Piercefield features

Descriptions of features and viewpoints (sometimes referred to as stations)

The Platform

The Grotto

see also Piercefield Introduction

For the full transcriptions of each description of Piercefield see:
Piercefield 1743-1802
Piercefield 1802-1824
Piercefield 1825-1900
List of nearly 500 visitors to the Wye Valley, 1536-1900

pdf file. Click on it to download a copy
Piercefield in 2019 (A 14mb file with fully illustrated descriptions of the site in 2019)

The owners of Piercefield created or enhanced a number of features in the park, some of which were relatively short lived. These were mentioned or listed by visitors and in guide books but it was the views from the features, rather than the features themselves which were described in detail.
Some of the features such as the Grotto, the Druid’s Temple, the Temple, the Giant’s Cave and the Cold Bath were usually described but they were rarely, if at all, illustrated and as a result it is almost impossible to know exactly what some of them looked like: Gilpin, for example, described none of them. For a list of sketches and watercolours of Piercefield, see the final section of Piercefield introduction.
This page includes all the known descriptions of all the features mentioned by and for visitors, including a number from recently discovered manuscripts and those based on earlier publications, some of which were out of date when they were published.
There may be some duplication – it depends on how tourists, editors of guidebooks and, indeed, the staff who showed the tourists around, described the features, but after Charles Heath’s descriptions of the site from 1801, many followed his nomenclature. It is possible that descriptions of some features are not included in the classified lists below because they are not easily identified.
This list of features is thought to be in the order followed many visitors from about 1800, starting at the entrance close to Chepstow (later known as the Lion Gate or The Lodge) and ending at the north end of the estate at the Temple Gate near St Arvans.
There are two surviving Iron Age hillforts in the park both of which were ignored by the majority of visitors.

For a helpful leaflet describing a walk through Piercefield see Wye Valley, Picturesque Piercefield, (Wye Valley AONB, 2012) [Clicking on this will automatically down-load a copy]
A detailed description of the remains of the main features (other than the house, gardens and buildings associated with them) may be found in Ken Murphy, The Piercefield Walks and Associated Picturesque Landscape Features: An Archaeological Survey, (Cambria Archaeology, 2005), 56pp. (available on line)

Citations
Full citations for sources have been included below and where more than one edition of a publication is known, they are normally listed, either together if the content was the same, or separately if the newer editions have been updated. One of the most details accounts, on which subsequent guidebooks based their content, are the various publications by Charles Heath (who rarely numbered his pages). see also Recording conventions

This page includes

  • Features and viewpoints
  • The Walks
    • The Main route
    • Other paths
  • The Views
  • The Seats
    • Avoiding the Walk
  • Nature Versus Art
  • Detailed descriptions of each feature
    • The Entrances
      • The Lion Lodge
      • The Temple Gate
      • The Path from the river bank
    • The Alcove – Constructed c. 1750 with a stone bench. There was a small building with an arch over it from which there were views of the Wye and Chepstow Castle.
    • Seat 1 – Views of the Wye
    • Seat 2 – Another view of the River Wye and Chepstow Castle
    • Seat 3– Another view of the River Wye and Chepstow Castle and the Severn
    • Bridge
    • Seat 4– a view of the Castle, Town, and Church
    • Seat 5– a view of the Castle, with the upper part of the town, and the very summit of the Church-Tower
    • The Platform – built of stone
    • Lawns in front of the house
    • First seat from the Platform
    • Second seat from the Platform
    • Third seat from the Platform
    • Elm Tree
    • Pierce Wood Camp
    • The Grotto– a ‘cave’ lined with various stones and minerals
    • Mount Pleasant / Above Pierce Wood – an amphitheatre of woody and rocky hill
    • Seat the 1st – near the edge of the rocky precipice which fronts Llancaut
    • Seat the 2nd – bending of the river round the rich pastures of Llancaut
    • Views of ‘The Twelve Apostles’
    • The Double View – more views of the Severn, Chepstow Castle and distant views almost impossible to describe.
    • The Chinese seat – A bench enclosed with Chinese rails.
    • Great Beech Tree– with views down to the Wye where objects appear to be very distant
    • The Half-way Seat – shaded by the Beech tree
    • The ‘Druid’s Temple’, a stone circle under construction in 1756, completed by 1760
    • Seat the 1st – view of the Windcliff and the Twelve Apostles
    • Seat the 2ndthe two extremities of Llancaut Hamlet
    • Seat the 3rd – a similar view
    • Shrubbery
    • Chinese Bridge
    • The Pleasant View
    • Large Oak – growing out of a cleft of rock without the least appearance of earth
    • The Giant’s Cave – a tunnel 12 yards deep, hewn out of solid rock for Mr Morris
    • The Giant – a Herculean figure holding an enormous stone, over the cave entrance
    • Chinese Semicircle
    • The Cold Bath – (12 x 7 yards), fed by a spring.
    • Seat under a rock
    • Seat near two Beeches
    • The Hill – (seventh view from the walks) with distant views from a seat near two beech trees
    • The Paradise seat
    • The Lover’s Leap – a view over a cliff protected by railings
    • Cave 2
    • Temple Doors – The entrance to Piercefield Park from the North before the 1820s
    • The Temple – The octagonal building on the highest part of the grounds

 The Windcliff and Moss Cottage (these were not part of the Piercefield estate)

  • The Windcliff (Wyndcliff) from which there were extensive views.
  • The Eagle’s Nest – a double-decker viewing platform created by 1828.
  • The steps from Moss Cottage to the top of Windcliff, created shortly before 1828.
  • The Moss Cottage, originally known as the Grotto Cottage – built at the base of Windcliff by 1828, demolished in the 1950s.

 Other named features:

  • Indian Balustrade
  • Elm Walk
  • Laurel
  • Cascade (not seen in 1767)

 Other buildings on the estate

Gardens

  • The kitchen garden, green house, hot house, grapery

Grove house, thought to have been built on the ruins of a castle.
The Mount
Echos – the use of cannon and guns
The Ha-Ha
The park wall

The walks

There was a path about three miles long between one entrance, near Chepstow Castle and the other near the Windcliff and St Arvans but there may have been many diversions from the main path as are shown on the late 19th century maps of the estate.

Visitors were advised to enter the park by one entrance and leave it at the other. They were not normally allowed to take horses or carriages into the park so when they arrived at one entrance, they sent their transport round to the other one.
Visitors were initially encouraged to pass through the park from north to South but this was reversed after Colonel Wood acquired the property in 1794 as this was considered to give the best views. From then on, most guidebooks described the route from the south (Lion Gate) to north (Temple Gate).

Some visitors circumnavigated the estate in the opposite direction while others took a more random route, depending on the time of day (especially if they wanted refreshments in a particular place), or whether they made their way into the park other than by an official entrance. Only a few visitors entered by other routes, e.g. several made their way up a path in the cliff from the river; in 1803, Barber made his way into the estate via a back gate on a Saturday and in 1830 John Britton broke through a hedge to save walking round to an entrance and some tourists found a way onto the estate from Windcliff.

The exact route of the paths changed over time. Some were originally sinuous, but sections were later straightened. At least four phases in the routes of the paths were identified during a detailed archaeological survey of the site (Murphy, Ken, The Piercefield Walks And Associated Picturesque Landscape Features:An Archaeological Survey, (Cambria Archaeology, 2005),  map 9 and p. 21, available on line) but the reference in the report to Smith straightening the paths in Skrine, (1795) is from Stebbing Shaw (1788). There were some diversions off the main paths to features or stations where particularly good views could be seen.
Vegetation had been cleared in carefully selected locations to enable the best views to burst upon the visitors. The paths between the stations were often bounded on at least one side and sometimes embowered by shrubs on both, to prevent the visitor from glimpsing the chosen vistas in advance. A few trees were given prominence and to break up some of the open spaces, shrubs had been planted, but there were no ornamental flower gardens to enjoy.

It has been said that the walks were closed to the public by the 1850s but there is some evidence that visitors were welcomed after that date, until the 1890s.

The Main Route

It was possible to walk at least three miles from one entrance to the other. Arriving at the southern entrance, the visitor would be guided to the Alcove which had a stone seat overlooking the Wye valley with Chepstow castle in the background. Further on a stone-built Platform provided a viewpoint to the east. Beyond this was an Iron Age hill fort (one of two on the estate), which was ignored by the majority of visitors, most of whom described the Grotto just within it.  The Double View overlooked the spectacular Lancaut peninsular which could also be seen from the Half-way seat. The next feature was the Druid’s Temple, a stone circle created for Valentine Morris in the style of a prehistoric site. In order to continue the path along the cliff face of the river valley, Morris had a tunnel cut, known as the Giant’s Cave, through the rock, over which there was a massive effigy of a stone giant which lasted only a few decades. On a platform by it, Morris had some small cannon installed which, when fired, created echoes bouncing off the deep valley sides, which sounded like long claps of thunder. Here the visitor had a choice of routes: a short walk past the Lover’s Leap, which had a seat and railings to prevent people falling down the steep cliff, continued to the Temple which had a viewing platform on a turret. This path continued to St Arvans. The other route continued northwards to the Cold Bath and down to the river, along the side of which the visitor could return southwards to steps cut in the cliff towards the house. This path was abandoned by the 1780s. Most visitors, however, continued northwards to the most impressive feature of the park, The Windcliff, with its spectacular views. Windcliff was not strictly part of the Piercefield estate after the early 1820s when it was isolated by the new road from Chepstow towards Tintern. By about 1828 access to Windcliff was up a long set of steps created in the cliff from the Moss Cottage at its base where refreshments were served.

Other paths

There was a path along the river bank below the Giant’s cave and up steep steps to near the house but it was in bad repair by the early 19th century. Another path which led down from the Grotto to the river may have been opened in the 1790s.

The Views

Two views of the Lancaut Peninsular from the Eagles Nest in about 1900 and 2019. The Wye follows the shape of a S by flowing right around the peninsular then turning south by the cliffs called Wintour’s Leap in a distance and west again as it heads towards Chepstow. Somerset is visible in the distance over the Severn Estuary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the views from particular points (or stations) which visitors were encouraged to admire. Tourists and guide book editors described them in detail while some protested that it was impossible to do them justice in writing.
The main route is still [in 2019] open to the public and forms part of the Wye Valley Walk, but some of the original views are now obscured by trees and other vegetation.  For a helpful leaflet describing a walk through Piercefield see Wye Valley, Picturesque Piercefield, (Wye Valley AONB, 2012) [Clicking on this will automatically down-load a copy]

The Seats

There were plenty of seats along the walk. A letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in 1763 lists at least 17; Willett, in 1818, identified 18.  On these visitors could rest and admire the views. None of these survive and their original locations are unknown.

Avoiding the walk

For some, the whole three-mile route was too long, so they either attempted only part of it, or took a rest while the remainder of their party followed the proscribed itinerary.

Normally, visitors’ horses and carriages were not allowed in the park, but there were a few exceptions: Frances Nicholson went to Piercefield in her carriage and rode through the park to the house from thence she was conducted by the gardener to the entrance of the walks. (Nicholson, Frances, NLW MS15190C, (typescript, p. 19), 8th July 1790)

Byng suggested that the gardener would profit from keeping ‘a garden chair with a small horse; as it is so profitably and agreeably practiced at Mr Hamiltons at Pains-Hill.’ (Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford)

However, the main walks were totally unsuitable for carriages or any other sort of vehicle.

Nature versus Art

The features on the estate were not intended to be attractions in themselves: they provided an easily identified place from which the best views could be experienced and in some cases, offered shelter and seating. The Grotto and Druid’s circle in particular were follies of the sort found on other 18th century estates but on a smaller scale.

Some tourists thought that any more features or works of art in the grounds would have spoiled the site. 18th century visitors believed that the estate was the work of Nature and no artificial works of man were needed to improve it. As Gilpin said ‘Little indeed was left for improvement, but to open walks, and views, through the woods, to the various objects around them.’ (Gilpin, William, Observations on the River Wye, …made in the Summer of the Year 1770 (London, 1782), p. 40)

As early as 1785, William Marshall made detailed suggestions on how the park could be improved. (see Piercefield pre 1800) ([Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626)

The anonymous author of an untitled description of Wales visited Piercefield in or before 1796 and thought that the landscape around the site was perfect:
The walks around and amongst the plantations of Percefield are most artfully and variously chequered. The open Terrace, the serpentine close path, the ascent, the slope, the zig zag, the ?dissent; where the resting places are so judiciously managed that the Objects in the Country around, such as Steeples, hills, or Towns, seem erected for the Seats, not the seats for the different prospects which terminate the different points of view.
(Anon, Untitled volume, description of Wales, (said to be by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, but this is unlikely), NLW MS 16988, ff. 324-328 (original folio numbers)

David Williams was one of the most critical of changes to Valentine Morris’ original plans:
For, in the approach through the Park, [the author] felt the effects of pretended improvements, since he had traversed it with Mr. Morris. A disposition to ornament has been gradually encroaching on the interesting objects that are crowded on this enchanting spot. Superb gate-ways, white paling, spruce hedges, lawns by mowing rendered bald and insipid, artificial banks, new plantations, meandered walks, with verges nicely edged, and curvatures fatiguing by their correctness—these are the evils to be apprehended at Persfield; of which the author has perceived some of the symptoms: for opulence is strongly tempted to expence, and expence is generally employed to deprive natural objects of every thing that can give them spirit and attraction. Persfield is a Garden planted by the hand of Nature; the walks, as delineated by Morris, only to facilitate the views of it.
(Williams, David, The History of Monmouthshire, (1796), p. 339)

In 1797, Wigstead wrote:
I earnestly hope, we shall not in a few years, see little Chinese temples, flaming dragons, and sea horses, peeping through the vistas, (now so beautifully engrossed by nature in her unattired loveliness) such decorations serve only to distract the eye, and raise the pitying sigh in the breast of true taste.
(Wigstead, H., Remarks on a Tour to North and South Wales in the year 1797, with [22 coloured] plates from Rowlandson, Edward Pugh, Howitt etc. (London, 1800), pp. 65-66)

The following, by Louisa Twamley was quoted by subsequent visitors and in guidebooks several times:
I remember the ‘Lover’s Leap’ well; but the ‘Grotto,’ and the ‘Giant’s Cave,’ and all such small trickery upon grand nature,—such tinkering upon gold,—are my aversion.
(Twamley, Louisa A., The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44)

However, during the 19th century, visitors tended to require fewer theoretical constructs and more practical comforts and were not always concerned about what they left behind.
Having complained about Piercefield not being open, Catherine Sinclair believed that there was a law which prevented the gates being closed ‘against unwelcome intruders, who used to make picnic parties here, leaving behind, as is usually done on these occasions, in the summer houses and walks, a debris of empty bottles, remnants of oranges, skins of gooseberries, and gaunt skeletons of turkeys and chickens, which haunted the walks for many days afterwards.’
(Sinclair, Catherine, (1800-1864), Hill and Valley, or Hours in England and Wales, (Edinburgh, 1833), pp. 307-308; New York, 1838, pp. 256-257)

DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF EACH FEATURE

The entrances

(1) The Lion Gate with two Lodges were built in the mid 1790s close to Chepstow at the south end of the estate. This became the most direct route to the house from Chepstow.

(2) Temple Doors at the north end of the park on the Chepstow to Monmouth Road, near St Arvans. This might have been the original main entrance.

1825
As neither carriages nor horses are suffered to pass the gates, the party (if travelling in a Carriage) should enquire of the gatekeeper if any one be in attendance to open the door at the other end of the grounds? If not, a person should be engaged for that purpose; otherwise the company must return through the same gates which would render the excursion less pleasant. By sending the carriage round to the Fishpond through St. Arvans, and previously securing egress from the Park, the walk would not exceed three miles: but if the party be compelled to retrace their stops, the distance would be extended to full eight miles ’ere they could join their carriage.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65.

The Lion Lodge

Two lodges, one on each side of the southern entrance, were built by Colonel Mark Wood by 1795. The gardener lived in one of them. There were lions on top of the two gate posts. This now forms one of the entrances to Chepstow Race Course.

1795
Adam Mickle laid out a new approach to Piercefield from a new lodge.
Cox, William, Historical Tour, (1801), p. 312

1796
Two handsome lodges are just erected.
Williams, William, (1774-1839) and Burgess, James, Rev (1774-1839), J. B. jnr and W. W. ‘A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796’ / ‘The Journal of my grandfather, William Williams with the Rev James Burgess in Wales, in 1796’. NLW MS 23253 C, ff. 8-11

1803
Park Gate where I alighted and by the direction of the porter at the Lodge sent the Carriage round the outside the Park Wall to another Gate on the opposite side on the Road to Tintern.
This is the plan usually recommended and adopted by Tourists, Tintern Abbey being the next, and the grand objects of the Journey from whence it is not distant more than 3 miles.
Having written my name in a book kept at the lodge for the purpose, I followed the Road about half a mile thro’ the park to the House where I was met by the Gardener who conducted me and three other persons round the grounds.
Shum, George, ‘Sketches in Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire and Gloucestershire Made during the summer of 1803’ Newport Central Reference Library ms.

1805 (possibly earlier)
From Chepstow we proceed along the Monmouth turnpike (a fine driving) road, for about a mile, till we arrive at the LODGE. Here company alight; neither carriages nor horses being permitted to pass these gates; and enter the Park, through which a pleasant path leads to a second gate, where a person usually waits to conduct the visitors over these pleasurable regions.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield, (1805).

1816
[The House] Its situation is uncommonly well chosen, being built on a gentle ascent, with a large lawn in front, to which there is an entrance by a magnificent gate, with two large stone lions on its pillars. There is another gate, ornamented with vases, on the same line nearer to [Tintern] abbey [Temple Doors, St Arvans]. We enter the park through a side gate (visitors not being allowed to drive up to the great entrance-gate), and proceed along a walk which runs round it, and which enables us to view the most beautiful part of it. …
Spiker, Samuel Heinrich, Dr (1786-1858), Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816: Translated from the German (London : 1820), Vol. 2, pp. 82-85

1818?
The principal Lodge is about half a mile from Chepstow, on the Monmouth road …
At this lodge the Gardener resides, who will attend the party through the walks. …
Leaving the Lodge, you cross through the park and arrive at a second gate; from whence you descend along the road which leads towards the mansion: then verging to the right, you enter a bordering of wood and come to the Alcove.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
The entrance is through a garden, consisting of slopes, and waving lawns, with shrubby trees, scattered tastefully about.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1825
Upon entering this delightful place [by the Lion Gate], a pleasant path leads to a second gate, where a person usually waits to conduct visitors over the walks.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65

1843
Piercefield Lodge, a chaste Grecian structure, which opens upon this celebrated demesne.
Anon [Willett, Mark], The Stranger’s Illustrated Guide to Chepstow, (1843), note, pp. 15-21

1854
Entering the park at the Lion’s Lodge, the visitor is conducted, by way of the carriage-drive to the mansion, to a second gate,
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, the Magnificent Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Ross, Raglan & Goodrich castles and other parts of the Welsh Borders (Chepstow: R Taylor, Beaufort Square. Sold at the Castle, the Moss Cottage, and Tintern Abbey), [1870], pp. 31-37

The Temple gate

The northern entrance, presumably also built by Colonel Mark Wood by 1795 was ornamented with vases.

The Temple Door from inside the estate

 

 

 

 

 

 

1801
A new lodge of freestone, with an iron gate and palisados, leads from the high road into the park; and the approach to the house is conducted with great taste under the direction of Mr. Meickle.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1803
On quitting Chepstow, and proceeding about a mile and half on the road to Monmouth, a capital lodge with iron gates and palisadoes announced the entrance of Piercefield.
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending A General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1st edition, London: 1803), chapter 16, pp. 255-264.

1807
The gardener let us out at a gate near the Temple seat, into road where we found our carriages in waiting
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1816
[following a brief description of the Lion Gate] There is another gate, ornamented with vases, on the same line nearer to the abbey [Tintern].
Spiker, Samuel Heinrich, Dr (1786-1858), Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816: Translated from the German (London : 1820), Vol. 2, pp. 82-85

1839
quitting the Piercefield grounds by the St. Arvan’s gate, we found our chaise waiting, and journeyed quietly towards the Windcliff.
Twamley, Louisa A. The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44

Path from the river bank

A zig-zag path led from the river, near Martridge meadow, below the Giant’s cave, up the bank to near the house. This was the way to enter the park from the river but it was out of repair by the early 19th century. There might have been a cave somewhere along this path from the river towards the house.

1759
A Cave, with Iron Rails before it; the View, looking down a Precipice, the most beautiful Woods imaginable.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270
[Robert Dodsley listed three caves, one of which was the grotto.]

1759
Two or three of these Zeds [zig-zag paths] lead you down to a natural cave in the rock, dry, lofty, and with several hollows about the top and sides of it. [near the Druid’s Temple]
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1763
Then, by a little seat, you descend this part of the wood, by a Zig Zag, which brings you to the water Edge – when turning to the left, you walk along a pleasant sand bank, upon the Wye side for nearly half a mile – where it terminates in a pleasant meadow over which you may go to the cold bath;
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. (In the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H. T. Payne). Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105.

1770
We pushed on shore close under his rocks; and the tide being at ebb, we landed with some difficulty on an ouzy beach. One of our bargemen, who knew. the place, served as a guide; and under his conduct we climbed the steep by an easy, regular zig-zag; and gained the top.
Gilpin, William, (1724-1804), Observations on the River Wye, and Several Parts of South Wales, etc. relative chiefly to Picturesque Beauty; made in the Summer of the Year 1770 (London, 1782), p. 39; 2nd edition, 1789, pp. 55-58; 3rd edition, 1793; 4th edition, 1800; 5th edition 1800. There were also editions printed in French.

1781
The walks are ill kept, some of them are almost impassable, viz, the zig-zag walk to the water, and that to the cold bath
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237

1784
In ascending to the Cold Bath … and afterwards getting down to the meadow from whence I made a drawing (no. 5), we had ?sensibly employed some horses, and it was late in the afternoon before we got back to the place we set out from in the morning, altho’ we took the shortest path, which was to ascend from the [Martridge] meadow by an old walk, now much in ruins, and at the end of whose clue are some steps of Brick-work that are still visible on the edge of the meadow. … Here we found abundance of large wood strawberries adhering to the ?steps and edges of the old walk, which has in one place fallen into the river, and become rather dangerous to pass. After continuing this walk for near a mile, we began to ascend, but so steep ?so the passage between a chasm in the rocks, that it was necessary to continue the walk zig-zag and like a staircase with many landings – the drawing annexed is about half way up where there is a cave and a bench which gives the aperture much the air of Clay House scenery, and the annexed no 7 shows the nature of the walks.
Cumberland, George, (1754-1848) of Bristol, A Tour in North and South Wales in the Year 1784, NLW Lloyd-Johnes MSS Deposit Dec. 1976 (Microfilm 215)

1797
As the boatmen told us we were five miles from Chepstow by water, and should be above an hour rowing thither, and as we intended seeing Piercefield this day, we landed and after climbing the bank with some difficulty, entered a little gate at the bottom of the hill, which took us into a steep, zig-zag path, that led through the thick of the woods into the gardens on top of the ridges
Manners, John Henry, (5th Duke of Rutland), Journal of a tour through north and south Wales, the Isle of Man [in 1797], (1805)

1801
In this charming and sequestered spot is a cold bath, supplied by a copious and transparent rill, which springs at the foot of the Wynd Cliff, and ripples down the side of the declivity. The road then descends to Marlridge meadow, on the bank of the Wy, where the river appears like a lake, and the fertile peninsula of Lancaut rises in a gentle acclivity from the margin of the stream to the isthmus.
A beautiful walk two miles in length skirts this meadow, at the foot of the stupendous range of Piercefield Cliffs, and then mounts to the house by steps cut in a steep rock. As the house stands several hundred feet above the river, the ascent is long and difficult; but the toil is amply repaid by the beauty and sublimity of the scenes.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

The Alcove

Constructed c. 1750. It was a small building with a stone bench inside and with an arch over it from which there were views of the Wye and Chepstow Castle.

RCAHM(W) record

1760
A Plastered Alcove [listed]
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1763
a beautiful alcove, encompassed by painted Iron rails, with seats in the shell, and a Grass plat before it.
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, Henry Thomas, (1759-1832), transcribed in: ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1)

1776
an alcove, where there are seats, from which we behold the River Wye directly under us winding in beautiful meanders with a thick hanging wood leading down to a very perfect view of the magnificent Ruins of the Castle of Chepstow and the Town, the perpendicular Crags on the opposite shore forming a fine Contrast with the verdure which sprouts out of a thousand Crevices in the Sides.
Fisher, Jabez Maud, Morgan, Kenneth, (editor), An American Quaker in the British Isles: the travel journals of Jabez Maud Fisher, 1775-1779, p. 205

1805 (and earlier?)
The ground here [near the house] begins to make an easy fall into the vale, and soon we are led into a neat path, its left side fringed with wood, apparently to screen the neighbouring objects from a premature obtrusion; which, in the course of a short distance, brings us to the first point, called the ALCOVE, From whence you look down perpendicular on the river, with a cultivated slope on the other side. To the right is a prodigious steep shore of wood, winding to the CASTLE, advanced to the very edge of a perpendicular rock, and so immediately rivetted into it, that from the top of the battlements down to the river seems, but one precipice ; the same ivy which overspreads the face of the one, twines and clusters among the fragments of the other;- the wood bridge (very grotesque), seems to abut against the ruins at one end, and Tut’s hill rocks at the other. The Castle indeed is so near to the Alcove, that little circumstances may be discerned in it. On the left, is seen a fine bend of the river, for some distance; the opposite shore of wild wood, with the rock appearing at places in rising cliffs : and further on, to the termination of the view that way, the vast wall of rocks at Lancaut, which are here seen in length, and have a stupendous effect. The littleness of human art was never placed in a more humiliating point of view. The Castle of Chepstow, tho’ a noble fortress, is, compared with these natural bulwarks, a mere House of CARDS. This scene is peculiarly striking, and equal to any view in Persfield.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
[The Alcove] is a small building, placed upon a point of one of the more noble eminences which overlook the Wye – and presents us with a magnificent display of landscape, which derives a double portion of effect from the suddenness with which it bursts upon the view. – On the right, the steeply sloping bank is covered with a fine wood extending circuitously to the ruins of Chepstow Castle, which with a part of the town is seen to great advantage – On the left a beautiful intermixture of wood and rock of which Lancout Cliffs are most conspicuous, overhands the winding channel of the river, and discloses all the romantic varieties of a mountain Picture.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1807
The little building in which we sat is planted upon one of the most bold projections which overlook the Wye. Its prospect is rich and diversified beyond conception and it derives if possible a double portion of effect from the suddenness with which it bursts upon the view.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1825
The last point of view, equal to most of the preceding, is from the Alcove. From this there is a prospect down perpendicularly on the river, with a fine cultivated slope on the other side; to the right is a prodigious steep shore of wood, winding to the castle, which with part of the town appears in full view. On the left is seen a fine bend of the river, for some distance; the opposite shore of wild wood, with the rock appearing at places in rising cliffs, has a grand effect.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

Seat 1

Between the Alcove and seat 2

1805 (and earlier?)
To this glare of beauty [from the Alcove] succeeds a walk secluded from every object, -formed, as it were, to compose or attune the mind after such enjoyment, which brings us to: SEAT I. A large break opens a various view of the distant country; and not far from it another, which is much worthy of remark: You look down upon a fine bend of the river, winding to the Castle, which appears here romantically situated;—the opposite bank is a swelling hill, with cultivated inclosures, which have a cheerful and lively effect.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
From the first seat beyond the alcove, we have nearly the same scenery, though with some pretty variations from the winding of the cliff upon which we walk.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1818
Passing with regret from this delightful spot through a dark walk, you reach the First Seat. Here is an opening through the wood, of some beautiful scenery.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat 2

Between seats 1 and 3 with another view of the River Wye and Chepstow Castle

1805 (and earlier?)
A short distance further, through the same scenery, conducts us to SEAT 2 which is thickly shaded with trees, in a dark sequestered spot, from which you look aside through the opening to a landscape, that seems, formed by the happiest hand of design; it is really nothing but catching a view of accidental objects. The town and castle of Chepstow appear from one part, rising from romantic steeps of wood, in a manner too beautiful to express:—a small remove discovers the steeple, so dropt in the precise point of taste, that one can scarcely believe it real, and not an eye-trap.
A bold point of rock, fronted with iron railing, soon follows, which opens to a hollow of wood, bounded by Nature’s wall, one way, and letting in a view of the town another, in an exquisite taste, nor should the visitor overlook a range of beech and lime trees on the left of the walk, whose stems shoot from the rock in an astonishing manner.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
A second seat is happily placed to take in, as it were by chance, the Town and Castle of Chepstow, which are seen to good effect – and we again catch them somewhat differently circumstanced, from the point of a rock fronted with iron railing.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144
1818
Seat the Second now presents itself. Here the same objects appear [as from seat 1], but with different faces.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat 3

Between seat 2 and the Grotto. There was a seat, called the Half-way seat, beneath a large Beech Tree (see below) which might be the same as this but Charles Heath mentions both seat 3 and the Beech tree as separate stations.

