Author Archives: Geoff Winterman

January 2019 Monthly Meeting – Pembrokeshire Shipwrecks

The speaker at the January Meeting was Mr James Hedley-Phillips who gave an animated and most informative talk about shipwrecks off the coast of Pembrokeshire.  Surprisingly there are some 1000 wrecks.

However, he spoke, in the main, about the schooner Frederick constructed in 1833 for Sir John Tobin who, like some of the period, made his fortune from the slave trade.    The Frederick sailed from Liverpool bound for West Africa loaded with trinkets and muskets for trade, onward to America’s Southern States where the slaves where offloaded after which the schooner would return with cotton and other commodities.  The schooner sunk off the coast of Pembrokeshire having been caught in a gale. 

Schooners were replaced by steam ships, the next element of the talk concerned the ship “Nimrod”, constructed in 1843 just ten years after the Frederick but now with the benefit of steam propulsion with additional sails.  The Frederick too was to founder just off the coast near St David’s Head breaking in to three parts. 

James showed photographs of items recovered from the stern where the first class berths were to be found and the dining room, rows of silver spoons, serving utensils and forks but no knives! 

It is amazing to think what lies on the sea bed not far from where we paddle and to be told there are some 300/400 wrecks alone in the locality of Ramsey Sound, a really entertaining and interesting talk.

Penny Thomas 3rd January 2019

November Monthly Meeting – Redundant Churches by Joe Rielly

Our Speaker for the November monthly meeting was our own Joe Rielly who is the leader of the Architecture and Design Group. The talk was entitled Redundant Churches – Who Cares.  Joe cares deeply, although a humanist, he is concerned that many of the disused Churches are falling into disrepair and will be lost to future generations.  The Church was once the hub of every village, in fact, yesterday’s Community Hub a place to meet your neighbours, marry, take your children for baptism and finally where you would be laid to rest in its’ cemetery.

Joe first gave this talk to Narberth U3A and has repeated it no fewer than seven times to include Swansea and it was not difficult to understand why.  Joe and is Wife Margaret had visited many redundant Churches in Pembrokeshire and Cardigan.  I am sure many of us will remember the explosion at the Texaco Oil Refinery many years ago following which it was deemed the village of Rhoscrowther was an unsafe place in which to live and in consequence the inhabitants relocated leaving the Church of St Decuman, which is Grade 1 listed, being left without a congregation but now in the care of Friends of Friendless Churches, what an apt title.

A most interesting and thought provoking talk which left you feeling you wanted to visit the Churches for yourself, in fact, Joe had prepared an information sheet with directions and post codes he must have known we would be inspired to do so!

Penny Thomas  1st November 2018



Parking at Bayvil, Hodgeston and Manordeifi is very limited. Flimston is not accessible when the firing range at Castlemartin is active. Access is generally possible at weekends and bank holidays. Check this range number before setting out 01646 662367 or search on Google for Castlemartin Firing Range times.    The post codes are very approximate. The grid references are Ordinance Survey. The map numbers are Explorer or Landranger


BAYVIL.      SA41 3XN    o/s ref 101 406     map OL35 Exp or  Lan 145
Located off the Newport to Cardigan A487 road. Take the B4582 to Nevern, continue on this road past Nevern church for about 11/4 miles. Look out for the very small sign for Bayvil Farm on the left. Go up the lane to the farm and turn left at a bungalow on the corner.

HODGESTON       SA71 5JU   o/s ref   029 995   map OL36 Exp or Lan 158
Located on the A4139 that links Pembroke and Tenby


LLANDELOY    SA62 6LJ    o/s ref 856 266  map OL35 Exp or Lan 145
Located off the A487 Haverfordwest to St Davids road. At Penycwm take the minor roads signposted to Llandeloy.


MANORDEIFI     SA43 2QN    o/s ref 229 432    map OL35 Exp or Lan 145 
Located on the A484 Cardigan to Newcastle Emlyn Road. At Llechryd, coming from Cardigan direction, at the cross roads, turn right over the Teifi- river- bridge by the Castle Malgwyn Hotel. Then Immediately left, up the very narrow lane opposite the Hotel gates, to Manordeifi.


RHOSCROWTHER       SA71 5EB  o/s ref  904 022    map OL36 Exp or  Lan158
Located on the B4320 Pembroke to Angle road. Take the minor road on the right to Roscrowther, pass the refinery and continue down the hill where the church is located in the valley.


FLIMSTON     SA71 5EB  o/s ref  925 956   map OL36 Exp or Lan 158
Located on the range military road to Stack Rocks, at a T junction on the B4319 Castlemartin to Merrion-Camp road.

Most buildings are normally open during daylight hours.

