Carswell Medieval House
Carswell Medieval House
A ruinous two-storey late medieval house with a barrel-vaulted basement stands amid a cluster of modern farm buildings.
We do not know when the first house was built here in Carswell, but the building appears in records from the 14th century, as part of estates owned by the powerful Earls of Pembroke. There are two medieval buildings here but the medieval house is the oldest. The estate was mentioned in 14th century documents and we know that in 1397 it was rented by William Wyte. The house may have been rebuilt around 1500 and some time in the late 16th century it was divided into two separate properties.

In the 16th century property was owned jointly by the Trustees of the Tenby Charities and the Church of St. Mary's in Tenby, but both halves were later purchased by the tenant and farmed as one. By the late 19th century the house was roofless and it passed into state care in 1982.

The house consists of a vaulted undercroft with a large hearth. Part of a later bread oven can be seen on the left of the hearth opening. Beside the hearth is a stone bench. Both these features were probably later additions.

The main vault runs east to west, with a pair of side vaults at right angles, though these seem to have been added later. There is a single doorway in the north wall, with its top cut into the vault.

Above is a single room, probably a solar, or private family room, heated by a small hearth. At the back of the fireplace are projecting stones suggesting hobs. There are three slit windows and a later, wider window in the south wall.

Both gable ends stand to their full height, and at one end is an exceedingly large and complete chimney.

One extremely odd feature about the Carswell house is that there is a separate entrance to each floor, but no internal connection between the floors. So, if you needed to go from upstairs to downstairs you'd have to go outside, down the steps to ground level, then through the undercroft doorway. Obviously this layout was inconvenient, and it seems there was a later addition to the house with a stair to the upper floor.

Carswell is listed Grade II* as an excellent example of a medieval yeoman's house. The house can be visited at any reasonable time but only the exterior can be viewed.