In the westerly ward of Llanbadoc (with an electoral roll of approximately 210) by the Bell Pool of the river Usk, is situated the beautiful St Madoc’s church which originally belonged to the nuns of Usk Priory.
The original site was chosen by the Romans to guard the nearby ford before being taken over by monks on their way to the priory following the Roman withdrawal to Caerleon.
The magnificent cedar trees in the churchyard were reputedly grown from seeds from the Protestant cemetery in Rome by Edward Trelawny.
By the lychgate of the church is a memorial to Alfred Russel Wallace, naturalist, explorer, geographer and co-founder of the Theory of Evolution (with Charles Darwin).
Alongside the church by the river, is the amenity area of Llanbadoc Island with a children’s play area (currently being improved by the community council), picnic tables and riverside walks.
To the west of the ward at The Rhadyr (on the A472) lies the Usk agricultural college campus of Coleg Gwent, the largest college of further education in Wales, part of which is the site of the new Monmouthshire County Council offices.
The open prison at Prescoed to the south (built by prisoner labour in 1939), holds approximately 170 category D adult males, generally serving out the last years of their sentences and being re-integrated into the community before release.
The beautiful river Usk at Llanbadoc
St Madoc's Church, Llanbadoc
Memorial to Alfred Russel Wallace
The old red telephone kiosk near St Madoc's Church is now being utilised as an information point for Llanbadoc ward
Edward Trelawny, writer and friend to the romantic poets Byron and Shelley built a large house (Twyn Bell) on land above St Madoc’s church (by the site of an early Roman camp) before moving to nearby Cefn Ila in 1846.
The house (near Cefn Ila farm, now part of the Usk College estate) was converted first into a convalescent home in 1925 and then a maternity hospital in 1947, before closing in the early 1970s and subsequently being burned down in 1973. This little video shares some history and local memories of Cefn Ila when it was a maternity hospital.
Cefn Ila Today
Cefn Ila was purchased by Coed Cadw /Woodland Trust in 2007. Since then 72 acres of grassland are gradually being planted with a new native woodland of broad leaf, deciduous trees.
The wood was designed with the help of the local community and they have also helped plant many trees at the site together with children from local schools. Cefn Ila Wood was the first 'Plant' woodland. A total of 36,000 trees have been planted to date as part of the 'Plant' project. This partnership initiative between the Welsh Government, and the Woodland Trust - has from 2008 been planting a new tree for every child born or adopted in Wales.
Cefn Ila has become a haven for wildlife and a great place to walk and explore all year round. More recently Cefn Ila has received lottery funding to improve access and waymarking and the site of the old manor house and the surrounding grounds with walled garden and aboretum is being cleared and restored.
You can find out more about Cefn Ila Wood and visiting from The Woodland Trust website.