Picturesque Views
on the River Wye
by Samuel Ireland

it is a ponderous and unmeaning heap of stone, huddled together in the tasteless reign of James the first, by one John Abel who erected a similar building at Hereford; they vie with each other in want of taste, and have nothing to render them worthy notice but their absurdity

For general background about Samuel Ireland (1744?–1800), see the intro­duction to his earlier Picturesque Views on the River Thames. The present book is the fourth and last of the author’s Picturesque Views on assorted English rivers. If you have been holding your breath waiting for his often-promised River Severn . . . you may as well exhale.


And now the bad news . . .

The tremendous floods, which, in the beginning of the year 1795, subsequent to that, in which these drawings were made, having so completely swept away several ancient, as well as elegant structures thrown across this stream, may perhaps give some additional value to the sketches of them here introduced.

That would indeed have been useful. But at some time between 1797 and the year this book was scanned for the Internet Archive, all but seven full-page plates went missing. Whoever made off with the plates also removed the two-page List of Prints, so nobody would know what had been taken. (This would have been more effective if the plates had not survived long enough to leave darker shadows on their facing page.)

The book must be rarer than the previous year’s volume about the Avon, so buying a copy wasn’t an option. As a faint hint of what has been lost, I filled in the gaps with scans made from a microfilm copy; they are about as dreadful as you might expect, so I made them smaller than the “real” plates. It wasn’t a complete loss, though, because the microfilms do provide complete captions that might otherwise be lost in the margin.

As usual in Ireland’s books, place names tend to be spelled differently in Plate captions than in the body text. All captions have a second line, “Pub. for S. Ireland March [or Mar.] 1, 1797”:

second line of Plate captions

Unlike the earlier books, there doesn’t seem to have been a frontispiece, even before the plate thief’s depredations. It isn’t mentioned in the List of Prints.

This and that

For those who, like me, can never remember which is which: Herefordshire borders Wales, just south of Shropshire; Hertfordshire is between Middlesex (London) and Cambridgeshire. This book is concerned with the former. Ross is today known as Ross-on-Wye, which cuts down on confusion with the one in Scotland.

This volume contains, at casual estimate, as many comma splices as the previous three Picturesque Views put together. The author has also decided that the word “friar” is best spelled “fryer”, creating some odd mental pictures. In the course of the book, it becomes plain that either the author was getting tired, or the printer couldn’t pay a top-rate proofreader. Possibly both.

The previous three Picturesque Views distinguished carefully between “cannon” and “canon”. In this final venture, the author suddenly decides that forms such as “Premonstratensian cannons” are perfectly acceptable. Fortunately this volume makes no mention of artillery, so there is no risk of confusion.

As in the author’s previous books, the word “remain” is sometimes singular.


This ebook is based on the 1797 edition—as far as I know, the only one there was. As noted above, most full-page plates were missing, and were supplied from scans made from a microfilm.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.






map of river Wye

Course of the RIVER WYE from its Source
to its junction with the SEVERN below Chepstow.

enlarged map

Picturesque Views
on the
Its Source at Plinlimmon Hill, to its Junction

“A Picturesque Tour through Holland, Brabant,
and part of France;”
Of “Picturesque Views on the Rivers Thames, Medway, Warwickshire Avon,” &c.









AMONGST the numerous rivers with which our Island is so richly ornamented and fertilized, the Wye, our present subject of investigation, though in no very widely extended course, and itself only a tributary stream, is yet in the production of the sublime, of the grand and majestic proudly eminent above its fellows. In a course of about eighty miles, the utmost distance it measures from its source, to its junction with the Severn, so various and such an interesting picturesque scenery is perhaps no vi where to be found, either in this or any other country.

Nature and Art have most happily combined in opening their richest stores to diversify and spread fertility, grandeur and beauty over the country through which it flows: for its environ is not less highly distinguished and dressed by the hand of art with castles, abbies, and villas beautifully seated on its banks, than it is itself favoured by nature, in the striking interchange of shoal and flood, wood and rock, meadow and precipice. With so much, and in so many various ways to allure and interest, it was not possible that all its charms could have escaped either the penetrating eye of Taste and Genius, or the pencil of the inquisitive, refined, and systematical Amateur, vii and accordingly many of its most striking features have employed the pens and the pencils of our Writers and Artists; but they have, all of them, been either detached views and single objects, or, if more has been comprehended in the design of the amateur or artist, the execution has been partial, imperfect, or foreign to the subject. The whole has never been fully exhibited to the eye of the lover of the scenes of nature faithfully delineated. One ingenious author indeed has given observations upon the river, and such as have unquestionably merited the high commendations they have received from the admirers of the picturesque and beautiful: and he has accompanied his observations with drawings. He does not however profess to give exact representations, or portraits of the various objects viii that present themselves, but aims rather at exhibiting their general effect on the eye, when considered technically, and as picturesque forms by the learned and professed artist.

Without interfering therefore with the plan of that much admired writer, or arrogating to himself superior science or knowledge of his subject, the author of this work has, in conformity with his original intention, selected this river from amongst those not yet described, in order to complete his history of the principal rivers of this country: and, unable as he feels himself to render justice to the dignity of his subject, he builds his claim to public favor, on the fidelity with which he flatters himself he has delineated the scenery. He ix would wish, and it is his aim, that his drawings should, like the transparent mirror of his stream, truly reflect the landscape that exists around, as well as the objects that decorate its banks. And, content with the simple charms and varieties of nature, he cannot prevail upon himself to contemplate in every winding of the dream the forms of his own idea, the image of his own mind and its complicated sameness, reflected again, and again; but gives to his reader that, which, if he visits the spot, he trusts he will find, and, if the spot is known to him already, he assures himself he will recognize.

The tremendous floods, which, in the beginning of the year 1795, subsequent to that, in which these drawings were made, x having so completely swept away several ancient, as well as elegant structures thrown across this stream, may perhaps give some additional value to the sketches of them here introduced. If not elsewhere preserved, scarce a vestige of them remains to be resorted to by the artist or by the architect, whose profession must peculiarly enable him to do more justice to the nature of the fabric.

The History, and Picturesque Views of the River Severn are in great forwardness, and will, it is presumed, be ready for publication, in Two Volumes, Royal Octavo, in the course of next year.


contained in


The seven titles shown in larger type are good-quality plates from the scanned book. The rest are derived from microfilm, as is the List of Prints itself, including the drawing at the end.

SOURCE of the Wye, Plinlimmon Hill 1
Nanerth Rocks 9
Rhaidr-Gwy 11
Builth 16
Market at Aberystwith 18
Glasebury Bridge, &c. 28
Hay, Brecknockshire 31
Hay, Castle 35
Clifford Castle 36
Bradwardine, Herefordshire 45
Hereford 49
Ross from Ashwood 69
Market House, &c. Ross 72
Portrait of John Kyrle 76
Wilton Castle 79
Goodrich Castle 83
xii Simmond’s Rock, &c. 95
Monmouth, from Hadnock 103
Monnow Bridge 104
Remains of Monmouth Castle, &c. 107
Monmouth Priory 111
Monmouth, from a neighbouring hill 115
Rhaglan Castle 116
St. Briavals’ 129
Llandogar 131
Tintern Abbey 133
Interior of ditto 136
Chepstow Castle and Bridge 146
Chepstow, &c. from Persfield 154
Chepstow Castle, from below the bridge 155
Red Rocks 157

line drawing of tree

engraving of river Wye coming down rocky hillside, with man and horse in the foreground

Source of the Wye, Plinlimmon Hill.


Picturesque Views
on the


“Plinlimmon’s high praise no longer Muse defer;

“What once the Druids told, how great those floods should bee,

“That here (most mightie hill) derive themselves from thee.

“The Bards with furie rapt, the British youth among,

“Unto the charming harpe, thy future honor song

“In brave and loftie straines:——”



FROM a small spring near the summit of Plinlimmon Hill, the boundary of the northern part of Cardiganshire, our river Wye derives its source. Issuing from a spacious hollow in this mountain, the water falls in a narrow streamlet several hundred yards 2 nearly perpendicular, till meeting with various small currents, it soon presents itself in the shape of an immense cataract, rolling with astonishing rapidity over the rocky prominencies which seem to impede its course. The name of this river appears anciently to have been a common appellation, either for river or water. Camden says, that the word gwy or wy signifies water, and instances the following names which have that termination, as proofs of his opinion; viz. Lhugwy, Dowrdwy, Edwy, Conwy, Elwy, Towy, Tawy, &c. &c. From the same ridge of mountains, within two miles of the source of the Wye, the rivers Severn and Rydall derive their origin: the latter of which empties itself into the Irish sea at Aberystwith. The views from this huge and dreary hill are wild and extensive beyond description; they exhibit mountains, rolling as it were, over each other, and under the most sublime forms and 3 beautiful hues, varying and shifting till they insensibly lose themselves and melt into the horizon. We were peculiarly fortunate in having a bright and clear day to view in all its grandeur this sublime and picturesque scenery; an advantage which an experienced guide informed us had scarce ever occured during a course of many years in those airy regions, where it was almost invariably his fate to encounter a heavy and hazy atmosphere, commonly attended with rain. On this lofty mountain the famous Owen Glyndwr, in the summer of 1401, posted himself, says the historian, “with great policy at the head of a hundred and twenty men of arms.” The situation of Plinlimmon Hill being on the limits of Cardiganshire and Montgomeryshire, was admirably adapted for receiving the succours of his vassals and friends from every part of the principality. From this fastness his adherents, who were the terror of all that opposed him, were perpetually 4 making excursions, and plundering the neighbouring counties; amongst which Montgomeryshire appears to have been the greatest sufferer.

The birth of this renowned hero, of Wales, which happened on the 28th of May, 1354, appears by Hollingshed and others, to have been marked with strange presages of celebrity: he says, that his cruelty was foretold at his nativity, by the wonderful circumstance of “his father’s horses being found standing that night in the stable up to their bellies in blood;” and Shakspeare, in the following lines, put into the mouth of Glyndwr, thus describes the vain glorious chieftain,

————“At my birth

“The front of Heav’n was full of fiery shapes;

“The goats ran from the mountains, and the herds

“Were strangely clamorous in the frighted fields:

“These signs have marked me extraordinary,

“And all the courses of my life do shew,

“I am not in the roll of common men.”


A still more extraordinary circumstance is attached to the history of this Welch phenomenon. Jolo Goch, a celebrated bard, has not hesitated to consider the great event of his birth, as equal in importance to mankind with that of Jesus Christ.

The river Wye, in this its earliest stage, is peculiarly marked with features of the grand and sublime: its amazing rapidity is perpetually interrupted by immense large stones and rocky substances, and the rush of its waters produces a solemn noise, that seems as if they were

“Chiding the stones that stopp’d their course.”

The spots of verdure and broken ground in the vicinity of this rude scene, the dark shades of rock, and beetling brows of the hills with which it is bounded on either side, form a spectacle as majestic and awful as 6 the untaught imagination can paint, or that can present itself to the eye throughout the range of this island.

It is simple nature in her purest and grandest form, and without a trace of her handmaid art, without either castle, church, or ruin: objects that more than form the beautiful in picture, that are essentially necessary, and can alone give dignity to the feeble works of man; without these the scenery is here complete.

For several miles the country wears nearly the same aspect; one continued undulating line of hills forms the distance; and the river, though of no considerable width, continues gently to roll over its rocky and gravelly bed, “making sweet music with the enamelled stones;”

“Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge

“He overtaketh in his pilgrimage.”


At a distance of about six miles from its source, in a village called Cumergar, the Wye receives a considerable body of water from the river Castal. This River is full in view, and forms a beautiful object from the road, on the way to what is called the Devil’s Bridge. At Cumergar is a wooden bridge called Pont-rhyd Gallad: it is the first that is thrown across this river, and the scenery around it is extensive and beautiful. The Wye here loses much of its impetuosity and consequently of its grandeur: its rocky bed is softened and in many places spread with a mere gravelly substance, and at this summer season is considerably narrowed, and frequently left perfectly dry. From the continual accession, however, of springs and rills, that issue from the neighbouring mountains, it is not known to remain long in that state. From hence, on an easy ascent, a tolerable road leading to Llanidlos runs parallel with the stream, and affords a beautiful 8 ride till we approach the wretched village of Llangerig: amongst whose clay cottages without chimneys, churlish boors, and sour milk and black bread, the only refreshment it supplied, our weary spirits were filled with rapture at the beauties of that situation, to which extreme penury, savage nature, or insensibility could alone be indifferent: They were so impressive, that within a mile of this village we determined to stop, flattering ourselves with the hope that by the aid of the pencil, we might be enabled to give the characteristic features of a country, which we utterly despair by any powers of language that we could command in any adequate manner to communicate.

Nanerth Rocks, &c.

About three miles below Llangerig, in a southern direction, the river Darnel, which derives its source from the hills that bear its name, empties itself into the Wye. Pursuing 9 the course of the river, the Nanerth rocks in an extent of near three miles, form a beautiful screen to its northern bank.

On this spot the Wye, in an easy bend, gently rolls over its rugged bed, while the ascending road, girting the immense hills that are enriched with spreading oaks and luxuriant underwood, peculiarly invited the pencil: Through these, the rocks in various fantastic forms, perpetually break upon the eye, and the cottages interspersed among the distant hills, relieve the wide-spread and extended scenery. On the brow of a rising hill, in the fore ground, a group of cattle which covered it, seemed at the instant, as if placed there by design to complete the view. Beneath, the gentle river Marteg, the receptacle of many smaller streams that arise in the vicinity of Llanidlos, ripling over its pebbly bed, loses its name and its current in the broader channel of the Wye.


Notes and Corrections: Section I

Camden says, that the word gwy or wy signifies water
[Three different online Welsh dictionaries say, that the word wy signifies egg. The word “gwy” is less certain.]

A still more extraordinary circumstance
[Printed “A still” in ordinary type; I’ve small-capped it for consistency.]




FROM Nanerth rocks, after a pleasant ride of about three miles on the bank of the Wye, we reached Rhaidr Gwy; the word Rhaidr signifies a cataract, or fall of water, and is frequently applied to those falls, among the mountains of Snowden in Carnarvonshire.

