Former Shambles, Monmouth
If you’ve just scanned our QR codes on the map board near the museum, look over the railings to see some of the arches of the former Shambles below. This is where animals were slaughtered and fresh meat was sold.
The photos, taken in 2023, show the sweep of the frontage and (below) meat hooks and a pulley inside.
In April 1833 the mayor called a public meeting to discuss a petition which called for the “market for butchers’ meat” to be moved to a more convenient site. In May 1836 the foundation stone was laid for the new market and “quay wall”, designed by local architect George Vaughan Maddox for the site of the Crown and Thistle Inn.
The 135-metre (450ft) wall was built in an arc alongside the river Monnow and included the 24 arches of the Shambles. It also formed part of the foundations for the new Priory Street – an early bypass road for the crowded old streets to the south. In August 1837 George Maddox invited tenders for the project’s second phase: construction of a two-storey market hall above the western end of the new wall. The hall’s surviving ground floor is now home to the Nelson Museum.
Livestock was brought to the Shambles down the ramp to the east. Shoppers could access the butchers’ stalls via the stairs behind the market hall.
Before refrigeration was available, meat couldn’t be sold in enclosed shops. Consumers were guaranteed fresh meat if they bought it at the local slaughtering facility.
A visitor from Abergavenny in 1846 was disgusted by the dirty butchers’ stalls, rails, hooks and other equipment here. Surfaces painted white to aid hygiene were “more of black than any other colour”, he complained in the Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper. This was shocking in Monmouth, “where the people are proverbial for cleanliness and neatness”.
The Shambles were converted c.1890 to a butter and poultry market, replacing facilities in the market hall’s upper storey.
Postcode: NP25 3XA View Location Map