infobox UK place
country = Wales

latitude= 51.80066
official_name= Haverfordwest
unitary_wales= Pembrokeshire
lieutenancy_wales= Dyfed
constituency_westminster= Preseli Pembrokeshire
postcode_district = SA61, SA62
postcode_area= SA
dial_code= 01437
os_grid_reference= SM955155
population= 10,808 [Haverfordwest Community, 2001 Census]
Haverfordwest ( _cy. Hwlffordd) is the county town of 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 station is 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 park which attracts thousands of tourists each year.The national park is the United Kingdoms only costal national park.


Haverfordwest serves as the market town for most of the county of Pembrokeshire. It forms an important road network hub between other towns in Pembrokeshire such as Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock, Fishguard and 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 sandstone ridges 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 language name 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 period monarchs called it "Hereford in the West", to distinguish it from the English Hereford in 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 archaeological evidence for the existence of a settlement on the site before the 12th century, when the first Norman architecture castle was 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 charter from William Marshall, 1st Earl of Pembroke some 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 quay on the river below the "New" bridge. At least ten guilds operated, and there was significant woolen cloth manufacture. On 30 April 1479, the town was designated a county corporate by a charter of Edward, Prince of Wales, with the aim of supporting a campaign against piracy in local waters. It shared this distinction only with Carmarthen and 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 Death in 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 gentry were 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 Havertown in the United States are 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

Current Schools

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 union club, Haverfordwest RFC which formed in 1885.

Local amenities

Withybush Hospital is the main hospital of West Wales and part of the Hywel Dda NHS Trust formally Pembrokeshire & Derwen NHS Trust. The town is serviced by Haverfordwest (Withybush) airport.

Notable residents

* Christian Bale who played the protagonist in Empire of the Sun and Batman in Batman Begins and 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 FC and 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 Wallace documented their story, lived in Haverfordwest for much of their childhood.
* Simon Halliday, England rugby union international, was born in Haverfordwest.
* Rhys Ifans who starred in the 1997 black comedy Twin Town and played Hugh Grant's delusional flatmate in Notting Hill, was born in Haverfordwest in 1968.
* Tori James, explorer and the youngest woman to climb Everest was brought up in Haverfordwest.
* Gwen John, the artist was born in Haverfordwest and her brother Augustus John lived above the current Lloyds TSB offices.
* Fiona Phillips, television presenter on GMTV lived 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 Picton British 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 rock band Super Furry Animals was 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,


External links

* 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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