The History of Penally Abbey
The history of Penally Abbey Hotel is shrouded in mystery. In the hotel gardens stands St Deiniol’s Holy Well, thought to have healing properties ,and the ruins of a medieval chantry chapel. A picture of St Deiniol’s chapel, by the artist Charles Norris, hangs in The Library in Cardiff. Both the chapel and the village church can be found on the earliest map of Pembrokeshire at the Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
In the 6th Century, St Teilo and a colony of saints lived here and it is believed that there was a monastery on the present site at that time. Penally, an important Christian settlement, was on the pilgrim’s trail to St David’s in North Pembrokeshire. A testament to this is the impressive early 10th Century Celtic Cross now found in Penally village church.
In 1301 the advowson was given to the nuns of Aconbury, thereafter eight nuns and their prioress continued to occupy the rectory until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. After the adjuration of Papal Authority was signed in 1534, their lands and property was confiscated and seized by the Church of Wales. The land remained the property of the Church until the late 19th Century and the rector of Penally Church lived here until the new vicarage was built in the 1820’s.
Richard Fenton wrote in his journal. ‘Tour in Wales’ in 1803-1811......In a field about 200 yds to the north of the church are the remains of a building, which, from the form and position, I should take to have been a chantry chapel.
The house that the clergyman now lives in bears marks of having been a very dignified mansion, and of great extent, by portions of ruined walls in various directions and covering much ground.....
In the early 19th century the ruins of the chapel, with its Flemish Chimney and vaulted under-croft, became a fernery and later a Victorian folly.
Since the beginning of the 20th century , Penally Abbey Hotel, has been in private occupation. In 1916 the Jameson’s Whiskey family left the troubles in Ireland and stayed until 1925. Various military personnel lived here in the 30’s and 40’s and a short period in the 50’s it became a country club (the only place one could get a drink on a Sunday).
In 1985, Penally Abbey, was on the market again as a private house. The present owners fell madly in love with the beautifully proportioned rooms, ogee head doors, huge windows and wonderful views across the bay. They bought the house on a whim, and for the first ten years it was the family home, giving their children an idyllic Enid Blyton childhood. When weekend breaks became the rage in the 90’s they decided it had all the qualities of a small country house hotel, and have been running it as such ever since, cementing itself as one of the premiere Pembrokeshire hotels.