Local residents have joined forces to try and save a 350-year-old wall in a conservation area around Llawhaden Castle.

Plans have been submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council for demolition of a ‘defective section’ of the 130-metre wall so access can be gained to a small field behind.

The new entrance would then be fitted with plain close-boarded gates.

But locals say the proposals are a “travesty” and out of character, and fear the wall – which is a Grade II listed structure – could be irreversibly knocked down.

Listed as a ‘fine C17 garden wall with adjacent roadside pavement’ the wall is also listed as group value with Llawhaden House.

The wall was historically part of the gardens of Llawhaden House, which was severely damaged by fire in 2000.

Despite desperate efforts by firefighters, the grade II listed house was reduced to a shell and sadly the body of its owner, 91-year-old Edith Thomas, was found inside.

The historic 26-room house and some of its outbuildings have now been sold and have been rebuilt by Alun Jones.

He’s objected to the proposals and said it would be a “travesty to punch a gateway into this historic listed wall”.

Llawhaden House was reputedly connected by an underground passage to nearby Llawhaden Castle, now in ruins.

The house was built for the Skyrme family, who were parliamentarians and were given the property as a reward for supporting Oliver Cromwell at the famous battle of Colby Moor, fought on marshland just two miles away.

It’s believed that part of the wall was built by Royalist prisoners after their defeat at the battle of Colby Moor in 1645.

There is also a date stone set into the eastern part of the wall inscribed: ‘This wall was built in 1691 in X weeks by William Skyrm(e) esq. LI.B., D.D with Thomas Matthews R S Evans H V Ferrier masons.’

Cromwell himself is reputed to have stayed a night in the house on a later expedition in 1648.

Locals say the wall – owned by the beneficiaries of the late Mrs E Thomas – has been allowed to fall into disrepair over the years. In his letter of objection,

Mr Jones said: “Once the wall is damaged beyond repair or development allowed through it, the amenity to the village will be lost forever.”

While the applicant says the wall will be repaired while the works are carried out, locals say the repair work should be carried out on its own merit.

Mr Jones added: “The bar to allowing access to a field by breaking into this listed wall must be set extremely high, especially given the total lack of repair and maintenance already demonstrable here over recent years.”

Bob Nutt, who also lives in the village, believes the applicants have an ulterior motive for the gateway and are hoping the field will be sold for development.

He notes there are already two ‘full size farm gates’ within the field elsewhere allowing complete access to the whole field.

One gateway – accessed from his property – and a second at Ashgrove “negate the need for a third”, he states in a letter of obligation.

He added: “To build this large entrance through a Grade II listed wall is completely outrageous.”

Demonstrating their objection, locals gathered at the wall on Saturday, January 6 and urged other objectors to sign their petition.

llawhaden castle wall
A petition has been started by local residents to 'Save our historic wall in Llawhaden' and further details can be found here: https://chng.it/JYVM6FpGgy (Pic supplied)

Chair of the community council, Tracy Watkins, said the state of the historic wall had long been a concern to the residents of Llawhaden.

She said: “The community council have been calling for the trustees to address the neglect and action a programme of repair so that the wall does not fall into further disrepair.

“Whilst we welcome the trustees recent interest in the historic status of the wall, we do not believe this application to demolish a section of a grade II listed wall to install an exceptionally wide access, is in the best interests of retaining this unique cultural heritage.”

Local county councillor, Di Clements, believes there are alternative ways to access the fields that would enable the owners to start work on making safe the wall from the inside.

She is working with all parties to try and get agreement so that there would be no need for the demolition of part of the wall.

She said: “It's important we do all we can to protect and conserve such an important part of the history of the village.

“I'd like to put on record my heartfelt thanks to those who have come forward to assist in trying to achieve that.”

A petition has been started by local residents to 'Save our historic wall in Llawhaden' and further details can be found here: https://chng.it/JYVM6FpGgy