Recently I revisited Lamphey Palace. This was the favourite palace of the bishops of St Davids, located in south Pembrokeshire. Situated within productive land with two watermills, a windmill and dovecote, adjacent to the palace complex one can still discern traces of its fishpond. Today’s visitor can explore sturdy dimensions of this elite residence: ruins under the guardianship of Cadw. There are sparse display boards, and the ruins have manicured grass.
One cannot seemingly access or engage with the palace in its landscape, so one is given an insular treat of the ruins themselves. Ruins and ruins and ruins. I feel ruined by them!
There are traces of the original outer courtyard walls, elaborated to the west with 19th-century crenellations, and an outer gatehouse. Inside are traces of outbuildings and an inner gatehouse marking the line of a now-lost inner courtyard. The foci of the complex are a chapel and two halls.
The Western Hall probably dates the time of Bishop Richard Carew (1256-80). To its south-east and with a surviving arcaded parapet, De Gower’s Hall dates to the early 14th century and the work of Bishop Henry de Gower. The surviving east end of the chapel dates to the early 16th century; the time of Bishop Edward Vaughan. Later additions of the same date include creating a third storey on the Western Hall.
This is a blog about mortality and material culture, but these striking ruins have taken over the blog. They deserve us to enjoy them without any further concerns or problems or theorising. It is difficult not, for once, just to revel in the ruins as ruins. Savour, drink in, gorge and languish over-fed on solid, tasty ruin. Take a ruin with some tea. Wash it down with heritage jam. Even better, chew on ruin while looking at the Cadw ‘twerk’ and ‘head-scratch’ signs.
These ruins not only look good, they taste good too! Oh my! I think I’ve overdosed on ruin!