Camden seems to think that from the word Rhaidr, the county of Radnor, through the west angle of which, this river directs its course derived its name. The bridge at Rhaidr consists of one wide arch, which from its base forms a very large segment of a circle. It is a plain structure and has little but its romantic accompaniments to recommend it; the immense pile of rocks on which it is elevated, carries the arch so high as to 12 afford from beneath it, an extensive prospect of the adjoining country, in which a small Welsh building called Cwmtather Church appears in a whimsical point of view. The annexed sketch was taken from below the bridge, where the combination of objects is wonderfully grand; and in this dry season, displays in full force the ponderous rocky substances of which it is composed. But in consequence of this drought, we had the misfortune to lose the display and thunder of its cataract, which a less friendly state of the elements would have exhibited in all its grandeur. The stones over which the waters in this vicinity roll, are of an immense size, and in their forms, partake both of the majestic, and the grotesque; their diversified hues, and vast angular prominencies afford in certain lights and in some seasons of the day, under the rays of a bright sun the most brilliant and picturesque effect. Over the bridge passes the high road that leads to Aberystwith, 13 and a more rugged and dreary path, is perhaps scarce to be trod in any of the frequented parts of this principality. Rhaidr, though now but a miserable place, derived formerly some consequence from its castle, which was advantageously situated in a nook of the river not far from the bridge, but of which no trace at present remains. Near the spot whereon the castle stood is a deep trench cut out of a solid rock, and not far distant, are several large Tumuli, or Barrows, called in Welsh, Kern, and Keido. These are conjectured to have been raised as memorials of the dead. Camden confirms this idea, and observes, not very consistently indeed with the respect due to the memory of the departed, “that it is still the custom to cast heaps of stones on the graves of malefactors and self murderers.”

At what period the castle at Rhaidr was 14 built is not ascertained, but it was repaired by Rhys Prince of South Wales in the reign of Richard the first, and near it says Camden, “is a vast wilderness rendered very dismal by many crooked ways and high mountains, into which as a proper place of refuge, that bane of his native country, King Vortigern, whose very memory the Britons curse, withdrew himself, when he had at last repented of his abominable wickedness, in calling in the English Saxons, and incestuously marrying his own daughter.”

His address to the Barons, on the subject of calling in the aid of the Saxons, is thus recorded by an anonymous author.

“My Lords, vain compliment would suit but ill

“The present time, I therefore briefly thank you,

“But e’er we part, fain would I crave your hearing.

“Our Troops have now been long disus’d to War—

“Yet do not think I mean their fame to tarnish,


“Or on a Briton throw the damned slur

“Of shameful cowardice. No, my good Lords,—

“But though their ribs do serve as castle walls,

“And fast imprison their strong Lion hearts,

“Yet e’en the Lion, when full gorg’d with food

“Will bask and tamely lay him down to sleep—

“Then in such sort, hath undisturbed peace,

“And want of custom, (nature’s substitute,

“That changes e’en our very properties)

“Soften’d their manhood. Then t’were policy

“That we should court the Saxons to our aid!

“This too will in our Britons raise the flame

“Of bright and generous emulation.

“Say Lords! doth this my proposition please you?

Below Rhaidr we soon lost sight of that immense rocky scenery, so eminently characterizing its neighborhood, and every reach of the river yielded additional richness and verdure. A detail of each minute change of prospect that occurs in a tour of this nature, however gratifying at the moment to the eye of the curious and picturesque traveller, would be tedious and uninteresting; it is therefore the business of description 16 to record only the most material objects as they occur, and leave imagination to paint the rest. About three miles below Rhaidr, the Wye receives a considerable supply of water from the rivers Eland and Clanven, which unite at a distance of about four miles from their conflux with our river. Below this a copious stream called the Ither, which in its course receives the Dulas and Comar, makes a considerable addition to the waters of the Wye. From the brow of a hill about two miles before we reach the town of Builth, the scenery is peculiarly beautiful, the river spreads itself into a bay, and the immense rocky substances with which its bed has hitherto been spread, rise here in various detached forms many yards above its surface, exhibiting so many small islands, and agreeable breaks in the fore ground of the landscape.


The annexed view was sketched front 17 this spot, in which it is much to be regretted that the bridge of Builth could not be introduced, as it would considerably have added to the beauty of the scenery. Builth is a town of little consequence, yet from its antiquity, and the salubrity of its air, it becomes highly deserving our attention. We happened to be there on a market day, when the town was so thronged with people, that we could scarcely pass through it. It resembled rather a fair than a market, and the immense croud collected together, presented to the eye a scene in effect, similar to that of one continued mass of long blue cloaks, apparently in perpetual motion. Not a house, nor a stable but was occupied, and it was really a matter of astonishment, that in so small a town, and on so common an occasion as that of a weekly market, such a vast concourse of people should have been assembled; but a market or fair, is the pride 18 and glory of the Welsh; and, happy souls! why should they not in a sultry summer’s day, enjoy the suffocating luxury of a long blue cloak, as well as the Londoner his summer theatre, amidst “the raging dog star’s heat.”

Market at Aberystwith.

In an extensive tour through Wales, I witnessed a scene at Aberystwith very similar to that I have just described, and as the surrounding objects were there more peculiarly marked with the picturesque than those at Builth, a representation of the scene, although at a considerable distance from hence, may perhaps not prove unacceptable to the reader. In this view appears part of the castellated dwelling of Uvedale Price, Esq; a man not less distinguished for the elegance with which he cultivates the fine arts, than for his powers of discrimination, and the accuracy with which he defines them. 19 The house is recently erected on the shore, and commands an extensive prospect of the Tea, the only one in fact it does command.

At this market or fair, the usual artifices to amuse and delude, were exhibited with the usual success; other centuries revolve, and other generations arise, but rustic manners remain unchanged, the same pursuits occupy the mind, and the same toys interest and beguile. There were, “Ribbands of all the colors ith’ rainbow. Dancing and music, ballads all pitiful and true, one of a fish that appeared upon the coast, on Wednesday the fourscore of April, forty thousand fadom above water.” Autolicus with all his rhetoric could not more artfully have displayed his wares, nor could the following lines have had a better effect on his auditors than the tricks presented here.


“Lawn as white as driven snow,

“Cyprus, black as e’er was crow;

“Gloves as sweet as damask roses,

“Masks for faces, and for noses;

“Bugle bracelets, necklace amber,

“Perfume for a lady’s chamber;

“Golden quoifs, and stomachers,

“For my lads to give their dears;

“Pins and poking-sticks of steel,

“What maids lack from head to heal:

“Come, buy of me, come: come, buy, come, buy,

“Buy, lads, or else your lasses cry: come buy.”

Builth is happily encompassed with a range of hills that afford shelter to the place, and screen the neighbouring woods with which it is enriched. On the skirt of the town stand the remains of an ancient castle; they comprise near four acres of ground, and though not sufficiently massed to form an object for the pencil, yet the remaining fragments convey a general idea of its former dignity.

The eminence which is contiguous to 21 the remains of the fortress, denotes what the Romans called the Presidium. This castle is reported to have been erected by the Breoses and Mortimers, after the demolition of a former one by Rhys ap Gryffydh. Ptolomy calls the town of Builth, Bullæum Silurum, from whence it derived its name, but Doctor Horsely is inclined to think that the ancient Bullæum of Antoninus, was at Uske in Monmouthshire, from the ruins of a Roman fort, or city, being found there. The neighbourhood of that place is still called Bualht.

Traversing the vicinity of the castle, our Welsh guide pointed out to us a field at about two miles distance, called Cavan, in which Prince Llewellyn is reported to have been buried, and so fertile he observed was the soil, that each stem bore two heads of corn.


From the same authority, we are told that as that Prince was one day crossing the field in disguise, he asked of an old woman the name of a small brook that ran across it, who replied, it was called Nantytrrad, then said he, let it in future be named Cwm Llewellyn, for that shall be the burial place of that Prince. Where is there a Welchmen who does not deplore the loss of his brave Llewellyn? but our guide drew much consolation from their being yet a good Prince of Wales, who in the hour of need, would certainly defend and fight for his countrymen. Llewellyn is reported to have been murthered in a small castle that stood at a place called Llechryd, about one mile from Builth, while he was meditating his escape into Glamorganshire. A modern house, with a moat surrounding it that includes about three acres, marks the spot whereon the castle stood. Builth Castle is well situated for defence, it stands on an 23 eminence, and the point of land, is in part surrounded by the beautiful river Irvon, which in a semicircular direction winds its course into the Wye, about half a mile above the town. This river is of considerable width, and derives its source from the hills in the vicinity of Strata Florida in the county of Cardigan; thence after taking a south west direction it winds towards the north east, and falls into the Wye near Builth. Within a small distance of its junction with our river, it receives a brook called the Wevery, which rises on the Brecknockshire hills abought eight miles distant, and produces remarkable high flavoured salmon and trout.

Near to the Wye a new stone bridge is building over the Irvon, contiguous to the old one which was of wood. This new structure consists of six eliptical arches; it is erecting at the joint expence of the counties 24 of Brecon and Radnor. The elevated span of the upper circle of this bridge, however necessary here from the great floods that happen in the winter season, is yet a taste too prevalent in the general construction of our bridges. The bed of the upper surface is usually so high as to become a large segment of a circle; this custom militates not only against every principal of utility to the horse and traveller, but shuts out the general prospect, which even by an artist whose ideas are not too narrowly confined to his own science, should in a country like this be made an object of some consideration.

In Italy and France, a contrary system has very judiciously been adopted, by which means, in every point of view the eye finds relief from the diversified scenery around. This practice is supported by the classical productions of the elegant Claude Lorraine, who, whether he designs from nature, or has 25 recourse to his own refined ideas of his art, always adheres to this principle. Near Builth are the remains of Llandrindod-wells, once in high esteem, and celebrated for their excellent medicinal quality. This spring of water issues out of the side of a rock, which is of the slate kind, it is strongly impregnated with nitrous salt, sulphur, and steel; and produces an effect similar to the waters of Scarborough and Cheltenham, but it is of a more powerfully quality. The wells are now greatly in decay, and consequently are not so much frequented as formerly. On a high hill named Caven Durris, about a mile from Builth, David Thomas, Esq; has erected a handsome stone residence, which when viewed from the town, appears too much exposed, but on a near approach, is found to be happily screened from the northern winds by the surrounding hills: It command a very noble and extensive view, as well on its own level towards the South, as from that part which 26 looks down towards the town of Builth, and at the same time includes a beautiful command of the meandering course of the rivers Wye and Irvon, and of the extensive bridge of Builth in the vale beneath. This bridge is a simple and well constructed modern edifice, consisting of six arches, within a mile of which a small river called the Dihono having a small bridge of one arch thrown over it, empties itself into the Wye. From the ferry a little below, a beautiful reach of the river terminates in a view of the small remains of Aberadway castle, of which no history is to be traced. Its ruin is very insignificant, little more than a stone wall, now ever grown with ivy remains. At the extremity of it are the fragments of two round towers. These rude specimens of art, are finely contrasted by the adjoining and truly wonderful productions of nature. These are an immense range of rocks running parrallel with the river, exhibiting a variety of the most 27 strange and fantastic forms imaginable. In different points of view, they convey to the mind, the idea of so many towers and castles shooting from amidst the oak coppices and other shrubs that inrich this majestic scenery. These vast prominencies in their various shapes, received at the instant of viewing them, additional grandeur and effect from the solemn shade, produced by a declining sun, and presented a scene truly worthy the pencil of a Salvator, or amongst our countrymen, his rival, the late John Mortimer. Near this charming spot, the river Edwa, from which these rocks derive their name, empties itself into our river. For a considerable distance in passing down the Wye, we have on a smaller scale perpetual breaks of the same rocky kind of scenery till we reach Llangoed, the seat of Mr. Edwards; from hence we ride through a charming wood of young oaks, ranged for a considerable distance on an elevated 28 bank of the Wye, they give at each break and opening, an enchanting view of our beautiful and picturesque river, which on the approach to a village called Swains, about a mile distant, wears the appearance of an extensive bay, while the mountains in the back ground gradually recede, and the general face of the landscape assumes a new character. In the annexed view of Glasebury, the scene when contrasted with that at Aberedway or at Builth, will best illustrate this idea, here all around wears an air of placidity; the river’s rocky bed no more agitates the water in its course, it flows a tranquil and a gentle stream, reflected on whose glassy surface under the evening’s lengthening shade

“Down bend its banks, the trees depending grow;

“And skies beneath with answ’ring colors glow.

Glasebury Bridge, &c.

In the midst of this rich and beautiful valley, an elegant stone bridge of seven 29 arches is thrown across the river. It was built about fourteen years ago by the family of Edwards, under the direction of their father, the celebrated architect of Pont-y-pridd. The adjoining view was made in August, 1794; in the ensuing winter the bridge was totally destroyed, which will in some degree give value to this sketch, as a memorial of that which is at present, little more than a wreck; every arch of it having been blown up by the torrent of ice, which poured down on the very sudden thaw, after the long frost in the beginning of 1795.


Notes and Corrections: Section II

skip to next section

text has SECTION. with superfluous .

King Vortigern, whose very memory the Britons curse
[By now, our author was probably also cursing it. His son’s inept Shakespeare forgery Vortigern was written in 1795, staged in 1796 to lukewarm reviews—and exposed by the end of that year.]

But e’er we part, fain would I crave your hearing
text unchanged
[He means “ere”, but I have seen the error before.]

Then t’were policy
text unchanged: expected ’twere

Of bright and generous emulation
[I can only get this to scan by reading “gen’rous” in two syllables—and “e-mu-la-ti-on” in five.]

agreeable breaks in the fore ground of the landscape.
. missing

“For my lads to give their dears
text has givs

From the same authority
[Page 21 ends with “corn” on a line by itself, with “From” as catchword after an additional blank line, typical of this book’s paragraph spacing. Page 22 starts without indent, and the word “From” is not small-capped. Best guess, short of venturing into necro- postmortem communi­cations: the printer expected “corn” to fit onto the previous line, leading to a cascade of miscalculations.]

Where is there a Welchmen who does not deplore
text unchanged: error for Welchman

our guide drew much consolation from their being yet a good Prince of Wales
text unchanged: expected there
[The current Prince of Wales will eventually spend nine years as Prince Regent before becoming George IV.]

the Brecknockshire hills abought eight miles distant
text unchanged
[On its other 37 occurrences (I counted) he is content to spell it “about”. ]

every principal of utility to the horse and traveller
text unchanged: error for principle

it is of a more powerfully quality
text unchanged

It command a very noble and extensive view
text unchanged: error for commands

the small remains of Aberadway castle
[Two pages further along he will spell it “Aberedway”. Today it’s Aberedw and-that’s-all.]

a stone wall, now ever grown with ivy remains
text unchanged: expected over grown

which will in some degree give value to this sketch
text has in / in at line break

the long frost in the beginning of 1795
text has begin-/ing at line break

Hay, Brecknockshire.



ON our approach to the town of Hay, we pass its small church, situated on a high and clayey bank of the river, from whence the town and adjoining objects, afford little worthy the attention of the artist. To preface this section, I have therefore selected a general view of the town and surrounding country, from a spot about a mile below the bridge, which presents a scene highly enriched by an assemblage of woods, meadows, and corn fields, at once extensive, and in a peculiar degree interesting.

The town is happily situated on the declivity of a hill, on which the houses rising gradually, convey the idea of a place of infinitely more consequence than really it possesses, and in no small degree gives the general 32 outline of an Italian landscape. The face of this scenery and bridge is fully illustrative of the position laid down in the last section, of the superior beauty of flat bridges over those that are elevated. This bridge is formed of seven arches and in the year 1795, met with a similar fate to the preceding one, and which were thrown across the torrents that pour themselves along the vallies of this mountainous country.

