Chepstow Museum

Admission is FREE and the Museum is open daily although times vary according to the season.  Contact Chepstow Museum, Bridge Street, Chepstow on (01291) 625981.

The elegant late 18th Century town house, at the bottom of the town, opposite the Castle car park is home to the award winning Chepstow Museum.

The house itself has an interesting history involving some prominent people in Chepstow's past. Built in 1796 by Warren Jane the Younger, an Apothecary, Gwy House as it is known continued to be linked to the medical profession.  Owned for many years in the 19th century by a respected local surgeon it became a Red Cross Hospital for soldiers in the First World War and until recently was the Chepstow & District Hospital.  A display in the museum vividly illustrates the changing uses of the building over the years.

Chepstow MuseumThe museum's exhibits reflect the development of Chepstow, once an important port and bustling market town.  The displays show the growth and decline of the port with its valuable wine and timber trades.  Shipbuilding and salmon fishing and many other aspects of Chepstow's working life are shown in imaginative settings which recapture an essence of the original scenes. Pleasures and pastimes are recalled in original photographs, programmes and posters.

The growth of the town from Roman times to the present century is depicted in a series of paintings by Linda Waters forming a centerpiece of a gallery which looks at what makes a town tick: how its services have developed; its communication systems; and, the vital importance of its bridges.

Chepstow MuseumThe museum also holds a fine collection of 18th and 19th century prints and drawings illustrates the appeal of Chepstow and the Wye Valley.

Today's visitor will find his appreciation of the town, its castle and other interesting buildings enriched by an understanding of its history.  For younger visitors, there are free quizzes, trails and an activity station with things to make and puzzles and mystery bags to add to their enjoyment, plus events and activities in school holidays.

There is always something new to see at the museum with regularly changing exhibitions including subjects of local and regional interest, as well as demonstrations, lectures and workshops.  The museum is a resource of local information for people researching family history, local history and more general social history topics, students working on theses and school children working on projects.

 

 

Facilities include:

  • Regular special exhibitions
  • Workshops and activities
  • Quizzes and worksheets for children
  • Special facilities for educational and group visits
  • Museum Shop
  • Access to ground floor and WC for wheelchair users
  • Adjacent car parks

Opening Times:

March, April, May, June

Monday - Saturday 11.00 am - 5.00 pm

Sunday 2.00 - 5.00 pm

July, August, September:

Monday - Saturday 10.30 am - 5.30 pm

Sunday 2.00pm - 5.30 pm

October

Monday to Saturday 11.00 am - 5.00 pm

Sunday 2.00 pm - 5.00 pm

November, December, January, February:

Monday to Saturday 11.00 am - 4.00 pm

Sunday 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm

 

Past Exhibition- THE WYE TOUR AND ITS ARTISTS

 Exhibition Gallery

Works by the greatest artists from the great age of British Watercolours. Guest curator, author Julian Mitchell

A major exhibition of over 70 watercolours on loan from the national collections in London as well as Wales, and from museums around the UK is being staged at Chepstow, the endpoint of the Wye Tour - Britain’s first ‘package tour’. Guest curator Julian Mitchell* has selected his ‘best and most interesting’ watercolours of the Lower Wye Valley. Here are the sites viewed and visited by the first tourists who came down the river in canopied rowing boats from Ross-on-Wye to Chepstow on a two day trip in the late 18th and early 19th century. They followed in the wake of the Rev William Gilpin whose book popularised the tour and the quest for ‘picturesque’ scenery - landscapes that could make, or be compared to, paintings.  Many amateurs as well as professional artists came to capture the scenes. This exhibition features works by the masters from that great age of British watercolours, including Turner, Paul Sandby, Michael ‘Angelo’ Rooker, Thomas Hearne, Edward Dayes, John & Cornelius Varley, Samuel Palmer, David Cox, Joshua Cristall…    

John White Abbott, part of Chepstow Castle, 1797 © V&A                             

 

John White Abbott, part of Chepstow Castle, 1797 © V&A Images/Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

 

 

 

 

 
This exhibition has been made possible through a grant from the Cyfoeth Cymru Gyfan – Sharing Treasures scheme which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and administered by CyMAL: Museums Archives and Libraries Wales. The scheme enables local Welsh museums to build partnerships with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and with their expertise, advice and support to upgrade facilities so that the museum can borrow and display objects from the British national collections, giving the museum and its community access to the nation’s great treasures.

John Martin, The Wye Valley, View from Wyndcliffe looking towards Chepstow 1844

John Martin, The Wye Valley, View from Wyndcliffe looking towards Chepstow 1844,
© The Whitworth Art Gallery, The University of Manchester

There will also be a programme of associated events and activities throughout the exhibition, please contact the Museum for a programme. (See below for list of events)

*Julian Mitchell - best known as playwright and screenplay writer – Another Country, Wilde, Inspector Morse etc, but also historian who lives in Monmouthshire and whose passion for the works of art that the area has inspired has led to twenty five years of study and scholarship  

Paul Sandby, Chepstow Castle  

 

 

  Paul Sandby, Chepstow Castle 
  c 1775 © V & A Images/Victoria 
   and Albert Museum, London

    

 

 

 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT THE WYE TOUR

The Wye Tour owes its origins to the Rev John Egerton, vicar of Ross on Wye in the 1740s who entertained his friends by taking them down the river in a pleasure boat. The idea caught on, and by the 1770s the commercial version was becoming established as a two-day trip from Ross to Monmouth on the first, Monmouth to Chepstow on the second. At a cost of one and a half guineas for each day this was not a cheap outing. The boats had a protective awning from the sun or rain, and a table at which the occupants could sketch or write poetry or prose, as the scenery inspired them, and indeed as it became expected for them to do. An itinerary became established to take in the important sites and viewpoints, with stopping places for picnics which were provided as part of the package. This stretch of the Wye had everything to inspire the romantic traveller, the scenery in all its variety, infernal industry, the ruins of Tintern Abbey, castles on cliff tops and the wonders of the Piercefield walks.

The early ‘tourists’ had no guidebook to tell them where to look. From the 1770s there were published accounts of some of the high spots. The artist Paul Sandby had been down the Wye and his aquatints of Welsh views did much to persuade people to see the scenes for themselves. But in 1783 the book that was to become the essential companion for all those who ventured down the Wye, was finally published – the Rev William Gilpin’s ‘Observations on the River Wye, and several parts of South Wales etc Relative Chiefly to Picturesque Beauty: Made in the Summer of the Year 1770’. Gilpin laid down rules for assessing the picturesque quality of the views encountered on the trip down the river, and while his extreme ideas were exposed to ridicule by some, the search for the picturesque scene became an obsession for the growing number of people who followed faithfully in his footsteps.

The Wye Valley became a mecca for artists and writers as well as the amateur and the increasing popularity of the medium of watercolour, and technical improvements in its portability, produced some wonderful works which have a place in the National collections.