1805 (and possibly earlier)
Again we enjoy the pleasing and recluse scenery, so desirable in the season when these walks hold forth their charms, and ascending the hill we arrive at SEAT 3. Placed under the protection of a fine beech tree, from whence the eye commands the castle and town of Chepstow ; the streams of Severn and Wye, with a distant view of Blaize Castle, and Dundry Tower, the horizon beautifully terminated by the Glocester and Somersetshire HILLs. Pursuing the ascent, we come in view of the House. Here the ground falls down, on the left side, in a fine taste, into the vale, and rising again in the same style, presents to great advantage this elegant and highly finished Mansion.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
From a third seat, placed upon an ascent, under the umbrageous protection of a noble Beech tree, the prospect is more extensive, commanding not only the lovely regions of the Wye with the environs of Chepstow, but taking in also the river Severn, Blaize Castle, Dundry Tower, and the comprehensive and the neighbourhood of Bristol – terminated by the sweeping line of the Somerset and Gloucestershire Hills.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1818
Proceeding from this place, a light view of the park on the left, and a thickly shaded wood on the right, lead to Seat 3rd.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
THE THIRD SEAT
Placed under the protection of a fine beech tree, whence the view commands the castle and town of Chepstow—the streams of Severn and Wye, Blaize Castle and Dundry Tower in the distance—the horizon beautifully terminated by the hills of Gloucestershire and those of Somerset.
Pursuing the umbrageous path, we arrive at a little sequestered spot, shaded by a BEECH TREE affording a beautiful landscape: it is situated in the vast rock which forms the shore of the river Wye, through these grounds. The rock, which is totally covered with a shrubby underwood, is almost perpendicular from the water to the rail that incloses the point of view.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65.

Bridge

Between the Alcove and the Grotto. Another bridge, known as the Chinese Bridge appears to have been further on in the walk (see below).

1825
Passing over a little bridge which is thrown across the road, in a hollow way, through the wood, are various openings, which present the most delightful pictures of rural scenery.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

Seat 4

Still continuing the walk to Seat 4th, where a pretty view of the Castle, Town, and Church, unfolds itself.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat 5

From Seat 5th, the Castle, with the upper part of the town, and the very summit of the Church-Tower, still continue in view, but with most apparent variety.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

The Platform

This was not mentioned at all until 1801 unless it was the ‘elevated erection surrounded by a balustrade’, described in a letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father, from a friend in 1763. It was built of stone and surrounded by railings. On a watercolour map of ‘The Road from Chepstow to Tintern & Piercefield Grounds by H Smith’ [no date, but probably 1820s] this is marked ‘stage’ (NLW ms 14582, vol. 2, between pp. 410 and 411)

RCAHM(W) record

1801
No. 8 in a list of viewpoints
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1818
You now arrive at the Platform, a dark point of view enclosed with iron railing. Here you have a semi-transparent prospect of the Town and Castle of Chepstow on the right, and of the white cliffs of Llancaut, glistening through the thick wood on the left, in a most beautiful and inexpressible manner.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])
Replicated in: Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

1840
The second great object is the Platform, enclosed by iron railing.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

 

The Lawns in front of the house

There was a lawn in front of the house, divided into two by a drive.

1785
The grounds are divided into the upper and the lower lawn, by the approach to the house: a small irregular building, standing near the brink of the precipice, but facing down the lower lawn, a beautiful ground, falling precipitately every way into a valley which shelves down in the middle, and is scattered with groups and single trees in an excellent style.
Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626]

First Seat from the platform

1818
Descend from this second grand view, and cross a road which leads from the park down a hollow vale towards the river, and again ascend up to the First Seat from the platform. From this station a new and original view of the town, varying from any of the preceding views, with Ewin’s Rocks, the river near its conflux with the Severn, and a most extensive prospect over Gloucestershire, displays itself in an unusual and peculiar manner.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Second seat [from the Platform]

1818
Still ascending, you reach Seat the 2nd, where the same scenery continues, but of a more boundless character.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Third seat [from the Platform]

1818
The walk now skirts through a light forest-like wood to the edge of the park, where you catch the first glance of the Mansion. Still continue your ascent to Seat the 3rd, which presents a very beautiful and pleasing view of the undulating Lawn in front of the house.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Elm tree

Between the Third seat [from the Platform] and the Grotto

1818
Again entering the embowered walk, proceed by a large and aged elm, with its singularly spreading arms, pass under some inclining laurel-trees, and arrive at The Grotto.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Pierce Wood Camp

The grotto was built on or by the bank of an Iron Age hillfort, two of which were in the park, and both ignored by the majority of visitors. Within the fort there are traces of a farm house which might have been demolished when Valentine Morris created the walks and view-points.
Murphy, Ken, The Piercefield Walks and Associated Picturesque Landscape Features: An Archaeological Survey, (Cambria Archaeology, 2005), p. 12 (available on line)

The Grotto

This was a ‘cave’ lined with alabastrine and quartz stones and pebbles, copper and iron cinders. It had a seat in it from which could be seen distant views of Gloucestershire. It was surrounded by a shrubbery including laurels.
Pridden made a poor sketch of the grotto in 1780 (see below)
There is a watercolour of ‘The Grotto’ probably painted in the 1820s, showing an alcove with a stone arched façade, containing slightly more than a semi-circular seat with a fence-like back to it.  (Smith, Henry, Manuscript Notes in Charles Heath’s, ‘Excursions in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.’ Vol. 2, NLW ms 14582B, between. pp. 416 and 417.)

RCAHM(W) record

1758
Mentioned
Barford, M., Rev ‘Description of Chepstow, Abbey Tintern, Piercefield, Monmouth and Ragland from a manuscript written November, 1758 by Rev M Barford, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.727, pp. 12-18

1759
‘of alabastrine stone from dross and pebbles’
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1759
A cave of Stone and Pebbles, with an extensive Prospect. [Grotto]
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1760
Grotto of Fossils & Cinders about 10 ft – a confined view to the Rocks, the Severn and Glocestershire Hills at a distance.
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1768
You next meet with the grotto, a point of view exquisitely beautiful; it is a small cave in the rock, stuck with stones of various kinds; copper, and iron cinders, &c. You look from the seat in it immediately down a steep slope on to a hollow of wood, bounded in front by the craggy rocks, which seem to part you from the Severn in breaks; with the distant country, spotted with white buildings above all; forming a landscape as truly picturesque as any in the world.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1763
a grotto ornamented with spars, and seated round
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1776
a pretty Grotto inlaid with beautiful Stones
Fisher, Jabez Maud, Morgan, Kenneth, (editor), An American Quaker in the British Isles: the travel journals of Jabez Maud Fisher, 1775-1779, p. 205

1778
a grotto in an artificial hill, from whence you have a most romantic view of the Land-caught [Lancaut] Clift.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1780
Very poor sketch of ‘The grotto at Persfield near Chepstow, the floor is paved with small pebbles and the roof inlaid with pebbles, ore etc./ Inlaid with Pebbles, ore and fossils’
Pridden, John, A Tour through Gloucestershire and Wales, 1780, NLW MS 15172 D, pp. 69-78
Published in Whittle, E., ‘All these Inchanting Scenes’ Piercefield in the Wye Valley, Garden History Journal, 24:1, (1996), p. 158

1781
The Grotto in Piersfield Walks, Poem dated 17th June, 1781
1
Here let us rest in this calm, cool retreat,
For contemplation and for hope design’d,
Of muses and the loves a chosen seat;
Here lull to happiness the ruffled mind.
2
Where elves and fairies dance their midnight round,
And wood nymphs eccho each fond lovers sigh;
Attend ye guardian dryads of this ground,
That no unhallowed foot approacheth nigh.
3
Still the rude breeze; warm zephyrs fan the air,
Wafting along each variegated sweet,
Whilst close I press my lovely, yielding fair
And sigh and sue at charming Delias feet:
4
Will she be mine? She answers with a blush,
For what will prudence ‘gainst fond love avail;
Ye satyrs and ye wood-nymphs, all be hush,
Nor babbling Cupids dare to tell the tale.
E.B. [possibly Byng’s brother]
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237
Andrews, C Bruyn, (ed.). The Torrington diaries: Containing the tours through England and Wales of the Hon. John Byng between the years 1781 and 1794. vol. 1, (1934), p. 29
Souden, David, (ed.) ‘Byng’s Tours. The Journals of the Hon. John Byng, 1781-1792’ (1991), pp. 1-54

1785
The grotto, situated at the head of Perse-wood, commands a near view of the opposite rocks; magnificent beyond description. The littleness of human art was never placed in a more humiliating point of view; the Castle of Chepstow, a noble fortress, is, compared with these natural bulwarks, a mere house of cards.
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1795 28th August [Friday]
We next came to the Grotto, a point of view exquisitely beautiful; it is a small cave in the Rock stuck with stones of various kinds.
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (L15/2)
Florence Wood, Kenneth Wood, A Lancashire gentleman: the letters and journals of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, Alan Sutton, (1992)

1802
These walks lead to a grotto, which is a small cave in the rock, adorned with stones of various colours and kinds, copper and iron cinders, &c. From the seat in this grotto you look down a steep slope, to a hollow of wood, bounded in front by the craggy rocks, and a view of the distant country, interspersed with white buildings, the whole forming a landscape as beautiful as any in the world. The winding walk which leads from the grotto varies from any of the former, for the town of Chepstow and the various neighbouring objects burst upon the view in every direction as you pass along.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]

1805 (and earlier?)
The path reassumes its refreshing coolness, formed by the intertwining branches of laurel mixed with other shrubs, which may be deemed a pleasing introduction to the GROTTO.
A point of view exquisitely beautiful. It is a small cave in the rock, stuck with stones of various kinds; copper and iron cinders, &c.
You look from the seat in it immediately down a steep slope on to a hollow of wood, bounded in front by the craggy rocks, which seem to part you from the Severn in breaks; beyond which is seen a large part of Glocestershire, with the town of Thornbury, and Oldbury church; the horizon bounded by the hills around Old Sodbury; forming a landscape as truly picturesque as any in the world.
Among the Seats in these enchanting regions, to the mind of the writer this is most charming of them all. The beauty of the view, the coolness and quietness which pervade the scene, united with its accommodations, must strongly impress the mind of the visitor of its superiority, if he possesses a taste for tranquil pleasures.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
The next station is called the Grotto – which is a small Cavern, of no great beauty in itself – but its prospect is a pretty variety of the scenery which we have seen before.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1807
Afterwards, inclining a little to the left, and pursuing a grassy path, you come into a verdant area, in which is a grotto ornamented with spars, and seated round – commanding the lower tier of Cliffs, (which is fully opposite,) with the river Severn on the other side
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), p. 104

1816
We found the grotto full of gay ladies and gentlemen, and could not therefore examine its interior.
Spiker, Samuel Heinrich, Dr (1786-1858),Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816. : Translated from the German (London : 1820), Vol. 2, pp. 82-85

1818
From the GROTTO [note:] Here a picture is presented in the happiest state of composition. In this charming view, a diversified plantation occupies the fore-ground, and descends through a grand hollow to the river, which passes in along reach under the elevated ruins of Chepstow Castle, the Town, and Bridge towards the Severn. Rocks and Precipices, dark shelving Forests, Groves, and Lawns, hang on its course, and with a variety of sailing vessels, are reflected from the liquid mirror, With an effect, at which, says Barber, the magic pencil of Claude would faulter. The distant Severn and its remote shores form an excellent termination and complete the picture. [end of note:]
The Wye tour, or, Gilpin on the Wye: with picturesque additions, from Wheatley, Price, &c. and archaeological illustrations / by T.D. Fosbroke. (Ross, 1818)

1818
This is a romantic little cave, excavated from the rock, and studded with various kinds of stones and metallic scoriae. The prospect from hence is fine and extensive: it passes over a steep wood, with a shelf of rocks in front, and raising the eye, sweeps over a vast extent of country on the farther side of the Severn.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
THE GROTTO
A point of view exquisitely beautiful. It is a small cave in the rock, stuck with stones of various kinds, copper and iron cinders, &c. You look from the seat in it immediately down a steep slope on to the hollow of a wood, bounded in the front by the craggy rocks which seem to part you from the Severn in breaks;
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65

1825
These walks lead to a grotto, which is a small cave in the rock, adorned with stones of various colors and kinds, copper and iron cinders, etc. From the seat in this grotto you look down a steep slope, to a hollow of wood, bounded in front by the craggy rocks, and a view of the distant country, interspersed with white buildings, the whole forming a landscape as beautiful as any in the world.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1826 [in earlier editions?]
From the GROTTO [note:] Here a picture is presented in the happiest state of composition. In this charming view, a diversified plantation occupies the fore-ground, and descends through a grand hollow to the river, which passes in along reach under the elevated ruins of Chepstow Castle, the Town, and Bridge towards the Severn. Rocks and Precipices, dark shelving Forests, Groves, and Lawns, hang on its course, and with a variety of sailing vessels, are reflected from the liquid mirror, With an effect, at which, says Barber, the magic pencil of Claude would faulter. The distant Severn and its remote shores form an excellent termination and complete the picture. [end of note:]
The Wye tour, or, Gilpin on the Wye: with picturesque additions, from Wheatley, Price, &c. and archaeological illustrations / by T.D. Fosbroke. (Ross, 1818); (1822 new enlarged edition); (1822 2nd edition); (1826, 3rd edition) pp. 88-103;

1830
THE GROTTO
A point of view exquisitely beautiful. It is a small cave in the rock, stuck with stones of various kinds, copper and iron cinders, &c. You look from the seat in it immediately down a steep slope on to the hollow of a wood, bounded in the front by the craggy rocks which seem to part you from the Severn in breaks; beyond which is seen a large part of Gloucestershire, the town of Thornbury, Oldbury church, and the horizon bounded by the hills around Old Sodbury: forming one of the most lovely landscapes in nature.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c. (Chepstow: Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), p. 44

1830 (about)
Watercolour of The Grotto
Smith, Henry, Manuscript Notes in Charles Heath’s, ‘Excursions in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.’ NLW ms 14581B and 14582B, between. pp. 416 and 417.

1840
The Grotto, a romantic little cave, excavated from the rock, and studded with various stones and scoriae.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

Mount Pleasant

Between the Grotto and Double View. Not to be confused with the Pleasant View (see below). It is thought to be the same as ‘Above Pierce Wood’ where one of the Iron Age forts may be found.

1759
You then peep through the shrubbery, with the view of a pretty wood before you, and the lawn, and its studs to the right, where is a beautiful seat called Mount Pleasant.
The top of the mount, with the prospect of seven counties, the sea, the rocks, Berkley castle, the shipping, &c. &c.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1801
[Station] 6. Above Pierce-wood.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1803
A curious “deceptio visus” occurring here must not be past over: it arises from a coincidence in the angle of vision between the embattled rocks, already mentioned, and a part of the Severn, which appears to wash their summit, although in reality many miles distant. But the subject of the prospect from this spot is seen more picturesquely combined as we continue our walk on a gentle descent, and catch the varying scene through apertures in the foliage: yet there is something that one would wish to add or remove, until we reach the Grotto, when a picture is exhibited in the happiest state of composition.
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending A General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1st edition, London: 1803), chapter 16, pp. 255-264.

1822
Fourth Above PIERS-WOOD. Between here and the Grotto, says Barber, there is something which one would wish added or removed.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

Seat the 1st

Between the Grotto and the Double View

1818
The path now leads to Seat the 1st, near the edge of the rocky precipice which fronts Llancaut, and exhibits a most interesting prospect of that peninsula, with a view of the magnificent Wynd-Cliff, frowning upon you in the northern extremity.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat the 2nd

Between Seat the 1st and the Double View

1818
The scenery now materially displays a marked and decisive change of character. Continue your walk along the edge of the rock, and from Seat 2nd, again survey the bending of the river round the rich pastures of Llancaut.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

The Twelve Apostles and St Peter’s Thumb

These were features in the cliff overlooking the Wye which were visible from parts of the Piercefield estate as well as from the river itself.

1785
{described in the poem}
[note:] In the Cliffs under Piercefield Walks are twelve large rocks, like Bastions, projecting over the river, and which the Country People have dignified with the Names of the Twelve Apostles; and a thirteenth standing in the same Row, having a slender Stone, about five feet in Heigth, upon the summit of it, they denominate St Peter’s Thumb. [end of note]
Pine, William, Chepstow; or, A new guide to gentlemen and ladies whose curiosity leads them to visit Chepstow: Piercefield-walks, Tintern-abbey, and the beautiful romantic banks of the Wye, from Tintern to Chepstow, by water. A poem, in six cantos. Published for the benefit of the Bristol infirmary. (1786), pp. 31-39

1790
Mentioned
Nicholson, Frances, NLW MS15190C, (typescript, p. 19), 8th July 1790

1797
We now approach the rocks that terminate the grounds of Persfield; these are tremendous projections hanging over the river, and in their form resemble so many bastions of a castle. They are twelve in number, and bear the name of the Twelve Apostles; a thirteenth in the same range is terminated by a slender stone about five feet in height, which is called St. Peter’s Thumb.
Ireland, Samuel, Picturesque views on the River Wye, from its source at Plinlimmon Hill, to its junction with the Severn below Chepstow: with observations on the … (London, 1797), pp. 132-138   163-178

1801
Wind Cliff … The gardens of Persfield soon opened to our view, they are situate on an immense high cliff, on the right, composed of strong projecting but elevated rocks, mantled with Ivy and other evergreen shrubs, and clothed even with trees of considerable magnitude from the bottom to the top which shoot up from among the stones without the least appearance of soil to nourish or support them. These rocks have been dignified with the name of the 12 Apostles and they pointed out Peter’s Thumb;
Mr M. [Martyn, Thomas?], A Tour of South Wales, [1801], NLW MS 1340C, pp. 56-57

1805
A little below the Lover’s Leap, are a grand range of Rocks; which, from their number, have obtained the name of The Twelve Apostles, and another, below them, from a small spiral point issuing from its summit, the name of St. Peter’s Thumb, – a bold and interesting scene.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published.  By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. (2nd edition, 1805). [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801]

The Double View

Between the Grotto and the Beech Tree.

All that survives of the base of a structure from which the Double View could be observed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1803
Deserting for a while the course of this river, we ascend a superior eminence, called The Double View, whence the different scenes that have presented themselves in detail appear in one comprehensive range.
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending A General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1st edition, London : 1803), chapter 16, pp. 255-264.

1805 (and earlier?)
Continuing our course, we arrive at THE DOUBLE VIEW: A scene that language would fail in attempting to delineate in its’ proper colours. The eye of imagination is not keen enough to take in this point, which the united talents of a Claude and Poussin would scarcely be able to sketch. Full to the left appears beneath you, the valley in all its beauty, surrounded by the rocky woods; which might be called (to use another’s expression), a course salvage of canvas around a fine piece of lawn. In the front, a prodigious wall of formidable rocks rises from the hollow of the river; and immediately above them, in breaks, winds the Severn, as if parted from you only by them. On the right is seen the town and castle, amidst a border of wood, with the Severn above them; and over the whole, as far as the eye can command, an immense prospect of distant country, in which Dundry Tower is a striking object: —the horizon bounded by a grand range of the Glocester, Somerset, and Devon hills. Such varied beauty uniting in the same scene, is probably unique in this kingdom. The imagination must be left to give the colours to this mere outline, which is all that can be attempted. Hours might here, indeed, be passed with pleasure.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
As we proceed, some charming peeps are obtained, through occasional openings in the wood; till we come to another station called the Double View, commanding a magnificent view of the right and left …
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1808
In the evening went to the celebrated walks of Piercefield three miles in length; we went only half way to the point which they call the double view. On one side you have a fine prospect of a Bend in the Wye, with a ridge of rocks called the Twelve Apostles. On the other side, the view of Chepstow Town and Castle, with the Wye, and Severn to the sea, and counties of Gloucester and Somerset.
Bant, Millicent, [tour] Essex Record Office D/DFr f4, pp. 13-14

1808
Deserting for a while, the course of the river, we ascend a superior eminence called the Double View, whence, the different scenes which have presented themselves in detail appear in one comprehensive range.
The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion [by G. Nicholson], (1st edition, 1808), column 497 [Based on Barber, 1803]

1810 about
The double view is the finest in the Estate: on one side a precipice of considerable depth beyond a valley; consisting of cultivated inclosures, some comfortable farming houses, and impenetrable woods, which cluster about the hills. The other presents you with a soft velvet lawn, beautifully varies by large umbrageous trees, the river Wye in its serpentine course, and the distant hills of Gloucestershire; the toute ensemble affording no inelegant picture
Anon, Narrative of a Tour through Wales by an anonymous English Gentleman, NLW ms. 18943, ff. 3

1812
[at] the Double View we had the unexpected pleasure of surveying both sides, one presenting the pleasure grounds of Mr Wells, a warm confined view and the other the wild banks of the river rising perpendicular, now covered with the richest woods in all the varied tints of its autumnal dress and now disdaining a covering and presenting a bold projecting rock, almost enclosed by the sudden winding of the river and forming a striking contrast to the wildness of its opposite banks the little parish or farm of Lancaut attracted the eye by its fertility while a distant part of the rock was crowned with the fine view of the country ornamented by the town and spire of Thornbury.
Bletchley, Ann, Letter describing a trip from Swansea to Pontardulais, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Record Service, SY 49, 9th October, 1812

1818
These two minor points [seats the 1st and 2nd] are preliminary to the succeeding one, which now appears, called the Double View, and which commands the sublime and beautiful of nature in combination. On the left you look down upon the valley, with the Wye sweeping some hundred fathoms perpendicularly and awfully beneath, bounded by the vast amphitheatre of wooded rocks; and to the right, across the park, are the Town and Castle of Chepstow; beyond it, is the Severn’s wide expanse, and an immense prospect bounds the whole.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1822
Fifth the DOUBLE VIEW. This is the most admired, and is so called because on one side you have a fine prospect across the park on the land side into Monmouthshire, and on the other, over the Wye, Severn, and Gloucestershire. It is owing to a superior eminence of ground. The different scenes which have presented themselves in detail, here appear in one comprehensive range. The field of prospect is much more extensive and beautifully picturesque. The mazy Wye, with all its interesting accompaniments, passes from beneath us, through a richly variegated country, to its junction with the Severn, beyond which silvery expanse, the grand swelling shores of Somersetshire form the distance. A curious deceptio visus occurs here. It proceeds from a coincidence in the angle of vision, between the opposite rocks, and a part of the Severn, which appears to wash their summit, although it is many miles distant.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goorich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88

1825
THE DOUBLE VIEW: A scene that cannot be described here with proper effect—it must be seen—the eye of imagination is not keen enough to take in this point, which the united talents of a Claude and Poussin would scarcely be able to sketch. Full to the left, beneath, the valley lies in all its beauty, surrounded by the rocky woods, which might be called “a coarse selvage of canvas around a fine piece of lawn.” In the front, a prodigious wall of formidable rocks rises from the hollow of the river; and immediately above them, in breaks, winds the Severn, as if only parted from you by these barriers, in so peculiar a manner as if it washed them. The spectator naturally supposes the rocks only separate him from the Severn; whereas, in fact, that river is four or five miles distant: this deceptio visus is eminently beautiful. On the right stand the town of Chepstow and Castle, amidst a border of wood, with the Severn above; and over the whole, as far as the eye can command, an immense prospect of distant country, in which Dundry Tower is a striking object; the horizon bounded by a grand range of the Gloucester, Somerset, and Devon hills. Such varied beauty uniting in the same scene is probably unique in this kingdom. The imagination must be left to give the colours to this mere outline, which is all that can be attempted. Hours might on this spot be passed with pleasure.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65 and 1830 edition.

1840
These are preliminary points to the fourth grand object, called the Double View, whence the different scenes which we have seen in detail appear in one comprehensive range.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

1845
We trotted round the park wall of a noble estate called Pearcefield [Piercefield], and when we had crowned the ascent, our Jehu turned round with an air of great exultation, pulling up his horses at the same time, and said—“There! did you ever see a sight like that? This is the Double View.” He might well be proud—for such a prospect is not to be equalled, I should think, in the world. The Wye is close below you, with its rich banks, frowned over by a magnificent crag, that forms the most conspicuous feature of the landscape; and in the distance is the river Severn, pursuing its shining way through the fertile valleys of Gloustershire, and by some deceptio visus, for which we cannot account, raised apparently to a great height above the level of its sister stream. …
Anon, House-Hunting in Wales, Blackwood’s Magazine, vol. 58, no 357, (1845), pp. 74-86

1854
the Double View … which commands the sublime and beautiful of Nature in combination. On the left you look down upon the valley, with the Wye sweeping some hundred fathoms perpendicularly and awfully beneath, bounded by the vast amphitheatre of wooded rocks; and to the right, across the park, are the town and castle of Chepstow; beyond it is the wide expanse of the Severn, and an immense prospect bounds the whole.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37 and 1870 edition

1858
There is one celebrated scene called the double view which is certainly peculiar. Looking in one direction the Wye with its wooded Banks, lofty cliffs, and rich cultivation are before you. Turning in the directly opposite direction, you look over the Severn, and to a great expanse of rich country bounded by the distant Hills.
Headlam, Thomas, ‘Illustrated Journal of a tour in Monmouthshire on the Wye and in North Wales during the Month of August, 1858’ by Thomas E Headlam with watercolour sketches by his wife Ellen, NMGW St Fagans, ms WFM 1561, pp. 6-11

The Chinese seat / The Hill

Between the Giant’s cave and the Lover’s Leap
A bench enclosed with Chinese rails.
It is assumed that this is the same as the ‘seat with Chinese Iron Ballustrade in front (1763)’.

