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Chepstow

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Photograph © Simon Fern

Chepstow (Welsh: Cas-gwent) is a border town straddling the Monmouthshire—Gloucestershire border, situated at the confluence of the River Wye and River Severn on the Severn's west bank. It is famous for its castle and racecourse, which hosts the Welsh Grand National. Chepstow proper is on the west bank of the Wye, within Wales; the English part on the eastern bank consists of Tutshill and Sedbury.

Chepstow sits upstream of the confluence of the River Wye and River Severn. There has been a settlement on the site since at least the early middle ages. It was named Striguil in Norman times - from the Welsh word ystraigyl meaning a bend in the river - but became known as Chepstow from the old English ceap / chepe stowe meaning market place.

The oldest areas of known habitation are the Iron Age fortified camps at Bulwark and Piercefield. Later, there may have been a Roman bridge over the Wye, as Chepstow is located at a crossing point directly between the Roman towns of Gloucester and Caerwent. The town is also close to the southern point of Offa's Dyke, which begins on the east bank of the Wye and runs all the way to the Irish Sea in north Wales. This was built in about the 8th century as a boundary between English and Welsh kingdoms, although recent research suggests that the part near Chepstow may not actually be part of the original Dyke.

Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain. After the Norman Invasion Chepstow was identified as an ideal site for a castle, as it not only controlled a crossing point on the River Wye, but also because the steep limestone gorge and castle dell afforded an excellent defensive location. William the Conqueror ordered its construction in 1067, and, according to the Domesday Book, it was designed by the master castle builder of the time, William fitzOsbern. The speed with which William the Conqueror committed to the creation of a castle in Chepstow is testament to its strategic importance. At the time, the kingdoms in the area were independent of the English crown and the castle in Chepstow provided a way to suppress the Welsh from attacking Gloucestershire. From the 14th century, with the end of the wars between England and Wales, the castle's importance declined.

A town grew up beside Chepstow Castle, the Priory church, and the port, and in 1294 Chepstow was given the right to hold a weekly market and annual fair. It flourished partly because it was exempt from English taxation. The town wall, locally known as the Port Wall, was built about this time, and mostly still stands. Particularly good sections can be seen at the Welsh Street car park, and either side of the A48 road. The Town Gate through the wall at the top end of the High Street was rebuilt in the 16th century and was used as a toll gate.

The most significant church in Chepstow is the Parish and Priory Church of St Mary, located at the bottom of the town. It, like the castle, is Norman in origin, although much rebuilt and extended in later centuries. Benedictine monks from Cormeilles in Normandy, Chepstow's twin town, were there until the Dissolution of the Monasteries from 1536.

Industries
In addition to being a market town, Chepstow was from medieval times the largest port in Wales. Although it mainly traded in timber from the Wye Valley and with Bristol, records show that Chepstow ships sailed as far afield as Iceland and Turkey, as well as to France, Portugal and Ireland. In 1840, leaders of the Chartist insurrection in Newport were transported from Chepstow to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).

The port function and local shipbuilding trade declined during the 19th century as ship design developed and the cities of Cardiff, Newport and Swansea became more suitable for handling the export of coal and steel from the Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire valleys. Shipbuilding was briefly revived during the First World War when the first prefabricated ships were constructed. The area known as "Garden City" and parts of Bulwark Village were built to house the workers that were brought to Chepstow from 1917 to work in the new National Shipyard no.1. The Bulwark area is now home to about two thirds of the population of Chepstow, and much of the industry of the town is based at the Bulwark Trading Estate.

The shipyard developed on the site where the Wye railway bridge had been constructed, and was subsequently taken over by the engineering firm Fairfield Mabey, who specialise in steelwork for bridges and other structures. Other local industries have included the material for artificial ski slopes, developed at the "Dendix" brush factory.

