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New Exhibition at Shire Hall Museum

Throughout January, a new exhibition has been displayed at the Shire Hall to celebrate its 300-year history. This exhibition is the first of many new displays showcased at the new Shire Hall Museum.

Alongside the exhibition, the Shire Hall team will engage with our local communities and speak to visitors to understand what topics and themes they want to see in the museum. All feedback will be used to create the Interpretation Plan that will shape the design and visitor experience of the museum.

In addition to the exhibition, visitors can view the recent collection reviews carried out across MonLife’s museums.

Funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund, this work supports the move of the Nelson and local Monmouth collections into their new home at Shire Hall. The grant is a welcomed positive addition, especially with the increasing pressure felt on cultural services due to reducing budgets. The work will help shape a sustainable future for the museum. Visitors will have an opportunity to vote on the key objects and themes related to Lord Nelson, which will further shape the future exhibitions at the new museum.

All this work has been part of the Dynamic Collections – Opening the Box project that the museum has been carrying out throughout 2023. After reviewing the Nelson collection, the team identified a collection of national significance. Now is your opportunity to provide feedback on what matters to you within the collection.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Equalities and Engagement, Cllr Angela Sandles, said: “The new exhibition at the Shire Museum is an excellent opportunity for local communities and visitors to Monmouth to learn more about the history of such an iconic building in the heart of the town. We want to provide a space where everyone can learn about their local history and view displays they want to see. Please visit the exhibition and learn more about the fantastic work being undertaken in MonLife Museums.”

Find out more about what’s going on at the Shire Hall here: 

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to land on stage at Caldicot Castle

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to land on stage at Caldicot Castle

One of the best-known names in the UK music industry has just confirmed that they’re heading to Monmouthshire in summer 2023. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have confirmed they are playing a special one-off date at Caldicot Castle on Saturday 19th August.

Not shy of delivering world-class performances at prestigious outdoor venues, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will perform a one-off show in the grounds of the castle featuring a selection of the band’s most well-loved songs, from Oasis hits through to current day radio favourites. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have, since 2011, release three studio albums, a collection of EPs and have played hundreds of live shows across the UK. In summer 2022, the band completed a nationwide tour of outdoor shows by headlining on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.  

The announcement of the Caldicot Castle date follows the incredibly well-received release of the band’s brand-new single ‘Pretty Boy’, which recently featured as BBC Radio 2’s Record Of The Week. The track signals the beginning of a new creative chapter and first new music from Noel’s forthcoming new studio album which will be released next year.

Caldicot Castle has gained a reputation for hosting chart-topping, famous bands, including girl band Little Mix, in August 2017, and Status Quo in summer 2015. As recently as September 2022, the castle was host to a local folk band that have gained a massive following, Rusty Shackle, marking the release of their latest album.

When they come to Caldicot, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds will be supported by local favourites Feeder. Formed in 1994, the band have released 11 studio albums and have spent a combined total of 184 weeks on the singles and albums chart. Their highly acclaimed album ‘Torpedo’ came out earlier this year continuing the band’s winning formula with big riffs, bigger emotions, and, of course, enormous tunes.

They’ll be joined by Newport’s Goldie Lookin’ Chain, officially Britain’s biggest rap group. Known for ‘Guns don’t kill people rappers do’, the group have released 18 albums in the course of their 22-year-long career.

Pablo Janczur, the Orchard Live promoter, said: “We’re so excited about this absolutely massive show coming to Caldicot Castle. We’ve wanted to bring a great rock line-up to this venue for some time and what could better, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds supported by Feeder on a beautiful summer’s evening. It’s going to be an awesome day out.”

Monmouthshire County Council Leader, Cllr. Mary Ann Brocklesby said: “I am absolutely thrilled that we will stage another world-class concert in the beautiful setting of Caldicot Castle this coming summer. We’re looking forward to welcoming Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Feeder and Goldie Lookin’ Chain, as well as thousands of visitors and residents to what promises to be a very special night out.”

Cllr. Sara Burch, Cabinet Member with responsibility for MonLife, said: “It’s very exciting to see acts of such high calibre coming to Monmouthshire, and also great news that the organisers have given local residents the opportunity to secure tickets before the general sale takes place. Caldicot Castle is such a beautiful venue that we are really proud of – it has such a lot of offer as a concert venue, as well as being a tremendous attraction for all the family all year round. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone at the castle on August 19th next year.”

