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History of The Angel

Chris Barber, a noted local author, recently wrote a newspaper article about the hotel. Here are the highlights of this interesting work...

It is very satisfying to see the Angel Hotel in Cross Street gradually being restored to its former glory after many years of unhappy decline. The present owners are to be congratulated on their excellent progress in refurbishing this fine Georgian building. In the early part of the 18th Century it belonged to William Dinwoody (whose family perhaps first a came here as proprietors of this house) who, by his will dated October 14th 1736, left it to his son Robert. It was then occupied by Samuel Saunders and afterwards by his son, Charles Hanbury Saunders.

During the coaching age, the Angel underwent extensive rebuilding, when the front entrance and the dining room (then the Assembly Room) acquired its present graceful character. It was a noted coaching inn on the road to Milford Haven, but in 1858 this service came to an end, while the Angel continued to be used as the terminus of a daily service from Ross-on-Wye. There is a courtyard at the rear of the building into which the Royal Mail Coach drove through an archway in the Cross Street side of the hotel...

...The London coach, which bore the name 'Champion' would leave Fleet Street in London at 8.00pm. and arrive at the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny the following morning at 11.00am. This gives an average speed of eight miles an hour, including numerous stops for changing horses.

Over the years many important functions and meetings have been held in this hotel, such as a fancy dress ball held in 1838. It took place in the 'Great Room' upstairs and was attended by 200 ladies and gentlemen from most of the influential families of the neighbourhood. The guests included Sir Benjamin Hall and his wife, Lady Llanover and Crawshay Bailey, the famous ironmaster.

The Morgan family once resided at the hotel and one of their sons was Walter Morgan, who is worthy of a mention for he is the only Abergavenny man who ever became Mayor of London, and could thus be described as the local Dick Whittington! 'In 1846, when he was just 15 years old, he left Abergavenny and went to work in London at the office of the National Provincial Cashier of England. He was appointed Sheriff in 1900, Lord Mayor of London in 1905 and was subsequently knighted...

...In about 1937, alterations were carried out at the Angel which necessitated excavating part of the entrance hall, and about 18 inches below the existing floor level the old cobbled stone roadway was revealed. All vehicular traffic passed through this entrance and through the building and flanked by stables etc. out into Upper Castle Street. The old entrance passage through the front of the hotel, which now forms the vestibule or hall, was so low that persons sitting upon the coach had to stoop to avoid contact with the top of the arch.

Gregory Peck stopped here for a meal in 1945. He was accompanied by the well-known director, John Houston, when they were en-route to Fishguard in West Wales to spend eight weeks filming `Moby Dick'. Peck was then 38 years old and wore a heavy beard grown specially for the sea-faring role as Captain Ahab. This was his first visit to Wales. On Wednesday, September 4 1963, a large American car purred to a halt outside the Angel Hotel, and out stepped film stars Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor. 38 year-old Burton and his attractive companion stayed at the hotel for two hours. They had a steak and kidney pie and a £2 10s bottle of Claret before driving on to Merthyr. Few people saw them arrive, but a large crowd, most of them women; smiled and waved as they climbed into their Cadillac.