June 2017 the Henry VII statue was unveiled and despite the rain large crowds gathered to celebrate the event. This was a popular community project with many fundraising events organised by Pemrboke & Monkton Local History Society working in partnership with Pembroke Town Council, a Town Centre support grant from Pembrokeshire County Council with generous donations from Valero and Mr Richard Evans.
Interest from the public was great and the project attracted much publicity with both television and radio broadcasts. Project leaders Linda Asman and Rose Blackburn, who are now Trustees of the Henry Tudor Trust wanted to take this further and have been strong advocates for a Visitor Centre dedicated to Henry VII, who was not only the first Welsh King to sit on the English throne but the founder of the Tudor Dynasty.
The Pembroke you see today would have been recognisable in Henry’s day. The Henry Tudor Centre is only a few yards from the castle where Henry was born and almost opposite are the old, medieval cottages Henry would have known leading to the old West Gate of the walled town - long gone but parts of the Town Wall still stand. Beyond, you can look across to the old Monkton Hall and Priory Church, part of the Abbey, which Henry would have visited – tradition has it that he was educated there by the Benedictine Monks. A remnant of that Abbey still stands together with the Prior’s house (now Priory Farmhouse) and Monkton Old Hall, which was once the Abbey guesthouse, now a holiday let owned by the Landmark Trust. Monkton later fell foul of Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries.
To the rear, the site leads down to the old Quayside under the shadow of the Castle and stands close by St Mary’s Church where Henry was baptised. A magnificent Charles Kempe stained glass window of Henry VII attracts many visitors. The new statue of Henry VII occupies the old Mill Bridge, which straddles the Pembroke River between the South and North Quays. Pembroke was a port in Henry’s day and had grown wealthy from its maritime trade in the Middle Ages.