The Royal Forest of Dean Tour and Tourist Information Guide
to Towns and Villages in and around the Royal Forest of Dean
Abenhall is a tiny, ancient village in a secluded quiet valley near Mitcheldean. The parish includes the settlement of Plump Hill, on the Mitcheldean to Cinderford Road as it climbs into the high Forest.
Once part of the Westbury Hundred (which was known as Dene at the time of the 1086 Doomsday book) Abenhall is on the Flaxley to Mitcheldean Road. Originally a mining and iron making centre, it is notable for its 14th century Church of St Michael, which is built of local red sandstone and has excellent contemporary carvings relating to the Forest of Dean's industries. These include a shield bearing the arms of the Freeminers on the west wall and the fabulous mid -15th century octagonal font, that has tools of miners and metalworkers incised on its sides.
St. Michael's Church - originally built as a chapel of ease, the church was expanded in the 14th century to include nave, south aisle and tower. The arms of the Freeminers can be seen on the south side of the tower and on the 18th century font.
St. Michael's Church - Abenhall is 1.5 km south of Mitcheldean and is set in beautiful surroundings on the edge of the Forest. Old Parish baptism, marriage and burial registers, from 1596, are stored at the Gloucestershire Record Office.
Alvington : One of a series of small hamlets that grew up along the Roman military coast road that led from Newnham to Chepstow, Alvington was a manor by late Saxon times and in the Doomsday Book survey of 1086 it had in Lordship (i.e. under control of the Lord of the Manor) 2 ploughs; 12 villagers with 9 ploughs; they pay 20 looms of iron and 8 sesters of honey'. As with some other places in the Forest, Alvington was originally part of Herefordshire and it only became part of Gloucestershire in the 13th century when it was absorbed into the Bledisloe Hundred and made a separate parish.
At this time, the manor and much of the parish was owned by Llanthony Priory in Gloucester and Alvington Court, a 16th century Elizabethan house that lies east of the village along Court Lane was probably built on the site of an early grange of the Priory. The oldest building in the village is the Church of St Andrew, built by Llanthony Priory around 1140 at which time it was dedicated to St Mary. Its dedication was changed in 1523 and in 1858; the church was radically restored, losing much of its original stonework apart from one small Norman window in the chancel.
Alvington is located on the lower slopes of the Severn escarpment, about 5 kilometres south-west of Lydney. It is bisected by the A48 trunk route. The village originally developed in a linear form along the main road. This part of the village is still characterised by older terraced properties along the A48. To the north of the A48, more recent development has taken place off Clanna Lane including an estate of over sixty houses. To the south-east of the main road, development occurred initially in the form of small cottages in large plots. Subsequently, a variety of bungalows and houses have been constructed in this area, although it still retains an open spacious character. The minor roads in this part of the village are generally unsuitable for additional traffic, and their junctions with the A48 are unsatisfactory. The majority of the village lies within a Conservation Area.
Awre : is an ancient place with a history going back before Saxon times. It has been listed in the Doomsday Book, and has character molded over the years by winds and tides of the River Severn. Once it boasted an important harbour and although all trace of this is lost now, salmon fishing is still carried out by local people.
Awre offers low-lying and fertile riverside land which has been utilised for the farming industry, which has given it its "working" village atmosphere with its farms.
A conservation area is continually being developed. At present, it is home to several young trees and shrubs. Oak bollards have been provided to protect the area and two or three small shrubs at the back of the verge.
Awre retains its natural charm with traditional verges, hedges and old buildings. Its inhabitants take a pride in the looks and spirits of the village. The local Inn serves food. Pronounced 'oar' this large agricultural parish is situated south of Newnham, below the River Severn's famous great horseshoe bend and fine views of the estuary can be had from the footpath, which follows the riverbank. Awre was originally one of the largest Forest Parishes and was held by the King, but it also claimed some lands in the parish of Slimbridge across the river. In the mid-13th century, the main river channel that runs down the estuary switched its course and began to erode away the shore, riverbank and land on the Awre side. As a result of this erosion, it is estimated that Awre lost about one third of its territory and even today, the parish boundary is set about three quarters of the way across the estuary as if the parish is hoping that one day, its lands will be restored. One legacy of this period is the lost village of Woodend, which was a small hamlet lying half a mile south of Awre. This used to be some way from the river but as erosion increased, the waters gradually began to edge closer until, in the 'Great Floods' of 1741, Woodend was finally swept away. All that remains of this lost village today is a scatter of bricks and stones which can be seen at low water on the sands.
St Andrews, Awre - The church of St. Andrews, Awre dates back to early 13th century and the churchyard contains a 1000 year old yew tree and under the tree, beside the church, there are graves of fishermen who drowned in the River Severn in the days of the old Severn Trow sailing ships. The church lies among scattered farms in a loop of the River Severn. It has an embattled 15th century west tower with three stages divided by string courses and diagonal buttresses. A 13th century doorway has been reset within the tower as well as a window in the porch. The church has been lightly restored by Waller & Son in 1875. Inside the church you will find a magnificent wooden chest, carved out of a single trunk of an elm tree, which was supposedly used for laying out bodies recovered from the River Severn. Outside there is a good collection of typical Forest of Dean tombstones.
