The Pembroke Arms is on the Wilton Estate; whose origins can be traced back to King Egbert in the year 838 where he built his Royal Palace. Mentioned in the Doomsday book, Wilton was the seat of the Bishop of Wiltshire until 1045. Wilton House was built on the site of the prosperous Wilton Abbey by Sir William Herbert, with the following Earls adding to it to make it the building it is today.
The introduction of weaving in the late 17th century resulted in the founding of the famous Wilton Royal Carpet Factory, which was the first of its kind in the country, and still exists today. For many centuries, Wilton has also been the centre of the sheep trade for the whole of the South West of England. The Great Fair, held in September, is claimed to be the largest in this part of the country and is held by virtue of a Charter granted to the town by King Henry VI in 1433.
In the 18th century, Lord Pembroke acquired the old Burbage tenement belonging to Kings College Cambridge. It was here that the first Pembroke Arms was situated, in Minster Street. However, after the exchange, it was taken down and the surrounding land was enclosed within the park. The present Pembroke Arms stands on the opposite side of the street. It was built as overflow accommodation for visitors to Wilton House in the late 1700s in the time of the 10th Countess of Pembroke, Elizabeth Spencer; one of Princess Diana’s ancestors. During the Victorian period, it doubled as an Inland Revenue Office.
In 1940, Wilton House was requisitioned by the Army as the new Headquarters of Southern Command. Nissen huts were set up in the grounds and used as extra offices and accommodation and The Pembroke Arms hotel was taken over as an Officer’s Mess. Much of the planning for D-Day was done at Wilton House and over 750 miles of telephone wire was laid in and around Wilton House, linking the centre of operations with all units in the area.