Shirenewton Hall

extract from Hamptons estate agents 18/10/2002:

Hamptons International is selling Shirenewton Hall an eminent Grade II house with a Grade II* listed Japanese garden. The beautifully presented grade II house, which has a fascinating history, was also featured in a film. It is now on the market for £4,500,000.

The mansion is set in parkland with views over the “Golden Valley”, the Bristol Channel and beyond to the Mendip and Quantock Hills. Originally known as Shirenewton Court it is of note for being the birthplace of William Blethyn, Bishop of Llandaff. After his death the property remained in the family until the early part of the 19th century when William Hollis built the present house on the site. He served in the office of sheriff in 1831.

In 1890, the property was purchased by Mr Charles Liddell. Captain Liddell served as sheriff in 1918 and it is he who is responsible for the property’s most unique feature, its grade II* listed Japanese garden. This oriental influence was due to his long stay in China, from where he brought the immense 1.5 ton temple bell, which stands, on the east lawn under a pergoda roof. He brought it to the Hall after the Boxer troubles in China in 1903.

At this time the Japanese gardens were created, many of the plants and trees are grown from seed brought back from the Far East. The grade II* listed teahouse, was brought in sections from Tokyo and overlooks the garden and beyond to the estuary. The garden has a series of ponds, gentle waterfalls, oriental style bridges and pathways connecting one area of the garden to the other.

In 1988 a television film, shown by the BBC, exploited the magical setting of Shirenewton for a film they made entitled The Woman he Loved, portraying the story of the abdication of King Edward VIII in favour of Wallis Simpson. The production starred Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews.

Shirenewton Hall’s elegant accommodation has a long hall, central hall with two galleries and atrium, drawing room, dining room, morning room, study, ballroom, library/ billiard room, kitchen/ breakfast room and domestic offices. The principal bedroom has two dressing rooms and there are eleven further bedrooms three with en-suites. The grounds comprise of 15.48 acres. There is also an indoor heated swimming pool, a detached 3 bedroom lodge, detached single story 2 bedroom cottage and a 2 bedroom coach house with adjoining original Victorian stables.

Patti Page, director of Country Houses, based in Bristol comments: “Shirenewton Hall is quite exceptional and its rarity is made more so by its exquisite authentic Japanese garden. The current owners bought the property in 1997 when it had been neglected over many years. The sympathetic and classical renovations have made a graceful and elegant home with friendly atmosphere, in a superb setting.”

On or near the site of the present Shirenewton Hall was a house occupied by William Blathin, Bishop of Llandaff, 1575-1590. His son Philemon, Rector 1613-1618, bought Dinham House where the family lived for some years. Other members of the family lived at Llanmelin, and a Major William Blethin lived in Magor. Although well-to-do, the family later seems to have descended in the social scale, as the last one recorded, Timothy, the carpenter. William Hollis, a paper – maker lived at Shirenewton House as it was then called, until 1848, having moved from Mounton. He was High Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1831.

The Lowe Family, one a botanist and co-founder of the Royal Meteorological Society and his wife, a genealogist, lived there later. They changed the name to Shire Newton Hall. Edward Joseph Lowe was born in 1825 at Highfield House, near Nottingham. He began to make meteorological observations there when he was fifteen years of age and continued to do so until 1882, when he removed to Chepstow, Monmouthshire. He published A Treatise on Atmospheric Phenomena in 1846 and also wrote several papers on meteors and fireballs. He observed the solar eclipse of 1860 near Santander in northern Spain and during it made a series of meteorological observations, among them measurements of temperature at various heights above the ground. He was an authority not only on meteorology but also on ferns, grasses and conchology. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and also a Fellow of the Linnaean, Zoological, Geological and Royal Astronomical Societies. He died at his residence (Shirenewton Hall, Monmouthshire) on 10 March 1900


In Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire, 1901 there is listed a Mrs. Lowe at the Hall, and Charles Oswald Liddell living at Caerdu. It must have been shortly after this time that Captain C O Liddell bought the Hall and its estate. He extended it and created the remarkable Japanese water garden in the park below. The family remained there until comparatively recently.


Lance Sergeant 17436 Ronald David Wheeler, 6th Battalion South Wales Borderers. Died 10th April 1918 aged 25.
Decorations: The Military Medal, The 1914-15 Star, The British War Medal and The Victory Medal.  He married Emily Elizabeth and they lived at Wyndcliffe View, a tied cottage in the centre of Shirenewton. He is thought to have worked for the Liddells as a gardener at Shirenewton Hall.


Lance Corporal 4078135 Maurice Whybert Rowlands, The South Wales Borderers. Died 14 February 1942, aged 26.

