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Usk including Glascoed and Gwehelog

(A description written in 1891)

A Market Town, and ancient Borough and Parish, with a station on the Great Western railway, 157 miles north-west from London, 11 north-east from Newport, 13 south-west from Monmouth and 7 north-east from Pontypool; in the Southern division of the county, Hundred of Usk, Head of a Petty Sessional division and County Court district, and in Pontypool Union; western division of Usk rural deanery, Monmouth archdeaconry, and Llandaff diocese.

UskeEngraving1The Town is seated on the banks of the river Usk, over which is a stone bridge of four arches: this place is of remote antiquity and antiquarians have pronounced it to have been the Burrium of the Romans: the name Usk is derived from the Gaelic "Visage," which signifies water: here are the remains of an ancient castle, standing on an eminence overlooking the town: this place was of great importance during the wars between the Welsh and the Anglo-Normans, and at a later period in the time of the celebrated Owen Glendower: in the civil commotions between Charles I and the Parliamentarians the castle was repeatedly assaulted, and, together with the town, partly demolished: the present remains of the castle are of considerable extent, and partially covered with ivy.

The town was incorporated by Charters granted by Edmund de Mortimer, Earl of March & Ulster, Edward II, Edward IV and succeeding monarchs.

The Corporation consisted of a Portreeve, Recorder, two Bailiffs and two Constables, but was abolished by the Municipal Corporations Act, 1883, 46 & 47 Vict. Ch.18.

Usk, in connection with the corporate Towns of Newport & Monmouth, is contributory to the Monmouth Parliamentary District of Boroughs in the return of one member to Parliament. The Town adopted the Local Government Act 1858, Dec. 3, 1872; the Board consists of 12 members. It is paved, and lighted with gas supplied from works at Pandy, the property of the Usk Water Works Co.

The church of St. Mary is an ancient building of stone, with portions of Norman, Late Decorated and Perpendicular work: the building is of Anglo-Norman origin and was originally cruciform: the two arms of the cross or transepts have been destroyed, also the apse; it was formerly the Church of a House of Benedictine nuns, founded here before 1174, by Sir A. de Clare; it now consists of a chancel, nave, north aisle, two porches and a very large and handsome central embattled tower, with turret, and containing 7 bells: the nave, north aisle and tower formed part of the ancient convent church, and the gateway of the Nunnery also remains: the tower was restored in 1870 and in 1875 covered with slate instead of stone tile; in the church are several brasses, with inscriptions; a handsome brass was placed, 1890, to the memory of Col. Roden, who was murdered in Corsica: there is also a monument, erected in 1822, to commemorate the benevolence of Mr. Roger Edwards, who, in the year 1621, founded the Free Grammar School here: there is a good choir screen and three memorial windows; one recently placed in the church as a testimonial window to the present vicar, is greatly admired for its design and colouring: there are 800 sittings, 300 being free: the churchyard contains many monuments, including several to the old family of Nicholl of Ham, designed by the late Sir Digby Wyatt R.A. to whom also a monument has been erected in this churchyard by his brother: on the south-east of the church stands The Priory, which was rebuilt some years since and the existing remains preserved as far as practicable: the churchyard is surrounded by trees and shrubs. The registers, including those of Gwehellog and Glascoed, date from 1742. The living is a vicarage, tithe rent-charge £225, net income £190 with 1 acre of glebe and residence, in the gift of the widow and son of the late William Addams Williams Esq. of Clifton, Bristol, and held since 1860 by the Rev. Stephen Cattley Baker B.A., of St. John's College, Cambridge, who is also vicar of Monkswood, rural dean of the eastern division of Usk, and surrogate, Rev. Henry Morris, curate. Parish Clerk: Philip Gunter.

Other Places of Worship:

The Catholic Chapel, Porth-y-Carne Street, dedicated to St. Francis Xavier, was erected in 1847; it is in the Gothic style, and was designed by the late Mr. Hansom; at the back of the chapel is a small burial-ground; the chapel has 120 sittings: the Rev. Thomas Croft is the priest.

The Baptist Chapel, Old Market Street, having sittings for 300 persons was erected in 1842. Rev. Francis Johnson, minister

The Congregational Chapel, Twyn, erected in 1862, at a cost of £1.200, is a stone building in the Gothic style, with a turret for one bell and has sittings for 4500 persons. Rev. Denias Daw, minister.

The Wesleyan Chapel, Maryport Street, erected in 1817, has sittings for 350 persons. Ministers various.


Roger Edwards, founded an almshouse at Llangeview, about 3 miles from Usk, for 12 poor persons, each of whom receives £16 yearly; attached to the building is a chapel, with a chaplain appointed by the trustees: the chaplaincy is at present held by the Rev. John Jones M.A., vicar of Llangwm.: a surgeon is also provided by the trust, the present medical attendant being Alexander J. Shepard Esq. The almshouses were rebuilt on their old site in 1826.

