Chepstow Wales, or “Cas – Gwent” in Welsh, was originally named Striguil, meaning “a bend in the river”. The name gives a clue to the origin of the settlement. The high cliffs, very deep water and the meander in the River Wye made it a perfect place to defend, with the Castle on top of the cliffs and a Portwall, with only one entry gate cutting across the meander from one side of the bend to the other.
Walk down to our old iron Chepstow Bridge and see the enormity of the task faced by potential attackers and why William FitzOsborn choose the site and began building the Castle in 1067 making it the oldest stone built castle in Wales. Although the wall has been breached a few times in recent years much of it remains intact.
Chepstow is a growing town of c. 13,000 people but it retains much of its’ traditional appeal as a Market Town. It has a rural feel that is reflected in the goods and services available. There are street markets and farmers markets on many Saturdays.
There is much for the visitor to Chepstow Wales to see. We would recommend St Mary’s Priory our Norman Church, the Museum, the Castle, the Tourist Information Centre, Chepstow Bridge and peaceful but historically important Riverbank. There is also the Town Gate and indeed our very own historic Medieval/Regency/Edwardian building, now the Greenman Backpackers to see. Most of these places are in guidebooks, however, there is so much more that isn’t!
During your stay look out for some of these that aren’t: The ships windows of the houses in Bridge Street all originally owned by ship owners in Chepstow’s heyday as a port. Note that they all get progressively bigger further up the hill. Look for the high tide plaque on the Old Bridge. Could it really get that high? Well it was much bigger in 1989! Spot the Peregrine Falcons and try to find out who painted the Union Jack on the cliffs and why. Find the Drill Hall in Lower Church Street where the local lads signed up for both World Wars. Look also for Merlin House in Lower Church Street and see the archway of the property next door. This was where the coach and horses were driven through to the stables at the rear of Merlin (Coach) House. Try and discover which Public House in Bridge Street was used to name “The Three Broomsticks” in the Harry Potter books.
Walk to the bottom of Mill Lane and see the remains of the Chepstow Shipyard (National Shipyard Number 1) and the beautiful Malt House building. See the Alms Houses (built for the poor by two altruistic wine importers) in Upper Church Street and look up for the sundial. Walk up the cobbled Hocker Hill Street, believed to be the original main thoroughfare through the Town where the annual barrel, with a child inside it, race took place. Take a photograph of what is possibly the most photographed pub sign in Wales, the “Five Alls”, and note that at the top end of the street it isn’t called Hocker Hill Street anymore! Why not, ask Mick & Ness at the Greenman Backpackers for the story. Look at the lovely clock and the beautiful Herbert Lewis building in the High Street. And what on earth is a German U – Boat gun doing on the Town Cenotaph? Oh we could go on for ever, but if you decide to stay at the Greenman Backpackers all of the above, and much more, can be seen in the historical pictures and photographs decorating the walls.
Further afield, our location on the Welsh Border makes us very convenient for Chepstow Racecourse, Tintern Abbey and the Wye Valley, the Forest of Dean, Caldicot Castle the Roman remains at nearby Caerwent and Caerleon and for Bristol, Bath, Newport, Cardiff, Gloucester and Cheltenham. We are also very handy for music and theatrical events that are organised in Chepstow Castle and the race course.