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

Thursday 1st & Monday 12th June 2017 - The Music of the Use of Hereford
The Hereford Breviary is one of the most important manuscripts in the Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral. Dating from 1262-1268, it contains texts, instructions and (uniquely) the music for the medieval daily office, from Matins to Compline, as performed at Hereford Cathedral through the year. 
On 1st June the Dean, the Very Revd. Michael Tavinor will discuss the Hereford Breviary and the use of Gregorian plain chant.
On 12th June Christopher Smith will explain how he has been able to re-create and perform this music for the first time in 400 years.
7pm in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral. £5 each session. Ring 01432 374225 to book.

Sunday 11th June 2017 - Field Trip: On the Trail of the Mortimers in Wales
Philip Hume, author of On the Trail of the Mortimers, will lead a tour to visit Presteigne and the site of the battle of Bryn Glas, Owain Glyndwr's great victory over an English army under Sir Edmund Mortimer in 1402. Meet at 10.00 at the Assembly Rooms in Presteigne. Members £3, non-members £4. For full details click here

Tuesday 11th July 2017 - MHS SUMMER LECTURE - Rebellion and Warfare in the Marches 1066-1154
Professor Matthew Strickland - University of Glasgow
6.30 for 7.00 Grange Court, Leominster. Members £5, non-members £6.
Please let us know if you are coming. For full details and booking arrangements click here

Saturday 22nd July 2017 - Effigies, Costumes and Music
John Gour was steward to the Mortimers in the 14th century. His effigy, with that of his wife, are in Pembridge church, together with those of his parents. Over the last two years, a team has been recreating their costumes and this is the first opportunity to see them as part of an entertaining evening.
7.30 in Pembridge church, Herefordshire. For more details click here.

Saturday 7th October 2017 - MHS AUTUMN SYMPOSIUM
In Oscars, Ludlow Assembly Rooms.
Following last year's successful innovation we are again presenting a fascinating collection of talks on a wide range of subjects, both local and national but with a strong Mortimer and Marches flavour. This day of talks will be suitable for the anyone with an interest in medieval history.
Provisional lecture titles are:
•  Isabella of France: The Rebel Queen
•  Foreign Exchange: English Royal Marriage in the Twelfth Century
•  Sir Thomas: the Mortimer Bastard
•  Networking the March: A History of Hereford and its Region from 11th-13th centuries
•  The 'Traitor's Arms' in Ashperton Church, Herefordshire
•  Exploring Medieval Manuscripts
More information and booking details later

Wednesday 13th December 2017 - Hereford Cathedral's Mappa Mundi
Organised by Leominster Historical Society. A talk by Sarah Arrowsmith, Head of Schools and Family Learning at Hereford Cathedral about the famous map of the world. Dated around 1300 and on a single sheet of vellum, it is the largest medieval map known to exist.
7.30 Grange Court, Leominster. Non-members £3.


Wigmore was once one of the richest and grandest of the Marcher castles.  It was built shortly after the Norman conquest to establish control over the Welsh frontier and, as we all know, was the powerbase of the Mortimer family in medieval England. From the Mortimers it passed to the Crown and then to the Harley Family in 1601. It met its demise during the Civil War when it was slighted by Lady Brilliana Harley to stop the Royalists from fortifying it against her. After hundreds of years of neglect the site became an  important wildlife haven  and at the end of the 1990’s came under the guardianship of English Heritage and was their first ‘soft-capping’ restoration.

Wigmore church
 Just below the castle stands the very impressive church of St James.  The nave dates back to the 11th century and is a fine example of herringbone masonry; the tower, chancel  and aisles were added by The Mortimers in the 14th century and make for a very grand building as one would have expected in a medieval village that was frequented by royalty. It has withstood the ravages of wars and time and is in fine structural shape but it sadly does not have a large enough congregation to sustain it. 

The church was on the brink of closure when a team of enthusiastic locals stepped in and managed to obtain a Heritage Lottery Fund grant  to transform the building into an Interpretive, Heritage and Community Centre for the whole area. The work has started: the architects are working on the designs and surveyors and specialists are keeping a watchful eye on proceedings.

