CLEOBURY MORTIMER CHURCH Shropshire

The town of Cleobury Mortimer is on the A4117 half way between Ludlow and Kidderminster. The church is in the centre of the town.
(grid reference SO 674758  -  postcode DY14 8BX)

This church remained in Mortimer hands throughout the Wigmore family’s existence. It came to Ralph Mortimer (d<1137) through the hands of Queen Edith (d1075) the widow of Edward the Confessor (d1066). In 1155 Cleobury castle was destroyed. This probably lay near the church, but its site has since been lost. Around 1172 Cleobury became the main residence of Hugh Mortimer, the aging lord of Wigmore. He died here on 26 February 1181 and was carried to Wigmore Abbey for burial. Between 1182 and 1189 the first born son of Roger Mortimer (d1214) died at nearby Snitton and was buried in Cleobury Mortimer church. Roger, like his father before him, favoured Cleobury as one of his major residences. Much later, the St Nicholas Chapel was founded by Roger Mortimer, 2nd Earl of March (d1360) and mentioned in 1359. As Mortimer only came of age in 1348 and was restored to all his lands only in 1354, this dates the chantry and contemporary north aisle to this period.

The church would appear to have started as a standard nave and chancel church, maybe with a west tower. Certainly the oldest part of the church would appear to be the base of the tower with its round headed arch. The rest of the structure was rebuilt probably in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century when the chancel was expanded and the nave modified with a south aisle. Later the south aisle and porch were added and, before 1360, a chantry chapel. The south aisle would seem to have been built after 1272 as a coin of Edward I (1272-1307) was discovered buried in a recess in the wall. The roofs would appear to be fourteenth century as is the twisted broach spire on the tower. The church was repaired in 1793 by Thomas Telford and restored in the late 1870s when a wall painting of the cruciifixion was discovered over the chancel arch.

Cleobury Mortimer
Photo: © C P Canfield english-church-architecture

Notes by Paul Remfry
For more information about both the history and architecture of the church see the relevant pages here