infobox UK place
country = Wales
constituency_westminster= Preseli Pembrokeshire
postcode_district = SA61, SA62
population= 10,808 [Haverfordwest Community, 2001 Census] Haverfordwest ( _cy. Hwlffordd) is the
county townof Pembrokeshire, in south-west Wales. It is also the second largest town in Pembrokeshire, after Milford Haven. It is the 'administrative capital' of pembrokeshire. Haverfordwest railway stationis on the West Wales Line.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Haverfordwest is 6 miles away from the village of
Broad Haven, part of the pembrokeshire coast national parkwhich attracts thousands of tourists each year.The national park is the United Kingdoms only costal national park.
Haverfordwest serves as the
market townfor most of the countyof Pembrokeshire. It forms an important road network hub between other towns in Pembrokeshire such as Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Fishguardand St David's, as a result of its position at the tidal limit of the western Cleddau river. The majority of the town, comprising the old parishes of St. Mary, St. Martin and St. Thomas, lies on the right (west) bank of the river. On the left bank are the suburbs of Prendergast and Cartlett. At this point, a pair of sandstoneridges extending east-west and separated by a deep, narrow valley, are cut through by the western Cleddau. This leaves two high spurs on the west side of the river. On the northern spur, the castle and its surrounding settlement form the core of St Martin's parish. On the southern spur, the High Street ascends steeply from the river, and forms the core of St Mary's parish. From the foot of each spur, ancient bridges cross the river to Prendergast: St Martin's Bridge ("the Old Bridge") and St Mary's Bridge ("the New Bridge", built in 1835). St Thomas's parish occupies the south side of the southern spur. From these core areas, the town has spread, mainly along the ridges. In addition to the four ancient parish churches, the remains of an Augustinian priory are visible at the southern edge of the town.
The name of the town [Charles, B. G, "The Placenames of Pembrokeshire", National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1992, ISBN 0-907158-58-7, Vol II, p 643] means "ford used by fat cows" from
Old English"hæfar"=heifer, fat cows. In local dialect, it is pronounced "harford". The Welsh languagename is said by Charles to be "merely a corruption of the English name", and as such has no meaning in Welsh. Another claim is that Tudor periodmonarchs called it "Hereford in the West", to distinguish it from the English Herefordin Herefordshire.
It seems certain that such an obvious strategic location would have been settled in some way from the earliest times. However, there is no documentary or
archaeologicalevidence for the existence of a settlement on the site before the 12th century, when the first Norman architecture castlewas established. This occurred around 1110. [Miles p 12] It was constructed by Tancred, a Flemish marcher lord. The town rapidly grew up, initially around the castle and St Martin's church (the settlement being called Castletown), then spreading into the High Street area. It became immediately the capital of the English colony of Roose (part of Little England beyond Wales), and because of its pivotal position, the commercial centre of western Dyfed, which it has remained to this day. In common with other British towns, its growth was meteoric during the period up to 1300, and its extent [Miles p 28] by then was much the same as it was in the early 19th century. That being the case, its population was probably around 4-5000 - a large town by the standards of the time. It received its first marcher charterfrom William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembrokesome time between 1213 and 1219, and obtained the lucrative trading privileges of an English borough. It traded both by land and sea, and had a busy tidal quayon the river below the "New" bridge. At least ten guilds operated, and there was significant woolen clothmanufacture. On 30 April 1479, the town was designated a county corporateby a charter of Edward, Prince of Wales, with the aim of supporting a campaign against piracyin local waters. It shared this distinction only with Carmarthenand a few towns in England, and remained officially "The Town and County of Haverfordwest" until the abolition of the borough in 1974.
In common with other large towns in Europe, Haverfordwest was hit hard by the
Black Deathin 1348, suffering both depopulation (perhaps by more than 50%) and diminution of trade. Large parts of the town were abandoned, and did not start to recover until the Tudor period. At the end of the 17th century, [Miles p 23] the town was still significantly smaller than in 1300. In 1405, the town was burned by the French allies of Owain Glyndŵr, although in its early history Haverfordwest suffered less than most towns in Wales from such depredations.
