The Naval Temple
National Trust
The Kymin
Monmoutshire NP25 3SF
This Georgian tribute to the British Navy is not in the centre of Monmouth as might be expected, but on the summit of a local landmark, The Kymin hill. Always worth visiting for its historical value, it is particularly beautiful in fine weather when itt is said that up to nine counties in England and Wales can be seen from the hill’s summit.
All year during daylight hours.
Disabled Access
Naval Temple fully accessible.
Round House ground & first floors accessible when open.
The grounds have a mixture of pathways, rough & uneven surfaces, sloping & flat lawns.
In the Round House when open – Toilets, Refreshments. Croquet set for hire. Picnic areas on the lawns. Children’s Quiz Trails.
The Location
Some researchers maintain that the monument's location overlooking the border between England and Wales was chosen to symbolise the reality of a united Great Britain. It was built at the time of the Act of Union with Ireland, about a century after the Union with Scotland. At the time the UK was busy defining what it meant to be British by fighting a war with France.
At a time when Britannia ruled the waves most of the battles were fought at sea with the British Royal Navy being the victors. It was deemed appropriate that the monument to British supremacy should be a naval one.
The major lobbyists for the erection of a monument were the gentlemen of The Kymin Club aka The Monmouth Picnic Club. They soon garnered the support of the local population.
Believed to be the only one of its kind in the world, the Naval Temple is a patriotic symbol of Britain’s naval supremacy at the height of the British Empire. It was built by public subscription in 1800 to commemorate the Second Anniversary of the British naval victory at the Battle of the Nile in 1798. It also recognises 16 of Britain’s most famous admirals and their naval victories in the Seven Years War and the war against revolutionary France.
The Monument
A large plaque on the exterior of the memorial reads: This Naval Temple was erected August 1st, 1800 to perpetuate the names of those noble admirals who distinguished themselves by their glorious victories for England in the last and present wars and respectfully dedicated to her grace the Dutchess of Beaufort daughter of Admiral Boscawan.
The neo-classical H-shaped temple was finished in 1801, and is topped with a triumphal arch supporting the figure of Britannia seated on a rock. Beneath the arch there are two paintings: ‘The Standard of Great Britain waving triumphant over the fallen and captive flags of France, Spain and Holland’, and ‘The Glorious and Ever Memorable Battle of the Nile’.
There are four oval plaques on each side of the memorial face. Each plaque commemorates a specific Admiral and the battle for which he is chiefly remembered. The Admirals’ named on the plaques are:
- Vice-Admiral Charles Thompson (admiral);
- Rear Admiral Adam Duncan, 1st Viscount Duncan of Camperdown;
- Vice Admiral Edward Boscawen;
- Vice Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet;
- Admiral Howe;
- Admiral John Borlase Warren;
- Admiral John Gell who was retired locally near Crickhowell when the Temple was built;
- Admiral Lord Nelson (this refers to his success at the Battle of the Nile);
- Admiral John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent and also Admiral of the Fleet;
- Vice Admiral George Rodney; Admiral Hawke who was also First Lord of the Admiralty;
- Vice Admiral Alexander Hood, 1st Viscount Bridport; 
- Vice-Admiral William Cornwallis;
- Admiral Sir Peter Parker, 1st Baronet and Admiral of the Fleet;
- Admiral George Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith; and
- Admiral Andrew Mitchell (Royal Navy officer).
The Naval Temple has undergone many changes since its inception, including three restorations, the last two by the National Trust in 1987, and again in 2012 as a result of severe weather damage.
Today, this unusual and unique Grade II listed building has been preserved for future generations and will continue to stand as a testament to Great Britain’s past naval supremacy.
Nelson’s visit
In 1802, shortly after it was finished, the monument witnessed a visit by the curious ménage à trois of Horatio Nelson, Lord William Hamilton and his wife Lady Emma Hamilton (Nelson’s lover).
Nelson’s naval exploits had made him a national hero and a grateful nation was looking for a way to thank him. The county of Monmoutshire, represented by the Mayor and Corporation invited Nelson to be the Guest of Honour at a Civic Reception. A trip up the Kymin to inspect the Naval Temple and have breakfast in the Round House was organised.
Nelson, for his part, was keen to see his name amongst the 16 admirals honoured on the Temple, and the pictorial depiction beneath the arch of his victory at the Battle of the Nile, so he took advantage of his longstanding friendship with Lord and Lady Hamilton and stayed with them.
Monmouth resident Charles Heath kept a written record of Nelson’s visit to The Kymin, and the Naval Temple in particular. He recorded that ‘Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson visited Monmouth in 1802, along with Lady Hamilton and her husband, Sir William Hamilton, who was to die by April 1803. They travelled down river on the River Wye from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth to cannonades firing, the town band playing and being greeted by the mayor accompanied by all the local dignitaries of the county and local crowds.
Nelson visited the Naval Temple and the Roundhouse on Kymin Hill, where he breakfasted and admired the views. He was struck with the Naval Temple, saying that " it was not only one of the most beautiful places hehad ever seen, but, to the boast of Monmouth, the Temple was the only Monument of its kind erected to the English Navy in the whole range of the Kingdom.’
Nelson was also struck by the fact that this National Memorial was raised not in one of Britain's major naval ports but in a small provincial county town in Wales far from the sea and with no great naval or seafaring traditions. The importance of the Navy was not truly recognised until three years later when Nelson won the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, unfortunately dying in the process. Since then several monuments to the navy (particularly to Nelson) have been built – Nelson’s Column in 1843 and the Great Yarmouth Britannia Monument to Nelson in 1817. Monmouth has its own superb collection of Nelson memorabilia in the Monmouth Museum.
The Round House
The second Georgian structure on The Kymin is seasonally open and attracts an admission charge. For more information visit our article in this website entitled The Kymin & Round House.
Contact & Further Information
Telephone   +44 (0)1600 719 241
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Getting There
- By Road
The Kymin is accessed by a winding road climbing up off the A4136 Monmouth to Forest of Dean road. The area is managed and conserved by the National Trust and there is a free car park near the summit with an easy walk to both the Temple and the Roundhouse.

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