The purple hue of the distance called the black mountains, affords a good back-ground to this scenery, which is heightened by the rich glow of a noon-tide sun, darting at the instant, and giving force and relief to every object. These mountains extend fourteen or fifteen miles towards a place called Monmouth Cap, about eight miles from Abergavenny. The head of water in the fore ground of the view, is formed from a small river called Boonewayne 33 Brook, which supplies the neighbouring mill with water; the goat who stood browsing on a high bank of the river before us, was an object we were not accustomed to meet, with even in Wales, as I do not remember to have seen more than three, in the course of a long tour through this country.

The town of Hay was formerly called Hain, it derives its name from the British word Tregelhi, which, says Camden “may be rendered Hasely, or Hasleton; it appears to have been well known to the Romans, some remains of their walls being still visible, and many of their coins having been found here.” He likewise says “the ancient town was consumed by fire by the profligate rebel, Owen Glyndwr or Glendower, in his marches through this country.” Our divine bard has put the following lines into the mouth 34 of Glendower, when speaking of his antagonist.

“Three times hath Henry Bolingbroke made head

“Against my pow’r, thrice from the banks of Wye,

“And sandy-bottom’d Severn, have I sent

“Him bootless home, and weather-beaten back.”

This place anciently belonged to William de Brus, Lord of Brecknock, and was nearly destroyed by Lewis, Dauphin of France, in 1216, who had been invited into England by the Barons disaffected to King John.

dark view of looming castle

Hay Castle.

The town of Hay is situated on the extreme angle of Brecknockshire, and on the borders of Herefordshire. Near the church, on the highest land on the brink of the river, there anciently stood a castle built by the Normans, of which little more now remains than a mound of earth, and the entrenchments 35 that surround it. The present castle stands nearly in the centre of the town. Its Gothic entrance, and the Ivy over-growing the remains of the ancient tower, produce a striking effect on the approach to this venerable ruin.

A large house adjoining, is the property of Richard Wellington, Esq; It is erected on the site of the old castle, and appears to have been the work of the age of James I. Within a few years, it has been modernized, by which it has in some degree been stripped of that small share of the picturesque, that in some instances is to be found even in that barbarous age of architecture. As the castle is not generally noticed by the traveller, nor has any print that I can learn, ever yet been given of it, the annexed view may not prove unacceptable to the curious enquirer. On quitting Hay, the Wye receives a considerable body of 36 water from the river Dulas, across which is a stone bridge of one arch. Thus assisted, our river becomes a copious stream, and has been long rendered navigable in the winter seasons. For this purpose two statutes were passed in parliament, the one in the fourteenth of Charles II. the other in the seventh of William III.

Clifford Castle.

About two miles below the town, the ruin of the once famous Clifford castle presents itself; it stands on a considerable eminence on the bank of the Wye, is well situated for defence, and forms a boundary to the western part of the county of Hereford. Its walls are not sufficiently high, nor are the parts so broken and irregular as to afford a complete picturesque object, but it has yet considerable attractions to merit the notice of the speculative and inquisitive traveller. Camden says, that it is recorded in doom’s-day book, to have been built by William 37 Fitzosborn, Earl of Hereford. It came afterwards to Walter, the son of Richard de Ponts, a Norman, who came into England with William the Conqueror, Walter took his name of De Clifford from this castle, and from him descended the illustrious family of the earls of Cumberland. We shall not enter into a detail of the warlike exploits performed in this place, but confine ourselves to the well known story of fair Rosamond, daughter of an earl of Clifford, who was born in this castle. The story, whether fabulous or true, has been deemed not unworthy the attention, both of the poet and historian. Master Hollinshead in his usual quaintness of style, thus speaks of King Henry the second’s incontinence, and of his particular attachment to the fair Rosamond, “for not contented with the use of his wife, he kept many concubines, but namely he delited most in the companie 38 of a pleasant damosell, whome he ’cleped the rose of the world, the common people named hir Rosamond, for hir passing beautie, propernesse of person, and pleasant wit, with other amyable qualities, being verily a rare and peerelesse peece in those days. He made for hir an house at Woodstocke in Oxfordshire, like to a laberinth, that is to meane, wrought like a knot in a garden, called a maze, with such turnings and windings in and out, that no creature might finde her nor come to hir, except he were instructed by the king, or such as were secrete with him in that matter. But the common report of the people is, that the queene finally found her out by a silke thread, whiche the king had drawne forth of hir chamber with his foote, and dealte with hir in such sharpe and cruell wise, that she lyved not long after. She was buried in the Nunrie 39 of Godstow beside Oxforde, with these verses upon hir tumbe.”

“Hic jacet in tumulo, Rosamundi non Rosamunda,

“Non redolet sed olet, quæ redolere solet.”

We cannot quit this subject, the family of the De Cliffords, without adverting to another of its noble descendants, George Clifford, the third earl of Cumberland, who in 1525, was advanced to the dignity of an earl. The feats of this adventurous and renowned warrior, are transmitted to us by various historians, and though to many persons they may be well known, yet some mention of him in this place, may not be thought irrelevant to our subject. This nobleman was one of the peers who sat in judgment on Mary Queen of Scots, and became afterwards a great favourite of her cousin Elizabeth. 40 He signalized himself highly at sea in various engagements against the Spaniards, and behaved with much intrepidity during the memorable encounter with the invincible Armada. In consequence of his gallantry the Queen created him an Admiral, and a few years after, a Knight of the Garter; he was likewise one of the lords sent out with the forces to reduce the Earl of Essex. He died in London at the Savoy, at the age of forty seven, in the year 1605.

We cannot pass over a striking instance of gallantry, in this extraordinary hero, as recorded by Mr. Pennant, which appears fully to keep pace with his bravery as a naval commander. “At an audience, which the earl had after one of his expeditions, Queen Elizabeth, perhaps designedly, dropped one of her gloves. 41 His lordship took it up, and presented it to her; upon which she graciously desired him to keep it as a mark of her esteem. He adorned the glove with diamonds, and wore it in the front of his high crowned hat on days of tournament.” This circumstance is recorded in a very curious and rare print of the earl, engraved by Robert White, in which the glove appears. Another instance of the queen’s favor to this earl of Cumberland, was, her appointing him her champion in her tilting matches, in which exercise he excelled all the nobility of his time. His magnificent armour worn in this age of chivalry, was adorned with roses and fleur de lis, and is now preserved at Appleby Castle in Westmoreland. He married Margaret, third daughter of Francis earl of Bedford, by whom he had three children, two sons who died young, and a daughter named 42 Anne, who was successively married to Richard earl of Dorset, and to Philip earl of Pembroke and Montgomery.

This lady appears by the following letter to have inherited with the family estates, all the bravery and spirit of her great ancestors. Sir Joseph Williamson, when secretary of state to Charles the II. wrote to the Countess, wishing to name a candidate to her for the borough of Appleby, to which she returned the following spirited answer “I have been bullied by an usurper, I have been neglected by a court, but I will not be dictated to by a subject. Your man shan’t stand.”


“Pembroke and Montgomery.”


Dr. Campbell, in his Philosophy of Rhetoric, highly commends the expression of this letter, he says, “an ordinary spirit would have employed as many pages to express the same thing, as there are affirmations in this short letter.” Of this extraordinary lady, Dr. Donne remarked, “that in her younger years, she knew well how to discourse of all things, from predestination, to slea-silk.”

From this digression, which we hope will not prove uninteresting, we return again to the main subject of our enquiry.

The winding and mazy course of the Wye in about two miles, brings us to Whitney, where, in 1794, the piers and part of the arches of a new stone bridge were in great forwardness, but in the succeeding spring, the whole was swept away 44 by that sudden thaw and torrent, whose devastations we have more than once had occasion to notice. In this unfinished state, the busy scenery of the various artificers at work, a ferry boat perpetually in motion, and the distant village church, peeping above the hills in the back ground, produced altogether a subject well worthy the pencil; but from the confined nature of this work, and the abundant rich, and luxuriant scenery, we have yet to display, we feel it impossible to insert every object in picture, however highly it may merit our notice in description. Passing several beautiful villages, we reach Willersley, in the vicinity of which, the extensive range of Merbidge Hills afforded us, from their summit, a grand and extensive view of the surrounding country. Another noble object presents itself in this neighbourhood, which bears the name of Brobery’s Scar: its principal attractions are the bold and majestic 45 roughnesses of its form, that contrast beautifully with the views, more immediately upon the eye, on the bank of our river. Hence, amidst a profusion of rich and beautiful scenery, at a place called Rhydspence, the river quits Radnorshire, and glides its easy course towards Bradwardin. This town stands on an easy ascent on the bank of the Wye, and presents itself in a happy point of view above the bridge, the northern bank of the river rises to a considerable height, and is richly cloathed with shrubbery. In the annexed view we have aimed at a representation of this beautiful and romantic scene. The river here acquires a considerable width, and though in a dry season, has a proportionable depth of water. In this vicinity there was formerly a castle, of which very little remains. This place gave birth, and name to the famous Thomas Bradwardin, Archbishop of Canterbury, 46 who, from his variety of knowledge and proficiency in the abstruse branches of learning, obtained his title of Doctor Profundus. Below this village we glided down this deep and majestic stream, amidst a rich and fertile country, till we reached Mocca’s Court, the seat of Sir George Cornwall, Bart. It is pleasantly situated on an eminence, on the southern bank of the Wye, within a spacious park, and commands a full and extensive view of the beautiful meanderings of the river.

Bradwardine, Herefordshire.

This place was anciently called Moches, and formed a part of the possessions of St. Guthlach, in the City of Hereford. The ancient house stood below the site of the present, which is a modern structure, and was in part built from the ruin of Bredwardin Castle. In descending towards Hereford we passed a variety of elegant 47 villas, rich in situation, and very happily selected as summer residences; amongst these Belmont, the seat of Dr. Matthews, is peculiarly worthy of attention. The views from hence, in each direction of the river, are highly attractive, and art and nature under the guidance of taste, are happily combined to produce a rich and beautiful effect.


Notes and Corrections: Section III

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This bridge is formed of seven arches and in the year 1795, met with a similar fate to the preceding one, and which were thrown across the torrents that pour themselves along the vallies of this mountainous country.
text unchanged
[If you can parse this sentence, you’re a better man than I.]

a place called Monmouth Cap
text unchanged: expected Gap
[The Monmouth Cap is a style of headwear. But perhaps “Gap” was pronounced “Cap” in the region.]

The head of water in the fore ground of the view
text has groud

which supplies the neighbouring mill with water
text has neigbouring

an object we were not accustomed to meet, with even in Wales
punctuation unchanged
[Do they not have goats in Wales? News to me.]

Tregelhi, which, says Camden
text has Camben

Non redolet sed olet
[Can’t say I see the point, since both words have a similar range of meanings.]

George Clifford, the third earl of Cumberland, who in 1525, was advanced to the dignity of an earl
[If this sounds incoherent, it’s because it is incoherent; did the printer skip a line? In 1525 George’s grandfather was created Earl of Cumberland, after which the succession went from father to son in the usual way. It stopped with George because neither of his sons lived to adulthood. (Titles can be passed on to daughters, but only if so specified in the original creation—and then only if there is just one daughter, because of how primogeniture works. The Mountbatten title is a rare exception.)]

how to discourse of all things, from predestination, to slea-silk
[Embroidery silk, I think.]

from the ruin of Bredwardin
spelling unchanged: expected Bradwardin




THIS view of the ancient bridge and venerable cathedral of Hereford, affords the most picturesque, and striking combination of objects, that came within our observation. The bridge is of stone, and consists of eight Gothic arches, it is evidently of great antiquity, but at what period it was built, history affords little information on which we can rely. Leland conjectures that it was erected about the same time with the castle, that is, soon after the conquest.

The present beautiful cathedral, says Camden, “was founded by bishop Reinelm, in 1079, in the reign of Henry I. and by his successors was enlarged, by adding to it a neat college and fine houses for the prebendaries.” The Bishop, he likewise says, 50 “has three hundred and two churches in his diocese.” The revenues of the bishopric were valued, in the 26th of Henry VIII. at eight hundred and thirty one pounds fourteen shillings and a penny. The present venerable structure has undergone many changes, and has been greatly encreased and beautified by several of its bishops since its first erection, a circumstance that naturally followed from the immense expense attending such an undertaking, which must at any period have greatly exceeded the income, even of the wealthiest abbot or bishop that the church has yet known. The similarity of parts in the style of its architecture, has induced some persons to conjecture that it was all built at the same period: this I judge could not have been the case, there is more reason to believe that the earliest forms served as a model for future ages to work upon. It has undergone shameful depredations: the chief of which were occasioned by the puritanical 51 principles of the last century, when a blind zeal upon religious subjects devoted the most beautiful and venerable vestiges of antiquity to ruin and destruction, as abominations hateful in the eyes of God and man. The form of the arches seems to indicate that the earlier part of this building was erected about the æra of the Saxon architecture; its columns are peculiarly ponderous and massive, they appear to have been erected “not for an age, but for all time.” Some monuments of their bishops still remain, amongst which, in the north wing is the shrine of bishop Cantilupe. The monument of the family of the Bohuns, in the library is curious, and deserves the attention of the antiquary: a recumbent figure is laying beneath a pointed Gothic arch, round which are a number of hogs, covered with a kind of body cloth, on which are painted the arms of the family, each hog having before him an apple to 52 which he seems smelling. This ancient family of the Bohuns and the Lacies earls of Hereford, are said by some writers to have been the founders of Hereford castle, which Leland asserts “to have been one of the fairest, largest, and strongest in England.” The preceding view of Hereford was made in the summer of 1794, at which time the tower of the cathedral was surrounded with a scaffold, and the whole of the building under a thorough repair, from the dreadful accident that happened in the year 1786: On the 17th day of April in that year, about half past six in the evening, the west tower of the cathedral with part of the body of the church unfortunately fell down. The above accident did not happen without giving evident signs of gradual decay, both from the dropping of many stones, and the settling of the arches, which had been remarked for two or three years previous to the event. This dreadful catastrophe 53 was sufficiently foreseen to prevent any fatal consequences. No lives were lost though many persons were passing the church yard at the time, and we of this day have the less reason to deplore the accident, as the rulers of this church, have had the good sense to make use of the rare talents of an architect, whose knowledge of the Gothic, and natural taste for grandeur and simplicity, so peculiarly fitted him for the office of restoring this venerable fabric to its true characteristical dignity, and who does not appear to have deviated from the original design, where it was possible to conform to it. One principal improvement has been the removing some walls that encircled a material part of the church, by which means a view was opened, of two beautiful chapels, called Stanbury and Audley, that had been long concealed from the public eye.

Mr. Wyat’s estimate of the repair of 54 this building was seven thousand pounds, five thousand of which was raised by subscription. But I am informed that to complete this repair, the whole expense will amount to at least thirteen thousand pounds.

