Printer-friendly versionSend by email
The Banks of Wye by Robert Bloomfield, Edited by Tim Fulford
TEI

Places

  • Abergavenny (Welsh: Y Fenni): meaning Mouth of the River Gavenny. Town on the Usk river in Monmouthshire, to the south of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons. Originally a Roman fort, Gobannium.
  • Abergavenny Castle: William Camden, the sixteenth-century antiquary, said that Abergavenny Castle 'has been oftner stain'd with the infamy of treachery, than any other castle in Wales'. In 1175 William de Braose murdered Seisyllt ap Dyfnwal, lord of Castell Arnallt, a Welsh stronghold a few miles to the south-east, there on Christmas Day. In retaliation Hywel ap Iorwerth burnt the castle in 1182. Later additions include a fifteenth century gatehouse. Damaged during the Civil War.
  • Anglesey (Welsh: Ynys Môn): island off the coast of North Wales, supposedly the Isle of Mona of the classical era, and the stronghold of the Druids, whom the Roman general Suetonus Paulinus attacked there in AD 60. Conquered by governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola in AD 78.
  • Bannockburn: battle won by Robert the Bruce and his Scots over the English on 24 June 1314, leading to the recognition of Scottish independence.
  • Berkeley Castle: near the Severn and Bristol, completed 1153 by Maurice Berkeley. In 1327 Edward II was murdered there by means of the insertion into his rectum of a red hot poker. The house of Edward Jenner, Bloomfield's patron, is nearby.
  • Bicknor: the village of Welsh Bicknor is located on a spectacular bend of the Wye near Ross and Goodrich.
  • Bishop's Wood: village just to the north of the Wye near Ross.
  • Black Mountain (Welsh: Y Mynyddoedd Duon): a range of parallel flat-topped long hills running south from Hay-on-Wye towards Abergavenny.
  • Blorenge/Blorench (Blorens in Welsh): a mountain near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. 559 m high.
  • Bond Street: the most fashionable shopping street in London's West End, then and now.
  • Brecon (Welsh: Aberhonddu): county town of Brecknockshire, with castle and cathedral. On the River Honddu, which meets the River Usk near the town centre, a short distance away from where the River Tarrell enters the Usk. In Roman times known as Cicucium (Y Gaer) a cavalry base for the conquest of Wales.
  • Bredon Hill: isolated landmark south-west of Evesham, Worcestershire. At the summit is an ancient settlement, Kemerton Camp, and a small stone tower called Parsons Folly, built as a summer house offering prospect views for John Parsons (1732-1805), squire of Kemerton Court.
  • Bronllys Castle: near Talgarth and Brecon. Late eleventh- or early twelfth-century motte with thirteenth-century round stone keep. As a reward for loyal service during his incursion into eastern Wales, Bernard de Neufmarche (Newmarch), Lord of Brecon, granted his followers areas of land to set up their own lordly manors. The lordship of Cantref Selyf and its administrative centre at Bronllys was gained by Richard Fitzpons and remained in the Clifford family (the surname was adopted by Richard's son, Walter) until the early fourteenth century.
  • Bunhill Fields: The dissenters' burial ground in the East End of London in which the bones of John Bunyan and William Blake are interred.
  • Bury St Edmunds: market town in Suffolk, with a wide main street adjoining an abbey, in which Bloomfield's brother George lived.
  • Cader Idris (Welsh: Cadair Idris): a mountain in Gwynedd, near the Welsh coast. 893 m high. Named after the giant Idris (Idris Gawr) of Welsh mythology. Idris is said to have been skilled in poetry, astronomy and philosophy.
  • Caerleon: near the present-day city of Newport, on the coast of south Wales, the site of a Roman legionary fortress and an Iron Age hill fort. Geoffrey of Monmouth makes Caerleon one of the most important cities in Britain in his Historia Regum Britanniæ (c. 1136).
  • Chepstow: Monmouthshire town near the mouth of the Wye, where it joins the Severn. In Bloomfield's time the busiest port in Wales, exporting goods produced in the Wye valley (including iron). In medieval times important for its castle, it is the oldest surviving stone fortress in Britain, built shortly after the Norman Conquest in an effort to prevent the Welsh from attacking Gloucestershire.