Aylburton is a small village on the A48 road, just south of Lydney. The village of Aylburton has a population of about 650.
The village boasts a fine 14th century preaching cross in a central position. Not far away from this is the Aylburton Methodist Church.
The "old hospital" at Upper High Street, now a private house, was founded early in the 1900's by Bertha, Lady Bledisloe of Lydney Park and later developed into the Lydney and District Hospital at Gove Road, Lydney.
The Aylburton Memorial Hall commemorates the village's fallen in two World Wars and was completed in 1922. St. Mary's - St. Mary's Church, although erected as late as 1857 incorporates much of the original 14th century fabric having been moves stone by stone from Chapel Hill, behind the village, at that time. The 15th century pulpit is one of only sixty left in England today.
Blaisdon lies about 8 miles South West of Gloucester on the edge of the Severn flood plain. Before the Norman Invasion it was known as Blethes Dene, meaning 'wooded place'. The village turns towards the rich farmland of the Vale of Gloucester, and its land is predominantly fertile, once with many orchards growing the 'Blaisdon Plum'. Always small, the village is protected by the barriers of the River Severn and Forest of Dean The centuries were hardly noticed here, and even the Civil War of 1642 passed by it. The early houses were timber framed, built with Forest Oak, but a disastrous fire on 7th July 1699 destroyed most of the village. Subsequent rebuilding was in stone or brick, but some timber framed buildings remain. In the 18th Century the village estate was owned by Robert Hayle and John Wade, whose daughter Anna Gordon ran the estate until its sale in 1865. The Great Western Railway connected the village to the Hereford -Gloucester branch line in 1852, and steam trains could be heard in the village until 1964. A rising industrialist, Henry Crawshay acquired most of Blaisdon in the 1860's, and rebuilt the nave of the church in 1866. Blaisdon Hall was built in 1876 for his son Edwin. By 1890 the hall and most of the estate had passed to Peter Stubbs, who built the entrance Lodge to Blaisdon Hall, the Village hall and the Forge. At the stud farm he bred Blaisdon Conqueror - the worlds largest shire horse, whose bones lie in the British Museum. On his death in 1906 Peter Stubbs eldest daughter, Mary Helen Macwer inherited the main hall and built the estate houses in the village centre, and the Gamekeepers Lodge. With her husband Colin, she ran the Estate until her death in 1928.The Salesians of Don Bosco acquired Blaisdon Hall as a seminary in the 1930's, and ran the Stud farm as a mixed farm school. A valued part of the village community, all visitors were made welcome at their home, until they left in 1995. Hartpury Agricultural College took the hall until 1999 when it returned to private ownership.
Blakeney is a small, thriving village on the eastern edge of the Forest of Dean, on the main A48 road between Gloucester and Chepstow. It was at a house called Hawfield that Thomas Stenhold was born. He was Groom of the Robes to Henry VIII and his son, but is renowned (along with John Hopkins of Awre) for publishing the first metrical version of the Psalms. The house where he was born still exists in the village. Thomas Sternhold died in 1549.
Situated at the confluence of the Blackpool and Soudley Brooks, Blakeney is a busy Forest village that was a natural site for early industry (an iron forge and furnace existed here as early as 1228). The oldest building is the 16th century Swan House, formerly an inn, although there are several 17th and 18th century buildings in the village, the largest being the early 18th century Church of All Saints. Blakeney's industrial past is recalled by several buildings, including two corn-mill; the Upper Mill, by the A48 and Nibley Mill ( a partly half timbered house with adjoining stone mill where the B4431 Parkend road joins the A48). The old Blakeney Goods Station and the imposing six arched railway viaduct were built for the Forest of Dean Central Railway, which was begun in 1856 and was intended to run from Howbeach Colliery (situated about 1mile north east of the village) to a new dock at Brimspill on the Severn, it was never completed and only ran to a junction on the main South Wales line.
During renovations on one of the houses near Blackpool Brook, a large high-status Roman villa was discovered. This building was located next to the Roman military coast road from Newnham and it not only had a heating system, tiled roof and a stone courtyard but also a slip-way on the stream, indicating it was accessible by boat from the Severn. Pottery on the site dated construction to c75AD, making it the earliest villa known in the Dean and it was occupied for around sixty years until being demolished sometime in the middle of the 2nd century. It is thought that it was the residence of a high ranking Roman official, possibly an Army officer from the legionary fortress at Gloucester.
The Church of England church at Blakeney was built in the 1800's. Before this time, the parish was combined with the village of Awre, a little further to the east and closer to the River Severn. The font is what appears to be a 15th century stoup for holy water, believed to have been removed from Awre church during the reformation and buried for safety. It was found near Gatcombe when the railway was built, and used locally as a flower pot for many years before being brought to the church at Blakeney. In the early 1800s there was a considerable non-conformist movement from the established church, and a tabernacle was built at Blakeney in 1823, a mile north of the village. This building is now used as houses. A replacement tabernacle was built in the village in 1849 (before the church of England church was built).
