View of Wales from the Kymin
The Kymin is one of Britain's earliest tourist spots. From the eighteenth century visitors were coming up to this high point on the English border with Wales near Monmouth. They admired views over Wales, picnicked, played games, and walked in Beaulieu Wood. In the new industrial age which began in the late eighteenth century, Beaulieu Wood became one of many idealised natural landscapes. This is reflected in modern National Trust blurb for the Kymin which describes a "tranquil respite from modern life". The Round House was built on the Kymin in 1796, by a group of wealthy Monmouth gentlemen. They used it for their club meetings and banquets. The Round House now holds a small exhibition about the area.
While the Kymin looks west over Wales, to the east is England's Forest of Dean. This huge area of woodland seems, like the Kymin, to represent England before the coming of industrialisation. But it was actually the industrial modern age which created the Forest of Dean. The present Forest of Dean is largely the result of tree planting to support the Royal Navy. It was during the Napoleonic wars of the nineteenth century that the Forest of Dean saw the return of widespread woodland, which had been largely lost to the local iron industry. About thirty million acorns were planted to ensure future supplies of wood for building of Royal Navy ships. Ironically the oaks that grew were not needed, as iron and steel replaced timber in ship building. The huge oak plantations once destined for the navy can still be seen in the Cannop Valley, now one of the most beautiful parts of the Forest of Dean. Recalling the influence of the navy in this area is the Naval Temple at the Kymin. This was built by the Kymin Club in 1800 to celebrate the second anniversary of Nelson's victory at the Nile in 1798. Plaques carry the names of sixteen admirals made famous by their various victories around the globe. Nelson himself visited the Naval Temple in 1802, dined at the Round House and admired the views. This was a time when the influence and prestige of the navy was at its height.
The Naval Temple
High places are often points of national focus. National monuments often involve great height, as in the Eiffel Tower in France, the Millennium Wheel in London, the Wallace Monument in Scotland. A high place is a good setting for a national monument, giving the optical illusion of completeness as you look out at the view. And around 1800 the idea of Great Britain was at its height. In Monmouth the town square was renamed Agincourt Square in 1815, following Wellington's victory at Waterloo. This name change was a British celebration of an English victory. The 1800 Act of Union also brought the whole of Ireland into Britain. But times have changed since 1800. Disastrous division was to follow Ireland's signing of the Act of Union. And Wales over which there is such a breath taking view at the Kymin, now has its own national assembly. The idea of Britain is not as fashionable as it was in 1800. The Kymin might have celebrated Britain, but it lies at an ancient border between England and Wales. In the eighth century King Offa built his famous earth work separating Wales from his English kingdom of Mercia. The Offa's Dyke path runs right through the Kymin site. Today the sense of completeness which someone has looking out at the view is more of an optical illusion than it used to be. The Naval Temple is looking rather neglected.
There are nine acres of forest walks on the Kymin. In keeping with the spirit in which eighteenth century visitors enjoyed the Kymin, a croquet set can be hired during opening hours for the Round House.
Opening Hours: Opening hours for National Trust properties can be complex. Please use contact details below.
Address: The Round House, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 3SE
Directions: The Kymin is two miles east of Monmouth, signposted off the A4136. The approach road is a single track, steep and winding and would not suit anything larger than a mini bus. Click here for an interactive map centred on the Kymin.
Access: There is one reserved parking space for disabled visitors next to the round house. The ground is relatively flat between the round house and viewing area, but the site generally is uneven with many slopes. The Round House first floor is accessible by ramp.
telephone: 01600 719241