An afternoon in Monmouth

We went further up the Wye valley for our Sunday walk to Monmouth a small market town that lies at the confluence of the rivers Monnow and Wye.  The settlement was first mentioned on a Roman map as Blestium , a place on the road from Caerleon to Gloucester. It is close to Offa’s Dyke the earth wall that Offa built to separate England and Wales in the 8th century. Its position meant that it needed to be heavily defended.

In the Domesday book it was described as a settlement with inferior farmland. However it became more prominent under the Normans. Geoffrey of Monmouth a celebrated medieval historian probably lived in Monmouth Priory and Henry V was born at Monmouth Castle.

The whie round house on the Kymin hill
The round house on the Kymin hill

The Kymin

Our instructions were to meet at the Kymin hill two miles outside Monmouth. The Kymin estate originally belonged to the Dukes of Beaufort but is now owned by the National Trust. The small 18th century round house is free to enter for National Trust members. It was built as a folly to allow Georgian gentlemen to picnic in wet weather.  There is also a small naval temple built in 1800 to commemorate the naval victories against Napoleon. Horatio Nelson visited it.

On a clear day you can see over the Brecon beacons, the Malvern hills, the Wye valley and the forest of Dean. Our original plan had been to park in the National Trust car park and walk down into Monmouth. However when we saw the steep hill with its sharp bends to approach  we were glad to hear that plans had changed and that we would drive back to Monmouth.

Stone toll house in the middle of the bridge #Monmouth
The fortified toll house in the middle of the Monnow bridge

In the town

We parked in the car park opposite Waitrose and our walk started at the photogenic medieval bridge over the river Monnow. This is the only bridge in Britain to still have a fortified gatehouse on it. It would originally have had a portcullis.

The interior of the Savoy th#Monmouth with its red velvet seats.
The beautiful interior of the Savoy theatre

A highlight of the walk was the beautiful Savoy theatre which has been lovingly preserved so thank you to the staff who let us look inside. It is the oldest working theatre in Wales and is also used as a cinema.

We had hoped to look inside St. Mary priory church but it was closed for the inauguration of the new Mayor.

The Mayor and officials outside the church. #Monmouth
The new Mayor of Monmouth

Monmouth is associated with the chartists a political movement which asked for the vote to be extended to all men. We saw the courthouse where prominent chartists were tried and also the old gaol where some of the leaders were imprisoned before being transported to Tasmania. They were the last men in the U.K. to be sentenced to be hung drawn and quartered but fortunately they were reprieved at the last minute.

A Russia
A tank outside the Monmouth regimental museum

The walk ended with a look round the Monmouth regimental museum and a chance to see the remains of Monmouth castle on the same site.

We also had a drink in the Robin hood, where farmers would have passed the time after taking their animals to market.

Author: Anne Fraser

Hi, I am Anne, I am a retired nurse from Bristol in South West England. I am married with five grown up children, four boys and a girl , a grandson and a cat. I like History, travel and reading. I hope to connect with other people with similar interests.

11 thoughts on “An afternoon in Monmouth”

  1. Very interesting tour Anne. Thank you for sharing it with us and for linking up at the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty 41

  2. Sounds like a lovely way to spend an afternoon. I remember going to Monmouth when I was about 8 as a friend had moved there, but we only went into the town maybe 2 and I don’t remember anything about it. I’d quite like to go and take a look, especially the theatre and museum.xx

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