Introduction to Cross Street
CROSS STREET (As given on the original Abergavenny Local History Society Survey 1980)
Today, the street extends from the Town Hall to the Swan Hotel. 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 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 imediately 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 indicated an early cross standing in the street, probably in the wider section opposite the Town Hall.
According to Alfred Jackson, Cross Street ended at steps which pedestrians used to go through St John’s churchyard to the High Street. Certainly there were graves discovered in the 1960s when Woolworths built extensions on the rear of High Street. Alfred Jackson knew of a gateway in the basement of the present Boots building (once Mr Jackson’s ironmongery shop). It hinged outwards, pointing to the later raising of the level of the roadway at this spot, to reach the level of High Street, or to a gate leading to shops climbing from cellar accommodation to a level of Cross Street as it is today.
The 1851 Census shows a marked class division in Cross Street : the houses above the Angel 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.