  • Cheltenham: near the Cotswold Hills, Gloucestershire, a spa town since the discovery of mineral springs there in 1716. Fashionable in Bloomfield's day and containing much new building, owing to the patronage of the Prince of Wales, who visited frequently. Edward Jenner made his medical practice there to take advantage of the wealthy who stayed in the town in the Prince's wake.
  • Clifford Castle: on the Wye in Herefordshire. Founded by Earl William Fitz Osbern between 1066 and 1071. Held later by the Tosny family, but taken over in the mid-12th century by the Tosny steward, Walter fitz Richard, who called himself Walter Clifford and married Isabel Tosny. During the reign of King Henry II, Walter Clifford cleverly introduced his daughter, renowned as the Fair Rosamund for her beauty, to Henry. Soon the two became lovers and Walter's powerful daughter ensured that he remained in control of Clifford.
  • Coldwell Rocks: cliffs that loom over a bend of the Wye, near Symond's Yat, south Herefordshire, rising from the midst of wooded Lydbrook Hill.
  • Courtfield: a house near Monmouth belonging, in Bloomfield's day, to William Michael Thomas John Vaughan (1781-1861). According to tradition, it is the place where Henry the Fifth was nursed, under the care of the Countess of Salisbury, from which circumstance the original name of Grayfield is said to have been changed to Courtfield. Bloomfield condemned Vaughan's taste because he rebuilt the ancient house in a fashionable style.
  • Crickhowell: small town on the river Usk near Abergavenny, with a castle which was largely destroyed in the early fifteenth century by Owain Glyndŵr's forces.
  • Dean, Forest of: a royal forest since Norman times, lying between the River Wye to the west and north, the river Severn to the south, and the city of Gloucester to the east. In Bloomfield's time an area of significant iron production, using furnaces fuelled by charcoal from the forest trees.
  • Dursley: a village near the Severn in Gloucestershire and lying on the edge of Cotswold escarpment under Stinchcombe Hill. Bloomfield's fellow tourist Robert Bransby Cooper had his seat, Ferney Hill, there.
  • Ewias Vale: a valley in the Black Mountains opening towards Abergavenny, in which stand the ruins of Llanthony Priory.
  • Flaxley: a village and wooded hillside in the Forest of Dean that was, in Bloomfield's time, the busy site of iron furnaces, forges supplied by charcoal from the woods, and water mills supplied by Westbury Brook. Of these the largest was Guns Mill, built by Sir John Wintour and named after William Gunne, the owner of an earlier mill on the site. Guns Mill was used primarily for armament production until 1743 when it became a paper mill. Flaxley Abbey was a Cistercian Abbey founded in c 1150 which, after the dissolution of the monasteries, was granted to Sir William Kingston. By 1692 it was in the possession of Catharina Boevey (died 1727). After her death it passed to the Crawley-Boevey family, owners in Bloomfield's time. They landscaped the grounds in the late eighteenth century.
  • Framelode: a village on the river Severn at which a ferry linked Gloucestershire with Herefordshire and South Wales.
  • Glamorgan (Welsh: Morgannwg): in south Wales, one of the thirteen historic counties of Wales. It was an early medieval kingdom until taken over by the Normans as a lordship.
  • Goodrich Castle: situated on the banks of the Wye in Herefordshire near Symond's Yat and one of the most remarked features of the Wye tour, for its location and historical associations. Begun in the late 11th century, by the English Godric who gave it his name. A generation later the keep was added, probably in the time of Richard 'Strongbow' de Clare, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Goodrich 1148-76. During the Civil War, Goodrich was held successively by both sides. Sir Henry Lingen's Royalists eventually surrendered in 1646 under threats of undermining and a deadly Parliamentarian mortar. Described by Gilpin in Observations on the River Wye as a 'grand' but not 'correctly picturesque' view.
  • Great Doward: a hill near Whitchurch on the Wye in Herefordshire, in the woods covering which Arthur's Cave is located.
  • Hagley Groves: woods in the park of Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, created by George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton (1709-73), who landscaped the grounds in the new picturesque style, and, between 1754 and 1760, rebuilt the hall.
  • Hay-on-Wye (Welsh: Y Gelli Gandryll or Y Gelli): a small town in the Welsh Marches on the Wye, site of two Norman castles, an early motte and bailey near the river and the surviving stone castle on a hill. Much fought-over during the medieval period, with Welsh and Norman lords successively occupying it.