1759
The next remarkable point is the Chinese seat [6th picture]; this takes in all Landcot, its surrounding river and the wood and vale sloping down to it from below you, and the whole, with its several surrounding hills, makes a most delicious circus. There is a sudden look down there, but less alarming, and contrived with the same artifice as the Lover’s Leap.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), p. 111

1760
[item] 21 – Chinese Seat the Amphitheatre & farm, the rocks &c & Gloucestershire hills
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1763
large handsome seat with a Chinese Iron Ballustrade in front, which is so very high, that it is really terrifying to look down upon the vast expanse beneath
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1768
we entered the woods again, and came to a bench inclosed with Chinese rails in the rock, which commands the same valley and river all fringed with wood; some great rocks in front, and just above them the river Severn appears, with a boundless prospect beyond it. … Below the Chinese seat the course of the Wye is in the shape of a horse-shoe
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1770
Below the Chinese seat the course of the Wye is in the shape of a horse-shoe
Whately, Thomas, Observations on Modern Gardening, (1770), (3rd edition 1771); (French edition, 1771); (4th edition 1777); (5th edition, 1793); (new edition, 1801)

1776
From this place along a Road made at a great expence cut through a solid Rock [Giant’s Cave] on the Summit of the Hill, we go to the Chinese Rails. This is on a Rock directly over the River, 300 feet looking down with the greatest Pride on the enchanting landscape below.
Fisher, Jabez Maud, Morgan, Kenneth, (editor), An American Quaker in the British Isles: the travel journals of Jabez Maud Fisher, 1775-1779, p. 205

1802
After passing through a hay-field, and upon entering the woods, is a bench, inclosed with Chinese rails, in the rock, which commands the same valley and river, all fringed with wood. Some stupendous rocks are in front, and just above them the river Severn appears, with a boundless prospect beyond it.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1805 (and possibly earlier)
Below where a Chinese seat was heretofore placed, the course of the Wye is in the shape of a horse-shoe;
THE HILL; THE SEVENTH VIEW FROM THE WALKS.
The foreground, from the river Wye, presents a bold surface of wood, which spreads between Lancaut Cliffs and the Grotto; while beyond it, the Severn increases the beauty of the scene; and carrying the eye to the distance, a rich part of that river’s district, for a sweep of fifty miles, interspersed with towns, churches, gentlemen’s seats, and other objects, forming, altogether, a rich and delightful picture.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c. (Chepstow: Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), pp. 38-61

1807
Listed as ‘The Hill’
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1807
The next station beyond the Giant’s cave, is The Hill from when we proceed to The Lovers Leap
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1829
After passing through a hay field and entering the woods, is a bench enclosed with Chinese rails and another with iron rails; a bathing house visible as a white dot amongst the trees.
Anon, Tour of the Wye Valley, National Museum of Wales, 184561, pp. 116-129

Great Beech Tree / Half-way seat

This was near the house, between the Double View and the Druid’s Temple. From this there were views down to the Wye where objects appear to be very distant.

1759
Then you go on to an opening towards the Landcot view from the great beech, and soon after there is a rising ground, and an opening on the other side, towards the lawn.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1759
XVIII. A fine Beech Tree, exceedingly large.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1760
[listed]
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1768
This little spot, over which the beech tree spreads, is levelled in the vast rock, which forms the shore of the river Why[sic], through Mr. Morris’s ground; this rock, which is totally covered with a shrubby-underwood, is almost perpendicular from the water to the rail which encloses the point of view.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1795
We first stopped at the large Beach-tree which commands a landscape too beautiful for pencil to paint. Immediately under your feet is a vast rock, totally covered with shrubby underwood, the foot of which is washed by the Wye.
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, (1763-1847), ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (GB127.L15/2)
Florence Wood, Kenneth Wood, A Lancashire gentleman: the letters and journals of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, Alan Sutton, (1992), pp. 92-94
[This is based on the 3rd (1772) edition of Arthur Young’s A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, p. 169

1801
[item] 4 The Half-way Seat under a large beech tree.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1802
The access to this luxuriant spot is through a garden, consisting of slopes, and waving lawns, with shrubby trees, scattered tastefully about. Striking down to the left is a sequestered part, shaded by a fine beech tree, which commands a most beautiful landscape. That part over which the beech tree spreads, is levelled in the vast rock which forms the shore of the river Wye through Mr. Morris’s grounds. This rock, which is totally covered with a shrubby underwood, is almost perpendicular from the water to the rail which incloses the point of view.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]

1805 (and earlier?)
Pursuing the umbrageous path, we arrive at a little sequestred spot, shaded by a fine
BEECH TREE that commands a landscape too beautiful for pencil to paint. This little spot, over which the Beech Tree spreads, is levelled in the vast rock, which forms the shore of the river Wye, through these grounds. This rock, which is totally covered with a shrubby underwood, is almost perpendicular from the water to the rail that encloses the point of view.
One of the sweetest vallies ever beheld lies immediately beneath, but at such a depth, that every object is diminished, and appears in miniature. This valley consists of a complete farm, of about forty inclosures, grass and corn fields, intersected by hedges, with many trees; it is a peninsula almost surrounded by the river, which winds directly beneath, in a manner wonderfully romantic; and what makes the whole picture perfect is, its being entirely surrounded by vast rocks and precipices, covered thick with wood down to the very water’s edge. The whole is an amphitheatre, which seems dropt from the clouds, complete in all its beauty.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).
[Some of this is based on the 3rd (1772) edition of Arthur Young’s A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales.]

1818
The walk now declines to the Halfway Seat, placed under a large and aged beech-tree. From this place is a short walk which branches to the house, and when that object was publicly shewn, formed the visitor’s route. Standing in front of this seat, a most delightful view of the rich enclosures of Llancaut unfolds itself in a very pleasing and luxuriant manner.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1822
Sixth The HALF-WAY SEAT, under a large Beech Tree.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

1825
Striking down to the left [near the house?] is a sequestered part, shaded by a fine beech tree, which commands a most beautiful landscape. That part over which the beech tree spreads, is levelled in the vast rock which forms the shore of the river Wye through the grounds. This rock which is totally covered with a shrubby underwood, is almost perpendicular from the water to the rail which incloses the point of view.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?) [Copied from The Modern Universal British Traveller, 1802]

1840
The walk declines to the fifth principal view, called the Halfway Seat, placed under a large and aged beech tree. From the front of this seat a most delightful view of the rich inclosures of Llancaut is obtained.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

1854
The walk now declines to the Half-way Seat, placed under a large and aged beech tree. From this place is a short walk which branches to the mansion, and, when that object was publicly shown, formed the visitor’s route.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

The Druid’s Temple

Between the Beech Tree and the Pleasant View.

The remaining stones from east and west. There are two large blocks of stone on either side of an upright stone, now in the middle of the path.

A circle of standing stones was under construction in 1756 and completed by 1760, but not mentioned in the long letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in 1763. It was apparently mostly removed by 1830 but a few stones survive today.

The descriptions are confusing: one describes it as ‘somewhat in imitation of Stonehenge’ but Spiker in 1816 suggested that it ‘is not a successful imitation, as the blocks of granite, intended to convey the resemblance, are disposed too regularly on both sides of the place.’ However, the present remains are not at all regular in size or shape.

1756
in one part where there are large stones they are making a small druid temple like Roltrich [Rollight stones? near Long Compton, Oxfordshire].
Pococke, Richard, letter [September 1756]; British Library Add ms. 23000, f. 144;
Cartright, James, Joel, (ed), The Travels Through England of Dr Richard Pococke, Camden, vol. 2, (1889), pp. 214-215

1759
You come to a circlet of pieces of the rock (some left when they made the walks and others added to them) somewhat in imitation of Stonehenge.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1759
XIX. A Druid’s Throne and Temple in a Parterre.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1759
Reference to ‘an artificial Stonehenge’.
Diary in a private collection, extracts in Chepstow Museum transcribed in Harden, Bettina, The Most Glorious Prospect: Garden Visiting in Wales, 1639-1900 (2017), pp. 163-164

1760
Druid’s Temple [listed]
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1770
but the covert ends near the Chinese seat; and a path is afterwards conducted through the upper park to a rustic temple, which over-looks on one side some of the romantic views which have been described, and on the other the cultivated hills and rich valleys of Monmouthshire.
Whately, Thomas, Observations on Modern Gardening, (1770), (3rd edition 1771); (French edition, 1771); (4th edition 1777); (5th edition, 1793); (new edition, 1801)

1805 (and earlier?)
As we pass along, rural pictures present themselves, formed by Lancaut farm, with the Windcliff, and distant scenery; and farther on arrive at a spot, called the DRUID’S TEMPLE, so named from its analogy to their places of worship.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
Druid’s Temple isted
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1816
The Druid’s Temple is not a successful imitation, as the blocks of granite, intended to convey the resemblance, are disposed too regularly on both sides of the place.
Spiker, Samuel Heinrich, Dr (1786-1858), Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816. : Translated from the German (London : 1820), Vol. 2, pp. 82-85

1818
Descend from this spot [Half-way seat] through a thick shaded walk to the Druid’s Temple, so named from a circle of upright stones standing there.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
further on we arrive at a spot called the Druids’ Temple, so named from its analogy to their places of worship.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65; and in Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), pp. 38-61

1825
[Note, p. 94 to a poem] The Temple. The visitor will be disappointed if he expects in this place to see any thing like the remains of an ancient Temple, that is to say, Architectural Ruins; we know the worship of the Druids was by them intended to be extremely simple, perhaps it is owing to that circumstance that a few massive stones plac’d upright in the earth can in any way be entitled to the appellation of a Temple.
Collins, Edward, Tintern Abbey; or, the Beauties of Piercefield, a Poem in four booksinterspersed with illustrative notes (Chepstow 1825), pp. 147-148, 59, 65, 94

 1840
Descending from this spot through a shaded walk, we reach the Druid’s Temple, so called from a circle of upright stones.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

1854
Descend from this spot, through a thick, shaded walk, to the Druids’ Temple, so named from a circle of upright stones standing there.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

Seat the 1st from the Half-Way View

1805 (and earlier?)
From a SEAT beyond [the Druid’s Temple], – the Windcliff again shew its front, and at another near it, the scene claims more attention. The Wye makes a fine curve, and shews, on the right, the fine range of rocks called the Twelve Apostles, the left shore formed by the fields of Lancaut, with its towering cliffs; and carrying the eye on to distant objects, meet the hilly terminations of Glocestershire, -the whole richly picturesque.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1818
A little farther onward you arrive at Seat the 1st from the Half-Way View, where you perceive the lofty Wynd-Cliff still rearing its crested head above every other object within the horizon. The upper part of the peninsulated farms before noticed also appears in this view.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat the 2nd [from the Half-Way View]

1818
Proceeding to Seat 2nd, you see the two extremities of Llancaut Hamlet, bounded by the darker Wynd-Cliff on the north, and by its own white cliffs on the south.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat the 3rd [from the Half-Way View]

1818
Another view also may be had from a point of the rock just beyond; and again at Seat the 3rd, presenting the same objects but with a very material change of aspect.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Shrubbery

There was a shrubbery around the lawns in front of the house and another on the path to the Lover’s Leap. It was the shrubbery which most upset Gilpin about Piercefield in 1770: a few subsequent visitors and guidebook editors agreed with him, transcribing his comments in full.

1756
On one eminence towards the house are several grass walks and a shrubbery of a variety of plants, and beyond that the house, lawn and plantations disposed in a very fine taste.  This is one of the most beautiful places I ever saw.
Pococke, Richard, letter [September 1756]; British Library Add ms. 23000, f. 144;
Cartright, James, Joel, (ed), The Travels Through England of Dr Richard Pococke, Camden, vol. 2, (1889), pp. 214-215

1758
Hence the Gardens gradually descend along the River side of the House, they are cut out from the Trees which grow here naturally on the Sloping Banks of the Wye for Mr Morris has planted only some Shrubs here and there. … The Grotto, as well as the Place allotted for Shrubs, is remarkably elegant, everything else belonging to this seat, deserves to be called Grand.
Barford, M., Rev ‘Description of Chepstow, Abbey Tintern, Piercefield, Monmouth and Ragland from a manuscript written November, 1758 by Rev M Barford, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.727, pp. 12-18

1759
You then peep through the shrubbery, with the view of a pretty wood before you, and the lawn, and its studs to the right, where is a beautiful seat called Mount Pleasant.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1759
XIV. A delightful Shrubbery.
XVII. A Mew for Pheasants, with shrubberies of the finest, foreign shrubs.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1760
10 –     Round a tree in shrubbery the same view and distant hills
12 –     At the upr end of the Shruby [sic, shrubbery] View ofWindcliff over an amphitheatre of woods & the river rounds Jones’s farm
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1763
the spacious Lawn which fronts the house – From this awfully solemn grove, you enter a most simply elegant shrubbery, planted with a variety of well chosen shrubs disposed in different compartments and perfuming the air with the delicious fragrance of their flowers.
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1770
It is a pity, the ingenious embellisher of these scenes could not have been satisfied with the grand beauties of nature, which he commanded. The shrubberies he has introduced in this part of the garden are very paltry his improvements, I fear, will rather be esteemed paltry. In As the embellishments of a house; or as the ornament of little scenes, which have nothing better to recommend them, a few flowering shrubs may have their elegance and beauty: but in scenes, like this, they are the only splendid patches, only of bad composition which injure the grandeur, and simplicity of composition the whole.
Nunc non erat his locus
—Fortasse cupressum
Suis simulate: quid hoc?—
—Sit quidvis simplex duntaxat et unum.
It is not the shrub, which offends: it is the formal introduction of it.
Gilpin, William, Observations on the River Wye and some parts of South Wales … made in the year 1770,  Manuscript, NLW ms 21630, ff.
Text in bold is in the published version but not in the ms. version
Text in italics are annotations to the ms. version
Underlined text is in the ms. but not in the published version
Struck through text is struck through in the ms
Text in bold and struck through are words deleted in the ms. but included in the published version

1778
On one side of this lawn, and to the back of the house, is the shrubbery, at the entrance of which you have a fine view of the old castle of Chepstow. … . I will not pretend to determine how far this shrubbery may answer the expectations of other visitants—as for my part, I must confess, I was disappointed. If extent alone, with a number of trees, can render a place worthy of admiration, it certainly possesses those advantages, with the additional ones of good prospects here and there. Nature has indisputably thrown together all those points, which, taken either separate or together, form pleasing views: and yet the whole has such a sameness that the imagination wearied, as well as the sight, pants for a scene more variegated and enlivened. … [The] shrubbery, which by the way has too much regularity and sameness to be pleasing
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1785
Above the grotto, upon the isthmus of the Persefield side, is a shrubbery:—strangely misplaced! an unpardonable intrusion upon the native grandeur of this scene. Mr. Gilpin’s observations upon this —as upon every other occasion—are very just.
[note in second edition:] This shrubbery was not introduced, as a place of view; but merely as a pleasure-ground, or flower-garden. [end of note]
[He went on to suggest:] Erase entirely the present shrubbery, and lay out another as elegant as nature and art could render it before the house, swelling it out into the lawn, towards the stables; between which and the kitchen-garden make a narrow winding entrance.
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1805
about a stone’s throw from the House; in this Shrubbery alone is Persefield much indebted to Art.
Sotheby, William?, A Journal of a tour through parts of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan [1805?], NLW ms 6497C, pp. 3; 94-97

Chinese Bridge

1759
[View point] X. A Chinese bridge; a pretty confined prospect.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1760
[Item] 9. Chinese Bridge over a ?Road
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

The Pleasant View

Between the Druid’s Temple and the Giant’s Cave
1788
The next opening we beheld a wonderful dip of 700 feet perpendicularly into the Wye, whose waters were not so agreeable and lucid as above, where the briny waves of ocean had not adulterated them. We next came to a sweet point, called the pleasant view, truly descriptive of its name.
Shaw, Stebbing, A tour to the West of England, in 1788, (London, 1789), pp. 213-216

1805 (and earlier?)
Neither the mind, nor the eye, are now suffered long to repose. Progressively advancing, we arrive at an opening, called the PLEASANT VIEW, that, equally with the preceding, arrests the visitor’s attention, A most beautiful amphitheatre of woody and rocky hill encircles the foreground; underneath flows the Wye,- Lancaut lies beyond; on the left rises Windcliff; on the right, the opinion. cliffs; and carrying the eye through the fine break in the centre of the view, the Glocestershire hills give an admirable finish to the scene. Immediately after, another opening is made at a point of rock (the first of the Apostles), that looks directly down on the river, with the beautiful peninsula;
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1825
THE PLEASANT VIEW; which, equally with the preceding, arrests the attention, A most beautiful amphitheatre of woody and rocky hill encircles the foreground—underneath flows the Wye—Lancaut lies beyond—on the left rises the Windcliff—on the right the enormous rocks—and, carrying the eye through the fine break to the centre of the view, the Gloucestershire hills give an admirable finish to the scene.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65

Large Oak

Between the Pleasant View and the Giant’s Cave.

1768
This grew out of a cleft of rock without the least appearance of earth.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1759
A large oak, with ivy, and two seats under it.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1805 (and earlier)
nor should the stranger pass on without observing a remarkable phenomenon, a LARGE OAK, and of great age, growing out of a cleft of the rock, without the least appearance of earth.
Such a circumstance almost astonishes belief, but it is not singular on the sides of these Walks.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1818
Nor must we omit, a few yards farther on the left, that venerable Oak, so often noticed by other travellers, growing out of a cleft in the rock, without the least appearance of any other food for its vegetation.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
In this walk also is a remarkable phaenomenon of a large oak, venerable for its age, growing out of a cleft in the rock, without the least appearance of any earth.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

The Giant and Giant’s Cave

The platform outside the cave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Inside the cave with the small exit visible

The view from the platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Giant’s Cave was between the Pleasant View and the Cold Bath. The ‘Cave’ was a tunnel 12 yards deep, hewn out of solid rock for Mr Morris but appeared to be perfectly natural. Over the cave was an Herculean figure holding an enormous stone, but by 1805 the arms had been worn away.

RCAHM(W) record

Watercolour of ‘The Giant’s Cave’ showing a cutting through the rock with a man climbing steps beyond it. Over the cave is the figure of an armless giant. On the right is the Wye with a sailing boat.
Smith, Henry, Manuscript Notes in Charles Heath’s, ‘Excursions in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.’ Vol. 2, [1820s] NLW ms 14582B, between. pp. 416 and 417.

1759
Item XX. The Cave where we dined; the opening before it in form of a Semi-circle, which the prospect from thence resembles, from whence are seen the Rocks, the Wood, the River, with fine lawns.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1763
Adjoining to this bastion, is a cave (artificially, but with great judgement) scooped out of the solid rock, with a passage through it.
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1767
Near the cave where the gunns are planted
Joseph Banks, Diary, Cambridge University Library add. 6924

1768
an extremely romantic cave, hollowed out of the rock, and opening to a fine point of view. At the mouth of this cave some swivel guns are planted; the firing of which occasion a repeated echo from rock to rock in a most surprizing manner.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1778
a cave excavated in a rock, from the mouth of which the report of a gun, or any other violent percussion of the air, is heard to reverberate around the neighbouring hills and cliffs, and thereby to form a continued echo, until at length it gradually loses itself in the distant woods.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1784
here they show a strange cave called the Giants Chamber, and fire off a gun the report of which is repeated a great number of times. – but the whole vale is full of Echo’s and a pistol fired in some place has the effect of the discharge of a ?? of Musquets [sic, muskets]
Sketch of the exterior with a platform bounded by a wall, on which a young woman is seated
Cumberland, George, (1754-1848) of Bristol, A Tour in North and South Wales in the Year 1784, NLW Lloyd-Johnes MSS Deposit Dec. 1976 (Microfilm 215)
Lloyd-Johnes, H.J., A Tour in North and South Wales in the year 1784, National Library of Wales Journal, XIX, (1976), pp. 336-338

1785
and in one instance, a huge fragment [of rock], of a somewhat conical shape and many yards high, is perforated; the path leading through its base. This is a thought which will hand down to future times the greatness of Mr. Morris’s taste: the design and the execution are equally great: not a mark of a tool to be seen; all appears perfectly natural. The arch-way is made winding, so that on the approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave; and, on a nearer view, the idea is strengthened by an allowable deception; a black dark hole on the side next the cliff, which, seen from the entrance before the perforation is discovered, appears to be the darksome inlet into the body of the cave.
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1789
opposite the cave are bow railings with a seat, which if we compare the works of nature with those of art, may be called a front box of one of the completest theatres in the universe; the whole appears from hence a perfect circular theatre, marked out by the surrounding wood-fringed cliffs.
Shaw, Stebbing, A tour to the West of England, in 1788, (London, 1789), pp. 213-216

1795
and proceeded through a winding walk cut out of the Rock we came to an extremely romantic Cave, hollowed out of the Rock at the mouth of which some swivel guns were formerly placed, but are at present removed. Advancing through the Cave, by a passage cut through the Rock, …
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, (1763-1847), ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (GB127.L15/2)

1796
The walk now turning to the left passes near the house and entering the alarming precipice facing Llancaut it winds in a gradual descent along the face of it and conducts you to a huge fragments of a rock, of a conical shape and many yards high; this is perforated. The archway is made winding, and as you approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave: this deception is strengthened on entering by a dark hole on the side next the cliff which seemed to be the inlet into the body of the cave. The whole is so constructed that no vestige of art can be discovered.
Williams, William, (1774-1839) and Burgess, James, Rev (1774-1839), J. B. jnr and W. W. ‘A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796’ / ‘The Journal of my grandfather, William Williams with the Rev James Burgess in Wales, in 1796’. NLW MS 23253 C, ff. 8-11

1797
Out of the rock; and in one instance, a huge fragment, of a somewhat conical shape and many yards high, is perforated; the path leading through its base. This is a thought which will hand down to future times the greatness of Mr Morris’s taste; the design and the execution are equally great; not a mark of a tool to be seen; all appears perfectly natural. The arch-way is made winding, so that on the approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave; and, on a nearer view, the idea is strengthened by an allowable deception; a black dark hole on the side next the cliff, which, seen from the entrance before the perforation is discovered, appears to be the darksome inlet into the body of the cave.
Encyclopaedia Britannica: (3rd edition, 1797), vol. 7, pp. 573-575 (under gardening) (and also in American edition 1798)

1801
No. 3 The Giant’s Cave, which occupies the centre of the amphitheatre, and overlooks Lancaut peninsula.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1801
his gigantic majesty being assailed by a powerful enemy, called frost, he soon divested of his terrific influence, his arms falling off from their joints at the elbows, in which decrepid and mutilated state he now remains.
Heath, Charles, Monmouthshire: historical and descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of Chepstow Castle, including Persfield … (1801) [but not in the earlier or later editions?]
[According to Whittle, E., The Historic Gardens of Wales, (Cadw, 1992), p. 51, this was in Heath, 1793, but it appears to be only in the 1801 edition which I have not yet seen.]

1802
Passing on, there are two breaks from this walk which open to a delightful prospect of the valley; these breaks lead through an extremely romantic cave, hollowed out of the rock, and opening to a fine point of view.
At the mouth of this cave some swivel guns are mounted, upon the firing of which a repeated echo is reverberated from rock to rock, with the most awful, impressive, and astonishing effect on the auditors.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]

1803
The Giant’s Cave, a little further, is a passage cut through a rock. Over one of the entrances is a mutilated colossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock, in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm who ever dared enter his retreat; but some time since the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it; yet he continues to grin horror, although deprived of his terrors.
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending A General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1st edition, London : 1803), chapter 16, pp. 255-264.