The Court House, in which the Quarter Sessions are now held every other Thursday at 11 o'clock and county business also transacted; it is a large and handsome edifice of stone, adjoining the Prison, which was completed and opened on 16th October 1877, at a cost exceeding £15,000.

The Town Hall, in which Quarter Sessions until the last few years were held, is now leased to the Duke of Beaufort, lord of the manor, to the Portreeve and Burgesses of the Borough, and is used for public meetings and entertainments.

Her Majesty's Prison, situated in Maryport Street, is a large building os stone, arranged to hold about 200 prisoners on the separate system: there is a residence for the governor and the matron, within the walls: the Rev. William Jones, of St. David's College, Lampeter, is chaplain.


Grammar School, Maryport Street, founded by Mr. Roger Edwards in 1621, is now regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners framed in 1878, replacing a previous scheme, 1863; formerly an elementary commercial school, it was supported out of the trust funds, but in lieu of this an annual grant is now made of a certain proportion of the funds, fixed by the scheme: the school buildings were rebuilt in 1847 and enlarged in 1864; the governors are nine in number, four to serve for five years, chosen by the local board, and five for seven years by the other branch of the same charity; James Henry Priestley B.A. head master.

National School, Maryport Street, erected in 1869, for 200 children; average attendance, 130; John Bolt Nixon, master.

National School (infants), Maryport Street, erected in 1876, for 150 children; average attendance, 60; Miss Charlotte Lodge, mistress.

Post, M.O. & T.O., S.B. & Annuity & Insurance Office: Bridge Street - Mrs. Mary Frances Edwards, postmistress.

Mails dispatched to London and all parts at 9.40 a.m. & 1, 3.15 & 6.20 p.m; mails arrive from London & all parts at 5.27 a.m. & 2.37 p.m. delivery commences at 7 a.m. Money order office & savings bank open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays excepted. Post office closes at 8 p.m.


London & Provincial Bank Limited, and The Capital & Counties Bank Limited.

The Market is held on Friday and a cattle market the first Monday in every month. Fairs are held on 20th April, Wool fair on Friday before June 20th, 29th October and a Christmas fair on the 16th December.

Wood turning and chair making is carried on, and there are chemical works.

There is a Working Men's Conservative Club with 90 members.


The County Observer & Monmouthshire Advertiser, published Saturday: James Henry Clark, Bridge Street, proprietor.


G Troop Gloucestershire Yeomanry Cavalry - Head Quarters New Market Street:

Major Herbert, Commanding;

Arthur Evans, Lieut; Troop Sergeant Major William Whitehead, Drill instructor

G. Company 4th Volunteer Battalion, South Wales Borderers - Head Quarters New Market Street:

Captain William Williams, Commanding;

Lieut. R.W. Marsh; Sergeant instructor, Sebastian Henry Kelly



A Hamlet in the parish of Usk, 3.3/4 miles west from the town of Usk: it has a small Chapel of Ease (to St. Mary's, Usk) - a building of stone, consisting of chancel and nave, with 150 sittings, and a burial-ground attached: divine service is conducted in the chapel on Sundays, by the vicar of Usk or his curate.

Baptist chapel, Glascoed. Rev. Joseph Lewis, minister.


A School Board of 7 members was formed in 1879, for the United District of Llanbadoc, Glascoed & Monkswood:

Clerk to the Board: H.S. Gustard.

School attendance officer: Henry Williams, Bryn Farm, Glascoed.

Board School, built in 1882, at a cost of £600, for 80 children; average attendance, 53; William Webb, master; Miss Amy Webb, sewing mistress.

Post: Letters from Pontypool arrive at 8.30 a.m. Wall letter box cleared at 8.,30 a.m. on week days only.

Rateable value for Glascoed, £1,394; population in 1881, was 220



A Hamlet in the parish of Usk, occupying the north-eastern part of the parish, and closely adjoining the town of Usk, containing 277 inhabitants (1881); rateable value, £3,032.

An afternoon service is held in the Schoolroom on Sunday at 4 o'clock by the vicar or a lay member of his church.

Wesleyan Chapel, Gwehelog - ministers various,.


National School, built in 1872, for 60 children; average attendance, 40; Miss Edith Matthews, mistress.

Post: Letters arrive from Usk at 8.30 a.m. Wall letter boxes cleared at 6 p.m. & at Llancayo 5.10 p.m. week days only.


The Duke of Beaufort K.G. is lord of the manor and holds Courts Leet and Baron once a year. The principal landowners are the Duke of Beaufort, Rev. Sir J. Henry Fludyer Bart, M.A. rector of Ayston, Rutland, George Whitlock Nicholl Esq. D.L., Major Edward Longworth Lister J.P.,and Col. Francis McDonnell J.P., D.L. The soil is silurian; subsoil, sand and gravel. The area of the whole parish is 4,956 acres; rateable value, £5,248.

