Chepstow is a beautiful historic market town situated on the west bank of the River Wye. In medieval times it became the largest and most important port in Wales.
The location was named Striguil (or Estrighoiel) in Norman times – from the Welsh word ystraigyl meaning a bend in the river – but by about the 14th century had become known in English as Chepstow, from the old English ceap / chepe stowe meaning market place. The Welsh name for the town, Cas-gwent (being short for Castell Gwent), means "castle of Gwent".
Chepstow Castle is the first datable stone castle in Wales, built in 1067 . From its origins during the Norman times, to its bloody siege in the Civil War 600 years later, it is central to Chepstow's history.
Positioned on limestone cliffs with terrific views over The Wye there are have been various extensions to the Castle over the centuries until it fell to siege by Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century Civil War.
The Castle is now protected by CADW Welsh Historic Monuments, who act as custodians. It is open daily to visitors.
Once an important port with all its associated trades, and busy market town, traces of these past activities can easily be missed by today’s visitor. The Museum’s atmospheric displays reveal the rich and varied history of Chepstow, the working life of its people, their pleasures and pastimes.
A growing collection of watercolours and drawings illustrates the inspirational quality of the Wye Valley that continues to attract artists and tourists alike.
Situated in an elegant 18th century town house, just across the road from the Castle, the building’s own fascinating history as private house, school and Chepstow’s hospital is also vividly recreated.
St Mary's Church in the town centre dates back to the 11th century and is a cornerstone to the Catholic community of Chepstow. The tomb of Henry Marten, close friend of Oliver Cromwell, can be found inside the Church. Marten was imprisoned in the Tower at Chepstow Castle for many years until his death in 1680.
Just eight miles away from Chepstow The Cistercian abbey of Tintern is one of the greatest monastic ruins of Wales. It was only the second Cistercian foundation in Britain, and the first in Wales. It was founded on 9 May 1131 by Walter de Clare, lord of Chepstow. Today, many visitors to Chepstow also visit the spectacular Tintern Abbey which has a magical presence in the nearby Wye Valley.
The Port Wall was built in the 13th century to control entry in to Chepstow Town.Originally the wall was over 1,200 yards (1,100 metres) long, 6 feet (2 metres) thick and 15feet (4.6 metres) high. The ruins have been well preserved and are still visible to visitors today.
The Town Gate was also built in the 13th Century and was rebuilt during the early 16th century.Tolls were once collected on all cattle and goods that passed through for sale. The room above the Town Gate has had many and varied uses - prison, guard room, quarters for the local constable, tailors workroom, museum.
Following extensive restoration by Chepstow Town Council in 1986 his armorial bearings were cast by Keith Underwood, the well known local artist, and hung on the landward face of the building. The Duke of Beaufort unveiled this heraldic achievement of his ancestor in April 1988.
The building now houses the Town Council and the Citizens Advice Bureau and is available for meetings and functions.
The Chepstow iron bridge which connects Chepstow to Gloucestershire was built by John Rennie in 1816 and was constructed in cast- iron. This bridge was an important improvement in travel for local businesses and residents and it continues to provide valuable access across The Wye. Today it provides a picturesque view of the Town and a delightful place to spend a sunny afternoon watching the World go by.
To find out more information about the history of Chepstow and to check on opening times please visit the Tourist Information Centre.