Narberth Ladies Probus Club president Jane was delighted to welcome back Gareth Mills to the April meeting to talk about the Cawdors of Stackpole.

Stackpole Court was built just outside the village of Stackpole and originally belonged to the Lort family. When Sir Gilbert Lort died in 1698 the estate passed to his sister Elizabeth who had married Sir Alexander Campbell, Thane of Cawdor, in 1689. She outlived her husband, and on her death in 1714 the estate passed to her son John Campbell. For the next four centuries, the many descendants of Sir Alexander owned the Stackpole estate. 

Gareth gave a fascinating insight into the multitude of changes they made; notably, the immense walled gardens and the lakes, known as the Lily Ponds. These were created by the damming of three narrow valleys in 1780 and 1860 by Sir John Campbell, the 18th Thane of Cawdor. 

A new mansion constructed of limestone was built in later years with extensive gardens, greenhouses and fine collections of plants. 

Much of the Stackpole Estate farmland was sold at the start of World War II to create a training ground for British troops. Castlemartin Training Area Range still occupies this land. This made the estate unviable and the Cawdors returned to their Scottish estate in the 1940s. 

Crippling taxes on the empty mansion meant it was demolished in 1963, leaving behind the estate’s outbuildings, parkland and beaches which are looked after by the National Trust and enjoyed by the public today.

Next meeting is on Friday, May 3 at the Plas Hotel, Narberth. New members are always welcome; contact secretary Lindsay Oeppen (01834 845681) for more details.