Montgomery, Powys

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Montgomery
Welsh: Trefaldwyn
Montgomery.jpg
View across Montgomery towards Corndon Hill
Montgomery is located in Powys
Montgomery
Montgomery
 Montgomery shown within Powys
Population 1,256 (2001 census[1])
OS grid reference SO221967
Principal area Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MONTGOMERY
Postcode district SY15
Dialling code 01686
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Montgomeryshire
List of places
UK
Wales
Powys

Coordinates: 52°33′46″N 3°08′57″W / 52.5628°N 3.1493°W / 52.5628; -3.1493

Montgomery (Welsh: Trefaldwyn; meaning "The Town of Baldwin") is a town in the Welsh county of Powys. It was previously the county town of Montgomeryshire. The town lies one mile (1.6 km) from the English border in the Welsh Marches. Its castle, Montgomery Castle, was started in 1223, and its parish church in 1227. Other locations in the town include The Old Bell Museum, the Offa's Dyke Path, the Robber's Grave and the town wall.[2] The large Iron Age Hill Fort Ffridd Faldwyn is sited to the NW of the town and to the W of Montgomery Castle.

History[edit]

The town was established around a Norman stone castle on a crag. The castle had been built in the early 13th century to control an important ford over the nearby River Severn and replaced an earlier motte and bailey fortification at Hendomen, two miles away. An important supporter of King William I (the Conqueror), Roger de Montgomery, originally from Montgomery in the Pays d'Auge in Normandy, was given this part of the Welsh Marches by William and his name was given to the town surrounding the castle.[3]

The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire, in which King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales. Montgomery was sacked at the beginning of the 15th century by the Welsh Prince Owain Glyndŵr. At this time, the castle and surrounding estates were held by the Mortimer family (the hereditary Earls of March) but they came into royal hands when the last Earl of March died in 1425. In 1485, King Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth and the Royal Estates, including Montgomery and its castle, passed into the hands of the new King, Henry VII, the first Tudor king, and a Welshman. The castle was then given to another powerful Welsh family, the Herberts.

During the Civil War, the castle was captured by Parliamentary forces and subsequently slighted (damaged) to remove its military threat.[4][5]

As a county town, Montgomery prospered, and the consequent buildings give the small town its current character.

In 1923 the Montgomeryshire County War Memorial was completed to commemorate fallen servicemen from Montgomeryshire County. The Memorial resides 0.75 miles to the Southwest of Montgomery, on a hill overlooking the countryside.

Religious poet and orator George Herbert was born in Montgomery in 1593.

St Nicholas Parish Church, Montgomery[edit]

The parish church was founded in the first half of the 13th century, though the church has continued to change throughout the ages. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the church is the ornate rood screen, misericords and stalls which were transferred to the church from Chirbury Priory in Shropshire after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. The south transept shows evidence of Montgomery's close association with the Herbert family. The centrepiece is the Elizabethan era tomb or church monument to Richard Herbert (died 1593) of Montgomery Castle, father of poet and Anglican divine George Herbert. This association is recalled in a memorial poem to a well-known local man JDK Lloyd, who wrote the following poem after the style of George Herbert:-

This O, enclosed around, smoothe, with no entrance found, yet soone with newest life to overflow So has thy tombe, by Pilate sealed, to us that third day Life revealed, O grant that I, some morning bright, my earthly Shell, then broke, may wear, in White, Thy Yoke.

Richard's grandson, another Richard Herbert, 2nd Baron Herbert of Chirbury, the last Herbert to have lived at Montgomery Castle, was buried in the church in 1655.[6]

Besides the legendary Robber's Grave, the churchyard also contains the war graves of two soldiers of World War I and a soldier and two airmen of World War II.[7]

Montgomery Primary School[edit]

The current school was established in 1865 with land donated by Lord Powis and monies from the then Rector, the Hereford Diocesan Board of Education as well as many smaller gifts. The school remains an important feature of community life. It remains a church school (now the diocese of St. Asaph) under the control of Powys County Council.[1]

Robber's grave[edit]

In 1821 John Davies of Wrexham was sentenced to death by hanging at Montgomery for highway robbery. Throughout his trial, and after the sentence, Davies declared his innocence and prayed that God would not allow the grass to grow on his grave for a hundred years as a sign of his innocence. His grave remained bare for at least a century, giving birth to the legend of the Robber's grave. The grave (now grassed) can still be seen in the churchyard.[8]

The Old County Gaol[edit]

Gateway to the Old Gaol at Montgomery

The former Montgomeryshire County Goal stood at the end of Gaol Road. Designed by the County Surveyor Thomas Penson, c.1830-2. Brick faced with stone. The tall octagonal governor's house with the chapel above, was at the centre of four radiating three- and two-storey wings. One of the yards was fitted with a tread-mill. The gatehouse was built into the wall to face a new approach in 1866 by J.W. Poundley. Powerful ashlar triumphal arch, with four giant semi-rusticated pilasters. The Gaol was closed in 1878 and all that now remains, apart from the gatehouse, is the Governor’s House and the high wall of one cell block.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Office for National Statistics Parish Headcounts: Montgomery
  2. ^ Ann and John Welton The Story of Montgomery Logaston Press 2003, 2nd revised edition 2010
  3. ^ Oliver, Nixon (December 1998). "Hendomen: the Motte and Bailey Castle at Montgomery". Powys Digital History Project. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  4. ^ "Montgomery Castle". Castle Wales. 2009. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  5. ^ Thomas, Jeff (1996). "Montgomery Castle: Surrender & Demolition". Castle Wales. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  6. ^ W. R. Williams, The parliamentary history of the principality of Wales, from the earliest times to the present day, 1541-1895 (1895), p. 143
  7. ^ "Cemetery details: Montgomery (St. Nicholas) Churchyard". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 2012-09-22.  Breakdown obtained from casualty record.
  8. ^ "The Robber's Grave". BBC. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2012-09-22. 
  9. ^ Haslam R '"Powys:The Buildings of Wales'", (Nikolaus Pevsner advisory editor),1978,167,

External links[edit]