Grosmont is a parish and a village in north Gwent, separated from Herefordshire by the River Monnow and with an area of some 6,800 acres. It had been over-run by the Normans by the end of the 11th century and for many years it was an important lordship, finally becoming part of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The fine Church and castle are legacies of Norman rule; there was a castle here from about 1136, although the first stonework is usually dated as early 1200 while the elegant ‘Eleanor’s Chimney’ is later work.
Saint Nicholas is one of the largest parish churches in the area with a unique Nave dating from the 13th century. The tower and spire were 14th century additions. Extensive restorations were carried out in the 19th century.
During the medieval years Grosmont was a flourishing market town but its importance declined until it lost its markets and the population dwindled. Until recently farming was the major occupation, for there were once some fifty farms; now there are only a dozen or so, although the land is still farmed – by ‘indigenous’ farmers taking up more land and by other farmers from outside the parish.
In the 19th century the population had peaked at 742 but even that would have been far below that of the days when Grosmont was an important market town. There is no industry in the parish but the village is active socially, retaining a single shop and a popular pub.
Books on the history of Grosmont
J A Bradney “History of Monmouthshire Vol 1, “The Skenfrith Hundreds” First published in 1904 but still a standard work.
“The Three Castles” Jeremy K Knight, Cadw, Welsh Historic Monuments, contains a short history of the early years of this lordship with detailed descriptions of the three castles. Sumptuously illustrated.
Minister’s accounts for the lordship of Grosmont for the year 1257, in “South Wales and Monmouth Record Society“, publications No. 3. An interpretation of the figures appears in “A year on the land in medieval Grosmont” in Gwent Local History, Number 96, Spring 2004.
“Register of Grosmont 1589 – 1812” The church registers, transcribed by J A Bradney with many footnotes – an invaluable help for family historians.
“The Grosmont Map – The Landscape and Vernacular Buildings of an Elizabethan Map of 1588” by local man, Ken Palmer. The castle, church and old roadways are all identifiable on the Duchy of Lancaster estate map which was created to settle a dispute over corn mills on the Tresenny Brook.
Church guide by R A Rocyn Jones, available from the church nave.
“A Survey of the Duchy Lordships in Wales 1609-1613” includes customs, description of the manor and lists of landholders; also covers, of course, the manors of Monmouth, Skenfrith and Whitecastle.
“A Grosmont Miscellany” by Philip Morgan. Notes on the social history, including the history of farming and the changes in local government. Available in local bookshops and by phone, by post or on-line from the publishers Capella Archive at Great Malvern.
“Hidden Grosmont” by Steven Pickford, a small record of the author’s probes into the unusual parts of Grosmont and its history, charmingly told with fascinating speculations. Available from local shop.
Fred G Levett: “The story of Skenfrith, Grosmont and St Maugham’s” A collection of information on local parishes in 3 vols spoilt perhaps by his lack of references and by several errors; nevertheless well worth consulting . Only about 30 were printed so it is rare.
M N Jackson: “Bygone days in the March of Wales“. Most details are about Skenfrith but includes some interesting notes on Grosmont.
“The Battle of Grosmont, 1405: a reinterpretation“, Gwent Local History, Number 97, Autumn 2004 – analyses the raid by Glyndwr’s forces.
“The Grosmont Vestry in the 19th Century” – Phillip Morgan. Based on the Minutes of the Vestry and of the Parish Meetings, when they discussed secular matters.
See also the Bradley Collection: THE OGRE Free Welsh Genealogy