History of Tenby
Tenby is a spectacular town with magnificent beaches, scenery and a great deal to offer all visitors. Tenby has welcomed millions of tourists over hundreds of years but has still managed to maintain an air of restfulness, peace and tranquillity.
Tenby has a long and illustrious history dating back to the Norman Conquests of 1093. More than 10 centuries ago a fort was built on Castle Hill and the first Tenby Castle was initially built in the late 11th century. Tenby was gradually, over the years, enclosed by the impressive town walls, towers and gates. Although the actual wooden gates into Tenby no longer exist the Five Arches at the edge of Tenby town give a great insight into what the merchants of bygone ages would have marvelled at as they entered the town.
During the Wars of the Roses the future King Henry VII sheltered within Tenby before sailing into exile from the port during 1471. Throughout the 14th & 15th centuries Tenby was awarded various royal grants which financed the maintenance and improvement of the town walls and the enclosure of Tenby harbour. Tenby harbour became a busy port with traders sailing along the coast to Bristol and Ireland and also further afield to France, Spain and Portugal. Exports from Tenby included wool, skins, canvas, coal, iron and oil.
During the Civil Wars 1642-1649 Tenby was predominantly controlled by the Parliamentarians apart from a brief period in 1643 when it fell into Royalist hands. However during the second civil war Tenby received a notorious visitor, Oliver Cromwell and after a siege Tenby town and the castle reverted to Parliamentarian control.
In 1650 Tenby suffered an almighty setback when it was struck by a deadly plague which wiped out almost half the population of Tenby and had a devastating effect on Tenby’s sea trade. When John Wesley visited Tenby in 1784 he commented ‘that two thirds of the town was in ruins or had vanished away’. However Sir William Paxton, the owner of Middleton Hall in Carmarthenshire, was fundamental in beginning the resurrection of Tenby. In 1805 he leased land surrounding the harbour to build the salt water baths and the Assembly rooms. A Greek quotation over the door of Laston House (the Tenby Bath House) still translates to ‘the sea washes away the ills of all men’. This quotation has become the motto on Tenby’s coat of arms.
Paxton’s initial investment into Tenby help to encourage visitors to experience the benefits of the spas combined with the spectacular scenery and proximity to the sea.
During the 19th Century Tenby continued to flourish and with the arrival of the railway the town became accessible to all. Tenby has over 300 listed buildings in the town, the majority of which date from Victorian times.
Some worthy of note are:
15th Century Tudor Merchants House, The harbour masters office, 1905 Tenby lifeboat house, Tenby town walls, St Mary’s Church.
Tenby’s tiny cobbled streets and the town of Tenby has so much history you could spend all your time in Tenby town without even stepping onto one of the four Tenby beaches, South Bay, Harbour Beach, Castle Beach and North Beach.
This is just a snapshot of the history of Tenby, for a real history tour why not join Marion Davies from Guided Tours Wales.
or visit the Tenby Museum.
So what would you come to Tenby for?
Tenby Beaches, Tenby History, Tenby Scenery, Tenby Restaurants, Tenby Architecture and of course the Tenby Welcome!!!!!