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Coordinates: 51°48′12″N 4°51′54″W / 51.80333°N 4.865°W / 51.80333; -4.865

Slebech is located in Wales2

 Slebech shown within Wales
Population 124 
OS grid reference SN0214
Principal area Pembrokeshire
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Haverfordwest
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
List of places: UK • Wales • Pembrokeshire

Slebech is a parish in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The community of Slebech is a sparsely populated on the northern shore of the Eastern River Cleddau. It shares common land boundaries with the Communities of Uzmaston and Boulston, Wiston and Llawhaden and mainly conists of farmland and woodland. Two thirds of the community is within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park[1] and Picton Castle's stable block loft is an important breeding roost for the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat.[2]



Slebech is situated on the upper Eastern Cleddau and was once part of the Barony of Daugleddau. In the Middle Ages Slebech belonged to the Knights Hospitallers of the Order of St John and the original church on the bank of the river was established in 1161, together with a commandery which became the headquarters of the order in West Wales. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII the lands passed to the Barlow family.[3]


Picton Castle

Picton Castle

The estates, gardens and parkland of Picton Castle was once part of the larger Manor of Wiston, but had became a separate holding, replacing Wiston Castle by the 13th century. Picton Castle began as a motte castle and was reconstructed in stone by the Wogan family during the 13th century. In 1405 Frence troops supporting Owain Glyndwr attached and held the Castle, and it was seized again during the English Civil War in 1645 by Parliamentary forces.[4]

The Picton Castle estate was acquired by the Phillips family when Sir Thomas ap Philip of Cilsant married Jane, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Dwnn, of Picton in the 1490s.[5] Sir John Philipps, who inherited the castle in the 15th century, remodelled the building and created a new entrance which remained until the 1820s when a new entrance was designed by Thomas Rowlands (who also designed Slebech Church).[6]

The estate remained with the Phillips family until the death of Sir Richard Philipps, Lord Milford, in 1823, when it was inherited by Sir Richard Bulkeley Grant who assumed the surname Philipp. Sir Richard Bulkeley's heir was his half-brother, the Rev. James Henry Alexander Philipps (formerly Gwyther), who assumed by royal licence the surname and arms of Philipps. On his death the estate passed to his son-in-law, Charles Edward Gregg Philipps then to Sir Richard Foley Foley-Philipps, cousin of Sir John Erasmus, and grandson of Charles Edward Gregg Philipps.[5] Now run by the Picton Castle Trust, the rpesent owner, Jeremy Philipps, lives in a lodge in the grounds.[4]

Slebech Park

Slebech Park developed from estates belonging to the Knights Hospitaller and their Commandery at Slebech Church. After the dissolution the Barlow family built Slebech Mansion near the site of the Commandery, and established Slebech Park.[7] After the death of George Barlow in 1757, his daughter Anne married William Trevanion of Cornwall and after his death, John Symmons of Llanstinan. Symmons sold the estate to William Knox of London, who, in turn, sold it to Nathaniel Phillips.[8]

Nathaniel Phillips was born in England in 1733, the illegitimate son of a merchant trading between London and Kingston, Jamaica. Following his father he arrived at Kingston in April 1759 and used his father's connections to join a partnership with the Kingston merchants who owned sugar plantations which supported the slave trade to obtain workers. Over twenty five years he built a fortune and his Jamaican properties were valued £160,000 Jamaica currency, as well as ownership of 706 slaves valued at £50,000. In 1793, he bought the estate at Slebech from a bankrupt slaver. As well as Slebech Hall and coach house, Phillips bought 600 acres of park land and woodland. In 1796 he married Mary, a Philipps forty years younger than him and had two sons (Nathaniel and Edward Augustus) and two daughters (Mary Dorothea and Louisa Catharine). After his death, Phillips' heirs continued to operate the Jamaican estates but they became unprofitable after the end of slavery in 1834.[9]

After the death of Edward, the estate passed to Mary Dorothea and her sister, Louisa Catherine, the Countess of Lichfield, as co-heiress. In 1821 Mary Dorothea met Charles Frederick Baron de Rutzen of Germany in Rome. A Polish nobleman and descendant of Field Marshal Potemkin[10], they married in 1822 and became Lords of the Manors of Slebech. Their eldest son, Baron Frederick Leopold Sapieha Manteuffel died and the estate passed to his younger brother, Baron Rudolph William Henry Ehrard, who was succeeded by his nephew, Alan Frederick James. Their 3rd son, Albert Richard Francis Maximilien married Horatia Augusta Stepney Gulston, of Carmarthenshire and their eldest son, Alan Frederick James married Eleanor Etha Audley Thursby Pelham, in 1908. Their only son, John Frederick Foley de Rutzen married Sheila Victoria Katrin Philipps, of Picton Castle, and their only child, Victoria Anne Elizabeth Gwynne de Rutzen, married Francis Dashwood.[8] Their descendants managed both estates and in 2003 owners Geoffrey and Georgina Philipps created a £4m business and leisure development converted the 18th Century coach house in Slebech Park into a 26 bedroom onference and exhibition centre. It was the first project in Pembrokeshire to attract European Objective One funding and was also funded by the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) and the Wales Tourist Board.[11]