It is hoped that The Wigmore Centre will be up and running by the end of 2018. As well as providing a welcome meeting place for enthusiasts and walkers – there will be a café and toilets – it will have a parking space for disabled access and house displays, exhibitions and a research resource for those interested in The Mortimers and the history of the Marches. 

For updates and further details see the website www.thewigmorecentre.org .  We are organising a castle tour for MHS on the morning of Sunday May 14th and the team behind the project will give us a short talk on progress.  If you haven’t visited the church then take time out to do so. There is much to see inside and it is a very imposing building.  The tower houses a rare birdcage clock and six fully functional bells that were donated by The Harley Family in 1721 – tower tours are available by appointment during the summer and  details will be posted on the website.

There is no parking at the church: for weekend and evening events parking will be available in Wigmore School car park; visitors during the week please use the village hall car park.
The herringbone masonry at Wigmore

The Results of the 2016 Essay Prize

Lady We were delighted to receive 9 entries in the first year of the competition and the judges commented on the high standard. 

Miraculous Marches: The Cult of Thomas de Cantilupe and the Mortimers
by Ian Bass
Legal Culture in a medieval marcher lordship: a comparative analysis of the Dyffryn Clwyd court rolls
by Angharad Jones

Heartless, Witless, Graceless, Thriftless: Roger Mortimer and the Scots 1326-1328
by Ethan Gould
How to make an Entrance: an overlooked aspect of native Welsh masonry castle design
by Craig Jones
Networking through the March: a history of Hereford and its Region from the 11th through 13th centuries
by Matthew Lampitt
To read abstracts of these essays and biographies of the writers CLICK HERE

MHS Schools Local History Experience Day

On 9th June 2016 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.

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The publication by Logaston Press of On the Trail of the Mortimers has been a major event in the development of our Society. It is a guide to 17 sites with strong Mortimer connections in North Herefordshire, South Shropshire and Eastern Wales. Written by our Secretary, Philip Hume, it links each of the sites to the fascinating history of the family. Following the launch of the book in May, Philip has started an extensive tour of lectures and field visits throughout the region. The interest being generated in the Mortimers is way beyond our expectations. The book is selling extremely well and, encouraged also by Philip's lectures and visits, we are seeing an upsurge in applications for membership of the Society. For more information about the book click here

A Recent Mortimer Trail Field Trip

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                                        The group at Aston Tump                                    The 12th century tympanum
                                                                                                                      at Pipe Aston church

On 16th July, 23 people enjoyed a field trip to explore some of the locations featured in 'On the Trail of the Mortimers'. The group met at Richard's Castle Village Hall and Philip Hume gave a short introductory talk that highlighted the importance of the Mortimer family and the wealth of Mortimer-related sites still existing in the local area. Philip then took the group on a tour of some of the less well-known places. These included:  
1 the castle and medieval church at Richard's Castle; this is one of the oldest castles in the country - one of only 4 built before 1066;
the fascinating church of St George's, Orleton, which contains examples of the work of the Herefordshire School of Renaissance Sculptors and also intriguing stone-carved heads dating from the early 1330s;
3 the motte and bailey castle at Shobdon, the Shobdon Arches, and the extravagance of the rococo church;
4 the day finished at Pipe Aston where the group were captivated by the enchanting small church of St Giles with its amazing tympanum and beautiful medieval floral decoration and then visited the site of the motte and bailey castle - the Aston Tump - which stands as a symbol of the violence and feuding of the anarchy of the mid 12th century in this now peaceful area.


Detailed reports on the conference will be included in the next newsletter sent to all members and will then be available on this website for members to access.

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Prof. David Crouch speaking on the                        Dr Emma Cavell speaking about                   Tim Hoverd gave a fascinating talk
the tourneying society of the Middle Ages          Intelligence and Intrigue in the Marches                  on Herefordshire deer parks

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          Dance in the time of the Mortimers led by                                                                    Stanton's Bookstall
                       Passamezzo Early Dance

Moccas600                                                                   The expedition to Moccas Deer Park led by Tim Hoverd