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Historical Attractions in and around the Brecon Beacons


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Historical attractions in the Brecon Beacons are many and varied. You will find here details of most of the popular venues with tourists to the region.

The contents cover Abergavenny and Usk Castles, Tudor and Jacabeon Manor Houses and Stately Homes. You will also find Museums and Historic sites including the Nelson and Chepstow Museum.

 

Abergavenny Castle Chepstow Castle Chepstow Museum Nelson Museum
Raglan Castle Tintern Abbey Usk Castle Llanthony Priory
South Wales Borderers Museum Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery
Abergavenny Castle

Toilets

Picnic

Eating

Disabled

Abergavenny Castle is located just a short walk from the main shopping area of Abergavenny. Enough of the castle remains to indicate that it must have been a fairly formidable fortress. The castle has Norman origins: the motte was built by Hamelin de Ballon, the Norman conqueror of this area in 1090. Soon after a stone keep was built on the motte and the present Victorian 'keep' probably stands on its foundations. In 1175 Abergavenny Castle was the scene of an infamous act: the Massacre of Abergavenny.  Henry, the third son of Milo Fitzwalter was killed by Seisyll ap Dynfnwal in 1175. As there were no other other male heir, the castle and Brecknockshire and Upper Gwent passed to his mother Bertha who was a daughter of Milo Fitzwalter.  William de Braose decided to avenge the death of his uncle Henry. He summoned Seisyll ap Dyfnwal, his son Geoffrey and a number of other local Welshmen from Gwent to Abergavenny Castle for a reconciliation meeting. They were all murdered and their lands were taken. Control of the castle passed back and forth during the turbulent years as the Welsh Marches changed hands in the twelfth century between the English and Welsh forces. During the thirteenth and fourteeth centuries a huge amount building work was undertaken on the castle whilst it was in the hands of the Hastings family. The most prominent features that remain from this period are the towers in the western corner of the castle.

The keep along with most of the other castle buildings, was destroyed in the Civil War, between 1645 - 1646. In 1818, the present building - now the Museum - was constructed on top of the motte as a hunting lodge for the Marquess of Abergavenny.

Abergavenny Castle Musem in Monmouthshire

Location

Contact

Castle Street, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

 

South of the town, on the A40.

 

 

Tel: 01873 854282

Admission

Opening

 

Daily all year except Sundays November to February

 

 

Notes:

Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery  

Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery, funded and administered by Powys County Council, is one of the finest and liveliest small museums in Wales.

First established in 1928 by the Brecknock Society, it occupies an historic building at the heart of an outstandingly attractive area with a rich and varied past. It offers fascinating glimpses of this past.

The Exhibition programme is exciting, varied.and strongly features the work of Contemporary artists living and working in Wales.

Rural Life Gallery
Contrasting with the life of the towns, rural life in Breconshire (particularly in the 19th century), is recalled vividly on the Lower Ground Floor. There is a fully equipped smithy, an old farmhouse kitchen and a village schoolroom in this section

Art Galleries
The Exhibition Programme is exciting and varied. Predominately the works of Welsh or local artists.

 

Website:-  Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery

Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery, Captain's Walk, Brecon, Powys

Location

Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery, Captain's Walk, Brecon, Powys. LD3 7DS

Admission

Free

Tel: 01874 624121 Fax: 01874 614046

Opening

Monday 10.00 - 5.00
(Closed Mondays, October - March)
Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm
(occasionally closed 1-2 subject to staffing)
Saturday 10am-1pm, 2pm-5pm
Sunday 12noon-5pm
(April-September)