  • Hereford: the county town of Herefordshire, on the river Wye. Its main towers belong to the cathedral, which was commenced in 1079 and completed in the early sixteenth century. On Easter Monday, 1786, the west tower fell, ruining the west front and parts of the nave. The architect James Wyatt was called in to supervise reconstruction, resulting in the supporting of arches by new columns.
  • Holburn: one of the two main east-west streets of Bloomfield's London, bustling and varied, bordered by the Inns of Court, centre of the legal profession.
  • Kingroad: the area of the river Severn estuary, opposite the mouth of the Bristol Avon, in which sailing ships lay at anchor.
  • Kymin Hill: near Monmouth, owned by the Duke of Beaufort who, from 1794, in conjunction with the Kymin Club comprising local gentlemen led by Philip Meakins Hardwick, built a Round Tower on the spot with kitchens and a dining room, and with powerful telescopes fitted on the roof to take in the views of nine counties. In 1800 the Kymin Club erected on the site a Naval Pavilion to commemorate Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile and Britain's naval prowess.
  • Ledbury: a town east of Hereford, and west of the Malvern Hills under which it lies.
  • Lickey: the Lickey Hills are a range of hills in Worcestershire, eleven miles to the south-west of Birmingham. The hills were a royal hunting reserve belonging to the Manor of Bromsgrove.
  • Llandoga or Llandogo: a village on the Wye in Monmouthshire, two miles north of Tintern. Set on a steep hillside; a port for Wye river traffic at which flat-bottomed boats, 'trows', were built.
  • Llanthony: Llanthony Priory is a partly ruined former Augustinian priory in the secluded Vale of Ewias, north of Abergavenny. Founded 1118, abandoned after Welsh attacks; rebuilt 1217, but much reduced by the success of Owain Glyndŵr's rebellion 1400-14. Closed by Henry VIII's dissolution of the religious houses. In Bloomfield's day it was owned by Colonel Sir Mark Wood, the owner of Piercefield. He sold the estate in 1807 to the poet Walter Savage Landor, a friend of Robert Southey who was later to help assist Bloomfield financially. Today, part of the Priory functions as a pub and guest house.
  • Lovers' Leap: a precipice overlooking the Wye near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, usually viewed from a path leading to a viewing station in the picturesque estate of Piercefield.
  • Malvern: both a range of hills between Hereford and Worcester on which an iron-age fort is located and the town that nestles on the hillside—Great Malvern. The town has been a spa since 1622 and has in its centre Malvern Priory, begun 1085, and since the dissolution of the monasteries the parish church.
  • Marten's Tower: a tower of Chepstow castle, in which Henry Marten (1602-80), one of those Parliamentarians who signed Charles I's death warrant, was imprisoned from 1668 until, having choked whilst eating supper, he died. The tower was often depicted by artists and poets for the pathetic and romantic associations which Marten's fate gave it. Robert Southey, for instance, wrote an inscription 'For the apartment in Chepstow-Castle where Henry Marten the Regicide was imprisoned thirty years' (1797) in which he imagined Marten never seeing the sun save through the prison bars. It is now thought, however, that Marten was well-treated: his mistress lived with him in the castle, and he was sometimes allowed out.
  • Mendip: a range of limestone hills that runs east-west to the south of Bristol and Bath in Somerset.
  • Mitcheldean: a large village in the Forest of Dean, about five miles east of the Wye, once a centre for the iron, cloth and leather industries of the area.
  • Monmouth (Welsh: Trefynwy = 'town on the Monnow'): a town at the confluence of the rivers Wye and Monnow. The Normans built a castle there in 1067 to seal their borders against the Welsh. A Benedictine priory was also founded in 1101, supposedly where Geoffrey of Monmouth, author of the Historia Regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), was educated. In 1387 the future King Henry V was born in its castle.
  • Mount Edgecumbe: a Cornish house and estate belonging to the Lords Edgcumbe, noted for its fine view of Plymouth Sound. Lord North stayed there in 1766.
  • New Weir: a weir and lock built to control the Wye's flow, downstream from Symond's Yat, described by Charles Heath in his The Excursion down the Wye as sublime: 'all was agitation and uproar; and every steep, and every rock, stared with wildness and terror'. A nearby iron forge added to the terrific effect by sending smoke and flames, and the din of hammers, over the river.
