Our West Wales holiday park is blessed with a stunning location, just yards from the beach. Looking out over Carmarthen Bay, the imposing Amroth Castle commands an impressive vantage point.
Perhaps it is this important strategic location which interested early settlers, the Romans and, later, military leaders?
It is known that Stone Age man was here some 4,000 years ago and evidence of flint workings from this time have been discovered. There was an Iron Age fort here 2500 years ago, and the Romans had a villa at Trelissey, 500 yards east of the present building in the 2nd century AD. From the 4th century there was a Celtic hill fort on the high ground to the west, and in the 9th century Viking raiders settled here and named it Earewear – Norse for “sand bank”.
When the Norman invaders arrived in Pembrokeshire in the late 11th century they built a motte and bailey castle on the former Celtic fort to defend their lands in the west from the hostile Welsh of Carmarthenshire in the east.
Being on the front line between these two factions Earewear became a strategic fortification and changed hands many times. It was under Welsh control in 1102, but occupied by the Normans in 1115. It was in Welsh hands again by 1151 when Lord Rhys, Prince of Powys led his army silently across the sands in the dead of night to launch a surprise attack on the town of Tenby, who were expecting an overland assault. The element of surprise was such that the history books tell us that Tenby town was razed to the ground and every man, woman and child put to the sword. Back in Norman control Earewear was twice attacked and destroyed by the Welsh in the first quarter of the 13th century.
Finally by 1350 peace had descended on Pembrokeshire and Earewear became the seat of a powerful Anglo-Norman family by the name of Elliott. It was around this time that the building was moved from its site on the high ground to the west to its present position by the sea, and some of the boundary walls, including the archway at the entrance date from this period.
When John Elliott built a new mansion here in 1455 it was described as the third time the family had re-built the property in its present position. Parts of John Elliott’s Tudor building remain, such as the tower at the front of the house as well as a large part of the ground floor where in places the walls exceed 6ft in depth. The Elliott’s of Earewear continued to be a rich and influential family within Pembrokeshire and they occupied Amroth Castle for over four centuries until the family died out in the middle of the 18th century.
Towards the end of the 18th century Amroth Castle, as it had now become known, was bought by Captain James Ackland, a retired naval officer. He re-built the castle into what was described at the time as a “commodious castellated villa boasting every modern convenience”. This is the building you see today. In 1802 Captain Ackland played host to Lord Nelson during his tour of Pembrokeshire’s naval depots. Nelson’s companion during his stay at Amroth Castle was his famous mistress Lady Emma Hamilton. Following Nelson’s death at the battle of Trafalgar three years later Captain Ackland installed a plaque in the ceiling of the dining room in tribute to the great man.
Captain Ackland himself died in 1820, after which Amroth Castle passed through several owners, mainly businessmen connected to the flourishing local coal mining industry. In 1897 it was purchased by Sir Owen Cosby Philips, later to become Lord Kylsant, and then passed to his daughter the Countess of Coventry.
The family spent less and less time at Amroth Castle over the years and finally sold the estate in the 1950’s, after which it was developed first as a hotel and then into the West Wales holiday park you see today.