1805
Worn out by fatigue we were glad to rest ourselves under the friendly shade a cavern hollowed out in the rock but we were scarcely seated ere we found ourselves in imminent danger of being pounded by a fragment of it from the arms of an enormous giant who had taken his post above – It seems as if the layer-out of these walks had calculated the exact moment when the weary pedestrian would seek a friendly bench for repose and had placed his Polyphemus on his return from following Acis into the sea, with the last stone in his hand, to frighten him.
White, James, Picturesque Excursion into South Wales, 1805, British Library Add MSS 44991, pp. 30-31

1805 (and earlier?)
THE GIANT’S CAVE; Highly deserving of the NAME:
A most romantic cavern, extending twelve yards, hewn out of the solid rock,- but its attractions are of secondary moment when compared with the VIEW presented before the entrance. The bold point of rock on which we stand rises perpendicular from the edge of the river, that makes another of its fine sweeps, shewing to great advantage, on the right, the whole range of the Apostles rocks,—its left screen rising in grandeur, by presenting the correspondent Windcliff; the Lancaut cliffs and peninsula still maintaining the dignity of the scene; while the opening, before noticed, presents the happy termination of the Glocestershire hills.
This Cave is a thought which will hand down to future times the justness of Mr. Morris’s taste. The design and the execution are equally great-hot a mark of a tool to be seen; all appears perfectly natural. The arch-way is made winding, so that on the approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave, and on a nearer view the idea is strengthened by an allowable deception,- a black dark hole on the side next the cliff, which seen from the entrance, before the perforation is discovered, appears to be the darksome inlet into the body of the cave.
To awe the passing traveller,- in a cavity on the top of the rock is placed an Herculean figure, who held in his hands an enormous stone, which with full force he was about to hurl on the visitors’ head, as the latter surveyed his throne; but the weather destroyed its arms, so that it now remains a mutilated statue.
The front and sides of the cave are cloathed with ivy, which gives it a picturesque appearance; and on its summit is seen an ancient yew tree, that grows out of the rock, in the same surprising manner as the oak before mentioned.
The pleasure of looking from this charming spot, is increased from its being fronted with a wall. When Mr, Morris resided at Persfield, some swivel guns were here placed, which, when discharged, produced a surprising echo in these rocky regions.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
The Giants Cave, which occupies the centre of the amphitheatre, and overlooks Lancaut peninsular.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1808
The Giant’s Cave, a little further, is a passage cut through a rock. Over one of the entrances is a mutilated colossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever dared enter his retreat; but some time since the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it.
The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion [by G. Nicholson], (1st edition, 1808), columns 495-500

1810 (or a little earlier)
an excavated rock of great dimension called the Giants cave; designed by Colonel Wood, the late proprietor, appears. An immense stone figure impends over the mouth of the cavern holding in his hand a huge stone; which with a menacing aspect he appears to lift against the presumptuous intruder.
Anon, Narrative of a Tour through Wales by an anonymous English Gentleman, NLW ms 18943, ff. 1r, 3r-4r

1816
The Giant’s Cave has a very picturesque appearance from a colossal figure of Polyphemus placed over the entrance, which reminds us of the Odyssey.
Spiker, Samuel Heinrich, Dr (1786-1858), Travels through England, Wales, & Scotland, in the year 1816: Translated from the German (London: 1820), Vol. 2, pp. 82-85

1818
Passing under the edge of some high wooded rocks, you arrive at the Giant’s Cave, a romantic passage cut through a rock. Over its S. E. entrance is a mutilated colossal figure, which once held the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever should dare to enter his retreat; but some time ago the stone fell, carrying the Giant’s arms along with it: he still continues to grin horribly, although deprived of his terrors.
We earnestly recommend the visitor to inspect these walks according to the succession of objects here laid down, in which many of them appear to greater advantage. Thus, if you approach from St. Arvan’s, you lose the darksome interest of this cave; for on that side a gleam of light streams through it; but on this, all is dark, gloomy, and obscure.
This place occupies the centre of the amphitheatre, and displays a most exquisite scene.
Passing through the cavern, a path descends through the Martridge Wood to the Cold Bath, about a quarter of a mile distant.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1822
Seventh [item]. The GIANT’S CAVE, is a passage cut through a rock. Over one of the entrances is a mutilated colossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm him who dared to enter his retreat; but some time since, the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it; and it would have been as well if it had taken off the rest of the figure. To place it there at all was mauvais gout, [bad taste] mere concetto, a tiny idea unworthy Piersfield, and exactly the converse of the excellent taste, which has preserved unclipped the aged laurel of wondrously grand effect.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

1825
THE GIANTS CAVE; a romantic cavern, extending twelve yards, hewn out of the solid rock. But its attractions are of secondary moment when compared with the View presented before its entrance. The bold point of rock upon which we stand rises perpendicular from the edge of the river, making another of its fine sweeps, and showing to great advantage, on the right, the whole range of rocks before spoken of; its left screen rising in grandeur, by presenting the corresponding Windcliff, the Lancaut Cliffs and Peninsula still maintaining the dignity of the scene; while the opening before noticed presents the happy termination of the Gloucestershire hills.
This Cave will give some idea of the taste of Mr. Valentine Morris: not a mark of a tool is visible—all is perfectly natural. The archway is made winding, so that on the approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave, and on a nearer view the idea is strengthened by the allowable deception of a black dark hole on the side next the cliff, which seen from the entrance, before the perforation is discovered, seems to be the  darksome inlet to the body of the cave.
To awe the passing traveller, in a cavity at the top of the rock is placed an Herculean figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in its uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever dared to enter the  retreat; but the weather has sometime since caused the stone to fall, carrying the giants arms along with it: so that it now remains a mutilated statue.
Mr. Fosbrooke [sic] has pronounces this to be unworthy of Piercefield, and seems to think that no great injury would have been sustained if the elements had dislodged the giant entirely from his throne. The front and sides of the cave are clothed with ivy, which gives it a still more picturesque appearance; and on its summit is an ancient yew tree that grows out of the rock in the same surprising manner as the oak before mentioned. The safety of looking from this charming spot is secured by its being fronted with a wall. When Mr. Morris resided at Piercefield, some swivel guns were placed here, which, when discharged, produced a surprising echo from the rocks.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65

1825
The Giant’s Cave, is a passage cut through a rock. Over one of the entrances is a mutilated collossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock, in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm who ever dared enter his retreat; but some time since the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it; yet he continues to grin horror, although deprived of his terrors.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1826 (or earlier)
In the walk to the CAVE [note:] A passage cut through a rock. Over one of the entrance: is a mutilated colossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to over whelm him who dared to enter his retreat; but some time since, the stone fell, carrying the giant‘s arm along with it; and it would have been as well if it had taken off the rest of the figure. To place it there itself was mauvais gout, mere concetto, a tiny idea unworthy Persfield, and exactly the converse of the excellent taste, which has preserved unclipped an aged laurel of wondrously grand effect. [end of note]
The Wye tour, or, Gilpin on the Wye: with picturesque additions, from Wheatley, Price, &c. and archaeological illustrations / by T.D. Fosbroke. (Ross, 1818); (1822 new enlarged edition); (1822 2nd edition); (1826, 3rd edition) pp. 88-103; (1834, 4th edition); (1837, 5th edition); (1842, 6th edition); 1855, another edition)

1829
Swivel guns at the mouth of a cave fired to create an echo; description of views; the Grotto
Anon, Tour of the Wye Valley, National Museum of Wales, 184561, pp. 116-129

1830 (about)
WatercolourThe Giant’s Cave’
Smith, Henry, Manuscript Notes in Charles Heath’s, ‘Excursions in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire.’ NLW ms 14581B and 14582B, between. pp. 416 and 417.

1830
THE GIANTS CAVE; A romantic cavern, extending twelve yards, hewn out of the solid rock. But its attractions are of secondary moment when compared with the View presented before its entrance. The bold point of rock upon which we stand rises perpendicular from the edge of the river, making another of its fine sweeps, and showing to great advantage, on the right, the whole range of rocks before spoken of; its left screen rising in grandeur, by presenting the corresponding Windcliff, the Lancaut Cliffs and Peninsula still maintaining the dignity of the scene; while the opening before noticed presents the happy termination of the Gloucestershire hills.
This Cave will give some idea of the taste of Mr. Valentine Morris: not a mark of a tool is visible—all is perfectly natural. The archway is made winding, so that on the approach it appears to be the mouth of a cave, and on a nearer view the idea is strengthened by the allowable deception of a black dark hole on the side next the cliff, which seen from the entrance, before the perforation is discovered, seems to :be the  darksome inlet to the body of the cave.
To awe the passing traveller, in a cavity at the top of the rock is placed an Herculean figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in its uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever dared to enter the  retreat; but the weather has sometime since caused the stone to fall, carrying the giants arms along with it: so that it now remains a mutilated statue. Mr. Fosbrook [sic Fosbroke] has pronounces this to be unworthy of Piercefield, and seems to think that no great injury would have been sustained if the elements had dislodged the giant entirely from his throne. The front and sides of the cave are clothed with ivy, which gives it a still more picturesque appearance; and on its summit is an ancient yew tree that grows out of the rock in the same surprising manner as the oak before mentioned. The safety of looking from this charming spot is secured by its being fronted with a wall. When Mr. Morris resided at Piercefield, some swivel guns were placed here, which, when discharged, produced a surprising echo from the rocks.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c. (Chepstow: Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), pp. 38-61

1840
Passing under the edge of high wooded rocks, we arrive at the Giant’s Cave, which is a passage cut through a rock. Over the S. E. entrance is a mutilated colossal figure, which once sustained the fragment of a rock in his uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever dared to enter his retreat; but some time since, the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

1854
Passing under the edge of some high-wooded rocks, you arrive at the Giant’s Cave, a romantic passage cut through a rock. Over its south-east entrance is a mutilated colossal figure, which once held the fragment of a rock in its uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever should dare to enter his retreat; but some time since the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it; he still continues to grin horribly, although deprived of his terrors.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

[1860]
the Giant’s Cave, a curious overheaped mass of great rude rocks
Peacock, William F., Coles’s Tourist’s Guide Book. What I saw in the Golden Valley: being a trip to Monmouthshire, through the counties of Salop and Hereford, with personal visits to Raglan Castle Goodrich Castle, Goodrich Court, The Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Symonds Yat, Coldwell Rocks and the Abergavenny mountains ; also ‘The tour of the Wye’  [1860], (2nd edition [ca.1860]).

1869
In the way lies a chasm in the rock, called the Giant’s Cave, through which is a passage.
Clarke, J.H., History of Monmouthshire (Usk, 1869)

[1870]
Passing under the edge of some high-wooded rocks, you arrive at the Giant’s Cave, a romantic passage cut through a rock, Over its south-east entrance is a mutilated colossal figure, which once held the fragment of a rock in its uplifted arms, threatening to overwhelm whoever should dare to enter his retreat; but sometime since the stone fell, carrying the giant’s arms along with it; he still continues to grin horribly, although deprived of his terrors.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, the Magnificent Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Ross, Raglan & Goodrich castles and other parts of the Welsh Borders (Chepstow: R Taylor, Beaufort Square. Sold at the Castle, the Moss Cottage, and Tintern Abbey), [1870], pp. 31-37

1878
the Giant’s Cave (hewn out of solid rock)
Anon, [signed S.H.], Hillman’s illustrated historical handbook for tourists to Chepstow, Wynd-Cliff, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Raglan : castles & ancient remains of Wentwood, and other places of interest on and about the Wye : with an appendix containing geological, ornithological, entomological, and botanical notes of the district. (1878)
(4th ed., revised and enlarged. Chepstow : Hillman & Co. ; London : Marshall Brothers 1889), pp. 34-44

Chinese Semicircle

1759
[View Point] XXI. A Chinese semi-circle; the View, the River, Rocks and Lawns, Berkley castle, and a very extensive prospect of Bristol, &c. &c.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

The Cold Bath

The site of the Cold Bath now obscured by vegetation. There is a photograph of the structure in he Piercefield Walks and Associated Picturesque Landscape Features: An Archaeological Survey, (Cambria Archaeology, 2005),

The building was 12 x 7 yards and was fed by a spring. No visitor recorded using it to bathe in. A pile of rubble, 15 m to the south-east of the bath might have been the dressing room.
The presence of running water here suggested to some that it could be enhanced to form a cascade or waterfall.
There are several drawings of the Bath House including ‘A Contemporary drawing showing it as a stone building with a chimney’ (Waters, Ivor, Piercefield on the banks of the Wye, (Chepstow: F.G. Comber 1975), between pp. 10 and 11).

RCAHM(W) record

1763
In the opposite wood, is a cold bath – which by a stranger might be mistaken for a neat rural cottage
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1768
in the midst appears a small, but neat building, the bathing-house, which, though none of the best, appears from this enormous heighth, but as a spot of white, in the midst of the vast range of green: towards the right is seen the winding of the river.
The winding road down to the cold bath, is cool, sequestered, and agreeable. The building itself is excessively neat, and well contrived, and the spring, which supplies it, plentiful and transparent.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1785
From the perforated rock [Giant’s cave], the walk leads down to the cold-bath (a complete place), seated about the mid-way of the precipice, in this part less steep: and from the cold-bath a rough path winds down to the [Martridge] meadow, by the side of the Wye
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1796
After passing through the perforated rocks the walk steeply descends to the cold bath, situated about halfway down the precipice.
Williams, William, (1774-1839) and Burgess, James, Rev (1774-1839), J. B. jnr and W. W. ‘A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796’ / ‘The Journal of my grandfather, William Williams with the Rev James Burgess in Wales, in 1796’. NLW MS 23253 C, ff. 8-11

1797
From the perforated rock, the walk leads down to the cold-bath (a complete place), seated about the mid-way of the precipice, in this part less sleep; and from the cold-bath a rough path winds down to the meadow, by the side of the Wye, from whence the precipice on the Persefield side is seen with every advantage
Encyclopaedia Britannica: (3rd edition, 1797), vol. 7, pp. 573-575 (under gardening) (and also in American edition 1798)

1801
In this charming and sequestered spot is a cold bath, supplied by a copious and transparent rill, which springs at the foot of the Wynd Cliff, and ripples down the side of the declivity.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1805 (and earlier?)
Passing thro’ the cave, a winding walk, on the right, cool, sequestered, and agreeable, leads to THE COLD BATH. This building (which measures 12 yards long by 7 wide) is excessively neat and well contrived, and the spring that supplies it is plentiful and transparent; but here it must be allowed to hint a want, if any thing can be WANTED, in such a spot as Persfield.
The walk from the Cold Bath is dark, and rather gloomy. … [note:] The situation will be understood more correctly, when the reader is informed, that the embowering woods which we overlook from the “Lover’s Leap,” inclose this building. It is placed at the upper end of a spot of ground, the most sequestred the imagination can frame,- around which some fine lime and other trees rear their lofty heads,- with seats for the accommodation of visitors;–forming a sweet retreat in that season of the year, when protection from the sun-beams is most to bet desired. [end of note]
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1802
In the midst appears a small but neat building, namely the bathing house … The winding road down to the cold bath, is cool, sequestered, and agreeable. The building itself is very neat, and well constructed, and the spring which supplies it plentiful and transparent.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller …[1802]

1803
From this place a path, traced under the woods, descends to the Bath, a commodious building, concealed from outward view by impendent foliage.
Barber, J.T., (1774-1841), Tour Throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, Comprehending A General Survey of the Picturesque Scenery, Remains of Antiquity, Historical Events, Peculiar Manners, and Commercial Situations of That Interesting Portion of the British Empire. (1st edition, London : 1803), chapter 16, pp. 255-264.

1807
[From the Giant’s cave] a winding path leads to the Cold Bath, a sweetly sequestered spot, seated in the deep cover of a wood – through which the small transparent stream that feeds it, murmurs in obscurity.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1808
From this place a path, traced under the woods, descends to the Bath, a commodious building, concealed from outward view by impending foliage.
The Cambrian Traveller’s Guide, and Pocket Companion [by G. Nicholson], (1st edition, 1808), columns 495-500

1822
From the Giant’s Cave a path traced under the wood, descends to the Bath, a commodious building, concealed from outward view by impending foliage.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

1825
THE COLD BATH. This building (12 yards long by 7 wide) is neat and well contrived, and the spring that supplies it is plentiful and transparent. The walk from the Cold Bath is dark, and rather gloomy: breaks and objects are very scarce in it.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65.

1825
In the midst appears a small but neat building, namely the bathing house, which from this enormous height, appears but a spot of while, in the midst of the vast range of green. …
The winding road down to the cold bath, is cool, sequestered, and agreeable. The building itself is very neat, and well constructed; and the spring which supplies it plentiful and transparent. You wind from it up the melt. This walk from, the cold bath is rather dark and gloomy, breaks and objects are rather scare in it.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1829
the cold bath, fed by a spring
Anon, Tour of the Wye Valley, National Museum of Wales, 184561, pp. 116-129

1830
THE COLD BATH. This building (12 yards long by 7 wide) is neat and well contrived, and the spring that supplies it is plentiful and transparent. The walk from the Cold Bath is dark, and rather gloomy: breaks and objects are very scarce in it.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c. (Chepstow: Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), pp. 38-61

1839
In the glen below the Lover’s Leap is a cold bath, approached by a path winding through the wood; but few visitors are inclined to lengthen their walk so far; nor did I
Twamley, Louisa A., The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44

1840
From this place a path, traced under the woods, descends to the bath, a commodious building, concealed from outward view by impending foliage. … We now bend round a side of the ravine, through which runs the stream that supplies the cold bath,
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

Seat under a rock

This might have been somewhere between the Cold Bath and the Hill (or Chinese seat) and Lover’s Leap, but Murphy suggests that it was on the path between the Giant’s Cave and Chinese seat.

1805 (and earlier?)
Commanding a varied view of the opposite shore,- bounded by the County of Glocester;
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1818
Return from thence up to the cave, and resume the walk which leads by an ascent to Seat the 1st, placed under the side of a rock.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
an elevated Seat under a Rock, commanding a varied view of the opposite shore, bounded by the county of Gloucester
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65; (1830), p. 48

Seat the 2nd

[after the Giant’s cave]

1818
Pursuing the ascent to Seat the 2nd, and from thence still ascending, you edge the side of the park. These seats afford much of the same scenery as before, though varied and enlarged from the higher ground.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

Seat near two Beech trees

1818
You now proceed to another of those stations which we have, for distinction sake, at the commencement of the walks, named the grand views; it is a Seat near two Beech trees, on the edge of a precipice. The view from this seat is very fine.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

The Paradise Seat

1809
Paradise Seat
Evans, John, Rev., and Britton, John, The Beauties of England and Wales, Or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical and Descriptive of each County, vol, 11, (1810), pp. 182-184

1834
listed
Anon, A pocket guide through Monmouthshire containing An Account of every thing worthy the Notice of Strangers in that interesting County, Comprising particular descriptions of the castles of Chepstow, Ragland, Newport & Usk, The Splendid Ruin of Tintern Abbey, and the Beautiful Scenery in the Vicinity of Chepstow. Also, Directions for Travellers making the Tour of South Wales. Together with a description of the beautiful Scenery on the Banks of the Wye: From the Rise of that River at Plinlimmon to its Fall into the Severn below Chepstow. (1834), pp. 72-74

The Lover’s Leap

A seat on a projection enclosed with low railings to prevent people throwing themselves off the high cliff, but not so high as to spoil the view.

1756
The next [view] is at an iron rail over a perpendicular rock from which one sees below the wood, river etc. The gardener told us Mr Morris was standing on the projecting rock, and that soon after it fell down, on which he had this rail put up.
Pococke, Richard, letter [September 1756]; British Library Add ms. 23000, f. 144

1758
the Parapets whence one looks upon the river and country are Breastworks, either of stone, or Iron Rails that are let into the Rock; one of these over which we looked is a formidable Precipice of one hundred and twenty four yards, in perpendicular heighth, and is called the Lover’s Leap.
Barford, M., Rev ‘Description of Chepstow, Abbey Tintern, Piercefield, Monmouth and Ragland from a manuscript written November, 1758 by Rev M Barford, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.727, pp. 12-18

1759
You go on from the octagon over open ground, and soon enter into a little wood, which leads to a seat called the ‘Lover’s Leap’. One’s blood is apt to thrill as you enter it: ‘tis on the top of a vast precipice, which, tho’ woody, does not intercept the eye. The seat itself is very near the brink, the little ground there is slopes toward it, and the little railing there is on the margin is so slight as not to give you an idea of safety. When you look over this weak defence the mind is pleasingly struck and altered by one of the most uncommon objects I ever saw.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1760
Here too we saw a place called Lover’s leap, it was at the Summit of a Rock full four hundred feet high from the River, and I believe, if used, would be a certain Cure for Love or any other Kind of Trouble.
Letter from Miss J. M. to William Shenstone, Esq [of Leasowes]. Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294

1770
A point, called the Lover’s Leap, commands a continued surface of the thickest foliage, which overspreads a vast hollow immediately underneath.
Whately, Thomas, Observations on Modern Gardening, (1770), (3rd edition 1771); (French edition, 1771); (4th edition 1777); (5th edition, 1793); (new edition, 1801)

1778
From the meadow you again enter into a small shrubbery, which leads you to a spot railed in, called from its frightful eminence the Lover’s Leap; the perpendicular height of which, and perpendicular it may justly be stiled, is computed at 300 feet.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1791
The Lovers Leap is well rail’d; so that none but the very desponding would take it; I have never heard that it was attempted: the first leap would cure the most heart-felt pangs.
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237

1805 (and earlier?)
LOVER’S LEAP Inclosed with iron rails, on a point of the rock which is here pendent over the river, and may be truly called a situation full of the terrible sublime: you look immediately down, one hundred and eighty feet, upon a vast hollow of wood, all surrounded by the woody precipices, which have so fine an effect from all the points of view at Persfield.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1805?
Mr Morris had such a passion for improving Persfield, that he risked his Life, in order to lop the straggling Branches of a tree (disfiguring the appearance of the Precipice at the Lover’s Leap) a service which all his Workmen refused, although offered a very large Recompense; and which he performed by Means of a Cord fastened round his Waist, and enabling him to descend above 50 Feet, where, had any accident happened, he must inevitably have been dashed to Pieces.
Sotheby, William?, A Journal of a tour through parts of Monmouthshire and Glamorgan [1805?], NLW ms 6497C, pp. 3; 94-97

1807
a projecting Point of Rock fronted with iron Rails, from whence the Wind Cliff is seen towering above the River, in all its height and beauty …
from this dizzy height it has obtained the distinction anciently conferred upon the Promontory of ‘Leucate’ so fatal to despairing Lovers.-
Then view with caution the dire precipice;
Lest, startled at the giddy height, they sense
Swimming forsake thee, – and thy trembling limbs
Unnerv’d and fault’ring, lead to Sappho’s fate.
[note:] Upon the promontory of Leucate, a small Island in the Ionian Sea, now known by the name of Cape St Mauro, was a temple dedicated to Apollo, in which it was usual for despairing lovers to pay their vows in secret and then precipitate themselves into the sea from the summit of the rock …[end of note]
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1807
at nearly one end of this natural terrace [Windcliff], is the precipice called ‘Lovers Leap’, down which the eye descends with a fearful complacency, as a thick wood covers the bottom ground. They told us that its height was about sixty yards, I should guess it more. An iron railing protects the walk at top, and the descent is as steep as a wall.
Bloomfield, Robert, Journal of a Ten Days’ Tour from Uley in Gloucestershire, by way of Ross; down the River Wye to Chepstow; Abergavenny, Brecon, Hereford, Malvern. &c. &c. August 1807, British Library Additional Manuscript 28267, ff. 13-35

1818
A beautiful carpet-like mossy path now leads you to the verge of a perpendicular rock, guarded with iron rails, called the Lover’s Leap. This view is particularly grand, wild, and majestic. A fine reach of the river, above Llancaut Farms, called Prior’s Reach, with Wynd-Cliff and the Ban-y-gor Rocks, are seen from this point to great advantage.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1822
Ninth. The LOVER’S LEAP, so named from the Leucadian promontory, whence despairing lovers, and among them Sappho, precipitated themselves. It is the edge of a perpendicular cliff, overlooking a tremendous abyss, clothed with underwood, which at the bottom looks as fine no spider‘s web, and is enveloped in mist.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

1825
LOVER’S LEAP, So called from the Leucadian Promontory, whence despairing lovers (and among them Sappho) precipitated themselves. It is the edge of a perpendicular cliff, overlooking a tremendous abyss, clothed with underwood, which at the bottom looks as fine as a spider’s web, and is usually enveloped in mist. This spot is inclosed with iron railing, and you look instantaneously down one hundred and eighty feet!—a tremendous and sublime picture.
From this spot, which seems to be pushed forward from the rock by the hold hands of the Genius of Piercefield, you proceed to where formerly stood The Temple.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65; also in 1830 edition

1828
But when we came to Lovers leap, it was a lovers leap indeed, the top of the cliff projects and you look down 160 feet below you the bottom being covered with ?woods there is an iron rail put there to keep people from falling; but what adds very much to the grandeur of this view is that Wyndcliff rises immediately above it.
Clark, Charles B., Tour of Wales in August and September, 1828, NLW MS 15002A, 7th October 1828 (Tuesday)

1843
This sentimental spot, whose name must render it charming to all despairing swains and sighing nymphs of the Corydon and Phyllis schools, overlooks a deep and wooded glen of exceeding grandeur and beauty, above which towers the Windcliff.
Anon, A guide to the stranger visiting the town of Chepstow and its Neighbourhood; with Copious Notices of Tintern Abbey, Wyndcliff and the Districts of Chepstow, Caldicot, Rhaglan, Monmouth, Goodrich, and Ross (London, 1843), pp. 15-21

The Temple

An octagonal building  with a turret and viewing platform, had been taken down sometime between 1790 and 1800. This was on the highest part of the grounds from which extensive views could be seen. Payne called it a Chinese Temple. There was a seat near this.

