In the late eighteenth century the ruins of Wales’ first stone built castle, spectacularly sited on cliffs above the Wye, provided inspiration for many visitors, including Turner. Chepstow was the highlight at the end of the Wye Tour, “so uncommonly excellent, that the most exact critic in landscape would scarcely wish
to alter a position in the assemblage of woods, cliffs, ruins and water”, commented Wyndham.
"The strength of the castle must have been very great and combined with its fine position, made it almost impregnable. built on the summit of a lofty cliff, which is perpendicular on the river side, its walls seem a continuation of the rock, from which towers and battlements rise up in varied and picturesque groups. What was grim and threatening in its day of power and pride is now softened into beauty by time and decay."
Louisa Anne Twamley An Autumn Ramble on the Wye, 1839
Today Chepstow has a thriving artistic scene. Art on the Railings takes place on the first Saturday of the summer months which includes displays by more than 200 artists with a variety of different styles. Chepstow Museum, just across the road from the Castle is worth a visit having an inspiring collection of engravings, prints and paintings by artists who took the Tour. Quotes from journals and diaries of the time are on display alongside paintings in an exhibition entitled Chepstow Castle, the artist’s eye and the visitor’s view. Many of the historical pictures in this guide are held in the collections of Chepstow and Monmouth Museums and can be viewed by appointment.
“I went to the Bridge and made a drawing of the Castle which occupied me four hours. The view forms a very picturesque composition the parts of the Castle appearing united so as to make a well collected mass of large objects.”
Joseph Farington The Wye Tour of Joseph Farington, 1803
There is easy access to the Castle from the Bridge Street car park adjacent to the Tourist Information Centre at the bottom of Chepstow. From here you can walk down to the riverside or across the Wye Bridge, from where the best views of the Castle can be obtained. There is also a permissive path across the fields on the Gloucestershire side of the river, looking across the Wye to the Castle, a favourite view with artists.
Grid Reference 535 942