Monmouth (Welsh: Trefynwy) is a town in south Wales, county town of the traditional county of Monmouthshire. It is situated at the confluence of the River Wye and River Monnow, and hence the name Monmouth, a contraction of 'Monnow-Mouth'. The Welsh name literally means Monnow town - tref (town) + Mynwy (River Monnow).
Monmouth boasts a 13th-century stone gated bridge, unique in Britain as it is the only preserved bridge of its design remaining. After centuries of waiting a second bridge over the Monnow was finally opened on the March 15, 2004, thus allowing the old bridge to become pedestrianised. This project has, however, meant the demolition of the old cattle market, thus Monmouth is no longer the market town it has traditionally been; however, a farmers' market selling local produce is still held.
Monmouth is very much a town of schools. Apart from the comprehensive school with over 1600 pupils, there are two independent schools - Monmouth School and Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls. There are also several state primary schools, with most areas served by both infants' and juniors' Schools.
Monmouth is twinned with Carbonne, France and Waldbronn, Germany.
Monmouth has its history in the times of the Roman occupation of Britain. The Romans called it Blestium, and modern local historians have found items of pottery and coinage that date from that period.
The town's appears again in the Domesday Book, and for the eleventh and twelth centuries the town and surrounding areas were ruled by French lords after the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. During this time, Monmouth Castle was built, holding views over the surrounding area. A Benedictine priory was also created in 1101, and it was from here that Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote his Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain). A fortified bridge was built during the thirteenth century.
In 1387, Henry V was born in Monmouth Castle. He would win the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Many parts of Monmouth, including the town's main square, are named after this battle.
In 1605, James I granted Monmouth a town charter by letters patent. The granting of the charter included the charge that the town "at all perpetual future times ... be and remain a town and borough of Peace and Quiet, to the example and terror of the wicked and reward of the good".
Famous people associated with Monmouth include:
- Geoffrey of Monmouth, born in 1090 and wrote Historia Regum Britanniae, the 'History of British Kings'
- James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, leader of the Monmouth Rebellion of 1685
- Henry V, born in Monmouth castle in 1387, who was immortalised in his victory at Agincourt and the square in the centre of town is named after this battle.
- William Jones, a liveryman of Worshipful Company of Haberdashers and founder of the first of the town's grammar schools. (The second was founded late in the nineteenth century, directly by the Haberdashers' Company.)
- Lord Nelson, who paid two visits to the town and approved a naval temple on the nearby Kymin Hill. Monmouth is home to a large collection of Nelson material.
- Charles Rolls, who lived in Monmouth and was co-founder of the Rolls-Royce company and was the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane. There is a statue of Charles Rolls in Agincourt Square, so named in recent years to attract tourists to the town by playing on Henry V's association.
- Dave Edmunds, Rock musician who was instrumental in the conception of the nationally famous Rockfield Studios, situated just outside the town, where Queen recorded their hit Bohemian Rhapsody.