The Monmow Bridge is a 13th Century fortified bridge .
It is the only complete bridge of its type remaining in the UK, and it crosses the River Monmow.
We came across it by accident, as it was just across the road from the car park and the pub where we had lunch!
Founded in 1070 AD by Benedictine Monks the Priory was traditionaly connected with Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote the 'History of the Kings Of Britain' which chronicles the coming of christianity, the departure of the Romans and the Legends of King Arthur.
The Priorys Church was dedicated in 1101 and is now St Mary's Church.
The Priory oriel window with it's castellated battlemonts is now known as Geoffreys Window, beneath it the three medieval heads made from sandstone represent the goverment of the town. There is a Knight, and Angel and a Miller.
It is now a poular venue for functions
If you come out of the Museum or the Tourist information and turn left, walk to the end of the building and look over the railings and back to the old market Hall building you will see that the 26 arches of what was the old Slaughter house underneith the Old market hall building. It stands along the side of the River Monmow and when the road (Priory Street) was built in 1837 the viaduct that this part of the road is on was needed to carry the road along the slope of the river bank.
The Slaughterhouse was built under the Market to allow the fresh meat to be taken up for sale and for the waste to be easily thrown into the river where it would be washed. It sounds a horrible but before that the waste was thrown into the street where it would have been slowly washed along with the other waste of the town into the river Wye.
Monmouth School was founded in 1614 by William Jones but nothing remains of the original buildings as in 1865 the school was rebuilt. The school offers both boarding and day places as well as preparatory departments for Boys aged 11 to 18
Monmouth Castle was once a part of a highly effective Norman defensive fortress's built by William FitzOsborn. Harry of Monmouth who later became King Henry V was born here in 1387.
Thje two storeyed Great Tower is the oldest remaining building and dates from the early 12th century, the remains of the great hall once used as a court room up to the 17th century.
The nearby 17th century Great Castle house became the official headquarters of the Royal Monmouth Engineer Militia
Although sadly little remains of the old Castle but it is well worth a visit while having a walk around town.
The small Museum dedicated to Nelson is in a curved building that was once the Market Hall. The building also houses the Tourist information Centre. The Museum has a nice collection of Items relating to Admiral Nelson as well as some of local interest.
Entrance is free and there is also a small shop
The river wye has been popular since Roman times, along the side of the river near the Wye bridge you can see the remains of stone quaysides it is likely that these quays which would first have been mud then wood and finaly stone have been used since the Romans were in Monmouth.
The River is now a popular venue for rowing events
The bridge over the river Monmow was built around 1300 and replaced an earlier wooden bridge. The gate house was built slightly later and has been used for for a great number of purposes including a gaol and a house.
Untill 2004 when a new bridge was constructed across the river the Monmow bridge was the oldest road bridge in use in Europe. It has now been pedestrianised.
Sadly when I visited the gate house was undergoing some renovation and was covered in scafolding and sheets.
If you take a walk down Church Street you will see - book shops, art and craft shops , a butcher and deli, and a fruit vegetable shop, the National Trust Shop and a smart restaurant with rooms.
Almost at the bottom of the street at the Church end you will find on the left hand side the Savoy Cinema - the only cinema in the town.
A theatre is said to have stood on this site since Elizabethan times; a cinema was opened there in 1927 and the first talkie was shown 3 years later.
Some years ago it was feared it would close but a massive local campaign succeeded and it is still showing films - the latest Narnia film was billed when we walked past and the paper attached to the old fashioned grille doors is a Notice of a Planning Application to install air conditioning.
Monmouth Castle was established 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.
William fitz Osbern chose this strategic position, guarding crossings of the Wye and Monnow rivers, for one of his marcher castles sometime between 1067 and 1071, when he died. The Great Tower is similar in style to that at Chepstow, and was certainly built by about 1150. What can be seen are parts of its east and south sides. The west side fell in 1647, the north-west side remains but can not be seen from the town side, and a house lies over the rest. This was a fine early Norman rectangular two-storied building with the hall and main apartments on the main floor and a cellar or undercroft below. The east wall displays some Norman features: the small round-headed windows, the fragment of simple string course and the flat pilaster buttress in the south-east corner, one of a series which originally continued all along the wall. The entrance was at first-floor level on the south side. The castle was held uneventfully by Norman lords as the headquarters of an independent lordship until 1267, when it was granted with the Three Castles (White, Grosmont, and Skenfrith) to Henry III's son, Edmund Crouchback, when he became earl of Lancaster. He immediately built the large rectangular building to the south of the Great Tower, known as the hall. It was a single storey building containing one large room used for the holding of courts. It continued in use as such right up to the 17th century.