Closed Christmas day /Boxing day / New Year day / Good Friday

Chepstow Castle

Toilets

Building commenced the year after the Battle of Hastings in 1067, in stone - an indication of the Castle’s importance, as most other Norman fortresses of this time were of Motte and Bailey form and constructed from earth and wood. William Fitzosbern used his Castle to subdue the Welsh of Gwent.His son and successor, Roger, lost the Castle to the King after an unsuccessful rebellion in 1075.  During the 12th Century the Castle was massively fortified. In the 13th Century most building was of a domestic character but further fortifications were added to prepare the Castle for the Welsh wars, in which, however it played no part.  In the 14th Century it changed hands many times, and its importance declined.  It was re-garrisoned in 1403 and its strength prevented it being attacked by Owain Glyndwr.In the 16th Century the buildings were adapted for a more comfortable occupation, and came to resemble more a Great House than a Castle.  Yet in the first Civil War, it was held by the Royalists, who surrendered in 1645. During the second Civil War the Castle, once more held for the King, was besieged, using guns which breached the walls.  The Castle was taken and its commander, Sir Nicholas Kemeys, killed.  It was repaired by the Parliamentarians. During the Civil War and afterwards it was used as a prison - famous “guests” were the Royalist Bishop Jeremy Taylor, and the Regicide Henry Marten, whose name is now applied to the Tower where he spent 12 years in comfortable captivity until his death in 1680.  

Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire

Location

Contact

Bridge Street, Chepstow, Gwent

Tel: 01291 624065

 

 

 

www.

 

 

Admission

Opening

 

Daily:

 

Chepstow Museum
disabled access

dogs

 

 

Chepstow Museum displays the rich and varied past of this ancient town, once an important port and market centre. There are displays of Chepstow’s wine trade, shipbuilding and salmon fishing as well as photographs, programme's and posters recalling the pastimes of local people. The 18th and 19th century paintings and prints illustrate the everlasting appeal of Chepstow and the Wye Valley to artists and tourists alike.
The Museum is just across the road from Chepstow Castle in an elegant 18th century house built by a prosperous Chepstow merchant family. The building is named Gwy House and has fascinating tales to tell about prominent people in Chepstow's past.
Warren Jane the Younger, an Apothecary, built it in 1796 and the building continued to be linked to the medical profession. It was owned for many years in the 19th century by a respected local surgeon and became a Red Cross Hospital for soldiers in the First World War. A display in the museum brightly demonstrates the changing uses of the building over the years.

Chepstow Museum displays the rich and varied past of this ancient town, once an important port and market centre.

Chepstow Museum in Monmouthshire

Location:
Gwy House, Bridge Street, Chepstow, Gwent

Contact:
Tel: 01291 625981
Season Dates Opening Hours
Sat 1 Jul 2006 - Sat 30 Sep 2006 Mon - Sat 10:30 to 17:30 | Sun 14:00 to 17:00
Sun 1 Oct 2006 - Sun 31 Dec 2006 Mon - Sat 11:00 to 17:00 | Sun 14:00 to 17:00
Christmas Day, Boxing Day closed
   
New Year's Day closed
Llanthony Priory  

Llanthony Priory is a picturesque, partly ruined former Augustinian priory in the beautiful and secluded Vale of Ewyas, a steep sided once glaciated valley within the Black Mountains area of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Monmouthshire, south east Wales. It lies seven miles north of Abergavenny on an old road to Hay on Wye.

The priory dates back to around the year 1100, when Norman nobleman William de Lacy reputedly came upon a ruined chapel of St. David in this location, and was inspired to devote himself to solitary prayer and study. He was joined by Ersinius, a former Chaplain to Queen Matilda, the wife of King Henry I, and then a band of followers. A church was built on the site, dedicated to St John the Baptist, and consecrated in 1108. By 1118, a group of around 40 monks from England founded there an Augustinian priory, the first in Wales.

For more Details See Llanthony

Llanthony Priory is a picturesque, partly ruined former Augustinian priory in the beautiful and secluded Vale of Ewyas

Location

Contact

Llanthony, Monmouthshire NP7 - Wales, UK

 

Admission

Opening

Free

All Year

 

 

Notes:

Nelson Museum & Local History Centre

Toilets

Disabled

Horatio Nelson was born in Norfolk, died at sea and is buried in London. However, Monmouth is home to one of the best collections of Nelson paraphernalia in the world. Find out about Monmouth’s magnificent collection of materials about the famous Admiral, and learn about his life, loves, death and commemoration.

The Nelson Museum was founded in 1924, following the bequest to Monmouth by Lady Llangattock of her collection of material relating to the famous admiral. The museum moved to the current premises (a market hall complex built in the 1830s) in 1969, at which time the local history collections for the town were incorporated.

The Local History centre, in the same building, deals with Monmouth and its people, including Charles Rolls of Rolls Royce fame and Henry V.