During the Civil War, the
burgesses of the borough supported Parliament, while the ruling gentrywere Royalist. As a result there was considerable conflict, and the town changed hands five times. [Miles, p 177] There followed a period of stagnation in which the comparative status of the town declined. Haverfordwest today has the air of a typical small country market town, but the centre still conveys the feel of the important medieval borough. The once run-down riverside area has been renovated and Bridge Street has been pedestrianised and improved.
Culturally, the town has always been essentially English in language, but because the town markets traded the goods of Welsh farmers to the north and east, there has always been a significant Welsh-speaking minority, and the air of a "frontier" town. The suburb of Prendergast seems to have originated as an extramural Welsh dormitory, dating from the times when all agricultural trade had to pass through the borough, but no Welshman was allowed within the walls after nightfall.
Haverford Township, Haverford, and Havertownin the United Statesare all named after Haverfordwest.
Haverfordwest Grammar School, 1488-1978, was for a period in the 20th Century one of only two Public Schools in the whole of Wales
Sir Thomas Picton School& Tasker Milward School, both comprehensive.
port and leisure
Haverfordwest County A.F.C., an association football team, play at Bridge Meadow Stadium. The town is also home to rugby unionclub, Haverfordwest RFCwhich formed in 1885.
Withybush Hospitalis the main hospital of West Walesand part of the Hywel Dda NHS Trustformally Pembrokeshire & Derwen NHS Trust. The town is serviced by Haverfordwest (Withybush) airport.
Christian Balewho played the protagonist in Empire of the Sunand Batmanin Batman Beginsand its sequel The Dark Knight, was born in Haverfordwest in 1974.
Geraint Wyn Davies, the Welsh-Canadian actor spent his early life in the town where his father was the Congregational Church Minister.
* Simon Davies, the footballer playing for
Fulham FCand Wales was born in Haverfordwest.
Connie Fisher, actress and singer from The Sound of Music lived in Haverfordwest from the age of six.*
June and Jennifer Gibbons, the selective mute twins, whose story gained international interest after Marjorie Wallacedocumented their story, lived in Haverfordwest for much of their childhood.
Simon Halliday, England rugby union international, was born in Haverfordwest.
Rhys Ifanswho starred in the 1997 black comedy Twin Townand played Hugh Grant's delusional flatmate in Notting Hill, was born in Haverfordwest in 1968.
Tori James, explorer and the youngest woman to climb Everestwas brought up in Haverfordwest.
Gwen John, the artist was born in Haverfordwest and her brother Augustus Johnlived above the current Lloyds TSB offices.
Fiona Phillips, television presenter on GMTVlived in Haverfordwest from the age of 18.
Greg Pickersgill, the influential British science fiction fan, was born in Haverfordwest in 1951 and lives there today.
Sir Thomas PictonBritish army general, born in Haverfordwest and killed at the battle of Waterloo.
Picture Frame Seduction, one of the pioneers of early hardcore punk rock in the UK, formed in the town at the local Sir Thomas Picton School(named after the general Sir Thomas Picton) in 1978.
Gruff Rhys, singer of Indie rockband Super Furry Animalswas born here.
* Suggs, the lead singer of Madness attended Haverfordwest Grammar School for Boys from 1977 to 1978.
Lucy Walter, the mistress of Charles II was born near Haverfordwest.
Waldo Williams, pacifist and one of the most celebrated Welsh language poets of the twentieth century was born in Haverfordwest.
*Connie Fisher - Winner of BBC1 talent show 'How do you solve a problem like maria.'
Dillwyn Miles (ed) "A History of Haverfordwest", Gomer, 1999, ISBN 1-85902-738-5,
* Haverfordwest Town Centre Partnership http://www.haverfordwest-wales.info/
* Haverfordwest Town Museum http://www.haverfordwest-town-museum.org.uk/
* [http://www.welshpanoramas.com Photographs of Haverfordwest] Panoramic photos of Haverfordwest.
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=2674435 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Haverfordwest and surrounding area]
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