Give a big MonLife Welcome to Ostin and Nerys

Say hello to these two delightful characters; Ostin the Dormouse and Nerys the Dragon. These two new additions to the MonLife family can be found at Old Station, Tintern and Caldicot Castle. Ostin and Nerys feature between the pages of our new Explore and Create family activity packs. These fun-filled resources will enable you and your family to explore two of our fabulous attractions through a range of playful and creative activities and discover more about the nature and history of the sites. The packs also include great ideas for continuing the fun at home.

From taking the Fortune Teller challenge and making natural art, to discovering more about the ‘secret life of dormice’, creating spells and potions, going on a scavenger hunt and even becoming a dragon trainer, our Explore and Create packs are full of great ideas for making the most of a day out with the family at Old Station Tintern and Caldicot Castle.

You can collect Ostin and Nerys stamps and stickers for completed activities and even ‘transform’ you and your family into one of these cute characters using our Dormouse and Dragon photo cut-out boards.

So if you are looking for a great day out with lots to do this half term, look no further. Come on down to Old Station Tintern and Caldicot Castle and have fun with Ostin and Nerys.

We look forward to seeing you there!


Ian Phillips, Museum Custodian 2004 -2021

Earlier this year on 26th February the Museum Team sadly had to say goodbye to our custodian, Ian Phillips. Ian was taken ill while attending a GP appointment and despite the valiant efforts of an army of paramedics, Ian could not be saved.

Ian had a varied career , in the late 1960’s/early 70’s studying photography at Regent Street Poly, later working in London as a chef and a salesman. After deciding he had had enough of the high life in London he returned to Abergavenny and became a partner in a photography studio in the town. A further venture was as the owner/ instructor of a local Hang-Gliding school , a role he later combined with being a “stay at home “ Dad with his two sons Rhodri and Nye . His wife Tracey says “He did an exceptional job and our two boys (grown men already!) are his greatest legacy”.

In 2004 Ian was appointed as a “relief/temporary” custodian at Abergavenny Museum , he was later made permanent in that post and was still there 16 years later. Tracey says – “he loved working at the Castle , he cared about the castle , he enjoyed the company of his colleagues , and most of all Ian was a polymath, and his role as custodian gave him ample opportunity to share his knowledge with both colleagues and visitors, and dare I say it , and yes I dare , gave him the opportunity to show off !”

His interest and expertise in so many areas was legendary within the museum team and he enjoyed sharing his knowledge with our visitors. He was our “go to “ person for any problem at the museum that needed a practical solution, be it needing to cover a shift at short notice, a broken display case or last minute adjustments needed prior to the opening of the latest exhibition … it is so hard to envisage our team without him . We will all miss him very much.

Should anyone like to make a donation in Ian’s memory his family have asked for donations to Wales Air Ambulance Service. The donation page is on their website, www.walesairambulance.com.


MonLife Heritage Museums brand new collections website

MonLife Heritage Museums are proud to announce the launch of a brand new collections website at www.monlifecollections.co.uk The new website provides free access to search hundreds of records, allowing users to read material and view images for items within the collections from across Monmouthshire. The Museums team will continually be adding more to the website, so we recommend that users keep coming back to see what’s new.

  • Discover historical objects, works of art, photographs and documents cared for by MonLife Heritage.
  • Search for special people, explore notable places, travel through time and discover different themes.
  • Hundreds of Monmouthshire records are already on our collections search.

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, MonLife Heritage have been researching new ways to diversify our offer – between January and March 2021, with thanks to a Welsh Government Local Government Cultural Recovery Fund grant, members of our team have been able to dedicate their role to the creation of the collections website. We have worked alongside Digital Heritage Consultants, Orangeleaf Systems Ltd to build our bespoke website.

Lydia Wooles, from the Museums online project team said “We really hit the ground running with the project, as a team we’ve learnt a lot in a short timescale. Records have been carefully selected to provide users with a flavour of the wide variety of artefacts and documents that we hold. It’s been such a rewarding experience working on this project.”