Brockhampton is 'Brook settlement'. In Domesday it was Caplefore and marked as Brochamtona in the annotated Herefordshire Domesday of 1160-70. In Domesday Caplefore was a manor of the Church of Hereford. There were five English hides which paid tax and three Welsh hides which paid six shillings a year to the canons of the cathedral. In the five English hides there was one plough in lordship. There were eight villagers with seven ploughs and three acres of meadow.
The Brockhampton Estate, near Bromyard, is a National Trust Property. The estate comprises some 2000 acres (680 hectares) of farmland and ancient woodland, including some of the finest oaks in the country. Lying within the estate is a moated timbered farmhouse. The farmhouse is referred to as Lower Brockhampton. A narrow winding road, nearly 2 miles long, leads from the estate entrance to the farmhouse.
All Saints Church is one of only three thatched churches in Herefordshire.
Brockweir is a small but attractive village located alongside the River Wye, where there used to be a boat building industry. It is reported that vessels up to 90 tonnes could reach this point from the sea, where their cargoes were transferred to shallow barges and hauled up the river by teams of men.
In front of the Quay House there is a screw and shaft (a propelling mechanism)which is reputed to have come from the Belle Marie, which in 1914 became the last boat to sail to Brockweir.
Built in Gloucester in 1860 it was Brockweir's 'market boat' and carried local produce to Bristol on a weekly basis between 1898-1912.
Before the cast iron road bridge was built in 1904-6, only one narrow road led into the village and access was usually achieved by water, with a ferry-taking travelers to and from the Welsh bank.
Many of the buildings had river connections, acting as warehouses and although today only one public house remains, there were once 16 inns to satisfy the demands of locals, watermen and shipbuilders!
Other interesting buildings include the 16th century Manor House (which stands facing the bridge), the 19th century Moravian Chapel (with its Gothic Windows, Art Nouveau glass and a bellcote) and the Old Malt House (which has a fine Tudor-arched stone doorway).
During World War 2, Brock weir and its bridge had a narrow escape when a Wellington bomber, returning from a mission to France, crashed just upstream of the bridge after its crew had safely baled out.
Clearwell is located about three miles south of Coleford in an attractive valley adjacent to the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The village has historical associations with the extraction of iron on the adjoining Clearwell Meend.
St Peter, Clearwell : This is considered by some as a "jewel" among an historic village and was designed by John Middleton as requested by the Dowager Countess Dunraven of Clearwell Castle and was opened in 1866. It is a fine example of mid 19th century "French Gothic" style as there is a mass of carving, coloured stone, brass and stained glass and a magnificent stenciled roof. The interior consists of courses of blue and red sandstone whereas the outer walls are faced with local sandstone and dressings of white bath stone. There is also a great deal of fine sculpture. Most of Clearwell lies within a Conservation Area and there are many fine buildings in the village, typically constructed of local red sandstone. Notable among these buildings are Clearwell Castle and the Church of St. Peter. The village originated in Saxon times as a mining hamlet where iron ore was dug out of the surrounding limestone rock. This activity began in the Iron Age and expanded rapidly during the late Medieval period, reaching a peak in the 16th /17th centuries. Much wealth was accumulated which shows in the many fine stone buildings in the village and the large village cross. Clearwell castle was built in the early 18th century by Thomas Wyndham to replace an older house on the same site.
The Clearwell Castle was built in Gothic style with battlements and is a two-story hall enclosed within a courtyard. It has an imposing gateway formed by two three-story towers. Built of local stone, the house was first known as Clearwell Court but the name was changed to Clearwell Castle in 1908. For a time after 1947 it lay empty and deserted but in the 1960's it was bought and restored by the son of the former estate gardener and converted into a hotel, and its now a nationally known wedding venue. Other buildings of note include several Tudor cottages, the Wyndham Arms Inn and Platwell House which has an 18th century front and Tudor back.
The village of Devauden is situated in the Wye Valley on the B4293. approximately four miles from Tintern Abbey, about six miles from Chepstow and ten miles from the town of Monmouth . Devauden is geograpically situated on the hills that divide the Wye and Usk valleys.
The village has a Church, Post Office/Shop, Pub, (unfortunately no meals) and a Garage.
Chepstow Park Forest managed by the Forestry Commission has miles of beautiful woodland and is open for everyone to enjoy.
English Bicknor is one of the ancient villages of the Forest of Dean, situated at the top of a hill overlooking the Wye Valley, and once the site of an ancient motte & bailey castle, the remnants of which can still be seen. Close to the village is Bicknor Court, an imposing house some 400 years old. Situated between Symond's Yat and Lower Lydbrook on high ground opposite its namesake Welsh Bicknor.