This magnificent structure has ever been considered by the antiquary, notwithstanding its irregularity, as a splendid specimen of the piety and munificence of our early churchmen; and the arched roof of the upper cross aisle, supported by a single pillar, is peculiarly deserving attention. Tradition says, it was erected in the reign of William Rufus, by Robert de Lozinga, second bishop of the see of Hereford. The height of the tower was one hundred and twenty-five feet, upon which was a lofty spire, that has, since the accident, been taken down.

On the site on which this cathedral stands there was anciently a church, founded 55 during the zenith of the Saxon heptarchy about the ninth century, soon after which it became a cathedral, and Hereford was made the see of a bishop. The cathedral was destroyed, and the city sacked in the reign of Edward the Confessor, by Griffin prince of South Wales who made the bishop prisoner. At the Norman invasion the city was in ruins, and within its walls and the suburbs, there were not, according to doomsday book, more than one hundred and three men.

At a small distance from the cathedral stands the vicar’s college, it forms a square, within which is a plain but venerable cloister. From its elevated situation, it commands a beautiful view of the meandering course of our river Wye, and its fertile and verdant banks. Although it is not the professed intention of this work to enter into a minute history of cities, or towns, yet the antiquity 56 of this venerable place demands our attention, and cannot be passed over in silence, we shall therefore mention the once elegant building of the chapter house, of which, though but a small fragment presents itself, there is yet sufficient of the picturesque to attract the notice of the curious traveller, nor can the remains of the Black Fryers with its beautiful cross, or rather stone pulpit, be passed unnoticed, the latter is here preserved in a wood cut from a sketch made on the spot in 1794.

line drawing of ornate stone pulpit


The building is Hexagonal, open at every side, and round it is a flight of six steps. The shaft of the cross which is broken off, rests on a table of the same form in the centre of the building, and spreads itself towards the roof in ramifications that produce a very beautiful effect. Some of the embattlements yet remain on the upper part of the building, the whole of which appears to have been finished with great care and elegance. From this building, sermons were delivered by the fryers, who were then extremely popular, to the multitude who were sheltered under the cloister, that it is presumed, surrounded this building. An hospital in 1614, was founded on the site whereon stood the black fryars, by Sir Thomas Coningsby of Hampton Court, in this county, who was then proprietor of the ruins, and by him it was endowed with considerable estates in Leicestershire, and 58 was intended as a relief to the worn out soldier and superannuated faithful servant.

The city of Hereford, appears by its remaining walls, to have been well and regularly fortified, and its castle must have been a very capital fortress. The site whereon it stood retains the name of Castle Green, and affords a pleasant retreat, commanding a very beautiful view of the river beneath and of the surrounding country. This being a remarkable dry season, barges have been laying at Hereford for upwards four months, for want of water to carry them down.

The principal articles of navigation are timber, bark, and grain, and the back carriage, is coals from Ledbrook and other places below Ross. Hereford is not favourably situated for manufactures or commerce. It is ill supplied with fuel, and that not 59 good, and the uncertain state of the river, from its shoals and great rapidity, prevents that constant and uniform navigation which can alone support a regular and extensive trade. To remove these barriers, several attempts, I am informed, have been made, but the estimate of expenses has been so enormous, that the measure has always proved abortive.

Quitting Hereford, the Wye bends its course round a point of land for a distance of near two miles, when we are again brought almost as near to the town, as when we quitted it. The river as we passed down, still continued its circuitous windings, but with a more placid surface, seldom meeting any obstruction in its course, from those rocky substances that formed the grand characteristic of the stream in its earlier stages. The general face of the country is rich in verdure, 60 and the cattle grazing on the banks of the river or laving in its stream, are objects that perpetually contribute to enliven the scene.

About six miles below Hereford, the Wye receives the river Lug, one of the three principal rivers in this county; it derives its source from the mountains in the north east part of Radnorshire, and running east, through Herefordshire to Leominster, takes a south east direction towards the Wye; in its course it is joined by several smaller streams, and on its near approach to our river, becomes a stream of considerable magnitude. About a mile from the bank of the Wye, this river runs through the pleasant village of Mordiford, and adds much to the picturesque scenery of the place. On the east end of the church of Mordiford is represented in plaster, an enormous dragon or serpent, the history of 61 which is thus recorded. Some centuries ago, we know not when, a dragon is reported to have been the devourer of all the cattle on the adjoining hills called Offwood, and was a monster of such terrific qualities, that no one could for a great length of time, be found bold enough to undertake his destruction, till at length a pardon being granted to a condemned criminal, on condition that he would undertake it, he atchieved his purpose, by slaying the dragon as he was solacing himself in a cyder hogshead. This wonderful relation, seems to be generally credited by the people in the neighbourhood, as no doubt it was at the building of this edifice, or this strange monster would not have been represented in so terrific a form, and in so conspicuous a place as the front of the church. After relating this wonderful circumstance, may we be permitted to quote another, not less so from the learned Camden. He says, that “near the conflux of 62 the Lug and the Wye, eastward, a hill which they call Marcley hill, did in the year 1575, rouse itself as it were out of sleep, and for three days together, shoving its prodigious body forward with a horrible roaring noise, and overturning every thing in its way, raised itself (to the great astonishment of the beholders) to a higher place; by that kind of earthquake, I suppose, which the Naturalists call Brasmatia.” On a hill adjoining the village, a large stone house has been recently erected by a Mr. Hereford, which deserves notice from the extensive and beautiful view it commands of Hereford and the surrounding country.

About a mile below Mordiford, we pass a large brick mansion belonging to the Duke of Norfolk, called Holme Lacy, formerly the seat of the ancient family of the Scudamores. On this site stood an abbey 63 for Premonstratensian cannons, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Thomas a Becket, founded by William Fitzwain in the beginning of the reign of Henry the third; the house is a flat uninteresting building, but comprises within its view a beautiful and picturesque prospect on the opposite side of the river, called Fownhope. The village is situated amidst a rich thicket of verdant and woody scenery, on an extensive slope rising from a rocky bank of the Wye.

This richly diversified hill, is at a proper distance from the eye, to enable it distinctly to mark the several species of trees of which it is composed; these cannot be more aptly described, than in the lines of Dyer, on a similar subject, in his charming poem of Grongar Hill.


“The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,

“The yellow beech, the sable yew,

“The slender fir, that taper grows,

“The sturdy oak, with broad spread boughs.”

Amongst the few houses that are scattered on this beautiful scene, the principal are those of Mr. Lechmere, and Mr. Purchase, who has a considerable brewery here. A little below the next bend of the river, a range of hills called Capler hills, form a rich screen to the northern bank of the Wye. These hills are upwards of a mile and a half in length, and are principally covered with oak trees, the soil which is of a reddish cast, frequently breaks through the verdure of its plantations, and gives a warm and animated tinge to the landscape. A high road passes the summit of these hills, that commands a beautiful prospect of the surrounding country, and the meandering river beneath. Near Brookhampton on Capler hill, is the remain of a very large square 65 camp called Wobury, it appears to be double trenched, but narrow and near half a mile in length. About five years ago, near three acres of these hills fell into the Wye and narrowed its course, but it has from that circumstance, obtained a more considerable depth than we have before witnessed in this river, being now in a dry season, upwards of five feet deep.

On the left of the river, at Aramstone, is a fine view of the village of King’s Caple situated amidst a beautiful assemblage of woods. Below this spot on the opposite bank is Harewood, the residence of the Hoskins’s an ancient family in the county of Hereford. This place is peculiarly worthy notice, as it composed part of the forest of Harewood, in which Ethelwold, king Edgar’s minister had a castle. Here Mason fixed the scene, for his dramatic poem of Elfrida, and thus he describes the scene before us


“How nobly does this venerable wood,

“Gilt with the glories of the orient sun

“Embosom yon fair mansion! the soft air

“Salutes me with most cool and temp’rate breath;

“And as I tread, the flow’r besprinkled lawn

“Sends up a gale of fragrance. I should guess,

“If e’er content deign’d visit mortal clime,

“This was her place of dearest residence.”

From hence amidst a rich and woody country, admitting from its sameness little variety worthy either the pen or pencil, we pursued our course down the gentle stream till we reached the pleasant village of Selleck; its church is of a singular construction, and no less so is that of an epitaph I copied in the church yard, on the tombstone of one Richard Addis who died in 1788, aged 80.

“When Christ come riding on the clouds

“To view the world abroad,

“Angels and saints crying aloud

“Rise dead and meet the Lord.”

On the opposite side of the river, a 67 little below Harewood, is a fine grove of trees called Caple Tump, where an annual festival is held from all the neighbouring towns, and where

“All the village train, from labor free,

“Lead up their sports beneath the spreading tree.”

About two miles below Selleck, we were gratified with the most beautiful and luxuriant view of Ross, that I believe the country from any point affords.


Notes and Corrections: Section IV

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text has SECTION. with superfluous .

founded by bishop Reinelm, in 1079, in the reign of Henry I. and by his successors was enlarged
[Where did he get “in 1079”? The reign of Henry I was, I think, 1100–1135. The 1695 translation of Camden, which may be what Ireland used, says “In the reign of King Hen. 1. was founded by Bishop Reinelm that beautiful Church now to be seen, which his successors enlarged”. Modern sources say that the cathedral is of pre-Norman foundation, but no part of the structure is earlier than the 12th century.]

The Bishop, he likewise says, “has three hundred and two churches in his diocese.”
[Casual research tells me the Church of England has 10480 parishes divided among 42 dioceses, so Here­ford’s see would not be extraordinary.]

a recumbent figure is laying beneath a pointed Gothic arch
[Laying what? This is a very early use of “lay” for “lie”. Hmph.]

the rulers of this church, have had the good sense to make use of the rare talents of an architect . . . . Mr. Wyat
[James Wyatt, R.A. (1746–1813), was a Big Name in architecture, and was even president of the Royal Academy for a year or so. But his style wasn’t universally admired. According to one source: “His work at Salisbury Wilts (1789-92), and Hereford (1786-96) earned him the nickname ‘The Destroyer,’ as his approach to medieval fabric was cavalier, speculative, and archaeological.” With this in mind, the budget overage—leaping from seven thousand to thirteen thousand pounds—is not surprising.]

But I am informed that to complete this repair
text has imformed

we shall therefore mention the once elegant building
text has therfore

the Wye receives the river Lug
[Celtic deity, I think. The cities of Lyon, Laon and Loudun—but not Leiden—are all supposed to have started out as Lugdunum.]

a pardon being granted to a condemned criminal
text has comdemned

that kind of earthquake . . . which the Naturalists call Brasmatia
[At least those Naturalists who favor obscure Latin terminology. It’s properly plural, brasmatiae, Latinized from a late Greek word.]

Amongst the few houses that are scattered
text has Amonst

Ross from Ashwood.



ON the approach to Ross, a fine amphitheatre of trees called Ashwood skirts the southern bank of the Wye. From this charming spot, near three miles above Ross, the annexed view which comprehends the principal objects that compose the beautiful in picturesque landscape was sketched. The town is situated on the declivity of a hill at a happy distance, and not too obtrusive on the eye; the rising hills with which it is screened give a boldness of character to the situation, nor is the winding of the river, and verdure of the country that enrich its banks, less characteristic of this delightful neighbourhood. The hill to the right of the town is called the Chase, and that on the left, Penyard-wood, on which formerly stood a castle, said to have been destroyed in the 70 civil wars. The white spire of Ross church “bosomed high in tufted trees” has at this distance an effect peculiarly pleasing, but on a nearer approach, the town obtrudes too much on the eye, and the picturesque and beautiful, gradually disappear.

Ross, abstracted from its elevated and delightful situation, has little to render it worthy attention; the prospect from the church yard a spot to which the traveller is generally conducted on his arrival, displays a very extensive and inchanting landscape both above and below the town.

The beautiful and meandering course of the river beneath, enriched with pleasure boats constantly in motion, in their passage to and from Chepstow, gives life and beauty to the scene. These boats are lightly constructed and are navigated by three men, either 71 with or without a sail. The heavy mass of building called the Town Hall, from its general appearance conveys a faint idea of the worst style of Saxon architecture; it is a ponderous and unmeaning heap of stone, huddled together in the tasteless reign of James the first, by one John Abel who erected a similar building at Hereford; they vie with each other in want of taste, and have nothing to render them worthy notice but their absurdity, which I believe is not to be equalled by the dullest architect of that or any other period. At one end of the building, intended I presume as an ornament, there is a noseless bust, supposed to be that of the merry monarch Charles the second. In such a state of decay is the stone of which this edifice is composed, together with the heavy style of its architecture, that it has every appearance of having been erected as far back as the time of the Saxons.


Notwithstanding the disadvantage under which this building labors, I have yet considered the general view of which it forms a part as not devoid of interest, it comprizes the house in which the man of Ross resided till his death, now known by the sign of the King’s Arm Inn. As every the most trifling circumstance relative to a character so highly distinguished by the pen of Pope, and still more highly dignified by the general voice of the people of Ross becomes interesting, I have here thought fit to give a view of the house in which he resided, and the adjoining buildings.

To the benevolent John Kyrle, a name almost lost in the superior title of the Good Man of Ross this town owes most of its improvements and charitable institutions.

engraving of Ross market house, showing ground-level arcades

Market house &c. Ross.

He was born at Whitehouse, in the 73 parish of Dymock, in the county of Hereford in 1637, served the office of sheriff for the county in 1683, and died in 1724.

From an income of only five hundred pounds a year, this good man appears to have derived every happiness to himself and to have diffused it with uncommon benevolence to all around him. This exemplary character has been so interestingly delineated by the pen of Pope, that the introduction of the following lines although well known, will need no apology for their insertion in this work.

“Rise honest muse! and sing the Man of Ross:

“Pleas’d Vaga echoes thro’ her winding bounds,

“And rapid Severn hoarse applause resounds.

“Who hung with woods yon mountain’s sultry brow?

“From the dry rock, who bade the waters flow?

“Not to the skies in useless columns tost,

“Or in proud falls magnificently lost,

“But clear, and artless, pouring thro’ the plain

“Health to the sick, and solace to the swain.


“Whose cause-way parts the vale with shady rows?

“Whose seats the weary traveller repose?

“Who taught the heaven directed spire to rise?

“The Man of Ross, each lisping babe replies.

“Behold the market-place with poor o’erspread!

“The Man of Ross divides the weekly bread;

“He feeds yon alms-house, neat, but void of state,

“Where age, and want sit smiling at the gate;

“Him portion’d maids, apprentic’d orphans blest,

“The young who labor, and the old who rest.

“Is any sick? the Man of Ross relieves,

“Prescribes, attends, the medicine makes, and gives.

“Is there a variance? enter but his door,

“Balk’d are the courts, and contest is no more.

“Despairing Quacks with curses fled the place,

“And vile Attorneys, now an useless race.

B. “Thrice happy man! enabled to pursue

“What all so wish, but want the power to do!

“Oh say, what sums that gen’rous hand supply?

