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The unique history of Lydstep, home of the Celtic Haven Resort

13th April 2018
Church doors Lydstep

In this edition of the Celtic Haven Resort’s reviews of Pembrokeshire’s unique attractions, we step back in time to deliver an insight into the romantic history of Lydstep, the picturesque village on the resort’s doorstep.

Known as Lis Castell in historical times, Lydstep is a small community nestled away on the roadway between the tourist towns of Tenby and Manorbier. Despite its diminutive size, Lydstep has a rich historical background with many people of note calling the area home during its long history.

Most notable of the areas former residents is Aergol Llawhir – the legendary Fifth-Century King of the historical kingdom of Dyfed who is believed to be born around 480 CE – who is believed to have held his Royal court upon the site that the village now presides over.

Arguably, the most noteworthy piece of Welsh history on display within the modern day village is the Lydstep Palace. Now just an ivy-covered and forlorn-looking ruin opposite one of the village’s local pubs, the Palace once sat proudly within the centre of this coastal settlement.

Also known as the Old Palace, the Lydstep Palace is a Grade I listed building constructed from limestone and was built over two floors – the upper floor containing a hall and the lower floor consisting of several barrel vaulted rooms, likely to have once served as cellars.

Much speculation has been made as to the purpose of the palace being built. Whilst it is widely agreed that the ruins originate from the 14th-Century – “from a time when a man’s home was really his castle” – there is no consensus as to the original purpose for its building.

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Some sources attribute the building as a court of the Manor of Manorbier and Penally, however, other researchers place the building’s origin as a hunting lodge to serve the Bishop Gower of St. Davids.

Whilst now a shadow of its former glory, the Palace still represents a place of significant interest for those interested in exploring points of historical interest when visiting the Celtic Haven resort.

In recent times, the village has been the home to such people of note as the Viscount St Davids and the Earl of Essex, Algernon George de Vere Capell, who gained notoriety amongst locals for keeping a private aeroplane in a hangar near the Manorbier station – somewhat of a novelty for rural mid-Twentieth-Century Pembrokeshire!

“Just one of the county’s numerous little inlets, Lydstep sits nestled between the jutted south Pembrokeshire cliffs and allows for glorious views of Caldey Island on clear days”

For those interested in the region’s natural history, Lydstep lays claim to the romantic ‘valley of caverns’, carved into the stunning coastal scenery, which include the smugglers cave and the cave of beauty.

Lydstep Caverns is a sandy beach located west of Lydstep Head. Usually submerged by the tide, this idyllic spot is worth making an opportune pilgrimage to during the low tide. Backed by high limestone cliffs and a popular venue for climbers, the spot offers visitors the opportunity to take in some spectacular, naturally formed caves and arches.

Interestingly, the south Pembrokeshire cliffs in which it is situated have played a valuable historical role in the region of the economy, with the limestone from Lydstep Head once offering healthy pickings for the lime kilns of Bideford and Barnstable – despite the dangers of having to load from the small rock-strewn beach.

Read more about the Lydstep caverns here

Lydstep also plays home to a picturesque pebbled beach, just one of the county’s numerous little inlets, that sits nestled between the jutted south Pembrokeshire cliffs and allows for glorious views of Caldey Island on clear days.

A small site amidst the Pembrokeshire countryside, Lydstep still boasts an array of locations, both manmade and natural, to tickle the intrigue of anyone interested in learning about the rich historical backdrop to this beautiful county.

Check out the Waves cliff-top Italian restaurant, which looks over the beautiful cove of Lydstep Head

Celtic Haven is one of Pembrokeshire’s leading Spa and Resort service providers, delivering boutique self-catering holiday cottages and expert spa and wellness treatments to all of its visitors.

Located just off the Pembrokeshire coastal path, the Celtic Haven resort offers you the opportunity to relax and explore the best that this beautiful county has to offer.