m4Monmouthshire flag by NikNaks

m6Flag of St David



including Earlswood and Mynyddbach

(A description written in 1891)

A Parish seated on a hill, 535 feet above the sea, and is 4.1/2 miles north of Portskewett and 4.1/2 south-west from Chepstow railway stations; in the Southern division of the county, Caldicot Hundred, Petty Sessional division, Union and County Court district of Chepstow; Netherwent east rural deanery, Monmouth archdeaconry and Llandaff diocese.

The old Welsh name of this parish (which appears to have been but seldom used) was Tre-newydd-gelli-fach. This was anciently a detached portion of the Lordship of Caldicot, and the eastern part of the Parish is still included in the Manor of Caldicot-cum-Newton.


Church of St Thomas a Becket, Shirenewton - Photo © Ray Merrington

The church of St. Thomas a Becket is an ancient building of stone, founded by Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, about the middle of the 13th Century, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle (added in 1853), and a massive tower, placed at the intersection of the nave and chancel, containing 5 bells, all cast by William Evans, of Chepstow, in 1756; this tower is a good example of the peculiar quasi-military style, which is the chief characteristic of the church towers of this district, and from the elevated situation of the church, is a conspicuous object for many miles around: there were formerly some memorials of the Blethyn family in the chancel, and some armorial bearings in stained glass: there is one modern stained window: there are 200 sittings. The register dates from the year 1730. The living is a rectory, £375 yearly tithe rent-charge, net yearly income £310 with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Llandaff, and held since 1891 by the Rev. George Platt Dew B.A. of Jesus College, Cambridge, and domestic chaplain to Lord Raglan. Sexton: John Scott. Assistant Overseer: Thomas Williams, Gaerlwydd.

The common land is inclosed and cultivated. There is a cromlech just outside the Parish on the road to Usk, and upon a step eminence in Llanmelin Wood, upwards of a mile from the village, and partly in this Parish, and partly in that of Caerwent, is a large British encampment, strongly defended by an inner and outer vallum, and having outworks on the north-eastern side towards the edge of the wood.

Shire Newton Hall, the residence of Edward Joseph Lowe Esq. F.R.S., D.L., J.P. is a large and beautiful residence, on the top of a very high hill, commanding most extensive views, embracing the whole of the Bristol Channel, from the estuary of the Severn to beyond Porlock Bay, backed by the Cotswold, Mendip, Quantock and Exmoor Hills. Just behind the Hall there was formerly an ancient mansion belonging to the Blethyn family, and said to have been once occupied by Bishop Blethyn, who died here in 1590.

The Gondra is the seat of Mrs. Carruthers.


A School Board of 5 members was formed in 1876:

Clerk to the Board & Attendance officer: R.B. Burridge, Itton

Board School, Earlswood (mixed), built in 1861, for 80 children; average attendance, 50; Miss Mary Ann Howells, mistress.

Mynyddbach School (mixed), built for 70 children; average attendance, 50; Mrs. Ann Harbidge, mistress.

County Police Station:

Samuel Davies, constable.

Post & M.O.O., S.B. & Annuity & Insurance Office: John Roberts, sub-postmaster. Letters arrive daily from Chepstow at 8 a.m; dispatched at 6.10 p.m; Sundays, 9 a.m. Chepstow is the nearest telegraph office. Wall letter box, at Earlswood, cleared at 5.30 p.m.

The manor of Caldicot-cum-Newton, embracing a considerable part of this parish, belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster, under which it is held by Charles Edward Lewis Esq. of St. Pierre; there is another manor here belonging to Lord Tredegar, and the rector is lord of the manor of the Rectory of Nova Villa, otherwise Shire Newton.

The principal landowners are Edward Joseph Lowe Esq. J.P., the trustees of the late J.P. Carruthers Esq., William Edward Carne Curre Esq. J.P., and Madame Nugent. The soil is clayey loam; subsoil, mountain limestone with some red sandstone. The crops are chiefly grain and turnips. The area is 3,598 acres; rateable value £3,526.

The population in 1881 was 773.

(extracts from Kelly's 1891 Directory of Monmouthshire, transcribed by J. Doe)




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