The Nelson collection includes both personal and commemorative material, and is particularly noted for the large number of personal letters. Star exhibits include Nelson's fighting sword, and a selection of outrageous forgeries, including Nelson's glass eye.

Nelson Museum & Local History Centre

Location

Contact Tel:

New Market Hall
Priory Street
Monmouth
NP25 3XA

(Tel) : 01600 710630
(Fax) : 01600 710631

Website :www.monmouthshire .gov.uk/

Monday to Saturday (incl. Bank Holidays) 10.00-13.00, 14.00-17.00; Sunday 14.00-17.00.

Opening - Open all year

Closed - Christmas & New Year

Admission

Free to all

Raglan Castle

Toilets

Picnic

Eating

Disabled

Raglan castle is one of the finest late medieval buildings in the British Isles and, although now ruined, it remains a striking presence in the landscape of south-east Wales. Much of what remains at Raglan dates from the 15th-century, the period of the War of the Roses and the rise of the Tudor dynasty. The Great Tower is the most impressive of the buildings from this period, dominating the two courtyards of the castle. It was built either by William Herbert or his father, William ap Thomas, who had purchased Raglan in 1432. This, and other contemporary works at the castle, are clear evidence of a family whose wealth and political importance were in the ascendance. William Herbert was a key figure in the politics of the late 15th-century. During the War of the Roses he threw in his lot with the Yorkists, supporting Edward IV in his climb towards the throne. The reward for his loyalty was considerable, providing him with the title Earl of Pembroke, and sufficient resources to convert Raglan into a palace-fortress. Earl William's success was, however, to be short-lived. In 1469 he was captured by Lancastrian supporters at the Battle of Edgecote and put to death. The Herberts retained control of Raglan until 1492 when it passed to the Somerset family. William Somerset, the third Earl of Worcester (1526-1589), was the first of his family to significantly alter the castle's buildings. Earl William focused his efforts on upgrading the quality of the hall and service ranges to meet the social expectations of his time. He also established the gardens that were to be such a feature of Elizabethan and Jacobean Raglan, including a series of walled terraces, an artificial lake, a fountain, flower beds and herb gardens. By the middle of the 17th-century, Raglan's fortunes were at their peak.
Raglan was abandoned and left to decay, becoming a convenient source of building material and a picturesque tourist attraction. Today this decay has been halted and the building conserved through the work of Cadw and its predecessors, guardians of the castle since 1938.

Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire

Location

Contact

½m N of Raglan, 7m SW of Monmouth, off A40


http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk

 

 

 

Tel: 01291 690228

Admission

Opening

Adult - £2.90, Concession - £2.50, Family - £8.30

Apr - May: 9.30 - 17.00
Jun - Sep: 9.30 - 18.00
Oct: 9.30 - 17.00
Nov - Mar: 9.30 -16.00
Monday - Saturday,
Sunday 11.00 - 16.00

 

 

Notes:

Tintern Abbey

Toilets

Picnic

 

Disabled

Tintern Abbey was originally founded by Cistercian monks in 1131 AD. in the reign of Henry I. Between 1270 and 1301 the Abbey was rebuilt and by the end of the rebuilding, around four hundred monks lived in the complex.

The Black Death arrived in 1349 and affected Abbey life badly but it continued to operate until 1536. In that year the Abbey was part of the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Within a few years the lead was stripped from the roof and the building began to decay. The Abbey then became a source of building stone and only in the eighteenth century was any interest shown in the ruin. Around 1760 the site was cleaned up and visitors to the Wye Valley began to be entranced with the beauty of the site and surroundings.

The abbey and its setting in a River Wye valley have long inspired British artists.The artist, William Turner (1775-1851) was a visitor and he painted spectacular views of Tintern Abbey. Turner's beautiful picture of the interior showed chickens scratching around an unkempt, grassy floor.
Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley

Location

Contact

Off the A466 4m North off Chepstow

Cadw, Welsh Historic Monuments, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NQ

 

 

 

Tel: 01291 689251

Admission

Opening

Adults £3.00 Child £2.50, Concs £2.50

Daily: 1 Apr -1 Jun 9.30am-5pm 2 Jun -28 Sep 9.30am-6pm 29 Sept-26 Oct 9.30am-5pm
27 Oct -
31 Mar
Mon-Sat 9.30-4.00

 

