Abergavenny (Welsh: Abergafenni or Y Fenni) is a market town in Monmouthshire, Wales. It is 14 miles west of Monmouth. Situated at the confluence of a small stream called the Gavenny with the River Usk, it is almost surrounded by lofty hills. The town was formerly walled, and contains the remains of a castle built soon after the Norman Conquest, frequently the scene of border strife. It is in the Welsh Marches.
The church of St Mary belonged originally to a Benedictine monastery founded early in the 12th century. The existing building, however, is Decorated and Perpendicular.
Abergavenny, often known as 'Aber' to the locals, was the Roman Gobannium, a small fort guarding the road along the valley of the Usk for keeping the peace among the hill tribes. There is practically no trace of this fort. The name is associated with the Celtic smith god Govannon. Abergavenny (Bergavenny) grew under the protection of the lords of Abergavenny, whose title dated from William I (the Conqueror).
Owing to its situation, the town was frequently embroiled in the border warfare of the 12th and 13th centuries, and Giraldus Cambrensis relates how in 1173 the castle was seized by the Welsh. Hamelyn de Baalun, first lord of Abergavenny, founded the Benedictine priory, which was subsequently endowed by William de Braose with a tenth of the profits of the castle and town. At the dissolution of the priory part of this endowment went towards the foundation of a free grammar school, the site itself passing to the Gunter family. During the Civil War prior to the siege of Raglan Castle in 1645, Charles I visited Abergavenny, and presided in person over the trial of Sir Trevor Williams and other Parliamentarians.
In 1639 Abergavenny received a charter of incorporation under the title of bailiff and burgesses. A charter with extended privileges was drafted in 1657, but appears never to have been enrolled or to have come into effect. Owing to the refusal of the chief officers of the corporation to take the oath of allegiance to William III in 1688, the charter was annulled, and the town subsequently declined in prosperity.
Chapter 28 of the 1535 Act of Henry VIII, which provided that Monmouth, as county town, should return one burgess to Parliament, further stated that other ancient Monmouthshire boroughs were to contribute towards the payment of the member. In consequence of this clause Abergavenny on various occasions shared in the election, the last instance being in 1685. Reference to a market at Abergavenny is found in a charter granted to the prior by William de Braose (d. 1211). The right to hold two weekly markets and three yearly fairs, as held ever since, was confirmed in 1657. Abergavenny was celebrated for the production of Welsh flannel, and also for the manufacture, whilst the fashion prevailed, of goats' hair periwigs.
The title of Baron Abergavenny, in the Neville family, dates from Edward Neville (d. 1476), who was the youngest son of the 1st Earl of Westmoreland by Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt. He married the heiress of Richard, Earl of Worcester, whose father had inherited the castle and estate of Abergavenny, and was summoned in 1392 to parliament as Lord Bergavenny. Edward Neville was summoned to parliament with this title in 1450. His direct male descendants ended in 1387 in Henry Neville, but a cousin, Edward Neville (d. 1622), was confirmed in the barony in 1604. From him it has descended continuously, the title being increased to an earldom in 1784; and in 1876 William Nevill (sic) 5th earl (b. 1826), an indefatigable and powerful supporter of the conservative party, was created 1st Marquess of Abergavenny.
Abergavenny is the home of Abergavenny Thursdays Football Club, which was formed in 1927 and is currently a member of the Gwent County League Division 3. The club's current position comes within 15 years of their being one of the top sides in Welsh football, winning the old format Welsh Football League in 1991 and 1992 but being relegated in 1993 after just one season in the newly formed League of Wales. The club suffered relegation from the Welsh Football League in 2001 and has since slipped through the next two divisions into its current position, although the future is now looking brighter.
For more information see: http://www.abergavenny.co.uk/