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Historic Background
This area comprises the village of Dale, and a number of fields and farms to the north. It lies entirely within the parish of Dale, which is more-or-less coterminous with the medieval Manor of Dale. This formed a subordinate, mesne lordship of the barony of Walwyn’s Castle, assessed at one knight’s fee, with a caput probably in the vicinity of the present village. The manor had, by at least the 13th century, been acquired by the de Vale dynasty and in 1307 ‘The heirs of Robert de Vale hold one knight’s fee at Dale containing 10 carucates’. In 1293, Robert de Vale obtained a grant of a weekly market and a three-day annual fair at Dale. This date may also pertain to the abandonment of the castle at Great Castle Head, a re-used promontory fort to the east of this area, and the establishment of a settlement at the present site of Dale Castle. The castle and the parish church, established by 1291, once formed a settlement nucleus at the west end of the present village. There is little further topographical evidence for the medieval settlement. Robert de Vale died c. 1300 and the manor of Dale was divided between his daughters as co-heiresses. It found its way into the hands of the Walter family of Rosemarket who continued to hold Dale until the late 17th century when it passed to the Allens of Gelliswick, and then to the Lloyd-Philipps family who still own Dale Castle. Dale did not become a large port or market, and never achieved urban status, although small-scale maritime activity is indicated by the presence of limekilns in the village. In c.1811 Richard Fenton wrote that ‘Modern Dale appears to have but little trade, most of the houses being ruinous and deserted....’. The economy remained overwhelmingly agricultural until the leisure boom of the later 20th century. The tithe map of 1847 shows that little change has occurred over the past 150 years. The village is essentially the same as is the pattern of enclosed strip fields and dispersed farms to the north, although many of the fields are now covered by Dale airfield. It is clear from the tithe map that the strip fields were an enclosure of the open field system that was formerly worked around Dale. The date of this enclosure is uncertain, but intermixed land holding present in the 19th century suggests that the process may have been quite late, perhaps in the 17th century or 18th century. Also tenants had preserved the right of depasturing cattle on the medieval commons located here well into the 19th century. This privilege was apparently granted by Henry VII. Either Upper or Lower Dalehill Farm, within the area, could be associated with the ‘Hill’ (or ‘Le Hull’), where Robert de Vale ‘and his ancestors’ held their manorial tenant’s court. It is likely that some of the other farms were established in conjunction with enclosure. The field system has lost some of its strip character over the past 150 years, but it can still be detected on modern maps. The windmill here is from the early 19th century and was built to succeed earlier mills constructed southwest of the village.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
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Description and essential historic landscape components
This relatively small historic landscape character area includes the village of Dale and its agricultural hinterland to the north. The village is situated at the eastern end of a steep-sided valley, where it opens out into the Milford Haven waterway. To the west of the main village lies the church of St James and Dale Castle. The grade II listed church is medieval, but was heavily restored in 1890. Dale Castle has medieval elements, but the grade II listed house – which can be described as country house Tudor – was remodelled and virtually rebuilt in 1910. The majority of the crenellated walls surrounding the gardens date to the same period. The village core lies along the sea front and consists of a tightly packed group of late 18th century and 19th century stone-built and cement rendered houses, mostly in the ‘polite’ Georgian tradition, although with examples in the local vernacular. Altogether there are 16 listed building in the village core. Twentieth century houses lie immediately outside the village core. Dale is now a tourist centre and especially caters for watersports. Car parks, slipways and other facilities are provided. Townend is a secondary focus of Dale village. Here there is a clustering of 19th century and 20th century houses. The southern valley side, above the village is heavily wooded. The northern side, which is less wooded, rises to sloping ground between 30m and 60m. Here there is a landscape of dispersed farms and small, fairly regular fields. The farmhouses are late 18th century or 19th century, stone built, two-storey and in the Georgian tradition; Lower Dalehill is grade II listed. Extensive ranges of stone-built 19th century outbuildings accompany most farms, as well as extensive modern steel and asbestos structures. Most of the land is under improved pasture. There is some arable, but very little rough or scrubby ground except along the coastal fringe. A small camp site is also present. Field boundaries are almost all earth banks topped with hedges. The hedges are generally well maintained and very few are overgrown. There are few hedgerow trees. Occasional mortared stone walls act as boundaries close to the village. Archaeological sites are few, and include a possible bronze age round barrow, the grade II listed remains of a 19th century windmill tower, and a bank of 19th century limekilns.

Sources: Calendar of Charter Rolls 2; Charles 1992; Dale Parish tithe map 1847; Dresser, 1959; Hague 1994; Jenkins 1982; Jones 199; Ludlow, in Crane forthcoming; Murphy 1998; Nash 1986; Owen 1911; Owen 1918; Ramsey and Williams 1992