The Georgians definitely knew how to picnic in style! During the Picturesque Movement, when it became fashionable to build summerhouses at sites with spectacular views, the Monmouth Picnic Club pulled out all the stops. They chose a site with one of the most expansive views in the Wye Valley – the Kymin hill above Monmouth. In 1794, right on the summit, they built a two-storey circular banqueting house, affectionately known today as ‘the Round House’.
The site became a popular attraction on the Wye Tour, especially after Nelson enjoyed a ‘handsome breakfast’ here when he travelled down the Wye in 1801. Guests who came here received instructions on how to observe the views in the correctly Picturesque manner. The panorama was stunning as William Coxe wrote in 1801:
‘I shall not attempt to describe the unbounded expanse of country which presents itself around and beneath, and embraces a circumference of nearly three hundred miles. The eye is satiated with the distanct propect, reposes at length on the near views, dwells on the country immediately beneath and around, is attracted with the pleasing position of Monmouth, here seen to singular advantage, admires the elegant bend and silvery current of the Monnow, glistening through meads, in its course towards the Wy, and the junction of the two rivers, which form an assemblage of beautiful objects.’
Of course today we can just take a photo!
Explore this area on the Discover the Kymin walk | National Trust