On the northern bank of the Eastern Cleddau, the foreshore is of mud, marsh and rocks. Slebech has extensive deciduous woodland and open farmland. Fields are large and regular and are divided by earth banks topped with hedges. Agriculture land use is improved pasture with a small proportion of arable crops.[7]

The Rhos village

The only settlement of any size is the small hamlet of The Rhos with a population of 25 people. Community services and facilities are limited, with a small church hall. The Rhos village is located along one street which once included a primary school and post office. The old school building is now a private residence. Originally known as 'Slebech and Picton Castle School', it later became Slebech Voluntary Controlled School and operated from 1866 with support from the Philipps family of Picton Castle. It was taken over by the Education Authority in 1930’s and closed in 1985, with only 11 pupils on the register.[12]

Listed buildings

Grade II listed Slebech Park is one of a total of 25 listed buildings in Slebech[7] with the main ones as follows:

St Johns Church Slebech

The Church of St John the Baptist is a Grade II listed building[13] which was consecrated in 1848 as Slebech Parish Church in place of the older Parish Church. It was designed by Thomas Rowlands of Haverfordwest and paid for by Baron de Rutzen with contributions from Queen Adelaide. The church was deconsecrated in 1990 due to subsidence.[3]

Greater Horseshoe Bat

The Stable Block at Picton Castle is Grade II listed.[13] A rectangular block 40m by 60m built of local rubble stone masonry with quoins of limestone. An unusual feature is that crenellated parapets hide slate roofs. The stables have an octagonal clock-tower with a weathervane.[14] The stable block loft is also an important breeding roost for the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) and numbers have been recorded at Slebech since 1983.[2]

Blackpool Bridge is Grade II listed [13] and located to the east of Blackpool Mill to cross the River Cleddau. A single span bridge, it was built about 1825 for the de Rutzens family of coursed, undressed stone, with two carved external panels on either side and dressed stone edge on the rim of the arch. To the south of the bridge are stone piers topped by ball finials.[15]

Scheduled Ancient Monuments

Remains of the old church of St John the Baptist (PEM 275). Located between the mansion of Slebech and the river, this ia a ruin with only the main walls surviving. Records show that in 1766 the ceiling fell down and workmen were paid for the job of `stripping the church.'[16] The owner, Baron de Rutzen, built a replacement church and stripped the rest of the roof in 1844, partly to stop worshipers coming on to his land.[3] A service is still held within the walls once a year.[15] Burial mounds on the island to the east of the church (PEM 276) are also scheduled ancient monuments,[13] although it is known locally as Dog Island because it was reputedly where pets were buried.[17]


  1. ^ "Pembrokeshire County Council: REVIEW OF COMMUNITIES". Retrieved 2009-10-31.  
  2. ^ a b "Proceedings of Welsh Bat". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  3. ^ a b c LLoyd, Thomas (2004) (in Lloyd). The Buildings of Wales. Yale University Press.  
  4. ^ a b Hull, Lise (2005) (in Hull). The Castles and Bishops Palaces of Pembrokeshire. Logaston Press.  
  5. ^ a b "Picton Castle Estate Records". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  6. ^ The Picton Castle Trust, Picton Castle and Woodland Gardens (in picton).  
  7. ^ a b c "History of Slebech". Retrieved 2009-10-31.  
  8. ^ a b "Records of the Slebech Estate". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  9. ^ "The Slebech Papers". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  10. ^ "The Story Of Blackpool Mill". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  11. ^ "Work starts on Slebech Park retreat". BBC News. 3 December, 2003. Retrieved 2009-10-31.  
  12. ^ "Rhos and District Action Plan". Retrieved 2009-10-31.  
  13. ^ a b c d "Slebech Park". Retrieved 2009-10-31.  
  14. ^ "Picton Castle stables".,+STABLES%3B+NEW+STABLE+COURT/. Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  15. ^ a b "Listed buildings". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  16. ^ "Slebech Church". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  
  17. ^ "Best Of Wildlife of Slebech Park 2004-2006". Retrieved 2009-11-01.  

External links


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