st. bridget’s church, in the village of skenfrith, is one of monmouthshire’s finest historic buildings and one of the oldest churches in continuous use. with its significant timber belfry to the west tower, st. bridget’s stands on the banks of the river monnow, separating england and wales, opposite the medieval skenfrith castle and surrounded by rolling hills.
this red sandstone church was enlarged beyond its tower and nave in the middle ages and was reformed after the restoration in the 17th century. untouched by any victorian makeover, major work was carried out in1909-10 using the principles of the art and craft movement led by william morris. most recently money raised allowed the friends of st. bridget’s to contribute to the reinstatement of the stone roof tiles and the conservation of internal plaster and wall paintings.
st. bridget’s contains all sorts of interesting treasures such as medieval glass, part of a medieval chancery screen, wall paintings, monuments, tomb stones, decorative jacobean pews and early benches, furnishings from a 1660s re-ordering including the font, even an opus anglicanum 15th century cope which has recently been restored.
services are held every sunday at 9.15am and funerals, baptisms and weddings can be arranged.
- join us for the skenfrith tour on (most) wednesdays
- meet at the bell at skenfrith at 10.30 for coffee and biscuits
- tour is from 11am until 12.30pm and led by an historic tour guide
- return to the bell for lunch (not included in price and pre-orders are recommended)
tour costs £8 per person (minimum 6 people) and must be pre-booked by contacting the bell on 01600 750235
coach parties are very welcome by prior arrangement
a visit may only scratch the surface of what is on offer in this splendid area; ask us and we'll suggest the sites and areas that best suit your interests. it's difficult, when travelling in the borderland of south wales, herefordshire and beyond not to trip over the kind of historic buildings and structures that draw people from all over the world to the area. here is a small selection of what is available in the area. for more info visit www.monmouthshire.org.uk
the remains of grosmont castle are picturesquely situated in the valley of the river monnow, close to the herefordshire border. it became a favourite residence of the dukes of lancaster. henry plantagenet, great-grandson of henry iii, received the name 'grosmont' after the castle in monmouthshire where he was born. he grew up to be one of the most successful military leaders of his day, winning wars against scotland in 1336 and 1341, and later serving with edward iii in flanders and france during the hundred years' war.
visit hereford to take in the magnificent cathedral, its superb ancient chained library and the famous mappa mundi (one of the oldest maps in the world) and signed magna carta (which will be going to the usa in 2014). for more info visit www.herefordcathedral.org
kilpeck church has been described as one of the most perfect norman village churches in england. famous for its ornately carved south facing door, which contains elements of celtic, saxon and even viking art and its gargoyles. it was built in the middle of the 12th century and the church has been altered little since that time.
llanthony priory is an old monastery of augustinian canons, where st. david is rumoured to have lived as a hermit. the habitable part has been converted into an inn, where good food and drink is served. the church is in ruins, but the western towers, part of the central tower, and some of the arches are still standing.
when visiting monmouth, eight miles to the south, you'll see historic monnow bridge, dating from the 13th century; the only complete example of it's kind in britain. the town hosts an impressive market place and 18th century hall, as well as the birthplace of henry v, a museum collection dedicated to lord nelson, a splendid statue of charles rolls (one half of the rolls-royce dynasty) and the kymin - a splendid viewpoint over the whole area.
raglan, with its great multi-angular towers and tudor-styling, is unlike any other castle in wales. it was begun by sir william ap thomas, a veteran of the french wars, who grew wealthy through exploiting his position as a local agent of the duke of york in south-east wales. about 1435 he began building the great tower, subsequently known as the yellow tower of gwent, probably on the site of a much earlier norman motte-and-bailey castle. raglan is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and beautiful castles in britain.
your journey through the heritage of the area starts across the road from the bell, at skenfrith castle, built in 1220 and part of the 'three castles walk' (see walking page). other castles within the immediate area include grosmont castle, white castle, abergavenny castle and a little further afield chepstow castle and goodrich castle.
travel along the wye valley from monmouth to chepstow and you'll see the incredible tintern abbey housed in a lovely riverside village that draws visitors from all over the world.
this is surely one of wales's most overlooked gems. the impressive outer defences and moat, the massive castle with its nearly complete set of walls and the beautiful surrounding countryside come together to create a most memorable welsh castle experience.