SHIRE NEWTON is a parish, seated on a hill, 535 feet above the sea, and is 4½ miles north from Portskewett and 4½ miles south-west from Chepstow railway stations on the Great Western railway, in the Southern division of the county, Caldicot hundred, petty sessional division, union and county court district of Chepstow, rural deanery of Chepstow, archdeaconry of Monmouth, and diocese of Llandaff.
The old Welsh name of this parish (which appears to have been but seldom used) was Tre-newydd-gelli-fach. This was anciently a detached portion of the lordship of Caldicot, and the eastern part of the parish is still included in the manor of Caldicot-cum-Newton.
The church of St Thomas a Becket is an ancient building of stone, founded by Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford, about the middle of the 13th century, and consists of chancel, nave, north aisle (added in 1853), and a massive tower, placed at the intersection of the nave and chancel, and containing 5 bells, all cast by William Evans, of Chepstow, in 1756.
The tower is a good example of the peculiar fortified church towers of this district, and from the elevated situation of the church is a conspicuous object for many miles round: there is one modern stained window: the church affords 200 sittings.
The register dates from the year 1730. The living is a rectory, net yearly income £240, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Llandaff, and held since 1891 by the Rev. George Platt Dew B.A. of Jesus College, Cambridge.
There is a chapel for Calvinistic Methodists at Gaerlwydd; and Wesleyan and Bible Christian chapels at Earlswood and one for Wesleyans in the village. The Society of Friends opened a burying ground here in 1700, and the present Wesleyan chapel was built by them.
The common land is inclosed and cultivated. There is a cromlech just outside the parish on the road to Usk, and upon a steep eminence in Llanmelin Wood, upwards of a mile from the village, and partly in this parish, and partly in that of Caerwent, is a large British encampment, strongly defended by an inner and outer vallum, and having outworks on the north-eastern side towards the edge of the wood.
Shire Newton Hall, the residence of Mrs. Lowe, is a large and beautiful residence, on the top of a very high hill, commanding most extensive views, embracing the whole of the Bristol Channel, from the estuary of the Severn to beyond Porlock Bay, backed by the Cotswold, Mendip, Quantock and Exmoor Hills.
Just behind the hall there was formerly an ancient mansion, belonging to the Blethyn family, and said to have been once occupied by Bishop Blethyn, who died here in 1590.
The Coombe (or Cwm) is the property and residence of William Shaxson Lang esq. is pleasantly seated amidst secluded and picturesque scenery and sheltered from north and east winds by the surrounding hills.
The principal landowners are Mrs. Lowe, William Edward Carne Curre esq. of Itton Court, and Madame Nugent.
The soil is clayey loam; subsoil, mountain limestone with some red sand stone. The crops are chiefly grain and turnips. The area is 3,597 acres of land and 2 of water; rateable value, £3,228; The population in 1891 was 648.
Sexton: John Scott.
Assistant Overseer: Thomas Williams, Gaerlwydd.
Post, M.O.O., S.B. & Annuity & Insurance Office - John White Scott, subpostmaster.
The Church Sunday school was built in 1874.
County Police Station, Joseph Morgan, constable.