Pontypool Park History

Pontypool Park covers some 64 hectares and was originally laid out around 1703 as a private estate.

An old ‘map’ shows avenues of sweet chestnuts and beech following the contours of the valleys up towards the Folly Tower.

Many of the veteran sweet chestnuts are still visible, surrounding the Nant-y-Gollen Ponds and close to the Gorsedd Stone Circle, and are reputedly the largest specimens this far north. They were originally planted to produce charcoal for the iron forges along the Afon Lwyd river.

During the next 100 years, new plantings of chestnuts, oak, beech and yew were introduced obscuring the formal avenues and creating the wooded areas along the river and main path to Pontymoile. The Park still retained its open character and views to the beech ridge, Shell Grotto and the town itself were clearly visible.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Park passed into public ownership for the benefit of the community of Pontypool.

Conifer plantations were introduced during the 1950-60’s and left unmanaged and this combined with the growth of many of the original plantings, has altered the landscape to a predominantly mature wooded park with some open meadowland.

The Park contains a number of historic areas including the Italian Gardens, Tramway Tunnel, Ice Houses and Shell Grotto. The Shell Grotto was built around 1829 by Molly Mackworth as a summerhouse, some 220m above the surrounding area and enjoys stunning views across open countryside and the Severn Estuary.

Chronology of Important Dates

Chronology of Important Dates
1576 Richard Hanbury comes to Pontypool
1655 Capel Hanbury took a lease for a 'parcel of land called Pontypool, together with the forge and thereupon built'
1689 Capel Hanbury buys substantial area of what later became known as Pontypool Park

Major John Hanbury builds the first house in the Park 1720 Pontymoile gates built


Ralph Allen of Prior Park (Bath) visits


65 House extended westwards

1765 Japan tray made

Pontymoile Tin works built

1800-10 House completely reworked to face south
1830's Shell Grotto built
1831 Park Forge dismantled
1834 Castellated Folly Tower built on site of existing summerhouse

Pontymoile Gates remodelled


Stables completed, dovecote and chapel demolished Post

Post 1834

Town Forge demolished

1850's American Gardens developed
1872 John Hanbury Leigh demolished west end of house and built present Victorian extension
1915 House let to Sisters of Holy Ghost
1920 Park sold to public authorities
1920 Tramline railway closed
1923 Gorsedd Stone circle created
1924 National Eisteddfod of Wales
1924 Tennis courts built
1924 Italian Gardens transferred to the local authorities
1925 Bowling Green laid out
1925 Rugby pitch laid out (also used for cricket)
1931 Bandstand erected
1940 Folly Tower demolished
1945 Grandstand built
1952 Memorial Clock erected
1952 Cherry Avenue planted
1959 Pontymoile Lodge demolished
1974 Leisure centre and play area built 1975
1975 Dry ski slope built
1994 Official opening of rebuilt Folly Tower by HRH Prince Charles
Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

Call Torfaen

Tel: 01495 762200


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