  • Owlpen: a small village a mile to the east of Uley, Gloucestershire, in which stand a Tudor manor house and church. Surrounded by the amphitheatre of hills of the Owlpen valley.
  • Pencraig Wood: on the Wye near Ross; according to Bloomfield's guidebook, Charles Heath's The Excursion down the Wye, 'no part of the kingdom affords more delightful views than those which present themselves at Pen-craig and the Coppet Hill'.
  • Penmaenmawr: on the coast of north Wales, the last of a range of craggy hills descending from the Snowdon mountains.
  • Pen-y-Fan: the principal peak of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, 886 m high.
  • Piercefield: an eighteenth-century estate bordering the Wye near Chepstow, Monmouthshire, from 1753 improved by Valentine Morris, who designed serpentine paths through woodland that opened onto prospects of the Wye below steep cliffs. Morris built a grotto, druid's temple, bathing house and giant's cave. He opened the park to visitors. In Bloomfield's time, Piercefield belonged to Nathaniel Wells, owner of plantations on St Kitts.
  • Plynlimon (Welsh: Pumlumon 'five peaks'): 752 m high. A mountain in mid-Wales, from which the rivers Severn, Wye and Rheidol rise to flow in different directions. According to Welsh legend, the home of a sleeping giant.
  • Priory Groves: a wooded walk along the river Honddu in Brecon, dating from the seventeenth century, and open for public amusement. Owned in Bloomfield's time by John Jeffreys (Pratt), 2nd Earl of Camden (1759-1840). The Grove is celebrated in the poem 'Priory Grove, his Usual Retirement' (1646) by metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan.
  • Radnor (Radnorshire): Welsh county on the border with England, through which runs the upper Wye, although Bloomfield did not travel far enough upstream to explore it.
  • Raglan Castle: the fifteenth-century castle near Abergavenny, built by Sir William ap Thomas and his son William Herbert, remodelled by William Somerset, third earl of Worcester, 1549-89. Despite demolition attempts during the Civil War, much of the hexagonal-shaped Great Tower (the 'Yellow Tower of Gwent') and lavish suites of state apartments still survive.
  • Ross-on-Wye: a Herefordshire market town on the Wye, home of John Kyrle and, from the mid-eighteenth century, the start of the Wye tour. From 1745, the town's rector, Dr John Egerton, began taking parties of friends downstream on his river boat to admire the scenery. In the wake of Gilpin's Observations on the Wye, the practice gave rise to a commercial tourist trade. By the time of Bloomfield's tour, there were eight boats making regular excursions, most of them hired from inns in the town.
  • Ruardean: a village in the Forest of Dean near the Wye. Situated on a hillside with views west towards the mountains of South Wales. A centre in the eighteenth century for iron smelters, forges and coal mines. The Norman castle commanded the shortest route from Gloucester Castle to the Welsh Marches and the Wye Valley.
  • Severn: the longest river in Britain, rising on Plynlimon (as does the Wye, which flows into the Severn two miles south of Chepstow). The Severn takes a more easterly course than the Wye, and is mostly an English river. Bloomfield's route from Hereford to Uley took him over the Severn at Upton Bridge.
  • Shefford: the Bedfordshire village to which Bloomfield, in an attempt to reduce his expenses, moved, from London, in 1812. He lived there until his death in 1823.
  • Skirrid (Welsh: Ysgyryd Fawr): the most easterly of the Black Mountains near Abergavenny. Also known as Holy Mountain or Sacred Hill. 486 m high.
  • Snowdon (Welsh: Yr Wyddfa): the highest peak in England and Wales, at 1085 m. Near the north Welsh coast.
  • Stinchcombe Hill: near the seat of Bloomfield's fellow tourists the Coopers at Dursley, Stinchcombe is located on the western edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. It commands spectacular views across the Severn Vale to the Forest of Dean, the Black Mountains, the Malvern Hills, the Bristol Channel and North Devon.
  • Sugar Loaf (Welsh: Mynydd Pen-y-Fal or Y Fâl): so called because it resembles a heap of sugar in shape, a mountain situated 2 miles north-west of Abergavenny in Monmouthshire. 598 m high. One of the Black Mountain range.
  • Symond's Yat: spectacular gorge on the Wye in south Herefordshire, at which tourists disembarked so as to climb the hill and see the view.
