Book of the Month – Tales and Traditions of Tenby

Posted by Tenby Museum on Jun 8, 2018 Blog No Comments

Edited and compiled by George Phillip William Scott (1858)

Published by R. Mason, High Street, Tenby

 The book measures 17cm x 11cm x 7.75cm, with 160 pages including 6 full plates (of subjects such as Tenby North Cliff, Penally and Carew. It is bound in period paper backed printed board, with a brown leather binding and corners – with a matching marbled cover and green block on spine with gilt title ‘Tales & Traditions of Tenby’.

Edward Laws used this book as research for his book “Little England Beyond Wales”, published in 1888, a previous Book of the Month.

The Editor and Publisher state in the preface that they hope ‘Tales & Traditions of Tenby’ “may serve to afford some knowledge of Tenby to those who may be unable to purchase the expensive … Guide and Handbooks to the Town and Neighbourhood.”

The tales themselves were gathered from several sources and vary in style and manner. This pocket-sized book was intended as an instructive and amusing ambling companion as well as a memento for visitors of their trip to Tenby.

Contents include:

The Wreck of the Brig “Richard”, at Tenby by the late Rev. J East,MA, Rector of St Michael’s, Bath which is an eyewitness account of how the “Richard”, a brig of Sunderland, of about 250 tons burden, lay at anchor off Caldey … and how “the wind suddenly rose from the southeast, and the sea as suddenly rose with it”. The brig loosed her moorings and, damaged by the tempest, attempted to limp into Tenby Harbour but was dashed upon the shore, where locals came out and saved 3 of the crew who would have also perished in the “foaming billows” if not for their efforts.

Charles II and Tenby Market – a story ‘condensed from the original document’ of 1676 telling how Captain Castle had set up a market in Narberth which was so successful it was feared it would “lead to the ruin and impoverishment of the town of Tenby.”

The Last of the Pembrokshire Smugglers an oral account in 1825 by a housewife in Manorbier and how a cargo of illegally smuggled spirits that had been landed at Swanlake Bay was ‘whisked’ away by 50 men from Pembroke, when a local woman tried to inform on them for the £200 reward.

Pirates and Caldy (sic) and how Caldey’s “insular situation has been frequently the resort of pirates”, and how “Paul Jones, the noted pirate, occasionally resorted here to victual his vessel, on his way to Waterwynch to take in water.”

Plus poetry such as The Beauties of Tenby:

“Shine on, beaming stars! shine on in your splendour,

                       And bloom, ye bright flow’rets! as ever of yore

And glide, ye fair maidens! as lovely and tender

                        As erst ye have glided o’er Tenby’s dear shore:”


There are notes throughout the book by the previous owner, written in pencil, researching and adding to stories as well as a couple of newspaper clippings glued in. There is even a sheet glued into the book of the “Tenby New Year’s Song”, the words and music being taken down c. 1890 as sung by an old Tenby resident.

The writing inside the front cover notes the Tenby Observer advert for this book in 1859, plus other observations and research regarding stories within the book (eg: spring water being carried by children in a small tin or earthenware cup where a story mentioned fetching water).

The book is signed on the title page by Russell Mathias, Tenby 1858; and also Arthur Leach, who gave it to Wilfred Harrison, who then gave it to Tenby Museum.