( Welsh , Y Fenn meaning mouth of the river Gavenny )
It is situated 15 miles from Monmouth and can be reached by the A40 road or by the excellent rail connections.
Part of the Beacon National Park the town of some 14,000 is known as the gateway to Wales.
It was once surrounded by a defensive wall and has origins going back to the Iron Age or Bronze Age. During Roman times a fort called Gobannium was built this was followed by a stone castle being erected after the Norman Conquest.
In 1175 a massacre of local Welsh Chieftains took place at the castle under the direction of William de Braose the Lord of Abergavenny.
Although now in ruins with fragments of wall, two broken towers and the gateway
the castle still provides a place of much interest, the site has the town ’s museum
situated in its grounds, this was once a hunting lodge and now displays many items
of historic interest.
During the civil war just before the siege of Raglan Castle, Charles 1 visited the town
and it was during this visit that he presided over the trial of Sir Trevor Williams and
The town was one known for the manufacture of flannel and evidence of this can be
seen in its street names , for example Flannel Street.
Wig making and tanning of leather were also important to the commercial life of area.
St.Mary’s Church – built in the 12th century it once belonged to the Benedictine
One of the largest churches in Wales , this beautiful church is worth a visit, amongst
the treasures of the St Mary’s are the 24 medieval choir stalls and a huge carving of
Jesus also to be seen is the Abergavenny Tapestry, on display in the Lewis Chapel the
tapestry was a millennium project celebrating 1000 years of history .
At the cost of some £20,000, the stitching was carried out by a team more than 40 in
More than 400 shades of wool were used and during its creation members of the public were able to see the stitcher’s at work and in some cases were able to help.
The town has a Theatre and a Leisure centre for those who wish to enjoy more energetic pastimes.It has a Brass Band that gives performances in the borough park, a Choir, Orchestral Society and a Symphony Orchestra.
There are a wide variety of shops catering for all needs.The town markets are a major attraction with something going happening each day it provides the opportunity for visitors to browse and purchase the many things on offer. Welsh Love Spoons are a very popular souvenir these are love tokens, the custom of making these date back to the 17th century and are carvings of the spoons are very often of intricate design and were usually made and given by the man to his prospective bride during the period of courtship, they are items which have become collectors pieces and have been known to fetch in excess of £1500 in auction.
designs have meanings, for instance:
- Acanthus leafs –Our love will grow.
- A Ball – Our love is secure.
- A Bird – We are love birds.
- A Heart –Steadfast love
- A Leek – A symbol of strength of love.
- A lock – Security
The list is endless and it is interesting for those making a purchase of the spoons to
find out what their meanings are.
Traditional foods can also be found.
Bara Breith – A fruit bread also known as Tea Bread,
Lava Bread – made from sea weed and
Welsh Marsh Lamb- Meat from lambs reared on the salt marshes of Wales, this meat is
distinctive in taste but does not taste salty.
Welch cakes, a popular addition on many tea tables.
Leek Pies are another traditional dish and provide a tasty meal.
The markets and fairs with their origins date back to ancient times are held as follows-
- Mondays and Tuesdays and some Fridays in cattle market.
- Tuesday – Market and Fair , in Market Hall , Town Hall, Brewery Yard Car Park.
- Wednesday – Flea Market – in Market Hall
- Thursday ( every 4th Thursday in the month) – Farmers Market in Market Hall.
- Friday – Retail Market in Market Hall and Town Hall car park.
- Saturday – Retail Market in Market Hall and Town Hall car park
- Every 2nd Saturday in month – Craft Fair in Market Hall
- Every 3rd Sunday in month - Antique Fair in Market Hall
The Abergavenny Food Festival is held in September and is a major event.
With its wide variety of fare it is easy to see why the Abergavenny markets attract
visitors from far and wide.
Hotels, Bed and Breakfast, Inns and Pubs and Self-Catering Holiday Cottages cater for all accommodation tastes, a wide selection of foods being on offer – Balti, Oriental, Kebabs, Pizzas, Fish and Chips.
There are more than 15 pubs or bars that visitors can make their selections
from. In the surrounding countryside there are many B&Bs, cottages, Inns,
providing for those who wish to holiday outside the town.