For further information contact Telephone 020 7236 3934

Please leave a donation when visiting or join the Friends to support their work in maintaining these churches. Please report any damage or problems you see.

Joe Rielly January 2018


Mike Green, popular U3A Member and Ex-navy Diver

Mike passed away on Friday 2nd November. 

He was a popular and long standing member of Pembrokeshire U3A, who, members may recall gave a fascinating talk in June of 2014 about his life and adventures as a navy diver. 

We have been given details of his funeral arrangements and they are set out below. 


The funeral will take place at:- Parc Gwyn Crematorium,  Narberth, SA67 8UD.

Date – Monday 19th November Time 12.15

Dress code – For non ACA members Informal strictly no black ties.  (ACA is the Association that Mike set up in the services)

The coffin will leave from his house:- 106 Cambrian road, Neyland, Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, SA73 1ST.  Time  11.30 Feel free to leave from 106 Cambrian or meet at Parc Gwyn.  We will then return to “The Bar” Brunel Quay, Neyland, Milford Haven, SA73 1PY.

The family would prefer that flowers should not be sent but money should be donated to  Macmillan cancer support 

 Any cards of condolence should be sent to 106 Cambrian Road.

Please RSVP to and advise if you are attending the Funeral and or the Wake. 

Monthly Talk: “Living on an Island”

The speaker for October was Janet Gibbs, a member of the Canasta Group, who talked to the membership about her time living on the Island of Guernsey.

Photo: GW

Janet lived on the Island for six years, working for a private bank at the time when off shore accounts received tax benefits.  Her husband,was a policeman.  Guernsey to some conjures up Guernsey cows and the German occupation, but Janet told us so much more.  The second largest of the Channel Islands and once the home of Victor Hugo, whose home can be seen today and is, as you would expect, very much decorated ornately in the French style.  With a speed limit of just 35 miles per hour it is strange the racing driver Jensen Button should be a resident! 

In addition to its’ dairy industry, Guernsey was a grower of tomatoes but sadly in the 1987 gales many of the greenhouses were destroyed and remain today mounds of debris because of the difficulty and cost of removal and disposal.  Janet brought with her some very stylish jewellery designed by Catherine Best who has a workshop on the Island of much interest to the ladies!

The talk was both informative and interesting it is always great to hear from a member.

Penny Thomas 4th October 2018

Monthly Talk: “Gathering the Graves” a film

Local filmmaker Bob Phillips presented his debut film ‘Gathering the Graves’.

The story is based on the work of the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission and follows the lives of several characters affected by the loss of Evan, a soldier who went missing on the Western Front during World War I.

An introduction was given by Bob.  He started with a short talk introducing us to a map with numbers written, 21, 13, 870 etc these represented the number of bodies found after the Great War some 10,000 in an area of not much more than an acre, shocking.  The hall descended into silence as Bob explained the reason behind the making of this truly remarkable film, a grandfather, great uncle members of his own family lost, the more he investigated the greater the desire to record events.  We followed the young lives of two friends who had seen the Buffalo Bill Cowboy Show when it visited Pembroke Dock, we saw photos of two boys playing cowboys and Indians.  These boys, as did so many, saw the War as an adventure and signed up to do their duty, my own tears started as we saw them leave, boarding a train which would take one to his death the other to be a prisoner of war.

The film centred on the commissioning of War Graves, those who had wealth were able to arrange for their loved ones to be brought home for burial others lay where they had fallen for some there were no remains.   War Grave Commission headed by Mr Fabian Ware set about finding the bodies buried beneath the killing fields each was given a burial and the grave marked with a simple cross to eventually be replaced by a simple headstone that we now recognise.  

Penny Thomas  6th September 2018

“Catharine Memorial Walk” – Saturday October 6th

The Rovers Walk on Saturday October 6th, led by John Baylis, has now been designated as the Catharine Memorial Walk, in memory of his wife who died suddenly earlier this year.   Anyone who would like to join us on this walk will be very welcome.  Details are in the current U3A Newsletter.  The distance is 7.5 miles; wear walking boots, and suitable clothing, and bring lunch and water.  Ring John the previous evening to inform him, and receive any last minute information.      Chris Taylor 01646-600225.

UPDATE:  If U3A members would like to join us, but are unable to manage the full 7.5 mile walk, the first three miles of the walk is a loop, and come back almost to the starting point, (at Haverfordwest Football Club, behind/beside Morrisons).  So you could drop off after three miles rather than complete the longer walk. 

Horticultural Show 2018

1. Entrants must be U3A members.
2. Exhibits must be staged from 8.30 to 10.20.
3. Entrants may submit only 2 entries per class.
4. Entrants must provide their own containers (vases etc.)
5. No exhibits may be removed before 4 pm.
6. The Judge’s decision is final.
7. The committee accepts no responsibility for any damage, loss or accident.

