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Bed and breakfast availability
b&b, guesthouse and hotel accommodation


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Newport, Newport. Casnewydd-ar-Wysg (Newcastle-on-Usk) is the proper name for a town that leapt into international prominence as the export centre for the hinterland coalfield of Monmouthshire, and the vast iron and steel productivity the 19th century developed. In 1801, Newport's population was just 1,135. One hundred and thirty years later it had leapt to 89,198, and in 1935, by judicious extension of its boundaries, it included a total of over 100,000. Its chief significance was as a port, and in 1842 the docks, with 6 miles of quays, were initiated. When Newport's boundaries were widened, the Alexandra Docks, acquired by the Great Western Railway, could claim to have the largest water-sheet held in by locks anywhere in the world: South Dock 95 acres, North Dock 29. The Transporter Bridge had then been nearly thirty years in service.

The town still has evidence of its origin in the attempt of the Normans to extend their Conquest into the West. Robert FitzHamon, the invader of Glamorgan, with his following of twelve knights and their troopers, founded the castle in 1171. It survived the Border Wars well enough to be remodelled in the 14th and 15th centuries, when England was at war within under the contending banners of the Roses. Its siting is a monument to the planned tactics that attempted to push the frontier of Powys and Gwent from Severn to Wye and then to the Usk over which it stands. It's central tower served both practical and spiritual needs; for above is the chapel and below is the water gate, and the bridge tower has windows that are a remarkable example of the 15th century Decorated style.

The castle is under the care of the Ministry of Public Building and Works: but the castle's contemporary, the Church of St Woolos on Stow Hill, has had a more living destiny. The church is largely as FitzHamon had it made, the nave Norman of the 12th century, though the chancel belongs to the later time when the castle was refashioned. The two outstanding features of St Woolos are its Galilee (or Mary) Chapel, between the nave and the ponderous square tower, which belongs to the emergence of an English style from the Norman, and the door to the nave, which is Norman in its stern balance of arch but with two columns at its sides carved in another fashion and believed to have been brought from the Roman town of Caerleon, the Isca that had its name from the Usk. The word Woolos may mark a similar transition or amalgam between Roman and Celt: it hints at the science of seamen who may well have had an earlier shrine here than the one that the Norman chose to establish. The font is particularly worth examining; but the church has the distinction that in 1921, following the disestablishment of the Church of England and the creation of the Church in Wales, it became Pro-Cathedral to the new diocese of Monmouth.

It maintained the deep tradition of Welsh culture is shown by birth in it of William Henry Davies, whose fame as a poet belonged to the 1920s. He had the detached, wandering spirit that was the heritage of the harp-men who sang their way from place to place in the 17th and 18th centuries, and who could still be found even in the industrial South well into our own time. His penurious and adventurous life in the U.S.A. in 1890 he has immortalized in his Autobiography of a Super-Tramp. But his verse combines the direct simplicity and detailed observation of Wil Hopkin together with the metrical craftsmanship and unexpected image-association of the great Welsh “Metaphysicals”, from the Herberts to Meredith and Dylan Thomas. The “time to stand and stare” is something the harp-men sought as determinedly as he; and, like them, he could find a world of meaning in a butterfly upon a stone.

Nearby cities: Cardiff

Nearby towns: Caerphilly, Chepstow, Cwmbran, Llandaff, Pontypool

Nearby villages: Abercarn, Abercarne, Bassaleg, Bishton, Caerleon, Castleton, Christchurch, Cross Keys, Crosskeys, Crumlin, Cwmcarn, Goldcliff, Griffithstown, Kemeys Inferior, Lisvane, Llangybi, Llanllywel, Llantarnam, Llantrisant, Llanwern, Machen, Magor, Marshfield, Marshfield, Mynyddislwyn, Nash, Newbridge, Panteg, Pen-y-Lan, Plas Newydd, Pontfaen, Ponthir, Pontnewydd, Pontymister, Redwick, Redwick, Risca, Roath, Rogerstone, Rudry, Rumney, Saint Mellons, Tredunnock, Underwood, Usk

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