Chepstow in the County of Monmouthshire
Tour and Tourist Information Guide
Chepstow is a historic walled border town situated at the entrance to the Lower Wye Valley in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It was named Striguil in Norman times, but became known as Chepstow from the old English "ceap stowe" meaning market place. In addition to being a market town, Chepstow was a busy port, trading in timber from the Wye Valley with Bristol from medieval times.
The local shipbuilding trade that had declined during the 19th century was briefly revived during the First World War when the first prefabricated ships were constructed. Bulwark Village was built to house the workers that were brought to Chepstow to work in the new National Shipyard and now is home to about two thirds of the 10,000+ population of Chepstow. In addition to this much of the industry of the town is based at the Bulwark Trading Estate.
Chepstow is home to a splendid Norman Castle, The ruins of Chepstow Castle have a spectacular setting situated upon limestone cliffs rising from the shores of the River Wye.This powerful defensive position can best be seen from several points on the English side of the river. Entered by the Gateway at the lower end of town, its long shape, hugging the cliff edge, shows clearly its several stages of development from its early Norman beginnings. Its origins date back to 1067 with the building of the stone keep, but the castle was extensively modified and extended throughout the Middle Ages by the Marcher lords who controlled the garrison town. It finally fell to a siege by Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War of the seventeenth century.
The River Wye provides residents and visitors with a spectacular river walk with a bandstand and seating from which to enjoy the natural splendours of the valley, woods and cliffs. The old cast iron road bridge dating from 1816 is an excellent example of elegant Victorian engineering. It succeeded a number of wooden predecessors which had been built on or near the same site. A short walk from the town centre you will find yourself traversing twisting medieval streets, a trip to the Chepstow Museum is well worthwhile to learn of the history of the area from Roman times.
Chepstow is also home to a racecourse which plays host to year round National Hunt and Flat Racing, including the Welsh Grand National. The Marriott St. Pierre Hotel and Country Club is the setting for the Ladies Solheim Cup and other international golfing tournaments. The Town Gate is another focal point in the history of Chepstow, having been built at the same time as the Port Wall during the lordship of Roger Bigod. The gate has been completely renovated with the armorial bearings of Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester hung on the landward face of the building. Somerset had restored the gate in 1524 and the Duke of Beaufort unveiled this heraldic achievement of his ancestor in April 1988.