All of the records on the website relate to the story of Monmouthshire and include the nationally significant Nelson collection. From archaeological finds, extensive costume collections, to photographs and postcards – there is something for everyone.


MonLife Heritage Museums Welcomes Back Customers

We are delighted to announce that all the museums across MonLife are open again. Chepstow Museum and Monmouth Museum will be open Tuesdays 11 am-2 pm and Saturdays 1 pm-4 pm, whilst Abergavenny Museum will be open Thursdays 11 am-2 pm and Sundays 1 pm-4 pm.

During the summer we spoke to staff and carried out a survey, which was answered by over 170 people to find out what we could do to make visitors and staff comfortable when visiting the museums.

Visits are on a free pre-booked basis only and are for 45-minute slots. One slot is available for a group of up to 6 people from the same household or bubble. We have divided each of the museums into timed zones and during your visit, your group and a member of staff will be the only people within this zone.

We have various safety measures in place. Hand sanitiser is a requirement at the point of entry and staff will be cleaning throughout. All staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings.

We are really pleased to be opening our shops and whilst we have been closed we have reviewed our offer which means there is currently a sale on in all the museum shops, so please take the opportunity to come and pick up a bargain. Please note we are only accepting card payments.

I would be pleased to see the staff again; they are always pleasant and it adds to the trip.

Customer Feedback

For full information on what your visit will look like and to book tickets with us, go to https://www.visitmonmouthshire.com/things-to-do/museums.aspx We will also be posting any available slots on the day outside the museums.

Our staff are all looking forward to welcoming you back to our sites.

We are thrilled to be re-opening the museums. Communicating the heritage of Monmouthshire to our visitors is what we are about and being able to do that face to face, in a safe way, is something we are all really pleased to do once more.

Rachael Rogers, Museums and Arts Manager


Art History Online from MonLife Heritage Museums

Chepstow and Abergavenny Museums’ Popular Art Appreciation Courses – GO ONLINE!

Beginning in Welsh Museums Festival Week…

Now you can join us from wherever you are in the world for a course of 8 one hour talks about

THE TREASURES OF THE ROYAL COLLECTION

Explore one of Europe’s most extraordinary collections of art – and the taste, talent, power and passion behind it. From Breughel to Titian, Van Dyck to Landseer, along with exquisite porcelain, furniture and jewels.

In an hour-long Zoom talk each week for 8 weeks, popular Monmouthshire lecturer Eleanor Bird will discuss some of the key works in this amazing collection, setting them in their art historical context.

Our courses start in and in celebration of, Welsh Museums Festival week this year

There are two opportunities for you to join us online:

Mondays 2:00 – 3:00 pm, from 26th October to 14th December 2020

or Wednesdays 10:30-11:30 am from 28th October to 16th December 2020

ADVANCE BOOKING ESSENTIAL. Book by midnight Thurs 22nd October

Course fee £40. Booking is online-only, not via the Museum. To book: www.visitmonmouthshire.com/art-history

If you have any problems making the online booking please contact Kevin Ford who manages the site, his e-mail is kevinford@monmouthshire.gov.uk or phone him on 01633 644842 and he will help you through it (any working day 9-5)

Unlike many grand European art collections, the Royal Collection has survived for us to enjoy today. This despite most of its works being sold-off by Cromwell during the Civil War – and then forcibly reacquired – and despite centuries of criticism of its ostentation and cost. As well as examining many beautiful paintings, the course will explore the taste, talent, power and passion behind their acquisition. In particular, we look at Charles I’s dangerous obsession for collecting which began when he crossed Europe in disguise to meet a possible Spanish bride, and the passion for gift-giving between Victoria and Albert, who catalogued and expanded the Collection to include both mediaeval altarpieces and the latest photography.

Works covered will span the centuries from the early Renaissance to the 19th-century masters, including Breughel, Holbein, Leonardo, Titian, Van Dyck, Tintoretto, Turner and Landseer. Along the way, the lectures will touch on everything from solid silver furniture to Roman cameos to the glittering jewels which are the now-controversial spoils of Empire.