“What mines to swell that boundless charity?

P. “Of debts and taxes, wife and children clear,

“This man possest—five hundred pounds a year.

“Blush, grandeur, blush! proud courts withdraw your blaze,

“Ye little stars! hide your diminished rays.

B. “And what? no monument, inscription, stone?

“His race, his form, his name almost unknown?

P. “Who builds a church to God, and not to fame,

“Will never mark the marble with his name:


“Go, search it there, where to be born and die,

“Of rich and poor makes all the history;

“Enough that virtue fill’d the space between

“Prov’d by the ends of being, to have been.”

The allusion of the poet, to a neglect in not raising a monument to the good man’s name, no longer exists, for in 1776 a neat mural tablet was erected to his memory in the chancel of the church, by Colonel Money, to defray the expence of which, the sum of three hundred pounds was bequeathed by a Lady Kinnoul, whose property devolving to the Colonel, the good intention of the lady was by him accomplished. On this tablet the following lines are inscribed.

This monument was erected in memory of Mr. John Kyrle, commonly called the Man of Ross.”

It is somewhat singular that neither his age, nor the time of his death, are here 76 mentioned. The design for the monument was made by a Mr. Marsh of this town, who has introduced a bust of the good man that bears little resemblance to either of the two portraits I met with in Ross; one of these is in the possession of Philip Jones Esq; a gentleman, who by marriage with a descendant of John Kyrle, enjoys all his property, and by his urbanity renders himself a worthy representative of that exemplary character. This picture appears to be that of a person about thirty six years of age, and is evidently the work of Sir Peter Lely. The other portrait was at the King’s Arms Inn, formerly the residence of John Kyrle, as described in the view given in this section, it represents him at a more advanced period of life, and on that account, although ill painted, it was preferred to the former as he is exhibited nearer the close of a life, long and happily spent in the promotion of virtue, and to the honor of human 77 nature. I flatter myself the annexed etching from this picture will not prove unacceptable to the admirer and collector of portraits, as I do not remember to have ever seen a print of this exalted character. The original is said to have been sketched from the life unknown to Mr. Kyrle, on a sunday whilst he was attending divine service. He had often been solicited to sit for his picture, but no inducement could prevail on him to comply with the request of his friends.

engraving of John Kyrle in wig and neckcloth

John Kyrle,
commonly called the Man of Ross.

It is reported of Mr. Kyrle, that his ordinary mode of dress, was very plain, and so mean as even to suggest the idea of indigence and want. And even more unfavourable conclusions have been made, from his general appearance, for upon no better foundation, it is said that when travelling in Oxfordshire on horseback, he was apprehended near Benson, upon a suspicion of 78 having committed a robbery in a neighbouring county. I need not add that this charge was dismissed the instant his name was made known to the magistracy.

We cannot quit this town without noticing to the picturesque traveller, a charming walk made by Mr. Kyrle, which led to what he called his farm, it commands a beautiful view of the devious windings of the river beneath, and Wilton castle, bridge, &c. on the opposite shore.

Notes and Corrections: Section V

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a fine amphitheatre of trees called Ashwood skirts the southern bank
text has Ashwood. skirts with superfluous .

above Ross, the annexed view
text has Ross, The

the beautiful in picturesque landscape was sketched
text unchanged: error for and picturesque?

As every the most trifling circumstance
text unchanged: error for even?
[It is not many weeks since I came across the same apparent error in a different book of similar vintage. Blame it on a hand-written original.]

Ross, abstracted from . . . . / The beautiful and meandering course
[Both paragraphs start in plain text. I’ve small-capped the words for consistency.]

the house in which the man of Ross resided till his death
[John Kyrle (1637–1724) was a noted philanthropist, subject of the poem by Alexander Pope quoted a few pages further along. (After Ireland’s time, there will also be a poem by Coleridge.)]

“Prescribes, attends, the medicine makes, and gives.
text has and gives.” with superfluous close quote

B. “Thrice happy man! enabled to pursue
[Not all editions include the “B.” snd “P.” attributions, and Pope himself doesn’t explain.]

[Illustration] John Kyrle
[Unlike other illustrations, this one has no artist (del.) credit, and instead names the engraver: F. Barlow sculpt.]

Wilton Castle.



ABOUT a mile below Ross, Wilton Castle first attracts our attention. This ruin is situated on the margin of the Wye, and affords with its surrounding objects in many points of view, scenes not unworthy the attention of the antiquary or admirer of picturesque objects. Its western walls and round towers are in the most perfect state of preservation, but the annexed view, comprising a part of the bridge, is selected as most appropriate to the design of this work and to exemplify the course of the river. The castle has formerly covered a considerable extent of ground, the greater part of which is now used as a garden. Camden says “that king John gave Wilton with the castle to Henry Longchamp and that 80 it came by marriage to William Fitzhugh, and not long after, in King Edward the first’s time, to Reginald Grey, Justice of Chester, from whom by a long descent it came to Lord Grey of Wilton, whose son Arthur Lord Grey was Lord Deputy of Ireland.” This noble person merits particular attention, as having been the early patron of our Spencer the poet, who accompanied him to Ireland as his secretary.

In the county of Cork, at a place called Kilcolman, Spencer is reported to have finished his excellent poem of the Fairy Queen. The River Mulla, so often mentioned by him, ran through the grounds of the house in which he resided. His gratitude to his patron is thus recorded, in a sonnet addressed to him, and is prefixed to the poem.


“Most noble lord the pillor of my life,

“And patrone of my muses pupillage:

“Through whose large bountie, poured on me rise

“In the first season of my feeble age,

“I nowe doe live bound yours by vassalage;” &c.

At what period Wilton Castle went out of the family of the Greys is not mentioned, but it afterwards belonged to the Lord Chandos, from whom it descended to the duke of Chandos who built Canons in Middlesex. The remains of this castle, with Aconbury, Dewfall, and other considerable estates in the neighbourhood belonging to this family, amounting to near four thousand pounds per annum, were sold some years ago to the governors of Guy’s Hospital. The castle is reported to have been principally destroyed by fire, but at what period is not ascertained. In support of this idea we observed, that towards the ends of the timbers, many of them appeared to have 82 been much burned. On this spot an assemblage of rich and woody scenery, forms the leading feature of the vicinity of our river, and about two miles below Wilton bridge I would advise the admirer of the truly grand in landscape, to ascend the hill in the high road to Monmouth, where at a place called Pencreek, the eye is feasted with one of the most magnificent views this river affords. The distant church of Ross, its neighboring woods and hills, and the meandering course of the Wye, all combine from hence to form this fascinating scene. Here the course of the river is peculiarly marked, its channel is nobly formed, and wears a grandeur not to be met with in any other river we have yet seen in this country.

Goodrich Castle.

Amidst a variety of enchanting views, passing from one bend of the river to another, Goodrich castle, on the summit of a 83 bold promontary, amidst an elegant woodland scene, nobly raises its ruined battlements, as if frowning on the stream beneath.

On ascending the hill to contemplate the spoils of Time, who ravages alike the forms of beauty and the tower of strength, by leaving for a moment the ordinary path and passing up what is called Conduit hill, Walford church, Ross, and the surrounding country, at a happy distance, combine to form a landscape of peculiar richness and beauty. History does not inform us at what period this castle was erected, but we find that early as the fifth year of the reign of King John, William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke had a grant of it. From this family it came to Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, in the reign of Edward the third, and in the twentieth year of Richard the Second, Sir John Scudamore of Holme Lacy was constituted its constable, during the minority 84 of John Lord Talbot, in whose family it continued till the fourteenth of James the First; at which period Gilbert Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury died, leaving three daughters his coheiresses. Elizabeth the second daughter was married to Henry de Grey, Earl of Kent, by which marriage he became possessor of this manor, which continued in the family till the death of Henry Duke of Kent in 1740, after which it was sold to Thomas Griffin, Esq; Vice Admiral of the White, whose second son, the Reverend Dr. Griffin of Hadnock near Monmouth, is its present owner.

This celebrated castle was nearly square, covering a space of ground forty eight yards by fifty two, it was defended at each angle by four large round towers, one of which formed an irregular Heptagon. Through a perfect Gothic arch, we are led to a spacious hall of good proportion overgrown with ivy, 85 adjoining which is an area, presenting the remains of a lofty square building, with circular arched windows in the Saxon style, resembling Gundulph’s tower at Rochester castle. By the fragment of a stone staircase, we ascend another embattled tower, through which at a great depth appears the immense fosse, or trench, which is hewn out of a solid rock, and is twenty yards in breadth. Here was once a draw-bridge and two gates with recesses between each, evidently intended as places of safety for its guards, who unseen might annoy the enemy. The various points from which this castle may be viewed to advantage, would afford ample matter for the antiquary, artist, and military architect.

Quitting this spot, several views of the castle presented themselves, but they were all undignified and uninteresting when compared with those we had before contemplated. 86 The country on the opposite side of the river towards the village of Walford, is peculiarly beautiful. In the church of Walford, one of the aisles is now called Kyrle’s chapel, it was erected by that family for their private use, before it became a parochial church; about a mile below the castle, is a small remain of Goodrich priory; a few Gothic windows are yet standing, and part of the chapel which is now converted to a granary; the whole affords an object sufficient to attract the notice of the curious.

drawing of partly ruined priory in stone and half-timber


This priory was a monastery of the order of black cannons regular of St. Augustine, founded and endowed with the king’s licence in the twentieth of Edward the fourth, 1347. Its situation corresponds with the happy choice usually made by the ancient possessors of religious houses, it stands in a fertile valley, watered by one of the finest rivers in the kingdom. The building with the lands contiguous to the castle are occupied by a Mr. Bellamy. From the ascent, approaching the village of Goodrich, a rich and extensive view presents itself across the forest of Dean, from whence Rure-dean church happily breaks upon the eye.

Here the Wye in a long and serpentine reach, appears in a perspective point of view and affords a pleasing and happy termination to the scenery; its banks are screened on the south, by an extensive coppice wood, and on 88 the north, by fertile meadows rising towards Bishop’s-wood’, from which a considerable iron furnace in this vicinity derives its name. From the stone quarries in this neighborhood, the new bridge at Bristol was principally erected.

Passing down the river, the next object that attracts our notice is Courtfield, the seat of the Vaughan family.

This spot is rendered remarkable from Henry the fifth having been nursed in the neighbourhood. That prince we are told, was when young of a weak and sickly habit, and was placed under the care of a countess of Salisbury, from which circumstance in all probability, the original name of this place which was Greyfield, was changed to the appellation it now bears. We next approach Lidbroke colliery and very large and extensive wharf, from whence a considerable 89 commerce in coals is carried on to Ross, Hereford and other places. This productive mine is the property of Lord Gage. With all the dark and dingy attributes of this place, involved as it is in smoke, and begirt with coal barges, it yet affords a very pleasing and interesting landscape. The high road that ascends the woody hill, screening the back ground of this wharf, is perpetually enlivened by horses and carriages in this sooty sable commerce, while on the bank of the river beneath, the lading and unlading the vessels, afford additional business and variety to the scene. This view is finely contrasted on a sudden bend of the river a little below, where all is tranquil and serene. The picturesque village of Welch Bicknor presents itself in a rich valley on the right bank of the Wye, happily overshaded by a thicket of woods, ranged in a grand and circular sweep. These are called 90 Hawkwood and Packwood, and extend about a mile along the bank of the river. The village church and parsonage house, group in a form peculiarly beautiful and interesting.

In the body of the church, fronting the reading desk, is a cumbent whole length female figure, well sculptured in a darkish coloured stone. Traditional report says it represents the countess of Salisbury, whom we have just mentioned as having nursed king Henry the fifth. She holds a child in each arm. This effigy is highly worthy of notice. The drapery is in a loose and free style, and the general contour of the whole bespeaks it the work of an artist of talent. A little below this scene, the Wye is bounded on the opposite shore by a long range of hills, beautifully cloathed with verdure, and diversified by a rich and broken soil of a 91 warm and reddish hue, frequently over clouded with shades of smoak that issue from the various kilns, kept continually burning near this spot. These circumstances trifling and adventitious as they may appear, give relief and effect to the picturesque and beautiful in landscape. Approaching the foot of Cold-well rocks, a scene sublime and majestic presents itself. The grand prominencies are overhung with richly varied tufts of oak, and other shrubberies, occasionally contrasted and relieved by deep and shadowy dells, formed by the various lime kilns on their surface. Some of the most prominent of Cold-well rocks, we are informed have by some gentlemen of the bar, in their passage down this river, been christened after the names of our principal council. The connection is not obvious, or readily traced.


Here we quitted the barge to ascend these majestic rocks, which by an immense and craggy deep, we with difficulty accomplished, and reached the summit called Symond’s Gate. This task, arduous as it is should not deter the traveller from pursuing this course, as by means of it he will avoid a dull and uninteresting passage on the water of full three miles to the new Weir, and by passing over these rocks he will enjoy a sublimity of scenery that will amply repay his toil and labour. As we ascend these superb masses of stone, the rich and extensive scenery that surrounds us, is every moment unfolding itself: the summit is richly overgrown with wild thyme, and variegated flowers, and is crowned with the rich and deep foliage of the noble oak.

“Here all the air a solemn stillness holds”

save the distant lowing of cattle, and from 93 his rocky bed, the dirge like evening song of the owl, that floats along the gale.

From hence Goodrich castle, which we imagined we had left far behind, breaks suddenly upon the eye, and appears from the immense winding of the river to be a near object. The new weir, and adjoining waterfall, with the surrounding rich and healthy hills afford from this spot a combination of objects, that deservedly rank among the first views on the river, or perhaps in this country.

The village of Whitechurch in the centre of the vale beneath, with the vast hills beyond it, afford a sublime termination to this reach of the river.

At Whitechurch is a second ferry called Hunson’s Rope. This ferry although seven 94 miles distant by water from that of Goodrich, is only one mile by land, a striking instance of the very appropriate and characteristical title of our river, which from its mazy and circuitous course, is justly denominated the Vaga, or Wye.

Notes and Corrections: Section VI

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Camden says “that king John
punctuation unchanged: expected says that “king

estates in the neighbourhood belonging to this family
text has bolonging

to form this fascinating scene
text has facinating

Goodrich castle, on the summit of a bold promontary
spelling unchanged
[Our author would get along well with the courtroom TV litigants who refer to a “promissary note”.]

fertile meadows rising towards Bishop’s-wood’
’ invisible

give relief and effect to the picturesque and beautiful
text has picture-/resque at line break

should not deter the traveller from pursuing this course
text has not not

crowned with the rich and deep foliage of the noble oak.
. missing

with the surrounding rich and healthy hills
text unchanged
[“Healthy hills” sounds peculiar. Did he mean “heathy” (covered in heath)?]

Simmonds Rock, &c.