Maurice was quite tall with dark hair, a very active and happy young man. He was always busy working, chasing girls, hunting and shooting. He was never engaged or married. Evenings were often spent socialising around Earlswood or Woolaston in the company of haulage friends. On Sundays he would be out shooting with P.C. Butler and Mr Pettifer, gamekeeper for Liddell’s, of Shirenewton. He also kept goal for the Caerwent football team. He was an active member of the Imperial League, which was later renamed the Young Conservatives

He was an expert poacher! Maurice was so fast he caught rabbits with his bare hands. Once he shot two hares with one barrel of his shotgun. Having seen a pheasant after the berries in the hedge at the bottom of the Shirenewton Hall estate (roughly where the Factory fence is now) he shot it, gave it to his young nephew and said "RUN!". Mr Pettifer heard the shot but by the time he had made his way down through the trees, the pheasant was safe inside Lawrence Farm!


In the early 1920’s, they moved to Crossway – near Home Farm, Shirenewton, after his father served in the First World War. He became a shepherd at Home Farm for Captain Liddell. After a while, Capt. Liddell gave up keeping sheep, so the Dickman family moved to the cottage at Shirenewton, next to Mrs Jones, on the Crick Road.


Piped water came to Shirenewton in 1953, until which time water had to be carried from either a tap fitted on the wall of the cottage at the entrance to the funeral path, or “The Spout”. This can be found below the Tan House in the hedgerow of the road to Chepstow – a stone structure fitted with a spout – giving its name to Spout Pitch. The Spout was considered the best water. There was a tap in the Square, but it needed a key. A key could be bought for 2s.6d. a year from Mr Liddell. During the last war – or just after – Mr Liddell brought the water down Weyloed Lane from his own private water supply, for which they were very grateful.

The Spout

In 1955 Mr Liddell owned most of the cottages in the village. During Captain Liddell’s time he had 15 or 16 men working for him. The staffing at the Hall was modest. The butler and his wife, who was the cook, lived in the Lodge. There was a daily help, two gardeners and an Estate carpenter.

Mr David Liddell took over the Hall. He had previously farmed at Coal Pits Farm, the Great House Farm.

In 1974, Shirenewton Hall Estate and all properties were sold. At his point, a way of life ended. A lot of community spirit has gone, especially as many newcomers use the villages as dormitories. This was mostly due to the Severn Bridge.

These anecdotes copied from:


Shirenewton Church


This history of The Church of St. Thomas a’Becket, Shirenewton was compiled in 1984 by Mr. Fred Davis one of the Churchwardens and long time village resident. Shirenewton was not mentioned as a settlement in the Domesday Book of 1086, but was added to the lands of Caldicot belonging to the Sheriffs of Gloucester between 1086 and  1127. The whole of this area was at that time part of the extensive forest of Wentwood, and Sheriff Durand caused a clearing to be made in the forest, for the purpose of cultivating the land. This work, begun by Durand, was probably continued by his nephew, Walter FitzRoger who succeeded him as Sheriff on his death in 1096.

The natural outcome was for a small hamlet to be built, in order to house the people who worked on the land thus cleared. This came to be known as the Sheriff’s New Town, in time condensed into the name Shirenewton.

A pipe organ was presented to the church in 1908 by Captain C.O. Liddell of Shirenewton Hall. Until 1974 it was situated at the foot of the tower, but was then renovated and removed to it’s present position at the west end of the Lady Chapel in a space which had previously been partitioned off as a choir vestry. This gave more space under the tower, and improved the view of the chancel from the nave.

Five bells were placed in the tower in 1746, all cast by William Evans who, with his two sons, had a flourishing business with the foundry in Welsh Street, Chepstow. Their work was of a very high standard, and they cast bells for many churches in South Wales as well as in the West Country. A Sixth bell was added in 1918, given as a war memorial by Capt. C. O. Liddell of Shirenewton Hall. The bells have not been rung for 20 years, owing to the fact that the wooden framework on which the original bells were hung has become unsafe, due to the ravages of time, weather and woodworm. In 1964 the estimate for retuning and rehanging the bells was £1,400, well out of reach of funds available at the time. The latest estimate was around £16,600. A set of Ellacombe chimes is fitted to the bells; and these are what are heard on  Sundays, calling the faithful to worship.

The North Aisle was converted into a lady Chapel in 1967 at the instigation of the Rector, the Reverend (later Canon) G.F.L. Riggs; the necessary furniture, in the shape of an Altar with riddle posts and curtains and a housling bench were provided by the Liddell family in memory of Capt. C.O. Liddell.

 In 1968, an oak reredos, redundant from St. Woolos Cathedral and offered free of charge to any church wishing to make use of it, was accepted on behalf of the P.C.C. by the Rector, the Rev. G.F.L. Riggs and installed below the East window. At the same time, a new alter rail was given, also by the Liddell family, in memory of Mr. P.W.O. Liddell, his son, Capt. Ian Liddell, V.C., killed in action shortly after winning the V.C. in the second world war, and his daughter Mrs. Jenny Bourne.

Click here to see an Old Map from 1887 of Shirenewton