All the walls, except the north, stand almost to their full height. The entrance was the gap in the wall in the north-east corner, on the west side of which a moulded base of a door jamb is visible. The fireplace was in the middle of the north wall, and there were windows, now blocked, in the south wall. A later medieval window, also blocked, was inserted in the east wall. In the mid-14th century, during the lordship of Henry of Grosmont, 1st duke of Lancaster, the upper part of the Great Tower was transformed by the insertion of large decorated windows. The elaborate frame of one of these is visible in the east wall. The original entrance was replaced by a tall door, and the tower was re-roofed. At this stage, 12th-century corbels of carved heads were reset high up in the east hall, where they are still visible. This tower was almost certainly the birthplace of the future King Henry V in 1387. The end came for the castle in the Civil War, when it changed hands three times and was eventually slighted by the Parliamentarians. A local man's diary for 1647 records that on 30 March the townsmen and soldiers began pulling down the great round tower, which stood where Great Castle House now stands, and that the Tower in the castle fell down, upon its side. The Great Castle House, built in 1673 by Henry Somerset, later the duke of Beaufort, was to replace Raglan as his family's residence in the country following the Civil War. In 1875 the house became the headquarters of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia), and as such it remains one of the few British castles still in military occupation.
The Old Priory buildings were once part of the Benedictine house and are traditionally connected with Geoffrey of Monmouth whose History of the British Kings chronicles the coming of Christianity, the departure of the Romans, and the legends of King Arthur. The building's beautiful oriel window with its castellated battlements is known as Geoffrey's Window.
Located 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.
The Shire Hall is situated in the centre of Monmouth town. It was erected 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.
In 1708, land was purchased to extend the market hall and provide a council chamber and an office for the town clerk but no action was taken until the building of the existing Shire Hall in 1724.
The furnishings in the form of tables, chairs, grate and railing were provided by the Corporation (County borough). The architecture of the Shire Hall was very loosely in the popular style of the day - Baroque - and thought to be by Philip Fisher of Bristol. He lived for a time in a house in Monnow Street, currently occupied by Lloyds Bank.
Problems with the design and construction of the Shire Hall almost immediately ensued. In 1743 major renovation was undertaken by Philip Hardwick of Bristol, a friend of Philip Fisher no less, at a cost of three hundred pounds. Further additions were made to the building in the form of a clock in 1765, by Richard Watkins, and railings by Peter Embury in 1767. The statue of Henry V, who was born in Monmouth Castle in 1387, was added in 1792.
Further improvements were undertaken in 1829 when royal assent was given for improvements under the direction of Thomas Hopper. This work carried out through Edward Hayock, included the construction of a new staircase, larger courts and the extension of the building along Agincourt Street.
Building work was completed in time for the opening of the assizes in 1831 at a cost of just over seven thousand pounds, which in spite of a brief to provide "comfort" for the judges included a mere one hundred and forty three pounds for furnishings. At this time plans existed to re-house the market but it was not until 1837 that all trading, with the exception of corn, flour, wool and hops, was transferred to the new Market Hall in Priory Street.
The Shire Hall has continued to provide the services to which it was designated to this day, with several notable exceptions i.e. the magistrates court was transferred to the Market Hall and is now held in Abergavenny. The general trading market has returned, although not in corn, flour or wool, on Fridays and Saturdays. Whilst assizes are now held at various locations they are convened in the Shire Hall court room approximately six times a year. Monmouth Gaol was closed in 1869 and as a result the assizes became considerably smaller than previous. The room now referred to as the community room at one time housed the town's library, which is now located in the Rolls Hall. The railings between the arches were removed as part of the war effort during the Second World War. The statue of Charles Rolls, who had the dubious distinction of being the first English aviator to be killed in the air, was unveiled in 1911.
During our visit in May 2010 the Shire hall was still undergoing a major refurbishment and had hoardings all around it to prevent us from having a closer look. Interestingly it was reported in the local news recently that a scroll belonging to the statue of Henry V which stands outside the shire hall, was stolen but later handed into the police following a plea from the council for its' return. It also reported that the renovations are coming to an end and the Shire Hall should be returned to it's former glory soon.
The Nelson Museum and Local History Centre is a great place to begin your visit to the Town of Monmouth. Here you'll get an insight into the Maritime history of the town. There are some really informative displays and artefact for your perusal and the best thing of all.... admission is FREE !!
There is a well equipped gift shop at the entrance to the Museum.
The Great Castle House was constructed from the original castle stone by the Marquis of Worcester in 1673. It was to replace Raglan as his family's residence in the country following the Civil War. In 1875 the house became the headquarters of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers, and as such, Monmouth Castle remains one of the few British castles still in military occupation.
Just along the road from the museum, you will come to some railings overlooking the river Monnow. If you look over the railings towards the direction of the Museum you will see a series of 26 arches which were once the Slaughterhouse. Situated on the banks of the river Monnow, the river provided a convenient method of getting rid of some of the waste. Yuk!!