Protestant martyr's memorial, Haverfordwest
The wedge of land at the junction of High Street and Dark Street is approximately where William Nichol was burned at the stake for his Protestant beliefs in 1558. The memorial you see here was erected in the early 20th century, replacing an obelisk which had been moved to Dale Castle.
The 16th century was a turbulent one in British history. In the 1530s King Henry VIII cut ties with the Pope in Rome and declared himself head of the church in England, later ordering the dissolution of the monasteries. During the century, many Catholics were tortured and killed for refusing to convert to Protestantism.
The tables were turned when Henry’s daughter Mary, who was a Catholic, reigned from 1553 to 1558 – and hundreds of Protestants were executed. William Nichol was one of them. Another was Robert Ferrar, a former bishop who is commemorated at St Peter’s Church in Carmarthen.
Little is known of William’s life. John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, first published in 1563, describes William as being “so simple a good soule that many esteemed him halfe foolish”. This hints that his mental health may have been poor. William was “apprehended by the Champions of the Pope, for speaking certain words against the cruell kingdome of Anti-Christ”. The book records that he was “butcherly burnt and tormented” in Haverfordwest.
About the street name:
The name Dark Street has been recorded, with various spellings, since the 13th century. Place-name expert BG Charles suggests that it originally denoted a dark and narrow street.
Sources include ‘Place Names of Pembrokeshire’, by BG Charles, National Library of Wales, 1992
Postcode: SA61 2DS View Location Map