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Monmouth - historic border town heralding the last stretch of the River Wye

If you are using Internet Explorer, and can see a yellow bar at the top of this page with a message starting "To help protect your security," then right-click your mouse in this yellow bar, select 'Allow Blocked Content' and then OK any further warnings.At Monmouth the river Wye turns South. Monmouth is the northern end of what many think of as the most beautiful stretch of the river Wye.

View Monmouth points of interest in a larger map

The Source of the River Wye



Crucial Information:

Monmouth – Mouth of the River Monnow (a tributary of the River Wye).

Welsh: Trefnwy – ‘Town on the Monnow’

Twinned with Waldbronne, Germany and Carbonne, France

Population 8 500


The town

Monmouth was probably first settled during the Roman occupation.

In 1840, following riots in Newport, three men became the last to be sentenced (at Monmouth) to be hung drawn and quartered. However the sentences were later commuted to transportation to Australia.

Between 1857 and 1883 no fewer than four railways reached Monmouth. These were:

  • The Coleford, Monmouth, Usk & Pontypool Railway
  • The Ross & Monmouth Railway
  • The Wye Valley Railway
  • The Coleford Railway

Between 1914 and 1965 all four lines closed.

In 2004 filming took place just off Agincourt Square for The Unquiet Dead – an episode of the soon to be relaunched Doctor Who.

Charles Rolls

Although Charles Rolls (1877-1910) was born in London he maintained strong connections with his family home. This was The Hendre just outside Monmouth. The Hendre is the only full scale Victorian Country House in Monmouthshire.

Charles Rolls in immortalised in the brand Rolls Royce – the company he co founded in 1906 with partner Frederick Henry Royce.

Less well known is that Rolls was a pioneer aviator. This led to his undoing – he became the first Britain to be killed in an air crash. This took place on 12 July 1910 at an airshow in Bournemouth on what is now the playing fields of St Peter’s School.

A year later a statue of Charles Rolls was unveiled at Agincourt Square, Monmouth. It depicts him holding a model of one of his aeroplanes, with the inscription:

"Erected by public subscription to the memory of the honourable Charles Stewart Rolls, third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock as a tribute of admiration for his great achievements in both scientific and practical motoring and aviation and the first to fly across the channel from England to France and back without landing. He lost his life by the wrecking of his aeroplane at Bournemouth July 12 1910. His death caused world-wide regret and deep national sorrow. This statue was unveiled on Oct 19 1911 by Colonel the Right Honble Lord Raglan CB.



Henry V

Born around 1387 at Monmouth Castle, Henry of Monmouth acceded to the Throne of England as Henry V in 1413. He reigned until his death in 1422.

Henry is best known for leading his troops at the Battle of Agincourt in Northern France. This was on St Crispin’s Day (September 3) in 1415. The battle was a victory over the French.

An elevated statue of Henry V can be found in Agincourt Square.


The Monnow Bridge

Crossing the River Monnow before it joins the River Wye, the Monnow Bridge is the only medieval fortified bridge remaining in Britain, and one of four in Europe. It is the gatehouse on the bridge that makes it so unusual.

The bridge was completed in 1272. The gatehouse was then added in the 14th century.

Following the building of a new road bridge in 2004, the Monnow Bridge was closed to motorised traffic.



Early on in the Second World War there was the genuine danger of invasion by German forces, This threat led to a massive programme of building anti-invasion defences.

A common artefact of this is the pillbox. Best described as a small fort from which troops could shoot at invaders through slits called loopholes. Inland, pillboxes would often defend key points such as railways, junctions and bridges. They would often be built in conjunction with other anti invasion measures making what were called stop lines.

At Monmouth a pillbox can clearly be seen guarding the junction of the A466 and A4136.

A few metres away one guarded the bridge over the River Wye. This exists although the road has subsequently been raised enough to almost submerge it.


The Kymin

At 243 metres above sea level the Kymin s a hill overlooking Monmouth from the East. Today the area of the summit is managed by the National Trust.

Most prominent on the Kymin is the whitewashed Roundhouse. This was built in 1794 by the Kymin Club, whose members met “for the purpose of dining together, and spending the day in a social and friendly manner".

The Roundhouse was used for meetings, dinners and events. Kitchens served the banqueting hall, and telescopes were mounted on the roof.

It was claimed that nine counties could be seen from the Roundhouse’s roof, namely: Breconshire, Glamorganshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Radnorshire, Shropshire, Somerset and Worcestershire.

Also built by the Kymin Club was the Naval Temple. This was in 1800 to commemorate the second anniversary of the Battle of the Nile in 1798. Eighteen Royal Naval Admirals are celebrated on the temple. One of these – Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) visited the Naval Temple and Roundhouse in 1802. In April 2012 the Naval Temple was reopened after major restoration.

Temperature Inversions

During the colder months, this area is prone to temperature inversions. These occur when air near ground level is colder than a layer of air above it (inverting the normal state of affairs where air temperature drops the higher you go). For example a temperature inversion can occur when air from a warm front slips over cold air near the ground.

This results in a very cold fog – and anticyclonic gloom – clinging to the land. If you get to some elevation (such as the Kymin) you can bask in sunshine while looking out over the sea of fog that covers the ground below.


A Year on the Wye DVD

A Year on the Wye DVD cover


  River Wye screensaver


Monmouth from across the River WyeMonmouth from across the River Wye
Monmouth from across the River Wye © Star Video 2011


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Statue of Charles Rolls(1877-1910) © Star Video 2011

Monmouth - statue of Charles RollsMonmouth - statue of Charles Rolls
Elevated on the wall a statue of Henry V behind that of Charles Rolls © Star Video 2011


Monmouth - the Monnow BridgeMonmouth - the Monnow Bridge
The Monnow Bridge, Monmouth © Star Video 2011


Monmouth - the Monnow BridgeMonmouth - the Monnow Bridge
The Monnow Bridge, Monmouth © Star Video 2011


The Kymin above MonmouthThe Kymin above Monmouth
The Round House at the Kymin © Star Video 2011

The Kymin above MonmouthThe Kymin above Monmouth
The Naval Temple at the Kymin © Star Video 2011



Temperature Inversion above the River WyeTemperature Inversion above the River Wye
Temperature inversion seen from The Kymin © Star Video 2011



Temperature Inversion above the River WyeTemperature Inversion above the River Wye
Temperature inversion seen from The Kymin © Star Video 2011


© 2011 Star Video