Henry V was born in the tower above the gatehouse of Monmouth Castle in 1386. Various works of reference do not agree on the exact date but at the time of his birth it was not significant as it was not expected that he would one day be king.
The castle belonged to his grandfather, John of Gaunt, and his father, Henry Bolingbroke, was hunting in the nearby Forest of Dean. Of the castle, parts of the tower and of the great hall remain.
The visitor will find a number of things which commemorate the town’s most famous son. In the main square, Agincourt Square, there is a a statue of Henry V on the facade of the Shire Hall. There is also a very beautiful image in a panel of a stained glass window on the south side of St Mary’s Priory Church which was part of a memorial window to those who died and to those who took part in the Boer Wars 1899-1902. It depicts the crowned king in full armour wearing an ermine-lined cope and holding the banner of England with the Monmow Bridge behind. The bridge is the only remaining mediaeval fortified river-bridge in Great Britain with it gate tower still standing and has become the iconic image of Monmouth. Wheatsheaves in the window’s design indicate that the glass came from the workshop of Charles Kempe
Captain Fluellen, the garrulous Welshman in “Henry V”, refers to his leader as Harry of Monmouth or Harry Monmouth. However, scholars believe that until 1399, when Henry was created Prince of Wales, he was known as Lord Henry so this may have been a Shakespearian invention.