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Chepstow, Monmouthshire

Historical Description

Chepstow, a market-town, a parish, head of a poor law union and county court district, and a polling place in Monmouthshire. The town stands on the verge of the county, on the river Wye, 2 miles N by W of the Wye's influx to the Severn, 15 by road but 17 by railway E by N of Newport, 16 S by E of Monmouth, and 141¼ by railway from London. It has a station on the South Wales and Wye Valley branches of the G.W.R., and a head post office. The site of Chepstow is the slope of a hill among lofty cliffs, and must have been esteemed in early times a favourite position for military works. The name Chepstow is Saxon, but the original name, Strignil, is British, and is taken from the British camp at Hardwick, SE of the town Ys-Traigyt, i.e. Castle of the Crooks of the Wye. The castle appears to have been adopted by the Romans as a sort of outpost to the city of Caer-Gwent (Venta Silurnm), their great station, 5 miles from Chepstow. It does not appear to have been large in their time, nor is any part of the present castle Roman, though some courses of Roman bricks are built into the old Norman keep. The castle is a long, irregular parallelogram, 750 feet long, and varying in breadth from 50 to 160 feet. It is divided into four courts. After the Conquest it seems to have been part of the domain of William Fitz-Osbome, afterwards Earl of Hereford (died 1070). In Domesday it is mentioned as one of the three castles in Gloucestershire, with Neas (Berkeley) and Gloucester. In 1170 Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke, called Strongbow, is mentioned as Earl of Striguil. The castle underwent great extensions and renovations in the times of the first three Edwards; was garrisoned for the King and more than once changed hands in the civil wars of Charles I.; was the prison for twenty years of Henry Marten the regicide; and still exists in tolerable preservation. It crowns a crag, falling precipitously to the Wye, and separated by a deep dingle from the town; it covers about 3 acres, long and narrow; and it consists of entrance-gate and four courts. The Norman keep, which, as has already been mentioned, contains some Roman bricks in its masonry, is the only portion remaining of Fitz-Osbome's castle, though it has also some additions of later date. The chief apartment within, probably the hall, measures 90 feet by 30. Marten's Tower, the prison of the regicide, is a picturesque drum-tower in the first court. Jeremy Taylor was also imprisoned in this tower for a short time in 1656, on a charge of complicity with a Royalist plot. Walls were constructed around the town about the same time at which the castle was built, and were afterwards renovated and strengthened, and a considerable portion of them, including small round bastions and an entire gate, yet remains.

The town

The town, as seen from the opposite side of the Wye, is very picturesque, and the views around it, obtained from the high grounds, are brilliant. Traces of an ancient port, and slight remains of religious houses and other old buildings, exist. The tide in the Wye here is higher than anywhere else in Europe, rising commonly to 40 feet, sometimes to upwards of 50. A well, 32 feet deep, ebbs and flows with the tide, from dryness up to 14 feet, and has remarkably good water. An iron bridge of five arches, erected in 1816, spans the Wye, and is 532 feet long. A viaduct, combining the characters of tubular bridge and suspension bridge, takes across the railway, and is 600 feet long and 152 feet high. It was built by Brunei. The parish church was originally conventual, founded in the time of Stephen, and belonging to the Benedictine priory of Cormeil in Normandy; is partly Norman, has been restored, and contains a monument to the second Earl of Worcester and a monumental slab to Henry Marten. There are Roman Catholic, Congregational, Wesleyan, Baptist, and Bible Christian chapels, and a Catholic Apostolic church. There are a court-house for the petty sessions, a market hall, a county club, assembly rooms, three banks, almshouses, and a workhouse. The county courts are held in the Bank Buildings.

The town is governed by a local board of

The town is governed by a local board of 12 members, and is a seat of petty sessions, and publishes a weekly newspaper. A cattle market is held on the second and fourth Tuesdays in each month in a large market-house erected in 1893, and a wool fair is held on 22 June. There is a foundry where iron and steel ships and bridges are made, a bobbin factory, some malt-houses, and quarries, and trade exists in grain, timber, bark, coals, and millstones. Chepstow was formerly a port, but is now attached to Lydney, which is a creek under Gloucester. The town gives the title of Baron to the Duke of Beaufort. The parish includes also the hamlet of Hardwick. Area of the parish, 1096 acres of land with 186 of adjacent tidal water and foreshore; population, 3378. The manor belongs to the Duke of Beaufort. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Llandaff; net value, £219. Patrons, Simeon's Trustees. Hardwick House, formerly a seat of the Thomas family, and subsequently the residence of Dr Coplestone, Bishop of Llandaff, is beautifully situated on an eminence above the Wye. The cemetery is situated at Hardwick.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyMonmouthshire 
Ecclesiastical parishChepstow St. Mary 
Poor Law unionChepstow 
Registration districtChepstow1837 - 1968
Registration districtCaerleon1968 - 1974

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

For births, marriages, and deaths in Chepstow from 1837 to 1968 you should search for the Chepstow Registration District.
For births, marriages, and deaths in Chepstow from 1968 to 1974 you should search for the Caerleon Registration District.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Chepstow from the following:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers online: