There was already a Welsh village here when the Normans built Tenby Castle, now in ruins. Today the castle attracts interest because of its location on the headland overlooking the town and harbor. The town walls had four gates, one of which, the West Gate, known as Five Arches, remains. The west wall is in good condition. Tenby was also a target during the civil war.
Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, Castle Hill (tel. 01834/842809; www.tenbymuseum.org.uk), is housed near the ruins of Tenby Castle. Exhibits cover the geology, archaeology, and natural history of the district, as well as the history of Tenby from the 12th century. In the art gallery, you'll see works by Augustus and Gwen John, and Charles Norris, a local artist of the early 19th century. The museum and gallery are open April to October daily 10am to 5pm, November to March Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm. Admission costs £4 for adults, £3 for seniors and students, and £2 for children. A family ticket costs £9.
Tudor Merchant's House, Quay Hill (tel. 01834/842279; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), is a beautifully furnished medieval dwelling of the 15th century with a fine Flemish chimney. On three interior walls, paintings with designs similar to Flemish weaving patterns were discovered under years of whitewash. It's open April to October Sunday to Friday 11am to 5pm. Admission costs £2.70 for adults or £1.30 for children 15 and younger. A family ticket costs £6.70.
Tenby's parish church, St. Mary's, dates from the 13th century and is the largest parish church in Wales. Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald the Welshman), a great religious leader of the 13th century, was the first rector. Charging no admission, it is open daily from 8am to 6pm.
In the bay, just 3.2km (2 miles) south of Tenby, little Caldy Island has long been a Roman Catholic venue. A Celtic monastic cell is believed to have been here, and today it is farmed by Cistercian monks, whose abbey is the island's outstanding attraction. From the 12th century until the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII, a Benedictine priory was here. For the next few centuries, lay people living on the island farmed and quarried limestone until, in 1906, English Benedictines established a community here.
The Benedictines left solid evidence of their occupation: the refectory, gatehouse, and priory's lodging, which is now used as a guesthouse. In 1929, the Cistercian order took over the island, and today they produce perfume, chocolate, and dairy products, all sold locally. Only male visitors are allowed to enter the monastery, but anyone can visit St. David's Church, the Old Priory, and St. Illtud's Church, with its leaning stone spire. Inside St. Illtud's is a 6th-century Ogham stone, a relic of the time when monks from Ireland came here to establish their religious house. The writing on the Ogham stones was Celtic, which was then translated into Latin by the monks.
Allow about 2 hours for a visit. Access to the island is via a boat that runs only between Easter and late October Monday to Friday 10am to 3pm. The vessels depart every 20 minutes; the crossing also takes 20 minutes. A round-trip passage costs £10 for adults, £5 for children 14 and younger. For information about all aspects of the island, including boat access, call tel. 01834/844453 or go to www.caldey-island.co.uk.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.