English Bicknor is first recorded as a hamlet in 1066. A primarily agricultural and industrial area, its main attraction today is the small Norman Church of St Mary which has excellent internal masonry and sculpture dating from the 12th century. The original tower was situated centrally but was built from the soft local sandstone which became unsafe. The church is also interesting because it is sited within the outer courtyard of the motte and bailey castle. Norman masonry has been found within the motte, suggesting at least part was built in stone and while nothing is left of the castle's actual structure today, its location is still identifiable.
A typical early Norman defence work which is one of many along the Welsh border, it is thought to have been built in the reign of Henry 1 (1100 - 1135) or Stephen (1135 - 54) and was demolished or destroyed by the late 14th Century, but why and how is not known.
The Beautiful Village of Fownhope is a substantial village located along the B4224, sandwiched between the meandering River Wye to the west and the limestone hulk of the Woolhope dome to the east. From the higher ground to the east there are splendid views over the Wye, lush, alluvial pastures grazed by sheep, ploughed fields, pebble beaches and the sun glinting on the gentle, running water.
During the spring the wild cherry blossom covers the hill leading to the Iron Age hill fort of Cherry Hill. Whatever the time of year, Fownhope welcomes you to some of the best scenery in Herefordshire. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) with excellent accommodation and places to eat. Why not spend a few days here and share with us this wonderful village and surrounding countryside.
Hoarwithy is a pleasant, unspoilt village on the banks of the tranquil River Wye and is ideal for exploration. In a quietly beautiful part of Herefordshire, it has a ‘middle-of-nowhere’ feel without being too remote. it is nonetheless part of a rural scene that has hardly changed over the centuries.
The impressive Italinate parish church of St. Catherine's, quite unlike any other Herefordshire church, can be found above the village of Hoarwithy, about 4 miles north of Ross-on-Wye. The original chapel was built in 1840 by Reverend Thomas Hutchinson, Curate in charge of Hentland Parish. In 1870, Prebendary William Poole, Vicar of Hentland 'beautified' the property he considered 'an ugly brick building with no pretensions to any style of architecture' in Southern Italian Romanesque and Byzantine styles.
The village of Kempley can be found in the North Forest of Dean district, and is surrounded by un spoilt countryside. Kempley has two churches, St. Mary's dates back to Norman times and because of the great historic value of the 12th century frescoes inside it is now managed by English Heritage, and the Courtauld Institute have recently taken on the task of preserving these relics. St. Edward's Church dates back to 1903 and was designed by Randall Wells during the Arts and Crafts movement. John Betjamin described St. Edward's as "a miniature cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement".
Located between Kempley and Dymock village, lies the delightful Dymock Wood, which is varied in its array of wild flowers, especially in the spring, when you can see the daffodils and the bluebells. "Daffodil teas" are a traditional source of refreshment, held in the local village hall during the daffodil season. St. Mary's, Kempley
St. Mary's church stands in a peaceful spot some distance away from the modern village. The most significant feature of the church is that it contains a group of frescoes which are among the best in the country. The tiny nave is early Norman, and the paintings here date from the 13th century. However, the best and oldest of the paintings are in the chancel. These frescoes date from 1130 and appear almost as fresh as when they were first painted, this being due to the Reformation whitewash and the Victorian varnish which was removed in 1872. The frescoes were restored to their original condition in 1955. Scenes in the chancel include Christ sitting on a rainbow blessing the world, while in the nave St. Michael weighs souls.
This small, thriving village on the edge of the Forest situated on the A40 road from Gloucester to Ross-on-Wye was here, with its own church, at least as early as 1100 A.D. It grew up at the foot of the Forest escarpment at the junction of two important Forest roads, the Gloucester - Ross road and the Gloucester - Mitcheldean road - both of which had their origins in the Roman period. These were both turn-piked in 1726 and the Toll House, which was built in c1830 still stands at the junction.
A mainly agricultural parish, Huntley was early manor but is mainly notable for its Church of St John the Baptist, . The original Norman 12ht century church was demolished in 1861 except for its tower, during a major restoration undertaken by Teulon, the famous architect who was notable for his Decorated Gothic interpretations of earlier church building styles. The rebuilding was paid for by Huntley's rector, Daniel Capper, who gave the architect free reign and the resulting church proved to be one of Teulon's most enterprising and original designs, Teulon also built Huntley Manor (a mile to the North West) which, thanks to its decorated turrets has been described as a French chateau but in reality was another original design.
St. John the Baptist : it is thought that the original church at Huntley was built about 1100 AD. It was certainly here in 1075 when it was listed amongst the possessions of the Benedictine Priory in Monmouth Castle. There is also record of it belonging to Monmouth Priory in a list of churches confirmed by the Bishop of Hereford in 1144. The stonework of the tower is dated to have been built around 1100. The church was virtually totally reconstructed in 1862 during the Victorian era of church building, and with the exception of the tower, is new work by the architect S. S. TEULON. In the main, he used local red sandstone, with quoins and dressings of a contrasting local limestone. A new spire was added to the old tower. The church bells include some which are very old, and which are still in use. The oldest is dated 1420, and bears the inscription "W. F., I. T., R. B. Bayli of Huntley, 1420". These refer to the churchwardens and the Earl of Shrewsbury's bailiff, as Huntley was at that time part of the Earl's estate. This bell has been ringing here for almost 600 years! The fourth bell bears an inscription in Latin, translated as "God save noble King James 1616". The tenor bell is dated 1670 and on it is marked the names of the "Church Wardens" Joseph WHYE and Thomas DRAPER.
