A village situated in a rural area and at a convenient spot for travellers entering the county of Pembrokeshire. Historians have decreed, through place names that it was inhabited as long ago as some 3000 years in what is referred to as the Bronze Age; and in those days it fell into the community of Coedrath which covered the northern perimeters in which Kilgetty falls; rather than the Welsh cantref of Penfro which evolved into the County of Pembroke following the Anglicisation of the area sometime after the 11th century.
It was following the Norman conquests that then saw the area become part of the Barony of Carew and Kilgetty along with the Manor of Kilvelgy that fall within the Forest of Coedrath, which was a large hunting forest belonging to the Earls of Pembroke. In those days a forest was an area of uncultivated land, set aside for hunting and was overseen and taxed by Knights and sub-lordships that held sway in those medieval times.
The area was largely rural with Kilgetty Common being a significant part of the landscape, even though not as large as it once was. The area was heavily influenced by the prominent establishment of Kilgetty House before the 20th century; however there is evidence of coal mining taking place form the 16th and 17th centuries.
Changes came during the early post medieval period which the country came under the reign of the Tudors and it was King Henry VIII through the Acts of Union and Dissolution of the Monasteries that resulted in the landscape as we see it today. Though the deer are long gone from Kilgetty House Farm, home of minor gentry, there remains evidence of the parks existence. New farming methods brought in to agriculture practice in this period also included hedged fields and the development of parish road networks.
In the 1830s a new turnpike road was constructed as a mail coach route linking Carmarthen to Hobbs Point in Pembroke Dock and around the same time the railway was built linking via a tunnel to Saundersfoot Harbour and the surrounding colleries. The import of the railway was for the transportation of coal, lime and grain for export. In 1863 the opening of the Pembroke / Tenby railway linked the area to the South Wales Line and the industry this produced had significant impact on the community.
Small coal pits received more investment and became much larger collieries utilising up to date cutting equipment and one of the most significant was the Lower Level Colliery in Kilgetty. The industry boomed for just over a hundred years but peaked in the early 19th century before the last pit closed in the 1950s with the closure of Ford Lake Valley that saw the end of centuries of mining in the district.
The mining activity laid the foundations of the settlements in the area along with new housing to provide for the growing work force and population which continued to expand despite the closure of the mines. Tourism and leisure became increasingly important and with the development of holiday parks, self catering establishments and visitor attractions, along with the natural beauty of Pembrokeshire to entice visitors to the area; these important elements supported and continue to support the local economy and the community of Kilgetty much as we know it today.
Today the Kilgetty Common remains one of the largest open access areas in the County, largely covered by scrub growth, but with little pasture land. There is a strong community spirit in the village and recently a community garden has been created opposite the sports field and adjacent to the information centre and community hall; currently under discussion are plans to expand the facility. A special feature in the garden is of an arch signifying the importance of the railway tunnel which linked the two coal mining villages of Kilgetty and Saundersfoot.
St. Mary’s Church , Begelly
Dating from the 13th Century and perched on a hill overlooking Kilgetty, the parish church is a little gem set in scenic surroundings. A thriving church, the congregation offers a warm welcome to residents and visitors alike with regular services and several social events throughout the year.