Henry Tudor’s landing siteHenry Tudor’s landing site
On 7 August 1485, Henry Tudor landed here at Mill Bay, at the mouth of the Milford Haven waterway. He was 28 years old and had lived most of his life in exile in France. With him were c.2,000 French mercenaries, funded by the King of France. Little more than a fortnight later, his supporters had defeated King Richard III at Bosworth, near Leicester, and he became King Henry VII. The Tudor dynasty which followed had a profound influence on Britain as we know it today.
Why did Henry choose Mill Bay? Familiarity was one reason. Henry was born in Pembroke Castle, on the opposite side of the Milford Haven waterway. His uncle, Jasper Tudor, was nominally Earl of Pembroke and had maintained contact with people in the area while bringing up his nephew in France.
Another reason for choosing Mill Bay was to avoid detection by the king’s observers at Dale Castle, some 3km further north. Inevitably, news of Henry’s landing travelled quickly – the king knew about it by 11 August. Crucially, however, the decision to land in this secluded bay allowed the fledgling army to come ashore unopposed.
It was also imperative for Henry to start his march to Bosworth in a sympathetic region, because the army would quickly need provisions from supportive locals as well as extra soldiers from gentry who would rally to his cause. His strategy paid off, and he received a hearty welcome in Haverfordwest, the first major town on his route.
His chief supporter in Wales was Rhys ap Thomas, whose homes included Carew Castle, near Pembroke. He marched across Wales via a different route to gather more soldiers for the battle. The story was later romanticised to portray Rhys standing at Mill Bay to welcome Henry.
In 2004 the Pembrokeshire Marine Special Area of Conservation was designated, including the Haven. This aims to conserve the area’s exceptional marine wildlife while also supporting the waterway’s commercial and recreational activities.