Abergavenny is situated in the county of Monmouthshire, South Wales. Abergavenny is an historic market town in the north of the county that can trace its history back to Roman times. A vibrant and unspoilt town, Abergavenny also acts as the Gateway to the Brecon Beacons National Park with the Black Mountains being the closest mountain range. Visitors to Abergavenny may enjoy walking, cycling and bird watching, or for the more adventurous there is the opportunity for paragliding and mountain biking. The river Usk runs through the town, making Abergavenny a beautiful place to visit.
Many visit Abergavenny for its famous market days in the newly restored Victorian Market Hall. These include the farmers market, flea market, collectors fair, craft fair and the original produce market. The famous Abergavenny Food Festival attracts large crowds each September to the more than 100 stalls selling organic and locally sourced fare.
The great thing about Abergavenny is that it has something for everyone. If you're full of energy and enjoy sports, outdoor activities on offer in Abergavenny include fishing, cycling, mountain biking, sailing, hang gliding and paragliding, and pony trekking amongst the mountains. Fancy playing some golf Then head to Wernddu Golf Club, an 18 hole golf course which was built in 1992 and has grown in both size and status.
Abergavenny's leisure centre is located on Old Hereford Road and has plenty of facilities available to use, including a fitness suite, squash and badminton courts, and a 25m swimming pool with a shallow end perfect for young children.
Gardens and Parks
Abergavenny is a beautiful town with plenty of gardens and parks to keep it green!
Bailey Park can be found close to the town centre and is a vibrant recreation ground for the whole community to enjoy. It is also host to annual events such as the Abergavenny Steam Rally, the Custom Car show and the interesting “It's a Knockout” competition.
Linda Vista Gardens
Linda Vista Gardens, just off Tudor Street, is also named 'Beautiful View Gardens' because of its beautiful and tranquil surroundings, with views across the meadows towards the Blorenge mountain. Since its opening in 1843 the gardens have also become a popular picnic area, as have the Castle Meadows and sites beside the River Usk.
Founded on the 2nd July 1959, the museum depicts the story of Abergavenny from prehistory to the present day. There are displays on several different levels, with most areas accessible to wheelchair users. There is also a regular programme of temporary exhibitions, which include new acquisitions and works by local artists, and the Old Gallery has displays relating to the history of the area, such as a gentleman's parlour, Roman armour, prehistoric tools and artefacts relating to Victorian rural life. Think the children are going to get a bit bored by it all You needn't worry, for there is an Activity Room dedicated to them and at certain times workshops are led by museum staff, providing plenty of fun filled activities for them all. Because of the museum's location in the grounds of the Norman castle, you can enjoy a picnic outside during the summer and a short walk around the ruins during the colder months.
Big Pit, Blaenavon
Those with an interest in the Industrial Heritage of South Wales take advantage of the proximity to the World Heritage Site at Blaenavon with Big Pit being one of the many free local attractions.
The Big Pit Museum will be a huge hit with children, giving them a once in a lifetime experience of just how conditions were down in the depths of a coal mine. Travel 300ft down the shaft with a real miner to truly understand just how the men worked. The world famous tour lasts just under an hour and will leave children fascinated and exhilarated by their hands-on experience of the mining world. The Big Pit Museum is 8 miles south of Abergavenny and can be easily found along the B4246 Abergavenny Road.
Close to Abergavenny are many more historic treasures including St Mary's Priory, the Marcher castles and a number of medieval churches.
The roman fort of Gobannium was established in Abergavenny in 57 or 58 A.D. However, the real birth of the town dates to the period of the Norman conquest of Wales in the late 11th century. In about 1087, Hamelin of Ballon, the conqueror of northern Gwent, built a motte and bailey castle at Abergavenny.
This castle and the surrounding township were fortified with stone between 1290 and 1320 and the castle saw many attacks and much blood was shed in its life time. The remains of the structure, two towers and a gate with a large barbican, stand to this day on a spur above the river Usk.
A Benedictine priory, now the priory church of St Mary, was built in Abergavenny in the late 11th century by the first Baron, Hamelin de Balun. Today the church contains unique alabaster figures, monuments and carvings. Most of Abergavenny's history, however, lies with its castle.
Castles and Forts
Although the motte and bailey castle was built as far back as 1087 AD, many of the stone walls remain standing today, showing that it must have been an impressive castle back in the day. Abergavenny was first built as a motte and bailey settlement upon a rounded mound by the Norman Lord Hamelin de Ballon, but come 1233, the whole castle was destroyed by Richard Marshal, Earl of Pembroke. The keep was then rebuilt to replace the motte and the present building is believed to stand on its foundations.
The castle has some fascinating history. On Christmas Day in 1175, Seisyll ap Dyfnwal was massacred along with many of his people right here in the castle by his arch rival William de Braose, Norman Lord of Abergavenny. In his outrage that Seisyll had been killed, the Welsh lord of Caerleon, Hywel ap Iorweth, burnt Abergavenny castle in 1182 and also destroyed Dingestow Castle, reducing it to a grassy mound.
Abergavenny castle was largely renovated and built up during the 12th and 13th century when it was held by the Hastings family. During the Civil War of 1645, however, the keep was destroyed. Finally in 1818 the present building, which is now the museum, was constructed on the top of a motte.
Accommodation and Services
There are several hotels in Abergavenny, all offering a comfortable night's stay, as well as hotels in nearby Llangattock and Talybont-on-Usk if you really want to get into the depths of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Although self-catering cottages are scarce in Abergavenny, some can be found in the nearby areas of Ross on Wye, Crickhowell and towards Monmouth.
So if you're looking for somewhere to visit around the Brecon Beacons National Park, make that somewhere Abergavenny.