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Stackpole

Stackpole is a village located on the coast of the old county of Pembrokeshire in the south west of Wales. Nowadays the area is best known to tourists who seek an experience of rural Wales in the beautiful Pembrokeshire National Park but it does have a certain resonance in the history of Wales. A glance at a detailed map of the land around Stackpole reveals more English place names than Welsh! Now a quiet corner of Wales, this was once a very cosmopolitan area. We can see from names like St. Petrox (and the proximity to St. David's) that the location was important at the time of the Celtic saints in the 6th century. Norman settlers brought their English supporters in the period soon after 1066 and in the first decade of the 12th century the Norman King Henry I encouraged a colony of Flemings to settle in south Pembrokeshire, where they practised their weaving skills. The Irish also settled here in great numbers. In 1523 or 1524 Richard Gruffithe wrote (from Carmarthen) to Cardinal Wolsey (in London) to complain about the number of Irish settlers: "...  by estymacion to amounte at the leste to the nombre of twentye thousands persons and above, of all manner sorte, and the most part of the same Raskells be out of the domynyons of the Kings Rebellyon the erle of Desmond; and verye fewe of theym out of the English pale of Irelande. And the Kings Towne of Tenbye is almost cleane Irish ..."*  

The place names within a few miles of Stackpole are rather interesting. Maiden Wells, Hodgeston, Jameston, Hundleton, and Carew Cheriton all bespeak the attraction this land had for the English in days of yore.

The name Stackpole seems to have been derived from the stack at the entrance to Broadhaven, one of several tall stacks of rock on the shoreline, formed by the relentless surge of the sea against softer surrounding materials. Morgan and Morgan (in their Welsh Surnames) tell us that the earliest owner of Stackpole had the Welsh name of Elidor or Elidir. This accounts for the fact that the nearby location of Cheriton was formerly known as Stackpole Elidor. A younger brother went to Ireland during the invasion and established a branch of the family in County Clare. The Morgans mention the existence of various references to Stackpoles in medieval documents, but that these do not necessarily relate to people from the same family. The name survived here for several centuries and they quote a George Stackpull (sic.) who witnessed a grant to George Lort of Stackpool (sic.) in 1589.

The church at Cheriton has 14th century effigies of Richard de Stackpole and his wife. Stackpole Court was the 18th century seat of the earls of Cawdor and as far as I know the old gardens of this manor house remain and are open to inspection by the public.   

The stables of Stackpole Court. The house stood on the
 land in the foreground. Picture courtesy of Bob Bishop.

* The letter mentioned above appears in the interesting Letters from Wales (Ed. by Joan Abse, Pub. by Seren).

 John Weston / Data Wales 2001

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