DESCENDING towards the new Weir by a course not less rugged than that by which we ascended, the fatigue we had undergone, was amply repaid by the gratification we received in some of the most beautiful views that can be imagined. These presented themselves through the various breaks of the rocks, or openings of the surrounding woods with which they are enriched. The serpentine winding of the river, and the vast prominencies and fantastic forms of the rocks in its vicinity, give an air of solemn gloom and grandeur to the scene. From the approach to the Weir, the annexed view was selected, it comprises all the principal objects that could be admitted within the limits of a scale so circumscribed. The innumerable circumstances 96 that aid this grand and sublime scene, are such as to render it almost impossible for the pencil, to render it justice. The iron forges on the opposite side of the river, not less from their appearance than from the important purposes they answer in human life, give an interest to this effort of nature, while the awful sound of the iron hammers beating the fiery mass, awakens in the mind new sensations giving dignity and grandeur to the subject. This picturesque scene is much heightened by the immense volumes of sparkling smoak that are continually issuing from the forges, these give a pleasing though transitory relief to the sombre, and distant hills that terminate the view. Around these works are scattered great masses of half burned ore, coal, and cinders, and interspersed on the barren and extensive moor in the vicinity, are many humble cottages of the various workmen employed in the manufactory. 97 The roaring of the waters from the cascade of the Weir adjoining to this work has a grand effect, its fall is precipitate although at no great height, nor is it perceived from above the dream.

The river here receives a considerable degree of agitation from the huge masses of stone, either swept down by the stream, or hurled from the summit of the neighbouring rocks. Here the Wye increases in width, and its current is so strong, that it is with extraordinary labour and difficulty the barges are towed up. I have seen eight or ten men throwing themselves on the earth on every pull, to give force to their exertions.

In this part of the river is frequently seen a small fishing boat on a singular construction, called a corricle, it is ribbed with laths or split twigs, and is covered with a 98 strong pitched canvas, to prevent its leaking, it is about five feet and a half long and four broad. In the middle is a seat that holds one man, who sits with a paddle in one hand while he fishes with the other. His labour finished, he throws the corricle over his shoulder and retires to his home.

A little below the weir the river scenery is terminated by what is called King Arthur’s plain, or Doward hills. To the traveller who is bold enough to attempt the summit of these hills, the views will afford ample variety both in the beautiful and sublime. Camden conjectures, that on these hills there has anciently been a fortification, and what makes it more probable is, that in digging there for iron ore, and lime stone, he says “broad arrow heads have been found, and not long ago, the greatest part of the bones of a gigantic person were found here interred, in a place 99 that seemed to be arched over.” Whatever may have been the ancient destination of this spot, its present attractions proceed from the very extensive and richly diversified prospects that present themselves from every point of view. On a spot adjoining to the wood on the extremity of this hill, is a cavern that bears the name of King Arthur’s Hall; it is said to extend by a subterraneous passage from hence to the new weir, a distance of about a mile. Many fabulous and romantic tales have been attached to the history of this hall, but the fact appears to be simply this, that it was a cavern, from whence was dug a rich mine of iron ore, that supplied the adjoining furnaces.

A detached cluster of rocks called St. Martins’, or the three Sisters, somewhat resembling but much inferior to those at Coldwell, skirt the river in passing down, near 100 which at a short reach called St. Martin’s Well, the stream is supposed to have a greater depth of water than in any other part. At the extremity of this reach from a beautiful vale, King Arthur’s plain again presents itself, affirming a new and castellated form, and here every stroak of the oar gives variety to the scene, and every object seems to vary its situation. The vast assemblage of rocks we have just contemplated, appear to vanish and melt into a distant hill, rising from a craggy base on the margin of the river.

About two miles before we reach Monmouth, Hadnock house and the beauties of its situation justly demand our attention. It is situated on the edge of the forest of Dean, and stands on the brow of a hill, commanding a fascinating view of the meandering Wye, that gently glides beneath its rocky hills; these are enriched with verdant 101 coppice woods that screen this beautiful spot, the residence of the Rev. Dr. Griffin, whom we have before mentioned. From hence along the base of the hills, a road running parallel with the river that leads on to Monmouth.


Notes and Corrections: Section VII

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render it almost impossible for the pencil, to render it justice.
[final . missing at line-end]

give an interest to this effort of nature
text has ef-/ at line break
[Or possibly “effect”? “effulgence”? “efflorescence”? For what it’s worth, this is the last page in its quire; I’m surprised the word “manufac-/tory” made it through.]

A little below the weir
[Printed “A little” in ordinary type; I’ve small-capped it for consistency. (The book has a total of five “A smallcaps—including two “A little—as against two paragraph-initial “A plaintype”.)]

extend by a subterraneous passage
text has subteraneous

Monmouth from Hadnock.



QUITTING Hadnock, we are gratified with a distant view of the bridge and town of Monmouth. The solitary church of Dixton on the opposite bank of the river, although deficient in accompaniments is yet a characteristic and interesting feature in the fore ground of the landscape; and it continues to be such, though since this drawing was executed, its interior received in the great flood in 1795 very material injury; the water having forced its way through the windows and doors, and torn up the pulpit, pews and pavement.

Monmouth bridge is of stone, and consists of six irregular arches. The town derives its name from its situation at the 104 conflux of the Wye and Mynwye, generally, and by the Welsh particularly pronounced Monnow.

Monnow Bridge.

A great part of Monmouth is encompassed by this river which empties itself into the Wye at the lower end of the town; where a very ancient bridge and gateway, formerly a barrier against the Welsh, is thrown across this mountain stream. It is somewhat extraordinary, that neither history or tradition, although they are both mentioned by Leland in his itinerary, afford any information as to the period in which they were built. Independent however of historical evidence, they bear such unequivocal marks of antiquity, that the picturesque effect they produce, gives them ample claim to a place in this work. The annexed plate will we flatter ourselves, convey a faithful representation of this venerable remain, and 105 in some degree illustrate the situation of the town itself; which though low, is seated in a spot at once both pleasing and romantic.

Monmouth had anciently four gates, and the suburb was defended by a wall and deep ditch on each side, except that next the river. As far back as Leland’s time, the walls and every other embattled part but the square tower were in a state of ruin. The church is an entire modern structure.

Monmouth has high claim to consideration and respect, from its having given birth to our fifth Henry the conqueror of France, whose active spirit, warlike qualities, and superior skill in horsemanship, particularly at a time when to be accomplished, was indispensible to the character of a gentleman, and the cavalry service began to be in a manner appropriated to men of this 106 rank, are thus enchantingly, and with all the ease and grace of the gallant and princely horseman he describes, delineated by our matchless bard.

“I saw young Harry with his beaver on,

“His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm’d,

“Rise from the ground like feather’d Mercury,

“And vaulted with such ease into his seat

“As if an angel dropp’d down from the clouds,

“To turn and wind a fiery pegasus,

“And witch the world with feats of horsemanship.”

Henry was born in the castle of Monmouth, of which little more remains than a few fragments of walls, and an elevation or mound of earth, just sufficient to ascertain its site; and to demonstrate how evanescent and transitory are all human things; the strong embattled fortress as well as the cradle of princes. Such once were to be found on this spot; and that this awful truth may be more strongly impressed and exemplified, 107 though there yet remains more visible and palpable evidence of one than of the other, let it be remembered, that the record of history will retain the memory of the birth place of Henry, when all traces of the castle shall have passed away, and even its site shall as ineffectually be sought after as at this hour the image of its former splendour.

Remains of Monmouth Castle, &c.

In this castle Edward the second, after he had been made prisoner by his queen Isabella, in 1326, was for a time confined. Having in the south west direction of the town, with some difficulty obtained a sketch of the ruin of the castle that partakes much of the picturesque, it is here given as an illustration of this venerable spot. The river Monnow beautifully winds beneath its ruined walls, the wooden bridge that is thrown across the stream, and the rich and verdant scenery of its hilly bank, all conspire to produce a landscape highly deserving a 108 place in this work. The remains of the castle, denote it to be of Roman construction, Camden says that from the king’s records, a castle was standing here in a flourishing state, as early as the time of William the Conqueror, and that it was rebuilt by John Baron of Monmouth, about the year 1240.

This town has not only the honor of giving birth to a great king, but likewise to a great historian, Galfredius Arthurius, Bishop of St. Asaph, better known by the name of Jeffery of Monmouth. He is supposed to have been educated at this place, which had then a benedictine monastery, or convent of black monks, founded in 1240 by Wihenoe de Monemue, or Monmouth. Monasteries were at that time the principal seminaries for learning in this country, as Oxford and Cambridge had not then risen to any great celebrity, and were at that period much depressed in consequence of the Danish 109 invasion. Jeffery was made arch deacon of Monmouth in 1251, and was soon afterwards created bishop of St. Asaph. He translated the history of Britain from the British language into Latin, a work said to have been discovered by Walter Mapæus while in Armorica, and brought by him into England, where meeting with Jeffery of Monmouth, a man profoundly versed in the history and antiquities of Britain, and an elegant writer for the period in which he lived the task was entrusted to him. Merlin’s prophecies he also translated from British verse into Latin prose. This work was of essential service to the Welch chieftain Owen Glendwr, whose high pretensions to sovereignty were constantly favoured and cherished by these prophecies. The veracity of Jeffery, as an historian, has been doubted by many; Camden says that his relation of Brutus and his successors ought to be intirely disregarded. It may however be observed 110 in favour of this writer, from the testimony of Giraldus Cambrensis his contemporary, that at that period the Welch bards and minstrels from early traditional accounts, received and transmitted with a mixture of religious reverence and awe, solemnly repeated the genealogy of their princes and heroes, from Roderic the Great to Æneas, and from Æneas lineally to Adam.

If this should not altogether be thought to add much to their probable authenticity, it will serve to warrant the introduction of the history, to shew at least that he was not the author of the fiction; and, in tracing the origin of nations, tales to the full as fabulous are to be met with in the pages of many of our gravest and approved writers.

Monmouth Priory.

To the few early historians of our own we owe much, and amongst these Jeffery deserves every respect, and we are bound to 111 regret that in succeeding times, the best histories of this country will be found to have been the labors of foreigners. A fragment of Monmouth Priory, we have preserved as a tribute to the memory of the historian who was there educated. The Gothic window that appears in view remains very perfect, and appertains to a venerable ancient chamber, which he is reported to have occupied as a study. From the nature of its foundation, the free school at Monmouth particularly deserves our notice. Burton, in his history of Wales, gives this relation of William Jones its founder: he says, “Wm. Jones was born at Monmouth, and forced to quit his country for not being able to pay ten groats. Coming to London he became first a porter, and then a factor; and going over to Hamburgh, had such a vent for Welch cottons, that he gained a very considerable estate in a short time. He 112 founded a fair school in Monmouth, allowing fifty pounds yearly to the master, and a hundred pounds salary to a lecturer, besides a stately alms house for twenty poor people, each of them having two rooms and a garden, and half a crown a week; all which he left to the oversight of the company of haberdashers in London, who discharge their trust therein to this day.” Another account of the founder is thus given, but with less credibility. That he was a native of Newland, a few miles distant from Monmouth, and having quitted it when young to seek his fortune, he returned at an advanced period of life, in an apparent state of indigence, although very rich, and applied to his native town for relief as a pauper, which being refused, he took his revenge on the people by retiring to Monmouth, and there dispensing that wealth, that was intended to enrich his native place.


We cannot quit the pleasant town of Monmouth without noticing the massive pile of its goal. Built in a lofty and healthy spot, and in the form of an ancient castle; it frowns over the country, and impresses the idea of rigorous confinement and the impossibility of escape. At the time we visited this expensive and spacious work, it contained only one solitary inhabitant, and he a prisoner for only a very trivial offence. As our goals increase in magnitude, it is with pleasure we have frequently had occasion to remark that there is a decrease of inhabitants, nor is it less worthy of observation that the humanity of supplying even those who least deserve it, with decent accommodation, as well as the blessing of light and air, before denied to them, is now most liberally granted.

Perhaps it may not be too much to infer from hence, that the immensity of the 114 bulk of these buildings, in the conspicuous situation in which they are now placed, may impress the multitude with such a terror of the consequence of crimes, as in some degree to prevent a commission of them. This building stands on an eminence, and commands a fine view of the town and surrounding country.

Notes and Corrections: Section VIII

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torn up the pulpit, pews and pavement
text has th pulpit

better known by the name of Jeffery of Monmouth
[Now canonicalized to “Geoffrey”.]

discovered by Walter Mapæus while in Armorica
[Loosely corresponding to modern Brittany.]

whose high pretensions to sovereignty were constantly favoured
text has soveriegnty
[The word occurs nowhere else in the present book, but the author’s various other Picturesque Views have many occurrences of “sovereign”, always with the expected spelling.]

it contained only one solitary inhabitant, and he a prisoner for only a very trivial offence
[No surprise there. People convicted of non-trivial offences—such as stealing property worth more than I‑forget-how-many shillings—were hanged.]

Monmouth from a Neighbouring Hill.



QUITTING Monmouth on an excursion to Rhaglan Castle, we ascended a considerable hill about a mile from the town, that afforded one of the most luxuriant landscapes we had witnessed in the course of our route. From this eminence, the rich valley in which Monmouth is situated, and the beauties of the surrounding country, are highly illustrative of Gray’s opinion of the charming situation of this place. He rapturously describes this scene as “the delight of his eyes and the very seat of pleasure,” We have attempted to give an idea of this much admired spot in the annexed plate.

The ride to Rhaglan Castle, a distance of 116 about six miles, amply gratified us for the deviation from our main pursuit.

dark picture of partly ruined castle

Raglan Castle.

This magnificent remain of ancient splendor stands on an elevated situation commonly called Twyn-y-ciros, which signifies in Welch the cherry hill; and, as we approach it from the village, appears to wear that solemn and majestic air highly characteristic of the spirit of the times in which it flourished. The external view here selected, we flatter ourselves will not only convey the best idea of its extent and magnificence, but is a point from which we do not remember to have ever seen it represented. This noble building, which may rather be terminated a castellated house than a castle, is in many parts, still in good preservation. It was erected in the reign of Henry VII. and does not therefore boast of great antiquity; many additions were made to it about the time of Elizabeth, these 117 constitute, the most elegant parts of this superb pile, and are to be found in the windows of the grand hall, or banqueting room; the ornaments of the frieze and cornice are light and elegant, and in the best taste of that time. To the left of this hall, was a large court one hundred feet long, and sixty feet broad, well arched and ornamented, with curious stone work both on the walls and windows. In the midst of the court was a pleasant marble fountain called the White Horse: the following remark of Dr. Griffin, relative to the white horse may not prove uninteresting. “I remember,” says he, “some years ago, they used to shew here part of the body of a black horse, which stood in the middle of some water that supplied the castle, and was a fountain. I was told the parliamentarians poisoned the water during the siege, and that the stone horse absorbed the poison; it was very hard, 118 but on being struck, or rubbed with any hard substance, emitted a very offensive smell. Perhaps I had the legend very imperfectly, and it should have been added, the poison turned the white horse into a black one.” The castle is surrounded by a wide fosse thirty feet broad, wherein was originally placed an artificial water work, which spouted up water to the height of the castle, and contains within it two acres, one of which appears to have been encompassed with domestic offices, such as kitchen, brewhouse, &c. and in which there is an oven, and fire range of such extraordinary dimensions, as to satisfy us, that there were times in which they were not wholly occupied in feats of arms.

