With a population of just over 10,000, Monmouth is a market town located in the Wye Valley at the confluence of the rivers Wye and the Monnow, within the county of Monmouthshire in Wales. It lies 17 miles east of Abergavenny, 24 miles to the north-east of Newport and only a few miles from the English border. The name Monmouth was originally 'Munwi Mutha' the mouth of the river Mynwy (i.e. Minnow), a direct translation of the original Welsh name Abermynwy, although the town is now known as Trefynwy, "Mynwy Town".
The Romans stationed a garrison in the area and knew the place as Blestium, but the real founder of the town was the Norman William fitz Osbern who built a castle here sometime between 1067 and 1071 to guard the important crossings of the Wye and Monnow rivers. Little of Osbern's original castle now remains as most of it was demolished during the Civil War of the seventeenth century. The third Marquess of Worcester utilised much of the remaining stone to build the Great Castle House in 1673 on the site of the former great round tower of the castle. This is now the home of the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) and Monmouth therefore
remains one of the only British castles currently occupied by the military
Monmouth and its castle was the capital of the Marcher Lordship of Monmouth which was held at the time of the Domesday Book by William Fitz Baderon and continued to be held by his descendants who assumed the name of 'de Monmouth' in consequence. In 1256 ownership reverted to the crown and it was held by Edward, later Edward I until 1267 when Henry III granted it to his younger son Edmund Crouchback. Monmouth therefore became part of the Duchy of Lancaster in 1399 and was consequently the birthplace of the most illustrious Lancastrian of them all, Henry V born at Monmouth Castle in 1387 and known as Henry of Monmouth during his youth.
The town of Monmouth grew up in the shadow of the castle and became an important trade and administrative centre. Effectively a borough from the thirteenth century onwards it was not granted its first charter until 1550 but this did not prevent it becoming the county town of the new Monmouthshire after the Acts of Union 1536-1543 after which it for many years returned its own member of parliament. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries it also became famous for the manufacture of the Monmouth cap.
The town is also noted for:-
- The Monnow Bridge, a thirteenth century stone gated bridge (but subject to many alterations since) the only one of its kind left in Britain, with its own a portcullis and sentry rampart.
- The Naval Temple which was opened in 1801 commemorating sixteen distinguished admirals including Admiral Lord Nelson. This is now under the care of The National Trust.
- The eighteenth century Shire Hall which was the venue for the trial of the leaders of the Chartist uprising in 1840. The Hall is located just of Agincourt Square and features statues of Henry V and Charles Stewart Rolls, the co-founder of Rolls Royce, whose family estates were nearby. There is also a Nelson Museum which features the collection of Nelson memorabilia built up Charles Rolls' mother.
Monmouth is twinned with Carbonne in France and Waldbronn in Germany.
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