Places of Interest

Monmouth Castle

Monmouth CastleEstablished by William Fritz Osbern, Earl of Hereford, soon after the Norman Invasion of 1066, the castle was a strategically located stronghold guarding the river crossings that linked the Forest of Dean, Celtic Gwent and Archenfield. Henry V was born here in 1387. During the Civil War it was held by both the Royalists and the Roundheads.

Only a fragment is left of this once important castle; the curtain wall, gatehouse and great round keep, which stood until the Civil War where the Great House now stands, have all completely vanished. All that is left is the ruined Great Tower and Hall. These stand on the edge of a precipitous slope down to the river Monnow, on the west side of what was the castle ward. This was roughly circular, surrounded on the west and north by the river and on the east and south by a wall and ditch, which is still partly apparent in the gardens behind Agincourt Square. Half-way along Castle Hill Road was the entrance, consisting of a bridge and strong gatehouse.

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Archeological Dig

Archeology MonmouthMonmouth had one of the earliest Roman garrisons in South Wales and a wealth of artefacts including pottery, glass and armour has been unearthed from numerous cremations. There is evidence of a Celtic settlement, largely destroyed during the Norman occupation and the foundation of the modern town plan.

 

The Nelson Garden

The Nelson Garden MonmouthA small enclosed garden with a restored 19th century pavilion on the site where Nelson, with Sir William and Lady Hamilton, was entertained in 1802. They visited the Kymin on the same occasion. Some open days.

Despite its town-centre location, the Grade II listed garden is all but invisible, tucked away behind walls and only accessible through a 3m (10ft) tunnel. Once described as the best garden in Monmouth, it lay abandoned until a team of volunteers discovered it and set about its restoration.

The original 19th-century promenade pathways and a hollow hypocaust wall, once heated to cultivate tender fruit trees, are now being uncovered and restored. At the same time, planting plans are being drawn up to return the garden to its Georgian heyday, when Nelson visited the garden on at least one occasion to enjoy tea with Lady Hamilton and her husband Sir William.

 

The Naval Temple

Naval Temple MonmouthDesigned to perpetuate the memory of many victorious admirals, construction began in 1800 with the foundation stone being laid on the second anniversary of the Battle of the Nile. A painting of the battle originally decorated the arch and the monument was guarded by four guns and surmounted by the figure of Britannia. Today, it is the property of The National Trust.

The proposals for a 'naval temple' at Kymin Hill, Monmouth to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile, 1st August 1798 form an unique set of thirteen drawings in total. They display small porticoed buildings with stone benches and fenestrated octagonal and round towers in several simple and elaborate styles. A circular pavilion was eventually selected, erected in 1800 and dedicated to the Dutchess of Beaufort, daughter of Admiral Boscawen.

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Monmouth Gaol

Monmouth GaolThe Building covered about an acre and had the appearance of a castellated mediaeval fortress housing a chapel, infirmary, living quarters and a treadmill. Public hangings took place here until the 1850's, one of the last being witnessed by some 3,000 people. The gaol was demolished in 1884 and today only the gatehouse remains.

 

St. Mary's Church

St. Mary's Church MonmouthOnce there were seven medieval churches in Monmouth: the largest, the parish church of St. Mary's has foundations dating from Norman times. In 1732 it was partially ruined and underwent major rebuilding, retaining the original tower but redesigning the spire. By 1880 it was considered too small and was demolished, apart from the tower and spire, and rebuilt to new plans.

There has been a church on this site since 1101 AD when it formed a part of a Benedictine Priory founded by Gwethenoc (Lord of Monmouth c1705 - c1082). It was served by monks from the parent abbey of St. Florent at Saumur - France. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, during of King Henry VIII, the church fell into decay.

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Geoffrey's Window

Geoffrey of MonmouthLocated in part of the old Priory buildings, the window was, in fact, installed some three centuries after Geoffrey's death. It is, nonetheless, an exquisite oriel window surmounted by battlements and flanked by fearsome gargoyles. Three heads in red sandstone represent the Knight, the Angel and the Miller, who could well have stepped out of the pages of Chaucer.

Benedictine monks founded the Priory at Monmouth, nearly one thousand years ago, with the intention of building a place of prayer, study and hospitality.

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Shire Hall

Monmouth Shire HallErected in 1724, on the site of the Elizabethan market hall which it replaced, the building was designed to house two "Courts of Judicature" and a room for the Grand Jury at Assizes and Sessions. One of the most famous trials held here was that of the leaders of the Chartists, originally condemned to death but subsequently granted transportation to Van Diemen´s Land.

The present building was built in 1724 by William Rea and Edward Catchmayd on or close to the site of two previous buildings. The original building, built in 1536, was a small court but this was replaced in 1571 by a typically Elizabethan building with a timber framework with Philip Jones as architect, and Thomas Kerver and John Morys as builders. The timbers from the original building were used in the construction of the latter, which provided an open trading area on the ground floor with rooms above.

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Drybridge Street

Drybridge Street MonmouthIn addition to some very attractive timberwork and a good example of one of the many tollhouses in the area, some of the houses in this street are curiously decorated with large wooden wallpaper blocks used for hand printing. Mr. Crompton-Roberts also had a summer house made from them at Drybridge House.

 

Monnow Bridge

Monnow Bridge MonmouthA 13th century stone gated bridge, unique in Britain for its design and state of preservation, and only one of three such structures left in Europe. It was built primarily as a means of defence and possessed a portcullis and sentry rampart. A number of developments have brought it to its present picturesque appearance.

Monnow Bridge was built towards the end of the 13th century on the site of an earlier timber bridge, the remains of which have recently been discovered. The new bridge had a defensive gate with portcullis and was in turn defended on the Welsh side by a ditch and rampart called the Clawdd Ddu or Black Dyke. It enclosed a faubourg or false borough called Overmonnow. In this it resembled the southern defence of Hereford.

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