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One of our favorite Pembrokeshire hauntings has to be the hooded monk regularly seen walking silently and submerged into the pavement at Union Hill. He makes his way down the hill that many locals have walked or driven. From the waist down he is invisible as he travels a long buried and forgotten footpath. This shadowy specter has been seen many times with the first known report made in 1729 of a cowled and dark apparition making its way to the old Augustinian priory.
Mr Rob Richards of Haverfordwest reminisced about a sightings, in the 1950’s, at the end of Quay street where a hooded figure was said to disappear into a gate at the bottom of Union Hill while more recent reports have seen a hooded figure making its way up Tower hill at the top of Haverfordwest and another seeing a monk like figure traversing the Rifleman’s field near Winch Lane.
At the top of the High street in Haverfordwest many will be familiar with St Mary’s Church. St Mary’s Church is a grade 1 listed church and dates to the early 13th century. This Church has played a key role in the development of the fortified medieval town and old port of Haverfordwest. It houses what is believed to be the oldest organ in Wales and contains some of the finest medieval stone carving in the county.
It is here that in the early 1980’s that reports surfaced of a hooded figure making its way down the stone steps and disappearing onto the road that is Tower Hill. Could people from the modern day be seeing the replay of a person long now deceased making their habitual journey from the Church to a destination unknown? Could it be this shadowy person that is seen in Haverfordwest making its way to the Augustinian Priory?
One of the Historical gems at St Mary’s is an effigy of a medieval pilgrim. His identity is unknown but it is hypothesized that he was staying at Haverfordwest on a pilgrimage to St David’s. Dating from around 1450 this is the oldest monument in the church. Could this be the man behind the apparition? The earliest registers date to 1590 and are probably the oldest to survive in Pembrokeshire. However is our pedestrian phantom from a much earlier time period?
Hobbyist paranormal enthusiasts spend most of their time at The Priory Ruin in search of this notorious ghost however it is the route he is most often seen on which yields the most sightings and intrigue. That is where this silent soul makes its way through the sleeping town. We believe there are either two routes or two hooded figures walking the town after the sunsets.
Route 1 leads from St Marys and up Tower Hill. From here it is seen submerged in the ground at Rifleman’s field and then has been twice at the entrance to Clay lane. Clay Lane is the road connecting to Union Hill ( And possibly the most haunted road in Pembrokeshire – see archives). Union Hill is the most common location for a sighting of the monk.
Route 2 again begins at St Marys and is not seen again till the footpath by St Thomas Church. The figure has been seen once again submerged into the concrete and making its way on the path by the Tennis courts and back towards Union Hill.
Having spoken to recent witnesses about the sightings they encountered we have two points of detail that could help us understand more about the spooky traveler. One is seen to be in a brown or dark robe and the other in grey. Both similar routes but Where were both monks heading to?
Haverfordwest Priory was a house of Augustinian Canons Regular on the banks of the Western Cleddau at Haverfordwest. Dedicated to St. Mary and St. Thomas the Martyr and situated on land given by Robert de Haverford, it was first mentioned around 1200. From 1983 to 1986 the site was excavated so that the outlines of the buildings can be seen. Much of the architectural material discovered was of a very good standard and can be seen in Haverfordwest museum. The excavations also revealed a medieval garden complete with raised beds, unique as the only surviving ecclesiastical medieval gardens in Britain and the beds have now been replanted with simple plants appropriate to the period.
The monks at this time would have worn something similar to this.
The distinctive habit of the canon regular that would have been situated at the priory is the rochet, worn over a cassock or tunic, which is indicative of their clerical origins. This has evolved in various ways among different congregations, from wearing the full rochet to the wearing of a white tunic and scapular. Could this have been misidentified in the night time by confounded witnesses as a grey hooded robe?
Much work needs to be done and we ask everyone that travels these points to please be vigilant and feel free to report to us any feelings, findings or sightings. Please may we note that should you pass the monk on his way home not to be alarmed. In the centuries of sightings all he has done is simply make his way home.
We have given you a small look into a fascinating metaphysical mystery and much more research and investigation has to be conducted into the history, geography and people of Haverfordwest from this ancient time. It may be that with the correct research we can correctly identify the route and the person using it. There is so much to look into and it gives such incredible insight into the development of the town. This is truly a wondrous chiller that demands dedication and research. This is a riddle that connects the old and new. It can be a glimpse into the past.
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We implore anyone with an interest in the History of Haverfordwest and its paranormal phenomena to visit these places of interest and dig deep into the wealth of information available. You never know you may discover the identity of the monk(s) and even deduce when and where they will be seen next…if such thing do exist.
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Thank you and sleep well….
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