The village histories
Shirenewton Parish is located about 5 miles north east of Chepstow in the southern region of the county of Monmouthshire and includes the villages of Shirenewton, Mynydd-bach, Earlswood and West Newchurch. Its landscape and population (presently just over 1,000) has changed consistently over the centuries, with evidence of prehistoric inhabitation, through Roman, Norman and medieval periods to the present time.
It is adjacent to the Wye Valley, an area designated as one of outstanding natural beauty and within 25 miles of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Parts of the villages are listed by CADW and the whole area is classed as a Special Landscape Area (SLA) protecting the environment with its old stone cottages and traditional farmsteads. Views to the south reveal the River Severn and it’s estuary, demonstrating the spectacular second highest rise and fall of the tide, in the world.
The Parish has had two Board Schools, both of which are now houses, with the present modern building caring for around 200 primary school children. There are two Church in Wales churches, a Baptist and two Methodist chapels. The Quaker meeting house and burial ground are no longer used by the Friends. For those needing sustenance, you can choose from four very different public houses.
In Shirenewton there is a Recreation Hall and Sports field, built on land donated in the mid 20th century by the Liddell family. Earlswood has a large community building, built from public donations, as a Memorial to members of the Parish lost in World War II.
Among other undertakings the history society aims to assist the preservation and conservation of this very special landscape and buildings. It’s members will explore the past social, industrial and economic periods using primary and secondary historical evidence. This includes original papers, genealogy and archaeological documents. Public, industrial, and university libraries of Wales, together with record offices provide a treasure trove of information in their newspapers, documents, maps and written files.
A book of walks of the parish indicating historical interests en route, has been published by the SLHS, and is available to be purchased, at the village shop and hostelries. There are other historical projects in hand, which will appeal to members of the society and other interested people.
Itton with Howick
For more information on the area, go to Wikipedia.
Beating of the bounds
Every Rogation Sunday is the Beating of the Bounds walk. The bounds in question refer to the parish boundaries. Recently this walk has been arranged and led by the Shirenewton Local History Society.
This is a traditional activity which used to involved actually 'beating' the parish boundary markers with the head of a child – typically a boy. The society no longer adheres rigidly to this custom, although if a young lad happens to be on the walk the odd boundary stone may be lightly tapped with a head – in a fun way!
There are numerous write-ups regarding this strange parish custom which, it is generally agreed, dates back way beyond the onset of Christianity.