- This is about the Welsh town of Monmouth. For other uses, see Monmouth (disambiguation).
= "town on the Monnow") is a town
in southeast Wales
and traditional county town
of the historic county
. It is situated where the River Monnow
meets the River Wye
with bridges over both
Monmouth boasts a medieval
13th-century stone gated bridge
at Monnow Bridge
, unique in Britain as it is the only preserved bridge of its design remaining. There is also a long bridge over the River Wye
After centuries of waiting a second bridge over the Monnow was finally opened on March 15
, thus allowing the old bridge to become pedestrianised
. This project has, however, meant the demolition of the old cattle market
, thus Monmouth is no longer the traditional market town it has traditionally been; however, a farmers' market
selling local produce is still held.
Monmouth is very much a town of schools. Apart from the comprehensive school with over 1600 pupils, there are two independent schools - Monmouth School (founded 1614) and Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls (founded 1892). There are also several state primary schools, with most areas served by both infants' and juniors' Schools.
The annual Monmouth Show has been held each year (traditionally on the last Thursday of August) since 1919 (when it was called the Monmouthshire County Show), though its history can be traced back further to 30 May 1857 when the eighth Duke of Beaufort and Sir Charles Morgan M.P. put up the funds for a Monmouth Cattle Show, and even prior to that there had been an agricultural society in existence in the town dating back to the 1790s, which held ploughing competitions.
The Savoy Theatre in Church Street, built on the site of the oldest theatre in Wales, functions as both a cinema and theatre. There are numerous pubs in the centre of Monmouth, including Old Nags Head, Queen's Head, Punch House, The Griffin, The Gloucester, The Vinetree, The Kings Head, The Three Horseshoes, The Green Dragon and The Gatehouse. Some of these hold pub quizzes and live music throughout the week.
Monmouth is twinned with Carbonne, France and Waldbronn, Germany.
Archaeological excavations undertaken by the Monmouth Archaeological Society on various sites along Monnow Street have uncovered a wealth of information about the early history of the town. Indeed, the Council for British Archaeology have designated Monmouth as one of the top ten towns in Britain for archaeology.
Monmouth as an organised settlement dates back to the times of the Roman occupation of Britain
and the conquest of Roman Wales
. The Romans called it Blestium
, and it was part of a network of Roman forts
covering the region, linked via Roman roads
known as Burrium
, later Isca Augusta
, and Glevum
and modern local archaeologists and historians have found items of Roman pottery and Roman currency
and coinage that date from that period.
The town appears in the Domesday Book
, and for the 11th century and 12th century the town and surrounding areas were ruled by Norman
French lords after the conquest of England
by William the Conqueror
in 1066. During this time, Monmouth Castle
was built, in 1067 under William Fitz-Osbern
, a significant castle-builder, holding commanding views over the surrounding area from a sound defensive site. Initially it would have been a motte and bailey castle
, rebuilt in stone and later refortified and developed over time.
A Benedictine priory was also created in 1101, and it was traditionally there that Geoffrey of Monmouth - author of the Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain) - gained his education. A fortified bridge was built during the 13th century.
The castle came into the possession of the House of Lancaster through the marriage of John of Gaunt to Blanche, a Monmouth based heiress. John of Gaunt strengthened the castle, adding the Great Hall.
In 1387, Henry V was born in Monmouth Castle in the Queens Chamber within the gatehouse. The castle became a favourite residence of the House of Lancaster. Henry would win the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Many parts of Monmouth, including the town's main square, are named after this battle.
During the rebellion of Owain Glyndwr between 1400 and 1412 Monmouth Castle and walled town was not attacked by Welsh forces, however skirmishes and battles were fought in the area, such as at Campston Hill when Prince Henry's men followed a retreating force of Glyndwr's, capturing the Welsh standard and killing the standard bearer, Ellis ap Richard ap Howell ap Morgan Llwyd. Other battles took place at nearby at Craig-y-Dorth, at Grosmont and Usk, such as the Battle of Pwll Melyn. Grosmont town was razed and Abergavenny and Crickhowell attacked.
In 1605, James I
granted Monmouth a town charter
by letters patent
. The granting of the charter included the charge that the town "at all perpetual future times ... be and remain a town and borough of Peace and Quiet, to the example and terror of the wicked and reward of the good".
The layout of the town as depicted in Speede's map of 1610 would be easily recognisable to present day inhabitants, with the layout of the main axis from the castle via the main street, Monnow Street, to the bridge clearly visible. Monnow street is a typical market street, in being wide in the middle (for those selling) and narrow at each end (to help prevent the livestock escaping).
Four railways were built to serve Monmouth between 1857 and 1883 - all have now closed, the first in 1917, the last in 1959 (passengers), 1964 (goods), since when Monmouth has not had any rail services. One of the former lines has now been replaced by a major road, built along the same route. Monmouth's main station, known as Monmouth (Troy), was offices for a timber yard for many years, but the building has now been dismantled and re-erected at Winchcombe railway station on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
Famous persons associated with Monmouth include:
- St. Philip Evans - Jesuit priest and martyr.
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, born in 1090 and wrote Historia Regum Britanniae, the "History of British Kings"
- Henry V, born in Monmouth castle in 1387, immortalised in his victory at Agincourt and the square in the town is named after this battle.
- James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, leader of the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685
- William Jones, a liveryman of Worshipful Company of Haberdashers and founder of the first of the town's grammar schools. (The second was founded late in the nineteenth century, directly by the Haberdashers' Company.)
- Admiral Horatio Nelson, who paid two visits to the town and approved a naval temple on the nearby Kymin Hill. The Nelson Museum, Monmouth is home to one of the largest collections of Nelson material, bequeathed to the town by Lady Llangattock (d. 1923), mother of Charles Rolls.
- Charles Rolls, who lived at The Hendre near Monmouth and was co-founder of the Rolls-Royce company, was the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane. There is a statue of Charles Rolls in Agincourt Square
- Dave Edmunds, rock musician, who was instrumental in the conception of the nationally famous Rockfield Studios, situated just outside the town, where Queen recorded their hit Bohemian Rhapsody.
- Jake Thackray, poet and singer-songwriter, retired and spent the rest of his life in Monmouth.
- Among the famous ex-pupils of Monmouth School are politicians Lord Moynihan and Cliff Tucker, international rugby players Eddie Butler, John Gwilliam, Tony Jorden and Keith Jarrett, equestrian David Broome, Glamorgan and England cricketer Steve James, actors Richard Marner and Victor Spinetti, and rock musician Grant Nicholas.
- Emma Stansfield, British actress who played Ronnie Clayton in Coronation Street from 2005 to 2006.
It is generally believed Monmouth is a contraction of 'Monnow-Mouth', and is pronounced by those who live in the area as 'Mon-muth', much like Bournemouth
. Deeper into Wales the town is often pronounced as 'Mun-muth', in the same way as London is pronounced "Lun-dun" and is arguably derived from Mynwy
) and Mydd
(Mouth) (c.f. myn-mydd