1759
round to a temple or octagonal seat, of no expanse, the four sides behind you shut, and the other four open.
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1759
Item XXIII: An octagon temple, surrounded with Chinese rails, from whence is a most extensive Prospect of many counties, with Kings-road, the Shipping, &c. &c.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1760
[listed]
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1763
on the right you have the charming wood – at the further end of this open grass plat walk, you may, if you please, rest yourself in an elegant Octagon Chinese Temple – seated on the highest elevation of the ground – from whence you have a most expanded, and diversified assemblage of objects – commanding the Severn and the Bristol Channel, King-Road Harbour with the ships at anchor, – a considerable part of Gloucester and Somersetshires – and even as far as Hartland point in Devonshire – with a very pleasant circumjacent Country, and a charming repetition at one view, of the brilliant scenery which I have so particularly endeavour’d to delineate –
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1768
you proceed to the temple, a small neat building on the highest part of these grounds; and imagination cannot form an idea of any thing more beautiful than what appears full to your ravished sight from this amazing point of view.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1770
a path is afterwards conducted through the upper park to a rustic temple, which over-looks on one side some of the romantic views which have been described, and on the other the cultivated hills and rich valleys of Monmouthshire.
Whately, Thomas, Observations on Modern Gardening, (1770), (3rd edition 1771); (French edition, 1771); (4th edition 1777); (5th edition, 1793); (new edition, 1801)

1778
This meadow adjoining to the shrubbery extends itself to the high road, and from the top of it, where a turret has happily been erected, yields one of the finest prospects discernible from Piercesield.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1781
At the end of the walks is a temple, where horses and carriages should be ordered to, to prevent the fatigue of the company on foot. The view from this temple towards Wales is very full of objects
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237
Andrews, C Bruyn, (ed.). The Torrington diaries: Containing the tours through England and Wales of the Hon. John Byng between the years 1781 and 1794. vol. 1, (1934), pp. 23-25
Souden, David, (ed.) ‘Byng’s Tours. The Journals of the Hon. John Byng, 1781-1792’ (1991), pp. 1-54

1782
At the highest point on the estate was a wooden temple.
Beaufort, Daniel Augustus, Diaries and travel journals in Trinity College, Dublin
Ellison, C.C., The Hopeful Traveller: The Life and Times of Daniel Augustus Beaufort, LDD, (1987) p. 32

1788
Having taken a final view of the scenery from this tremendous precipice, we were conducted to the corner of the adjacent field, where stands the Temple, commanding a most glorious prospect in an opposite direction; the conflux of the Wye and Severn, the Bristol channel opening into the main sea, the smoke of the great city on the opposite shores, interspersed with snow-white houses, etc. while the reflexion of the setting sun gilded their windows, that shone like real fires;
Shaw, Stebbing, A tour to the West of England, in 1788, (London, 1789), pp. 213-216

1795
I was conducted to the corner of the adjacent field, where formerly stood the Temple, commanding a most glorious prospect in an opposite direction; the conflux of the Wye and Severn and the Bristol Channel opening into the main sea.
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, (1763-1847), ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (GB127.L15/2)
Florence Wood, Kenneth Wood, A Lancashire gentleman: the letters and journals of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, Alan Sutton, (1992), pp. 92-94

1802
From this spot, which seems to be pushed forward from the rock, by the bold hands of the genii of the place, we approach a temple, a small neat building, on the highest part of these grounds, and imagination cannot form an idea of any thing more beautiful, than what appears full to the enraptured eye from this amazing point of view.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]

1805 (and earlier?)
From this spot, which seems to be pushed forward from the rock by the bold hands of the Genius of the place, you proceed to where formerly stood, THE TEMPLE, THE HIGHEST PART OF THESE GROUNDS
[note in the 1805 edition:] This building has, within these few years, been taken down. [end of note]
And imagination cannot form an idea of any thing more beautiful than, what appears full to the sight from this amazing, point of view. You look down, upon all the woody precipices, as if in another region, terminated by a wall of, rocks: just, above them appears the river Severn, in so peculiar a manner, that you would believe it washed them, and that nothing parted you from it but those rocks, which are in reality four or five miles distant. This deception is the most exquisite ever beheld; for viewing, first the river beneath, then the vast rocks rising in a shore of precipices, and immediately above them the noble river, as if part of the little world immediately before you ; and lastly, all the boundless prospect over Glocestershire and Somersetshire, are, together, such a bewitching view, that, nothing can exceed it, and contains more romantic variety, with such an apparent junction of separate parts, that imagination can, scarcely conceive any thing equal to the amazing reality. The view to the right, over the park, and the winding valley at the bottom of it, would, from any other spot but this, be thought remarkably fine.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1807
The Temple, – which is the highest part of the enclosed ground, and forms the extremity of the walk – the building which gave its name, was taken down by Colonel Wood.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of a visit to Llanbeder [Llanbedr] in the County of Brecon with remarks on an excursion down the River Wye from Rhos to Chepstow including Abergavenny, Monmouth, Persfield, Raglan etc. by A.M.Cuyler, 1807’ [but written by Payne], NLW add MS 784a, pp. 126-144

1807
Our last station is The Temple, – which is the highest part of the enclosed ground, and forms the extremity of the walk – the building which gave its name, was an octagon and I am informed, erected by Mr Morris and taken down by Colonel Wood.
Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1818
You now bend round a side of the ravine [from the Lover’s Leap], through which runs the stream that supplies the Cold Bath, and pass along a corner of the park to the last seat, near which formerly stood a small Temple. The prospect from this spot is exquisitely fine. It is impossible to give an adequate description of the beauties of this view.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
THE TEMPLE, which is the highest part of these grounds. No imagination can be formed of the beauties disclosed from this amazing point of view. You look down upon all the woody precipices as if in another region, terminated by a wall of rocks.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65

1825
we approach a temple, a small neat building, on the highest part of these grounds, and imagination cannot form an idea of any thing more beautiful, than what appears full to the enraptured eye from this amazing point of view.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1829
A temple, a small neat building upon the highest part of these grounds.’ {the cold bath, fed by a spring [is this the bathing house?]
Anon, Tour of the Wye Valley, National Museum of Wales, 184561, pp. 116-129

1870
and pass along a corner of the park to the last seat, near which formerly stood a small temple.
Nicholson, N., The Cambrian traveller’s guide, and pocket companion, (3rd edition revised, 1840), pp. 198-201

1878
the ‘Temple’ the highest spot in the grounds … The building which once marked this spot has been removed.
Anon, [signed S.H.], Hillman’s illustrated historical handbook for tourists to Chepstow, Wynd-Cliff, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Raglan : castles & ancient remains of Wentwood, and other places of interest on and about the Wye : with an appendix containing geological, ornithological, entomological, and botanical notes of the district. (1878)
(4th ed., revised and enlarged. Chepstow : Hillman & Co. ; London : Marshall Brothers 1889), p. 39

The Windcliff (Wyndcliff)

Very extensive views could be seen from the summit of Windcliff. These ‘bird’s eye’ views thrilled tourist, especially on a clear day when, it was claimed, they could see nine counties. However, those who wrote of the views from the summit were rarely as moved as much as those who had good views from the summit of Snowdon: William Reed (1815) was a rare exception and he was quoted by Fosbroke (1822) who wrote at greater length on emotional responses to the views and suggested that they might best be seen at sunrise (which no visitor seems to have attempted). Wintle (1829) in turn quoted Fosbroke and added a paragraph on how insignificant man is on earth in comparison with Windcliff. He continued, ‘Windcliff will not last forever, but man will’.
Visitors to Piercefield generally did not have their views from Windcliff obscured by clouds as they did on Snowdon: Charles Clark (1828) thought the views here were better than Snowdon, possibly because he climbed Windcliff on a clearer day.
The Windcliff itself was admired from certain viewpoints on the Piercefield estate and the opposite also was possible: several visitors saw Piercefield from Windcliff and felt that they had seen as much of it as they wanted.
The Windcliff was originally relatively easy to ascend – one tourist noted that coaches could be taken to near the top and it was possible to climb to the top from the river bank.
Until the 1780s a path led down from the summit to the river, then along its banks to steep steps which led to Piercefield house.
The Windcliff did not strictly form part of the Piercefield estate and during the 1820s it was separated from it when a new road between St Arvans and Monmouth was constructed. From then on it was normally accessed by many steep steps [see below] from the Moss Cottage [also see below] at its base. The cottage and steps appear to have been open every day but a charge was imposed for their use. For example, in 1859, each visitor was charged 3d (just over 1d) to climb the steps.
The author of the 1830 edition of A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow … suggested that ‘a few high and massy Doric columns, with architraves, however rude, erected on the summit of Windcliff, would have the grand effect of the Ruins of the Temple of Minerva upon the Sunian Promontory’ and that it should contain a memorial to Valentine Morris, but several other writers felt that any more artificial features in the park would detract from its natural attractions. There had also been plans to build an observatory on the summit but this never came to fruition.
Many illustrations of and from The Windcliff are known.

The Lancaut peninsular from the Eagles Nest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not now possible to see distant views from the highest point of Windcliff because trees block the view, but it is possible to look down on the Lancaut Peninsular from the Eagles Nest near the top of the hill, and from the paths up to it.

1758
The house itself has an elegant situation at the extremity of very fine pastures; through the pastures we had a gradual ascent to the top of an high hill call’d the Windcliff, three hundred yards above the level of the Wye which lies directly under it and this steep and almost perpendicular bank is covered with trees to the edge of the Water.
Barford, M., Rev ‘Description of Chepstow, Abbey Tintern, Piercefield, Monmouth and Ragland from a manuscript written November, 1758 by Rev M Barford, Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 2.727, pp. 12-18

1759
when you come to the summit of [Windcliff], you are at once in the grand view of all. From this noble point … you look on the windings of the Wye, above a quarter of a mile below you,
Spence, Joseph, Osborne Collection, Beinecke Library, Yale.
Tierney, James (editor), The Correspondence of Robert Dodsley, (1988), p. 426, note 3
King, R.W., ‘Joseph Spence of Byfleet – IV’ Garden History, 8.3 (1980), pp. 109-111

1768
About a mile beyond these walks is a very romantic cliff, called the Wind Cliff, from which the extent of prospect is prodigious; but it is most remarkable for the surprizing echo, on firing a pistol or gun from it. The explosion is repeated five times very distinctly from rock to rock, often seven; and if the calmness of the weather happens to be remarkably favourable, nine times. This echo is wonderfully curious.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228); (3rd edition, corrected and enlarged, 1772, pp. 169-185 [as extended notes]

1785
[Note:] Windcliff. A very lofty Promontory, at the upper extremity of Piercefield Walks, commanding one of the most beautiful and extensive inland Prospects in this Island; viz. the Rivers Severn and Wye, the Towns and Castles of Chepstow, Thornbury, and Berkeley, the several counties of Brecon and Glamorgan in Wales; Monmouthshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Somersetshire, and Devonshire, in England. [end of note]
Pine, William, Chepstow; or, A new guide to gentlemen and ladies whose curiosity leads them to visit Chepstow: Piercefield-walks, Tintern-abbey, and the beautiful romantic banks of the Wye, from Tintern to Chepstow, by water. A poem, in six cantos. Published for the benefit of the Bristol infirmary. (1786), pp. 31-39

1785
To the north, … stands an immense rock (or rather a pile of immense rocks heaped one above another) called Windcliff; the top of which is elevated – as much above the grounds of Persefield as those are above the fields of Llancot.
These several rocks, with the wooded precipices on the side of Persefield, form a circular inclosure, about a mile in diameter, including Perse-wood, Llancot, the Wye, and a small meadow lying at the foot of Windcliff. …
From this place a road leads to the top of Windcliff—astonishing sight! The face of nature probably affords not a more magnificent scene! Llancot in all its grandeur, the grounds of Persefield; the castle and town of Chepstow; the graceful windings of the Wye below, and its conflux with the Severn: to the left, the forest of Dean: to the right, the rich marshes and picturesque mountains of South Wales: a broad view of the Severn, opening its sea-like mouth: the conflux of the Avon, with merchant ships at anchor in King-road, and vessels of different descriptions under sail: Aust-Cliff, and the whole vale of Berkeley, backed by the wooded swells of Gloucestershire; the view terminating in clouds of distant hills, rising one behind another, until, the eye becomes unable to distinguish the earth’s billowy surface from the clouds themselves.
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1786
I now reascend my chaise, and was driven through a disagreeable range of steep fields to the top of Wind-cliff. Here I again alighted. And walked through the wood to the edge of that immense promontory.
We were now presented with a view which is reckoned one of the finest in England. Though accustomed from my earliest infancy to scenes of this nature, I own I was struck with admiration at the delightful prospect which opened to my eyes: yet charmed as I was, I am not determined to allow it an undoubted superiority over a view from the hill of Hinchcombe in Gloucestershire at which though I have gazed with pleasure a thousand times, I can still continue to gaze with unsatiated delight. To give an adequate description of the prospect from Wind-Cliff would be folly to attempt.
Cooper, Anne, (1763?-1804), Journal of a tour down the Wye, MDCCLXXXVI, 1786 May 29-June 1, Yale centre for British Art, DA670.W97 C66

1790
From the extremity of the walks we proceeded near half a mile to the top of Windcliff the highest point in the neighbourhood, from whence we took in a much more ample range of country than any other station presented. The noble scenery of the Wye was immediately below us and the channel stretching out to a vast extent to the left up into Gloucestershire and to the right down towards Cardiff; the Wye making is entrance into the channel on our side and the mouth of the Avon just discernible on the other with the ships in Kings road and the little island of St Denny not far distant from it; the time of day was unfavourable for observing object on Gloucestershire and Somersetshire shore or we should have seen the situation of Many places very distinctly.
Nicholson, Frances, NLW MS15190C, (typescript, p. 19), 8th July 1790

1793
We must not here omit the surprising effect that is produced at a hill a little above the termination of these walks called Windcliff: a fowling-piece being discharged there, the explosion is re-echoed by the surrounding rocks and woods for an amazing length of time, and you are scarcely persuaded but the expiring sound must have been that of some distant cannon, fired from the ships in Kingroad.
Shiercliff, Edward, The Bristol and Hotwell guide: containing an historical account of the ancient and present state of that opulent city; … (Bristol, 1793), pp. 105-106

1795
About a mile beyond these Walks is a very romantic Cliff, called the Wind-Cliff which I determined to Climbe [sic]. The ascent on the back of the Hill is not steep, carriages easily ascend, one with 3 Ladies in came up while I was there.
The Wind-Cliff is an eminence above the rest and commanding the whole in one view. The Wye runs at the foot of the Hill; the Peninsular lies just below; the deep bosom of the semi-circular hanging Wood is full in sight; over part of it the great Rock appears; all its base and all its accompaniments are seen; the Country immediately beyond is full of lovely Hillocks; and higher Grounds of Somerset and Gloucester rise in the Horizon. The Severn, seems as it really is above Chepstow, three or four miles wide, and below the Town it spreads almost to the Sea. This comprehends almost all the Scenes at Persfield.
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, (1763-1847), ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (GB127.L15/2)
Florence Wood, Kenneth Wood, A Lancashire gentleman: the letters and journals of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, Alan Sutton, (1992), pp. 92-94

1796
From the cold bath upward a road leads to the top of the cliff at the further corner of the park and hence you are conducted to the top of Windcliff.
Here in one vast view you unite the sublime and beautiful of Persfield – the fertile and picturesque peninsular of Llancaut, backed by its huge rocks, the grounds of Persfield, the castle and town of Chepstow; the meanderings of the Wye, below and its distant junction with the Severn; to the left, the Forest of Dean; to the right the rich vallies and cultivated mountains of South Wales; a broad view of the Severn, with vessels of various descriptions under sail; the mouth of the Avon, with ships at anchor in Kingroad; Aust cliff, and the woody swells of Gloucestershire, skirting the whole vale of Berkeley; all terminating in ranges of distant hills, till the eye is lost in the immensity of space!
Williams, William, (1774-1839) and Burgess, James, Rev (1774-1839), J. B. jnr and W. W. ‘A Pedestrian Tour thro Wales in 1796’ / ‘The Journal of my grandfather, William Williams with the Rev James Burgess in Wales, in 1796’. NLW MS 23253 C, ff. 8-11

1796
The Wind-Cliff comprehends all the scenes of this Paradise, in what is called a prospect: …
Williams, David, The History of Monmouthshire, (1796), pp. 338-341

1796?
An Eminence call’d the Wind Cliff comprehends the whole scene of Persfield, and around such an extensive circle of sight that should an attempt be made to describe it, the nearer the writer came to the truth, the farther he would depart from the belief of his readers.
Anon, (said to be Sir Richard Colt Hoare, but this is unlikely), NLW MS 16988, ff. 324-328 (original folio numbers)

1801
The summit of Wynd Cliff, which towers above the northern extremity of the grounds, commands in one point of view the whole extent of this interesting scenery. As I stood on the brow of this precipice, I looked down upon the fertile peninsula of Lancaut, surrounded with rocks and forests, contemplated the hanging woods, rich lawns, and romantic cliffs of Piercefield, the castle and town of Chepstow, and traced the Wy, sweeping in the true outline of beauty, from the Banagor crags to its junction with the Severn, which spreads into an estuary and is lost in the distant ocean.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1803
the eminence of Windcliff Hill whence the ‘Birds eye View’ … is seen, is conspicuous above all forming a stupendous breast work of perpendicular rock.
Farington, Joseph, (1747-1821) ‘Diary of a Tour from London to Cheltenham, Monmouth and Chepstow, 9-28 September, 1803’, p. 40, illustrated by small original sketches. Hereford Record Office, (formerly in the Hereford City Library), MS octavo, no 24136, 16th and 20th September, 1803
Newby, E., [Appendix to the Index to] The Diary of Joseph Farington, (Yale, 1998), pp. 1040-1044

1803
the Wynd Cliff is the most extraordinary both from the wildness of its Position and the extent of Prospect from its top.
This is a Hill not immediately in the Park of immense height, overlooking every part of the country, wooded to the bottom and washed by the Wye. Its beauties, I think indescribable, I shall only say that Nature appears to have contended with Art to make this the most delightful spot. I shall content myself with naming the principal objects seen from it.
At one view I took in Monmouthshire, part of Brecknockshire, Glamorganshire, & the Bristol Channel to a prodigious extent, the greater part of Somersetshire and the County of Gloucester. In the nearer view, the grounds of Piercefield, the town of Chepstow and Castle, & the Wye for many miles.
This is, I think, prospect enough to satisfy the mind of any modern man, though some travellers have insisted on nine different counties being seen from the top of the Wynd Cliff, but which counties these are I leave to those immoderate men to determine.
Watercolour: The Windcliff.
Shum, George, ‘Sketches in Monmouthshire, Glamorganshire and Gloucestershire Made during the summer of 1803’ Newport Central Reference Library ms.

1805 (and possibly 1801)
We here take our leave of these walks, and proceed to the Windcliff which commands a view over the whole of those regions, of whose features we have hitherto enjoyed only partial prospects.
On quitting the PARK we proceed along a straight path for some yards, – and passing the dam head of a small pool, make an abrupt turn to the right into a broad road, this we follow, till we arrive at a lime kiln on the RIGHT HAND; from whence a foot path conducts to an eminence crowned with firs, to which our attention was directed.
Astonishing sight!—The face of Nature probably affords not a more magnificent scene! Lancaut in all its grandeur; the grounds of Persfield; the castle and town of Chepstow ; the graceful windings of the Wye below, and its conflux with the Severn; to the left, the forest of Dean; to the right, the rich marshes and picturesque mountains of South Wales; a broad view of the Severn, opening its sea-like mouth; the conflux of the Avon with merchant ships at anchor in King Road, and vessels of different descriptions under sail; Aust Cliff, and the whole vale, of Berkley, backed by the wooded swells of Glocestershire; the view terminating in clouds of distant hills rising one behind another, until the eye becomes unable to distinguish the earth’s billowy surface from the clouds themselves. [quoted from Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626]
A little below the Lover’s Leap, are a grand range of Rocks; which, from their number, have obtained the name of The Twelve Apostles, and another, below them, from a small spiral point issuing from its summit, the name of St. Peter’s Thumb, – a bold and interesting scene.
Lancaut Farms, Cliffs, and Chapel. Town, Bridge, and Castle, of Chepstow.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published.  By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805     [2nd edition. This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801]

1806
Wind Cliff, where we took a pistol which Mr Gerrard fired; the vibration of sound amongst these rocks is wonderful, and that of a single pistol is like a charge of musketry, diminishing in sound for the space of a minute or two.
Wright, Lucy, A Tour Through Wales to the South Coast, 1806, Wigan Public Library, Edward Hall Collection, EHC73/M842.

1808
High, above competition at the northern extremity of the scene rises Wynd cliff: a dark wood fringes it’s lofty summit, and shelves down it’s sides to the river Wye,
The Cambrian Traveller’s Guide, and Pocket Companion [by G. Nicholson], (1st edition, 1808), columns 495-500

1811
On your way, you can pass over Wyndcliff, which discloses a most beautiful view of the rivers Severn and Wye. The prospect was much enhanced, by its being the time of high-water; the view of the country from this cliff, resembled a map of a large garden stretched out before you; and is finely embellished with timber to the very top.
Webb, Daniel Carless, Observations and Remarks During Four Excursions Made to the Various Parts of Great Britain in the Years 1810 and 1811, performed by land, by sea, by various modes of conveyance and partly in the pedestrian style. (London, 1812), pp. 308, 313

1812
Nor must I omit to mention the majestic Windcliff which is situate near extremity of Piercefield wood and to which we next proceeded. Our view there was nearly similar in its principle features only that from its greater height it was more extensive and had the great advantage of shewing the very circuitous windings of the Wye and its fall into the channel. I felt the emotion so natural on viewing these enchanting scenes the wish for many to enjoy it with me knowing how impossible to impress my enjoyment in any other way – an emotion which frequently recurred…
Bletchley, Ann, Letter describing a trip from Swansea to Pontardulais, Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Record Service, SY 49, 9th October, 1812

1815
There is in the neighbourhood an eminence called Wind-Cliff, which I had frequently heard of, and was anxious to visit. I found my way thither through a plantation of firs that crowns this summit; at the end of which a landscape of such transcendent beauty and magnificence opened before me, as cast a sort of shade on every former scene within my observation. I felt as if I had been conducted to the spot by the hand of some invisible agent, to contemplate the regions of enchantment or the gardens of Elysium! It embraces a thousand picturesque objects; yet, as a whole, it is not picturesque, but possesses something of a superior kind, that cannot be easily described. The man of taste would ever gaze upon it with rapture and astonishment; but he would never think for a moment of sketching its likeness on canvass: he knows that the labour would be in vain. The scene is of too variegated, too immense, and too resplendent a character, to receive any just delineation from either the pencil of the painter or the inspiration of the poet.
But might not the proprietor of this imperial domain have built a Temple on Wind-Cliff, consecrating it to the Genius of the place? He might have done so; but in forbearing the attempt, he has done better. The precipice itself is a temple, which the ‘worshippers of Nature’ will always approach with ‘unsandel’d foot,’ considering the embellishments of Art as a profanation of her sacred grandeur!
Wind-Cliff, I believe, makes a part of the Piercefield estate, and is about two miles from Chepstow, in the road to Tintern-Abbey.
Evans, John, Remains of William Reed, Late of Thornbury; Including Rambles in Ireland, with other Compositions in prose, His Correspondence, and Poetical Productions. To which is prefixed, a Memoir of His Life; by the Rev John Evans, Author of The Ponderer.  (London, 1815), pp. 112-113

1818
Leaving these grounds through a door in the park-wall, you pass down a road to the Fishpond; then turning through a gate on the right, and walking up three fields, you arrive at the summit of Wynd Cliff. From this lofty eminence, commanding some of the most beautiful and extensive prospects in the island, may be seen the following objects.
Right beneath, the circuitous Wye, the pretty hamlet of Llancaut, and the whole domain of Piercefield; beyond, a little to the left, the Town and Castle of Berkeley, and the Town and Castle of Thornbury; before you, the Town and Castle of Chepstow, the majestic Severn, the union of the sister rivers Wye and Severn, the Old and New Passages; Durdham Down, Blaize Castle, and Dundry Tower near Bristol; a little to the right, Kingroad, and the mouth of the Avon, the Denny Islet, and Portishead Point; still farther to the right, the Holmes, and Penarth Point near Cardiff; behind you, the Black Mountains, and within the circle of the horizon, parts of the several counties of Monmouth, Gloucester, Wilts, Somerset, Devon, Glamorgan, Brecon, Hereford, and Worcester.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1819
we therefore proceeded to the top of Wind Cliff, one of the most striking features of the River Wye: a clump of trees on the top of a hill, about three miles from Chepstow, was our landmark; on reaching them we found ourselves on the summit of a noble precipice, descending perpendicularly to the flat ground forming the immediate bank of the river, which winds here in a most fantastic manner, nearly in the shape of a horse shoe; and its whole serpentine course can be traced from its mouth, with the bold rocky banks.
Sandys, William, (1792-1874), Sandys, Sampson, (1797-1880) (brothers) ‘Walk through South Wales in October, 1819’ NLW Cwrt Mawr MS393 C, pp. 7-9

1822
WINDCLIFF. What a Cathedral is among Churches, Windcliff is among Prospects: and if, like Snowdon, it ought to be visited at sun-rise, or be seen through a sun-rise glass [note:] The Author uses and recommends a well-known small yellow pocket glass, called a Claude, which gives a sun-rise view at full-day, without the obscuration of. the morning mist. [end of note] should not the sentiments felt from the view, be similar to those of the following grand apostrophe: for what is admiration of scenery without homage to the Omnipotent, but the cold approbation of the Mechanic, who thinks professionally, and is void of sentiment?
Upon Windcliff the scene described may be enjoyed in high perfection. “The morning sun rose bright and clear from the distant ocean. A gorgeous crimson glowed on the eastern sky, deepening towards the horizon, and blending its gradually pale hue with the light azure of the midheaven. Spiry points of deep red studded the undulating clouds, scintillating like Meteors aptly picturing the first flashes of fiery light, which flamed at the command of the most High, from the gloomy bosom of Chaos. All nature blushed in that orient light. It imbibed the hue descending from the Heaven of Heavens. The water sparkled, as it received the first kiss of the rosy morn: it was the eye of a lover kindling beneath the glance of his beloved. The trees waved in the early breeze; it was the salutation of a friend greeting with kindly welcome the return of some dear one. Awakened to the conviction and the enjoyment of a new existence, the whole pulse of animated creation, throbbed rapturously. It was the preeminent sensation of invigorated intellect. It was the winning of another day from death. Reclining on the summit of an eminence, he felt how multitudinous was the society of that unpeopled solitude. He enjoyed the communion which he held with the universe. He loved to cope with nature; to hold intercourse with the ancient mother of an infinitely numerous offspring; to collect from her more truths, than tradition ever treasured, than record ever presented to the view of man. He marked the gradual progress of light ; and he recalled the education which had been bestowed on the human race, a preparation for their reception of the revelation of the divine will; Every thing breathed instruction ; the world teemed with evidences of the truth of God. If ever eternity and infinitnde were within the grasp of the comprehension of man, it was in such a scene. [note:] The Priest [an excellent Novel], I, p. 186 seq. [end of note]
Similar scenes are described with equal felicity by Lord Byron, but there is such a mixture of Devil and Angel in his sentiments, that a feeling of pain accompanies the perusal. The heart is conscious, that such cannot be the homage due to the Creator.
Windcliff is the last grand scene of the Piersfield sublime Drama, and should have been included in the grounds. If an opinion must be given concerning the hack question, “which is the grandest scene on the Wye” the answer must be, “the Prospect from Windcliff.” It is not only magnificent, but it is so novel, that it excites an involuntary start of astonishment, and so sublime that it elevates the mind into instantaneous rapture. Its parts consist in a most uncommon combination of wood, rock, water, sky, and plain; of height, and abyss, of rough and smooth, of recess and projection, of fine landscape anear, and exquisite perspective afar, all melting into each other, and grouping in such capricious lines, that although it may find a counterpart in the tropical climes, it is, as to England, probably unique. It is unlikely that the mouths of two rivers should be so adjacent or so arranged as to form a similar scene, though a thousand views of sea, vale, and rock, may be of corresponding character, with only slight differences of surface. But the ground here is singular; and the features not being English, the physiognomy is of course, such as cannot be expected elsewhere. It also improves both upon our natural and foreign landscape; upon the former, because our scenery is not so fine as the foreign, which Windcliff resembles: upon the latter, because according to the observation of Humboldt, it has not that, “something strange and sad, which accompanies aspects of animated nature, in which man is nothing.” The spectator stands upon the edge of a precipice, the depth of which is most awful, and the river winds at his feet. The right side-screen is Piersfield ridge, richly wooded ; the left, is a belt of rocks, over which appear the Severn, and the fine shores between Thornbury and Bristol, rising behind each other in admirable swells, which unite in most graceful curves. The first foreground is to the eye, a view from the clouds upon earth, and the rich contrast of green meadows to wild forest scenery; the farm of Lancaut, clasped in the arms of the winding river, backed by hanging wood and rock. Thus there is a bay of verdure, walled in by nature’s colossal fences, wood, hill, and rock. The further horn of the crescent, tapers oil into a craggy informal mole, over which the eye passes to the second Bay. This terminates in Chepstow Castle, the town, and rocks beyond, all mellowed down, by distance into that fine hazy indistinctness, which makes even deformities combine in harmony with the picture. In the middle distance, the widening sea spreads itself, and from it the shores of Somerset and Monmouth shires steal away into the horizon. Lastly, all this union of large and bold objects, from being comprized within a circumference of a very few miles, unites the Landscape and the Prospect, together with the Forest and the Park character of unimpeded expanse, for the enclosures are few in any part, and by distance are almost diminished into imperceptible streaks. Thus the reproach of mappishness, does not attach to this exalted exhibition of the divine taste.
“There is, says Reed, … [Quotation from Evans, John, Remains of William Reed, (London, 1815), see above.]
Other writers, upon reaching Windcliff, clap their wings and crow away in similar exultation.
That Windcliff is degraded by being a mere nursery of paltry firs, which the power of the wind at such an elevation will spoil, and would gain nothing by a summer-house baby [sic] temple, is manifest. But a few high and massy Doric Columns with Architraves, however rude, would have the grand effect of the ruins of the Temple of Minerva upon the Sunian Promontory; and as the pillars would not require fluting, and materials are adjacent, the expence might be moderate. A portion of the Visitor’s contributions for seeing the grounds, might soon repay the cost, with a permanent rent afterwards. The mimick ruin might be set off by partial immersion in mood, and roomy niches might be hollowed out in the rock, at points of view, and be properly railed round, to prevent danger. The finest of these might contain a tablet, inscribed in the simple taste of the Greek Epitaph.
VALENTINE MORRIS,
Introduced these sublime Scenes
TO PUBLIC NOTICE-
TO HIM BE HONOUR, TO GOD PRAISE.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (New Edition, much enlarged, 1822), pp. 71-88; (5th edition, 1837)

