Who were the Mortimers?

Warlike, ambitious and powerful, the Mortimers bestrode the medieval stage. Inextricably linked with the great events of their time, their story is the tale of a turbulent England racked with dissension, rebellion and open warfare at home and abroad. To read more about this amazing family click here

Forthcoming Events

Events organised by MHS are in red.

Wednesday 17th January 2018 - Writing Networks: A Literary History of the Welsh Marches c.1180-c.1350
Organised by Leintwardine History Society. A talk by Matthew Lampitt who spoke so well at our Autumn Symposium in 2017. Among other things, he will be talking about the Harley/Ludlow scribe. 7.30 Leintwardine Community Centre. £4 for people who are not members of the Lewintwardine society.

Saturday 10th February 2018 - Medieval Pilgrimage in the Welsh Marches
A morning of talks organised by MHS as part of the Ludlow Palmers series on pilgrimage. All proceeds to the Conservation Trust for St Laurence, Ludlow.
The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience
by Dr Kathryn Hurlock of Manchester Metropolitan University
Pilgrims' Progress: Cures, Cults and Canonisation in the later Middle Ages
by Dr Harriett Webster of the University of Wales Trinity St David
10.00-12.30 in St Laurence's Church, Ludlow. Prices: Ludlow Palmers and members of MHS £8; non-members £12. 
For full details and booking information click here

Saturday 17th March 2018 - Medieval Leominster
10.00 AGM 
11.00-1.00 Duncan James will talk about medieval Leominster and lead a walk around some of the historic buildings in the town - members free, non-members £5
At Grange Court, Leominster HR6 8NL. Grange Court is on the east side of the green near the Priory. Use public car parks nearby.

Saturday 19th May 2018 - Religion and Faith in the time of the Mortimers
Our Spring Conference offers the opportunity of hearing a fascinating range of talks given by eminent speakers. It is being held at Leominster Priory. Here is the outline programme:
Religious Structures in the Middle Ages  - Dr Ian Mortimer
Monasticism in the Welsh Marches - Prof. Janet Burton
The Role of the Bishop in 13th century England: The Marches and beyond - Dr Sophie Ambler
Saints and Miracles in the Welsh Marches: their role in people's faith - Ian Bass
Templars and Hospitallers in the Welsh Marches - Prof. Helen Nicholson
Churches, Chantries and Chapels - Prof. Nigel Saul
The Personal Experience of Medieval Religion - Dr Ian Mortimer.
Tickets: members £17.50; non-members £22.50. Pre-booked optional lunch £10. For full details of talks, speakers and booking please click here


We are proud to announce the publication of the first volume of the MHS Journal. Edited by our President, Dr Paul Dryburgh, it includes the best five essays submitted for the 2016 MHS Essay Prize. Whereas the quarterly Mortimer Matters contains news and 'popular' articles, the arrival of our academic journal adds a completely new dimension to the range of publications produced by the Society. All our members receive a free copy of the Journal but it can also be purchased at a cost of £5 plus postage.

The contents of this first issue are:
Miraculous Marches: The Cult of Thomas de Cantilupe and the Mortimers
by Ian Bass [winner of the 2016 Essay Prize]
Legal Culture in a Medieval Marcher Lordship: a Comparative Analysis of the Dyffryn Clwyd Court Rolls
Angharad Jones [runner-up]
Heartless, Witless, Graceless, Thriftless: Roger Mortimer and the Scots, 1326-1328
Ethan Gould [highly-commended]
Networking the March: A History of Hereford and its Region from 11th-13th centuries
Matthew Lampitt [highly commended]
How to Make an Entrance: an Overlooked aspect of Native Welsh Masonry Castle Design
Craig Jones  [highly commended]
The Mortimers in the Time of Richard II
Ian Mortimer

If you would like to buy a copy you will find information on the special journal page by clicking here


We are delighted to be able to report that, following a successful appeal for grants and donations, the Ludlow Castle Heraldic Roll has been purchased and four excellent facsimiles have been made by the National Library of Wales. One of these has already been into several primary schools as part of the heraldry unit of the MHS Schools Local History Programme. The background to this fascinating and important document is described below.

Around 1473 King Edward IV set up a council in Ludlow castle to support and advise his young son Edward in his role as Prince of Wales. Over the next century this council became the Council of Wales and the Marches, the highest tier of the administrative and legal system for Wales. The most important of its Lord Presidents was Sir Henry Sidney KG, a strong Protestant and brother-in-law to both Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey. 

BpHooper350Students at Bishop Hooper School
in Ashford Carbonel, Shropshire being shown
the facsimile of the roll by Hugh Wood
Sir Henry Sidney was President for 26 years from 1560 to 1586 alongside his role as Lord Deputy of Ireland. He liked to make a big show and was very fond of processions and heraldic display. In 1574 he put up, in the round chapel in the inner bailey of Ludlow castle, the coats of arms of lots of people associated with the castle and its history. A few years later he decided that a permanent record should be made of these coats of arms and they were copied onto a long roll of parchment.

The collection consisted of three groups of people. Eleven of the owners of the castle are included from its founder, Walter de Lacy, down to the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth I. These included Roger Mortimer 1st Earl of March with Joan de Geneville; Edmund Mortimer 3rd Earl of March with Philippa, Countess of Ulster as well as Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville; Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydville; Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. Also included were nine of the previous Lord Presidents and all 22 members of the Council appointed by Queen Elizabeth in 1570.
These coats of arms were a feature of the castle for many years, and were recorded in detail, but they eventually disappeared. On the other hand we've been able to find no reference to a roll having been created, so it came as a complete surprise when it came to the surface a couple of years ago, in the hands of a dealer in London. Its significance to Ludlow and to the Mortimer History Society was quickly realised and an appeal was launched to buy it for the town. The Society has been at the heart of this initiative. All the key members of the Roll Team were members and we are grateful for all the donations we have received from members far and wide.

The roll is over 4.5m long but only 10cm wide. It has been created by sewing seven pieces of parchment together. Parchment is virtually indestructible except that, as it is made from animal skins, it is attractive to rodents. Our roll has suffered significant damage from rats or mice together with some fading. Much of it is in excellent condition, however. It is too fragile to put on permanent display, so we decided to have first-class facsimiles made which could be handled more easily.

A page from the booklet for schools
When we launched our appeal, we explained that we wanted to take a copy of the roll into schools as part of the MHS Schools Local History Programme. As you can see, the facsimiles have now been made and one copy has been into six local primary schools during July as part of the heraldry unit.To enhance the experience, each student has been given an attractive booklet to take home. As well as giving the background to the roll, it illustrates many of the coats of arms and even includes a heraldry quiz.


To see the complete booklet for schools click here 
If you'd like to download the booklet and make up your own copy click here.
To see a list of the coats of arms on the roll click here
To learn more about the roll itself click here
To learn more about the Roll Project and the appeal click here
To support us by making a donation, go to the button at the top right of this page

MHS Schools Local History Experience Day

On 8th June 2017 classes from eight local primary schools went to Ludlow Castle for a day of historical experience. This was the highlight of a programme of local history organised by the Mortimer History Society. The groups rotated around six different locations where they met a variety of "medieval" people who introduced them to a wide range of subjects relating to life in the Middle Ages and gave them the opportunity to learn some dances that were popular at the time. During the lunch break, a mounted knight arrived demanding the release of Sir Hugh Mortimer who had been imprisoned in the castle. Unfortunately it was a rather wet day, so the images below are from the 2016 event.

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