Transport
The old cast iron road bridge across the Wye, dating from 1816 and designed by John Rastrick, is an elegant example of engineering from the Regency period. The bridge comprises five cast-iron arches carried on stone piers and has a central span of 112 ft. It succeeded a number of wooden predecessors which had been built on or near the same site since at least 1228, and possibly much earlier. In 1576 the bridge was described as being in great decay, and an Act was passed making Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire responsible for the repair of their respective halves. Neglect continued, however, and in 1606 the bridge was said to have fallen down and been carried away. By the beginning of the 18th century the bridge comprised a wooden decking carried by a central stone pier and five piers on either side each formed by a number of timber piles. The Monmouthshire half of the bridge was rebuilt as four stone arches in 1785, but the Gloucestershire half remained timber until 1815 when rebuilding of the whole bridge was begun to the overall plans of John Rennie, as modified by Rastrick.

Until the Severn Bridge - now part of the M48 - was opened in 1966, and a new A48 bridge over the Wye in 1988, the old bridge carried all the road traffic between England and South Wales. The Severn Bridge has the second longest span of any bridge in the UK; it replaced the Aust-Beachley ferry.

Chepstow railway station is on the Gloucester to Newport Line. The railway bridge over the Wye was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1852, but the original structure was replaced in the 1960s. Until 1959 passenger trains operated up the Wye Valley to Monmouth - this service ceased owing to heavy losses.

The town today
Chepstow has a recently built PFI funded community hospital and several new housing estates. Over £2 million has recently been invested in regenerating the town centre. This scheme, which includes new sculptures and other public art, encountered some local criticism over its high cost, but has gained several national awards reflecting its high design quality.

The town centre has a good range of shops, pubs and restaurants. The area beside the river has been attractively landscaped as part of a flood defence scheme. The town holds a biennial festival, and in most recent years has also organised major son et lumiere pageants covering aspects of local history, using local residents under professional direction. There is also an excellent local museum, opposite the Castle entrance.

Chepstow also has many excellent schools including Chepstow School. One of the best co-education semi-boarding schools St Johns on the Hill is located on the outskirts towards Tutshill. There are also a number of churches in Chepstow, including a variety of non-conformist denominations.

Chepstow racecourse is the leading horse racing course in Wales. It is located on the edge of the town, in the grounds of the ruined Piercefield House.

Nearby are the Royal Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley. Tintern Abbey is about 5 miles distant. Many current residents of the town commute to Bristol, Cardiff, Newport and elsewhere.

Chepstow is twinned with Cormeilles


 Trains in Chepstow: Chepstow is on the Gloucester to Newport Line


 Libraries in Chepstow:
 Chepstow Library
       Manor Way
       Chepstow
       Monmouthshire
       NP16 5HZ
 01291 635730
 Mon 9.00am-5.30pm
       Tue 10.00am-5.30pm
       Wed 9.00am-5.30pm
       Thur 9.00am-8.00pm
       Fri 9.00am-5.30pm
       Sat 9.30am-1.00pm


 Farmers Markets in Chepstow:
 Chepstow Farmers Market
       Senior Citizens Centre
       Chepstow
       Monmouthshire
       NP16 5HZ
 9am-1pm Second and fourth Saturdays
 01291 650 672


 Golf in Chepstow:
 Marriott St Pierre Hotel and Country Club
       St Pierre Park
       Chepstow
       Monmouthshire
       NP16 6YA
 01291 625261

 Shirenewton Golf Club
       Shirenewton
       Chepstow
       Monmouthshire
       NP16 6RL
 01291 641642


 Rugby in Chepstow: Chepstow RFC


 Vets in Chepstow:
 Cross Country Equine Clinic
       Devauden
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 6NN
 01291 650690

 G & C Marlow
       The Veterinary Surgery
       Lower Church St
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5HJ
 01291 624090

 J.C McEwen
       17a Moor St
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DB
 01291 625205


 Tourist Information Centres in Chepstow:

 Telephone:

01291 623772

 Fax:

01291 628004

 Email:

[email protected]

 Address:

Castle Car Park
Bridge Street
Chepstow
Monmouthshire
NP16 5EY

 Hours:

Winter 7 Days  10:00 - 15:30
Summer
7 Days 10:00 - 17:30


 Pubs/Bars in Chepstow:
 Ashburne House
       33 Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EY
 01291 625622

 The Beaufort Hotel
       Beaufort Square
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EP