The secret jewel in the heart of the of the Wye Valley
Llandogo is a very attractive village nestling between wooded hillside roughly halfway between Monmouth and Chepstow, just north of Tintern Abbey. This stretch of the river Wye is considered to be one of the loveliest river valleys in Britain. William Wordsworth, who visited this area on many occasions, wrote about 'the cottages on the hills' and the 'wreaths of smoke' sent up in silence from among the trees.
The village of Llandogo derives its name from the founder of the church of St. Oudoceus, who was the third Bishop of Llandaff in the 6th century. The present church was built on the same site
Llandogo was a port before Chepstow and many of the local men were barge builders. In those distant days the village was open to much water traffic and had been so for centuries. The flat-bottomed Trow travelled the high seas then, carrying cargoes of bark and hazel hoops as far afield as Italy, and brining back barrels of sherry. The Llandogo Trow is immortalised by the name of a pub in Bristol to this day.
There is a multitude of varied, exciting, peaceful and interesting walks within the vicinity of Llandogo. The zigzag walk from the stream at The Sloop Inn via the Cleddon Road and up to the Cleddon shoots is quite spectacular. This area is a grade one area of special scientific interest
The small hamlet of Cleddon lies at the top of the walk and it was in Cleddon Hall that Bertrand Russell was born.
Llandogo was once an important docking point for small sailing vessels, which worked, between South Wales and Bristol. The Sloop Inn has a certain romantic and historic connection with a pub on the other side of the Bristol Channel at Bristol Docks called the 'Llandogoer Trow'. A trow was a small sailing barge, the last one of which has just been restored and will be moored at the Ironbridge Museum in Shropshire.
Littledean is one of the ancient villages of the Forest of Dean. Situated a mile east of the town of Cinderford, it contains many old buildings dating back to the 1600's, and some even earlier. Littledean Hall, no longer open to the public, is one of these ancient buildings, and it is reputed to be one of the most haunted houses in England, though this is stoutly denied by its current owner who is at pains to discourage the notion..
The village was once the site of Roman occupation, and the remains of the Roman temple can be seen in the grounds of the Hall. Even earlier, the hillside to the east of the village was the site of an ancient encampment and the hillside still bears traces of the banks and ditches of the fortifications. Littledean grew up at the centre of a network of ancient Forest tracks (notably the Roman road which led up from the ford and ferry at Newnham). By 1086 a motte & bailey castle, known in later times as the Old castle of Dene, had been built on a hill to the east, in a commanding position above the village and the valley leading up from the Severn plain. Littledean gradually became a centre of local industry, especially iron making and associated metal trades.
Littledean's Church of St Ethlebert was built in the late 12th century with the tower added in the 14th century. Today this has a rather truncated appearance, because the tower originally had a spire which was destroyed in a severe gale in 1894 and never rebuilt. Other buildings of interest are the Red House an early building, possibly with a Norman Core, the Old Coaching Inn and Littledean Hall. Also known as Dean Hall, this is reputed to be the oldest known house in Gloucestershire. The present house is 16ht century in date, with an early17th century north wing and a mid 19th century top story. Within the grounds of Littledean Hall is a Roman temple, sited at a springhead on the edge of the Forest escarpment. It was only discovered in the early 1980's and subsequent archaeological excavation revealed a complex history. Perhaps the most interesting artifact from the site is a piece of sandstone which has a primitive face carved on one side. This was found on the site in 1991 and is of Celtic origin. As the Romans often adopted local religions and sacred sites, it is thought that Littledean temple was built as a water shrine dedicated to the. deity of the River Severn and its bore, for the site has excellent views of the great horseshoe bend in the river.
The most noticeable building in the village is Littledean Gaol, an imposing structure designed by the London architect William Blackburn using locally quarried red sandstone, it was one of four identical gaols built in the country by Sir George Onesiphorus Paul in 1791 and is easily the best preserved. The public can visit it by prior arrangement.