1824
Our carriage met us at the gate and we rode about a mile to the Windcliff where we instantly forgot all fatigues in the magnificence of the view.
Martineau, Margaret, Hampshire Record Office 83M93/21, p. 52, July 27th 1824

1824
[Chepstow] The day proved favourable, as far as sunshine and blue sky could make it for our visit to Tintern Abbey. In the road to it we passed the beautiful grounds of Piercefield and ascended the Windcliff, a beautiful hill up which the Duke of Beaufort has made an agreeable walk adorned with seats &c. The view from the summit is exquisite indeed, and rather improved by the rich autumnal tint which the foliage wore.
Anon, A Journal of a tour in South Wales and the adjoining counties of Hereford and Monmouthshire. NLW Glynne Of Hawarden 57, ff. 81

1825
THE WINDCLIFF
HAVING taken leave of the Piercefield Walks, the Party can be taken up by their carriage at the Fishpond:_they will then proceed through two fields towards the second Lime-kiln on the right of the road—then turn short to the right up the hill leading to the Grove of Firs. Here the Party will alight, if they descend the rock – the vehicle can be sent back to the commencement of the New Road leading to Tintern. The driver must wait at the Cottage gate until the Company join him.
We now follow the foot path until we reach the towering eminence of the Cliff when the spectator may exclaim with the Poet,—
“Heavens! what a goodly prospect spreads around,
“Of hills and doles, and woods, and lawns, and spires,
“And glittering towns, and gilded streams! till all
“The stretching landscape into smoke decays!”
We cannot do justice to this astonishing scene; and shall, therefore, detail the opinions of those much better informed on the subject. [Quotations from Reed and Fosbroke, see above]
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65. (See J Clark, Chepstow, 1830 edition below.)
IDENTICAL TO: Anon, A guide to the stranger visiting the town of Chepstow; the delightful regions of Piercefield, the grand scenery of The Windcliff; the celebrated ruin of Tintern Abbey : &c. &c. : detailing whatever is worthy the traveller’s notice in this romantic neighbourhood … compiled from the latest and best authorities. (1825), pp. 40-59

1826
but the glorious eminence of WINDCLIFF may be attained from the Grotto Cottage, in the ascent up the Simplon of Monmouthshire that leads to Persfield and Chepstow, at any time in the week. – Language fails in attempting more than to notice the existence of such a scene! … It is impossible to find language to express the beauties which here unite to form this captivating and extensive picture.
ARRIVING AT THE WINDCLIFF.
A few paces immediately below the summit of the rise is an excavation, fifteen feet long by ten wide, with a wall in front, and a seat of the former extent, on which to the mind of the writer, company can enjoy, unawed by fear, this interesting spot with as much safety, ease, and convenience as though they occupied the dress circle of the boxes in either of our first London Theatres.
FOREGROUND.
We immediately look down on a declivity of two hundred feet, beautifully intermingled with rock and wood, to the extent of two hundred feet to the Grotto Cottage; passing the New Road, and carrying the eye down the same surface of wood and rock to an extent of two hundred feet more, we meet the river; beyond which the peninsular farm of Lancaut spreads its captivating charms, bounded by the cliffs, after which it is named, its natural bulwarks, compared with which other objects, however grand in themselves, appear but as a mere house of cards.
Bringing the eye farther round to the right, the Twelve Apostles, and St. Peter’s Thumb, the Lover’s Leap, terribly sublime, looking immediately down, one hundred and eighty feet, upon a vast hollow of wood; the beautiful park and house of Persfield, the fine cultivated district of St. Arvons and its neighbourhood, are the attractive objects in this part of the view.
THE DISTANCE.
Astonishing sight!—The face of Nature, probably, affords not a more magnificent scene! Lancaut in all its grandeur; the grounds of Persfield; the castle and town of Chepstow; the graceful windings of the Wye below, and its conflux with the Severn; to the left, the Forest of Dean; to the right, the rich marches and picturesque mountains of South Wales; a broad view of the Severn, opening its sea-like mouth; the conflux of the Avon, with merchant ships at anchor in King Road, and vessels of different descriptions under sail; Aust Cliff, and the whole vale of Berkeley, backed by the wooded swells of Glocestershire; the view terminating in clouds of distant. hills, rising one behind another, until the eye becomes unable to distinguish the earth’s billowy surface from the clouds themselves.
[quoted from Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626]
[note :] Thornbury and Berkeley Castles, –the counties of Brecon and Glamorgan, in Wales,—with Monmouth, Hereford, Worcester, Somerset, Wilts, and Devon, in England, embracing a crescent-like view to the extent of nearly, 100 miles! [end of note]
Also, should it not be possible to visit Persfield, on the day the grounds are open to the public, they can proceed in their equipages to the Windcliff—this delightful scene being open every day in the year.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Tintern Abbey with a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice relating to that much admired ruin and its neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities.  By Charles Heath, the 11th edition, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by Him, Agincourt Square: sold also at the Abbey: – and by Longman and Co. London. (1828) [no page numbers]

1828
After quitting Piercefield, I went by a road newly cut to Monmouth by the banks of the Wye to the foot of Wyndcliff. I ascended this cliff by 350 steps cut in the cliff at the foot of which is a small house covered in the inside covered in moss lately built by the Duke of Beaufort’s steward. I passed a cave which is cut in the rock. I walked along this cliff till I came to a small round seat sheltered at the back by the trees from whence the view is so fine that I understand that travellers will often spend a day there in admiring it. I thought the view nearly as extensive and much richer than on the top of Snowdon, perhaps the reason was that I had a clearer day for seeing this than I had for seeing Snowdon; the view also of the River Wye, its steep cliffs and windings all the way to its junction with the Severn add greatly to this prospect. I was told after I came down that when it was quite clear I could see part of eight counties from that spot.
Clark, Charles B., Tour of Wales in August and September, 1828, NLW MS 15002A, 7th October 1828 (Tuesday)

1829
After quoting Fosbroke on Windcliff at length, Wintle continued:
We now prepared to take our leave of the stupendous cliff. Mere philosophy, in comparing Windcliff with the man who views it, would give the advantage to the natural wonder. How insignificant in form is the man how diminutive and contemptible his boasted power and dignity, when in competition with the grandeur and sublimity of the soaring cliff. But Christianity places the matter in a different light—man, in his present state, is but the little seed of what he shall be. At that important awful period, when Windcliff, and the striking forms this earth assumes, shall melt with fervent heat, and be reduced to dust and ashes, man may increase in dignity, shall be transplanted to scenes of brightness itself, and, in ethereal splendour, majestically increase through endless ages. Having seated ourselves in the carriages, we passed by Piercefield to Chepstow.
It was not the day for seeing Piercefield, which we did not so much regret as we had enjoyed its best view from the magnificent Windcliff.
Wintle, Thomas Drayton, A Tour on the Wye: Or an Account of a Three Days’ Journey from Gloucester to Ross, Monmouth & Chepstow, (Gloucester, 1829), pp. 46-48

1831
WINDCLIFF.
This is an almost perpendicular hill, about 1000 feet in height, crowned with a dark wood, which extends down its sides to the Wye. The view from the top is the grandest scene on the banks of this river, and one of the most beautiful in England. It extends into nine counties, and presents such an extraordinary combination of wood, rock, water, sky, and plain; of height and abyss, of rough and smooth, of recess and projection, of fine landscape near, and exquisite perspective afar, all melting into each other, and grouping with such admirable harmony, that it is almost impossible to conceive of a scene more beautiful.
The spectator stands upon the edge of a precipice, the depth of which is awful, and the river winds at his feet, walled in by rugged rocks. To the right are the woods of Piercefield, and beyond them the town and castle of Chepstow; to the left, a range of rocks, over which appears the Severn and the fine shores between Thornbury and Bristol, rising behind each other in graceful curves. This view also embraces the union of the Severn and the Wye, at the head of the peninsula of Beachley, the mountains of Brecon and Glamorgan, the hills of Somersetshire, and the Bristol Channel.
Leigh, Samuel, Leigh’s Guide to Wales & Monmouthshire: containing observations on the mode of travelling, plans of various tours, sketches of the manners and customs, notices of historical events, and description of every remarkable place, and a minute account of the Wye, with a map of Wales.
1st edition, 1831; 2nd ed. 1833; 3rd ed. 1835, p. 265; 4th ed. 1839 p. 279; 5th ed.; 6th ed. 1841; 6th ed. 1842 and 1844

1831
Between Tintern and Chepstow is the Wyndcliff – a superb, abrupt elevation from the banks of the river – The descriptive beauties of the Wye had filled my imagination almost to an overflow – how great was then my surprise at this spot, when reality far exceeded the utmost limits of fancy – the scenes beheld from hence were little inferior to more extensive prospects which some of the mountains in Switzerland unfold – and those, who know the grandeur, loveliness and variety of them will readily conceive what I so happily witnessed here – The same varied accompaniments – the ?serene magic transitions from fields and pastures to rocks and precipices, from dark heaving forests to sunny groves, are seen within the compass of the Wyndcliff view, as are discovered from the summit of an alpine mountain – in short, how delightfully contrasted in our English landscape with the wilder scenery of the Alps – What more of a general description can I add? The minute particularities of this delightful panorama deserve individual remark – but the limits of a journal will not admit of more than a cursory glance at the most prominent of them. …
Marsh, John H., (Cicestra), ‘Tour through south and north Wales; in 1831’, Cardiff Central Library, MS 3.589

1833
A little stone wall is conveniently built up here on a jutting piece of rock, which effectually prevents the visitor from feeling timid, while it affords protection from the wind, and proves beside a comfortable seat.
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B, ff. 21v-24v

1834
The view from the summit of Windcliff is considered one of the most beautiful in England. From the edge of a rock nearly a thousand feet, high, the prospect extends into nine counties; the Wye under the feet of the beholder, the Severn beyond it, the narrow separation for several miles between these two rivers, their union at the head of the peninsula at Beachley, the sea in the distance, the mountains of Brecon and Glamorgan, the Gloucestershire and Somersetshire hills, the castle and cliffs of Chepstow, and the rare combination of evergreens, wild flowers, rocks, ruins, woods, hills, vallies, plains, & water —defy all adequate description. Travellers [Tourists in 2nd ed.]  are loud in their encomiums of this extraordinary cliff, – the powers of the artist are useless in depicting such varied scenes as are here displayed, consequently no pictorial depiction has been attempted.
Anon, A pocket guide through Monmouthshire … (1834)

1836
On gaining the open space[at the top of Windcliff], one of the most extensive and beautiful views that can be imagined bursts upon the eye, or rather, I should say, a vast group of views of distinct and opposite character here seem to blend and unite in one. At a depth of about eight hundred feet, the steep descent below presents in some places single projecting rocks; in others, a green bushy precipice. In the valley, the eye follows for several miles the course of the Wye, which issues from a wooded glen on the left hand, curves round a green garden-like peninsula, rising into a hill studded with beautiful clumps of trees, then forces its foaming way to the right, along a huge wall of rock, nearly as high as the point where you stand, and at length, beyond Chepstow Castle, which looks like a ruined city, empties itself into the Bristol Channel, where ocean closes the dim and misty distance. On the other side of the river, immediately in front, the peaked tops of a long ridge of hills extend nearly the whole district which the eye commands. It is thickly clothed with wood, out of which a continuous wall of rock, festooned with ivy, picturesquely rears its head. Over this ridge (Llancaut Cliffs, or Bannagor Crags) you again discern water,—the Severn five miles broad, thronged with white sails, on either side of which are seen blue ridges of hills, full of fertility and cultivation. The grouping of the landscape is perfect. I know of no picture more beautiful. Inexhaustible in details, of boundless extent, and yet marked by such grand and prominent features, that confusion and monotony, the usual defects of a very wide prospect, are completely avoided. The descent from Windcliff to the Moss Cottage …
Roscoe, Thomas, Wanderings and Excursions in South Wales with the Scenery of the River Wye, (London, 1836), pp. 134-136; 2nd edition 1837, another edition 1844; another edition 1854, pp. 153-157

1839
The easiest ascent, and the one which, by concealing the expected view until arriving at the summit of the cliff, trebly enhances its beauty, commences nearer Piercefield than the “Moss Cottage”, and winds up the hill, through woods and copse, until, emerging from the screening trees, on the crowning platform of rock, it commands the wondrous scene spread forth below, in all its varies, rich, and grand immensity. It sees as if the genius of the Wye and its fair banks, had here set up his giant-throne, whence he might look abroad over all his vassal-hills, and hold communion with the mountain kings of Cambria.
Similar in character to the views from Llancaut and Piercefield, this Windcliff panorama far exceeds, inasmuch as it concentrates all those. … I doubt, if there be one of more rich and varied beauty than this “all bonny England through”.
{Long quotation from Prince Puckler Muskau and Fosbroke}.
Twamley, Louisa A. The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44

1839
Wyndcliff. This is the last grand scene of the Piercefield sublime drama; it is not only magnificent, but it is so novel, that it excites an involuntary start of astonishment.
{Quotation from Fosbroke and Reed}
Anon, Thirteen views with a brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow. A brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow. (Gloucester: 1839), pp. 38-40

1839
WYNDCLIFF
The hand of art has smoothed the path up the declivity, tastefully throwing the course into multiplied windings, which fully accord with the name of the hill, and the nature of the scenery which it commands. At every turn some pendant rock girt with ivy, some shady yew, or some novel glimpse at the vale below, caught through the thick beechy mantle of this lovely precipice, invite the beholder to the luxury of rest. Still ascending, at length the mouth of a chasm, as much the work of nature as the hill itself, suddenly yawns upon the path, into the dark sinuosities of which it boldly leads. Nevertheless the eclipse is as transient as the passage is short, for at the other extremity a long flight of steps is found stretching up the naked rock, otherwise impassable, and leading to the summit, which, with a hasty step, the tourist climbs, anxious to attain the climax of his hope and exertion. What a panorama is then unfolded to the eye! What an exulting feeling of freedom possesses the mind! The senses of the soul, no longer tied to these finite and imbecile forms, seem to take wing and soar like yonder swooping kite, as if lords of air and not denizens of earth alone!
As allusion has already been made to the leading features of the scene, I will refresh the reader’s memory with a diagram of the principal objects within the scope of vision.
Tinterne and its Vicinity, (1839), pp. 11-12
Thomas, William Heard, Tintern and its Vicinity, Second edition enlarged and greatly improved.  [c. 1845], pp. 16-19
The text in the two editions is the same.

1842
I do not know the height of the Wind Cliff – the guide book says it is “most awful” – hard to descend, still harder to mount: but there is a good-natured woman at the bottom who mounts most cheerfully for a shilling, and will do so many times in the day.
Lady Ritchie [Thackeray’s daughter], editor, The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray, vol. 26, (Miscellanies), (London, 1911), pp. 100-130

1843
The road is now regained upon the summit of a gentle eminence, from which the prospect is very beautiful; thence gently descending you reach the path leading to Windcliff, slowly winding your way up a devious and gentle ascent, encircled by woods, you are at length brought to the pine-crowned summit of Windcliff, where, standing on its brow, the vision at once expands to grasp an extent of scenery, incommunicable as regards description, even by the tongue of the most gifted and inspired of poets, as we may judge by the subjoined confession of a favourite author.
Anon [Willett, Mark], The Stranger’s Illustrated Guide to Chepstow, (1843), note, pp. 15-21

1844
The Wynd Cliff.-This lofty eminence commands one of the finest and most varied prospects in the United Kingdom; while the scenery of the Cliff has a particular charm for every lover of the picturesque. Poet, painter, and historian, have combined their efforts to make it a place of pilgrimage; but, to be seen in all its beauty, the rich and various tints of autumn and a bright sun are indispensable accessories. It may be called the “Righi” of the Wye, commanding a vast circumference of fertile plains and wooded hills, all enlivened with towns, villages, churches, castles, and cottages; with many a classic spot on which the stamp of history is indelibly impressed—names embodied in our poetry, and embalmed by religious associations. From the edge of the precipice, nearly a thousand feet in height, the prospect extends into eight counties—Brecon, Glamorgan, Monmouth, Hereford, Gloucester, Wilts, Somerset, and Devon.
For the enjoyment of this inspiring scene, every facility has been supplied; and even the invalid tourist, with time and caution, may reach the summit without fatigue. “The hand of art,” says the local guide, “has smoothed the path up the declivity, tastefully throwing the course into multiplied windings, which fully accord with its name, and the nature of the scenery which it commands. At every turn some pendant rock girt with ivy, some shady yew, or some novel glimpse on the vale below, caught through the thick beechy mantle of this romantic precipice, invite the beholder to the luxury of rest.” Still ascending, the tourist penetrates a dark-winding chasm, through which the path conducts him in shadowy silence to the last stage of the ascent, which gradually discloses one of the most enchanting prospects upon which the human eye can repose. From the platform to the extreme verge of the horizon, where the Downs of Wiltshire and the Mendip hills form the boundary line, the eye ranges over a vast region of cultivated fields, waving forests, and populous towns, sufficient of themselves to furnish the resources of a principality.
The pens of Reed, Warren, and Gilpin, have been successively employed in sketching the features of this magnificent panorama; but nothing can be more correct and graphic than the following description by Fosbroke {quotation}.
An observatory, the guide informed us, was intended some years since to have crowned this noble eminence, and a subscription was got up for the purpose; but some difference having arisen between the projectors of the scheme and the proprietor of the land, it was dropped.
Beattie, William, The Castles and Abbeys of England, from the National Records, …  Second Series, [1844], pp. 26-31

1846
Proceeded thence to rocky Windcliff’s wooded steep, about one mile; keeping away from the Wye, and intending to gain its summit from behind, but failed in that, beavering away too much to the right instead of to the left, while passing through the woods which crown the ridge of the limestone rocks of which Windcliff, 800 feet high, is the highest point: the morning being dull and misty, I had no distant prospect, but still dull and misty as it was, the home view, as seen from the Alcove perched aloft like an Eagle’s eye, was very lovely; to gain which had to work my way down to the road, and then ascend from the Moss Cottage, {views}
The woods at the base of Windcliff are now being thinned, and as a matter of course shorn of  some of the finest trees, the timber being the object. Perfect silence reigns around, excepting when the sound of the woodcutter’s axe falls upon the ear, or the cries of chirrups of the birds are heard, or it may [be] the occasional rumble of a passing carriage or the merry voice of some light-hearted child. After staying aloft in the alcove nearly an hour descended again to the moss cottage whence after staying in consequence of the rain for nearly half an hour, progressed onwards towards Tintern.
Anon [W.D.P.?], “Account of a Tour” 19 August-3 September 1846, NLW Cwrt Mawr MS 761 B, pp. 125-129, 20th August, 1846

1848
The task [of climbing to the summit of Win] completed, the eye enjoys one of the finest views that can be surveyed. So varied in its character, so many singularly beautiful features are there, that the eye seeks in vain to decide which is the most striking; and while wandering everywhere, can fix nowhere, nor say this, or that, is to be preferred. Besides this variety, and extensive survey of the surrounding country, it commands the finest prospect of the Wye’s graceful windings, of any elevation throughout its career. So numerous, and so intricate are some of these, that they often seem linked together; and so strangely circuitous is its course, that in some places, it seems to have reached its boundary, looking shut in, like some lakes, by numberless mountains, which form a kind of amphitheatre around them, and on whose glassy surface is reflected their wild and picturesque forms, giving a sublimity as well as beauty to the scene. Such appearances, however, are occasioned by the numerous and extraordinary bendings of the Wye; which winds its sinuous way through narrow passes, and then branches out again into a broad river, rendering it impossible to follow its course, ever varying, as it does, its place and its dimensions; sometimes it altogether conceals its track, until, after long tracing, the eye catches again, at an immense distance, and in quite an opposite direction, its shiny waters.
A rich delight to watch from Wyndcliff’s top
The beauteous Wye pursue its graceful course,
Sparkling like liquid silver as it glides
Between the lofty rocks which mark its edge,
Then disappearing, as its boundary reached;
Then suddenly, as by some magic wand,
At distance seen again; and then again
Surrounding patches green, which, at first sight,
Appear like floating islands, but, ere long,
Prove to be, still, the strange meanderings
Of the unrivalled and the changeful Wye.
S.S.S. (possibly Sophia S Simpson), [Notes on a Tour Through Wales in 1848], ‘The Visitor or Monthly Instructor’, (1848), pp. 113-115

1853
WYNDCLIFF.
Leaving these grounds through a door in the park-wall, you pass into the Tintern new road near the fish-pond; then turning by the first lime-kiln, you ascend to the summit of Wyndcliff, an eminence much above the rest, and commanding the whole in one view. The Wye runs at the foot of the hill; the peninsula lies just below; the deep bosom of the semicircular hanging wood is full in sight; over part of it the great rock appears, all its base, all its accompaniments are seen; the country immediately beyond is full of lovely hillocks, and the higher grounds in the counties of Somerset and Gloucester rise in the horizon. The Severn seems to be, as it really is above Chepstow, three or four miles wide; below the town it spreads almost to a sea; the county of Monmouth is the higher shore; and between its beautiful hills appear at a great distance the mountains of Brecknock and Glamorganshire. In extent, in variety and grandeur, few prospects are equal to this. It comprehends all the noble scenes of Piercefield, encompassed by some of the finest country in Britain.
If an opinion must be given concerning the hack question— “Which is the grandest scene on the Wye” the answer must be “The prospect from Wyndcliff.” It is not only magnificent, but it is so novel, that it excites an involuntary start of astonishment, and so sublime that it elevates the mind into instantaneous rapture. Its parts consist in a most uncommon combination of wood, rock, water, sky, and plain; of height and abyss, of rough and smooth, of recess and projection, of fine landscape a-near, and exquisite perspective afar, all melting into each other, and grouping in such capricious lines, that although it may find a counterpart in the tropical climes, it is, as to England, probably unique. It is unlikely that the mouths of two rivers should be so adjacent or so arranged as to form a similar scene, though a thousand views of sea, vale and rock, may be of corresponding character, with only slight differences of surface; but the ground here is singular, and the features not being English the physiogmy is of course, such as cannot be expected elsewhere. It also improves both upon our natural and foreign landscape; upon the former because the scenery is not so fine as the foreign, which Wyndcliff resembles upon the latter; because according to the observation of Humboldt, it has not that “something strange and sad which accompanies aspects of animated nature, in which man is nothing.”
The spectator stands upon the edge of a precipice the depth of which is most awful, and the river winds at his feet. The right side screen is Piercefield ridge, richly wooded; the left, is a belt of rocks, over which appear the Severn, and the fine shores between Thornbury and Bristol, rising behind each other in admirable swells, which unite in most graceful curves. The first fore-ground is, to the eye, a view from the clouds upon earth, and the rich contrast of green meadows to wild forest scenery. The farm of Llancaut clasped in the arms of the winding river, backed by hanging wood and rock. Thus there is a bay of verdure, walled in by natures colossal fences, wood, hill, and rock. The further horn of the Crescent tapers off into a craggy, informal mole, over which the eye passes to the second bay. This terminates in Chepstow Castle, the town, and the rocks beyond, all mellowed down by distance, into that fine hazy indistinctness which makes even deformities combine in harmony with the picture. In the middle distance, the widening sea spreads itself, and from it the shores of Somerset and Monmouthshire steal away into the horizon. Lastly, all this union of large and bold objects, from being comprised within a circumference of a very few miles, unites the landscape and the prospect, together with the forest and the park character, of unimpeded expanse; for the enclosures are few in any part, and by distance are almost diminished into imperceptible streaks. Thus the reproach of mappishness does not attach to this exalted exhibition of the divine taste.
But (says Read [Reed]) might not the proprietor of this imperial domain have built a temple on Wyndcliff, consecrating it to the genius of the place? He might have done so, but in forbearing the attempt he has done better. The precipice itself is a temple, which the “worshippers of nature” will always approach with ” unsandaled foot,” considering the embellishments of art, as a profanation of her sacred grandeur.
From the summit of “Wyndcliff, it is nearly 900 feet above the level of the river, and from it may be viewed some of the most beautiful and extensive prospects in Great Britain, comprehending at one view not only the different scenes in the neigbourhood of Chepstow, which appear sunk in the lines of a map, but a wonderful range over part of nine counties, …
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (1853); (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

1854
We must hasten onward from Piercefield, and ascend the WYNDCLIFFE by the road that we have previously described. Cowper might have written, “God made the country, man the town,” from the top of this crag. The eye ranges over portions of nine counties, yet there seems to be no confusion in the prospect; the proportions of the landscape, which unfolds itself in regular yet not in monotonous succession, are perfect; there is nothing to offend the most exact critic in “picturesque” scenery.
Cliffe, Charles Frederick, The book of South Wales, the Bristol channel, Monmouthshire and the Wye, (3rd edition, edited and revised by the Rev. George Roberts, 1854), pp. 364-366

1855
We climbed the Windcliff, and thence surveyed the combined glories of land, and sea, and of inland stream, which are its peculiar charm. Where else can be seen such a prospect: such inland river scenery, blended with the view of a broad arm of ocean, side by side, and apparently not united? It would be vain for me to attempt description, but I found it all I could ask; and on that breezy height recalled to mind those incomparable lines of Wordsworth, composed upon the spot or near it, in which he exhorts the lover of Nature to store up such scenes in memory, and thus make “the mind a mansion for all lovely forms.”
Coxe, A Cleveland, (American?), Impressions of England, (New York, 1856 (2nd edition), p. 216), Dated 1855 on dedication page

1858
1st August, 1858 Ellen and I walked to the top of Wyndcliff and saw the best part of the scenery of the Wye under most favourable circumstances. The view from the top is very extensive
Extending over the estuary of the Severn and bounded by the Gloucestershire Hills. It is impossible to exaggerate the beauty of the nearer view. The Wye winds beneath lofty cliffs densely wooded on one side and leaving on the other bank pleasant meadows and richly cultivated land. The trees, Oaks, Beeches, Elms and Ash, are remarkably large and fine; and the quantity of Ivy and Evergreen in the woods, conveys the impression of a much warmer climate than what we have in the North of England. The walk was a very lovely one and we did not get home till late. …
Headlam, Thomas, ‘Illustrated Journal of a tour in Monmouthshire on the Wye and in North Wales during the Month of August, 1858’ by Thomas E Headlam with watercolour sketches by his wife Ellen, NMGW St Fagans, ms WFM 1561, pp. 6-11

