Angle Angle village is set in a valley on the southern shore of the Milford Haven Estuary, at the south western tip of Pembrokeshire. Angle Parish is bounded on three sides by coastline which varies from high rugged cliffs to the beautiful beach at West Angle Bay and the tidal flats of East Angle. The name Angle (also known as ‘Nangle’) is thought to make reference to the location of the parish, described in ancient deeds as ‘in angulo’ , meaning land in an angle or nook. The name may also refer to early landowners, the de Nangles (or d’ Angelo). Robert de Shirburn, upon his marriage to Isobel de Angulo, in 1278, was granted the manorial lands of Angle.
Prehistory There is evidence that people lived here from the Mesolithic period (approx 4,000 BC). There was flint working in the Mesolithic period at Broomhill and South Studdock. There have been Neolithic finds from South Studdock and Rocket-Cart House. On Broomhill Barrows are the remains of a chambered tomb (circa 3,500BC - 3,000 BC), known in recent times as the Devil’s Quoit.
Rectory and Vicarage The ecclesiastical living of Angle was formally awarded to a rector, who did not often live in the Rectory but appointed a Vicar to look after the parish instead. The most famous Rector of Angle was Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambriensis) who is known to have been Rector here in 1200AD. It is believed that the Tower House was a Rectory at one time, as was Kilnbank House for a short period in the 19th century. The current Rectory was built in the 1870’s.
Medieval and Early Tudor Chapels In the rear of the old churchyard there is a fishermen’s chapel (known locally as the Seamen’s Chapel) which was built by Edmund Shirburn in 1447. A significant feature of the chapel is a very fine painting behind the stone altar, donated by the Mirehouse family in the early 20th century, depicting Christ with his arms outstretched in a gesture of love at the centre of Angle village life. It also has two Guardian Angels overseeing the village boundaries. Fishermen’s Chapel It is believed that prior to 1500 there was a church dedicated to St Anthony at West Angle Bay. Its graveyard is currently a site of great archaeological interest with cist graves (stone coffins) dating from the 9th century - the graveyard is under threat from erosion and a number of graves have already fallen into the sea. There is also mention of a chantry chapel of St George the Martyr at Chapel Bay.
Parish Church of St Mary
The oldest part of the Church is the 14th century tower. The church was originally cruciform in shape but the South Transept was in such a bad state it was taken down in the early 19th century. The body of the Church was restored in 1853 by R.K. Penson (who worked closely with Capability Brown). Many people appreciate the stained glass windows. Look for Moses wearing horns in the East window an artistic product of an early mistranslation from the bible texts. A clock was placed on the tower by villagers as part of the millennium celebrations.
‘Nunnery’ (no public access)
(Shown as ‘Castle rems of’ on Ordnance Survey maps). This is a late medieval building which has been described at various times as a nunnery, a fortified house and an alms house. It was quite a high-status building, with the living quarters at first floor level. The building has had several phases of alteration, the latest probably being in the 19th century. Some archaeologists suggest that it was built and owned by the Priory of St Martin de Seez in France and was confiscated by the crown during the Hundred Years War. As a result, it was gifted to local landowners and became the former Manor House, vacated in the mid 1600’s when the estate owner moved to the Hall.
The Tower House Although it is sometimes known as the Old Rectory or Castle, the house gets its name from its medieval tower construction more commonly found in Ireland and Scotland. It is thought that the Tower House was built in the late 14th century or early 15th century by the de Shirburn family. The Tower House was well fortified and set within a moated enclosure. The main entrance was originally on the first floor, via a drawbridge. The ground floor had a vaulted ceiling and was most likely used for storage. On the upper three floors are a number of single living chambers each with a fireplace. Remains of further buildings were found behind the existing farm buildings. The Tower House was restored in 1999 and is now open to the public.
Probably built in the 15th century to serve the Tower House, the Dovecote or Old Pigeon House provided 14 rows of stone-built nest boxes for birds to live in. The birds would have been used by the family during the leaner winter months as a source of fresh meat. Only the Lords of the Manor or Parish priests were allowed to build dovecotes, so this was clearly a building of some importance. During the early 20th century it was used as an animal shelter.
