Nicola Beechsquirrel

WILLIAMS, David. The History of Monmouthshire (London, 1796)

In 1792, when the interest of gentlemen in local history and visiting picturesque locations was growing, David Williams was approached by Dr Hooper of Pant y Goetre, and Mr Morgan of Tredegar with the proposal that he should write The History of Monmouthshire. (Williams, 1793: ii). The sudden death of Mr Morgan in 1792 while Williams was travelling to Tredegar, “...clouded, in a discouraging manner, the first view of the undertaking” (Williams, 1793: ii). However, in spite of finding that many of “...the general enquiries made for information, terminated, as usual, with such enquiries - in general disappointment...” (Williams, 1793:ii), the book was published in 1796.

East View of Pant Y Goetre With The Sugar Loaf

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In the foreground is a group of peasants stacking sheaves onto a wagon. The mansion is left of centre, the Sugarloaf to the right. Pant y Goetre was built in 1776, and was owned by the same family for 200 years. Subsequent additions to the building include columns and an orangery. A previous owner who was a curator at Kew Gardens may have added the unusual trees and plants in the garden (http://www.uskfishing.co.uk/pantygoetre.html).

It was Dr Hooper of Pant y Goetre who, with Mr Morgan of Tredegar, proposed that David Williams should undertake the writing of The History Of Monmouthshire (Williams, 1793: ii).Doubtless he was proud of his newly-built mansion and desirous of having it featured in a book designed to satisfy the '...prevailing taste for local Anecdote, and topographical History' (Williams, 1793: i) that was to be found among the gentry of the era. Pant y Goetre now hosts Usk fishing weekends, benefitting from a stretch of the river Usk flowing through its grounds, and still boasts unimpeded views of the Sugarloaf (http://www.uskfishing.co.uk/pantygoetre.html).

Drawn by the Rev. J. Gardnor. Engraved by the Rev. J Gardnor and J. Hill. Published Dec 14th 1793 by Messrs. Egerton Charing Cross, Messrs. White Fleet Street & Mr I Edwards Pall Mall. Black and white etching situated between pages 6 and 7. 

East View of Grosmont Castle

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In the foreground are two figures with dogs. Behind them are the castle ruins amidst foliage. The ruins of Grosmont castle appear less overgrown at the present time. It is possible that the earliest structure on the site was a wooden castle built some time during the 1100s, with the first stone building, the great hall, being built circa 1200 (http://grosmont.org/about/castle). The ruin comprises the remains of the thirteenth century castle of Hubert de Burgh, built on the site of an earlier motte (http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/grosmontcastle/?lang=en).

In 1405, after a battle in Grosmont between Owain Glyndwr and the royal army, the castle fell into decline (http://grosmont.org/about/castle). By the sixteenth century the castle had been abandoned and remained neglected until it was purchased in the nineteenth century by the Duke of Beaufort, since when work has been done to ensure no further deterioration (http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/castles/grosmont%20castle.htm). The site is now managed by Cadw, and may be visited by the public free of charge. (http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/grosmontcastle/?lang=en).

Drawn by the Rev. J. Gardnor. Engraved by the Rev. J Gardnor and J. Hill. Published Dec 14th 1793 by Messrs. Egerton Charing Cross, Messrs. White Fleet Street & Mr I Edwards Pall Mall. Black and white etching situated between pages 144 and 145. 

North View of Tintern Abbey

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There is a river in the foreground, with two men leading their horses on to a ferry boat. On the river are also sailing boats full of cargo. Behind are the ruins of the abbey in woodland. The Wye Valley became popular in the eighteenth century as a place to visit and view the picturesque scenery. Tintern Abbey, the first Cistercian abbey to be founded in Wales (http://www.castleswales.com/tintern.html), was one of the particular places of interest; immortalised in the poem, Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey; On Revisiting The Banks Of The Wye During A Tour, July 13, 1798; which William Wordsworth wrote during his stay there in 1798.

The poem was published in 1798 in the book, Lyrical Ballads, and is considered one of Wordsworth's finest poems. At that time, Tintern Abbey was already a ruin with no roof. (http://www.gradesaver.com/wordsworths-poetical-works/study-guide/section5/). The abbey would no doubt have looked much the same when Wordsworth visited it as it had done when visited by David Williams a few years previously. The site is now managed by Cadw, which took over care of the site from the Office of Works, which had been managing it since 1914 (http://www.tintern.org.uk/abbey2.htm).

Drawn by the Rev. J. Gardnor. Engraved by the Rev. J Gardnor and J. Hill. Published Dec 14th 1793 by Messrs. Egerton Charing Cross, Messrs. White Fleet Street & Mr I Edwards Pall Mall. Black and white etching situated between pages 160 and 161.

References

http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/grosmontcastle/?lang=en. Accessed on 22/03/2013 at 11.45

http://www.castleswales.com/tintern.html Accessed on 05/04/2013 at 09.00

http://www.gradesaver.com/wordsworths-poetical-works/study-guide/section5/. Accessed on 05/04/2013 at 08.45

http://grosmont.org/about/castle. Accessed on 22/03/2013 at 11.55

http://www.theheritagetrail.co.uk/castles/grosmont%20castle.htm. Accessed on 22/03/2013 at 12.10

http://www.tintern.org.uk/abbey2.htm. Accessed on 05/04/2013 at 09.10

http://www.uskfishing.co.uk/pantygoetre.html. Accessed on 22/03/2013 at 09.50

Williams, D., 1793. The History of Monmouthshire

 

Nicola Beechsquirrel