Introduction to Cross Street
CROSS STREET Based on the original Abergavenny Local History Society Survey 1980.
Today, the street extends from the Town Hall to the Swan, now converted from an inn to commercial use. At one time, the premises below the Coach & Horses Inn (once the Sun Inn and, much earlier, the site of the south gate of the medieval town wall) were sometimes recorded as a part of Mill Street. The 1881 map shows that the block of houses now nos. 22-23a opposite the then Sun Inn, were previously built on the line continuing that of nos. 20 and 21, thus making the road very narrow at the site of the gate. It widened again immediately below.
When the Normans extended their town and began walling it (1241 onwards), Cross Street and High Street became the new main thoroughfares.
The name Cross Street might indicate that there were crossroads at the north end where Flannel Lane and Market Street join it and further south where it crosses Monk Street and Castle Street. There are unconfirmed accounts that an early cross standing in the street, perhaps in the wider section opposite the Town Hall, might have been removed to the churchyard.
According to Alfred Jackson, a prolific writer of local history, Cross Street ended at steps which pedestrians used to go through St John’s churchyard to the High Street. This seems very unlikely as Cross Street and High Street appear in early sketch maps of the Norman town as the main through route from the south to north gates. Alfred Jackson knew of a doorway in the basement of the present Boots building (once Mr Jackson’s ironmongery shop). It hinged outwards, which he thought pointed to the later raising of the level of Cross Street at this spot, to reach the level of High Street, but it is more likely that it opened into a small ‘area’ from cellar accommodation below the level of Cross Street as is often seen in other areas.
The 1851 Census shows a marked class division in Cross Street. The houses above the Angel Hotel had servants but no lodgers and are all of a substantial size. The houses below are generally much smaller and had lodgers but no servants.
Cross Street is numbered 1 – 32 on the west side of the street from Flannel Street to Mill Street, then returning on the east side nos. 33 – 60 from the Swan to the King’s Head.