 The Bridge Inn
       Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ

 Castle View Hotel
       Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ

 Chepstow Castle Inn
       12 Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ
 01291 622575

 The Coach and Horses Inn
       Welsh St
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5LN
 01291 622626

 The Cross Keys Inn
       Coleford Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7BN
 01291 624977

 The First Hurdle
       9 Upper Church Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EX

 The Fisherman
       Beachley Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7AA
 01291 625584

 The Five Alls
       Hocker Hill Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5ER
 01291 630349

 George Hotel
       Moor Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DB

 Grape
       24 St Marys Street
       Chepstow
       Monmouth
       Gwent
       NP16 5EU
 01291 620959

 Green Dragon
       Moor Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DF

 Kings Head Hotel
       Welsh Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5LL
 01291 629635

 Live & Let Live Inn
       Coleford Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7BN
 01291 624782

 The Old Course Hotel
       Newport Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5PR

 Three Tuns Inn
       32 Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EY
 01291 628947

 The Two Brewers
       Thornwell Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5NS
 01291 623204

 White Lion
       Bank Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EL
 01291 622854


 Hotels in Chepstow:
 The Beaufort Hotel
       The Beaufort Hotel
       Beaufort Square
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EP
 01291 622497

 Castle View Hotel Ltd
       Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ
 01291 620349

 The Chepstow Hotel
       Newport Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5PR
 01291 626261

 George Hotel
       20 Moor Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DB
 01291 625363


 B&B's/Guesthouses in Chepstow:
 The First Hurdle
       10 Upper Church Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EX
 01291 622189


 Restaurants in Chepstow:
 Afon Gwy
       28 Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ
 01291 620158

 Jade (Chinese)
       17 St. Mary Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EW
 01291 622959

 Kongs Palace (Chinese)
       3 Bank Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EL
 01291 630404

 Mythos (Greek)
       Welsh Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5LL
 01291 627222

 The Red Lantern (Chinese)
       Bank Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EL
 01291 627726

 Sitar Balti (Indian)
       St Mawr
       Beaufort Square
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EP
 01291 627351

 The Wye Knot (British)
       The Back
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5HH
 01291 622929


 Cafes in Chepstow:
 The Rainbow Cafe & Bookshop
       38 Moor Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DF
 01291 628795

 St Mary's
       5 St Mary Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EU
 01291 621711


 Take Aways in Chepstow:
 A Kibby (Fish and Chips)
       48 Bulwark Road
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5JN
 01291 622883

 Fatty's Takeaway
       11 Thomas St Arcade
       Thomas Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DH
 01291 628185

 Golden River
       4 Bulwark Road
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5JQ
 01291 621578

 Good Frydays (Fish and Chips)
       15 King Alfreds Road
       Sedbury
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7AG
 01291 627581

 Hungry Soul (Fish and Chips)
       Albion Square
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5DA
 01291 620294

 Samosa House (Indian)
       15 Beaufort Square
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EP
 01291 620030

 Wongs (Chinese)
       Unit 2
       Bulwark Road
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5JG
 01291 627766


 Museums in Chepstow:
 Chepstow Museum
       Bridge Street
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5EZ
 01291 625981


 Misc in Chepstow:
 Chepstow Town AFC
       The Clubhouse
       Newport Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5PR
 01291 629220

 Chepstow Athletic Club
       Mathern Road
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5JT
 01291 622126

 Chepstow Race Couse
       St Lawrence Road
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 6BE
 01291 622260

 Kestrel Gymnastics Club
       Unit 7
       Bulwark Business Park
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5QZ
 01291 625800


 Taxis in Chepstow:
 1st Call Taxis
       38 Burnt Barn Rd
       Bulwark
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5NG
 01291 622777

 1st Red Cars
       34 Wyebank Rd
       Tutshill
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7ER
 01291 623737

 A-B Taxis
       Gloucester Rd Garage
       Gloucester Rd
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7DH
 01291 625696

 M & R Taxis
       Wayside
       Hardwick Hill
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 5PN
 01291 624482

 Town Gate Cars
       1 Ormerod Rd
       Sedbury
       Chepstow
       Gwent
       NP16 7AZ
 01291 627733


MABON, 2Rivers Folk Festival 07, Chepstow Castle


 

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