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The History of Tenby

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The interesting coastal town of Tenby is set within the county of Pembrokeshire, in the South West regions of Wales. It's linked by an Isthmus visible at low tide to St Catherine's Island, and a short distance from the ancient settlement of Caldey Island which was first inhabited during the Stone Age, which became a Monastic Settlement as far back as the 6th Century, and which still continues today as a Cistercian community. Tenby has an intriguing history which also dates back many centuries, as far back as the Norman Invasion and beyond, when they first recognised the strategic importance they settled here. The town began with the building of a Fort after the sweet taste of victory was felt when William the Conqueror beat King Harold during the bloody battle fought in 1066 . The Norman Army marched across the land bringing with them their expertise and building prowess, constructing fine castles and churches as they went. Tenby was no different, the perfect location was recognised when Arnulf Montgomery invaded southern Pembrokeshire and arrived in Tenby; when it was destined to be the headquarters; Tenby became a Garrison town. The Welsh bravely attacked the Norman soldiers in the 12th and again in the 13th Centuries.
The 13th century yielded an impressive Castle which was built high on a lofty headland, which would feature again and again throughout history; it also became necessary to encompass the town to fortify its location after the destruction and devastation which occurred at the hands of Prince Llewelyn in 1260, a ring of wall defences were built remnants of which survive today, together with the magnificent Barbican Gate House which has five arches still seen today. The town recovered, and was soon granted the right to levy a tax on all of the goods entering the town, the monies gained were put to the upkeep of the defences which were necessary with the heavy threat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the town thrived. Tenby became an important Seaport which grew the economy with good trade links. St Mary's church was built, and has stood the test of time, with its fine 14th Century tower. Also the production of textiles boosted the growth of the town which led to further expansion and importance when the town became the centre for the textile industry.

The 17th Century brought many changes when Civil War broke out after King Charles I disagreed with Parliament over the raising of hefty taxes, and believing in the Divine Right of Kings. Towns and Cities across the land went into battle, Tenby was ravaged when Royalists took over the town and the castle, and it became the only Royalist stronghold in the whole of Pembrokeshire. Another unwelcome visitor arrived in 1650 in the Plague, Black Death which caused a huge loss of life hitting both the population and the economy.

Cloth production had played a major role within the town until the 18th Century dawned, and it wasn't until the arrival of the Great Western Railway in1866 that Tenby became a seaside resort, where Victorian 's tried the fashionable pastime of sea bathing, and strolling along the prom with the bracing sea breezes, with the increase in visitors it became necessary for them to have somewhere to stay which led to the building of Victorian houses many of which remain today; together with the erection of a monument in 1865 to Prince Albert which remains on Castle Hill for all to see. War featured once again in the 20th Century with the bombing raids that were carried out during WWII , which heavily attacked the area causing severe damage.

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Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts. - Charles Dickens
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On this day:
Battle of Lostwithiel - 1644, Battle of Dunkeld - 1689
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