  • Table Rock: Table Mountain near Crickhowel, on which is the iron-age fort Crug Hywel.
  • Tewkesbury: a market town in Gloucestershire on the rivers Severn and Avon, site of one of the bloodiest battles fought in England, on 4 May 1471, when Edward IV's Yorkist forces defeated the Lancastrians and, it is thought, pursued them to the abbey where they killed them. The abbey, begun in 1120 and completed in the mid-fifteenth century, is one of the largest Norman churches in Britain.
  • Thornbury: a village on the Gloucestershire side of the river Severn, twelve miles north of Bristol. Its castle is a Tudor building commenced in 1511 as the seat of Edward Stafford, 3rd Duke of Buckingham.
  • Tintern Abbey (Welsh: Abaty Tyndyrn): a Cistercian abbey near Monmouth founded by Walter de Clare, Lord of Chepstow, in 1131, and ruined after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries in 1536. Its location on the banks of the river made it the central sight of the Wye tour. According to Gilpin's Observations on the Wye, which popularised it as a ruin to be visited, it offered 'the most beautiful and picturesque view on the river' but nevertheless would have benefited from a mallet 'judiciously used' to break the gable-ends, so making it more romantically ruinous than it already appeared.
  • Tretower Castle: north of Abergavenny. A 12th century stone keep, destroyed by the Welsh in 1233 and was rebuilt in 1240. It is sited next to a medieval manor house, owned for centuries by the Vaughan family, which replaced the castle as a home in the fourteenth century.
  • Troy House: one of the seats of the Earls of Worcester and, after 1682, of the Dukes of Beaufort, by the river Trothy, a mile from Monmouth.
  • Twelve Apostles: projecting crags at the cliffs near Piercefield, on the Wye near Chepstow.
  • Uley/Uley Bury: Uley is the village near Gloucester in which Bloomfield's hosts and fellow tourists the Lloyd Bakers had their seat, Stout's Hill. It lies under Uley Bury, a long, flat-topped hill, on top of which is located an Iron Age hill fort, in use c. 300 BC-100 AD. At 235 m high, it commands spectacular prospects over the Severn.
  • Upton Bridge: a bridge, near present-day Upton-upon-Severn between Malvern and Worcester, which Bloomfield saw from afar and then crossed. First a wooden and then, from the sixteenth century, a stone-arched structure. Of great strategic importance during the Civil War, when it was taken first by royalist Scots and then by the parliamentary army that went on to attack Worcester. It was washed away in 1853.
  • Usk (Welsh: Afon Wysg): the Usk river rises in the Carmarthen Fan mountains or Fan Brycheiniog of mid-Wales, then flows south-east through Brecon, Crickhowell, Abergavenny, past the Roman legionary fortress of Caerleon, and into the Severn at Uskmouth beyond Newport. The Banks of Wye featured an engraving of the Usk seen through the castle gateway at Crickhowell.
  • Wilton Castle: originally an earthwork motte and bailey fort, founded by the Norman Hugo de Longchamp. The stone castle was built in the fourteenth century by Roger de Grey, with a keep, gatehouse and curtain wall. In the sixteenth century, Charles Brydges built an Elizabethan mansion on the site of the keep and gatehouse but this was attacked and burnt during the Civil War.
  • Windcliff: a precipice commanding a fine view of the Wye near Chepstow, Monmouthshire.
  • Wrekin: an isolated hill in east Shropshire. 407 m high and visible for many miles. Local legends suggest it was made by a giant dumping his shovelful of earth, a legend Bloomfield seems to have incorporated into his manuscript beginning of The Banks of Wye, in which 'Giant Scoop' shovels earth to form the hills of Gloucestershire.
  • Y Gaer: Roman fortress near present-day Brecon. According to the Clywd-Powys Archaeological Trust: 'Brecon Gaer, also known as Y Gaer, is situated . . . near Aberyscir just north of the river Usk. The earliest fort was built about AD 75 with defensive banks of clay which rested upon a cobbled surface. A wooden palisade would have protected the defenders. The buildings inside, one of which may have been stabling, were also constructed in wood. At this time the troops at Y Gaer included Vettonian cavalry from Spain. The tombstone of a young cavalryman, Candidus, has been found a mile north of the fort and is now in the Brecknock Museum, Brecon.'

About this Page

Published @ RC

July 2012

ProvinceOrState