THIS week, historian MarkMuller reveals a forgotten Easter tradition that started in Haverfordwest.

Some aspects of Easter had to survive a rocky period after the Reformation although most Churches have retained many of the observances.

Among the traditions lost was the 'parading the Pyx', which gave its name to the long walkway opposite Lidl’s store in Haverfordwest - Pyx Parade.

The Pyx was, and still is in some churches, a small vessel into which a piece of the Eucharist is taken from the Ciborium and then used to carry the sacrament to those too ill or perhaps too frail to get to a church service.

This as a tradition was, and still is in some Catholic countries, conducted on various Feast Days through the year one of which was Good Friday.

This was especially the case in The Middle Ages when the object was to show the Pyx, with its Sacrament inside, to the public.

A procession was usually the norm with all of the Guilds of the town marching proudly as part of the entourage and displaying their Guild banners.

The popularity of this is thought to have been the origin of what was to become the carnival.

Pyx Parade in Haverfordwest leads, at the bottom of the walk from North Gate, to St Martin’s Church at the top.

St Martin’s is by far the oldest of the town’s three churches (having been founded early in the 12th century) and any religious procession before the Reformation would have included it at either the beginning or end of the parade.

There is some thought given to the parade being possibly from the Augustinian Priory, the other early important religious building, to St Martin’s. The walkway stands on the top of what was once part of the walls that surrounded the early township.

Although the high wall all along Perrots Road has been replaced many times over the centuries, there is a remaining example of the original town wall at the North Gate end of Pyx Parade. On the inside of the walkway, the 30 feet of original wall now forms the rear garden boundary of a property in North Street.

The thickness is extremely impressive.

The area originally encased within the walls is of course the oldest and was originally known as Castleton, or the Castleton area. The name of North Gate denotes where the northern gate, through the walls and into the town was situated (another gate was situated at the top of Market Street).

As the need for walls became unnecessary, so stone robbing began on an industrial scale; it’s just recycling really, and the stone used in the walls became the stone used in buildings around the town.

There is a reference to the actual North Gate structure being demolished in the mid eighteenth century.

But the walkway has much more to it than just the parade of the Pyx. Halfway along the route, is the rear boundary garden wall of Rock House.

This property was one of the Pest Houses during the plague of 1651/2.

Brought in on a ship late in 1651, the plague devastated the town already crippled economically by the Civil War.

Rock House and another Pest House in ‘Cokey Street’ (City Road) were certainly not hospitals, but were where those with the plague, who might have been ejected from the residence where they usually lived (such as servants), could go and have shelter whilst they waited for death.

In June 1652, William Bowen, Alderman, wrote in a letter that 70 were sick from the plague and another 385 were sick and starving.

By the autumn of 1652 the plague had run its course and the town began a long process of grieving and trying to return to normal.

At the top of Pyx Parade the derelict Wesleyan Chapel, once dubbed ‘by far the neatest chapel in Wales’ by John Wesley at its opening on the August 18, 1772 is finally undergoing its transformation from one of the town’s worst eyesores to a series of high quality flats.

For centuries after 1536, the tradition of ‘parading the Pyx’ having been ended, the name of the walkway was corrupted into ‘Pigs Parade’ but in the 1930s the Town Council made a decision to revert to the ancient and proper street name.