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Welsh: Y Fenni
Abergavenny (United Kingdom)

Abergavenny shown within the United Kingdom
Population 14,055
OS grid reference SO295145
Principal area Monmouthshire
Ceremonial county Gwent
Constituent country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district NP7
Dialling code 01873
Police Gwent
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
European Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Monmouth
List of places: UKWalesMonmouthshire

Coordinates: 51°49'26?N 3°01'00?W? / ?51.824, -3.0167

Abergavenny (Welsh: Y Fenni), meaning Mouth of the River Gavenny, is a market town in the principal area of Monmouthshire, Wales.

It is 24 km (15 mi) west of Monmouth. Situated at the confluence of a tributary stream called the Gavenny and the River Usk, it is almost surrounded by two mountains - the Blorenge (559 m)[1] and the Sugar Loaf (596 m)[2] - and five hills - the Skirrid Fawr, the Skirrid Fach, the Deri, the Rholben and Mynydd Llanwenarth, known locally as 'Llanwenarth Breast'. The town is situated just south of the Black Mountains, Wales, part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Formerly a medieval walled town for defence, it was originally a Roman fort called Gobannium. It contains the remains of a mediæval stone castle built soon after the Norman Conquest. It is in the Welsh Marches 9.83 kilometres (6.11 mi) from the English border. Offa's Dyke Path long distance footpath passes close by and the Marches Way, The Beacons Way and Usk Valley Walk all pass through the town. A sign on the Town Hall gives Abergavenny the title 'Gateway to Wales'.

Abergavenny railway station opened 2 January 1854.


[edit] History

[edit] Before 1300

Abergavenny seen from the castle ruins
Abergavenny seen from the castle ruins

Gobannium was a Roman fort guarding the road along the valley of the River Usk linking the legionary fortress of Usk or Burrium, and later Caerleon or Isca Augusta, in the south with Brecon and Mid Wales and for keeping the peace among the local Iron Age tribe, the Silures. Remains of the walls of this fort were discovered west of the castle when excavating the foundations for a new Post Office and telephone exchange building in the late 1960's. The name is associated with the Welsh smith from folk-lore Govannon.

Bergavenny grew as a town in early Norman times under the protection of the Norman Lords of Abergavenny Baron Abergavenny, whose title dated from William the Conqueror, and their medieval successors.

The Priory Church of St Mary, Abergavenny belonged originally to a Benedictine priory (member of the St. Vincent Abbay, Le Mans) founded after the Conquest in the late 11th century. St. Mary's Priory church contains some unique alabaster effigies and unique medieval wood carving such as the Jesse.

Owing to its geographical location the town was frequently embroiled in the border warfare and power play of the 12th century and 13th century, and Giraldus Cambrensis relates how in 1182 Abergavenny Castle was seized back by the Welsh of Gwent.

In 1175 Abergavenny Castle was the scene of a reputed massacre of local Welsh chieftains by the then Baron Abergavenny, William de Braose. So the story goes, after a period of discord and conflict he invited the local leaders to a Christmas banquet under the pretext of resolving differences and building relations but his plan was to eliminate them. Accepting his supposed hospitality, at a traditional time for settling differences, the influential Welsh leaders of the surrounding areas nearly all arrived, proffered their swords as tokens of peaceful intent to servants and, unarmed, were ushered further into the castle where de Braose's armed soldiers hacked them down in cold blood.

Hamelin de Balun, an early "Norman" Lord from Ballon (from a small town and castle in Maine-Anjou, called "Gateway to Maine", near Le Mans, today in the Sarthe département, France), first Baron Abergavenny, founded the Benedictine priory, which was subsequently endowed by William de Braose with a tenth of the profits of the castle and town.

[edit] 1300 to 1900

Owain Glyndwr attacked Abergavenny in 1404. According to popular legend, his raiders gained access to the walled town with the aid of a local woman who sympathised with the rebellion, letting a small party in via the Market Street gate at midnight. They were able to open the gate and allow a much larger party in who set fire to the town and plundered its churches and homes leaving Abergavenny Castle intact. Market Street has been referred to as Traitors Lane thereafter.

At the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1541 the priory's endowment went towards the foundation of a free grammar school, the site itself passing to the Gunter family.

