The original “Rath” is the Iron Age earth bank and ditch fortification across the Deer Park isthmus between the two bays of Martin’s Haven and Renny Slip. This rath can still be seen, completely grassed over, on the far side of the Deer Park wall.
Contrary to the name there were probably never any deer on the headland, although it is believed that this may have been Lord Kensington’s intention when he built the wall – it is certainly high enough to retain deer!
Rath Cottage itself was originally part of the estate of Lord Kensington. He lived at St. Bride’s Castle and used Rath Cottage as a staging post for his shooting parties on their way over to Skomer, where he had (somewhat misguidedly) tried to introduce pheasants for sport!
The cottage was sold in 1922, together with Skomer island, to Walter Sturt. His son-in-law and tenant, Reuben Codd, was the last man to farm Skomer, and divided his time between the island and the cottage, where he eventually retired in the 1950’s.
Well-known local artist Ray Howard-Jones later took up residence, also having lived on Skomer, and continued to paint in a studio at the southern end of the house until shortly before her death in 1997 at the age of 94! You will see some of her paintings on the walls.