History

Tenby (Welsh – Dinbych-y-pysgod)

The Welsh name of the town means ‘little town of the fishes or little fortress of the fish’.

The earliest reference to people settling in Tenby is in a poem probably dating back to the 9th Century and most likely in those days it was a hill fort.

Following the conquest by the Normans in the late 12th of the lands in the area and he strengthened the hill fort by building a stone Castle for the first time.

Following that the town grew as a seaport but following a series of attacks by Welsh forces, including Llewelyn the Great in the mid 13th extensive town walls which enclosed a lot of the area now termed the ‘old town’.

Although not all of the wall remains, the Five Arches gate on the edge of the old town and which formed part of the wall illustrate how substantial the wall would have been.

During the War of the Roses Henry Tudor (future King Henry VII of England) sheltered in Tenby before sailing to exile in 1471 and which led later to favourable treatment from the King. The spot where he escaped the town is marked just a few metres from Gwynne House.

Around this time the town was a busy national port based on fishing and trading (Bristol and Ireland) and also to Europe including France, Spain and Portugal.

However two key events saw the Town decline, the English Civil War and a plague (1650) which forced many of the merchants to leave.

However there was a great revival in the 19th successful local resident Sir William Paxton leading construction and business projects including roads, bridges, houses and baths.

Although there were some failures it generally led to the resurgence of the Town as a health resort with walks and activities.

In 1857 Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) visited Tenby and there was a lifeboat station and railway station built, as well as a fort on St Catherine’s Island (1867).

The Tenby of today then boasts 4 km of sandy beaches including Tenby Harbour Beach which was voted the most beautiful in Europe in 2014 as well as many other attractions.

Gwynne House

Dating from the early 19th and which listing is because of its good surviving interiors and being one half of a pair of houses from the Georgian era.

It is a terraced house built as a pair with Kemendine House Adjoining. In the early part of the 19th Century it was the house of John Gwynne, Town Clerk of Tenby and whose wife Fanny Price Gwynne was the author of several guides to the Town from around 1845.

Although there is some debate as to whether it might have been Kemendine, available evidence suggests that it was Gwynne House that George Eliot stayed in 1857 and there is a Blue Plaque to that effect straddling Gwynne House and Kemendine.

gh-portrait-ge-plaque

The property retains many of its original features including 6 panel doors, open stairwell, turned newels and thin rails in 6 flights, moulded plaster cornices of Georgian leaf design and ceiling border of floral design. To the exterior there are sash windows some 16 and others 12 panes among many other period features.

Gwynne House overlooks Tenby Harbour with its beach as well as North beach and it is reached by a cobbled street.