Drybridge House

The Home Of Bridges

Drybridge House, a Grade II listed building, is a place that is full of character, just like the community organisation for which it provides a home.

It was owned for 400 years by the Crompton-Roberts family, who took an active interest in supporting the people and organisations in the town of Monmouth, developing a long tradition of community work that Bridges is proud to be continuing.

The complex as a whole is made up of the old house, modern annexe,, and a stable block that is now divided into business units. The renovation, which began in 2001, has been supported by funding from the Heritage , Charity and Arts Lottery Funds, Cadw, a variety of charitable trusts and Monmouthshire County Council, as well as local residents and businesses through fundraising events and donations.

Early History

Drybridge House is the third house to be built on this site. The first was built back before 1558 and was probably a large black and white gabled farmhouse. The second was built in 1671 by William Roberts, Receiver and paymaster of the Kings works at Windsor Castle.

The current house’s magnificent interiors still contain items from William Roberts’ building, such as the studded oak door of the café, parts of the oak panelling and staircase and some of the carved fireplaces and Delft-tiled surrounds.

Victorian Renovation

In 1867, the house was inherited by William’s descendent, Charles Henry Crompton-Roberts, who carried out a major restoration and enlargement. Portraits of Charles and his wife Mary can be found in the Gallery.

Charles Henry was interested in horticulture and sport, and designed a fine parkland garden with an exceptional collection of trees and a good cricket pitch, upon which W.G. Grace and his brother played against the Monmouthshire side. Sadly, the pitch no longer survives but many of the trees are alive to this day.

The family was responsible for commissioning a number of stained glass windows for the house, including the fine grisaille roundels depicting the legend of Arthur. These are outstanding examples of this art. They are etched in great detail through a complicated process of production by a master of the craft. The family also added many carvings to the exterior walls, including the portraits of their three eldest children, Henry Roger, Violet Mary and Charles Montagu, which can be seen from the car park.

Post War

In 1947 the family sold the house to the local authorities for the use of the towns people, marking the end of four hundred years of continuous ownership by the family. It was subsequently used as an old peoples home (the modern annexe was built in the 1950’s as an addition to the home) and then for a few months as a substitute police station.

Following a ten year period of neglect, Bridges Community Centre, previously based in a unit in Hancock Road industrial estate, gained permission from the County Council to lease the complex at a peppercorn rent, in return for renovating the complex. The project began in Autumn 2001.

Initially the modern annexe was re-designed and re-built to house a function room with a stage, a kitchen and lounge, and upstairs meeting rooms, to allow Bridges to move to its new home. Following this, the renovation of Drybridge House and the stables began and was completed in summer 2003 at a cost of £1.6 million.

Further Reading

Available from the Bridges Centre reception

From Featherbeds to Bridges
A published history of the Crompton-Roberts family and Drybridge House

The Trees and Gardens of Drybridge House
A booklet containing the location of, and information about the trees and gardens at Drybridge House.

The History of Bridges Centre

Our story begins in 1984, when a small group of volunteers in Monmouth began a support group to help local people who were experiencing financial hardship or isolation. At the time, a local factory had closed and there were also many elderly people who felt isolated and unsupported.

The project expanded into a small church hall and then into the disused canteen of the factory that had closed. Bridges Centre became a charity, staff were appointed and its work and vision grew, it touched the lives of many people.

After many years of hard work and determination to fundraise for and renovate Drybridge House and its modern annexe, Bridges moved into its new home in 2003.

Today, Bridges is a centre for learning, care and support, health and wellbeing, community arts and entertainment, and a wide range of local services. It continues to have deep and wide reaching impact: and it remains an independent charitable organisation.

As well as the centre in Monmouth, it now boasts several community projects and a community shop in Monmouth, all of which have helped expand the charity’s reach from Monmouth town to the whole of Monmouthshire and beyond.

The charity owes its success to the strength and commitment of local volunteers and supporters and to the organisations that help to fund its projects. Together we hope to continue ‘building bridges’ in the community for many years to come.