The population of the Parish in 1881 was 1,969, which includes 112 in H.M. Prison; the population of the Pariamentary Borough was 1,470.


Click here to download a free book about Usk Past & Present - from


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

Bridge over the river Usk
Bridge over the river Usk







AberbargoedAberbeegAbercarnAbergavennyAbersychan Abertillery (also see Aberystruth) • AberystruthBettws (near Llantillio Pertholey) Bettws (near Newport)Bettws NewyddBishtonBlackwoodBlaenavonBlainaBriery Hill BryngwynBwlch Trewyn Caerleon or Llangattock-Juxta-Caerleon (see Christchurch for Caerleon Village)CaerwentCaldicotCastletonCefnycribChapel HillChepstow Christchurch (also see Newport)Clawrplwyf CoedkernewCoed y PaenCrickCroesyceiliogCross AshCross KeysCrosshands Crumlin (also see Llanhilleth & Mynyddislwyn) Cwm (also see Ebbw Vale)Cwmavon (also see Trevethin)Cwmbran (also see Llanvihangel Llantarnam & Llanfrechfa) Cwmcarn CwmcarvanCwmffrwdoerCwmnantdduCwmtillery (also see Aberystruth)CwmynyscoyCwmyoy DevaudenDewstowDingestowDinhamDixton NewtonDuffrynEarlswoodEbbw ValeFleur-de-LysFreehold Garndiffaith (also see Trevethin) GarndyrrisGarnfachGellygroesGlascoedGoldcliff GolynosGovilonGoytreGraig Griffithstown (also see Llanfrechfa & Panteg) GrosmontGwehelogGwernesneyHardwickHenllysHigh CrossHighmoor Hill • HowickIfton IttonKemeys CommanderKemeys Inferior Kilgwrrwg Langstone Little Mill LlanarthLlanbadocLlanbedr LlandavennyLlandewi Fach Llanddewi RhydderchLlanddewi SkirridLlandegvethLlandennyLlandevaudLlandogoLlanellenLlanfaeneorLlanfair DiscoedLlanfair GilgoedLlanfair Kilgeddin • Llanfihangel CrucorneyLlanfihangel Gobion • Llanfihangel juxta Roggiett • Llanfihangel LlantarnamLlanfihangel nigh UskLlanfihangel Pont y MoileLlanfihangel TafernbachLlanfihangel Tor y MynyddLlanfihangel Ystern LlewernLlanfihangel y VedwLlanfoistLlanfrechfaLlangattock • Lingoed Llangattock nigh Usk • Llangattock Vibon Avel • LlangeviewLlangibbyLlangovenLlanguaLlangwm Ishaf & Llangwm Uchaf • LlanhennockLlanhillethLlanishenLlanllowellLlanmartinLlanover • LlanrumneyLlansantffraedLlansoy • Llanthewy RytherchLlanthewy Skirrid • Llanthewy VachLlanthomasLlanthonyLlantillio CrossennyLlantillio PertholeyLlantrissentLlanvachesLlanvair DiscoedLlanvair KilgeddinLlanvapleyLlanvetherineLlanwenarth CitraLlanwenarth UltraLlanwernLliswerry Llwyndu Machen (Upper & Lower) • Maes-y-cwmmerMagorMaindee (also see Christchurch & Newport)MalpasMamhiladMarshfieldMathern (also see St Pierre)May HillMichaelston y FedwMitchel TroyMonkswoodMonmouthMountonMynyddbachMynyddislwynMynyddmaenNantyderryNantygloNashNew TownNew TredegarNewbridgeNewcastleNewchurch East & WestNewport • Nightingale VillageOldcastleOvermonnow PantegPar Grace DieuPen y Clawdd PenaltPenbiddlePengamPenhowPenmaenPenpergwmPenrhosPenrosePenterryPentrepeod PenygarnPenyrheol Peterstone WentloogPillgwenllyPonthirPontllanfraithPontnewydd (also see Llanfrechfa)PontnewynyddPontrhydyrynPontygofPontymister PontymoilePontypoolPontywainPorthcassegPortskewettPwll DuPwllmeyricRaglanRedbrookRedwickRhydgwernRhymneyRisca RockRockfieldRogerstoneRoggiettRumneyRunston (also see Mathern)St ArvansSt Brides Netherwent St Brides WentloogSt Kingsmark St LawrenceSt MaughansSt MellonsSt Pierre (also see Mathern)St WoolosSebastopol (also see Panteg)ShirenewtonSirhowySix BellsSkenfrithSnatchwoodSomerton CommonSudbrookTalywain (also see Trevethin) • The Race and Upper RaceTintern AbbeyTintern ParvaTranchTredegarTredunnock TregareTrellechTrellech GrangeTrevethinTreworganTrostreyUndyUpper MachenUskVartegVictoriaWaunlwydWhitebrookWhitsonWilcrickWolvesnewtonWonastowWyeshamYnysddu


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