Lydbrook is a large village situated on the western edge of the Forest of Dean and adjacent to the Wye Valley. Many of the village houses are high on the valley hillsides. The Lydbrook valley was once the site of a thriving tinplate works, opened in 1871 and closed in 1925. The village also housed the large cable works factory built in 1912 by H. W. Smith & Co. The works supplied a vast quantity of field telephone cable during the First World War. The old railway, built in 1872 ran high along the hillside, and then crossed the valley on a huge viaduct on 90ft high stone piers. The viaduct was finally demolished in 1969. Without the heavy industry, the village is now a tranquil backwater. Lydbrook became established thanks to its deep valley, running down to the Wye from the central Forest. It offered a source of power (running water), close proximity to materials such as wood, stone and iron ore and also good communications and transport via the Wye. A mill existed at Lydbrook as early as 1282 by the late 15th century, there were three forges, a lime kiln a tinplate works and a wire-works. It became the principle coal port on the Wye from which Forest coal was shipped to Ross and Hereford. Despite the fact that for most of its history Lydbrook has been a hive of industrial activity, surprisingly little of this remains to be seen. The Forge Hammer Inn (currently closed) recalls the village's past along with a row of former dockworkers cottages at the foot of the valley near the river. There is a group of lime kilns in the lane above the Royal Spring Inn and the King's Howarth Furnace, albeit in greatly changed form also remains. Most notable however are the abutments of the Severn & Wye Railway Viaduct, which was built in 1872 to carry a branch railway line from Cinderford, a major feat of 19th century engineering
Three miles to the south-west of Newent lies May Hill (National Trust Land). The hill rises to over 900 feet. The conifers on top of the hill were planted to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The magnificent view from the top of May Hill stretches over Gloucestershire and extends to Bristol, on a clear day. May Hill itself can be clearly seen from over 45 miles from the north, and from Dundry 50 miles to the south, easily identifiable by the clump of trees on it's summit.
Mordiford is pure English countryside at its very best. It lies a few miles south of the cathedral city of Hereford and about a 30 minute journey north from Ross-on-Wye, which takes you through some of the lushest scenery in the Wye valley.
Mordiford stands on the River Lugg, slightly above its junction with the better known River Wye. It is a beautiful river that snakes it's way through bountiful meadows, orchards and farmlands. Good fishing is to be enjoyed on the Lugg, it is known well for grayling. Mordiford itself is a patchwork of fields and wooded hills and little lanes that criss-cross here and there. Dotted around are beautiful old cottages, and farmhouses that hide behind an avenue of lofty trees. At Mordiford is a 600 year old bridge that has nine arches. Interestingly, it is said that in medieval times when the king rode over this bridge he was given a pair of silver spurs by the lords of Hereford and it is supposed that this was their payment for the manor of Mordiford.
Fine as the scenery is in this wonderful area, for views that are truly spectacular you need to walk from the town to the top of Blackbury Hill. The vista's all around are stunning, the sparkling river lies below and in the distance, beyond the great cathedral of Hereford, you can see the misty tips of the Welsh mountains. This is a peaceful, lonely spot, often not a sound can be heard other than the twittering of birds as they circle even higher above you.
Many species of wildlife thrive in the wooded areas that are spread throughout this beautiful region. You can roam in quiet tranquility along the forestry commission paths that take you past old oaks, firs and beech trees. Autumn is glorious, a never ending rainbow of brilliant greens, golds and rich reds. Leaves fall and form a thick carpet beneath your feet and a late after-noon sun dapples between the trees, the atmosphere is magical and you could be foriven for imagining an elf or two, with graceful fairies, dancing in the glade!
This too, is fruit country and as you drive along the leafy lanes, you pass mile upon mile of orchards full of gorgeous english apples, pears and cherries. Fields are full of fresh strawberries and round every corner is a poster proclaiming P.Y.O. Giant hops grow throughout the region, for Herefordshire is famous for it's cider. You can have a wonderful day out here, you can relish the vast open spaces of Mordiford and the fine views over the Lugg from Blackbury Hill, you can savour the calm tranquility of the woods, and afterwards, you can seek out a friendly inn and part-take of a hearty supper, taken with a glass of local cider followed by strawberries and cream.
Penallt is a village in Monmouthshire, Wales. In the centre of the village, by the village green, is the seventeenth century village pub, the Bush Inn.
Nearby, the Penallt Old Church Wood is a ten acre nature reserve managed by the Gwent Wildlife Trust. This deciduous woodland forms a habitat for Pied Flycatchers, Nuthatch, Tree Pipits, Treecreepers and Sparrowhawks, as well as plants such as Wild Daffodils and Moschatel.
The Old Church is about a mile north of the village, and is mostly late mediaeval. The door bears the date 1539. The Church dedication is unknown, though there is a local tradition that it was St James, the patron saint of pilgrims.
The Argoed, a seventeenth-century mansion, lies to the south east of the village. It was once owned by the father of Beatrice Webb, the British socialist, economist and reformer.
The Wild Daffodil occurs in several places in Monmouthshire, such as Springdale Farm and Penallt Old Church Wood. However the greatest spectacle is provided by the slope below Margaret's Wood reserve, on the way to Whitebrook, where a carpet of thousands of flowers provides a wonderful display at the end of March and beginning of April.
Redbrook overlooks the River Wye and a riverside park created by the local community to mark the millennium. A little above the river is the 19th century Church of St Saviour. Redbrook was the northern terminus of the Wye Valley Railway. When it closed, its rails were taken up and sent to France during WWII.
