Newport Past

Newport Mill
(Sites and Monuments Reference 00193g ST 331130 188540)
- 3 on the conjectural view of Medieval Newport -

© Bob Trett 2010

In the Newport Charter of 1427 (re-issuing a charter of 1385) there is a reference in a description of the borough’s boundaries to ‘the water course of the mill of the lord.’  In 1441 there were two water-mills at Newport recorded in the accounts of the lordship. [1] A water mill is shown on a 1750 map of Newport, together with the millpond, the mill mead (meadow) and a water course.  The mill was on a river inlet or pill to the north of Newport Castle, close to where the present Sainsbury’s Store now is.  Nothing now remains but the mill is shown on the 1883 Ordnance Survey map of Newport as a flour mill at the head of an inlet.

In 1859 Thomas Wakeman wrote an account of the ‘Monastery of Austin Friars at Newport’.  In it he mentioned that:

in the gable end of a building, now forming the flour mill in Mill Street, are the traces of a large gothic window, which from its size and form was apparently of the fourteenth century

He concluded that this might be part of the chapel of St Lawrence – but in view of other documentary evidence this seems unlikely.   

1. Reeves, A.C.  (1979).    63

St Lawrence Chapel
(SMR 00185g   possibly ST 33108 18830)
- 8 on the conjectural view of Medieval Newport -

St Lawrence’s Chapel was of medieval date and it can be no co-incidence that the town fair began on the Vigil of St Lawrence (9th August).  In 1525 a grant was made of two tenements, ‘between the Chapel of St Lawrence on the west, abutting on the High Street going through the town on one side and the other abutting upon St Lawrence Lane’. [1] A further reference to ‘St Laurence Lane’ in 1545 says it is within the Great Bailey. [2] Again in 1550 a grant to Sir William Herbert refers to ‘the late chantry called St Lawrence Chapel in the Great Bailey within the town of Newport’. [3]   Further references appear for St Lawrence Lane in 1570 and St Lawrence Churchyard in 1604, 1668 and 1671. [4]   St Lawrence Lane was what is now known as Carpenters Arms Lane. The entrance is between the Kings Hotel and the Carpenters Arms Inn. Possibly the chapel stood opposite the present Newport Provisions Market. Another possible location for the chapel and churchyard is a large square of land marked ‘99’ on the 1750 map of Newport, and belonging to ‘The Honourable Morgan Esq. Ruperra’. It is recorded as a ‘storehouse and garden’ on Thomas Thorpe’s map of 1752. This is approximately at the east entrance to Newport Provisions Market.

1. Gwent Record Office  D43  457

2. National Library of Wales   Tredegar Papers 58/34

3. Calendar of Patent Rolls Edward VI 1549-1551  416

4. National Library of Wales   Tredegar Papers 62/83, 29/11, 7/10.

St Thomas Chapel
(SMR 08362g and 00205g   possibly ST 33081 18859)
- 2 on the conjectural view of Medieval Newport -

St Thomas Chapel is mentioned in the charter of 1427 in a description of the boundaries of the borough, so presumably it was close to the boundary, somewhere near the later road called Queens Hill.   Little more is known about this chapel except that there may be a connection with Thomas Street (now no longer existing) which was the probable position of the Middle Gate into the town, and where there was a well in the middle of the road, just outside the gate.

(SMR 00206g ST 33090 18805)
- 13 on the conjectural view of Medieval Newport -

The 1570 survey of Newport refers to Paynes well as being outside Hirstingeste dyke and also to Paynes yate (Paynes gate).  The 1750 map of Newport refers to the well as Beans Well.  It is depicted as standing in a small space, roughly rectangular in shape, surrounded by fields with a lane leading back to Stow Hill. It seems likely that in the Middle Ages Baneswell was used as a water supply by people living on Stow Hill.  It is also possible there may have been access through the town wall, near or at the earliest west gate to the town. It is interesting that the name still survives in the names ‘Baneswell’ and ‘Pump Street’.

Other Surviving Place Names

A number of medieval place names survived in Newport into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  The following are examples:

Newport: referred to as Novi Burgi  circa 1085, and Newporte in 1265.
Stow: referred to as Stowe in 1281
St Woolos: referred to as St Gundlei in circa 1100,  St Gonlei in 1444, St Guntle in circa 1536 and St Wooloes in 1653.
West Gate: referred in 1444 and as Craks yate (Crooks Gate) in1570 (probably a reference to the prison in the Gate).
Baneswell:  gate referred to as Paynesgate in 1444.
Cinderhill Wharf: probably the site referred to as le Synderhull in 1447
Corn Street:  referred to as Corneis lane in 1543 and  Corneslane in 1570 (the present Corn Street is now on a different alignment).
Crindau:  referred to as Crinde in 1385
High Street:  referred to as the high street in a deed of 1525 and shown as High Street on the map of 1750.
Kingshill: referred to as Kyngeshull in 1427
Mendalgief: referred to as Mendelgif in 1239 and Myndylgyffe in 1447.
Skinner Street:  referred to as Skynners lane in 1570  (the name suggests tanning took place there).
The Mill:  referred to in the charter of 1427.

© Bob Trett 2010