the south-west of that borough, and comprises a considerable tract of land, which is wholly enclosed and in a good state of cultivation. The soil is in general fertile, and the inhabitants, with the exception of those only of the village of Monkton, are wholly employed in agriculture. The surrounding scenery is finely diversified, and the views, extending over the sea and the adjacent country, abound with interest. In this parish is Orielton, an ancient mansion supposed to have been originally built by one of the followers of Arnulph de Montgomery, called Oriel, from whom it derived its name, and now the property of Sir John Owen, Bart. In the reign of Henry II. it belonged to the family of the Wyrriotts, in whose possession it continued till the reign of Elizabeth, when it passed by marriage with the heiress of that family to Sir Hugh Owen, Bart., who, dying in 1809, left his large estates to his kinsman, John Lord, Esq., who, assuming the name of Owen, was created a baronet, and is now lord-lieutenant of the county. It has been greatly improved by the present proprietor, and is a handsome mansion, occupying an elevated situation, finely sheltered by thick woods, and ornamented with thriving plantations. There were anciently several other seats and family mansions in this parish, some of which have entirely disappeared, and the rest have been converted into farm-houses. Courts leet are held by the lord of the manor, at which constables are appointed for the whole of the parish, who act under the authority of the lord., independently of the corporation of Pembroke. Fairs are held annually in the village on May 14th and November 22nd.The mayor of Pembroke exercises the jurisdiction of coroner within the village, which by the late Boundary Act has been included, for electoral purposes, within the limits of that borough, as forming a suburb to the town. The living is a discharged vicarage, consolidated with those of St. Mary and St. Michael Pembroke, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St.David's, and in the patronage of Sir John Owen, Bart. The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, formerly the conventual church of the priory, and all that remains of that establishment, is an ancient and venerable structure, partly in the Norman, and partly in the early English, style of architecture, with a Lady chapel at the eastern end, now roofless, but having four handsome windows on the southern side, and one in the eastern end. The nave is vaulted with stone, and the present chancel formerly communicated with the chapel of the Virgin by an archway which has been closed for ages: the pavement of the church consists partly of curious glazed bricks; and the modern font rests on the fragment of a beautiful clustered column of remote antiquity. On each side of the ruined Lady chapel is a canopied recess for a recumbent figure, and to the right of the altar are stalls for two officiating priests. There are numerous tumuli in various parts of the parish, evidently sepulchral, and probably raised over the remains of some of the ancient defenders of the soil against the Norman invaders: the greatest number is at a place called Dry Burrows, where is the largest group of these ancient monuments in the county. The average annual expenditure for the maintenance of the poor amounts to £323. 18.
Gareth Hicks, 30 Dec 1999