During the Civil War prior to the siege of Raglan Castle in 1645, Charles I visited Abergavenny, and presided in person over the trial of Sir Trefor Williams of Llangibby, a Royalist who changed sides and other Parliamentarians.

In 1639 Abergavenny received a charter of incorporation under the title of bailiff and burgesses. A charter with extended privileges was drafted in 1657, but appears never to have been enrolled or to have come into effect. Owing to the refusal of the chief officers of the corporation to take the oath of allegiance to William III in 1688, the charter was annulled, and the town subsequently declined in prosperity. Chapter 28 of the 1535 Act of Henry VIII, which provided that Monmouth, as county town, should return one burgess to Parliament, further stated that other ancient Monmouthshire boroughs were to contribute towards the payment of the member. In consequence of this clause Abergavenny on various occasions shared in the election, the last instance being in 1685.

Reference to a market at Abergavenny is found in a charter granted to the Prior by William de Braose (d. 1211). The right to hold two weekly markets and three yearly fairs, as held ever since, was confirmed in 1657. Abergavenny was celebrated for the production of Welsh flannel, and also for the manufacture, whilst the fashion prevailed, of goats' hair periwigs.

Bailey Park bandstand
Bailey Park bandstand

The title of Baron Abergavenny, in the Nevill family, dates from Edward Nevill, 3rd Baron Bergavenny (d. 1476), who was the youngest son of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmoreland by his second wife Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt. He married the heiress of Richard Beauchamp, 1st Earl of Worcester, whose father had inherited the castle and estate of Abergavenny, and was summoned in 1392 to parliament as Lord Bergavenny. Edward Nevill was summoned to parliament with this title in 1450. His direct male descendants ended in 1387 in Henry Nevill, 6th Baron Bergavenny, but a cousin, Edward Nevill, 8th Baron Bergavenny (d. 1622), was confirmed in the Barony in 1604. From him it has descended continuously, through fifteen individuals, the title being increased to an Earldom in 1784; and in 1876 William Nevill (sic) 5th Earl (b. 1826), (d.1915) an indefatigable and powerful supporter of the Tory party, was created 1st Marquess of Abergavenny in 1876.

[edit] Later history

Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy, was kept under escort at Maindiff Court during the Second World War after his flight to Britain[3].

[edit] Sporting Traditions

Abergavenny is the home of Abergavenny Thursdays F.C., which was formed in 1927, and is currently a member of the Gwent County League Division 3. The club's current position comes within 15 years of their being one of the top sides in Welsh football, winning the old format Welsh Football League in 1991 and 1992, but being relegated in 1993 after just one season in the newly formed League of Wales. The club suffered relegation from the Welsh Football League in 2001 and has since slipped down through the next two divisions into its current position, although the future is now looking brighter.

Abergavenny Cricket Club ground enjoys a wonderful setting and Glamorgan CCC play some of their games at Avenue Road.

Abergavenny is also the home of Abergavenny RFC a rugby union team founded in 1875 who play at Bailey Park. As of 2007 they play in the WRU Division Three East league.

[edit] Etymology

The name Abergavenny is derived from the Welsh language Aber (meaning 'mouth of') and the river Gavenny. As with many other Welsh places a new Welsh name Y Fenni was assigned in the latter part of the 20th century. This can loosely be derived from Y (meaning 'the') and Fenni (the last syllable of the river name). English and Welsh speakers generally continue to use the original.

[edit] Markets and fairs

[edit] Cattle Market

A cattle market has been held in Abergavenny on its current site since 1863. Before 1863 a sheep market was held at a site in Castle Street between 1825-63 to stop the sale of sheep on the streets of the town. Today the market is leased and operated by Abergavenny Market Auctioneers Ltd, who hold regular livestock auctions on the site. Market days are: Monday – The sale of finished lambs and cull stock. Tuesday – The sale of finished sheep, cull ewe/store, a Fodder auction and sale of hay. Some Fridays – The sale of cattle. A few other sales are held on the site on other days throughout the year.

[edit] Market Hall

Various markets are held in the Market Hall, for example: Tuesdays – retail market (also stretches into the Town hall car park and Brewery yard car park); Wednesday – Flea Market; 4th Thursday of the month a Farmers market; Friday – retail market; Saturday – retail market (also in the Town Hall car park); 3rd Sunday of the month - antique fair; 2nd Saturday - craft fair.

[edit] Incidental Information

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] References

(Source: Wikipedia)
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