Situated on a attractive stretch of the Wye, Redbrook was an important industrial centre thanks to an ample supply of water power which ran down the valley and surrounding hills to the river. From Swan Pool down to the Wye, a number of leats, dams and reservoir ponds were created with many industrial sites including mills, an iron furnace, tinplate works and copper works. The oldest site is the King's Mill, which was a corn mill fist recorded in 1434 and remained in use until 1925. Though destroyed by fire some ruins and the wheel pit can still be seen by the road leading up the valley (following the track of the 812 Monmouth & Coleford Tramway).
The Redbrook Copper Works was established c1960 using ore brought from Cornwall via Chepstow and worked until 1740 when it closed down and the buildings leased for the manufacturer of tinplate. The tinplate factory, run by the Redbrook Tinplate Co., was world famous for the high quality product it made and did not close until 1962. Today the manager's residence, dating from c1700, still survives (as private houses) but of the other buildings little now remains. Redbrook was also a port where the various products of the local industries were shipped out and the quay, though overgrown, still survives, along with a stone warehouse and a tram-road which linked the industrial works to this building can still be made out.
The most obvious feature at Redbrook is the wooden pedestrian bridge which once carried the Wye Valley railway across the river and now forms part of the Wye Valley Path.The railway was opened in 1876 to connect Monmouth to the South Wales line and did not close until 1964. On the opposite side of the river by the bridge is The Boat Inn, which originated as a hostelry for river watermen and is now an attractive little unspoilt real ale pub.
Shirenewton is a small village, lying 5 miles (8 km) out of the town of Chepstow, Monmouthshire, UK. The village stands around 500 feet (154 m) above sea level, and has views of the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel.
The name Shirenewton has had several variations over the years, such as Sheref Newton, Neweton, Nether Went, and Nova Villa. The present name derives from the creation of the village in a forest clearing by the Sheriff of Gloucester, Walter Fitzherbert, around AD 1100. It means "Sheriff's New Tun". Tun is the old word for a homestead. There has recently been some controversy over the Welsh name for the village, but this has been confirmed by the Place Names Standardisation Committee of the Welsh Language Board to be Drenewydd Gelli-farch, which is normally translated to "new settlement at the stallion's grove". The 1892 Chepstow Directory has an entry for Shirenewton, showing that it had a population of around 650 people. The current population is unknown, but the number of houses in the village has increased markedly in recent years. Many attempts have been made to extend the village, to add small housing estates, but most have come up short due to the village boundaries, and the desire of the locals to keep the village as it is.
Shirenewton, although relatively small, has a collection of four Pubs:
St Arvan is a parish on the high road from Chepstow to Monmouth and Raglan.
The church of St. Arvan is an ancient building of stone, erected at various periods, and consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a tower containing one bell, dated 1751. The priest's door on the south side of the chancel is an interesting example of Early Norman work, and there is a window on the same side dating from a century later: a portion of the shaft of an ancient Saxon stone cross.was found in taking down the walls of the nave, and in a cavity in the walls, in another part of the church, a number of silver coins were discovered.
The church was almost completely restored in 1883-4, under the directon of Mr. Pritchard, architect, at a cost of about £2,000, of which £500 was contributed by Mrs. Clay, of Piercefield, and the church was reopened 26 Feb. 1884: there are 300 sittings. The register dates from the year 1686, when all previous registers were burnt. The living is now a vicarage, with Penterry annexed in 1888, joint net yearly income £200, with 42 acres of glebe here and residence in the gift of the Bishop of Llandaff and the Duke of Beaufort alternately, and held since 1887 by the Rev. John Tilley.
Staunton, "the place of the stones", was the ancient name given by the Anglo-Saxons. The village has stones of ancient origins and of mysterious forms, these are the Buck, Toad, Broad, Long and Queen Stone, all of which have origins dating back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. The Buckstone lies in Highmeadow Woods near the village. The huge rock on the summit of Buckstone Hill is said to have been used in Druid ceremonies, and actually used to rock before it was dislodged in 1885. This point is at 915 feet and one can view panoramic scenery such as views over the Forest of dean, Highmeadow Woods and the Black Mountains. The woods around Staunton are not actually part of the Royal Forest but are part of the Manor of Staunton.
In the churchyard of All Saints Church, you will see the grave of David Mushet (1772-1847). With his son, he developed interest in the iron industry of Dean and laid much of the groundwork for the impending steel industry in Britain.
The ponds are a haven for wildlife and the surrounding paths are suitable for the less able and wheelchair users. A steep walk up the ridge takes you to the Blaize Bailey viewpoint overlooking the River Severn.
St. Briavels is a picturesque village just outside the market town of Lydney.
St. Briavels stands on the edge of a limestone plateau 800 feet above the Wye Valley, with spectacular views.
The village shelters behind the remains of a 12th century castle which is now used as a youth hostel.
The entrance gateway dates back to 1275 and the castle was the administrative centre of the Royal Hunting Forest.
The founder of the castle was Milo Fitz Walter, the Earl of Hereford, who in the reign of Henry VIII found it necessary to monitor the infringements of the Welsh.
The flat grass platform to the west of the castle is actually composed of a pile of cinders thrown out in the days of iron ore smelting.
