Monastic Wales.

Remnants of Haverfordwest Priory

Little now remains standing of the priory but excavations, first in the 1920s and later from 1983 to 1996, revealed the extent of the precinct and the outline of the buildings which are now clearly marked. The excavations also uncovered significant architectural material that is now in Haverfordwest museum and, not least, unearthed the only surviving ecclesiastical garden from medieval Britain. This stood to the east of the south transept and had raised beds. It was seemingly akin to a herbarium.

The most significant remains are of the thirteenth-century priory church; parts of the south-east corner of the nave and the transepts survive almost to roof height. The medieval church was evidently cruciform and unaisled, although a north aisle may have been added in the later Middle Ages. The nave was over forty-five metres in length and had a pulpitum screen in the centre, separating the choir from the nave. The stone footings of the choir stalls can be seen.

The remains of the claustral buildings lie to the south of the church and date from the thirteenth century. A narrow slype beside the south transept was formerly the sacristy and beside this was a small rectangular chapter house, entered through a splendid west door. A tomb plinth in the centre may have held the remains of the priory’s founder. The chapter house was remodelled in the fifteenth century when a vault was added. The rest of the east range is unexcavated but there is some upstanding fabric at the south end which marks the end of the reredorters (toilet block). Surviving stonework beyond this may have belonged to the infirmary. The canons’ refectory was on the southern range. It was entered at the west end where there was a long stone basin for the canons to wash their hands. The refectory and the buildings to its south -probably work rooms and kitchens - have partly been excavated. There are some remnants of the west range which was seemingly most altered following the Dissolution. [1]

[1] S. E. Rees, Haverfordwest Priory, Cadw Guide (Cardiff, 1999); Coflein database

Monastic sites related to this article

Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire(Priory)