Penny Thomas 01437 766775 

Entry Forms can be downloaded here CLICK HERE



Firstly a huge thank you to everyone who came to Cardiff, smiled their way through 8+ hours of an extremely hot and stuffy Jubilee Hall and played magnificently.

This year the competition was open to teams from England, was very much bigger and we met with a lot of serious and dedicated league players.  There were 34 teams and everyone played an average of 9 matches.  Overall we took 7th place (Gaynor Evans & Tony Tiffen) and 9th place (Chris Harries and myself), and the trophy for Group 4 went to Pauline Tiffen & Geraint Williams.  John Healey partnered Pat Mason who kept going even though still recovering from an injured wrist, and Ray Lockyer was partnered by Margaret Carter, our newest member.  All of them did us proud.

Receiving their trophy from Ron Davies board director of Table Tennis Wales,
Pauline Tiffen and Geraint Williams

The Sophia Gardens cafeteria provided very good breakfasts and lunches.  Thanks go to Chris who organised a Portuguese meal on Monday night, and to Gaynor who took us back to last year’s Italian restaurant on Tuesday – both excellent meals.  Thanks also to Muriel who was unable to play but stayed with us all day and gave help and encouragement.  Last but not least we owe thanks to Phil Avery who gave the time and effort to organise the competition.

June 2018 Meeting – “Witchcaft in Pembrokeshire” by Simon Hancock

This month, Simon Hancock, social historian and curator of Haverfordwest Town Museum, shares his fascinating research into witchcraft in seventeenth-century Pembrokeshire.

When we think of witches and witchcraft there is an almost instinctive mind picture of an isolated, warty old woman, invariably accompanied by a pet cat. This stereotype is culled from popular literature, folk and fairy tales. Our knowledge of witchcraft prosecutions is dominated by the person of Matthew Hopkins, ‘Witchfinder General’ in East Anglia during the English Civil Wars and even more so by the Salem witch trials at Salem in Massachusetts in 1692.  Witchcraft accusations tell us a lot about the role of women in society, male attitudes and forms of control, relationships within communities and how local conflicts were resolved.

Simon’s is interest was awakened by reading Richard Suggett’s excellent book A History of Magic and Witchcraft in Wales, published in 2008, in which he mentions a number of local cases. This prompted Simon to consult the actual court papers of the Great Sessions which heard such cases.

Across England and Wales between 300 to 1,000 people were executed for witchcraft, the great majority of whom were women, although in Wales prosecutions were rare. Most accusations, when they were made, were thrown out by grand juries. There were five executions for witchcraft in Wales, the last being at Anglesey in 1655. There were no executions in Pembrokeshire but around half a dozen cases are mentioned. Perhaps the most interesting appear during the final flourish of witchcraft accusations in the 1690s.

The earliest known case dates from 1607 when Katherine Lewis, the wife of Thomas Bowen of Tenby, labourer, was suspected of bewitching some pigs at Gumfreston. Two sows ran about ‘in a most strange manner’ and lost their litters. Witchcraft was part of the mental furniture and viewed the supernatural, cursing, charms, cunning folk and belief in diabolical forces as part of everyday life.  Quakers were initially suspected of associations with witchcraft. In 1668 at Haverfordwest, Hugh Lloyd had become ‘distracted’, saying the Quakers had enchanted him and that Quaker women were ‘inchanted Devills’.

Perhaps the most interesting local case of witchcraft accusation occurs in that of Olly (Olivia Powell) of Loveston in 1693. A whole list of calamities supposedly followed in her wake, including the destruction of a rick of hay, sows sickening and poultry suddenly expiring. When one man refused to give her ‘coals’ (an interesting reference to local mining) he soon developed unexplainable pain in his legs. Other Pembrokeshire cases include a cattle thief who met a man with horns who induced him to steal at Narberth fair in 1612, and a cunning man or conjurer at Llanychaer in 1693.

The last indictment for witchcraft in Wales occurred at Haverfordwest in 1699. Dorcas Heddin, a native of Cambridgeshire, was accused of bewitching sailors on a ship which was bound for Virginia. The Devil appeared to her in the image of a black man and demanded three drops of her blood. He offered to founder the vessel but Dorcas only wanted the two men who had short rationed her to be struck down with sickness. The examinations of Dorcas and Olly Powell were heard at Haverfordwest Castle, so the medieval structure was still being used officially on the cusp of the eighteenth century.

Geoff Winterman
Based on Simon Hancock’s talk and an article in the Western Telegraph 13th August 2014