Sun 11am - 4pm

Notes: 1 Site Exhibition 2: Audio tour and Braille plan

Usk Castle

Toilets

Picnic

 

Disabled

The Norman castle and town are thought to have been founded by 1120. The town was rectangular with four gateways and a ditch and bank, the western side of which was excavated in 1974. It lies upon the site of a Roman fort. The castle lies on a hill on the northernmost sector. It is first mentioned as being captured in 1138. The Welsh took it again in 1174 in spite of strengthening by Richard de Clare which may have included the building of the tower keep. It was recaptured in 1184. The palisade of the bailey was replaced by a masonry wall with round towers in c1212-19 by William Marshal, earl of Pembroke. The castle was again captured during the war of 1233 between Richard Marshal and Henry III. The NE round tower is said to have been erected by Gilbert IV de Clare in the 1260s when this district was threatened by Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. When Gilbert V de Clare was killed at Bannockburn in 1314, Usk passed to Elizabeth de Burgh who erected the hall block, chapel and solar on the northeast side. The castle later passed to the Mortimers, who walled in the outer bailey on the south with one round SW tower and a rectangular gatehouse. Owain Glyndwr burnt the town in 1402 and 1405, but the castle may have held out. Later it became part of the Duchy of Lancaster and was allowed to decay apart from the outer gatehouse which was incorporated into a house built in the 1680s to accommodate Thomas Herbert, steward of the lordship under the then owner the Duke of Beaufort. Usk Castle Monmouthshire

Location

Contact

Monmouth Road, Usk, South Wales,
NP15 1SD
The site is owned by the Humphreys family and is freely accessible in daylight hours.

On A472, 4 miles east of Pontypool.

There is a car park.

 

Tel: 01291 672563

Admission

Opening

 

 

 

 

Notes:

South Wales Borderers Museum  

The museum collection is comprised of artefacts obtained from worldwide sources that reflect the history and character of a regiment that has existed for over 300 years.

We are reputed to have the finest collection of weapons to be found in any regimental museum throughout the country. Our gun collection traces the evolution of solders weapons from the 18th Century to the present day.

The Medal Room contains nearly 3,000 medals. The Victoria Cross case in the main room contains sixteen replica Victoria Crosses. They represent the real ones, which the regiment owns but does not display because they are so valuable.
The main attraction in the museum is the Zulu War Room. The exploits of the 24th Regiment during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War are legendary. Queen Victoria referred to the soldiers as 'The Noble 24th'. Donald Morris, in his book 'The Washing of the Spears', focused on the Zulu War of 1879, and Sir Stanley Baker developed further interest with his film 'Zulu' in 1964. The film recreated the events surrounding the heroic defence of Rorke's Drift by B Company, 2/24th in the Zulu war of 1879. The Zulu War Room tells this compelling story, and contains a fascinating display of artefacts.

The museum has extensive archive material, particularly relating to the 1879 Zulu war, much of which has never been published. Access to the archives is available to the serious researcher by appointment. Alternatively, email us and we will try to answer your query as long as it is pertinent to the Regiment.

The museum shop is stocked with a wide range of books, particularly on the Zulu War, and regimental souvenirs that can be purchased by mail order. Email us today for a current sales list.

Pictures and paintings, dioramas and drums, assegais and ammunition, buttons, badges and uniforms combine to form a vivid image of life as a soldier - we have things to interest everybody.

Website:-  www.rrw.org.uk

Museum room at the South Wales Borderers Museum

Video room at the South Wales Borderers Museum

Location

South Wales Borderers Museum, The Barracks, Brecon, Powys. LD3 7EB

Admission

Adults £3.
Children are free up to age 16.
Groups: Rates negotiable School Parties: By appointment
Disabled access.

Tel: 01874 613310
  Fax: 01874 613275

Opening

Open Mondays to Fridays throughout the year: 10am-5pm
Summer opening from 6 April 2007 Saturdays & Bank Holidays: 10am-4pm
Special Sunday opening 8 April, 6 May, 27 May, 29 July, 26 August 2007: 10am-4pm
Closed from 21 December 2007 Re-open Monday 14 January 2008


Tourist Information Guide for Historical Attractions in and around the Brecon Beacons

This page last modified Thursday, 29-Jan-2015 11:24:23 GMT