CUSTODIANS of one of Monmouth’s most famous landmarks are facing losing their job and home under National Trust plans.

Martin Kerrigan has lived with his wife, Sara Szwer, at the site of the Kymin Round House for 17 years.

But they are now facing having to find a new home and job under proposed cuts by the heritage charity as it faces losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The proposals have been met with alarm from politicians who fear for the future of the first National Trust-owned site in Wales, which attracts around 65,000 visitors each year.


The plans would see the Round House stay closed “for the foreseeable future” – and for the first time since it was owned by the trust in 1902 it would be left without custodians living on site.

Mr Kerrigan, volunteer deputy manager, said: “The proposal is to make us redundant which would mean we would have to move out of the house on the site.

“The property would have no one on the site anymore and the Round House would not be open for the foreseeable future.

“The site will be left open to the public but with no one on the site.”

While Mr Kerrigan is a volunteer deputy manager, his wife is employed as the manager of the Kymin and is facing redundancy under plans they are contesting as part of a consultation.

The couple, whose house is a former stables on the 10-acre site, fear the landmark will fall prey to vandalism, littering and thefts without custodians.

“We are concerned for the long-term future of the Kymin,” Mr Kerrigan said.

“It is a real local landmark and an icon for the town of Monmouth.”

A range of events are hosted at the Round House and 13 weddings, many postponed due to the lockdown, are already booked for next year.

Visitors follow in the footsteps of Lord Horatio Nelson who visited the Kymin in 1802 and dined at the Round House.

A Naval Temple was also built there in 1801 and is believed to be the only monument to an entire navy anywhere in the world.

Politicians have urged the National Trust to re-think the plans.

Monmouth councillor Richard Roden said residents in the town are ‘shocked’ at the possibility of custodians being removed.

“They play an essential role in keeping the property and area safe for the community and visitors to one of Monmouth’s top visitor attractions,” he said.

“If the custodians are removed, the property will be at substantial risk.”

Cllr Jamie Treharne said the site attracts thousands of visitors to the town.

“If we can we need to try and get the Trust to keep it open because of its historic importance to Monmouth,” he said.

“It’s a major tourist attraction.”

Laura Anne Jones, Senedd Member for South Wales East and Wyesham ward councillor, said the potential closure of the Round House “would present a major blow to the local economy”.

“The Welsh Government must take action,” she said.

“Ministers must ensure the full amount of funding provided by the UK Government to support arts and culture organisations in Wales is used for the purpose intended.”

Monmouth Town Council said in a statement on its Facebook page: “The loss of any historical site in this area would be such a shame but more so than ever when small towns like Monmouth are so heavily reliant on tourism to the area.

“Sites like the Round House undoubtedly attract people to the town and therefore the closure of it could be quite disastrous.”

A spokeswoman for National Trust said the charity is facing £200 million losses as a result of coronavirus and has had to review “every aspect of the charity and as a result we propose to make savings in almost every area of activity”.

“The wider proposals will also impact on the visitor experience we offer and how we open our smaller places,” she said.

“At the Kymin the current proposal is to pause reopening and to rethink the visitor offer and our business model.

“This means it is unlikely to reopen in the immediate future.

“All proposals are subject to a 45-day consultation process so it would be inappropriate to comment on specific areas at this stage.

“We are working with members of staff who are affected, and they now have an opportunity to share their thoughts as part of the consultation process.

“We are also working with our volunteers to keep them informed of our proposals, and while they are not part of the formal consultation, they have an opportunity to share their views.”