In this building every precaution has been used to guard and secure the approaches to it; and the utmost magnificence is to be observed in every part of the interior, even 119 in the domestic offices. The staircase and ascent to the grand apartments are peculiarly noble; and beneath the areas which are vaulted, are various subterraneous apartments, and extensive cellars of the most excellent workmanship. The citadel, which is octagonal, is surrounded by a moat, and stands at a small distance from the castle: its principal parts are in a perfect state of preservation. This noble castle is in the possession of the Duke of Beaufort, whose ancestor, the Marquis of Worcester in the time of Charles the first, added and fortified many extensive out works, by which he was enabled to hold it for the king’s use till his imprisonment at Holmby. It once contained a garrison of eight hundred men, and was the last castle that surrendered to the parliament forces, then under the command of Sir Thomas Fairfax. This event happened on the nineteenth of August 1646, and is reported to have been effected by a female 120 in the garrison, and by the use of a very ordinary female engine, the mere waving a handkerchief, as a signal for the introduction of Cromwell’s party. If this were so, politics were probably by no means the primary incentives of this lady’s zeal, and there were doubtless secret articles in this treaty, unknown to the besieging general. The window at which she appeared is still shewn.

The more probable account is, that from the very long siege it sustained, the upper part was undermined, and the timbers being burnt a great part of it fell down. Soon after its surrender, the castle was demolished and left, in nearly the same state in which it now remains. The loss to the family is supposed to be upwards of a hundred thousand pounds, besides the forfeiture of an estate of twenty thousand a year. Three considerable parks of remarkable fertility, 121 and richly stocked with deer, once appertained to this castle.

Returning to Monmouth we resumed our passage down the Wye, on a morning, one of the most beautiful ever beheld. The retrospective view of Monmouth on passing down, the spire of the church, the town, bridge, and surrounding scene, though inferior to that above, yet in some respects exhibited a very picturesque landscape. The hills opposite to Monmouth, are called the Kemmin Rocks, on the summit of which Mr. Philip Hardwick, an architect, has erected a stone building for the reception of his friends, called Philip’s Court. This spot commands a view most extensive and diversified, and will well repay the labour of climbing up what John Bunyan would justly call Hill Difficulty. To those who visit this spot it may be worth the trouble of going 122 about a mile further to view, amongst many others, an immense large rock called the Buck Stone; a name probably derived from the deer having sheltered themselves under it when the adjacent country was in the form of a park. Its situation is on the extreme edge of the hill; and, though of an immense size, it stands on an angular point, and is so nicely balanced, as to be with a very small degree of force, set in motion and shaken. Approaching the junction of the Monnow with the Wye, the side scenes of the river, increase in richness both of woody, and verdant scenery, and with such agreable breaks in the distance as to produce an enchanting effect.

A little below this point, a small river called the Trothe, or Trothey, unites itself with our Wye, on whose banks they jointly pass, near a respectable mansion 123 called Troy-house, in the possession of the Duke of Beaufort, to whom it descended from Sir Charles Somerset.

Sir Charles was the third son of Edward Earl of Worcester, and married the daughter and heiress of Sir William Powell of Troy, by whom he acquired a considerable estate, and added much influence to the house of Worcester. The present edifice notwithstanding it was designed by Inigo Jones, has little that can recommend it to notice. It is used merely as a lodge, and is occasionally only occupied by the family. A few portraits decorate its walls, but they are not of consequence sufficient to take the traveller far out of his way. The cradle wherein Harry of Monmouth is reported to have been rocked is here exhibited as a great curiosity, but the freshness of its velvet, its nails and appendages, bespeak it rather to have been the receptable of one of 124 the Beaufort family in the time of Charles the second.

To those however who are fond of cradles (and in their second childhood, amongst our old lady antiquaries, some such there may be) the annexed sketch of one, the appearance of which bespeaks it as not unlikely to have been of that time, and which is in the possession of the Reverend Mr. Ball of Newlands, a few miles from Monmouth, may not prove an unacceptable regale.

line dawing of ancient cradle as described below


It is made of oak without any covering, and is suspended by two iron rings, by which it receives motion on the least touch or action of the child; it is three feet long, one foot four deep, and one foot six wide; it is ornamented at the top of the supporters, which are octagonal, with two birds, resembling eagles, but their beaks are broken off. The following anecdote relative to Troy house, extracted from the “Apothegms of the Earl of Worcester,” it is presumed will be thought not unworthy a place in this work.

Sir Thomas Somerset, brother to the Marquis of Worcester, had a house which was called Troy, five miles from Rhaglan castle. This Sir Thomas being a complete gentleman, delighted much in fine gardens and orchards, where by the benefit of art, the earth was made so grateful to him at the same time, that the king 126 (Charles the first) happened to be at his brother’s house, that it yielded him wherewithal to send his brother a present; and such an one as (the times and the seasons considered) was able to make the king believe, that the sovereign of the planets had now changed the poles, and that Wales (the refuse and the outcast of the fair garden of England) had fairer and riper fruit than England’s bowels had on all her beds. This present, given to the marquis, he would not suffer to be presented to the king by any hand but his own. In comes the marquis then, at the end of the supper, led by the arm, with a slow pace, expressing much Spanish gravity, with a silver dish in each hand, filled with rarities; and a little basket on his arm as a reserve, when making his obeisance he thus speaks: May it please your Majesty, if the four elements could have been robbed to have entertained your 127 Majesty, I think I had but done my duty, but I must do as I may. If I had sent to Bristol for some good things to entertain your Majesty, that would have been no wonder at all. If I had procured from London, some goodness that might have been acceptable to your Majesty, that would have been no wonder. But here I present you, Sir, (placing his dishes upon the table) with that which came not from Lincoln that was, nor London that is, nor York that is to be, but from Troy.” Whereupon the king smiled and answered the marquis; “Truly my Lord, I have heard that corn grows where Troy town stood; but I never thought there had grown any apricots before.” Whereupon the marquis replied, “Any thing to please your Majesty.” When my lord marquis departed the presence, one told him that he would make a very good courtier; remember well, replied the marquis, that I said 128 one thing which may give some hopes of me: Any thing to please your majesty.

Amidst a rich though hilly scenery, beautiful in its forms and happily diversified by a multitude of small farms, that exhibit evident marks of improving cultivation in this, yet very improvable, though fertile country, we reach Redbrook. Here a considerable manufactory of iron and tin gives a new and pleasing variety to the scenery and bustle on our river. Some of the iron ore used here comes from Coldford, and other places in the neighbourhood of the forest of Dean, but the greater part is brought from Lancashire.

About a mile and a half below Redbrook, the Wye receives a further supply from a small stream called Whitebrook; about the distance of a mile from whence stands St. Briaval’s Castle. It is situated on 129 an eminence, and though so near the river, is from the water too indistinct an object for the pencil. This is to be regretted, as the woody declivities on each side of it are beautiful in their forms, and display a scene uncommonly rich and elegant; but on quitting the boat we found a nearer view of the castle, well worthy a place in this work, and a proper ornament of its subject. The annexed sketch exhibits a north east view of the castle, and the remains of the moat that in part surrounded it.

St. Briavals.

The distant Monmouthshire hills form a good termination to the scene, while the adjoining church and general face of the landscape presents a view, in its style and character, materially varying from any we have yet met with. From the remains of this castle it appears to have been a place of great strength, and of considerable extent; it was built by Miles, Earl of Hereford, 130 in the reign of King Henry I. whose third son named Mahel, Camden informs us, was here overtaken by “God’s judgments for his rapacious ways, inhuman cruelties, and boundless avarice. For being courteously entertained here by Walter de Clifford, the castle taking fire, he lost his life by the fall of a stone on his head, from the highest tower.” The custody of St. Briaval’s, with the Forest of Dean, was granted to John de Monemouth, in the eighteenth year of King John. The Earl of Berkeley is the present constable, and the Duke of Beaufort, under whose direction the castle is kept in a good state of repair, is lord of the manor. The tower in the west front is now used as a prison. From hence, the views of the surrounding country are extensive and beautiful; and here the meandering of the Wye paints the landscape, as in its general course, and spreads richness and fertility in the vallies 131 through which it flows. Returning to our boat we passed Big’s Weir, near which, on the bank of the Wye, is the seat of General Rooke, whose father captured Gibraltar.

engraving of river scene with small boats on still water, and trees in the background


It is situated in the midst of a rich pasturage, and commands a full view of the river, and that interesting variety of moving objects, which its busy commerce here presents. Amidst a range of beautiful scenery, we pass the pleasant village of Llandogar about a mile below. Here the river forms a smooth and glassy bay, through which the white sailed vessel is seen constantly gliding, or lying moored on the more to take in her freight. The undulating hills, called the Hudnells, form a beautiful back ground to this charming scene, of which the annexed view will give a faint idea.

A little below is Cadithil Weir, from whence we dropped pleasantly down the 132 stream to another village called Brook’s Weir, which is considered a half way distance from Monmouth to Chepstow. At this place the goods sent from Monmouth are shipped and conveyed in larger vessels to Bristol. The river, in an easy meandering course, soon brought us within view of the most picturesque object on its banks, the splendid and very elegant ruin of Tintern Abbey,

“These are fair scenes where if art whilom trod,

“Led by the worst of guides fell tyranny,

“And with less superstition, we now trace

“Her footsteps with delight; and pleas’d revere

“What once we should have hated.”

Approaching this sublime and sequestered spot, the enthusiastic lover of simplicity in art and nature, the admirer of the picturesque and beautiful, the antiquary and the moralist will feel the effect, as it were, of enchantment, and become lost almost in a pleasing melancholy. The steepy 133 hills, the hanging woods, the rolling stream, the nodding ruin, the surviving monuments of fallen grandeur and beauty in decay; the constructed space, the stillness and retirment, all conspire to impress the mind with awe, and for a moment withdraw from its vain pursuit of wealth and power, and abstract it from the world. On this remain, a very able writer has remarked, that “were the building ever so beautiful, incompassed as it is with shabby houses, it could make no appearance from the river.” In this we essentially differ, and present the annexed view in support of our opinion. Here every cottage appears as it really exists on the spot; and the petty, or if you please paltry accompaniments to which he alludes, appear to us so far from diminishing the grandeur of the general effect, that they serve rather on the contrary as a scale, and give magnitude to the principal object.

engraving of partly ruined abbey overlooking a calm river

Tintern Abbey.


The ruined windows, pillars, and mouldings are all of them very elegant specimens of the most perfect style of Gothic architecture. That wreck and desolation to which the revolution of opinion, the wasteful rapacity and tyranny of Henry, had subjected this lovely spot, would have presented only marks of violence, and under the pretence of religion, the ravaging arm of an unprincipled barbarian. It is to the gentler tyranny, the silent and progressive ravages, of time, that we owe many of those delicate touches and features of beauty that embellish this elegant and interesting ruin. These have contributed to soften down the sharper edges of the chissel, and, by blending its variegated tufts of moss, and spreading and overhanging with its loose drapery, and many tinted greens, the highly wrought ornaments and sculpture of the place, have given to the whole a richness and mellowness, far beyond the reach of art.


The small gothic Gate at the entrance from the water, was evidently an adjunct of the abbey, and the remaining small buildings adjoining, formed part of its out-offices. The abbey was founded A. D. 1131. by Walter de Clare, for monks of the Cistercian order: and dedicated to Saint Mary. About the time of the revolution, here were thirteen religious houses, whose estates were estimated according to Dugdale at one hundred and ninety-two pounds, one shilling and four pence per annum. The site was granted in the twenty-eighth of Henry the VIII. to Henry Earl of Worcester, from whom it has descended to the present Duke of Beaufort.

On entering this sublime ruin the mind is struck with a reverential and religious awe: a sensation which can be no more expressed by words, than it can in this full extent be excited by all the graces of Grecian 136 proportions, and all the decencies of orthodox worship. The noble clustered columns form a beautiful scene in perspective; and, while some of the rich Gothic ornaments and pointed arches above, present themselves as if magically suspended, and raise an idea of grandeur, accompanied, if not with alarm with some degree of surprise, the various ruinated fragments of capitals and pillars below, which lie scattered indiscriminately and in part overgrown and buried in beds of wild flowers and verdant tendrils, create an interesting disorder, and suggest ideas, though perhaps of a melancholy tinge, yet so far from a distressing nature as to lull the mind to a repose, congenial to the general turn of the surrounding scenery.

engraving of ruined abbey interior, open to the sky

Interior of Tintern Abbey.

The smooth and trim manner in which the ground is here kept, is not, according to our conception, very much in unison with the assemblage of objects around, where 137 brokenness and irregularity are the principal and leading features of the place, the tameness and uniformity produced by it, are incongruous and out of character.

The western window, although in point of proportion rather too wide for its height, is yet a curious specimen of the ancient Gothic, and no contemptible study for one who is smitten with a true passion for the antique. The roof of the building is entirely fallen in, and with it some of the pillars are lost, but their bases still remain above the surface of the ground, so as to enable the antiquary, if he has the least of the architect about him, very easily to give a ground plot of the whole.

In the middle of the nave, the lofty arches which once supported the steeple, rise high above the rest; but though they retain 138 their forms, they are reduced to a mere ridge of stone.

The neighbouring iron works belonging to Mr. Tanner of Monmouth, will afford a different scene, and should be visited by every traveller. Here the quiet and repose of the cottage is happily contrasted by the activity and bustle of the forge.

In passing along the river side to the iron works, many beautiful passages in landscape present themselves; they are composed of woody and diversified hills, similar to those adjoining to the abbey, but heightened by the busy scenes of the labourer and artificer, constantly employed in the adjacent manufactory. The iron works are principally supplied from Furness in Lancashire with ore, which is disolved by the blasts of immense bellows that are worked by means 139 of cylinder pumps. The best qualities of the ore are separated from the dross by a water wheel and hammers, by which operation considerable quantities of pure metal are collected, and the powder is sold to the glass houses. Various forges are here contrived for the purpose of forming the mutilated ore into proper sizes, from the largest bar of iron, to the smallest wire.


