Pembrokeshire is famous for many things from its beaches to its picturesque villages, but did you know it also boasts hidden underground tunnels that date back to the 1400s?

Hidden behind a Boots chemist door in Tenby is a chamber that is said to have been used back in Tudor times by merchants to stock wine, coal and other provisions.

This chamber forms part of a network of tunnels that leads to the harbour.

Legend says the Tenby tunnels played an important part in history helping a young Henry Tudor (future King Henry VII) escape King Richard III and English soldiers.

Western Telegraph: There is said to be a door within Boots in Tenby which leads to a chamber previously used by merchants in Tudor times. There is said to be a door within Boots in Tenby which leads to a chamber previously used by merchants in Tudor times. (Image: Google Maps)

The hidden tunnels under Tenby

Presenter Dewi Prysor visited the medieval tunnels which run underneath the Georgian buildings of the historic seaside town of Tenby back in 2012 as part of the S4C series Darn Bach o Hanes (A Bit of History). 

Mr Prysor said while there may not be many remaining historical structures above the ground in Pembrokeshire, there was a "labyrinth of fascinating tunnels".

He said: "Apart from the Norman walls and castle that were built to keep out Welsh forces, the only medieval buildings left are a striking Tudor House, which is now run as a museum by the National Trust, and the ancient St Mary’s Church.

“But underneath the town there is a labyrinth of fascinating tunnels.”

With the help of local historian John Beynon and manager of the Hafod y Môr holiday accommodation, Heledd ap Gwynfor, he traced a network of tunnels which link the property of local merchant and ship-owner Thomas White to the harbour.

Mr Beynon said: “Behind Boots the chemist there is a door that leads to a chamber where Tudor merchants would stock wine, coal and other provisions.

“It is said that Henry Tudor (who went on to become King Henry VII) and his uncle Jasper hid there from the soldiers of the then English king, but this may well be a myth.”

Western Telegraph: Henry VII was King of England from 1485 to 1509.Henry VII was King of England from 1485 to 1509. (Image: Getty Images)

The story of Henry Tudor and his great escape in the tunnels under Tenby

By 1471, during the War of the Roses (1455–1487), Henry represented the Lancastrians’ best hope of reclaiming the throne, explains.

By this point, a 14-year-old Henry and his uncle Jasper, Earl of Pembroke were among the the most wanted people in Wales and England. 

Jasper had been stripped of his lands by the Yorkist King Edward IV but continued to shelter young Henry.

Jasper and Henry were smuggled into Tenby from Pembroke Castle after it was besieged by men loyal to King Richard III.

Upon reaching Tenby the White family hid the pair under their houses, near St Mary’s Church, until a ship was ready for them.

The underground passages below Tenby are said to have likely helped Henry and Jasper to reach the harbour undetected.

On June 2, 1471, under the cover of darkness, they left Tenby en route for France. However, bad weather forced the pair to land in Brittany instead., which maps Henry Tudor's escape from King Richard III in Tenby, said: "The course of British history would have been very different if the young Henry Tudor had not managed to escape from here (Tenby) in 1471 to spend 14 years in exile."

Following his escape from Tenby and his 14-year exile he returned to Pembrokeshire in 1485, became King Henry VII, and founded the Tudor dynasty.