1858 (and earlier?)
WINDCLIFF. In proceeding from Tintern towards Chepstow, at the distance of two miles from the former, and of three miles from the latter, is The Moss Cottage, a fanciful little erection, built by the Duke of Beaufort for the convenience of parties visiting Windcliff. It is a rustic building, thatched and lined with moss, having Gothic windows with stained glass. Here direction and assistance may be obtained for ascending the height, and picnic parties and others may receive suitable accommodation. From the cottage a path is formed to the summit of the cliff, which is about 800 feet above the level of the river. Another way of ascent, easier though more circuitous, commences near St. Arvan’s, a mile farther on the road towards Chepstow, and if parties who are riding to that town proceed so far before they begin their walk, carriages may be sent back to the Moss Cottage, in order to await their descent. The extensive prospect commanded from the summit is generally extolled as one of the most beautiful in the island. It may be more correct to state that the scene here presented to view has peculiar characteristics of beauty by which it is distinguished from others. The objects included are the following :—the new line of road from Chepstow to Tintern, the circuitous Wye, traced through several miles of its course, between its rocky and wooded banks, the pretty hamlet of Lancaut, with the perpendicular crags of Bannagor, and the whole domain of Piercefield; a little to the left, Berkeley castle and Thombury church; on the right, successively, the town and castle of Chepstow, the majestic Severn, and the confluence of the two rivers, Wye and Severn, the Old and New Passages, Durdham Down, and Dundry Tower, near Bristol, the mouth of the Avon, and Portishead Point; to the S. W., the Holmes, and Penarth Point, near Cardiff ; and far away in the N .W., the Black Mountains, forming a sublime background to the whole; thus embracing parts of nine counties, namely, Monmouth, Gloucester, Wilts, Somerset, Devon, Glamorgan, Brecon, Hereford, and Worcester. Mr. Roscoe writes of this scene; “the grouping of the landscape is perfect. I know of no picture more beautiful. Inexhaustible in details, of boundless extent, and yet marked by such grand and prominent features, that confusion and monotony, the usual defects of a very wide prospect, are completely avoided.”
Anon, Black’s Picturesque Guide through North and South Wales and Monmouthshire,
(8th edition, 1858), pp. 391-392
(11th edition, 1861), pp.391-392
(1869), pp. 377-378
(1870), pp. 377-378

1859
About two miles in the road back [from Tintern to Chepstow], on the right hand, stands Moss Cottage, a little house tastefully fitted up; on passing through it and paying a toll of three pence each to a matron, the ascent of Wyndcliff begins. The hand of art has smoothed and prepared the path up the acclivity, throwing it into numerous windings. At nearly every turn some jutting rock girt with ivy, some shady yew, or some glimpse at the luxuriant valley below, invites to a temporary rest. Further up the mouth of a frightful chasm is reached, which appears as old as the hill itself—it yawns suddenly at the end of a darkly-shaded path. A long flight of steps then stretches away up over the naked rock, and soon leads to the summit. A fine panorama is then unfolded—the south of Monmouthshire, the Severn a wide light streak, the Cotswold Hills, the Wiltshire Downs, the Mendip Hills, the Bristol Channel, the both Holms, Weston-Super-Mare, and the north-east coast of Devon. We had determined to spend an hour here, and picnic: and well-delighted we were – “well we spent it,” was very nearly said. The day had been bright, balmly, and beautiful, and when we left the sun was about to disappear behind a bold mountain range whose aspect was imparting a certain grandeur to the evening scene. When the glory of such a landscape stretches before you, and when every sense is satisfied, one perhaps feels then, if ever, benevolence towards the whole human race, and pure friendship for present friends : it seems to be the period for affectionate thought, and free and easy conversation— the time
“To glance from theme to theme,
Discuss the books, to love or hate,
To touch the changes of the state,
Or thread some deep Socratic dream.”
In the quietude of such grand scenery we trace more uninterruptedly and agreeably the footprints of genius,live again in memories, and realize and luxuriate in the past. Our “four-wheel” having been appointed to go up a bye-lane that winds up the southern side of Wyndcliff and our time being up to meet it, we took a farewell view, and descended from the plateau, passing down through two fields into a lane brightly green, where we met the driver, horse and “trap”: the latter was resting from its labours, the fine young horse was unharnessed and grazing at will as if unconscious of any rights but natural ones, and the driver with folded arms was setting on the gate-post smoking a short-pipe and looking around as happily and composedly as if just fancying, “I am monarch of all I survey,”
Brooking, J. R., A Few Rough Notes, Taken During a Western Excursion, (1861), pp. 122-123

1860
the ascent to the Wyndcliff top is tolerably fatiguing after a days exertion; though, were it trebly so, the mighty view would fully recompense.
I emerge upon what is termed, and rightly termed,THE VIEW. A view indeed!
From this natural grotto let me revel in the glorious prospect whose beauty is surpassing, whose extent is extraordinary. A moment since all was gloom and obscurity; now, the loveliness of the summer evening is everywhere, to the far horizon.
Peacock, William F., Coles’s Tourist’s Guide Book. What I saw in the Golden Valley: being a trip to Monmouthshire, through the counties of Salop and Hereford, with personal visits to Raglan Castle Goodrich Castle, Goodrich Court, The Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Symonds Yat, Coldwell Rocks and the Abergavenny mountains; also ‘The tour of the Wye’  [1860], (2nd edition [ca.1860]).

1867
the grandest scene on the Wye is that to be obtained from the Wind cliff, which we ascended with some considerable difficulty, and were only too glad when we reached the summit. Here we were perched high up in the air, with the water and clouds beneath us, standing upon the edge of a precipice, the depth of which caused us to shudder, and the farm houses in the valley beneath appearing to have been reduced to one-third their actual size, with the eccentric river winding at our feet like the letter S, and resembling a small creek. For let my readers recollect that we were one thousand feet above its level, and from where we overlooked nine counties, said to be the most beautiful and extensive prospect in Great Britain.
Whyte, William, [Gwilym Iorwerth Gwynn who was born in Loughor, but had emigrated to America]. O’er the Atlantic; or, a journal of a voyage to and from Europe (New York, 1870), pp. 110-111

1869
WINDCLIFF
Is 3 miles distant from Chepstow, on the road to Tintern Abbey and Monmouth. On the summit of the rocks are some seats, on which the traveller will find it agreeable to rest after his walk, and contemplate a most magnificent and extended prospect, beyond the power of language to describe, or the pencil of the artist to portray. It is a scene of enchantment-luxuriant woods, romantic rocks, fertile valleys, and a winding stream blending in harmony in the foreground, and melting into each other in the distance.
“ Who would not wander here! Who would not here
Grow old in song! The poet, soul refresh’d,
With glowing cheek, and eye uplift to heav’n,
Might look through nature here to nature’s God.”
To recount the whole of the pleasing objects taken in within range of the eye would occupy more time and space than can be allotted. It will be sufficient to state that, from the summit of the rock, which is nearly 900 feet above the river, parts of the counties of Monmouth, Gloucester, Devon, Somerset, Wilts, Glamorgan, Brecon, Hereford, and Worcester may be seen.
“ What a goodly prospect spreads around,
O! hills, and dales, and woods, and lawns, and spires,
And glittering towns, and gilded streams! till all
The stretching landscape into smoke decays.”

Before quitting this “fir-topped cliff,” it may be mentioned, for those who are interested in such matters, that the lovers of science will find within a short distance amusements in several pursuits. The geologist will see that the cliff is formed of hard white limestone, on a bed of blue, that the soil around it formed of diluvium conglomerate and sandstone, and that there are some crinoids and other fossils imbedded in the seams of the limestones.
The ornithologist may chance to alight upon the rare and beautifully crest/ed Bohemian waxwing (Bombycilla garrula), and may see hovering over the rocks and woods the hawk, the barrier, and the kite; whilst the wary and suspicious raven, that “evil boding crow,” perches moodily upon the branches issuing from the crevices of a rugged rock, and the blinking owl sits moping in its retired haunt, secure from the noon-tide sun; chattering pies and jays their discord ring; blackbirds trill from the ivy mantled banks and sepulchral yew, and thrushes whistle from the thorny brake; the cooing note of the ring dove is heard from the lofty trees, whilst in the bushes around, linnets and finches pour out their soft and} melodious notes; and further off, as the shades of evening approach, the nightingale puts forth its plaintive tale.
The entomologist will be afforded amusement in watching the unsteady flight of some of the gayest butterflies of our land, {list}
Clarke, J.H., History of Monmouthshire (Usk, 1869)

The Windcliff steps

      

These steps, variously numbered as 350, 360 and 365 led nearly 1,000 feet up from the Moss Cottage to the top of Windcliff. They were created by Osmond Wyatt, the Duke of Beaufort’s steward in the 1828. At some time, a charge was made at the cottage for the use of the steps to the top.
There were alternative, easier but longer routes up Windcliff.

1801
A beautiful walk two miles in length skirts [Marlridge] meadow, at the foot of the stupendous range of Piercefield Cliffs, and then mounts to the house by steps cut in a steep rock. As the house stands several hundred feet above the river, the ascent is long and difficult; but the toil is amply repaid by the beauty and sublimity of the scenes.
Coxe, William, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire, (1801), pp. 392-402

1828
After quitting Piercefield, I went by a road newly cut to Monmouth by the banks of the Wye to the foot of Wyndcliff. I ascended this cliff by 350 steps cut in the cliff at the foot of which is a small house covered in the inside covered in moss lately built by the Duke of Beaufort’s steward. I passed a cave which is cut in the rock.
Clark, Charles B., Tour of Wales in August and September, 1828, NLW MS 15002A, 7th October 1828

1828
I stopped at the Moss Cottage at the foot of the mountain, but it began to rain so fast, that there was no hope of seeing any thing, even if I had taken the trouble to ascend the long flight of steps which led to the top;
Green, Jacob, Notes of a Traveller during a tour of England, France and Switzerland in 1828, vol. 2, (New York, 1831), pp. 115-117, 121-124

1828
WINDCLIFF, AND THE LOVER’S LEAP. THE TWELVE APOSTLES
From hence [base of Windcliff], a road has been formed, through this broad face of woody and rocky hill, to the Windcliff— by an irregular ascent of between two and three hundred steps, in the course of which seats have been placed in prominent parts, as well for rest as the enjoyment of the Views; at the end of which we gain the glorious eminence, where days might be passed in contemplating this scene,—whose matchless unities are extolled to the extent of the districts by which it is impaled.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Tintern Abbey with a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice relating to that much admired ruin and its neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. (1828)

1831
WINDCLIFF. This is an almost perpendicular hill, about 1000 feet in height, crowned with a dark wood, which extends down its sides to the Wye. The view from the top is the grandest scene on the banks of this river, and one of the most beautiful in England. It extends into nine counties, and presents such an extraordinary combination of wood, rock, water, sky, and plain; of height and abyss, of rough and smooth, of recess and projection, of fine landscape near, and exquisite perspective afar, all melting into each other, and grouping with such admirable harmony, that it is almost impossible to conceive of a scene more beautiful.
The spectator stands upon the edge of a precipice, the depth of which is awful, and the river winds at his feet, walled in by rugged rocks. To the right are the woods of Piercefield, and beyond them the town and castle of Chepstow; to the left, a range of rocks, over which appears the Severn and the fine shores between Thornbury and Bristol, rising behind each other in graceful curves. This view also embraces the union of the Severn and the Wye, at the head of the peninsula of Beachley, the mountains of Brecon and Glamorgan, the hills of Somersetshire, and the Bristol Channel.
Leigh, Samuel, Leigh’s Guide to Wales & Monmouthshire: containing observations on the mode of travelling, plans of various tours, sketches of the manners and customs, notices of historical events, and description of every remarkable place, and a minute account of the Wye, with a map of Wales.
1st edition, 1831; 2nd ed. 1833; 3rd ed. 1835, p. 265; 4th ed. 1839 p. 279; 5th ed.; 6th ed. 1841; 6th ed. 1842 and 1844;

1833
A little stone wall is conveniently built up here [the top of Windcliff] on a jutting piece of rock, which effectually prevents the visitor from feeling timid, while it affords protection from the wind, and proves beside a comfortable seat. At a few steps below, is a recess, which enjoys the same advantages. Following downward a winding stair cut out of the rock, we entered a sort of cavern, which, penetrating with much caution we found to possess an outlet about 15 yards further on, being really no other than a large cleft, extending about 25 feet high and 2 broad.
Lower still we found another, and continually beautiful little vistas of trees terminating in some interesting feature of the landscape below. After descending thus for about ¼ of an hour we arrived at the “moss cottage”
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B, ff. 21v-24v

1834
From this point [Moss Cottage] up the rocky precipice to the apparently inaccessible summit of the cliff paths are formed, which winding through several natural caverns and over beds of moss and wild flowers, and protected by parapets of rocks, or mountain trees, afford at every successive turn a different and still more beautiful view of the landscape below.
Anon, A pocket guide through Monmouthshire containing An Account of every thing worthy the Notice of Strangers in that interesting County, Comprising particular descriptions of the castles of Chepstow, Ragland, Newport & Usk, The Splendid Ruin of Tintern Abbey, and the Beautiful Scenery in the Vicinity of Chepstow. Also, Directions for Travellers making the Tour of South Wales. Together with a description of the beautiful Scenery on the Banks of the Wye: From the Rise of that River at Plinlimmon to its Fall into the Severn below Chepstow. (1834), pp. 72-74

1835
climbing up the steep sides of the Wynd Cliff, which would be almost inaccessible on the river side, but for some ladder-like steps that have been arranged, and some zigzag paths that have been cut in the rock. In the rear of the cliff there is a much easier ascent.
Anon, ‘The Wye’, The Penny Magazine, issue no. 219, Aug. 31, 1835

1836 (about)
the summit of which grand eminence [Windcliff], several paths lead through the rocks and underwood. The most approved plan is to ascend by a somewhat circuitous, but easy route, nearer St. Arvan’s.
The descent from Windcliff to the Moss Cottage is easily made by means of steps cut in the rock, amid shrubs and wood of great variety and beauty, and presents the landscape in an unceasing diversity of forms.
Roscoe, Thomas, Wanderings and Excursions in South Wales with the Scenery of the River Wye, (London, 1836), pp. 134-136; 2nd edition 1837, another edition 1844; another edition 1854, pp. 153-157

1839
Returning to the summit, an opening to the left leads to a flight of rude steps, down which we pass enjoying the scenery at every opening. In the course of the descent, the path passes through a natural cavern in the rock, the light afforded from above is scarcely sufficient to guide the step, yet no danger is to be apprehended on that account, the road being perfectly secure, the path continues its agreeable windings through the wood, disclosing; fresh beauties in the miniature world below : we tread on a carpet of moss, and seats are placed at easy distances, as well for stations of rest as for the further gratification of the senses. At the end of the walk is a neat and comfortable cottage [Moss Cottage?], where parties may be accommodated with a room to dine or drink tea.
Anon, Thirteen views with a brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow.  A brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow. (Gloucester: 1839), pp. 38-40

1846
ascend from the Moss Cottage, but the steep, rugged and winding path, which leads upward through the varied wood which clothes the face of the rock; in the path there are about 400 steps either to ascend or descend, but many are the resting places, all commanding a delightful peep o’er some lovely spot or other; in one place passing through a fissure in the rock, of some 20 or 30 feet long and not more than a yard wide, but of considerable height;
Anon [W.D.P.?], “Account of a Tour” 19 August-3 September 1846, NLW Cwrt Mawr MS 761 B, pp. 125-129, 20th August, 1846

1854
Descending from the cliff, you pass through a large cavern in the rock, nearly ninety feet in length, whose dark recesses, aided by the flirtings of the bats which inhabit it, give strong impressions that you are approaching the environs of the Plutonian states. In your progress from this rocky precipice to the new road, you pass down about 360 steps and over a rustic bridge to the Moss Cottage
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

1860 (about)
Leaving the cottage by a back door, I find myself at the base of the cliff. The trees and undergrowth almost conceal the way, though a winding path indicates it. I look up but cannot trace it far, so dense is the foliage, so meandering the chain of steps out in the rook, … Ascending, how intense, and seemingly impenetrable, is the forest of leaves and branches through which I tread my way ! I leave the flush of sunset behind me; I am in a solitude of greenness, whose depths grow more gloomy at every step ; gloomy because of the failing light, yet gloriously refreshing in their verdant coolness.
Higher and higher, O, path of solemn loveliness, of gushing fragrance, of soundless witchery, whither leadest thou? Occasionally the flush of sunset tinges an ancient trunk, or gilds a youthful sapling, or kisses the emerald grass with a momentary impulse; then the gloom becomes greater than ever by very contrast.
I am in a new world, with the feelings of a Druid in his silent grove, where the beautiful and superstitious blend. Down, far down below, is the Moss Cottage; and for all that I can see of human life, or glean of mortal sounds, the world might never have been!
Vegetation is all around me, but how delicious the solitude! Remove me to the highest point of the Himalayan chain and I shall not be further from the hum of men than I am now! It is a surpassing quietude. The summer breeze holds its breath. The ivy embraces the oak in silent love, and seems to pray the object of its affection not to give sign of life.  The fern slumbers on its couch, and the tiny wren sits noiselessly, listening on her listening branch, while the moss beneath preserves the stillness most profound. The mountain rill sings no longer; rapt nature has nursed the silvery child of her adoption to slumber, and the lichens which lie around are under the general spell.
Arbors and summer-houses and rustic seats adorn the path, inviting the entranced wanderer to repose. And thus: and thus to the summit of the Wyndcliff,
Peacock, William F., Coles’s Tourist’s Guide Book. What I saw in the Golden Valley: being a trip to Monmouthshire, through the counties of Salop and Hereford, with personal visits to Raglan Castle Goodrich Castle, Goodrich Court, The Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Symonds Yat, Coldwell Rocks and the Abergavenny mountains ; also ‘The tour of the Wye’  [1860], (2nd edition [ca.1860])

1861
Adjoining the road, and nearly midway between Tintern and Chepstow, the carriage stops at “the Moss House,” a rustic cottage, prettily built, in which resides the care-taker of the hill, who will accompany you if you please; but his companionship is not needed, for on its summit, where the “views” are, you will find an old soldier stationed—to direct
your notice to such places as have names.
Hall, S.C., Mr and Mrs, The Book of South Wales, the Wye, and the Coast, (1861), pp. 131-135

1867
Descending a different way to that we went, we passed through a large cavern in the rock, nearly 90 feet in length, leaving which we passed down 360 steps, and over a rustic bridge to the Moss Cottage, … After paying the old lady in charge for coming down the ever memorable (i.e. to me), ” 360 steps,”
Whyte, William, [Gwilym Iorwerth Gwynn who was born in Loughor, but had emigrated to America]. O’er the Atlantic; or, a journal of a voyage to and from Europe (New York, 1870), pp. 110-111

1869
The tourist will now begin to descend the cliff by the serpentine path, which is rendered easy by stone steps and rustic seats at intervals, the latter being mostly placed in convenient spots for getting good views of the surrounding scenery. In the way lies a chasm in the rock, called the Giant’s Cave, through which is a passage. At the bottom of the cliff is the Moss Cottage,
Clarke, J.H., History of Monmouthshire (Usk, 1869)

1887
The tourist will experience no difficulties in the ascent of the Wyndcliff, although it is steep for the time being; and the way down is facilitated by a long series of steps, resting places being found halfway down in a grotto, and again at the bottom in the cockneyfied little Moss Cottage, where simple refreshments can be obtained.
Bevan, George Phillips, Tourists’ Guide to the Wye and its Neighbourhood, (London, E Stanford, 1887)

The Cave on the path between Windcliff summit and Moss Cottage

1833
Following downward a winding stair [from the Windcliff] cut out of the rock, we entered a sort of cavern, which, penetrating with much caution we found to possess an outlet about 15 yards further on, being really no other than a large cleft, extending about 25 feet high and 2 broad.
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B, ff. 21v-24v

1839
The descent from the summit of Windcliff is made by means of steps, either naturally formed by projecting masses, or cut in the sides of rocks; and in some parts passes under arches and short tunnels, which if not really natural, have the great and rare merit of seeming so.
Twamley, Louisa A. The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44

1855
There are caves below [Windcliff], through which one of my female friends led me like a Sybil; and then I went under her kind escort through a wild American-like wood, to rejoin our carriage.[to Tintern]
Coxe, A Cleveland, (American?), Impressions of England, (New York, 1856 (2nd edition), p. 216), Dated 1855 on dedication page

The Moss Cottage

Map showing Moss Cottage and the 365-step path to the top of the Windcliff, surveyed 1881

 

 

 

 

 

This poor postcard of Moss Cottage shows a tree growing out of the thatch roof.

The Moss cottage is said to have been built at the base of Windcliff in 1828 but a Grotto Cottage is mentioned by Charles Heath in 1826 and other evidences suggests that the Moss Cottage was originally called the Grotto Cottage. It was demolished in the 1950s.
The 1887 guidebook states that there was a resting place called a grotto half way up the steps between the Moss Cottage and the top of Windcliff but nothing of this is known to survive.
There are several more illustrations of the Moss cottage on Coflein

1825
About thirty or forty yards from the point of observation, encompassed with wood, in a direction towards the river, is a neat little Grotto, raised under the direction of Miss Gagg, of the Live-Oaks Farm; in this sylvan retreat the wearied traveller may rest his steps after the fatigue of his ascent.
Willett, Mark, The stranger in Monmouthshire and South Wales; or illustrative sketches of the History, Antiquities and Scenery, of South Wales and its Borders. 1825 (and other editions?)

1826
Readers … will make such an arrangement of their time as will enable them to devote either Tuesdays and Friday to visiting Persfield [Piercefield], – the walks being then only open to the public; but the glorious eminence of WINDCLIFF may be attained from the Grotto Cottage, in the ascent up the Simplon [a region of the Alps] of Monmouthshire that leads to Persfield and Chepstow, at any time in the week. – Language fails in attempting more than to notice the existence of such a scene!
Heath, Charles, Journey down the Wye from Gloucester to Ross, Preface, dated October 1826

1828
GROTTO COTTAGE, erected purposely for the accommodation of visitors, and for their convenience a driving road has been formed, in front of the cottage, where company are set down and taken up, on their arrival at, and departure from, these regions of pleasure.
[NOTE:] The premises are intrusted to Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan, who constantly here reside, from whom visitors will receive the most marked attention; and parties bringing refreshments will be respectfully waited on by them. A stable adjoins the cottage, where the horses of company will be taken care of during their repast. [END OF NOTE]
This rustic retreat is covered with thatch, the interior lined with moss, supported by yew-tree posts, that unite and form groined arches. There are two interesting rooms, separated only by a short passage, each measuring five yards long by four wide, and provided with tables, and commodious seats around them.
To express, if it were necessary, the good taste of its Founder, the TABLE, in the upper apartment, was cut from the butt of a large walnut tree, that grew near the ditch, as it is termed, of Chepstow Castle (blown down, by a hurricane, in 1827) —which measures five feet long, by four feet wide, and nine inches thick, supported by massive rustic feet, in unison with the furniture.
The effect of Light is further heightened, by its gothic shaped windows, composed of rich stained glass, which shed a soft and mellowed tint around this sweet and tranquil scene;—while before it we survey an extensive range over some of the rich and captivating features of Persfield.
[Note:] From the Grotto Cottage a new line of road has been laid down, to avoid trespass (as formerly) on the lands of Porthcasseg Farm. Company generally alight at the cottage, and walk to the eminence, leaving their carriages to the care of their servants; but such as chuse to ride, will not be able to approach within a quarter of a mile of the object of attraction, by reason of the want of room on the hill for vehicles, and protection from weather. The number of strangers daily and hourly arriving, will best point out the way where the carriages become stationary. [end of note]
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive Accounts of the Ancient and Present State of Tintern Abbey with a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice relating to that much admired ruin and its neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. (1828)

1828
After quitting Piercefield, I went by a road newly cut to Monmouth by the banks of the Wye to the foot of Wyndcliff. I ascended this cliff by 350 steps cut in the cliff at the foot of which is a small house covered in the inside covered in moss lately built by the Duke of Beaufort’s steward. I passed a cave which is cut in the rock.
Clark, Charles B., Tour of Wales in August and September, 1828, NLW MS 15002A, 7th October 1828

1828
I stopped at the Moss Cottage at the foot of the mountain, but it began to rain so fast, that there was no hope of seeing any thing, even if I had taken the trouble to ascend the long flight of steps which led to the top;
Green, Jacob, Notes of a Traveller during a tour of England, France and Switzerland in 1828, vol. 2, (New York, 1831), pp. 115-117, 121-124

1830
We now approach a Cottage adjoining the New Road. The rooms in this rustic habitation are neatly laid out, after the manner of Indian wig-warns: every part is thickly lined with moss, and the pleasing view afforded from the gothic windows renders it a cool and tranquil half-hours retreat. This Cottage, by the liberality of the Duke of Beaufort, is appropriated to the gratuitous accommodation of the picnic parties, and other visitors frequenting these romantic scenes, which are here but faintly described, and require the powerful delineation of the author of “Waverley,” to do any. thing like justice to the subject.
It is recommended that parties do bring refreshments with them. Water, milk, &c. for tea, can be procured of the person who resides at the Cottage.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c. (Chepstow: Third edition with various Alterations and Additions, 1830), pp. 38-61

1831
About a mile from the grounds of Piercefield, and three miles from Chepstow, is the MOSS COTTAGE, erected by the Duke of Beaufort for the accommodation of picnic parties and other visitors to this charming district. Immediately behind this cottage a path has been formed to the summit of the WINDCLIFF.

