ROCH, a parish in the hundred of RHÔS, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 6 miles (N.W. by W.) from Haverfordwest, containing 791 inhabitants. This place derives its name from a rocky mountainous ridge, rising abruptly from the plain, the summit of which is occupied by an ancient castle, which, from its situation near the extremity of the district of Rhôs, was probably erected as a border fortress by some of the earlier Norman invaders, or by the Flemings, who, in the reign of Henry I, settled in this part of the principality. The first possessor of the castle, of whom any thing, is known, was Adam de Rupe, or de la Roche, who is by some writers supposed to have been the founder, and to whom also are attributed the foundation of the church, and of the priory of Hubberston Pill. Little is recorded of the history of the castle, which appears to have been constructed equally with a view to military and domestic purposes: it continued in the family of de la Roche till the reign of Henry VI., when the estates of that family, which were very extensive, were divided between two coheiresses, since which time it is supposed to have been abandoned as a residence. It was garrisoned for the king during the parliamentary war in the reign of Charles I, and in 1644 was besieged by the parliamentarians under the command of Captain Edwards, to whom, after a defence of two days, it was surrendered. The castle, with its demesnes, became the property of John Harries, Esq., from whom it passed by will to the late John Rhys Stokes, and is now the property of John Stokes Stokes, Esq., of Cyfern. The parish, which is situated on the eastern shore of St. Bride's bay, and on the turnpike road leading from Haverfordwest to St. David's, is of considerable extent, comprising a large tract of arable and pasture land, which, with the exception of Cyfern mountain, occupying only a small portion of it, and the cliffs to the west and south-west, bordering upon the bay, is enclosed and in a good state of cultivation. Cyfern, the seat of John S. Stokes, Esq., is a handsome residence occupying a pleasant situation. The living is a discharged vicarage, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. David's, rated in the king's books at £4. 13. 9., endowed with £200 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the King, as Prince of Wales. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a plain neat edifice without a tower, consisting only of a nave and chancel: it contains a chaste monument to the memory of the Rev. John Grant, a former vicar of the parish. There were anciently two chapels of ease, both now in ruins: one of these was at Hilton, about a mile to the south of the church, and the other at Trêvran, about a mile and a half distant from it; the latter, situated on the margin of the bay, was called Caradoc's chapel, and was probably erected to commemorate the spot where the corpse of St. Caradoc rested on its way for interment at St. David's. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. Mr.Henry Grant, third son of the Rev. John Grant, bequeathed £500 for the endowment of a free school here, the interest of which sum is paid towards the support of a school, in which six boys and six girls are gratuitously instructed. Mrs. Fluerton, in 1700, bequeathed a rent-charge of £2 to the poor of this parish. The remains of the castle form an interesting and striking object: this structure originally consisted of one stately tower, divided into three stories, each composed of one large apartment, with an elegant smaller apartment, or retiring-room, having an arched roof and an oriel window, both enriched with tracery: the ruins consist of the shell of this tower, in a very perfect state. The rock on which it is built is, on the south side, incorporated with the building for nearly half the height, and a huge mass protrudes into the lower apartment. The prospect from the tower is very extensive, commanding the whole of St. Bride's bay, with a great part of the adjacent country, which, from the want of wood, with the exception only of two or three small patches, is generally destitute both of pleasing and of picturesque character. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor is £218.
Gareth Hicks, 30 Dec 1999