St Clears (Welsh: Sanclêr) is a small town on the A40 in Carmarthenshire, west Wales, close to the Pembrokeshire border.
The location means that the whole of the peninsula is within an easy drive, including the many beaches of South Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Bay. Cycle route 4 and the Wales Coastal Path pass our front door offering a welcome stop-over for walkers and cyclists. It is within an hour’s drive of three National Parks – Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and the Gower Peninsula, and also the main Irish ferry ports of Fishguard and Pembroke Dock.
The town boasts a good variety of local shops including two prize winning butchers, and two craft centres. There are also several pubs some of which are notable for their food.
The Norman St Clears Castle was constructed in the twelfth century. Only the castle mound can still be seen, which rises to approximately 12 metres and was home to first a timber tower and then a stone keep. The town, which was a Marcher Borough, grew around the castle. Below the castle there was a port on the river Tâf, which could take ships of up to 500 tons according to a plaque on the site. Manordaf was built as an inn at the port around 1830, and was known as The Royal Exchange. Today the river is one of only three rivers in Wales where coracle fishing can still be seen.
The castle held out against Owain Glyndwr. In 1842, the town became famous for the destruction of one of its toll gates in the Rebecca Riots. The Normans also established a small priory under the supervision of the great abbey of St Martin les Champs in Paris. The priory church is now the parish church. It is worth a visit: it has a spectacular Romanesque arch inside.
The main agricultural enterprise is dairy, but sheep, beef, potatoes and cereals are very important as well. The climate also allows fruit growing and although most of the land is farmed commercially the area is a haven for wildlife.