An ancient connection connected with Hudnalls Woods involves the throwing of bread and cheese from the pound wall on Whitsunday evening. Records state that this custom follows the rights given by King John, and later confirmed by Charles II to the parishioners of the village. It was necessary for the rights of local people to continue to cut wood from the Hudnalls, nearby.
The village has a small post office and a typical village garage, which inevitably adds to the rural character and charm. Within the village of St. Briavels, is a local craft outlet, and hostelries offering refreshment.
The village of Trellech, lies between Monmouth and Chepstow and is home to a marvellous collection of antiquities. Now really just a sleepy hamlet, this was once one of the most important towns in Wales - in its medieval heyday it was larger than Newport and Chepstow.
The standing stones pictured here indicate that the area was important even in prehistoric times.The stones may once have been part of an ancient large avenue or stone circle. The Trellech standing stones might look as though they were made from an early form of concrete but they are in fact large pieces of a volcanic rock locally known as pudding stone. This material was used to make certain types of millstone in days gone by. A 19th. century historian noted that a fourth stone once stood nearby but was destroyed towards the end of the 18th. century.
Welsh Bicknor is an area of Herefordshire. It was historically a detached parish of the traditional county of Monmouthshire.
The Manor House of Welsh Bicknor, known as Courtfield, belonged originally to the Vaughan family. However, in 1651 Richard Vaughan, who was a Catholic, had his land sequested and given to Phillip Nicholas of Llansoy, in Monmouthshire. It has been deemed to be part of Herefordshire since the Counties (Detached Parts) Act 1844. As its name suggests, Welsh Bicknor has close ties with Wales, being a detached parish of Monmouthshire, although adjacent to English Bicknor, which is part of Gloucestershire.
The village of Westbury on Severn from the Forest of Dean.
Westbury offers several vantage points for watching the phenomenal "Severn Bore". Surfers and canoeists ride this amazing tidal wave as it rolls up the river. The not so energetic can watch the Bore from one of the local hostelries in the parish. The energetic sightseer can climb Garden Cliff, distinctly banded in red and gray, and (if you bring wellington boots - because it is always muddy) you can visit the foot of the cliff when the tide is out and find fossil plesiosaur bones and sharks teeth from the Rhaetic era, and collect coprolites (fossilised dinosaur dung!), fool's gold, and the amazing "devil's toenails".
The Westbury Court Garden is set on low land on the banks of the River Severn.
Westbury was restored in the 1970s to become the best example of a medium-sized 17th-century Dutch garden in England. An elegant pavilion, tall and slender, looks down along a long tank of water. On the walls are old apple, pear and plum cultivars. Parterres (now planted in the 17th-century style), fine modern topiary and a T-shaped tank with a statue of Neptune in the middle make up the rest of the garden. All the plants were known to cultivation before 1720. The garden is going through a period of consolidation; visitors should expect changes. The Water Gardens include a long canal bordered by yew hedges. An elegant Dutch style pavilion is at the head of one canal.
Visit the unusual parish church with its detached spire, and eat at the Red Lion Inn beside the church. Westbury parish hall is home to football and rugby in the winter, and cricket in the summer, the Golden Age Brownies, the Parish Council, and the Westbury Players, whose pantomimes are legendary. Visit in July and join in the fun and festivities at the carnival.
Whitebrook is in the heart of the breathtaking Wye Valley in a hidden valley amongst the rolling countryside, It is a perfect base for exploring. This area of the Wye Valley has justifiably been designated an "area of outstanding natural beauty", with rugged limestone outcrops and gentle pastures offering the delights of the Wye Valley Walk and Offa's Dyke path.
The Wild Daffodil occurs in several places in Monmouthshire, such as Springdale Farm and Penallt Old Church Wood.
However the greatest spectacle is provided by the slope below Margaret's Wood reserve, on the way to Whitebrook, where a carpet of thousands of flowers provides a wonderful display at the end of March and beginning of April.
Woolhope is a village in Herefordshire, England, about 7 miles east of Hereford, a sleepy little village hidden away in the folds of the Marcle Hills.
A hilly land, with an intricate mix of woodland, farmland and its own distinct geology.
This zone is divided into two more-or-less distinct parts. In the north is Haugh Wood and a high density of smaller woods on the relatively steep contours of the Woolhope Dome. The southern part has fewer woods, a gentler landscape and more intensive agriculture.
The area includes a mosaic of the remains of old orchards, some fine examples of unimproved limestone grasslands and many old hedges and sunken tracks or 'sunkways'
Most fields retain their hedges, although these are heavily trimmed. There are relatively few hedge trees in the south of this area, but there are more to the north, many of them mature oak trees. Several field boundaries are now formed from old hedge trees and overgrown hedges. Some hedges have been removed to form large arable fields. The great majority of fields are used to grow arable crops, with a limited number used for sheep and cattle grazing. This zone contains a number of small villages and hamlets including Woolhope, Mordiford, part of Fownhope and Brockhampton. Several of the villages contain black-and-white timber framed buildings characteristic of Herefordshire.