Tales of Plunder and Desecration

©Ieuan Morris

Ieuan Morris’s new book, Photographing Pembrokeshire – A Paradise for Pirates, covers all kinds of plunderers. In his chapter on St David’s Head he writes: “Whilst Pembrokeshire has witnessed invaders of one kind or another committing acts of piracy and wholesale theft, included in the category of criminals must also be the local smugglers and the seemingly upright members of the community…

“On 16 December 1668 the Amity, sailing from Southampton, foundered in a storm in the treacherous waters of Ramsey Sound. When the anchors failed, the vessel ran ashore and locals plundered her cargo of wine and fruit. In 1770 local smugglers even had the nerve to attack and scuttle a government-owned vessel called the Pelham Cutter, off St Davids. It was attacked by the crew of a wherry and they plundered everything onboard.”

As Ieuan goes on to say, there were really no boundaries to such mischief – or to the type of people who perpetrated it. “In 1648 during the Civil War, when Oliver Cromwell was in the south of the county laying siege to Pembroke Castle,his Parliamentarian soldiers destroyed much of [St Davids Cathedral], taking valuable lead.”

And he notes: “The Bishop’s Palace, adjacent to the Cathedral, was not impervious to a bishop himself intent on plunder and destruction. In 1538 Bishop William Barlow stripped the lead from the roof to pay for the dowries of his five daughters. Ever since, it has remained in a state of disrepair, a living monument to desecration.”

For more fascinating stories and more information on Photographing Pembrokeshire – A Paradise for Pirates (£12.99, Y Lolfa) visit www.ylolfa.com or iantomor–photography.co.uk.


Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at www.nigel-summerley.blogspot.com.

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