Images of Wales
Photography by John Ball - 26 November 1998
(with Agfa ePhoto307 digital camera)
The Roman town of Blestium was situated where the market town of Monmouth now stands, at the confluence of the rivers Monnow, Trothy, and Wye.
Today's pictures illustrate some aspects of the history associated with the town.
Left and below: Monnow Bridge.
This 13th century stone gated bridge is unique in Britain for its design and state of preservation. It was built primarily as a means of defence, guarding the south-western entrance to the town. It once possessed a portcullis and sentried ramparts.
Above: Agincourt Square, named in honour of King Henry V's famous victory over the
French at Agincourt in 1415. Henry was born in Monmouth Castle in 1387. The building
on the right is the Shire Hall. The distant spire of St Mary's Church is to the left.
Above: The Shire Hall was erected in 1724 on the site of the former Elizabethan market
hall. The Shire Hall housed two Courts of Judicature and the Grand Jury at Assizes and
One of the most famous trials held at the Shire Hall was that of the leaders of the Chartist movement who organised the "Newport Riots" of November 1839. All eight leaders, including John Frost and Zephaniah Williams (shown below), were found guilty of treason, but their death sentences were commuted to transportation for life to a penal colony in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania, Australia).
Below: John Frost (left) and Zephaniah Williams (right).
Illustrations from Discovering Welsh History - Book 3: The Making of Modern Wales
by Geraint H. Jenkins, Oxford University Press, 1989; ISBN 0 19 917140 8
Zephaniah owned the Royal Oak Hotel, Nantyglo, Monmouthshire. The hotel was used for the secret meetings of the Chartists. After the trial at the Monmouth Assizes, Zephaniah sailed from London on the convict transport Mandarin on 29 February 1840, arriving four months later in Hobart, Tasmania, from where he was sent to the penal colony at Port Arthur (below).
Port Arthur Penal Colony, Tasmania (Photography by John Ball, Feb 2004)
Zephaniah made several attempts to escape, but was always recaptured and made to serve extra time. He was granted a Free Pardon on 24 February 1857.
After his release, Zephaniah remained in Tasmania, firstly running some coal mines, then as a publican, then building roads in the Colony. He died in Tasmania in 1874, and was buried in the Anglician Church in East Devonport, Tasmania. There is a memorial to him, his wife and son on the banks of the Mersey River, Northern Tasmania.
The information above was researched by Nina Roberts in Australia, who is related to Zephaniah Williams. For more details, visit the on-line Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Port Arthur Historic Site website.
Above: Two historic figures commemorated in Agincourt Square.
On the wall of the Shire Hall (left) is a statue of King Henry V who reigned from 1413 to 1422. In the foreground and on the right, is a statue of C. S. Rolls, the co-founder of the Rolls-Royce Company. Rolls lived at Hendre, just outside the town of Monmouth. Rolls was a racing cyclist, mechanic, pioneer motorist, balloonist, and aviator. In June 1910, he made the first non-stop return flight across the English Channel. He was killed in a flying accident shortly afterwards.
Above: The memorial plaque beneath the statue of
Charles Rolls. The inscription reads:
Charles Stewart Rolls
Born Aug 27, 1877
Died July 2, 1910
MA = Master of Arts; FRGS = Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
AMIMechE = Associate Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering