Thursday 13 October 2011


I lived in Haverfordwest for a few months many years ago but until today I had never visited St Mary’s Church. It’s not much to look at having lost its steeple 200 years ago and it’s boxed in by 18C development - though that is not so objectionable compared with the criminal damage committed by 20C planners on the lower end of the town (it was here that I first observed the phenomenon of local government colluding with greedy local businesses to suppress the flexible, transitory and seasonal local economy which market towns had previously offered, not least through low-rent market stalls).

Inside the church looks a mess too, littered with memorials of the Philipps family, the local big-wigs from Picton Castle. But if you squint and abandon close focus you can see a nice 13C church combining solid local craftsmanship with some French frills, notably the finely carved arches in the nave. The roof is Tudor – spot the giveaway roses.

Dominant minorities often mock the majority which surrounds them out of nervousness of dissent and rebellion. The English-Flemish colony here was no exception and used the opportunity of building the church to take a pop at the savages eyeing them
resentfully from north of the Landsker. There are amusing satirical carvings of their neighbours in the form of a monkey playing the Welsh harp, a pig playing a Welsh fiddle, and a carousing Welsh hooligan brandishing a very modern-looking pint tankard.

I should also mention the memorial to Sir John Pryce who kept the embalmed bodies of his first two wives in his bed, unable to sleep without their comforting presence. His third wife most unreasonably put her foot down and made him shift them out.