Castles Museums & Churches

History – Castles, Museums and Churches

  • Chepstow Castle: The first of the great castles built in Wales.  Impressive clifftop location on the River Wye. Worth a visit.  You get a good view of the castle from the nearby bridge over the River Wye (6 minutes drive)
  • Caldicot Castle and country Park.  The castle is open in the Spring through to end of Summer, but ground open all year round.
  • Raglan Castle You can combine this with a drive up the Wye Valley  (35 mins drive)
  • Cardiff Castle In the heart of the capitol city.  (45 mins drive,  there is parking in ht centre or you can use the park and ride)
  • Castell Coch – means Red Castle in Welsh (North of Cardiff, 45 mins drive)
  • Tintern Abbey: Made famous by the romantic poets. Astonishingly beautiful ruin with access through CADW (the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage).  (5 miles away up the Wye Valley)
  • St Fagans: National Museum of Welsh Life in Cardiff.  An impressive collection of relocated and immaculately rebuilt structures from Welsh History.  For example, there is a  14th Century church, Welsh chapel, Victorian shop and school,  cock fighting ring, and a delightful row of miners’ cottages, each one decorated as if in a different decade, that allows you t see the changes over time.  A lovely afternoon out.   Free Entry!!  (40 mins drive, close to the M4).
  • Tredegar House: National Trust.  Grade 1 home of the Morgan family.  Beautiful 17th Century structure.  (25 minutes drive, off M4)
  • Caerleon: Roman Legionary Headquarters, museum, and amphitheatre.  (11 miles)
  • Caerwent: Once the largest town in Wales, now the barely noticeable remains of a Roman city.  Worth a stop off on route to Newport or Cardiff.  (3 miles, on A48)
  • Chepstow is a medieval town, and worth wandering around.
  • Heston Brake: Nearby in Portskewett, on a little hillock stands the neolithic chambered tomb of Heston Brake, one of the oldest surviving monuments in the area.  It is not much to write home about, but if you are into atmosphere and want a sense of historical continuity this is as good a place to start as any.   (10 minutes)

Cathedrals, Abbeys and Churches

  • Gloucester
  • Bath (Bath Abbey boasts the last gasp of the Gothic with some truly spectacular fan vaulting)
  • Chippenham
  • Tewkesbury
  • Bristol

Local churches worth a visit

  • St Tewdrics Mathern: has a lot of associated history and a direct connection with Moynes Court (see Willam Ayot’s Contextual History in the white folder, when you visit the Gatehouse) (3 mins drive)
  • St Mary’s Priory Chepstow (impressive tympanum and romanesque architecture),
  • St Jerome’s Llangwm Uchaf (a rare local survival of a carved rood screen.  Look for the hidden green man carving).
  • St Mary Radcliffe Bristol (said to be the greatest, most beautiful parish church in Britain.  A matter of taste but very impressive).
  • Kilpeck church (famous sheela-na-gig, extraordinary corbell carvings on the exterior of this village church make it worth the trip).
  • Pennant Melangell: Hidden in a valley some way north of us is a restored shrine built to an early welsh saint (Melangell), who saved a hare from hunters by hiding it in her skirts.  The prince she defied gave the land to her and the valley became a sanctuary.  Today this beautiful little spot is well worth a trip on route to the north or mid wales.  The local name for the hares that still play in the valley are ‘Melangells’ lambs’  (3 hours +)