Retired optometrist, Peter Garwood, is a keen photographer and documentary-maker and loves researching local history. Here, he tells Sharon Chilcott why he and his American wife, Linda, enjoy being part of a country village community, surrounded by peace and quiet …
How long have you lived in Trellech?
I first discovered it in 1981. My wife and I were looking for a country property, either in or near to a village and one that had good access to Monmouth, where we could open a business. We saw an advert in the paper and fell in love with village and area.
What makes it so special?
Wherever you walk or look you are surrounded by wonderful scenery and this provides a fantastic habitat for a vast range of animals and plants. Every day we see deer, buzzards, rabbits, foxes, songbirds singing their hearts out, and most recently a beautiful red kite has been visiting us. We also have outstanding sunsets. I love photographing the scenery and wildlife throughout the year.
Has anything spoilt it for you?
For some years I was unhappy at the speed of traffic through the village. When I came here there was no speed limit. Then it was set at 30 m.p.h, which I thought was still too fast. Locals campaigned for a lower limit and we now benefit from a new speed limit of 20 m.p.h. which makes walking through the village much safer and quieter.
Describe the vibe in your favourite local café or pub.
The local pub, The Lion, apart from excellent food and real ales, provides a range of community-based activities such as open mic nights, quizzes and themed weekends of music, food and drink, including a Cider Festival which is a really fun event. We have no café in the village but have a regular Friday afternoon tea and cakes in the Babington village hall which is well attended. Both venues are favourite haunts of ours.
Where do you go for a spot of “culture”?
Rural living tends to distance you from mainstream culture, but Monmouth is only four miles away and has theatres that provide excellent up-to-date plays, films and interesting talks. The neighbouring village of Penallt holds an annual Art Festival.
Where would you book up for a celebratory meal?
Whilst we would normally go to The Lion, living here we are spoilt for choice. At Whitebrook we have the Michelin-starred Whitebrook Restaurant, in Penallt we have the Inn at Penallt and there’s The Fountain at Parkhouse and the Carpenters Arms at Llanishen. All provide excellent food and drink.
Where do you go locally to “blow the cobwebs away”?
Trellech Beacon is a well-known landmark and one of the highest points in the area. It has fantastic views and a walk there would certainly clear any cobwebs for us.
What leisure pursuits do you enjoy locally?
It’s a wonderful place for photography. Local country activities, such as an autumn apple day, ploughing matches, hedging matches, and agricultural shows provide an opportunity for all the family to see and learn about the part agriculture plays in our community.
Where would you shop for a dinner party?
Monmouth has a number of speciality food stores that provide fresh vegetables. The best are from Munday & Jones in Church Street and the best meats come from Hancocks butchers in Monnow Street. Some speciality items I would source from local farm shops.
Where would you shop for day-to-day groceries?
We have a village shop which stocks a good range of day-to -day foodstuffs as well as newspapers.
What’s the social life like in your village?
Excellent. Our village hall has an active playgroup and is used for a number of social events, dance classes, talks, instruction classes and speciality meals. Throughout the year the villagers come together and hold events such as the now famous Trellech Big Weekend, where we celebrate the history of our village and hold food events, musical events, demonstrations, competitions and exhibitions. These are family-centred and enjoyed by all. During the summer we have an annual archaeological dig to which the public are invited to see the recently discovered medieval “Lost City of Trellech”. The church at Trellech is a building steeped in history and makes a fantastic venue for music. Social events are often held there because the acoustics are amazing.
What’s the most fun you have had at a local event?
This year the village hall held a weekend of music, food, vintage cars and tractors, and exhibitions, all of which provided great family entertainment.
How would you advise someone moving into the area to really get to know the locals?
Visit the pub, the church and the village hall. All three venues will enable you to learn more about the village and best of all to make new friends. If you have young children, the village primary school will bring you into contact with local parents who get involved in many school events throughout the year.
In what ways are you involved in your local community?
I am a trustee of the Babington Centre village hall which is the hub for village social activity. By default, I have become a historian of the village and consequently have become steeped in the history, myths and folklore of Trellech.
What are the most exciting developments that have taken place in the village recently and what have they meant for local people?
A new surgery means that we have a state-of-the-art building with ample parking to ensure we get a first-class medical service. It is also exciting to see the expansion of the village with new modern housing that blends in well with the older properties. This has brought new faces and friendships to the village.
If adult friends were staying with you, where would you take them to visit?
We would take them on a tour of the village trail to see our three Neolithic stones, the tump, church, the dig and the virtuous well. Then we would spend time at Tintern to see the Abbey and shops and go to the market town of Monmouth to see the bridge and other historic sights.
Tell me one fascinating fact about Trellech that you don’t think is generally widely known.
Most people do not know that there are 26 different recorded spellings of the name of the village. This results in many different pronunciations, but the locals will always know what you are referring to!
Facts and Figures
Set on a plateau above the River Wye in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
Trellech has a fascinating history.
It was once the site of a large and important Welsh medieval town, with possibly 10,000 residents at its peak, but largely destroyed in the late 13th and early 14th centuries by raids and the ravages of The Black Death.
The “Lost City of Trellech’ is the subject of an archaeological dig, whilst nearby are also the site of Harold’s Stones, three ancient standing stones; the Virtuous Well or St Anne’s Well, reputed to have curative properties and Tump Terret, the site of a small motte and bailey castle.
Now a small rural village, centred around the elegant Church of St Nicholas, Trellech is home to some 2800 people, well-served by a village shop, vibrant village hall, modern medical surgery and well-regarded Primary School.
Photos: Peter Garwood and Sharon Chilcott