St Florence

Village with old houses and remains of a port.

As you walk up to the village, look out for the ‘Flemish chimneys’, the large round chimneys built on the outside of 16th and 17th century houses but named after the earlier Flemish settlers in the area. Until the early 19th century, the Ritec was a tidal river as far as St Florence, and small ships could sail up at high tide. You can still see the stone where they would have tied up, in the middle of the old village. In 1652 the local market was temporarily moved here because the market town of Haverfordwest was badly affected by the plague. Then in 1811 Sir John Owen of Orielton began the Penally embankment, which now lies under the railway line. This was designed to create new pasture land on the sand dunes at Penally, but as a result the Ritec river silted up and boats could no longer get to St Florence.

St Florence was a Norman saint but there was probably an earlier church in the village dedicated to one of the local Welsh saints. The present church, is mainly a twelfth-century building. It was much restored by the Victorians - but it seems to have needed the work. The vicar who was responsible for the restoration said that, when he arrived in the parish, ‘there were cocks and hens roosting in the church, and a horse was kept in the porch’. Inside the church is a memorial to Robert Ferrar, the sixteenth-century bishop of St David’s who was one of the few Protestants to die for his beliefs in Wales during Mary Tudor’s reign.

More about the village and its community at the St Florence web site.

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