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Caldey Island

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Caldey Island




Caldey Island - © Sean Bolton

Caldey Island (called in Welsh, Ynys Bŷr, after an early abbot) lies south of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The island is home to a small village, but is best known for its monastery. Caldey Island is separated from the mainland by the Caldey Sound which is 1km to 2km wide, between Caldey Island and the coast of Pembrokeshire. A ferry service from Tenby crosses the Sound during spring and summer.

A Celtic monastery was founded on the island in the sixth century, and a Benedictine foundation existed from 1136 until 1536, and again from 1906. The present monastery is Reformed Cistercian.

Attractions on Caldey include a Norman chapel, a twelfth century church, the sixth century Ogham cross, the twentieth century monastery and a lighthouse, built in 1828.

Boats sail to the island from Tenby during the summer months. The principal income for the island is tourism, with perfume and chocolate production providing winter incomes. The Island also provides a spiritual retreat throughout the year.

The Island's name 'Caldey' comes from the Viking Name Keld-Eye meaning "cold island".

The abbey and post office on Caldey Island. Photograph © Eifion

Caldey Island - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
CALDEY ISLAND, the principal of a cluster of insulated rocks in the bay of Tenby, and forming an extra-parochial district, in the hundred of Castlemartin, county of Pembroke, South Wales, 2 miles (E.) from the main land: the population is returned with the parish of Penalley. This island, of which the ancient British name is Ynys Pyr, is about one mile and a quarter in length, and half a mile in breadth, and comprises upwards of 600 acres of land, lying on a bed of limestone, something more than half being in a state of cultivation. Owen, speaking of the fertility of the spot, describes it as abounding with corn; but he adds that "all their ploughs goe with horses, for oxen the inhabitants dare not keepe, fearing the purveyors of the pirattes, as they themselves told me." There are some large limestonequarries. Robert, son of Martin de Tours, founded a priory here in the reign of Henry I., which he dedicated to St. Mary, and made a cell to the abbey of Dogmael, to which establishment the whole of the island was granted by his mother. Its revenue, at the Dissolution, was �5. 10. 11. The remains have been mostly converted into offices attached to a mansion erected on part of the site, now belonging to the proprietor of the island. Among them is the tower of the ancient conventual church, which is surmounted by a stone spire, and forms a conspicuous object of picturesque appearance, imparting, with the rest of the ruins, an interesting and romantic character to this sequestered spot. An ancient chapel, about a quarter of a mile from the priory, was repaired a few years ago, and service is performed in it when any clergyman crosses from the main land for the purpose. A lighthouse, with a steady light, has been erected on the island, which is of great service to vessels entering Tenby harbour, distant about three miles.


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