Notes and Corrections: Section IX

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In case anyone wondered: Raglan, including the castle, has long been a possession of the Dukes of Beaufort. In 1854, when one Duke’s youngest son was ennobled in his own right, the title chosen was Baron Raglan. The future Baron had lost an arm at Waterloo, leading him to adopt an easy-to-put-on sleeve design that came to be known as the raglan sleeve. It isn’t clear whether it was an independent invention, or whether the Baron or his tailor had seen something similar; in fact the whole history is a bit fuzzy. But there is an indirect connection between the place and the sleeve.

by the use of a very ordinary female engine
text has the the use

near a respectable mansion called Troy-house
text has a a

notwithstanding it was designed by Inigo Jones
[Was everything built in the first half of the seventeenth century attributed to Inigo Jones? Our author’s Thames book includes a similar error. In each case, the (mis)attribution does Jones no credit.]

the receptable of one of the Beaufort family
text unchanged: expected receptacle

he thus speaks: May it please your Majesty
[There ought to be an open-quote here. In the printed book we have been in marginal quotation marks since the beginning of the paragraph (“Sir Thomas Somerset”).]

nor York that is to be, but from Troy.”
[At this point, the printer simply forgets that he is in a nested quotation, which ought to continue until the top of the following page:]

page image

a view, in its style and character
text has and / and at line break

in the eighteenth year of King John
[John reigned from April 1199 to October 1216, so his eighteenth year spanned only a few months.]

These are fair scenes
[William Mason (1724–1797), The English Garden, Book I. I found it in an 1810 collection of Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper. It can be found in later collections, such as Chambers, but the flood of 19th-century English poets seems generally to have washed Mason away.]



BENDING our course down the Wye we pass a promontory, from whence the eastern extremity of the abbey presents itself; but here all is flat and uninteresting, compared with the scene we have just quitted. In this point of view the tottering and solitary pillar, remaining in the centre of the great east window, appears to be scarce able to support itself; thus circumstanced it is fortunate for the antiquary that very little of the fabric depends upon it, or a great part of that venerable structure would, ere long, inevitably come to the ground with it.

We were soon deprived of any further view of this elegant remain by a strong wind and tide, which quickly hurried us 142 down the stream; but scenes like these, on which the mind has long dwelt in pleasing meditation, are not easily effaced by a mere change of place: they on the contrary are rather cherished by the preceding scenery, by the gloom of the rock, the repose of the meadow, and the stillness of the gliding stream; nor do they disappear till we mix in the busy hum of men, till we plunge into the more tumultuous scene of human life and human passions.

Having passed much beautiful scenery nearly of the style and character of that which we witnessed about Tintern, here we again discover the eastern bank of the Wye screened with rocky substances, not unlike those at Coldwell. These substances are called the Thorn, and Black Cliffs. The water at this place is much discoloured, and acquires a thick and clayey hue, evidently produced by the influx of the tide, which is 143 here very visible, and which from the Severn sea, and the low marshy land on its shores is so impregnated with mud, and imports it in such quantities as to foul the pearly tresses of the Wye, even to a degree of deformity.

——“The torrent flood,

“Thy molten chrystal fills with mud,

“Tho’ thy lofty head be crown’d

“With many a tower and terras round.”

We now approach the rocks that terminate the grounds of Persfield; these are tremendous projections hanging over the river, and in their form resemble so many bastions of a castle. They are twelve in number, and bear the name of the Twelve Apostles; a thirteenth in the same range is terminated by a slender stone about five feet in height, which is called St. Peter’s Thumb. In this spot we are struck with a wonderful reverberation of sound, such as must afford a curious speculation to the 144 philosophical inquirer into the nature and properties of air, and that conformation of earth and rock and woody accompaniment, which are necessary to produce with such continued repercussion, an echo so clear and distinct. A little below these rocks a person, some years ago, fell unhurt from an immense height into the woods on the margin of the river. This almost miraculous interposition on his behalf, wrought very little effect upon his life and manners, for so hardened and incapable was he of being acted upon, either by the recollection of mercies or the dread of punishment, that, having not long after attended the execution of a friend for a robbery, he conceived in his mind the plan of a similar crime, perpetrated it, and suffered the same fate. So that his rescue from a watery grave seems to have served little purpose beyond that of verifying the adage, that he, who is destined to the halter, may brave the precipice and 145 the flood. A little lower down the river we pass the rocks, from the sudden and precipitate fall they present, called the Lover’s Leap. Had he not happily been caught by the shrubbery planted below, Mr. Morris the former possessor, had here fallen a sacrifice to his passion for those simple charms of nature, which he explored and dressed with a correspondent taste. He added to their variety without lessening their interest. Since that time a professed improver has been let in, and the consequence, not the natural consequence, has been that with his roller and shears, insipid uniformity has identified the ever changeful scene; and the slime of this snail has scarce less deformed its dells, its craggy hills, and its groves, than has the mud of the Severn that polluted its waters. To prevent any such accident in future this gentleman soon after fixed a rail on the edge of the precipice. By a steep and unpleasant path, the traveller, from these rocks, has 146 sometimes ascended to the grounds of Penfield. A circular bend of the river now displayed to our view the noble ruin of Chepstow castle. The situation of this venerable building is sinking. It is built on the summit of an immense perpendicular rock, into which it appears rivetted, or rather to be growing out of it; as from the top of the battlements, down to the base of the cliff on the margin of the river, it is one continued range of precipice.

engraving of castle on a cliff overlooking a small river with boats in the foreground, flat bridge in the background

Chepstow Castle & bridge.

This majestic remain, is from the present point of view peculiarly interesting, and in its effect highly picturesque. The ancient Gothic entrance partly in ruin, the irregular breaks and prominencies in the general form of the building, which is a mixture of the Norman and Saxon style, are in many parts overgrown with large clumps of ivy and variegated shrubs, sometimes beautifully clustered among the fragments of the 147 castle, and again falling down and enriching the white and awful cliff below.

The adjoining bridge from its height, singular construction, and relative situation to the castle has a romantic air, and is well calculated to give general effect to the landscape.

On the opposite shore, the different forms of the cliffs and rich verdure with which they are cloathed, and the masts of the vessels from behind the bridge breaking on the eye, complete the scene, and render it altogether a happy group of objects for the pencil. This bridge is built with timber, and the boards which compose the floor, are so laid as to yield to the water and play some inches. It is seventy feet above the surface of the river, and is so constructed in consequence of the impetuosity of the tide, which, just as it rushes in from the Severn 148 sea, being here suddenly confined within a narrow channel, is frequently known to have risen forty feet. As it divides the counties of Gloucester and Monmouth, it is kept in repair at their joint-expence.

According to some accounts, Chepstow castle appears formerly to have occupied a considerable space of ground, not less it is presumed than five acres. About six hundred years since, it was rebuilt by Gilbert Earl of Pembroke, surnamed Strongbow. This Gilbert was second son of Gilbert de Clare, from him it came after various grants to Charles Somerset, a son of the third Duke of Beaufort, afterwards Earl of Worcester, and from him it descended to the present duke.

The premises have been for many years under a lease for lives, the last of 149 which is at present in 1794, an aged woman who shews the castle in which she was born. Amongst the several buildings still remaining, the chapel demands attention, it is spacious and has been much ornamented. Twelve large niches with semicircular arches over them, are formed in the walls. They have seats which are chair high above the floor. The uses to which they were appropriated is not clearly ascertained. The grand entrance on the east side, is a noble and venerable remain of the Norman stile of building, it stands between two lofty towers, and is in a good state of preservation. Much of the Roman wall, in the north west angle of the chapel, appears in the courses of bricks between the stone facings.

In the civil dissentions of the last century, this castle was considered of great importance 150 to both parties, and a garrison was continued here after the restoration. A spacious apartment is still shewn in which Henry Martin, one of the king’s judges, was confined a close prisoner for twenty seven years.

The life of this remarkable man was spared, he having surrendered himself conformable to the proclamation issued, when that event took place. His estates in Berkshire, which were considerable, were sequestered, and here he resided till 1680, when according to Anthony Wood, he died suddenly while at dinner, at the age of 78. He was buried in Chepstow church, and on his tomb stone were engraved the following lines. As they are now obliterated and are said to have been written by himself, they may be thought worth preserving. The Epitaph is an Acrostic.


Who in Berkshire, was well known

To love his country’s freedom ’bove his own;

But being immured full twenty year,

Had time to write as doth appear.


H ere or elsewhere, (all’s one to you, to me,)

E arth, air, or water, gripes my ghostly dust,

N one knows how soon to be by fire set free:

R eader if you an oft try’d rule will trust,

Y ou’ll gladly do and suffer what you must.

M y time was spent in serving you, and you

A nd death’s my pay, it seems, and welcome too,

R evenge destroying but itself, while I,

T o birds of prey leave my old cage and fly.

E xamples preach to the eye: care then, mine says,

N ot how you end, but how you spend your days.

Some years after its interment, by order of the then clergyman, the body was removed to an obscure situation, that the 152 church might not be disgraced by containing the ashes of a regicide. Chepstow parish church, formed a part of the old priory belonging to the Benedictine monks founded in the reign of King Stephen. Leland says this was a cell to Bermondsey abbey, but it does not appear to be so in the First Fruits Office; as no rent, or pension by way of acknow­ledgement, is there recorded to that abbey.

The style of building of this church is pure Norman, the arches of the nave are circular, which are supported by square massive pillars in a very perfect state. The entrance to the west front is in a very fine style, of the same architecture, the proportions are just, and the pillars and mouldings are richly decorated in the taste of that period. As we have quoted one monumental inscription, from this ancient receptacle of the dead, we flatter ourselves that we may without making an obituary of this work, 153 be permitted to contrast the two following. The first was on a sea captain, who died in 1774.

The blusterous blasts, and Neptune’s waves,

Have tost me too, and fro;

In spite of all, by God’s decree

I harbour here below.

Here I am anchor’d with many of our fleet,

But we shall sail again, our Admiral Christ to meet.

The following is on John Davis, a jockey of this town, who seems determined in his technical phrases to outdo, not only the captain, but to distance all that may hereafter be said on the subject.

’Tis vain to trust to human strength, or art,

When God doth strive, ye will small aid impart

As my mishap, ’tho skill’d in riding, shows

That the Almighty, horse and rider throws.

Be then prepar’d, my friends, since accidents

May in an instant hurry you from hence.

From Chepstow by a very pleasant ride we visited the charming grounds of Persfield 154 a spot where nature has been uncommonly profuse, not only in the disposition of the beautiful slopes and waving lawns that enrich and compose the grounds themselves, but in the extensive and diversified scenery that strikes the eye, from every point of view. I have here selected from amidst a profusion of magnificent and fascinating objects, rarely to be met with in this or any other country, a very extensive sketch that includes Chepstow castle, and the town beneath, together with the rocky cliffs designed as it were by nature to bound the course of the Wye, whose beautiful meandering extends for a distance of three miles, and then loses itself in the greater waters of the Severn. Here

——————“Pleas’d Vaga pour’d

“His sea green streams, deep murmuring beneath

“The hanging bowers and glittering rocks; while wide

“The rougher Severn stretch’d his arm, bestrew’d

“With shining sails, to the capacious ocean.”

Chepstow &c. from Persfield.


This enchanting scene is bounded by the Gloucestershire and Somersetshire hills, and affords a subject for landscape, more sublime and picturesque than the most fertile imagination can conceive. An attempt to describe every beautiful object that presents itself within the circuit of these grounds, would in the recital be tedious and uninteresting, I shall therefore only observe, that the scenery on this spot is perpetually diversified, and nature every where rises beyond the reach of art. The enclosed view, though I may in my attempt have merited the praise of fidelity, will I fear convey but a faint and unimpressive idea of that scenery which is adapted only to the talent and pencil of a Claude Lorraine.

Chepstow Castle from below the bridge.

In contemplating this magnificent and stupendous assemblage of nature and art, we are led as it were instinctively to deplore the melancholy reverse of fortune, that saddened 156 the last days of the original designer and owner of this charming spot; of him whose elegant mind and munificent hand could, out of the rude uncultivated mass, project and raise to the highest state of perfection a monument of taste, that must remain an ornament to his country.

We could not take our leave of Chepstow, without giving a retrospective view of the castle, and its tremendous rocky base and distant scenery over which we had just passed. The romantic bridge and busy scene on the water, all combined to aid the landscape, and to give a further illustration of this fascinating place. Chepstow, the grand and central port of the commerce of our river, is here finely displayed by the throng that lined the wharf, and the grove of trading vessels through which we passed. The lofty and high impending screen of rocks, on either side the river, rendered our passage 157 down the stream delightful. Amongst these the red rocks and Hardwick cliff are peculiarly attractive, in the latter many large appertures have been dug that are passable, and extend forty, or fifty yards from the entrance, and in the vicinity is a remarkable fine well of water, that gives the name of Thornwell to a beautiful range of woods, adjoining the termination of Hardwick cliff.

The annexed view of what are called the Red Rocks, will give a general idea of the face of the river, in our passage down to the mouth of the Wye, where we found the tide uncommonly rapid, and where if the wind is brisk, the waters are troublesomely rough.

Red Rocks, below Chepstow.

It is here matter of much regret, that we cannot with fidelity introduce the distant Severn, which would have rendered the view more complete. At Ewen’s rocks, 158 about a mile below, that noble river breaks extensively on the eye, and presents a beautiful scene, but it is altogether an inferior one to that before us.

At the conflux of the Wye, or in the vicinity of Beachley, (the old passage house) the Severn is seen to greater advantage. The distant hills of Gloucestershire and Somersetshire, beautifully intersecting each other in varied tints, while intervening objects of castles, villages, and mansions of the wealthy and great on the opposite more, richly diversify and compleat the whole. The distance, composed of Walton hills about ten miles below, breaks beautifully on the eye, and forms a happy termination across King’s-road and the Bristol channel.

From hence the groups of vessels that are constantly moored near the mouth of the Bristol Avon, although at a distance of near 159 three miles, are perfectly distinguishable. The immense quantity of shipping perpetually passing and repassing before the eye, convey a magnificent idea, both of that celebrated mart of our country, the city of Bristol, and of the extensive commerce of the Severn, a river, memorable and sacred almost as the wizard Dee in ancient song; a torrent before the grandeur of whose flood, our more beautiful Wye feels diminished and submits her humbler and tributary stream, a torrent whose guardian spirit we shall at another, and we trust no very distant day hope to invoke, and with

“Shepherds in the festival of peace

“Carol her goodness loud in rustic lays,

“And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream

“Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils.


Notes and Corrections: Section X

Twelve large niches with semicircular arches
text has simicircular

the Norman stile of building
[Linguistic trivia: This is the etymological spelling of the word. Today’s “style” (and similarly “stylus”) are due to contamination from the unrelated Greek element “style”, meaning column or pillar. A page or two later, our author will use the modern spelling.]

Here or elsewhere, (all’s one to you, to me,)
final punctuation missing
[The epitaph has been pretty widely reprinted. By the end of the 19th century you’ll see the final comma after the close-parenthesis, but comma before parenthesis was typical for Ireland’s time.]

Pleas’d Vaga pour’d
[Apparently from A Tour to the West of England, in 1788 by one Stebbing Shaw. There is no hint about the ultimate source, if any, so we are forced to conclude that Shaw suddenly broke into blank verse for a page and a half before reverting to prose. The last line will scan if you change “ocean” to “sea”.]

the Severn . . . whose guardian spirit we shall at another, and we trust no very distant day hope to invoke
[Don’t hold your breath.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.