Tickets at £61.88 each, including fees, are on General Sale from 10am on Friday 16th December, but Monmouthshire residents can snap up their tickets sooner than that. The organisers have arranged a special Pre-Sale for local fans from 10am on Wednesday 14th December via

It has also been confirmed that local residents will be engaged with on plans closer to the event to ensure minimal impact on the Caldicot community. Full event information is available at

Abergavenny Museum welcomes exhibition of Monmouthshire born author Arthur Machen

Abergavenny Museum welcomes exhibition of Monmouthshire born author Arthur Machen

Abergavenny Museum is playing host to some impressive works by Welsh artists this year, all inspired by Monmouthshire’s own Arthur Machen, best known for his influential supernatural, fantasy, and horror fiction.

This exhibition features artworks by Jon Langford, Pete Williams and John Selway, created to illustrate the writings of Arthur Machen (1863-1947). Machen drew inspiration from his native Monmouthshire, its landscape, history and Roman remains, as well as the strange and supernatural, the weird and the wonderful. World famous horror author Stephen King describing Machen’s The Great God Pan (1890; 1894) as “Maybe the best [horror story] in the English language”.

The exhibition showcases both original works, as well as print reproductions of artwork commissioned to illustrate recent reprints of Arthur Machen stories by the Newport based publishers The Three Impostors. This includes a new edition of one of Machen’s early works ‘The Chronicle of Clemendy’, which has just been launched as a series of stories set in medieval Monmouthshire, complemented by artist Jon Langford’s illustrations. There are also first editions of Machen’s works, manuscripts, letters and photographs.

Established ten years ago, The Three Imposter’s aim is to produce high quality, scholarly versions of interesting, rare and out-of-print books, along with other related new writing. Their first project was the republication of Arthur Machen’s three volumes of autobiography, continuing to reprint some of Machen’s novels, series of short Machen related stories, and also new and original works by Welsh authors.

The exhibition is now open and will run at Abergavenny Museum until December 18th 2022. It is free admission and open daily from 11am – 4pm except Wednesdays.

For more information, please visit:

Council to run survey on tourism industry

Council to run survey on tourism industry

Monmouthshire County Council is to carry out an up to date survey on the area’s tourism industry.

Monmouthshire’s strategic Destination Management Plan, which guides the running of the county’s tourism sector, is due for review and the council will ask businesses, residents and visitors for their views on how the area’s potential is developed, managed and marketed.

Tourism is vital to Monmouthshire’s economy and generates income to support a wide range of businesses that benefit from spending by visitors.  According to figures supplied by tourism economic indicator STEAM (Scarborough Tourism Economic Activity Monitor), the 2.28m visitors to Monmouthshire in 2019 brought in almost £245m to the local economy and supported the equivalent of 3,119 full-time jobs.

While the council is keen to promote economic growth and recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic it recognises the balance to be struck between economic, environmental and social perspectives if tourism is to develop sustainably.  It aims to develop a tourism economy that avoids a negative impact on the environment while ensuring a positive experience for visitors with a warm welcome from Monmouthshire’s communities.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for tourism, Councillor Lisa Dymock said: “Whether you’re a business involved in the visitor economy, a Monmouthshire resident or someone who’s visited the county over the past three years, we’d welcome your views.”

To access the survey, log onto:

by Tuesday, 30th November.  All who complete the survey will stand a chance of winning a Christmas hamper from the Wye Valley Producers collaboration packed with the area’s finest award-winning produce!

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,

MonLife Heritage Museums brand new collections website

MonLife Heritage Museums are proud to announce the launch of a brand new collections website at 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 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

Georgia O’Keeffe

Monday September 6th 2-3.30pm

Online lecture via Zoom

To Book:

So, join us for an exploration of one of the dominant artists of her generation, Georgia O’Keeffe was a major figure in 20th century American art for seven decades. Staying true to her own vision, and yet a key part of the development of Modernism in the USA, O’Keeffe is best known for her paintings of magnified flowers, animal skulls, and New Mexico desert landscapes. With exceptional observation, O’Keeffe created startling, detailed images drawn from her experience of living in New York and in the barren deserts of the American South West. Our 90-minute online lecture will look at the life and work of this extraordinary artist.

You can join from wherever you are in the world! So tell interested friends and family.

  • Only one booking per household is necessary.
  • Price for this 90 minute talk, is £7.50
  • Booking will close at 4pm on Sunday 5th September.

With exceptional observation, O’Keeffe created startling, detailed images drawn from her experience of living in New York and in the barren deserts of the American South West. Our 90-minute online lecture will look at the life and work of this extraordinary artist.