1833
After descending thus for about ¼ of an hour we arrived at the “moss cottage” which is a structure most appropriately named consisting of a complete suite of rooms with gothic windows, rustic table, chairs, ornaments, etc. most ingeniously contrived. I had no idea I confess that moss could be so prettily wrought.
The rooms were entirely lined with it, and in one of them, a very large and handsome ornament of the same material, hung down from the centre in the form of a chandelier. – While lunching of biscuits and some ginger beer, a party of ladies were driven to the same shelter by a most propitious shower of rain …
Letts, Thomas, Journal of Tour, NLW MS 22340B, ff. 21v-24v

1834
we arrive at the Moss Cottage through which we can ascend the cliff. This cottage is appropriated by the duke of Beaufort to the gratuitous accommodation of pic-nic parties and other visitors who frequent this beautiful spot.
Anon, A pocket guide through Monmouthshire containing An Account of every thing worthy the Notice of Strangers in that interesting County, Comprising particular descriptions of the castles of Chepstow, Ragland, Newport & Usk, The Splendid Ruin of Tintern Abbey, and the Beautiful Scenery in the Vicinity of Chepstow. Also, Directions for Travellers making the Tour of South Wales. Together with a description of the beautiful Scenery on the Banks of the Wye: From the Rise of that River at Plinlimmon to its Fall into the Severn below Chepstow. (1834), pp. 72-74

1834
we found our vehicle waiting [at the exit to Piercefield] and conducted us to the Moss cottage at the foot of the Wyndcliff. The Wyndcliff is a lofty precipice 1000 feet above the bed of the river, in many parts quite perpendicular and to be scaled by kind of rude steps cut in the rock, from the summit of this we were told we could look over into 9 counties. The ascent is about one mile and a half. Having recruited our strength by the good things provided in the Moss cottage which is a charming little romantic spot composed of rough branches, boughs and moss.
Stone, William Francis Lowndes, [diary of a tour], Oxfordshire Record Office, LSN.VII/I/1

1836 (about)
About three miles from Tintern, a fanciful little habitation, called the “Moss Cottage,” appears to the right of the road, built by the duke of Beaufort, for the accommodation of parties visiting Windcliff,
Roscoe, Thomas, Wanderings and Excursions in South Wales with the Scenery of the River Wye, (London, 1836), pp. 134-136; 2nd edition 1837, another edition 1844; another edition 1854, pp. 153-157

1839
The usual way adopted by travellers to this beautiful spot, is to provide themselves with a proper carriage, and provisions necessary for the trip, alight at the grand entrance to Piercefield, and send the carriage on to Saint Aryan’s [Arvan’s] Gate. On again joining it, the driver will proceed as high as he can up the cliff, on alighting, he (the
driver) must be directed to go down to the Moss cottage, and deliver the provisions to Mrs.
Vaughan, while you proceed to the top, and upon your arrival you will find your dinner, or your tea ready, and civility and neatness to increase your relish for it. A stable for the accommodation of your horses, is near the cottage.
Anon, Thirteen views with a brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow. A brief account of the picturesque scenery on the banks of the Wye between Ross and Chepstow. (Gloucester: 1839), pp. 38-40

1839
a rest in the “Moss cottage” is truly a seasonable relief, after the jerking, hop-skip-and-jump style of the downward journey.
A rustic table in this rustic retreat, attracted my admiring attention. It is formed of one immense transverse section or slice of a patriarchal walnut tree which some years ago fell at Chepstow Castle, under the weight of years and greatness. Unluckily I made no memorandum of its measured girth, which I know was considered gigantic; and though, phrenologically speaking, my organs of locality, eventuality, form, size, individuality, &c. supply me with all other particulars, the sad deficiency of “number” in my cranium, causes a dismal blank in my memory, where the precise measurement in feet and inches ought to be safely registered. However, it was a very grand tree; and this table is a most original looking, and in my eyes, beautiful one. The block is very thick, the bark of the tree remains round the edge of it, and all the concentric rings of growth, showing that its life must be counted by centuries, are minutely traceable.
Twamley, Louisa A. The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44

1842
At the foot of the rock … is a pretty little toy of a cottage [Moss Cottage], containing a huge walnut-tree slab  … The little rooms, seats, nay, chandeliers, of this cottage are all daintily covered with moss and the cottage is hidden from the road by a thicket of laurels: here parties may picnic at their leisure. {The next day} we heard issuing from the thicket the sound of a Welsh harp a very old, feeble, and unsatisfactory instrument, that performed for a considerable period a certain tune called “Poor Marianne”
Lady Ritchie [Thackeray’s daughter], (editor), The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray, vol. 26, (Miscellanies), (London, 1911), pp. 100-130

1843
The moss cottage, like all other similar erections, is simple and pretty, and is altogether suited for the purpose of picnics and refreshment, for which it is entirely designed. Its spacious table is wrought from a slab of a walnut-tree, which once grew in the ditch of Chepstow Castle.
Anon [Willett, Mark], The Stranger’s Illustrated Guide to Chepstow, (1843), note, pp. 15-21

1847

9.8.1847 (Monday)
We were set down at the foot of the Wynd Cliff – Still the Duke of Beauforts – He has built a ridiculous little thing [deleted words] in the shape of a cottage covered in moss. They have every spring to renew this moss. It is dark – and gloomy and- “???? smells”!   We would not have a guide – and mounted up the hill a regular tread mill work – for it goes in steps the whole way. Seats however are abundant – and the views up and down the Wye very pretty. When at the top we saw over an immense extent of country – the woman told us into nine counties – and then she began to rekon them – “Monmouthshire, Gloucestershire, Badminton, Somersetshire, Berkely” – – “Well but” said Ellen “what are the names of the Counties – Monmouth, Gloucester, Somerset – ?” “yes M’am Badminton & Bekely – yes” so we must remain in ignorance of what the counties were we saw –
Hall, Emily, Diary, Bromley Archives, 855/F2/5, pp. 162-163

1848
The ascent is very steep and tedious, and, but for being informed that, before the summit is attained, there is a moss-house or hermitage, where you may regale yourself, and gain strength for what remains to be accomplished, many not very robust or strong of nerve would give up the task, and miss the reward which awaits the more persevering and zealous searcher after the beautiful and picturesque.
S.S.S. (possibly Sophia S Simpson), [Notes on a Tour Through Wales in 1848], ‘The Visitor or Monthly Instructor’, (1848), pp. 113-115
[This is somewhat erroneous, unless there was another moss-house part-way up the steps to the top of Windcliff.]

1854
the “Moss Cottage,” about half a mile onward, where the Duke of Beaufort has placed a servant, who admits visitors into the steep zigzag walks that lead to the summit of the rock, 970 feet high,
Cliffe, Charles Frederick, The book of South Wales, the Bristol channel, Monmouthshire and the Wye, (3rd edition, edited and revised by the Rev. George Roberts, 1854), pp. 41; 364-366

1854
In your progress from this rocky precipice [the top of Windcliff] to the new road, you pass down about 360 steps and over a rustic bridge to the Moss Cottage, three miles from Chepstow, where pic-nic parties may receive suitable accommodation. This is a singular building, thatched, and lined with moss, with Gothic windows and stained glass.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle, Goodrich Castle and other parts of the Welsh Borders with Historical and Topographical Remarks, illustrated with Five Steel Engravings and a Copious Map.  (Chepstow: Robert Taylor; London, Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. 1854), pp. 31-37

[1860]
I pursue this side path to the Wyndcliff, and am presently at the beautiful Moss Cottage which marks its foot. A beautiful place it is, containing two or three rooms, two of which I saw. The walls are entirely covered with dry moss set in the laths, and have a most pleasing effect. You feel as though you were the mortal inhabitant of a birds nest! warm and snug, and refreshing to the eye, these apartments are more than inviting to the traveller; the marvellous singularity of the whole thing arousing his weary mind into reflection, and reviving his flagging energies afresh. And very well it is, for the ascent to the Wyndcliff top is tolerably fatiguing after a days exertion; though, were it trebly so, the mighty view would fully recompense.
This unique and fanciful moss cottage derives an extra beauty from its stained-glass windows, the colours and devices of which are rich and curious. In the principal room is a massive walnut table, cut from the solid block, and of immense thickness. Its circumference is that of the parent tree, and the surface is polished to the brilliancy of a mirror.
Leaving the cottage by a back door, I find myself at the base of the [Wind]cliff.
Peacock, William F., Coles’s Tourist’s Guide Book. What I saw in the Golden Valley: being a trip to Monmouthshire, through the counties of Salop and Hereford, with personal visits to Raglan Castle Goodrich Castle, Goodrich Court, The Wyndcliff, Tintern Abbey, Chepstow Castle, Symonds Yat, Coldwell Rocks and the Abergavenny mountains; also ‘The tour of the Wye’  [1860], (2nd edition [ca.1860]).

1861
Adjoining the road, and nearly midway between Tintern and Chepstow, the carriage stops at “the Moss House,” a rustic cottage, prettily built, in which resides the care-taker of the hill, who will accompany you if you please; but his companionship is not needed, for on its summit, where the “views” are, you will find an old soldier stationed—to direct
your notice to such places as have names. [note:] Each visitor is requested to pay sixpence, and no more. The hill belongs to his grace the Duke of Beaufort. The fee is designed to effect what it does effect—a barrier to prevent the intrusion of mere Idlers from the town, who would disturb the tranquillity of the scene. [end of note]
Hall, S.C., Mr and Mrs, The Book of South Wales, the Wye, and the Coast, (1861), pp. 131-135

1867
we passed down 360 steps, and over a rustic bridge to the Moss Cottage, a singular building, enveloped in shrubbery, the interior of which is lined beautifully with moss, and its windows are of stained glass, diffusing therein a very nice, soft light. Visitors are here supplied, at rather a salty figure, with refreshments and photographs of the cottage, the Wind cliff, &c. After paying the old lady in charge for coming down the ever memorable (i.e. to me), ” 360 steps,” and purchasing a few photographs, we again entered our carriage
Whyte, William, [Gwilym Iorwerth Gwynn who was born in Loughor, but had emigrated to America]. O’er the Atlantic; or, a journal of a voyage to and from Europe (New York, 1870), pp. 110-111

1869
At the bottom of the cliff is the Moss Cottage, a fanciful little erection,—a cool and pleasant retreat. It is a rustic building thatched with straw and lined with moss: Here parties can be accommodated with tea and refreshments at moderate charges.
Clarke, J.H., History of Monmouthshire (Usk, 1869)

1870
In progress from this rocky precipice to the new road, you pass down about 360 steps and over a rustic bridge to the Moss Cottage, three miles from Chepstow, where pic-nic parties may receive suitable accommodation. This is a singular building, thatched, and lined with moss, with Gothic windows and stained glass.
Taylor’s Illustrated guide to the banks of the Wye, including Chepstow, Piercefield, Wyndcliff, the Magnificent Ruins of Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Ross, Raglan & Goodrich castles and other parts of the Welsh Borders (Chepstow: R Taylor, Beaufort Square. Sold at the Castle, the Moss Cottage, and Tintern Abbey), [1870], pp. 31-37

1876
Moss Cottage And Hannah More.— Moss Cottage, near Tintern, was built, Murray tells us, for the convenience of tourists, near some of the best bits of Wye scenery. The cottage is now passed off as Mrs Hannah More’s cottage, and one is expected to pull up get out, admire her humility in living in so poor a dwelling, drop some silver into a woman’s hand, and drive off again.” Her biography makes no mention of her living there, so far as I can find. Is there any justification for coupling her name with the cottage in question?
P.P. Notes and Queries, 5th Series, vol. 6, p. 368, July-Dec. 1876

1878
Moss cottage
Anon, [signed S.H.], Hillman’s illustrated historical handbook for tourists to Chepstow, Wynd-Cliff, Tintern Abbey, Monmouth, Raglan : castles & ancient remains of Wentwood, and other places of interest on and about the Wye : with an appendix containing geological, ornithological, entomological, and botanical notes of the district. (1878)
(4th ed., revised and enlarged. Chepstow: Hillman & Co. ; London : Marshall Brothers 1889), p. 44

1887
The tourist will experience no difficulties in the ascent of the Wyndcliff, although it is steep for the time being; and the way down is facilitated by a long series of steps, resting places being found halfway down in a grotto, and again at the bottom in the cockneyfied little Moss Cottage, where simple refreshments can be obtained.
Bevan, George Phillips, Tourists’ Guide to the Wye and its Neighbourhood, (London, E Stanford, 1887)

OTHER NAMED FEATURES:

Iron Indian Balustrade

1763
a large Iron Indian Ballustrade, with seats round it
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

Elm Walk / Avenue

1781
the Elm Avenue; the trees whereof, tall and beautiful, are now marked and numbered; so that I tremble for their approaching fate. [On his return in 1787 many had been cut down.]
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237

Laurel

Between the Alcove and the Lover’s Leap

1839
A gigantic old laurel, which stretches its immense limbs beside the path for some distance, enjoyed one share of admiration
Twamley, Louisa A. The annual of British Landscape Scenery; An autumn ramble on the Wye, (London: 1839), pp. 40-44
Part quoted in The Stranger’s Illustrated Guide to Chepstow and its Neighbourhood, (1843), pp. 17-18

A Cascade

This was listed by Edward Knight and by no-one else. It has been suggested that this was near the dam to the pond near the house. (Murphy, Ken, The Piercefield Walks and Associated Picturesque Landscape Features: An Archaeological Survey, (Cambria Archaeology, 2005), p. 13, available on line)

1760
Listed as item 15, no description
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

Absence of cascade

Several visitors thought the absence of a cascade made Piercefield less attractive than some other estates, especially Hafod. Some visitors and editors of guidebooks thought that the stream which fed the Cold Bath could be developed into a cascade.

1805 (and earlier?)
The walk from the bath could do with a cascade.
The trickling, stream you have just left, puts us in mind of a cascade, which would be here truly beautiful, but does not appear throughout all the walks of Persfield. … To look backwards aslant upon such an object, would be infinitely picturesque, amidst the brownness of this hanging grove. If water could be brought there, never was there a situation for viewing it to such advantage.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield [sic] and a variety of other particulars deserving the stranger’s notice round that neighbourhood. Collected from original papers and unquestionable authorities. The whole never before published. By Charles Heath, Printer, Monmouth, Printed and Sold by him, in the Market Place: Sold also by Mr Roberts, Ross, Mrs Kirby, Chepstow; and at all inns in the County. 1805. [This contains a preface to the first edition dated 1801] (and some subsequent editions).

1818
You now bend round a side of the ravine [from the Lover’s Leap], through which runs the stream that supplies the Cold Bath.
Willett, Mark, An Excursion from the Source of the Wye, A New Edition / Second edition. (John Evans and Co., Bristol, [1818?])

1825
It has been suggested, that a cascade introduced on the left towards the valley [near the Cold Bath], where there is a prodigious hollow filled with a thick wood, would have a good effect, there being no such object throughout the Walks.
Anon, A Guide to the Town and Neighbourhood of Chepstow; the beauties of Piercefield; the Grand Scenery of the Windcliff; the Celebrated Ruin of Tintern Abbey, &c. &c., (1825), pp. 41-65.

OTHER BUILDINGS

Windmill, Summerhouse

1763
the windmill, called the Lusus Artis [recreation art?], in which is a handsome circular room with five windows, commanding as many different views
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1776
The first object is a little cleared Mount on which is a house formerly a windmill but now fitted up for a Summer house. From the upper story we have a delightful view of the Country, Rivers, and Farm houses far and near.
Fisher, Jabez Maud, Morgan, Kenneth, (editor), An American Quaker in the British Isles: the travel journals of Jabez Maud Fisher, 1775-1779, p. 205

1805
Summerhouse mentioned
Manners, John Henry, (Fifth Duke of Rutland,1778-1857), Journal of a tour through north and south Wales, the Isle of Man, [and a small part of Scotland] &c. &c. 1805, pp. 44-47

1828
The first [path] led me to a summer house from whence I had a fine view of the cliffs
Clark, Charles B., Tour of Wales in August and September, 1828, NLW MS 15002A, 7th October 1828

Ice house

According to Ivor Waters (1975, pp. 19-20), by about 1785 there was an ice house.
Diagram and description of the ice house in the Saturday Magazine, 6th August, 1842
Pencil sketch by E.G. Wells, 1830s

RCAHM(W) record

Well

There was a well near the Elm Walk that would serve to cool wine in
1781
Mentioned
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237

Stables

 

1784
[We] rode immediately to Piercefield, formerly the seat of Valentine Morris, Esq., where we put up our horses in the solitary stalls of his once busy stable, … Evening approaching, we returned to the gloomy stalls of the empty stables, where in a court we had disposed our horses.
Cumberland, George, (1754-1848) of Bristol, A Tour in North and South Wales in the Year 1784, NLW Lloyd-Johnes MSS Deposit Dec. 1976 (Microfilm 215)
Lloyd-Johnes, H.J., A Tour in North and South Wales in the year 1784, National Library of Wales Journal, XIX, (1976), pp. 336-338

1785
Mentioned
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

GARDENS

Map of Piercefield with (left to right) garden buildings and walled garden, the stables and the House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a large kitchen garden near the house and stables by 1785.
RCAHM(W) record

Kitchen-gardens mentioned
[Marshall, William, 1745-1818], Planting and Ornamental Gardening, a Practical Treatise, (London, printed for J. Dodsley, 1785), pp. 616-626

1763
Gardens mentioned
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

Hothouse, greenhouse,

According to Ivor Waters (1975, p. 19), by about 1785 there was a kitchen garden, three acres of melon ground, nearly 2,000 feet of hot house and a grapery.

1763
the Hot-House, which is large, and well constructed – well furnished with Vines, Pines, [pineapples?] – and several other rare West India plants and fruits –
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1784
and I was well informed that even his fruit walls, and conservatories, had been chiefly stripped for the refreshment of those who came continually to enjoy the luxuries of his favourite spot. …[We] would gladly have purchased a handful of gooseberries out of the four great gardens heretofore devoted to luxury; but alas! there was no gardener to open the rusty locks!
Cumberland, George, (1754-1848) of Bristol, A Tour in North and South Wales in the Year 1784, NLW Lloyd-Johnes MSS Deposit Dec. 1976 (Microfilm 215)
Lloyd-Johnes, H.J., A Tour in North and South Wales in the year 1784, National Library of Wales Journal, XIX, (1976), pp. 336-338

1791
The gardener sells the fruit of the garden, and hot house, which would add much to an entertainment in the woods
Byng, John, (Viscount Torrington), An Excursion Taken in the Year 1781, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Eng.misc.d.237

1796
Colonel Wood is building a very large house of white stone, which is brought from Bath – was only begun 13 months ago and the Col. expects to get into it in five weeks – gave £39,000 for the estate the house is to cost more than £20,000 and the walks £1,000 to put them in repair; then remains the Garden Green House and Hot House to do – so much for East India Money.
Anon, A Tour from York into Wales in the year 1796, NLW MS 4489, pp. 12-14

The Orangery

1760
[listed]
Knight, Edward, ‘Notes of Various Gardens, Houses, Bridges, Market Crosses etc.,
Kidderminster Public Library 000294, 1760, pp. 10-12

1763
Orange Trees mentioned
Letter to Henry Thomas Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

Grove house

Thought to have been built on the ruins of a castle where it is said Llewelyn ap Gruffydd was slain. The ruins were rebuilt by George Smith into a tower with three rooms, with kitchen, sitting room and bedrooms.
Ivor Waters (1975, p. 21)

The Mount

1818
If the Tourist goes to these ruins along the Shire Newton road, and through the fields at the
back of a house called the Mount, he will enjoy a highly gratifying view of Chepstow and its environs.
Fosbroke, T.D., The Wye Tour, or Gilpin on the Wye, with historical and archaeological additions, especially illustrations of Pope’s Man of Ross; and copious accounts of Ross, Goodrich Castle, Monmouth, etc. (1818), pp. 104-108

Echoes

There was a cannon or culverin on a platform near the Giant’s Cave until before 1795. This was fired in order to create an echo along the gorge below. One tourist, in 1774, advised visitors to leave some gunpowder with the gardener and ask him to fire the cannon when they were passing by on the river. Other visitors fired pistols on the Windcliff or when on the Wye, to create a similar effect and one mentioned the playing of a bugle horn to create an echo.
1759
A Gun, fired from the Top of this [Wind] Cliff, creates, by the Reverberation of the Report amongst other Rocks, a loud Clap of Thunder, two or Three times repeated, before it dies away: but even this Echo, conformably to the Pride and Grandeur of the Rest of the Place, will not deign to answer a smaller Voice than that of a Musket; with a Culverin, I suppose, it would hold a noble dialogue.
Letter, Mr Robert Dodsley to William Shenstone, Esq, [Leasowes], October 12 1759, Select letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough, Miss Dolman, Mr. Whistler. Mr. R. Dodsley. William Shenstone, Esq. and others, Vol. 1, (London, 1778), pp. 285-294 Letter 67, pp. 264-270

1763
The next object is an elevation in the form of a bastion, on which are occasionally placed some small cannon, to discharge for the sake of reverberation, which in this situation is very striking
Letter to H.T. Payne’s father in Payne, H.T., ‘Recollections of Two Excursions from Llanbedr to Ross, with the Navigation of the River Wye to Chepstow, and a Walk to Persfield. Returning by Newport, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr-Tidvael and Brecknock, by Mary Payne, 1807, Vol. 1’. [The recollections are in the hand-writing of and almost certainly written by H T Payne for his wife Mary], Powys Archives, Llandrindod, A104/1/2(1), pp. 100-105

1768
About a mile beyond these walks is a very romantic cliff, called the Wind Cliff, from which the extent of prospect is prodigious; but it is most remarkable for the surprizing echo, on firing a pistol or gun from it. The explosion is repeated five times very distinctly from rock to rock, often seven; and if the calmness of the weather happens to be remarkably favourable, nine times. This echo is wonderfully curious.  … an extremely romantic [Giant’s] cave, hollowed lowed out of the rock, and opening to a fine point of view. At the mouth of this cave some swivel guns are planted; the firing of which occasion a repeated echo from rock to rock in a most surprizing manner.
Young, Arthur, (F.R.S., Secretary to the Board of Agriculture) A Six Weeks Tour through the Southern Counties of England and Wales, (1st edition, London, 1768), pp. 114-130, (2nd ed, 1769, pp. 164, 228)

1769
the pleasure we had in hearing the report of a gun as near as possible vie with the bursts of real thunder, the rocks returning the echo 23 times.
James Bucknall Grimston, (3rd Viscount Grimston,1747-1808), Hertfordshire Record Office (St Albans), MS D/EVY15-19; full transcription in Report on the manuscripts of the Earl of Gorhambury, Historic Monuments Commission Report, (HMSO, 1906), p. 252

1774 (after)
Let me advise you also to carry some gunpowder and leave it with Mr Morris’s gardener in order to fire some small cannon on the Rock as you pass by on your return by Water. The reverberating echo of which you will find has a wonderful effect.
Anon (Charles Medows?), An annotated copy of Wyndham’s Gentleman’s Tour (1774) National Museum and Galleries of Wales, p. 6. (Kenyon, J., ‘Annotations to a published tour through Wales’, National Library of Wales Journal, vol. 26, no. 4, (1990), pp. 361-365)

1778
a [Giant’s] cave excavated in a rock, from the mouth of which the report of a gun, or any other violent percussion of the air, is heard to reverberate around the neighbouring hills and cliffs, and thereby to form a continued echo, until at length it gradually loses itself in the distant woods.
Sulivan, Richard, Sir, Observations Made during a Tour through Parts of England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1778. In a Series of Letters, (London, 1780), pp. 97-99

1784
here they show a strange cave called the Giants Chamber, and fire off a gun the report of which is repeated a great number of times. – but the whole vale is full of Echos and a pistol fired in some place has the effect of the discharge of a ?? of Musquets [sic, muskets]
Cumberland, George, (1754-1848) of Bristol, A Tour in North and South Wales in the Year 1784, NLW Lloyd-Johnes MSS Deposit Dec. 1976 (Microfilm 215)
Lloyd-Johnes, H.J., A Tour in North and South Wales in the year 1784, National Library of Wales Journal, XIX, (1976), pp. 336-338

1786
As we returned by the edge of the woods a gun was fired from Wind cliff, whose report thirteen times re-echoed, and reverberated among the rocks, resembled a long, loud peal of distant thunder
Cooper, Anne, (1763?-1804), Journal of a tour down the Wye, MDCCLXXXVI, 1786 May 29-June 1, Yale centre for British Art, DA670.W97 C66

1789
[Piercefield has] walks terminating in stupendous winding precipices overhanging the Wye, and producing some extraordinary echoes,
Gough, Richard, Britannia: or, a chorographical description of the flourishing kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the islands adjacent; from the earliest antiquity. By William Camden. Translated from the edition published by the author in MDCVII. Enlarged by the latest discoveries, by Richard Gough, Vol. 2, (London, MDCCLXXXIX. [1789]), pp. 484

1793
We must not here omit the surprising effect that is produced at a hill a little above the termination of these walks called Windcliff: a fowling-piece being discharged there, the explosion is re-echoed by the surrounding rocks and woods for an amazing length of time, and you are scarcely persuaded but the expiring sound must have been that of some distant cannon, fired from the ships in Kingroad.
Shiercliff, Edward, The Bristol and Hotwell guide: containing an historical account of the ancient and present state of that opulent city; … (Bristol, 1793), p. 106

1795
This appears to be based on Arthur Young, (1768).
an extremely romantic Cave, hollowed out of the Rock at the mouth of which some swivel guns were formerly placed, but are at present removed.
Journal of Richard Hodgkinson, (1763-1847), ‘Visit to Ross and Tour of the Sights of the Wye Valley’, Manchester Central Library Archives (GB127.L15/2)
Florence Wood, Kenneth Wood, A Lancashire gentleman: the letters and journals of Richard Hodgkinson, 1763-1847, Alan Sutton, (1992), pp. 92-94

1802
This is based on Arthur Young, (1768) and the reference to the guns was almost certainly out of date.
an extremely romantic cave, hollowed out of the rock, and opening to a fine point of view.
At the mouth of this cave some swivel guns are mounted, upon the firing of which a repeated echo is reverberated from rock to rock, with the most awful, impressive, and astonishing effect on the auditors. …
About a mile from these walks, is a romantic cliff, called the Wind Cliff, from which there is an unbounded prospect. Upon firing a pistol or gun, the echo is sublimely grand; the explosion is repeated five times very distinctly, from rock to rock, and sometimes seven, and if the weather is calm and serene, nine times.
Rees, David Llewellyn, The Modern Universal British Traveller: Or, A New, Complete, and Accurate Tour Through England, Wales, Scotland, and the Neighbouring Islands … The Articles Respecting England, by Charles Burlington … Such as Relate to Wales, by David Llewellyn Rees … And Those Descriptive of Scotland, by Alexander Murray (known as Burlington’s British Traveller) [1802]

1802
I joined the party [of other visitors at Windcliff], attended by a person with a bugle horn; this was an unlooked-for addition, nor did I ever hear the effect of sound so long in its decrease, and from other situations reverberating in such numerous replies from rock to rock, fading and softening to the lowest whisper.
Manby, George William, (1765-1854) of Hotwells, Bristol, An historic and picturesque guide from Clifton, through the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, and Brecknock, with representations of ruins, interesting antiquities, &c. &c. (Bristol : 1802), pp. 267-271

1805 (and 1801?)
The pleasure of looking from this charming spot, is increased from its being fronted with a wall. When Mr, Morris resided at Persfield, some swivel guns were here placed, which, when discharged, produced a surprising echo in these rocky regions.
Heath, Charles, Historical and Descriptive accounts of the ancient and present state of the Town and Castle of Chepstow including the pleasurable regions of Persfield (2nd edition 1805)

1806
[at Windcliff] we took a pistol which Mr Gerrard fired; the vibration of sound amongst these rocks is wonderful, and that of a single pistol is like a charge of musketry, diminishing in sound for the space of a minute or two.
Wright, Lucy, A Tour Through Wales to the South Coast, 1806, Wigan Public Library, Edward Hall Collection, EHC73/M842

1829
{Swivel guns at the mouth of a cave fired to create an echo}
Anon, Tour of the Wye Valley, National Museum of Wales, 184561, pp. 116-129

The Ha-Ha

A ha-ha was originally a barrier, invisible from one side, designed to prevent animals straying onto the grounds around a large house. At Piercefield this stretched 2.7 km from the south to the north end of the estate forming a substantial boundary of a ditch mostly on the woodland side and a bank on the parkland side. No visitors refer to this feature as a ha-ha.

The Park Wall

A stone wall, 1.5 miles long forms the western boundary of the park. It was probably built in c. 1802