SLEBECH, a parish in the hundred of DUNGLEDDY, county of PEMBROKE, SOUTH WALES, 4 1/2 miles (E.) from Haverfordwest, containing 353 inhabitants. This parish, which is delightfully situated on the banks of the Eastern Cleddy, and on the turnpike road from Haverfordwest to Narberth, comprises a large extent of arable and pasture land, which is all enclosed and in a good state of cultivation. The surface is pleasingly varied, and the soil generally fertile and productive: the rates are collected by the ploughland. The aspect is pleasing, and in some parts enlivened with gentlemen's seats, the grounds attached to which form a fine contrast to the want of variety and embellishment observed in other parts of the county, Slebech Hall, the property of the Baron de Rutzen, by marriage with the heiress of the late Nathaniel Philipps, Esq., is an elegant, substantial, and comparatively modern mansion, forming a quadrangle of noble elevation, with every appendage of luxury, and surrounded by beautiful pleasure grounds: it was erected by the late John Symmons, Esq., on the site of an ancient commandery of the knights of St.John of Jerusalem, which, at the dissolution, was purchased by Roger and Thomas Barlow, the last representative of which family conveyed it by marriage to the late Mr. Symmons, from whom it was purchased by the late Nathaniel Philipps, Esq., whose daughter is the present Baroness de Rutzen. Picton Castle, the seat of Sir Richard B.P. Philipps, Bart., partly in this parish and partly in that of Boulston, is a noble and spacious mansion of considerable antiquity; and though it has undergone some alterations and received several additions, to adapt it more for the purpose of modern residence, it still preserves much of its original character of a fortress. It was erected by William de Picton, one of the followers of Arnulph de Montgomery, and has been inhabited without intermission since that remote period. The greater portion of the building, to which the late Lord Milford made some splendid additions, is in the ancient style of baronial grandeur. During the parliamentary war, in the reign of Charles I., this castle was gallantly defended by Sir Richard Philipps for the king; but it had the good fortune to escape the destruction which so many other fortresses experienced. It came by marriage with a descendant of the Wogan family to Sir Thomas Philipps, of Cîlsant, father of John, the first baronet, and, on the death of the late Lord Milford, descended to Sir R.B.P. Philipps, Bart., the present proprietor. A little above the village of Slebech the Eastern Cleddy river, on the northern bank of which it is situated, becomes navigable for vessels of considerable burden, and, about four miles below it, joins the Western Cleddy, these two then forming the magnificent haven of Milford. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of St. David's, endowed with £200 private benefaction, and £800 royal bounty, and in the patronage of the Baron de Rutzen, who is impropriator of the tithes. The church, formerly the conventual church of the commandery, and the only remaining portion of that ancient establishment, is a venerable and ancient structure, in the Norman style of architecture, pleasantly situated near the bank of the river, and embosomed in the luxuriant groves which surrounded it. It contains some ancient monuments, and also a handsome one of modern erection to the memory of Sir William Hamilton, and his first wife, who was one of the coheiresses of the Wogans of Wiston. There is a place of worship for Baptists. The commandery of the knights St. John of Jerusalem, according to Bishop Tanner, was established here prior to the year 1301, and endowed with lands by Wize and his son Walter: it flourished till the dissolution, when its revenue was estimated at £211. 9. 11. The average annual expenditure for the support of the poor amounts to £198. 19.
Gareth Hicks, 30 Dec 1999
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