Chapel Bay Fort Completed in 1891, it is one of the earliest known forts in the world constructed in mass concrete (with no reinforcement) and unique in being constructed to a then obsolete design. The main fort is surrounded by a dry moat 30 feet deep and was originally armed with three wrought iron 10” calibre muzzleloading rifled guns. The fort was modernised in 1901 when the guns were replaced with 6” rifled breech-loading guns. Inside the fort are barracks for 100 men, along with a Master Gunner’s house, Officers’ Mess, toilet blocks, kitchens and magazines. During World War I the fort formed part of the defences for the Haven. Ships suspected of carrying contraband were moored in Stack Roads and examined while the guns of Chapel Bay Fort were trained on them. During World War II the fort controlled some of the anti aircraft guns which defended the Haven. For many years the fort was left in ruins. Chapel Bay Fort is now administered by a registered charity that hopes to open it to the public once extensive renovations are complete.
10inch, 18 ton Rifled Muzzle-Loading Gun
Occupations Two major occupations in Angle have been agriculture and fishing. Other occupations such as milling by wind power have taken place since at least 1298. A windmill, recorded in the late Tudor period, was re-built in the 18th century and modified for use during the second world war as a pill box. Local limestone and red sandstone have been used for building. Limestone was also used to make mantelpieces, and
Brickworks chimney (rems of)
The Windmill (rems of)
burnt for agricultural purposes. Reminders of the limestone industry are mooring rings for vessels in the rocks, traces of the railway track leading out to the cliff quarry and the disused lime kiln at West Angle. The Angle Brick Works was established in the 1880’s by the Angle Estate. At that time there were 3 kilns. The products included bricks of several varieties, roof and quarry tiles, ridge tiles, and drain pipes. Later, blocks of simulated stone were produced; there is a house in this material a hundred yards or so east of the Church. The chimney of the Works may still be seen at West Angle. During the early 1800’s, women and girls plaited straw bonnets, hassocks and matting, baked biscuits for ship supplies, and made laver bread from seaweed collected from Freshwater West. There were also a number of lavender fields and a drying house in the village.
Alehouses and Inns Angle has catered for thirsty fishermen, sailors, lifeboat men, farm workers, and the builders and artillerymen of Thorn Island and Chapel Bay forts to name but a few. Alehouses have come and gone, passing through the hands of local families. Five licensed alehouse keepers were listed in 1795, but the whereabouts of some alehouses, for example the King’s Arms and Mariner’s Arms, has been lost.
The Old Point House
The Castle Inn once stood near the Tower House at East Angle Bay and opposite it, at the head of the creek, was the Dolphin. Midway along the village street stood the Anchor. These all closed by the end of the 19th century and are now private dwellings with new names. The prominent Globe House (Hotel) was originally two cottages, one of which was an inn which became an hotel in 1904 and later served as a First World War convalescent hospital. The Globe then became a pub until 1993. It now provides holiday accommodation. The fort at Thorn Island has also been a hotel in recent times. Today there are two public houses in the village. The Old Point House (public house and farm), literally on the Point at East Angle Bay, dates back to at least the 16th century. It was reputedly frequented by pirates. For over 300 years a culm fire was kept burning continuously in the grate, providing warmth for the lifeboat men, cold mariners and villagers alike. In 1865 the landlord of the Anchor moved to open the Hibernia Inn in the centre of the village. The name derives, it is said, from the Irish coin, dated 1805, found during building work at the pub, where the coin is still displayed.
School As early as 1828 there is mention of a schoolmaster in the register of marriages for Angle parish. A Dame school (a small private school) was held at Number 7 Angle (now the Old Ruin). The village school was built in 1862 on land donated by the Mirehouse family from voluntary contributions and donations. Until 1880 the children paid for their education with contributions from the Mirehouse family who also maintained the building. After 1880 the school was put under government inspections in order to qualify for grants. The main building has remained largely unaltered since 1890.
‘Loch Shiel’ During a violent storm in January 1894, the Scottish ship Loch Shiel was wrecked off Thorn Island. The Angle lifeboat rushed to its aid and courageously rescued all thirty three people on board. Amongst its cargo was a large quantity of whisky, beer, and other spirits, much of which washed up on shore. Customs men struggled to recover the cargo, as local people went to great lengths to hide the booty. Although there were no fatalities as a result of the wreck, two local men were killed when they tried to bring a keg ashore and another died of ‘excessive whisky drinking’. There are known to be bottles of whisky still in the village.
Country Code Respect • Protect • Enjoy • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs. • Leave gates and property as you find them. • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home. • Keep dogs under close control. • Consider other people.
Text researched and written by Angle Heritage Group Photograph courtesy of Major George Gear Illustrations: Geoff Scott & Kris Jones Design: Waterfront Graphics PLANED © 2007